The Role of Women – Reasons to think again

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As well as the Biblical reasons to take a fresh look at the role of women in the church, another reason we need to take a fresh and honest look at this subject is due to abuse in the church and the home.

Abuse in the church. In studying and researching the subject, I have become increasingly aware that there are women who have felt put down by men within the church, either intentionally or unintentionally. As if somehow, they are lesser people, having less intelligence and ability. On the other hand, if they have dared to say something, they have been treated as rebellious and accused of being “Jezebelic”—a sure way to silence a woman who desires to have a good heart before God.

The idea of a Jezebelic spirit comes from the story of Jezebel in the Old Testament, who was a manipulative and controlling woman. This has been something thrown at strong and confident women. There is such a thing, and a man can operate out of the wrong spirit too, but to label every strong woman as Jezebelic is patently wrong. It can be a sign of a weak male leader. The fact is, it does more harm than good. I have known women who have been labelled in that way, when in fact they were faithful and sound, possessing vision and faith, and were by no means Jezebelic.

Abuse in the home. Not only that, but there can be abuse in the home under the guise of headship, where the husband is unspiritual, unloving, selfish, controlling, demanding, and abusive—in other words, sinful. No consideration is given to the wife and how she feels, or what her desires might be. And all the decisions are made by the man, and for the man, and serve his desires and purposes.

Some have graciously lived with such abuse based on a wrongly perceived biblical understanding of love, authority, and submission; that is, male authority, female submission, or what has become known as the doctrine of headship—more on that later. Nevertheless, they carry a woundedness that runs deep and needs to be listened to. Sadly, too many have suffered abuse at the hands of authoritarian men, and their experiences have been covered over under some spiritual guise.1 If you have any doubts about this, I encourage you to read Kevin Giles’s The Headship of Men and the Abuse of Women.

Having said that, please note that I am not saying that complementarianism in and of itself will lead to abuse. That would be wrong. Many who hold to it and teach it, abhor and oppose any kind of control, exploitation, and oppression, and there are many good complementarian marriages. But, abuse exists, and wherever it has taken place, it needs to be recognised, repented of, and rectified. And where the structures aid and abet, they need to be changed.

If you have experienced or are experiencing such abuse I would encourage you to talk to somebody, and seek professional help and healing.

God has created men and women equal and gifted them to complement one another, not in a hierarchy of relationships, but in an equal partnership.

Adapted from my new book, Exploring the Role of Women in the Church.

1 Kevin Giles, The Headship of Men and the Abuse of Women (Eugene, Or: Cascade Books, Wipf and Stock), 2020.

4 thoughts on “The Role of Women – Reasons to think again

    1. That would have been my attitude at one time but I’m afraid it’s wrong, it’s taken Paul out of context. In many other places he spoke about women speaking. Paul was speaking to particular situations at Corinth and Ephesus. Please see the book I’ve written Exploring the Role of Women in the Church.

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      1. You’ve bought into the whole feminist mantra, you are preaching another gospel. You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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      2. Sorry, but if you read what I have to say it has nothing to do with feminism and another gospel. It has to do with believing scripture is the fully inspired word.

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