I had not intended to take my grandson with me into Costco last week when I drove my daughter to town for her Obstetrics appointment. In her 7th month of pregnancy, Sarah was fighting a miserable cold, and intended to wait in the van with her two little boys while I ran some errands after her check up. Therefore, we had just loaded the boys up as they were, Ethan still in the police costume he’d been playing in.
However, by the time I got to Costco, Ethan needed a potty break, so I took him with me into the store. Ethan is small for his age. Although he’s 3 years old, his older brother had been that same size when he was only 2. Therefore it didn’t occur to me how funny such a tiny person looked striding into Costco wearing a police hat that was too big, and a uniform with POLICE written across his back. Immediately, he attracted the attention of dozens of shoppers, beginning with the staff attendant at the front door. “Are you a policeman?” he asked. Responding to all the attention, Ethan scowled and authoritatively said, “I’m the sheriff! I’m looking for the bad guys!”
I find it fascinating that Ethan and his brother Jakob so instinctively thrive in filling the role of “protector/provider”– consistently pretending they are dragon-slayers, bear-hunters, police officers, or farmers, protecting and providing for their women– while at the same time, their cousins Raeme and Sadie exercise equal passion in their roles as princesses and brides– endlessly hosting tea parties or playing house, anticipating that one day they will dance in the arms of their bridegroom, the prince who will sweep them away to live with them forever. It seems as though their destiny–their call of God– is written on their very hearts and souls!
The distinction is a beautiful thing to see. And each of these God-ordained roles is fascinating because each of them is a clear representation of either Jesus Christ– the Provider, Protector, and Bridegroom– or His beautiful loving Bride, the Church.
As a woman, there is nothing in the world as fulfilling to me as God’s call to Christian Womanhood. It’s the very highest honor to spend my life representing the Bride of Christ, and passionately embracing the character He demands in order to rightly represent His Kingdom. And my greatest joy is to be protected and cared for by my husband who is such a wonderful picture of Christ, the Bridegroom.
Though a very strong and deceptive voice of feminism would try to convince us otherwise, it’s clearly because of our faith in Christ Jesus that women can so fully enjoy and embrace the honor that we’ve been given! Far from degrading the role of women, Christianity actually brought women out of the misery of deprivation, into the elevated state of being cherished and protected, so that we can be such an amazing picture of Christ and His Bride that we can so wonderfully enjoy.
Just think of what we’ve been rescued from! When Jesus entered the scene on earth, the Roman culture was promiscuous and depraved as women were regarded as less than men, merely to be used for men’s pleasure and convenience. As explained by Dr. Peter Hammond, Roman law defined adultery as a property crime against the husband, committed solely by the wife. It was a property issue, not an ethical issue. A husband was never found guilty of adultery, regardless of his indiscretions. Likewise in Greece, the Athenian woman had the social status of merely a slave.
It was within this depraved culture of rampant homosexuality, pedophilia, and sexual perversion that the radical and revolutionary Christian message came, elevating the status of women in the very midst of it. As Dr. Hammond wrote, “By granting women a previously unknown respect and status, [the Lord Jesus] not only broke with the anti-female culture of His era, but He set a high standard for His followers to emulate. The actions and teachings of Jesus raised the status of women to new heights, to the consternation and dismay of both His friends and enemies. By word and deed, Christ went against the ancient accepted practices that stereotyped women as socially, intellectually and spiritually inferior.” *
Jesus broke all the cultural rules by respecting and talking with women, as He did with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:9), or with Martha when He actually encouraged her to seek out Jesus’ teaching as Mary did (Luke 10:42)! Then, Christianity exceeded even that by granting women equal access as participants of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, assuring the proper care of the fatherless and widows, and by insisting upon marital faithfulness and honor between one husband and one wife.
“Be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect,” 1 Peter 3:7 commanded husbands;
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them,” (Colossians 3:19.)
When Jesus came, marriage itself was elevated to a place of beauty, purpose and meaning that far exceeds anything prior to or outside of the Christian faith. The love and submission that we are called to as husbands and wives are to be a reflection of Christ Himself, His amazing love for His Bride the Church, and the Church’s submission to His headship as her Bridegroom. It is not merely a cultural recommendation. There is great meaning and purpose to it, as well as responsibility in light of our Christian testimony.
And by extending the Gospel beyond Israel, Jesus made the way to God accessible for all who believe– equal access to God was made available to both male and female(Galatians 3:28).
However, equal access does not mean equal roles! We must not be deceived into thinking that because Jesus elevated the role of women, that the roles of men and women are now interchangable! As head of the wife, the husband represents Christ as the Bridegroom– the Protector, Defender, Provider of the faithful and loving Bride, His Church. There are distinct differences between the roles of men and women, and distinct responsibilites to provide a distinct testimony to the world of Christ and His Bride.
Lately, I find it so frustrating that there’s an increasing number of women jumping into the combative roles of aggressive political debate in an attempt to prove their intellectual equality to men. Yet it’s a battleground, and in the process, far too often women stop behaving like ladies and succomb to behaving instead like tigers– shouting, insulting, interrupting, even using coarse language. As women, we are to be well informed and able to intelligently discuss issues– but we must never take on battles that are not ours to fight, and thereby deviate from providing a faithful representation of the Bride of Christ– holy, submissive, faithful, graceful, and beautiful.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26);
“Let your speech always be gracious,” (Colossians 4:6).
The lines must not blur between Christ and His Bride, between the role of men and the role of women, and confuse the clear distinction. The beauty of womanhood is our joy to bear, the greatest privilege we will ever have! Maybe adults just become too sophisticated to easily recognize it. Maybe we ought to pay closer attention to our grandchildren– they seem to understand their roles so much better!
*From “The Christian Liberation of Women” by Dr. Peter Hammond, Christian Action for Reformation and Revival, Cape Town, South Africa, Vol. 3, 2005
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