Restoring the Christian Woman
The Female Rôle in
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 12 October 2002
Click here for Part 1
The greatest clue in discovering who we are is to be found in discovering who we came from. "Who am I?" is a question everybody asks themselves at least once during their lives, and following on from that a common question arises: "Why was I born a woman?" or a man. Or perhaps even more poignantly, in a world where there is much confusion as to what being male and female actually is, "What does it mean to be a woman?"
"In the day that Elohim created man, He made him in the likeness of Elohim. Male and female He created them, and called their name 'Adam' in the day they were created" (Gen.5:1-2, ISRV).
We learn two important things about woman from this passage of scripture. Firstly, that she, like man, is made in the image of the Elohim or Godhead. As we discovered last week, the female imaging Person of the Godhead is the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Second, that her identity is in her husband, for both Adam and Eve were called 'Adam'. This in fact not only tells us as to the origin of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but Her identity too - the Ruach (Spirit) comes from the Father (as Eve came from Adam) and Her Name is Yahweh like Her Husband's. This is why in so many passages of Scripture the Ruach (Spirit) is called "the Ruach of Elohim" (e.g. Gen.1:2), "the Ruach of El" (e.g. Job 33:4), and "the Ruach of Yahweh" (e.g. 2 Sam.23:2), which we render into English as "Spirit of God" or "Spirit of the LORD". Thus Eve may rightly be said to be "the Eve of Adam" just as a woman is properly called "the wife of her husband", or "Rachel of Joseph". This "of" denotes both origin and ownership.
Throughout the millennia it has not been a problem for men to understand that their wives belong to them because there are many scriptures that clearly teach this, but what has certainly been missing in both Judaism and Christianity is the perception of the highly exalted status of women as revealed in the position of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) relative to our Heavenly Father, Yahweh. As a result, women have often been treated as chattels and second-class beings instead of being viewed as persons of great glory and worth. Not that there aren't scriptures that extoll the glory of womanhood, for there are many of them: the problem has been in seeing the Godhead as an all-male domain and then drawing erroneous conclusions as to the real purpose of the feminine in Creation. And as we said last week, the chief formulator of the Trinitarian doctrine, Augustine, came to the false conclusion that only the male Adam was made in the image of God with women as secondary by-products having no correspondence in the Elohim at all.
One of the main characteristics of the New Testament is the emphasis placed by Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles on the feminine. The virtues we normally associate with the fairest sex are, in the many writings of the New Covenant, enjoined on the men also. Not that these virtues are by any means absent from the Old Testament - the New, rather, reminds us of them so often that we cannot be in any doubt that Yahweh does not approve of macho men but is looking for male headship tempered by the feminine qualities of grace. In short, a man without a woman is an unbalanced and incomplete man, and a woman without a man has no identity or purpose. Each need one another but for different reasons. As Paul reminds us:
"In Yah'shua (Jesus), however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from Eloah (God)" (1 Cor.11:11-12, NIV).
This very interesting passage tells us of the complete interdependency and spiritual equality of men and women in Yahweh. This equality does not, however, mean that they have identical rôles. In terms of headship or rulership there is no dispute as to who occupies that position of responsibility and how far that authority extends:
"Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ (Messiah), and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ (Messiah) is God (Eloah/Yahweh)" (1 Cor.11:3, NIV).
"Therefore, just as the church (Messianic Community) is subject to Christ (Messiah), so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Eph.5:24, NKJV).
The relationship of husband to wife is always compared with a parallel relationship to the Elohim. The kind of obedience which the wife is to show her husband is to be of the same kind of obedience that Yah'shua (Jesus) showed to Yahweh.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19-20, NKJV).
Just as wives are to obey their husbands "in everything", so we see Yah'shua (Jesus) obeying the Father in everything too.
There is, moreover no dispute as to the nature of the relationship between them. We have seen Yah'shua's (Jesus') complete obedience to the Father, but what of the Father's responsibility? We read in the next verse:
"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does" (John 5:19-20, NKJV).
Now mark that well: the Father loves and teaches by example. What makes this a "natural circuit" is the fact that total obedience comes naturally when it is impelled by love and righteous example. Thus we observe the same pattern repeated in Yahweh's instructions as to how husbands and wives should treat one another:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ (Messiah) also loved the church (Messianic Community) and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church (messianic Community), not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she 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. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph.5:25-33, NKJV).
This complimentary pattern is to be found throughout the Bible. The Torah itself says:
"Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your Elohim, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them" (Deut.30:19-20).
Please observe the relationship between love and obedience. We are to love the Father and then obey Him, for obedience always flows naturally out of love, and not the other way round. A person who loves and obeys 'clings' to the objects of his love and obedience, and from this he derives his 'life' and 'dwelling place'.
In the same way, when a wife is loved and she obeys her husband in everything, she will naturally cling to him and will derive her life from him, for he is her dwelling place or home, just as Adam was, and is, the dwelling place of Eve. In the same way that she is loved, and obeys, clings, derives her life from, and dwells in safety in her husband, so the husband is loved by the Elohim, and obeys, clings, derives his life from, and dwells in the safety of his Master. This is the true male-female relationship model given to mankind, but for it to work, the husband has to be an instructor and a living example, just as Torah is our instructor and the incarnate Son of Yahweh is our living example.
But where, you may ask, is the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in all of this? And what is the function of the wife in a marriage relationship beyond obeying, clinging to, deriving her life from, and dwelling in the safety of her husband? Is she to be entirely passive? Though common sense ought to tell us that this is not the complete picture, let now understand the rôle of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in Her function as a member of the Godhead.
In His High Priestly Prayer given in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion, Yah'shua (Jesus) prayed to His Heavenly Father, Yahweh, thus:
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter (Helper), that She may abide with you for ever; even the Ruach (Spirit) of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it cannot see Her, neither knows Her: but you know Her; for She dwells with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17).
"But when the Comforter (Helper) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Ruach (Spirit) of truth who proceeds from the Father, She will testify of Me" (John 15:26).
"It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter (Helper) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Her to you. And when She has come, She will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement" (John 16:7-9).
Firstly I want you to note that the 'Comforter' is also known as the 'Helper'. We are immediately reminded of one of the callings of Eve to Adam, and of all wives to their husbands:
"And Yahweh Elohim said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make (for) him a helper comparable to him" (Gen.2:18-19).
Here we learn that the wife is to be a 'helper' or 'assistant', not as an inferior, but as one who is 'comparable' to him, a bosom companion at his side. The Johannine scriptures we have read tell us, moreover, that the Ruach (Spirit) has as Her rôle that of comforting and abiding (being present) in an invisible sort of way. The true spirit of femininity, although it appears to work in the background invisibly, is nevertheless very much present. Indeed, the true spirit of femininity is Truth. As the Ruach (Spirit) testifies of Yahweh, so the true Christian wife testifies of her husband as a witness, for "She will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26, NKJV). She gently convicts of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.
Do we begin to see the dynamic between male and female? As a wife is taught by her husband and copies his example, so she in her turn testifies of what she has been taught, bearing witness of truth. Both are instructors or teachers but they teach in different ways. She is able to teach and witness in a way that her husband may not because of her gentler feminine nature; and her husband compliments this gift by teaching in a much stricter and more authoritative way. He is principally a witness of Torah and she of the spirit of revelation! He establishes the rules and she conveys them in a spiritual way, in the way only a true woman knows how.
How does she do this? What is the secret that allows her to penetrate the hardest hearts by melting them and making them receptive to truth? What is it about her manner and bearing that gives her access to souls where often men, who have not been leavened by this feminine spirit, fail? For one thing, she demonstrates "all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Ruach (Spirit) in the bond of peace" (Eph.4:2-4, NKJV). The female spirit is a motherly spirit, and she must teach by example and invisible influence, something that men in Christ must learn also: "Let your gentleness be known to all men" (Phil.4:5, NKJV) says Paul to the Philippians. Why is it do you think that husbands are commanded to love their wives, and wives to obey them in everything? Is this all husbands and wives are to do for each other? No, of course not. But is it not true that one of the weaknesses of men - and strengths of women - is their capacity to love? Love is the more natural gift for women! And is it not true that one of the weaknesses of women - and strengths of men - is their capacity to obey? Man by nature like to be bossy and women to be rebellious! The two weaknesses of the genders are identified and commandments given that they should work on these areas - the men, who are more naturally obedient, teaching the women to be obedient, and the women, who are more naturally loving, teaching the men to love!
All those who have been born again know that there is a world of difference between meeting Yahweh in Scripture and meeting Him in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). The Ruach (Spirit) reveals the love of the Father which mere words never can do. When a husband instructs his wife properly and she is submissive to him, she is soon able to reveal his love to those who may perhaps perceive him as harsh and cruel because of his strictness. Does not Yahweh often appear harsh and cruel as we read the pages of the Old Testament (and sometimes even the New)? And yet, when the Ruach (Spirit) rests upon us, She reveals an aspect of the Father we may never have dreamed of. We begin to see Him as a Being of overflowing love, compassion, and loving-kindness. That is why it is written that "we serve in the new way of the Spirit (Ruach), and not in the old way of the written code" (Rom.7:6, NIV). That is not to say that the written code (Torah) is wrong (God forbid), but it is to say that it has no life until the Ruach (Spirit) is breathed into it.
Which brings me to another aspect of the Ruach (Spirit) which, as most of you know, translates as "Breath". A more literal translation would be "Holy Breath". It was this same breath that Yahweh breathed into Adam and gave Him life - the Ruach (Spirit) is the animating or life-giving principle. Is it She who makes things move. In the same way, we read of Yah'shua (Jesus) bringing new spiritual life to His disciples in a most interesting way:
"So Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" (John 20:21-22).
The female spirit is living breath. The wife actually gives her husband life! Eve was the breath of Adam taken out of him and made to be his bosom companion. That is why she is described as being his rib - not only because a rib signifies intimate closeness but because the rib covers the lungs wherein we breathe. Do you see the multiple symbolism?
Husband and wife are one single living organism each with different, complimentary functions. He is the head (or brain) and she is the life (or breath). They are entirely dependent on one another. That doesn't, of course, mean that she is a mental vegetable or that he is a lifeless lump of clay: what it does mean is that he is the primary revelator in the relationship, she is the primary giver of life to that revelation, and is thus able to convey it as living revelation to her children and others through her motherly love. There is a male-female dynamic here that is at once seen to be quite beautiful and harmonious. But each must fulfil their allotted rôles and not trespass into the others' stewardship, even though there is naturally much overlap sometimes.
We end, then, with the Bible's depiction of the perfect feminine Christian lady, as related to us by Peter:
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward -- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of Eloah (God). For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in Eloah (God) also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (master), whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror" (1 Peter 3:1-6, NKJV).
Again we see the Ruach (Spirit) principle in the feminine. For even if a woman's husband is not obedient to Torah as he should be, he is to be won around to the truth - not by argument or a verbal lashing, but in the same way that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) convicts us of truth ... "without a word". What wins a man's heart is the "hidden person of the heart", the invisible influence of love. It will always soften him. But an argumentative woman, who tries to teach her husband and thus usurps his God-given rôle, will only drive him away the more thoroughly, because that is not how he was created to be taught. Instead, she is to have the "incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of Eloah ... being submissive to their own husbands ... calling him lord (master)".
No doubt most feminists would bristle at this counsel, but there is a reason they do, which men should note. Why are most women in rebellion against men? Is it simply because they are rebellious against Yahweh's Torah? Well, yes, they are, but there is a reason for this too, and Peter tells us why: it is because they "are afraid with ... terror". Men have terrorised and abused them, and treated them like dirt. No wonder they have been up in arms! Though their response to masculine unrighteousness is wrong, it is perfectly understandable, and ultimately the men are responsible, for theirs is the calling to be rôle-models. If men truly loved their wives, their wives would not be afraid, and would naturally obey and submit to them. And instead of fearing their husbands, the wives would deeply respect them, gladly obey them in submission and call them 'master'. And then, even as the Father "sends" the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), so will godly wives of godly husbands be willing to be "sent" by their heads to fulfil their callings in life as wives, mothers, comforters, helpers, and spiritual educators of truth.
Next week we shall take this one step further as we probe more deeply into the mechanisms of male and female. May you all - men and women alike - be blessed to discover, know and live your allotted rôles, and do so with delight. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
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