Vol. VIII — No. 47 November 26, 1967
Genesis 2:18; Genesis 1:23; 2 Timothy 2:15; Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:28; 1 Corinthians 11:11; Galatians 3:28; 2 Timothy 3:15; Acts 18:26; 1 Corinthians 7:14; Luke 8:2-3; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12
“I will make him an help meet for him.” Gen. 2:18
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth…” Gen.l:23.
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” II Tim. 2:l5.
“It (the woman’s Seed) shall bruise thy (Satan’s) head.” Gen. 3:l5.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Is. 7:l4.
“Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Luke l:28.
“Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” I Cor. ll:ll.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28.
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” II Tim. 3:l5.
“Whom (Apollos) when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded the way of God more perfectly.” Acts l8:26.
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife.” I Cor. 7:14.
“And certain women…ministered unto him of their substance.” Luke 8:2-3.
“Let your women keep silence in the churches.” I Cor. 14:34.
“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” I Tim. 2:l2
In Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who honoured all womanhood by being born as the Seed of a woman, Fellow Redeemed:
Today is a day of decision for us in this congregation. The point at issue is a relatively minor matter, but the test for us is of utmost importance. The question is whether or not we are going to let the Word of God rule in our midst in regard to the function of women in the church. Shall women preach and teach and rule in the church or are that honor and that responsibility to be restricted to the men—but not the boys? There are some that may say that we are today planning to take away from our women a “right”—their right to vote. That charge is false, for the Lord of the Church has given women no such “right.” There are others that may say that by denying to the women a voice in the decision-making and rule of the congregation we are failing to show proper respect to our women. We deny the charge and maintain that our action today is designed to promote God-intended respect for women. There are those who may be telling some of you that your pastor is against women. That charge is too ridiculous even to consider.
We live in a society that is attempting to establish complete equality between the sexes and is, without realizing it, actually degrading woman and womanhood. The reason for this situation is that society has turned its back upon the Word of God. we call ourselves children of God. Let us this morning hear what our God has to say on the function and purpose of woman, as we consider—
God could have created Adam and Eve simultaneously. But He didn’t! God could have created Eve first and then Adam as a helper fit for her. But He didn’t! He created Adam first. Then He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet—or fit—for him.” Then God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from his side and made woman. Woman was made-from man as a helper fit for him. God created man as head, woman as helper. Did God make a mistake? The Communists, who want to establish the complete equality of the sexes and thereby destroy the family, frankly consider God’s arrangement a mistake. The modern feminists and their mis-guided male supporters do the same. Are we, the children of God, to howl along with the world? Should we not rather recognize and teach our children to respect the dignity that God established for woman as one who should be at the side of man as his helper? Sin has caused man to enslave and tyrannize woman, even as it has caused woman to rebell against man. Grace has restored the relationship as God intended it. We are children of grace! God grant us grace to respect in our midst the dignity of woman as the helper of man!
God also established for all time the dignity of woman as—
After God had created Adam and then Eve, He placed His blessing upon them: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.” God could have filled the earth with people created directly by His hand. He didn’t! He made woman the medium and instrument for implementing His blessing. Adam called his wdfe Eve, which means the mother of all living. The women of one generation are the mothers of the next generation. Without them the human race would cease to exist. The function of continuing the huwen race unto the end of tim has been chiefly entrusted to woman. That is her God-given dignity and honor. That is why St. Paul says of the woman, “ Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” Childbearing is not a means of grace. Motherhood does not merit salvation. But childbearing and childrearing are the distinct function of woman, her sphere of activity. That is her peculiar and chief contribution to the Church and to all of society. Women are the mothers and rearers of preachers of the Gospel, of statemen and leaders of nations, of physicians and surgeons who care for the sick, of soldiers and sailors who defend the native land. What an honor our God has bestowed upon woman! what dignity! It is a sign of the corruption of our age that so many women despise and try to avoid the very function that God has entrusted to them as their dignity and honor. A woman was necessary for God to carry out His plans for the salvation of mankind. The dignity of woman is established for all time—
The woman was deceived by Satan in the garden. But according to God’s plans the woman’s Seed would one day destroy Satan’s tyranny over the human race. To Satan God said, “ It (the woman’s Seed) shall bruise thy (Satan’s) head.” The seed of man was necessary to populate the earth, but was of no avail in fulfilling the promise of a Savior. Woman, not man, was to play the vital role in the mystery of the incarnation—the coming in the flesh of the Son of God. Isaiah proclaimed this peculiar dignity of woman to his generation and to every generation when by the Spirit he prophesied, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” A virgin—not a woman who had known man. That prophecy was about to be fulfilled when Gabriel spoke these words to the virgin, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Every person saved, including every man, is dependent upon the Seed of the woman for his salvation. What greater dignity, what greater honor, what greater glory could God have given woman?
The Savior of the world was born of a woman. He brought salvation for all. Though God created woman as a helper fit for man, thus giving her the dignity of a supporting role, yet in matters pertaining to spiritual gifts: forgiveness, life and salvation it is the dignity of woman that she participates—
In the eleventh chapter of first Corinthians Paul speaks of the woman’s long hair as nature’s symbol of her subordination to man. He speaks also of the social custom of a woman covering her head as reinforcing this symbol. He commends the Corinthians for upholding these customs in their midst. But in the midst of his presentation he stops to make a significant statement, “ Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” The relationship of head and helper fades out at the foot of the cross and before the throne of grace. In his letter to the Galatians Paul scores this point again on a broader basis when he writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ.” In Christ all racial, social and sex barriers and distinctions fade away. There is total equality, complete democracy, at the foot of the cross. Every penitent woman receives the same gift that every penitent man and child receives—the full and free forgiveness of all sins through the holy life and innocent suffering and death of the Seed of the woman. Every believing woman is an heir of eternal salvation, the same as every believing man or child. Grace knows only equality for all. The invitation to eat of the Bread of Life and to drink of the Hater of Life is for the woman as well as the man. The dignity of equal opportunity for salvation belongs also to the woman.
Every woman has great opportunity to serve in the kingdom of grace—
By virtue of her motherhood and because of the total dependence of a child upon its mother every mother is strategically located to influence her children. One of St. Paul’s faithful helpers in his Gospel ministry was Timothy. Timothy’s father was a pagan Greek. How did young Timothy learn of the hope of Israel? Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” It was on the knee of his grandmother, Lois, and on the lap of his mother, Eunice, that Timothy learned the promise of God’s salvation. What greater task is there in this world than to teach a child to know his Savior, to walk in the paths of righteousness, to learn to live his life to the glory of his Savior-God? The special opportunity and the special responsibility of doing this work is entrusted to woman. What dignity!
Many a woman has advanced more in the study of Scripture than her husband. I have known women who had a much greater understanding of theology than many pastors I have known that were professionally trained. Such women, who have been endowed with a special measure of the Spirit of God, frequently serve as private counselors of men in spiritual matters. The history of Acts brings us such a case. Apollos was a brilliant and eloquent preacher of the Gospel, but his knowledge of baptism was limited to the baptism of John. Aquila and his gifted wife, Priscilla, noticed this deficiency. After Apollos had finished his sermon, “ they took him unto them—privately, note well—and expounded the way of God more perfectly.” Without a doubt Priscilla, who appears to have been the more gifted of the two, contributed the greater portion of instruction that this learned man needed.
In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul makes the statement that “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife.” Heaven will have among its residents many one-time unbelieving men who were brought to faith and kept on the narrow path through the efforts and examples of their wives. The woman occupies a strategic place for influence in the home. That is her peculiar sphere of influence, her realm. That is her dignity!
Her dignity is also to uselwerspecial gifts—
St. Luke reports, “…and certain women—Mary called Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others—ministered unto him of their substance.” Mary cared for the personal needs of Jesus from infancy to manhood. These women carried on during His public ministry. It was the women, not the men, who stood beneath the cross those last hours. It was the women, not the men, who wanted to perform that last act of love on Easter morn. There has always been a place and a need for the ministry or service of women. How could we get along without the distinctive services of our women who use their talents and serve their Lord as organists, choir members and directresses, Sunday School teachers, nursery attendants, and the doers of countless other tasks that men either overlook or are not qualified to do? And each service rendered is considered by the Lord as being done personally unto Him. what dignity there is in such service!
But even as the Lord gives women great opportunity for service, yea service in areas restricted to women only, so He also reserves special areas of service restricted to men only. It is part of the dignity of a woman to discipline herself and adjust herself to these restrictions placed upon her by the Lord of the Church, who has given her dignity—
The issue was that of prophesying or preaching and teaching publicly in the congregation. Paul wrote, “ Let your women keep silence in the churches…for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” There is a dignity to silence at the proper time and place. The dignity of our Lord in His passion was thrice manifested by His silence—before Caiaphas, before Pilate and before Herod. For a woman to be silent in the church is part of her God-established dignity; for her to speak is to her shame.
The issue was the relationship of man to woman in the public assembly of the congregation when Paul wrote, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” It is impossible for a woman to heed this command of the Holy Spirit, if she attends a meeting of the congregation as a participant. There is dignity in silence at the right time and place.
May God grant that our women learn to glory in their God-given dignity! Amen.
Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.