“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? Continue reading