Quick list of examples where God treated women better than any other culture in Bible times:
1. 1 Cor 7:3-5 Talks about how couples shouldn’t deprive each other of physical intimacy. Paul says that a woman should give her body to her husband which would have been normal in that culture. But the profound thing was that a man was to consider the needs of his wife as well. It wasn’t to be a selfish act where a woman is treated like an object of pleasure, but rather 2 people selflessly focusing on the other.
2. Eph. 5: 22 tells a woman to be subject to her husband, but 21 says for EVERYONE to be subject to each other. Which would include the husband to the wife. Also, 25 and following talks about husbands treating wives as Christ treated the church (Jesus served the church, died for it, gave all he had to it, etc.).
3. Women had spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12-14). This was different than any other religion.
4. Women preached (same thing as prophesy)…I’ll give references below.
5.Jesus’ last words were to women.
6. Gal. 3:28 says that God looks at men and women the same.
7. Women usually weren’t considered property owners in that time, but Jesus and the apostles would say things like “home of Aquila AND Pricilla”.
8. The story of Mary and Martha, where Martha was cleaning, and Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet as He was teaching is profound because women usually weren’t allowed to learn (also, look at John 4 with the woman at the well).
9. Luke 8 says that women financially supported Jesus’ ministry.
10. Women were the first evangelists after the resurrection (Mary at the tomb).
11. Women were made equal to man, not 2nd rate citizens (Gen. 1:27). In fact, Women not being in the world was the first thing God said wasn’t “very good” and so he gave woman as a gift and helper (Gen 2). The word “helper” doesn’t mean slave or servant. It is used most often in the old testament to talk about God. It means a good companion. The problem of women being mistreated wasn’t until Gen. 3 when sin (aka: selfishness) entered into the world. God’s original plan was always to treat women as a gift.
Women preachers and leaders in the Bible:
1. Miriam Moses’ sister in Ex. 15:20-21
2. Deborah in Judges 4:4-5
3. Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14
5. Joel 2 mentions that when the Holy Spirit comes women will preach.
6. Anna in Luke 2:36-38
7. Mary, Jesus’ mom in Luke 1
8. Woman at well in John 4
9. Women who first witnessed Jesus after He rose from the grave.
10. Acts 2 mentions Joel 2 again in verse 17-18
11. Philip had 4 preacher daughters in Acts 21:9
12. Romans 16 Phoebe was a deacon and financial supporter of Paul’s ministry.
13. Romans 16 Junias was some sort of apostle.
14. 1 Cor. 11:5 says that women were preaching and praying in the public church setting.
15. 1 Tim 3:11 possibly suggests women deacons again.
Only 3 verses in all Scripture say anything against women:
1. Gen. 3 Eve was told to be under her husband’s leadership, not the leadership of EVERY man.
2. 1 Cor. 14:34-36 says that women are to be silent in the church as the law says. However, there is no NT or OT law that says this up until this point so the “law” must be in reference to local laws about women speaking publicly or maybe Jewish tradition. We should note that Paul often mentions things the Corinthians say and then explain how those things are wrong. For instance, when he says “all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” he is stating an answer to something wrong they are teaching. Another example is when he is talking about head coverings in chapter 11. He said women should wear coverings, and then he contradicted that and said that there isn’t a command in the church for such a thing and that while man was made first, man comes from woman and are one under Christ. He does this often. Notice in 14:34-36 how he does something similar. He says for woman to be quiet and then he basically says “what are you talking about? The Gospel (resurrection news) originally came out of woman’s mouth and it is for both man and woman.” It is worth noting too that the Greek word for “woman” also means “wife” depending on the context. It has to mean “wives” because it mentions husbands. And by saying “the” or “those” women it means that he is talking about specific women.
It is also worth remembering that 3 chapters earlier in 11:5 women were publicly preaching and praying. Is Paul being inconsistent? I don’t think so. Either there are certain women who are causing trouble who needed to be quiet until they learned to behave, or Paul was telling the church at Corinth that while they say “women should be quiet as the law says” he thinks the men should remember who preached the Gospel first (the Marys).
3. 1 Tim. 2:11-12 says that women need to be submissive and quiet in the church. Verse 8 says for men to pray in “every place” but I do not see men literally praying every single place they go. It also says for men to always lift holy hands and not be angry, but I see men become angry and I don’t literally see men walking around lifting hands. Verse 9 tells women not to wear nice clothes or things that aren’t cheap, they should never tie up or braid their hair or wear any kind of jewelry, but almost every woman in the church does the complete opposite of this. Then we get to verse 11-12 and we tell women to shut up. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Seems very inconsistent. Why is one verse either about culture or metaphorical and the other verse in the same context is not cultural or metaphorical? It is important to recognize that the word “quiet” in verse 11 & 12 is the same word used earlier in the same chapter in verse 2 where Paul says to live “quiet lives.” He does not mean to literally walk around all your life without saying a word. The word means peaceful, like “quiet waters.” It is likewise important that the word for “take authority” means to dominate in the Greek, which means to rule over or take full control. Paul even told the elders not to do this in a similar way in 1 Peter 5:2-3. So, in other words, he is saying not to teach by taking full control and lording over a man.
He then reminds the particular women that Eve sinned first. Why would he do this? 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy while he was evangelizing with the church in Ephesus. Ephesus is the capital of the Greek goddess Artemis (AKA Diana) who was the virgin goddess of fertility and beauty. Women were some of the leaders in the temples and they would worship her and dress in expensive and extravagant ways. If they pleased her she would protect them while they give birth. Many new converts would mix the two religions out of fear of losing their child. Paul tells them not to dress in those ways but find beauty on the inside. He tells them not to spread this false teaching around but that if it was God’s will he will save them through child bearing, not a false god. Proof of women doing this is in 1 Timothy 4:7 and 5:13. Really the whole letter is about false teaching and mixing of Christianity and other religions. Paul, once again seemed to be talking specific women who were in a city where female gods were the authority. Even in 1 Cor. 14 the god of that city was Aphrodite the goddess of physical love.
· Only 2 passages in the whole Bible say anything against women preachers/deacons while dozens of passages say otherwise, even in the NT. And the 2 passages that do say something against it are most likely talking about specific contexts.
· Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:11, and church history all teach that there were women deacons. Deacon just means a servant over a particular area. It doesn’t have authority with it. Preachers don’t have any authority either, they are just teachers. The only ones with authority are elders and they are told not to rule over people but to lead and show their authority by example and through wisdom and prayer.
· Scripture doesn’t just tell women to be submissive, but for us all as Christians to be submissive to each other (Ephesians 5).
· I am not convinced that the early church had women elders (that said, I do not believe it is a salvation issue). But there is proof that there were women preachers, deacons, and public prayers in the church assembly from the very beginning.
· If a woman wanted to be a deacon, to pray, or to speak in some way in the church setting all she would need to do is talk with the elders about it and if they felt led by God to do it, like they do with the others who do these things, then she would be free to do so. It is not my choice as a minister. I am working under leadership who help feed all of our souls using Scripture and wisdom.