“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” We’ve all heard that saying, but this time it came from a sister in Christ sitting in my counseling office. As we continued to talk about the role of women, this time about submission, she said, “I’m an educated woman! Why should I submit to him?” Since then I’ve heard even worse, but I’ve never forgotten how saddened I was by her statement and the awareness of how much feminism had infiltrated the church of the Living God.
But the truth is, many of us, though we want to live godly lives, chafe against some of the Bible’s teaching on women or passages on modesty or authority. We’re too often tempted to think, “That’s not fair!” or question why God would give us certain commands. So how are we to understand these things?
Jeremiah 31 & 32
1 Timothy 2.1-15
Chafing against the Bible’s Teaching on Women
On Women Teaching, Modesty & Pearls
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
I once overheard a conversation between two women at church discussing their Sunday school lesson on the role of the wife and submission. One of them said about their teacher, “I think he actually believes that stuff!”
Ladies, even though we might laugh about a conversation like that, we often struggle to understand and accept God’s Word in some of these areas. We’re a little like the king and the princes Jeremiah encountered (see our O.T. reading). Sometimes we don’t want to believe or accept God’s Word as being true or fair. We would rather lock up the prophet (Jer. 32.2) or cut that part of the scroll off and throw it into the fire (Jer. 36.20-26), at least in practice.
So how can we begin to understand, and more importantly embrace, a passage like this? I believe we need to start with some basic truths about God, His Word, and His character.
Jeremiah 29.11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 119.68 says, speaking of God, “You are good, and do good …”
And Galatians 3.28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
But we must also realize that God is God! He is the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator of the Universe and everything in it, including us, and He gets to make the rules!
But if He is good—all the time—and if He loves us and calls us heirs along with men, (so much so that He tells our husbands in 1 Peter 3.7 that their prayers will be hindered if they don’t treat us as such), what does this passage mean?
First, God said to all of us, men and women, to be sure that everything we do points to Him and gives Him glory.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (2 Cor. 10.31).
Modesty, Gold & Braided Hair
So let’s break down our 1 Timothy passage, beginning with “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” The word “adorn” here means to arrange. So, we should arrange ourselves so that our clothing and manner is modest and respectful. That doesn’t mean we must look drab or unattractive.
“… not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” In the time period in which Paul was writing women would weave gold and other jewelry into their hair in order to attract attention to themselves. Others would wear expensive clothing to show off their wealth. It wasn’t the specific hairstyle or the fact that the clothing was expensive, it was the attitude of the heart Paul was addressing.
Today we might say, “… not with tattoos or designer clothing …” Again, not legalistically saying tattoos or designer clothing are sinful, but what is the attitude of the heart? Where is the tattoo and to what is it designed to draw attention?
The same could be said of certain styles of clothing. Is what you’re wearing designed to draw attention to you or to certain physical features? What is the motive of your heart as you choose to wear certain articles of clothing or jewelry or body art?
Submission, Teaching & Leadership
And what about, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
These few verses have caused some to say, Paul was just a woman hater. How can the Bible teach that we are joint heirs with men and then tell us there are limitations on how we serve Him? To understand this passage and others … in fact … submission and authority in general, we must go back to the Trinity.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all equally God, but God is a God of order. Scripture teaches us that Jesus, God the Son, willingly submitted to the Father (Jn. 5.19; Lk. 22.42) and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jn. 14.26, 15.26, Jn. 16.7) and gives glory to them (Jn. 15.26).
God has stamped this divine imprint on the social order He has set up, as well, including the family and the church.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything (Eph. 5.22-23).
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Eph. 5.32).
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise (Eph. 6.1-2).
Just as Jesus submitted to the Father, wives are to submit to their husbands. And just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, children proceed from, respect and honor their parents.
And in the church, Christ is the Head, Pastors submit to Christ, and the congregation submits to and honors them both. It’s the same picture.
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Heb. 13.17).
The world has made submission a dirty word, but we don’t think less of Christ because He submitted to the Father. He’s not somehow less God. Neither are we less in God’s economy because He has asked us to submit to our leaders both at home and in the church.
This does not mean that women cannot teach at all or serve in the church, but we are not to be the primary interpreters of doctrine, to have authority over men, or have key positions of leadership in the church, such as pastors and elders.
While our culture makes it easy for us to chafe against God-given authority, we (men and women) need to have obedient, respectful attitudes toward our pastors and elders. Knowing that “they watch out for [our] souls.” They not only have the authority, they have great responsibility. Pray for them!
And, ladies, while there is great freedom in Christ, we should be willing to forego wearing things that could be a stumbling block to our brothers in Christ or to their wives, our sisters in Christ, as they struggle to trust God about where their husbands’ eyes are going. Our willingness should come from our reverence for God, our desire to please Him above all else, and our love for our brothers and sisters.
Today’s Other Readings:
“Is anything too hard for Him?”
Chapter 32.17, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You …
And verse 27, “‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?’”
Do we even begin to understand who God is?—the omnipotent creator of the universe! He is not only omnipotent (all powerful), but He is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), and sovereign (totally and completely in charge and in control! Add to that—the fact that He is good (Ps. 119.68); He is love (1 Jn. 4.8); and He is holy (1 Pet. 1.15). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
And yet, we try to wrestle control away from Him, the All Powerful One, as if we know better than our All-Knowing God! We refuse to believe that the One who is good all the time, loves perfectly, and Who is so holy that there is no shadow of evil in Him, wouldn’t have our ultimate best interests at heart!
In what do you place your hope?
Verse 49, “Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.”
Where is your hope? Is it in God and His Word or in yourself and your ability to control your life?
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5.5)
But if you have tried to wrestle control away from Him, it will be hard to hope in Him. Why not give everything to Him?
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4.6-7)
Just a Little Bit More
“… the eyes of man are never satisfied” (v. 27b).
We tend to think just a little more will satisfy us. “If only I had a bigger house …” “If only my husband had a better job …” “If only I wasn’t stuck in this dead end job …” “If only my kids were better behaved …” “If only my husband was a better spiritual leader …” “If only my wife respected me …” And so on and so on … But the only true satisfaction comes from God—allowing Him to fill those empty places and make up for any lack.
Paul said, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6.6).
What is your “if only”? Where are you putting your hope for satisfaction and contentment?
Today’s featured resources are by Nancy Leigh Demoss:
In The Look Nancy Leigh DeMoss challenges Christians to ask themselves tough questions: Who decides what I will wear, and why? What message does my clothing communicate? And, how can I reflect the glory of God in my wardrobe?
Biblical, practical and motivating, “The Look” challenges women (young or older), parents, and teens to discover the Truth about clothing and modesty, and to make choices based on God’s eternal perspective.
Becoming God’s True Woman is a charge to women to recover what the feminist revolution has robbed them of: the God-given beauty, wonder, and treasure of their distinctive calling and mission.
The feminist revolution was supposed to bring women greater fulfillment and freedom. Yet women today feel anything but fulfilled and free because they have lost the distinctiveness and richness of their calling as women.
Now a movement is spreading seeds of hope, humility, obedience, and prayer—a call to return to godly womanhood—and its truth will resound in the hearts of readers through the powerful messages of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Susan Hunt, Mary Kassian, Carolyn Mahaney, Barbara Hughes, P. Bunny Wilson, and Dorothy Patterson. Though each author approaches the subject of godly womanhood differently, a thread runs throughout that will instill joy and delight at the greatness of God’s created order and the part he wants women to play in his grand, redemptive plan. Includes a study guide.
About Lies Women Believe: Satan is the master deceiver and his lies are endless. And the lies Christian women believe are at the root of most of their struggles.
“Many women live under a cloud of personal guilt and condemnation,” says Nancy Leigh DeMoss. “Many are in bondage to their past. Others are gripped by fear of rejection and a longing for approval. Still others are emotional prisoners.”
In best selling Lies Women Believe, Nancy exposes those areas of deception most commonly believed by Christian women — lies about God, sin, priorities, marriage and family, emotions, and more. She then sheds light on how we can be delivered from bondage and set free to walk in God’s grace, forgiveness, and abundant life.
Nancy offers the most effective weapon to counter and overcome Satan’s deceptions — God’s truth!
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.