As someone not raise in church the first time I read scripture in the Bible about the roles of women in the church I found it insane. In the family I grew up, no one was a feminist by any imagination but women being submissive to men was not taught. We as children were taught to be obedient, submissive and respectful of our parents. That was drilled into me. But a women being submissive to a man. Nope. A women needing to learn in quietness. Nope. Actually the women in my family are very loud. A women being unable to teach a man. Nope. I women needing to cover her head. Definitely not. I mean are you kidding me. This is 2020. Not the 1600’s. If a women can be a doctor and teach other doctors why can she not teach a man. If a women can be a professor and world renowned researcher why can she not preach on the pulpit? I do not consider myself a feminist but I am very much for women equality and rights. Thus I have and still struggle to understand how some of Paul’s letters to the church’s in regards to women apply to us today.
Similarly the Bible has a lot to say about the gender roles within a marriage. The husband being head of the wife and the wife being submissive to the husband is talked about many times. All the women in my family practically laugh at these things. Women are not to be submissive to their husbands. That is just primitive and barbaric. Similar this submissive behavior to husbands is not practiced.
I have struggles to understand if these mandates made about women in the church and marriage apply to many circumstances in today church when we are talking about a completely different setting then the cultural setting Paul was addressing. If so how would those words apply to us today? Similarly how should I as a women act and behave in a church setting? When I am acting as my professional self I am used to being a leader of both men and women. It is natural to me. Similarly this is the type of behavior that was encouraged in the family I grew up. There is a part of me that in comfortable in this setting. But I would no way be acting as a submissive women who is learning in quietness. No far from it. I am easily assuming the role of an assertive, dominate female who knows how to take charge.
But then there is the other side. I have learned how to be a dominate female but there is still the feminine part of my heart that finds it incredibly restful, peaceful, and protective to not have to be that dominate female rather just a women sitting in submission to others in an environment where I trust other to be my protection, covering while washing me with God words so that I can learn and be in God’s presence in quietness. It is in this place of submission that it is easier to just be a women and be present. I am not a man but I think that men probably feel similar when they get to assuming the masculine role.
Considering this it has made me change my view of Paul’s words. It makes me wonder if his instructions are not about demeaning women, saying women are less than or not of equal quality or capability. Far from it. I think his instructions are a reflection of God’s wisdom that the positive qualities of a feminine heart and a masculine heart both flourish when God’s template is used. It is not that a women cannot teach or all women have to be quiet or that women need to be submissive because they are helpless people. Quiet the opposite. Women can be fierce, capable and excellent leaders. It is a matter of equipping men to be what they should be within the world and family. Similarly it is about equipping women to be what they should be in the world and family. It is about facilitating growth of men and women in a healthy way so we have healthy family’s and healthy children. I think we can all agree our world needs some healthier families.