The fourth chapter of Judges presents an interesting discussion. The story this time is about Deborah, a female, that was appointed by God to be a judge. This brings up the question as to the place of women in God’s program. We have seen earlier in the Scriptures where women have been prophetesses and have been granted possession of lands, both which are normally assigned to men to prophesy and own the land.
So how do women fit in to God’s plans? Should they be equal to men? Should they be subordinate to men? Are they inferior to men?
The simple fact is that God chooses the right person for the right job no matter their gender. He has a goal and he decides how that goal is to be met whether it be through a man or woman.
A quick survey of Scripture helps with the position of women.
God created woman after man to be a helpmate to him, not to overrule him, but to be a partner in their relationship. The same is true as discussed in the New Testament. When the apostle Paul said that women are to submit to men, that is a compliment because that means a woman had rights and a volition whether or not to submit. This is opposite of the way society ran in biblical times. The idea is for the smooth running relationship in which they find themselves compatible.
Going further in Ephesians 5, verse 23 says that the husband is the head of the wife. If we stop at that point, it does look like a dictatorship. However, the rest of the verse explains an extremely important principle. The relationship between a man and a woman is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is the head of the church. Verse 24 says the church is to be subject unto Christ. And further explains that women are to be subject to their husbands in a similar way.
Someone must drive the boat! There cannot be two people at the helm. When a question comes up in a marriage in which a decision must be made, the husband is to be open to the wife’s” input. Someone must make the decision and that is the husband after considering alternatives including what the wife says.
Verse 25 of Ephesians 5 puts a big responsibility of the husband. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Going to verse 28 men are to love their wives as their own bodies. Men care for their bodies by washing it, shaving it, clothing it, and protecting it. This is the basis of a man’s relationship to his wife. He is to do these things and more out of love as Christ loved the church. Verse 33 concludes by a repeat that a man is to love his wife as himself, but it rephrases the idea of submitting and says that she is to reverence her husband. She is to honor him and support him in his emotional, physical, and relational needs
One more thought. Back to verse 21, each are to submit themselves to the other. This does not mean that the husband is to be henpecked. It does mean though that there are times the wife may have a better outlook on the question and he should be willing to accept her answer and follow through on it.
There are those who question the place of a woman in the church. If the we are to follow through from Adam through the New Testament, we see an example of how things should be. This is not to say that a man is better than a woman. However, the scriptural situation in which Christ is the head of the church and the church is the bride, there is ample evidence to prove that a man shall hold the highest position of as pastor in the church.
There may be times in which missionaries go overseas and a woman either teaches or preaches to the local inhabitants. This is not breaking what God established. It is, like Deborah, in today’s Bible study where God is using the best person for the job in a certain situation.
A woman can deliver a sermon, but that does not mean she has biblical authority to do it in the church routinely. We must be very careful to follow what God established. He used women in the New Testament, but only men have reference as pastors and deacons.
Back to chapter 4 of Judges. The cycle is repeated again in which Israel did evil and this occurred after the judge Ehud died. In response to the cry of Israel, God provided a woman named Deborah who was a prophetess. When Israel cried to God, she turned to Barak who was supposed to lead the Army. For some strange reason he admitted that he was hesitant to go to battle unless this woman went with him. Her reply was that when the enemy was defeated, the honor would not go to a man but to a woman.
An aside story is even more interesting. As the enemy king fled from Barak, another woman helped in the victory. She convinced the king to take refuge in her tent. After he fell asleep, she drove a nail through his head. So it was, victory was gained by two women.
Women have played a significant role in God’s plan from Eve to the women in our text to those that helped the apostles to those who were present on the day of Pentecost and to those that supported the ministry of Paul. Most important of all, was Mary the mother Jesus.