Marching women face diverging paths

By Isaac Guess

Both images stirred deep emotion, revulsion, and horror in many Christians. The first was old video footage of the president boasting of his conquests and violation of women. The other was the banner borne by two participants in the recent Women’s March on Washington that read, “If Mary had had an abortion, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

While we appropriately shudder to imagine life and eternity without the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, these images raise other questions Christians would do well to ponder. How does the God of the Bible view and treat women? What does Christianity have to say to women? And then there are the “why” questions: Why are the sexes in conflict? Why is there such hatred, as evidenced by the crass vulgarity and abuse on the one hand and the vulgar demand for total autonomy and gender blurring on the other?

In both giving and modeling the Biblical answer to these questions, Christians have a golden opportunity to bring light and hope to a world defiling itself.

Women in biblical perspective

God wastes no time unveiling His view of women. The very first woman creates a template that Scripture never diverts from in assessing the Christian demeanor toward women and the relationship between the sexes.

From the very beginning, God honors women with the highest esteem. The woman crowns a perfect creation. Creation was not complete until Eve was made for Adam. Her honor was evidenced both in her distinction (femininity) and in her correspondence (suitability) to the man. She was created for the man, not as property or possession, but as a help that would be bone of bones (family).

The relationship in the garden was of mutual blessing, harmony, and honor. God’s high estimation and care for women remain consistent since the garden and fall. Notice a sampling from the Old Testament: “Honor thy father and mother,” “A gracious woman retaineth honor,” “whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord,” “her price is far above rubies,” “the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

The New Testament authors continue the same theme. While some have been accused of being anti —women due to their teachings on male and female roles in marriage and church, a close look at their writings reveals a theology of high esteem, honor and respect for women. Paul repeatedly warns against lust, adultery, bitterness and other behaviors that harm and diminish the honor of women. His advice to young Timothy reveals a tender respect for women: treat all women either as your mother or your sister — and most of all, treat them with purity. In Ephesians, he would teach husbands to love their wives as their own bodies. In Galatians, he reveals that in Jesus Christ, there is no higher position, whether between nations or sexes. The Bible, and therefore God, is unabashedly pro —women.

Finding honor in distinction

The Bible also unabashedly teaches a distinction between the sexes, both physically and in the roles each sex fulfills in human relationship, society and the church. Scripture teaches that these distinct roles exist as a result both of God’s creative plan and the fall (I Timothy 2:10-15). There is a distinction between the sexes, and it’s a good thing! The woman was created not as the rival of man but as a help suitable (corresponding) to man. That suitability does not establish an imbalance of worth, but it does establish an order of relationship designed to promote unity to the glory of God.  

The biblical distinction between roles leads some to conclude the Bible, despite its claims, denigrates women by confining them to a supporting role. But it’s vital to understand that in Scripture a distinction in roles does not mean a distinction in worth. The opposite is true: By embracing our distinctions — the roles God designed for the mutual good of men and women — we realize our true worth.

Jesus didn’t just teach this unlikely path to honor — he walked it. He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men … humbled himself, and became obedient… .” In accepting what secular minds think is a lesser role, Jesus was highly exalted and given a name above every other name. Exaltation through humility is a paradox, but is the biblical — and therefore real — path to honor.

Therefore, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Men are to lead and have the teaching ministry in the church. These distinctions of roles do not mean that women lost the battle for king of the mountain. They do, however, point to the place where honor is found. Honor is not found for women in a fight for autonomy from all authority. Honor is not found for women in the pulpit. Honor is not found in a declaration of war against God and men. In the same way, honor is not found for man in pornography or sexual conquest or in an attempt to autocratic rule in the home, but honor is found in selfless love and purity.

The origins of the War Between the Sexes

Tragically, honor is not the norm. We live in the midst of a war between the sexes that has devastated both sides. And it’s not just on a banner or an old video. Divorce, sex trafficking, pornography, spousal abuse, single parent homes, marital conflict, conniving guys convincing girls against their will, exhausted women futilely attempting to balance career goals with family concerns — all stuff we would rather ignore but find not just in society but sometimes within our churches and our own homes.

To be candid, the Bible is also filled with scenes from this war. Rebekah deceives Isaac, Abraham plots to share his wife with another, Leah and Rachel bargain to sleep with their husband, Lot offers his daughters to sadistic men. There is widespread polygamy, adultery, prostitution — even among those who are championed as faithful. It doesn’t seem that women are the valued, honored, precious vessels that Scripture proclaims.

So, what are we to conclude from Scripture? What is God’s real view of women? The conflict between men and women is explained by the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. In fact, one can never fully appreciate the devastation of sin without looking at sin’s consequence to the relationship between men and women. The curse pronounced upon Eve hit at the very heart of this relationship.

The creation design was for harmony, suitability, and mutual benefit and happiness. The curse brought the reality of opposing desires, man desiring his way and woman desiring hers. The fruitfulness of the one-flesh relationship would now produce sorrow, worry and fear. The protection and love of the man would now be turned to rule and dominion.

The fall does not mean harmony cannot exist between men and women; it means harmony usually does not exist because our natures are depraved by the fall.We are bent to our own desires. The horrific stories we read in the Old Testament are simply the living nightmare of the curse — this is what sin looks like; it always hurts, it’s always ugly. The stories of the Old Testament are the honest testimony of God of the reality of human suffering, conflict and confusion that accompany sin. They are never meant to affirm that God approves in any way of the devaluing of women.

The only hope of peace

But the real story of the Bible is the story of Jesus. Jesus is the faithful husband to the battered, straying bride. He rejoices over His bride. He removes her conflicts, pays her debts, avenges her enemies and heals her imperfections. He loves her; sacrifices His own life for her; beautifies, promotes and cherishes her. And not just in a mystical way. In life, He honored His mother even in His greatest suffering on the cross. His first resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene, a woman formerly possessed of seven devils. He reached out in compassion and salvation to the woman at the well in Samaria, who had been passed from man to man. Jesus is a champion of women.

The death and resurrection of Jesus removed the conflict between God and His people. His death brought reconciliation, removing the curse of sin. This means that where conflict once reigned — between God and man and between man and man — harmony and peace now reign. This glorious truth of the gospel presents the hope for removal of the war between the sexes. No, this war will never cease until Christ returns to subdue all foes. But the more you follow in the path and teachings of Jesus, the more you humble yourself and serve others, the less conflict you’ll have in your relationships.

As Christians, we are commanded to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds after God’s thoughts. In striving for this, we model God’s thoughts to a world that is in conflict with itself and with Him. This is the greatest contribution we can make to the world — to demonstrate in our personal relationships a better, harmonious, fulfilled way in all relationships. To us, this is a small thing, seemingly insignificant. But God said this is how He receives glory (Matthew 5:16).

The primary Christian response to the women’s march or the unseemly deeds of our president should not be to join an increasingly hostile, shouting mob on social media. Instead, commit to walking in the footsteps of Jesus in all of our relationships.

Isaac Guess co-pastors Ripley Primitive Baptist Church in Ripley, Mississippi.

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