Friday, March 20, 2015

P4 - God's vision for godly womanhood: The equal value women have to men - 1 Tim 2:15

1 Timothy 2:11 "A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness."

1 Timothy 2:15 "But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity withself-restraint."

Yesterday we worked through 1 Timothy 2:10-14 in an attempt to understand the distinctive role women have in God's creative order in comparison to men and the significant place they have in His Kingdom work. In what I termed "distinctive equality", the twin truths of equality and distinctiveness are necessary in properly understanding God's vision for biblical womanhood and manhood. Today we focus on the second truth of showing how women have equal value to men in the sight of God in both His Creative and Redemptive activity.

How women are viewed as equal to men in terms of their value before God
Now what about the woman's equality of value to men? We have already considered 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and its assertion of the distinctive roles of women. 1 Timothy 2:15 asserts the other truth talked about in today's post, namely the equality of value women have in God's redemptive purposes. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 paints for the reader the painful picture of what took place as a result of Eve's deception by the serpent. 1 Timothy 2:14 states - "And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." Such an action resulted in Eve being viewed negatively in the scripture. 

So then what about 1 Timothy 2:15? The text reads: "But women will be preserved (or saved, restored) through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." One New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg, has noted about this passage: "For 1 Timothy, a word study of 'saved', especially in the pastoral epistles, shows that this verb is by no means limited to spiritual redemption. Paul may be referring to the restoration of the female gender to its divinely appointed role, overall, after the fall." Thus the argument could be made that God planned to not only restore the womanhood of Eve upon her response of faith to His salvation, but to restore the reputation of women at large in a general sense and to restore them completely in a specific sense upon their reception of Jesus Christ by faith. 

As we noted yesterday, the scripture's marking of boundaries is not meant to restrict women to the point of non-involvement. If anything, the significant roles women have in the scripture in terms of God's Kingdom work and natural order far outweighs the couple of areas from which they are precluded. For instance, as mothers, women were often seen communicating the truth of God's Word to their children and grandchildren. (Proverbs 30:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:5) It was well-known in ancient Israel that the women instructed the children for the first twelve years of life to such a degree that the young men knew the first five books of the Bible by heart (and that in Hebrew!) We do see instances where women worked alongside in submissive but nonetheless significant roles in the ministry of Jesus (Luke 8) and in Paul (compare Romans 16). The women were the first ones to proclaim the news that Jesus had raised from the dead. When Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost had preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit, he included the fact that women had equal access and sharing in the gift of the Holy Spirit. (see Acts 2:17) Under the headship of her husband, Priscilla and her husband Acquila both discipled the great Bible teacher Apollos in Acts 18:26.  In the redemptive plan of God, women are accorded equal status with men in terms of their inherent value. Galatians 3:28 plainly states - "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male norfemale; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Answering critics of the Biblical vision of women being distinct in their roles but equal in value (i.e distinct equality)
Some may scoff at this arrangement spelled out in God's Word, claiming that it is archaic or nit-picky details that do not matter. Yet, two responses to such criticisms must be given. First, Satan and his kingdom have an agenda to destroy women of God. Women by nature are more creative and more open to insights then men. In the garden of Eden, Satan went after the woman due to the potential he knew God had for her in His redemptive purposes. Moreover, Satan knows that the best way to get to the man of God is to wreck havok in the life of the woman of God. Hence, God designed the protective headship of godly manhood to protect and cherish women of God from spiritual attack.

Secondly, distinguishing roles between men and women enables them to express the way in which God has made men and women to be so different. Such ordering is by God's design, and thus to attempt to erase such distinctions is going against what God has ordained not only in creation, but redemption. The women at Ephesus were being exploited by men and either oppressed or treated as objects. Once the church at Ephesus began, and as men and women were being converted and the issue of gender and roles needed to be made clear. Contrary to what our culture may communicate, to ignore God's given design of the distinctions between men and women is to cause more hurt than help to asserting the true value of women in both the creative and redemptive realms. 

Closing thoughts
Consider what has happened whenever the distinctiveness and equality of genders has been denied at the expense of one or the other. Sin and mankind's unwillingness to yield to God's design and revelation in His Word always leads to not only imbalance but pain. Whenever equality of women alone is emphasized at the expense of their distinctiveness, movements form that in effect see no need for men or where gender roles are virtually erased. Women end up not being cherished as precious, important and redemptively significant as Christian people or creatively significant in God's overall order.

On the other extreme, whenever the distinctiveness of women is emphasized at the expense of their equal value to men, the excesses of exploitation and viewing women as objects and as being moral degraded like what is so often portrayed in culture is the end result. 

Only the Biblical vision for godly womanhood preserves the distinctive roles of men and women while asserting their equal value in the sight of God. We have learned about the distinctive roles women have in both God's creative and redemptive orders. 

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