Gender Roles shift over timeby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
How has the role of Christian women changed from the days of the Apostle Paul (e.g., 1 Cor. 14:34), to Roman Catholicism (e.g., "rule of thumb"), to certain Protestant groups who ordain women preachers? Has culture changed doctrine?
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24, NKJV) The role of women today has drastically changed from Paul’s model of a submissive and supporting partner. Instead of supporting male leadership in the church women are demanding equal rights to lead- a clear contradiction to Paul’s doctrine. What evidence from history do we have that demonstrates this change, and in what areas has this change had influence for today?
We can see examples of this change in women’s roles throughout history. In 1642 it was required for a man living in the Massachusetts colony to lead his family in prayer and catechism. (World Magazine, “Family Timeline: 1607 to the Present”) According to the article entitled “Family Timeline: 1607 to the Present,” the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in New York, 1848. By 1910 Washington had become the first state to let women vote, and six years later the first birth control clinic was opened by Margaret Sanger, an active feminist. One year later, in 1917, the issue of day-care arose because so many mothers were now working. Nowadays many churches are electing women pastors, deacons, and elders, demonstrating a total change in the standard for women in society.
Obviously Christian culture has undergone a big transformation since the time of Paul. This change has been a gradual alteration in a spiritual, cultural, and psychological sense. Culturally, Christians have changed from women who desire the “Incorruptible beauty of a gentle spirit…” (1 Peter 3:4) to women who are taking the initiative in the church, family, and everyday society. “This move fits with the trend toward egalitarianism- the denial of any distinctions between men and women- in the church and home.” (Susan Olasky, “Femme fatale”) This alteration of roles also includes a change in the mindset of our society. In Paul’s day women were expected to not take leadership in the church, but the natural mindset of people today is exactly the opposite. In her book entitled Women, Creation, and the Fall, Mary A. Kassian states, “Feminist ideas have thoroughly permeated contemporary culture. An ideology which even remotely hints at hierarchical structure is vehemently rejected. Present-day women have been taught to reject authority and submission without even understanding their proper outworking.” In a different section of her book, Kassian also says, “The teaching regarding the role of women in the church is difficult to understand in contemporary society. The reason, I believe, is that the modern church today has strayed from its Biblical blueprint. Modern churches, to varying degrees, often neglect the New Testament for church leadership…The sad reality is that many churches are only a dull reflection of the New Testament church.” This change has also taken place in the church. It is not just the mindset and the culture of our society, but also the spiritual aspect that has changed. God established what He desired for us as a church in His word, and through a cultural, psychological, and spiritual alteration we have strayed from His teaching. “…God gave the pattern of feminine piety to complement, not to rule. Headship has been given to men. When such headship is challenged, everything is out of joint, and nothing but repentance can put things right.” (Douglas Jones, “Ministers in Skirts”)
We can see from examples of Paul’s teaching and our modern culture that the two contradict in areas. Has our culture changed Paul’s doctrine, that we no longer follow its teaching? “Paul’s reasons are not changed by time, but are authoratative for all times and cultures. One’s own speculative reconstruction of history is not a valid basis for dismissing his teaching.” (Mary A. Kassian, Women, Creation, and the Fall) While our culture and beliefs may change, God’s Word does not. We may change our interpretation of Paul’s doctrine, but the doctrine will not change.
Paul’s words have not changed, but the role of women has. Women are taking the right to lead in the church and at home instead of complementing the leadership of their husbands. We can see many examples of the deterioration of our society throughout history, and we can also see that this change has been cultural, psychological, and spiritual. “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 God. For in the manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands…” (1 Peter 3:3-5, NKJV) This is the role of women that God has laid out, and while the role of women in our world may change, God’s standard does not.
1. In what year was the first Women’s Rights Convention held?
2. In what three ways has our culture changed since the time of Paul?
a. Spiritual, Cultural, and Physiological
b. Spiritual, Cultural, and Psychological
c. Spiritual, Habitual, and Cultural
d. Spiritual, Psychological, and Intellectual
e. None of the above
3. According to the book entitled, Women, Creation, and the Fall, by Mary A.
Kassian, Paul’s teachings are:
a. Changing with our present culture
b. Not actually written by Paul
c. Authoratative for all times and cultures
d. Politically Incorrect
e. Applicable to our time, but not really necessary
4. According to this essay, 1 Peter 3:3-5 provides us with an example of:
a. What women today shouldn’t act like
b. What women should act like, but never do
c. What all women today act like
d. What role of women that God has laid out
e. An imaginary person
1. Jones, Douglas. “Ministers in Skirts.” http://www.credenda.org/issues/11-2thema.php World History. January 24, 2004.
2. Olasky, Susan. “Femme Fatale.” http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/03-29-97/cover_1.asp World History. January 24, 2004.
3. World Magazine. “Family Timeline: From 1607 to the present.” http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/05-20-00/cover_10.asp World History. January 24, 2004.
4. Kassian, Mary A. Women, Creation, and the Fall. Crossway Books. World History. January 24, 2004.
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