Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Women's Role in YEHOVAH'S Plan
The relationship between Christian husbands and wives should be solely based on the entire Bible. In the New Testament we are told that, "The husband is HEAD of the wife, even as Christ is the HEAD of the church" (Ephesians 5:23). But the Messiah is an example of devoted leadership, not persecution. The Messiah does not prevent Christians from exercising their talents and abilities, he encourages it!
by Jory Steven Brooks
Christianity differs greatly from both Mohammedanism and Judaism in its attitude towards women, although all three are largely misunderstood by the vast majority of people.
Women Under Judaism
Dr. J.B. Segal, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, wrote an interesting article entitled, "The Jewish Attitude Towards Women" (Journal of Jewish Studies xxx:121-136). Segal states that there were "severe disqualifications of women in [Jewish] civil law," p. 121. For example, he pointed out that according to the Jewish Mishnah in the Talmud, women were prevented from being judges or witnesses in court (mSheb. 4:1), and had no right to contract or terminate a marriage (mYeb. 14:1). In religious duties, women were precluded from partaking in Temple duties, and were not allowed in the Temple beyond the Court of the Women. Segal sums this up by saying, "The inferior position of women in Judaism is encapsulated in the prayer uttered by the man in the Shaharith service, 'Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast not made me a woman'" (p. 121).
Likewise, Moshe Meiselman, in his book, The Jewish Woman in Jewish Law, (NY: Ktav, 1978) agrees with this assessment, but adds, "...the inability [for women] to perform certain male tasks may be severely debilitating. However...The essence of Judaism is for a Jew to live his life in conjunction with the divine will" (p. 49). Although Judaism is a religion which has its roots in the Old Testament, the important question, of course, is whether they are in fact following YEHOVAH's Will in trying to prevent women from having virtually any rights or privileges?
Women Under Mohammad
Mohammedanism is growing exponentially in Western countries today, including Germany, France, Britain, Canada and the United States, but its teachings are still little known, even among many of its followers. Dr. Segal explained that its beliefs also draw a strong distinction between the rights and privileges of men and women. For example, the Muslim holy book, the Quran, states that men "stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other...Those [women] whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them...and beat them; but if they submit to you, then do not seek a way against them" (Qor. 4:34).
This verse of the Quran became the subject of a feature article in the Detroit Free Press Newspaper, when one Muslim woman became upset about this teaching of her religion and confronted her Imams (religious leaders). Eventually, a resourceful Muslim scholar declared that this verse could be taken a different way; the root of the Arabic word might also have the meaning of "contend," he decided, not just "beat." Was he giving Muslim men a choice here?
Perhaps such objections by women influenced another Muslim teaching, for Dr. Segal also relates that "Most of the inhabitants of Hell," declares a hadith [religious teaching], are women, "because of their unbelief." Similarly, the 13th century commentator, al-Baydawi, stated, "Innumerable men have achieved Paradise...but only four women" (Commentary on Qor. 66:11f).
The question of women's role is an important one for Christians as well. One of the new teachings making inroads to our churches today is popularly known as "egalitarianism," (derived from the French word egal, meaning equal), which postulates a total equality between men and women, husbands and wives, in every area of life. While this is certainly "politically correct" today in society and in our modern churches, it is NOT YEHOVAH's design as outlined in the Bible. Because of the tremendous confusion over this issue, it would be good to examine the relevant scriptures. Here is the Divine Order: "But I would have you know, that the HEAD of every man is Christ; and the HEAD of the woman is the man; and the HEAD of Christ is [YEHOVAH] God" I Corinthians 11:3.
In other words, the Messiah is over every man, man is OVER woman, YEHOVAH is over the Messiah. The Egalitarians may consider this arrangement unfair and huff about "men's assumed superior position," but the fact remains that it is the Bible that gives a husband AUTHORITY OVER a wife.
However, this also involves a RESPONSIBILITY on the husband's part. We are told in I Peter 3:7, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being HEIRS TOGETHER of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." A husband is to honor, cherish, protect, and defend his wife and children, and not use his position under the Messiah for abusive behavior. A husband is therefore in the position of a benevolent leader, shield, guardian, defender and protector. If a man abuses his privilege, this is not the Messiah's fault, nor the fault of YEHOVAH's system of Divine order. It is true that any one particular husband's family management can be very wicked, but we DISAGREE on scriptural grounds that the Biblical family structure itself is evil or demeaning to women. This is an important distinction that is often ignored by the proponents of Egalitarianism.
In the New Testament, the Messiah is actually referred to in the original Greek as a "despot" (Greek, despota, Luke 2:29). Although the Greek word had a neutral connotation (its literal meaning is "owner"), this term has taken on a very negative meaning in secular society because of ungodly human rulers. So has the word "subjection," and worldly people today recoil at the thought of being subject even to the Messiah and YEHOVAH God and His Word and Laws, or to any Godly authority. But YEHOVAH God and the Messiah are NOT dictators, autocrats, tyrants or oppressors in their ruling or subjection (Romans 13:1) of the church, and neither should a husband in his headship of a family. The Messiah's style of leadership is an example for our families: "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing" (Ephesians 5:24). Unfortunately, non-Christian leadership and subjection is often demeaning and ungodly. But Christian headship/leadership/subjection is NOT tyranny, nor is it "debilitating" with "severe disqualifications" for women.
The relationship between Christian husbands and wives should be solely based on the entire Bible. In the New Testament we are told that, "The husband is HEAD of the wife, even as Christ is the HEAD of the church" (Ephesians 5:23). But the Messiah is an example of devoted leadership, not persecution. The Messiah does not prevent Christians from exercising their talents and abilities, he encourages it! (Matthew 25:14-30). In addition, the New Testament provides the example for Christian "chivalry," a seldom-heard term anymore: the virtue of making women a subject of consideration, protection, respect, and love. This is very different from the HUMILIATION and DEGRADATION we often find in other religions (particularly Islam as well as in our debased secular culture today). This is also very different from the other extreme: the modern secular idea of "total equality."
When viewed in a PROPER Biblical perspective, Biblical headship is NOT a bad thing, nor is it morally wrong. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). Therefore, a Biblical family structure is a GOOD and GODLY thing for Christians, even while a non-Christian husband can be unbearable "despotism."
Unfortunately, in order to circumvent the teachings of the Bible, Egalitarians generally insist that the words of the apostles Peter and Paul on this subject were added later by translators and should be excised and ignored!! Doing this, however, eliminates at least fifteen verses of scripture in several books of the Bible! Such an "end-run" around the Word of YEHOVAH God is becoming endemic today.
Just last week, a visitor to our church told me, "Mary was not the mother of Jesus." Hoping I had not heard correctly, I asked, "where did you get that idea from?" Her reply stunned me: "Of course, the Bible says Mary was the mother of Jesus, but that was added by translators," she confidently told me! Where does all this lead to? With such an attitude toward YEHOVAH's Word, a person can teach any doctrine under the sun and self-justify it. This reminds me of the semi-anarchy of the time of the Judges, when we are told "...every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
The Proper Role of Women
What, then, is to be the role of women? Contrary to what some may think, women do have important roles to play in the church and society. We see a very good example of this in the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. Yeshua declared his Messiahship to the woman, "And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him" (vv. 27-30). This woman successfully evangelized an entire city, for we are told in verse 39, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did." This should be not only an example, but an INSPIRATION to Christian women to use their talents to their full extent in proclaiming the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking the Lead In the Search for Truth!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.
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