But more than that fallacy that many people apparently believe, there is another fallacy that has crept in, and which I was also taken in for several years. Many people believe that the Bible teaches that women are not to have leadership roles in the church. Today I discovered that is not the case at all.
I cannot tell you how many times I have read the book of Romans, but it came as a shock to me this morning, when reading Romans 16:1-2 that there were women who were deacons in the early church.
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God's people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me"
Paul was not just speaking to women when he wrote the book of Romans.
I'd always assumed that only men had been deacons then. It just goes to show you that women's position was skyrocketed in the early church when the world thought of women as possessions, not as people.
It also exposes the lie that the early church wanted to keep women "in their place."
That was so far from the truth. Paul gave women as high a standing as men!
Which brings me to want to talk about the women of the Bible: from my understanding, women in the days of the Bible were thought of as possessions, little more than cattle owned by the men and dominated by the men. That was not what God intended for women at all, but somehow society twisted God’s intentions. In spite of the prevailing thought, there were still women who stood out as great leaders in that ancient patriarchal society.
Deborah is one example of such a woman. She was one of the judges. The Lord gave her a word to give to Barak. He was to attack the enemy that suppressed Israel at that time. Barak told Deborah that he would go only if she went with him; and she did. Deborah must have been a highly respected and brave woman for a man, not her husband, to ask that she accompany him to battle. Her story is in Judges 4 and 5.
Another brave and beautiful woman was Abigail. The Bible talks of her as “a sensible and beautiful woman.” Her story is in 1 Samuel 25 which tells about her foolish husband and how she bravely averted a great slaughter by David and his mob of angry men on her home. Later, she took her life in her hands again, by telling her husband what she’d done.
Here are two examples of women in the Bible who showed great strength in their faith. There are other examples too, and the Bible gives us a definition of a godly woman in Proverbs 31:10-31: She manages her house, she sells wares and she laughs at the future because she knows the Lord has provided for her and her household.
We must not fail to talk about Jesus’ treatment of women. Jesus, the Son of God, treated all women as the Father always intended women to be treated. He was gentle and kind, especially with those who were downtrodden. He was respectful and appreciative that many very influential women helped support his ministry. He was loving, and though he told one woman to “go and sin no more” it was with the voice of love, calling her to move from where she’d been to the place where he called her to be.
I do not pretend to understand 1 Tim 2:12 or the other verses that do not allow women leadership roles in the church, but I think we need to treat this subject just like any other and look at the entire Bible and see how God intended women to be treated. Then we are to apply that as the Holy Spirit shows us. God never intended anyone to be suppressed: not women, not children, not the sick or those with mental disorders. We are to love and respect everyone just as we would have others love and respect us.