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Is the woman the reason for man’s fall; or is it Satan himself that was the culprit? Today in some areas of our modern society women are labeled as the reason for man’s misfortune as depicted in the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. Is there biblical support for such assumptions, or does the condescension toward women lie in a heart of hate which believes that women are inferior to males? Let’s first look at government of the state.

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315

 

The Declaration of Independence was founded on the principle that ALL persons have equal rights, and that government is responsible to, and derives its powers from, a free people. To Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers these ideas were not just a passing intellectual fad, but an inalienable right of a human being.  These powerful words are to be the foundation of a free society which like it or not includes women as well as men. The Declaration of Independence is our declaration of man’s rights which some determine to apply only to the male gender and not to females. Jefferson stated that God gave men these inalienable rights to all, but women have had an uphill climb in realizing their freedom. 

 

Most are familiar with Susan B. Anthony’s speech concerning women’s right to vote in 1872. She was locked away in jail and given a $100.00 fine for voting in a presidential election.  She had refused to pay the fine based upon the grounds that she as a woman was a PERSON. It was not until the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution of August 20, 1920 passed that women were considered people of the government and given the right to vote.  Why did it take so many years for women to be counted as a person who had these “unalienable rights”? The simple answer is mindset in the area of thought. (Well, actually I don’t think there was much brain activity at all). We as a human race have preconceived ideas that govern our daily lives. This is exhibited in our dealings with others. Mindsets that are so powerful that a person would rather die than change, because “that’s the way we do it here!” 

 

Can a woman have a leadership role in the church and still be in subjection as stated in the Word of God? Are women just a little higher than a dog but certainly less important and inferior to a man? Now what do you think -- of course not! The ones that believe this kind of reasoning are usually totally void of reason and short (so short it doesn’t measure on a stick) on love. Don’t they realize that God made man, male and female, not just male alone?  Each gender has its particular purpose and place in the kingdom of God. The man is not without the woman, neither the woman without the man. For the man was created in the image of God, both male and female. The man is the image and glory of God whereas the woman is the glory of the man, not the image of the man, for she too is in the image of God. Since Adam was formed first, then the woman, the man is the head of the woman just as Christ is the head of the Church. “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7).

 

Woman was made from man by God putting Adam into a deep sleep and taking a rib from his side as next to his heart. God didn’t use Adam’s foot to create woman so she would be tromped upon as a slave. Thought is powerful and establishing the general mindset of a culture. How would you describe a woman’s role in the church? Can a woman hold an office in ministry or should she be silent, not permitted to speak in the local church assembly? Are there revelations as to the purpose and work of women in ministry that should be the mindset reflecting the love of God in the church? Some would say that because Adam was created first, then Eve, that Adam is superior to a woman. Did Jesus say at any time that women were inferior to men and that only men can have spiritual gifts and callings? How important is the faith of women in the church? Can man do it all alone, without women? Or do all both male and female have to rely on God for our salvation by faith through grace as the gift of God to all? Are these tough questions? No, these are simple questions and how a person answers them reveal the love and revelation that he or she has of Jesus, for all things are built upon God who is love.

 

Junia means “youthful” in Latin. Who is she? What difference does a name written only one time in the Bible have to do with me? “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:7). Junia was a woman apostle who was in prison with Paul and was the sister or wife of Adronicus. The first thing that most will do is go to a commentary and look up Junia to see if she is indeed a female. Most commentaries will simply discard Junia as a misprint which should be written with an “s” making Junia “Junias”, thus, a male name. Martin Luther whose work was the German translation used Junias being a male. However, most early translators state Junia to be a female.  One of these translators was Jerome who was responsible for the Latin Vulgate as well as Oxford and Cambridge references. Desiderius Erasmus who was responsible for the Greek translation of the New Testament known as the Textus Receptus also referred to Junia’s name correct as a woman. William Tyndale in the Tyndale Bible also wrote Junia as a female.  Also the Authorized King James Version under King James I who commissioned 54 scholars from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to write an official English version. They all state Junia was a female Jew like Paul who became a Christian before him.  She was in prison with Paul, helped the church at Rome and was outstanding being “of note” among the apostles; that is, an outstanding apostle.

 

If you really want to get the “bulls” snorting and kicking up dirt bring up the subject of   women’s importance in the church.  There will be some who will be ready to ram you with their horns and tell the story of how God told them to do it.  Although Thecla is not mentioned in the Bible, history tells us of a woman mightily used of God. Thecla was a young 18 year old virgin who lived in Iconium.  At the time when she heard Paul preaching about the need to fear God she gave up her pre-arranged marriage contract made by her parents.  This enraged her fiancé Thamyris and upset her mother Theocleia. Thecla sold her jewelry to visit Paul in prison and studied at his feet. She is tracked down and found in the jail cell of Paul by her fiancé and mother who bring charges against Paul to Rome’s governor. Paul is flogged but Thecla is sentenced to death, to be burned alive. Thecla is bound and brought to a stake in order to be burned alive when a storm suddenly arrives and drowns out the fire with hail and rain. She then becomes a traveling companion with Paul. She is discouraged by Paul knowing the hardships and trials that laid ahead for the preaching of the Gospel. She however travels with Paul with many miraculous deliveries from death and remains faithful until her death. Thecla was martyred at the age of 90 disappearing in a rock having been attacked leaving behind only pieces of cloth. The statues of Paul and Thecla are still standing today, except someone scratched the eyes and ears off of Thecla’s.

 

Man or woman, which is greater in God? Does God prefer male over the female? If God preferred males over the females, then why doesn’t God make all mankind males? That’s a good one. We are all too familiar with the black African American race being slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation ordered by the Commander in Chief then, Abraham Lincoln freeing all slaves. However, the freeing of the slaves took effect only in the states in which the Union had no power. In like manner, women have been under the yoke of bondage in a biased society in a democratic government using the Bible as presenting indisputable facts that women are secondary to men in all things. In a nation where the people are to govern, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”, we still find prejudice against women.

 

Women are to be in subjection to their own husbands, not to every Tom, Dick and Harry who walk the streets of the world. The family is the smallest unit of the church as the body of Christ with man being the head of the woman, not every man being head over every woman. “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:5).  In the Lord, there is neither male nor female, for all are equal in God. When God made man, He made them male and female. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27). Both male and female being one were called Adam by God. “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:1,2). God does not make a difference between male and female just as He does not differentiate between Jew and Greek. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

 

Women in historical times were for the most part illiterate because they were not allowed to attend schools that were only open to men. There were exceptions in female scribes called “librariae”. Most did not attribute women as scribes, but some did on the grounds that there were so many mistakes in the manuscript that is had to be written by women. Oh yeah, let’s blame the women for all the mistakes and say that everything translated correctly was done by men.  Is that the bellowing of a bull I hear? Women have been the brunt of hard hearted hateful selfish calloused men who had no respect for the female counterpart. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD decreed that women were no longer to be ordained along with the clergy for leadership roles but to remain among the laity. The Council of Laodicea, in 325, forbade women from the priesthood and presiding over churches. The council also barred women from approaching the altar. The Fourth Synod of Carthage, in 398, said women may not teach men in assembly and may not baptize. Council of Chalcedon, in 451, ruled that no woman under forty could be ordained a deacon, and then only under close scrutiny. Tertullian, one of the leaders of the church in Africa, referred to a woman who was baptizing as “that viper”. Continuing with Terrullian “these heretical women, how audacious they are. I mean they teach, they baptize, they preach, they do all kinds of things they shouldn’t do.”

 

Even in the ‘70’s in our court system many women who were judges at that time could not have served as jurors in their own courts because women could not serve on juries in some states. After World War II, women were expected to stay home out of the public eye when they were pregnant, modestly out of view. It was not until the mid 1970’s the women could occupy seats in major symphony orchestras. Women were considered without natural affection who wanted to be lawyers, doctors, mayors, and ministers.  Why would a woman want to do a man’s job and become “unnatural”? The church has been the model for the general mindset of our culture believing that Eve’s transgressions passed onward to all females. I thought Jesus’ cross took care of all curses, sins, transgressions, and depravity. In short, the law of God as a regulation as to do’s and don’ts is in its primary sense a state of the heart; whether one’s heart is in it or not; in summary, God judges the heart.

 

Jesus first words to Mary Magdalene at the tomb after his resurrection; “Woman, why are you crying?” The reason might be that although men make up the majority of church hierarchy, generally 60-80% of women constitute all church related activities. So the next time you see the bull nostrils flaring and dust flying remember - Women are not second class citizens in the Kingdom of God, regardless of how anyone attempts to beat them down. Stand up, for the Lord Jesus has a work for ALL to do and that includes women. Jesus stated “When you search for me, you will find me”. I wonder if some will find God in and through a woman.  

Diane Beard 

 

 

 

    

 

 

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