Tuesday, May 20, 2008

God's Role for Women

“3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5, NASB)

The Bible has plenty to say about His ordained roles for both men and women. Unfortunately, our culture has pushed the Bible out of the public spotlight and has replaced its principles with humanistic philosophies of what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Unfortunately, the same philosophies have crept into the church as well.

It has become popular over the years for both men and women to hold full-time jobs, even after children are brought into the marriage. Children are placed in day care centers every day of the week and are essentially raised be someone else, while the mother goes off to her full-time career. By the time that she gets home in the evening, she has little time and energy left to devote much in the way of quality time with her children. The question remains as to who trains the children to know right from wrong and what it means to live a life that honors God. There are no sufficient replacements for the care that only a mother can provide. Unfortunately, the influence for women to pursue full-time careers is largely a result of the feminist movement. Many women were brainwashed into believing that motherhood was less desirable than a full-time career outside the home. It is interesting that in recent years, there seems to be a growing number of women, not necessarily Christians, who have moved away from that influence and have decided to become full-time mothers and housewives.

But above all, what does the Bible have to say about the matter? Just what is the God ordained role for the wife? Well, the Bible does have plenty to say about the subject. This past week, John MacArthur was teaching on this subject, and teaching the biblical principles for a godly wife. If you did not catch the radio broadcast, I would recommend downloading the podcast. No, it is probably not a popular topic, but it is something that needs to be taught more often. Unfortunately, few churches feel inclined to teach on this subject. Many undoubtedly are offended by such teaching, but it really does not matter; adherence to Scriptural teaching must remain paramount in the life of a Christian.

The Bible does not explicitly forbid women from performing any work outside the home and we need to be careful not to go further than what Scripture teaches, perhaps even formulating a legalistic rule that the Bible does not state. However, there are very strong biblical principles outlined in Scripture that should supply ample guidelines when considering whether the wife should seek employment outside the home. Furthermore, there are explicit commands as to the responsibilities of the wife. Now I understand that there are extenuating circumstances that sometimes arise, necessitating that the wife work outside the home on a full-time basis. But I believe these circumstances are the exception rather than the rule. Remember, we must always seek to line up our lives with Scripture and endeavor to live our lives as pleasing to the Lord, even when it is not convenient, or in opposition to what the world may think. For the believer, we should constantly be renewing our minds and purging our thinking from adopting and being carried away by the world’s philosophies (Romans 12:2). This of course, must be accomplished through Scripture.

So, just what does God expect as the role women should play? Let’s look at the book of Titus chapter 2. Paul, giving instruction to Titus in verse 1 says, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”. The term “fitting” means to be in accordance with, to conform in such a way as to stand out or to be conspicuous. We are to line up our lives with the truth of Scripture in such a way that it stands out to others, and that it is obvious that we live by a different standard than the world. Our lifestyles must provide a strong witness and testimony to the unbelieving world. To be effective in this, we must be sure that our lives differ from the world’s perspective, a way that is reflective of God’s Truth. The principles that Paul expounds in the verses following conform to biblical truth. The term “sound” means healthy and adherence to sound teaching certainly contributes to a healthy spiritual life.

Paul then gives instruction both for men and women. In verse 3, the older women are to be "reverent" or in other words "dignified". This means that they are to live honorable lives, exhibiting sensible judgment and are to be spiritually healthy. They are not to be known for engaging in gossip and are not to be addicted to wine, enabling them to be clear headed in their thinking. The term "older women" refers to those who were past child-bearing age. These are the women who have plenty of experience behind them, and have been well seasoned in the duties of being a godly wife and mother.

These older women were to be actively involved in teaching the younger women about those things that are pleasing to God. Their lives being well known to exhibit godliness, are an example for the younger women to follow. Their life long experiences of marriage and family leave them with the knowledge to pass along to the next generation. This is instruction so that the younger women can know how to love their husbands and children and how to live pure, sensible lives, being “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). These are qualities and obligations that are essential for all women, they are not optional. It should be obvious that the priority of the wife is to be maintaining her household and all of this instruction is meant to prepare the younger women to fulfill their God ordained role.

I know that the intention of this post is centered on the duties of wives, but I also want to point out that the responsibility of teaching and instruction of the younger men is conversely true for the older men. I think this is important and should be an integral part of the discipleship process of the local church. I often wonder if there is enough of this taking place in many of our churches today. I fear that all too often it is not.

But the primary point of the women’s responsibility is the term “workers at home”. The woman’s responsibility is to be focused on the matters surrounding keeping a godly household. This is to be the woman’s primary responsibility. Paul in 1 Timothy 5, gives instruction that the younger widowed women should marry, bear children and “keep house”. The Greek word translated “keep house” is “oikodespoteo”, and it means to rule or manage, as in the affairs of the family. She is not only to rear the children, but she is also in charge of the administration of the home. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes this type of woman.

The women of this day were just as subject to the worldly notions of feminism. The onslaught of feminist ideas was prevalent then nearly as much as it is today. It is nothing new and the contemporary feminism today is nothing but the same old lies that were perpetrated in the ancient world. It is unfortunate that many women, sometimes even within the church, have been deceived into believing the lies of feminism.

So I believe one of the primary question that need to be answered in reference to women working outside the home is whether or not they are still able to fulfill their obligations in the home. Quite frankly, I am not sure how any woman can maintain a full-time career and still have the time to sufficiently take care of her family and keep order in the home. This is particularly true when there are young children in the home. There simply cannot be enough time available to handle both. And someone needs to be around to take care of the younger children. Children simply cannot rear themselves. Who is there to instill godly principles in their lives?

It is no accident that the youth in our country are in trouble. We are reaching a crisis where youth are committing heinous crimes at younger ages. I am certain that everyone is familiar with the term latch-key children. These are the children that are left to themselves once they get home from school until mom and dad arrive home from work. The question remains, what are these kids doing in the meantime? Are they entertaining themselves with television programs and video games containing objectionable content? Should we then be surprised that children are being negatively influenced by these things? It is becoming commonplace for children to engage in violence that was nearly unheard of two or three decades ago. Just observe how many school shootings that we have witnessed over the last few years. General violence in schools has increased dramatically. This situation did not occur overnight, but the seeds of the problem were planted long ago and the current dilemma was cultivated over time.

Without the godly influence of a Christian mother who endeavors to instill biblical values in the lives of her children, what is going to happen to those children as they grow up? Will they succumb to the worldly philosophies and pattern their lives after the world? I really fear for many of the Christian youth. I am finding that many are adopting the ways of the world rather than seeking to line their lives up with Scripture.

So ultimately the real question is whether employment outside the home will severely prevent or hinder the wife’s obligation within the home. The home must be the top priority. I believe there is a dilemma facing the church today. If our lives begin to look more and more like the world, then what testimony do we have before the lost? We desperately need for our lives to speak to the world through a lifestyle that reflects a biblical world view, and we need to openly and honestly approach Scripture with the intent to allow it to penetrate our hearts and change us.

No comments: