THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN
friend of mine recently said, "We badly need to rescue our whole concept of womanhood, in the face of modern society's confusion on the matter."
He is dead right! In the wake of an army of women now present in our modern western work forces, the increasing tendency toward men becoming 'house husbands' and even some confusion about a woman's sexual role, it is time for a major re-think by our society's opinion moulders!
Those who have championed the emancipation of women within society, accuse those of us who complain about the role of modern women of wanting to return to Victorian times.
But few of us would want that. Unfortunately human beings, in their social trends, tend to lurch from one extreme to another.
We would not necessarily wish to return to an era in which - all too often - fathers had little contact with their children and would not have even dreamed of occasionally washing a few dishes! Neither can we reject the view that, at times, women were reduced to being almost child-producing slaves in earlier eras.
But the growing confusion which many modern women feel about their correct role is indeed tragic, and some of it is quite serious. We - without any hesitation - blame the teaching of 'the emancipation of women' as being a major cause of the current sad confusion.
We just heard, for instance, that most modern pornography is lesbian-based. The report said that that it is suddenly the only form of this evil trade which is surging forward!
Of course, this should not suggest that there are suddenly more lesbian women, we would certainly have to reject that, but it surely could reflect this astonishing identity crisis which affects modern western woman.
Following all of the expectations of female emancipation, women have moved out of home life in droves and become major players in the work force; but, latterly, in the face of tremendous social pressure, women are beginning to voice their dissatisfaction with this role.
After all, it is bound to fall to women to be child-bearers - men cannot do that - and surely even the most ardent feminist should quickly recognise the ideal of a mother never being too far away from very small children.
Yet it seems indeed strange that - despite being aware of this ideal - so many young working mothers are prepared to put their small children in the care of others during these vital early years.
So we often encounter the scenario of a young child's parents insisting that neither can afford to be at home with the children and looking for the cheapest option they can find as a 'day sitter' for such children! Yet whose responsibility is that child/children? Why is it so frequently assumed that children are not as important as financial prosperity? Why is it so frequently assumed that such blatant responsibility-dodging is quite legitimate?
Here is an area where national leaders, including spiritual leaders, could and should take a stand! Of course, they will not do so since working women have become one of our society's 'sacred cows' - something nobody is supposed to question. On the contrary, politicians are forever looking for ways to make it easier for married women to 'dump' their children during the working day in order to better focus on their careers.
Recently I received an e mail from a married man who gave me permission to quote his particular case, "in any forthcoming article on marriage." The e mail went like this:
"My wife and I are both Christians, but she is more highly trained than me and is a 'business professional' so hers is our major source of income. I therefore only work part-time in order to be around when our two children get in from school. But I am growing increasingly concerned at this situation; you see my wife is a very pretty woman and I know that it is certain that she will catch the attention of other men when she is at work. My wife spends a great deal of time getting herself ready for work and when she leaves our home she looks eye-catching and glamorous. Yet when she is with me and the kids, she refuses to change out of her jeans!"
The man went on: "This seems an indication that her work figures more highly in her life than we do. Recently my wife admitted that she had been propositioned by men several times but had always said, No. But she also admitted that she had been involved in 'harmless flirtations,' her attitude being, 'Hey - I can't help being a woman!"
The man was very uneasy about this, but his attitude remained one of 'We can't afford for my wife to give up her job.'
It is interesting that divorce figures have skyrocketed more or less in 'sync' with the increase of married women in the work place. Coincidence? We believe not! Let's all be utterly honest; it is inevitable that attractive married women are going to be noticed by their male work colleagues!!
This does not seem to be an ideal situation for any marriage.
In complete contrast, the Eternal God gave guidelines for family roles which, if faithfully followed, will lead to the maximum joy and fulfillment within family life. Did I say complete joy and fulfillment? Of course not. But the observance of the divinely ordained family roles will - over any period of time - lead to a higher level of contentment and happiness than many modern couples are even aware of.
Genesis 2: 21- 25 tells us that the Lord God took one of Adam's ribs in order to fashion the first woman. The word 'woman' means 'womb man' or, 'man with a womb.' This very first mention of the gentle sex in the whole Bible quickly refers to a woman's ideal state:
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
(Genesis 2: 24).
Young Christian women should be encouraged to aspire to the noblest calling which they can have in God's sight, that is, to become loving, cheerful and joyful supports for good Christian husbands!
Biblically, there is no higher calling which young women can aspire to!!
Of course, one is aware that any woman reading this with her eyes firmly set on a career, may be horrified! But it is not that it is always wrong for a married woman to ever have a job outside of the home at certain stages of her life, though one would feel that a full-time job might be less than ideal, but I would respectfully suggest that the finest 'career' any single woman can ever contemplate is that of wife and mother.
And let me say that the Holy Bible fully supports that position.
People tend to be creatures of extremes; the fact that some men have been brutal, inconsiderate and unloving toward their wives should not lead to the conclusion that the married state does not favour women, so perhaps they would be better off having careers separated from the institution of the family.
We repeat that marriage is the highest state which a young woman can ever aspire to, and the most ideal form of this state is when both husband and wife have committed themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Within this ideal state, a loving wife should also strive to be respectful to her husband. Occasionally one has noticed the very sad spectacle of wives who do not appear to hesitate to belittle their husbands, even loudly complaining to them in public.
We say that this is unbecoming behaviour for any woman, as is the terrible lack of modesty in dress ('if you've got it flaunt it') which has become so woefully commonplace among modern women.
Let's look at Ephesians 5:
"Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
(Ephesians 5: 22-24).
Now, at this point, one senses that some women will be feeling uneasy but - hey! this is the Word of God. Let's listen to it!! But we men too are now cautioned about our behaviour:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself."
(verses 25- 28).
Please let us notice that this is saying that it is Christ's love for the Church which purifies it and perfects it and this will be the affect of a husband's love for his wife too. A woman, then, is not really fulfilled or 'perfected' by her career but by....HER HUSBAND'S LOVE FOR HER!
Interesting too that this is the direct opposite of what modern society tells women. Society says, 'It's fine to have a marriage, but you should have a career in order to be really fulfilled.'
Oh, how I wish that you ladies who want a marriage AND a career understood this!
But we men too must notice the importance of the marriage state and of our ongoing love for our wives. In fulfilling this, we are indeed behaving as types of Jesus Christ in His unswerving love for the Church.
Now to move on to something a little more delicate, but I have decided that I cannot really leave this out. Let us look at 1 Corinthians 7:
"Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
(1 Corinthians 7: 2-5).
There are a few points here which we should notice straightaway; the inspired text speaks of husbands and wives having control over each other's bodies. One of the early planks of the women's liberation movement was that women demanded to 'take control over their own bodies'; presumably this was in defiant response of the Scripture which gives a woman's husband control over her body! While it is tragically true that some men have abused their wives bodies either through excessive sexual demands or through cowardly beatings, this Scripture still stands.
Unfortunately, there have been sad cases of women insisting on going ahead with an abortion, despite the child's father fervently wishing to have the baby. I am told that in a legal situation (at least here in the UK), the father has absolutely no rights! - Is it not incredible how far a formerly Christian society has now plunged?
For this is truly a scandalous situation indeed. Without doubt, under God's law the father's will would be of paramount importance. But of course abortion would be wholly illegal anyway.
But the point which I am making here is that if a husband, biblically, has control over his wife's body this would certainly rule out abortion against his will.
But let us now - just briefly - consider the sexual implication of husbands and wives having control over each others bodies;
It should go without saying that this rules out adultery. But it goes deeper than that! Husbands and wives should fulfil their responsibilities in this area. Let me be blunt here:
Girls, do you REALLY always have that "headache"? Guys: do you REALLY feel "too tired" after a long day's work?
Guys and Girls: Is it REALLY reasonable to say, "I'm just not in the mood," when it is obvious that your marriage partner is in the mood?
Christian husbands and wives should give serious consideration to this area! Why do I say this? Because marriage counsellors say that a huge majority of marriage problems start with a breakdown in the physical side of marriage. We should listen to such evidence and we should really listen to these Scriptures!
To say that sexual love is a most vital part of marriage is absolutely true, yet for many it becomes less vital in time and with the passing of years. Finally, one can never actually say, 'If there is no sex, there is no marriage.' With health problems, some couples mutually decide to give up sexual activity with the increasing years, but claim that their love remains just as deep without it. Indeed, this could be the greatest proof of love! But in such a situation - and in all sexual situations - husbands and wives must listen to their partner very carefully. I'm afraid that there is probably a tendency for the strongest partner to try to impose his or her will, but true love will put the partner's needs first.
Finally, let us pick up a few points from 1 Peter 3, which also refers to the duties of husbands and wives. First of all, for you ladies:
"Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands."
(1 Peter 3:3-9).
Of course, Peter is not saying that women should go round looking scruffy - far from it - but he is pointing out that there is nothing as beautiful as a quiet and gentle spirit which one finds in a wife who takes joy in her role of wife and mother without continually trying to usurp her husband's authority.
But Peter has something to say to husbands too:
"Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered."
Yes, women are the weaker vessel though it is no longer thought very 'politically correct' to say so. Also this verse strongly suggests that husbands who believe themselves to be 'in the faith' but who mistreat their wives, cannot expect to experience answered prayer!
So, in this article, we have considered an ideal Christian woman and found that - in order to do so - we have also had to consider a husband's behaviour. That is good, for I would hate a husband who tends to bully his wife a little to hold this article up before her, telling her how far she falls short. Listen - WE ALL FALL SHORT! We have considered ideals in husbands and wives and so we should, yet let none of us forget that none of us are 'ideal.'
Robin A. Brace.
© This article is Copyright Robin A. Brace 2002. If you want it on your own website please do the honourable thing and come to us for permission first. It is forbidden to excerpt this article without our permission. Thank you.
A FOLLOW-UP QUESTION PUT TO ME IN THE LIGHT OF THIS ARTICLE AND MY ANSWER TO IT.
"But are you saying that is entirely unbiblical for a woman to ever have a job outside the home?"
No I am not saying that and I intended to make that clear but, on reflection, perhaps I did not make it clear enough.
There are some occupations that one just cannot imagine without a strong presence of women. Teaching and Nursing are just two of such professions. To be frank, if I had to go into hospital, I would hate to think that I would never see a female nurse! What I am saying is really two things:
1. The huge presence of women, many of them married women, in the work-force is quite a new thing and was never envisaged by even some of the more passionate 'women's rights' people of the 1960's. There is no doubt that this has had a huge affect on modern society and it's view of marital roles and duties. It has also had a huge affect on family life.
This is far from saying it is always wrong for a married woman to have a job, at certain times of her life, outside of the home. Indeed even the 'ideal woman' of Proverbs 31 appeared to have responsibilities which would have occasionally taken her outside of the home.
2. We should surely all be able to agree that in the case of young children, it is Mom who should be bonding with them and laying the foundation of their early years NOT somebody who is called in to do it for a fee! Frankly, this is just plain responsibility ducking! Even the guy who e mailed me and who had great concerns about his marriage because of his wife'e role as a 'business professional,' said that - despite everything which he had said - the family could not afford for the wife to give up her job. My question, though, is can such a family afford to place such emotional pressure on itself?
I also pointed to the ideal marital roles upheld by the Word of God and I make absolutely no apology for that. Indeed it is interesting that there are signs of a 'backlash' developing as more and more working women are saying, HELP!! This is just too much pressure!! Perhaps a woman IS more contented and at peace with herself within the home.
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You may also wish to read SHOULD CHRISTIAN WOMEN DRESS IN A SEXUALLY PROVOCATIVE MANNER?
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