Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man--there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as "The women, God help us!" or "The ladies, God bless them!"; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deed of Jesus that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature.
Dorothy Sayers

Friday, May 13, 2011

“In the beginning…”

He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:2,3

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16

Religious leaders of every stripe—usually men, have through the ages made pronouncements about women—usually negative, but none ever spoke with the authority of Jesus. As creator of “all things” and entities, Jesus’ words and pattern of life profoundly weight the scales; he, above all, knows how women are made—and his intent for them.

Since Jesus was sent to us from heaven by his Father (John 3:16) and did only what his father told him to do and say, so in Jesus, we also know Father’s ideas about women. To be thorough—The Holy Spirit (also known as “the Spirit of Jesus” Acts 16:7; Philippians 1:19) was sent by Jesus and does what Jesus says to do—so we also know in Jesus, how the Holy Spirit regards women. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the three-in-one are demonstrated in the life of Jesus, fully God and perfect man—our example.

Jesus never rebuked a woman harshly. Martha will undoubtedly spring to mind at this point (Luke 10:38-41) but Jesus simply exhorted her to not worry so much and (in effect) to learn to sit at his feet like her sister Mary. Apparently Martha heeded, since she later very clearly testified, “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”(John 11:27)

Jesus continually broke cultural norms regarding women, teaching Mary of Bethany as a rabbinical student, speaking to a strange woman at the well in Samaria (notice that his disciples wondered why he was talking with a woman but not a Samaritan, though Samaritans were off-limits John 4:27). He taught and healed women and girls the same as he did men and boys. Not once did he make disparaging remarks about women or even groups of women.

Jesus defended women against put downs from men such as when the woman anointed him. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mark 14:6) After his resurrection, He first appeared to women (Matthew 28:8-10) sending them as the first human proclaimers of the Good News that he was(is!) alive!* When Jesus referred to his disciples, he often meant not just “the Twelve” but also the women who followed him. (Matthew 12:48-50)

Rather than putting women down as the Jewish leaders were in the habit of doing,** Jesus pointed to women as favorable examples. (Matthew 15:21-28) He admired and rewarded the “great faith” of the Canaanite woman who asked for deliverance for her daughter. Jesus made an extra effort, “calling his disciples to him”, to teach them by the example of the widow who gave her “mite” as an offering. (Mark 12:41-43) Jesus peopled his parables with women as well as men but unlike the men, the women were always shown in a positive light.

I’ve not found a single time*** in the gospels where Jesus limited women or put them down. Instead, he restored the dignity he created them in, in the beginning.

*It’s been said that the only reason Jesus appeared to the women first was that they were there at the tomb doing “women’s work”. Well, if putting spices on a body to preserve them was women’s work, then Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were doing “women’s work” the day they bought spices and wrapped Jesus' body and laid it in the tomb! (John 19:38-40)

** “Jewish men of Paul’s day were warned not to sit among women because ‘evil comes from them like a moth emerging from clothes’. Lorry Lutz,Women as Risk Takers for God,30

*** I’ve read a number of books about women's roles written by traditionalists and have rarely found any mention of how Jesus related to women, other than reference to Jesus’ appointing of twelve male disciples, drawing the conclusion that all church leadership should be male only. First of all the Twelve were set apart from all the other disciples, female or male and if they are to be our only example then the vast majority of churches are out of compliance unless unless their leadership is all Jewish, they’re all circumcised, several are professional fishermen, they’re all uneducated, one is a cheater, another has repeatedly denied the Lord, and another is a betrayer and thief and let’s not forget the two hot-headed-me-firster “Sons of Thunder”. We don’t know why Jesus chose men for The Twelve (he chose “the Three” out of those, leaving the other nine behind on several occasions) the Bible doesn’t say, but he was likely drawing a comparison to the twelve tribes of Israel rather than a male/female dichotomy. (Paul’s teachings are used as the standard for women’s roles in these books though Paul has sadly been so misrepresented that he wouldn’t even recognize himself!)


God created all the heavens and the earth, plants, animals and Adam and it was all good, except for one thing, the only thing that was not good—Adam was alone, he needed a companion. (Genesis 2:18) So God created an ezer kenegdo for him—a help to surround and protect him, one who was parallel and face to face with him—not under him. The word ezer or helper is the same word used for God helping the Israelites against Pharaoh (Exodus 18:4)—Eve was no shrinking violet! (There is no such thing in the Bible as a “helpmeet”—not even in the King James but “an help meet” or ezer kenegdo—see above.) God gave Eve joint-rulership with Adam over all the creatures of the Earth! (Genesis 1:26-28)

Naming and Dominion

God made Adam and Eve to work together side by side but some say that since Adam named the animals and he named Eve that by virtue of naming them, he gained the right to rule over animals and women. But we women are not in the category of the animals; we are made in the image of God! (Genesis 1:26.27) The Hebrew verb translated as “called” or sometimes as “name” means to “call out” as in calling upon the name of God but when Adam called out, “Ishaah” (or woman), it was more like exclaiming, ”Wowie kazowie!” than naming. He wasn’t ruling, he was rejoicing! (Genesis 2:23) Later, after they sinned, Adam prophesied that Eve would be the mother of all the living (same word), in this case he called out what the future would hold. (Genesis 3:20)

In the Image of God

I was recently astounded to read a woman’s assertion that the Bible says woman was made in the image of man--that’s what she learned in seminary. That wasn’t what I remembered! So I grabbed my NIV and looked up I Corinthians 11 (v.7). No, it doesn’t say woman is the “image” of man but the “glory”. Then I checked my Greek interlinear New Testament and found that it agreed—“doxa” (glory), not “eikon” (image). Okay, maybe she had a different translation; so I checked the KJV, RSV, NAS, NEB and the Jerusalem Bible, even The Amplified Bible (notorious for adding its own theological template)—all said “glory” not “image”.

And yet, I’ve heard people say this from time to time completely disregarding Genesis 1:26.27, which says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So where did such an idea come from? It originates, not from the Bible but from speculations and opinions of some of the “early church fathers” who were more influenced by the misogyny of their times and cultures than the Word of God.

If you are a follower of Jesus (John 8:31,32), whether man or woman, girl or boy, you represent the likeness (image) of God to the world. As you obey Jesus’ teachings you are showing them what God looks like—no one can take that away from you. (In fact, all people were originally made in the image of God but sin has obscured that reflection. (Colossians 3:7-11)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3: 18

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

Emphasis added

First Born

Some teach that since Adam was created first (he indeed was), God intended him to rule over Eve and every man over every woman ever after—a sort of first-born right. But think about it, the roses and wisteria were created three days before people, so by that line of reasoning we would have “flower power”! Or bird or cow power… (Genesis, chapters 1 & 2)

More Easily Deceived?

Sadly though everything was wonderful in the Garden of Eden, Eve, then Adam sinned. Eve was deceived by the serpent but Adam knew full well what he was doing. Does the fact that Eve was deceived mean, as it is often taught, that women are more easily deceived than men and therefore can’t be trusted in leadership? Of course not! Not unless overt sin makes one more trustworthy!

No, Paul constantly warned all the Christians against being deceived, female and male. (1 Cor.6:9; 2 Cor. 11:3; 2 Thes. 2:3; Gal. 6:7; Col. 2:4; 2 Tim 3:13; Titus 3:3; James 1:16; 2 John 7—Jesus too, in Mt. 24:4) Besides the Bible says that Jesus’ death and resurrection freed all of us from the punishment for original sin—not just Adam’s but Eve’s too! Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, so we’re no longer under the “curse” that when Eve would have a longing for her husband, he would take advantage of her by trying to control her. (Galatians 3: 13) That’s right! We’re free! Jesus came to set the captives free from sin, free from personal and original sin and free from the constraints of culture—the traditions of men. Free to serve the Lord together.

Humans First

Jesus is the best that ever happened to women! Colossian says that Jesus created all things! (Colossians 1:16) Do you think our maker knows what women are supposed to be like? Of course! We can tell so much by the way he treated women—or didn’t treat them. He really didn’t treat them any differently than men except as humans that he came to save and serve. Yes, he made women unique and he made men unique and science is discovering more of this all the time but first and foremost, we have more in common than we have differences—we are human.

Jesus vs. Culture

Jesus came into a world in which Greek, Roman, even Jewish men taught that women were inferior, on a level somewhere between men and animals, evil, the cause of all trouble and something of a curse that they even existed. Plato taught, “The price for our sinning was exacted at the beginning of time by Zeus himself when he afflicted us with these creatures (women)” and “if we spend our lives in wrongdoing and in cowardice, afterward Zeus will send us back into this life as women.”* Plato taught Aristotle, then many of the early church fathers openly mixed the teachings of Aristotle with Christianity—rearranging some of the words but not deleting the ideas.

No one could have gotten such ideas from Jesus! He never put women down, never used them as bad examples in his parables. Instead he often referred to them as astoundingly good examples of great faith and giving, as with the widow who gave all she had to live on. (Mark 12:42-44) He never rebuked them harshly. The closest he came to that was gently saying, Martha, Martha you worry about too many things.” (Luke 10:39-41) Jesus never talked down to women but spoke directly to them some great theological truths—to the Samaritan woman (who he wasn’t supposed to speak to at all because she was a woman—people might get the wrong idea, and a hated Samaritan one at that) He said to her, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth,” and identified himself to her as the Messiah. (John 4:22-24) When Lazarus died, Jesus said to his sister Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life.” And she confessed, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (John 11:27)

Jesus had Mary, Martha’s sister sitting at his feet to learn from him—the position of a rabbinical student, unheard of for a woman in their culture! And he said that learning from him was the best thing to choose and that it would not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

Jesus entrusted these women with deep truths. Were these truths only for women? The men had better hope not! No. Jesus expects all his disciples to teach others to obey the things he commanded. We are to put our light on a stand and let it give light to everyone.

*Why Not Women? Loren Cunningham, David Hamilton p.72 from “Plato”, Microsoft© Encyclopedia Encarta, 1993

Leave Her Alone

Mary of Bethany poured out her all for Jesus when she broke open an alabaster bottle of perfume worth a year’s wages! Whether named or unnamed, each gospel account* tells of men complaining of her devotion—one said she was “the wrong kind” to be ministering to him, apparently thinking that her past life overshadowed her new one (Luke 7:39), while others thought ministering to Jesus was a waste of money! But Jesus defended her saying, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Matthew 26:10) She was, he said, doing a very special thing for him—anointing his body for burial; other things, as important as they were, could be done anytime but Mary’s was a special, one-of-a-kind task in time--so important that Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13) So, what this woman Mary of Bethany did for Jesus was so vital that the gospel is not properly preached without telling about her. (I don’t recall this having been said of anyone else.)

*I once was rebuked for saying in a Bible Study class that the four accounts spoke of one woman—Mary of Bethany. “The scholars say!”
Matthew 26:6-13 Bethany*Simon the Leper*alabaster/perfume*“sinful woman”*anointed for burial
Mark 14:3-9 Bethany*Simon the Leper*alabaster/perfume*a woman* anointed for burial
Luke 7:36-50 Pharisee,Simon* alabaster/perfume*“sinful woman”
John 12:1-11 Bethany* perfume*Mary of Bethany*anointed for burial

While the comparisons above are strong evidence the strongest is Jesus’ statement that, “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13) Each gospel tells only of one woman, not two scenarios. If there were two different women then each of the gospels left out one or the other. It’s extremely unlikely that either Luke or John would have disobeyed Jesus and left out her story from the telling of the gospel (stated in Matthew & Mark). Why does it matter? Jesus did know who she was and welcomed her. Mary of Bethany often found herself at Jesus’ feet, learning from him and worshiping him because he had forgiven her for so much and on top of it all—he raised her brother from the dead!

First to Proclaim the Good News!

Now Mary [Magdalene] stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (“Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18

Jesus appeared first to women after he rose from the dead! Some have said that it was only because they were there doing the “women’s work” of preparing the body—if it was women’s work, then Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were doing women’s work a couple of days earlier when they put spices on his body. (John 18:38-31) No, the women were there because their love for Jesus overcame their fear. And God will always honor that.

Jesus told Mary Magdalene and the women with her to “Go and tell my brothers..” but the men didn’t believe her. (Luke 24:9-11) A girl I know made that mistake once. Her mother sent her little sister to tell her to come home when she was playing at a neighbor’s house. The girl didn’t want to stop playing—who was this little sister to tell her what to do anyway-- so she sent her away. Of course, the younger girl went back to their mother who sent her again. Then the younger sister came back to the older sister saying, "You’d better come, she’s really mad.” She went. The mother told the older girl, “When I send her, I expect you to listen; it’s just as if it was me telling you. If you ignore her—you’re ignoring me.” We dare not ignore the Word of God brought by his messenger even if we don’t like the package! But to their credit, Peter and John raced to the tomb so they must have believed something! (Luke 24:12)

Women Disciples

When the Bible or even Jesus himself referred to “his disciples” women—many women, were included in that designation. They weren’t just part of the crowd or an afterthought. “Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.” (Matthew 12:48-50; Mark 3:34) Luke tells us by name just who these disciples were, ”After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others.” (Luke 8:1-3)

The same word is always used for disciples whether male or female. Women are not subset disciples but the first rate, real thingif, as Jesus said, we continue in his teachings. (John 8:31, 32) Jesus’ teachings—and he continued to teach through the apostles, are the only teachings for Christians to follow—he said his sheep listen to only his voice.(John 10:3) Get to know his word the Bible—especially the New Testament, intimately so you can use it as a filter for all the things that come at you. Go beyond the English (or your language) translations and you’ll be amazed at the differences the Greek makes. It’s not hard to find Greek interlinear New Testaments and not at all hard to read them. This is a good starting point in knowing what Jesus truly said.

On the Road with Jesus

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

Jesus didn’t have a problem with Joanna, a married woman, going on the road with him—he didn’t chide her for leaving her husband alone. And notice, the women who were with him weren’t “doing the cooking and cleaning” as many have said, but they ministered by footing the bill! (Luke 8:3) Besides, Jesus didn’t consider cooking to be “women’s work”, he could cook too! (John 21:9-13)

The Twelve

Jesus made no distinction between men and women disciples but what about “the Twelve”? First of all they were set apart from all the other disciples, female or male. But they were all male, so doesn’t that mean that church leadership should be all men? Well, if they are to be our only example then the vast majority of churches are out of compliance unless their leadership is all Jewish and they’re all circumcised, unless several are professional fishermen, they’re all uneducated, one is a cheater, another has repeatedly denied the Lord, and another is a betrayer and thief--and let’s not forget the two hot-headed-me-firster “Sons of Thunder”. We don’t know why Jesus chose men for The Twelve (the Bible doesn’t say but he was likely drawing a comparison to the 12 tribes of Israel) but he chose “the Three” out of those twelve, leaving the other nine behind on several occasions.

All Together

Jesus included the women and treated them well but that didn’t stop with his ascension—no, they were right there in the Upper Room praying constantly. And on the day of Pentecost they were still “all together”. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues then Peter reminded the men who heard them that Joel prophesied that God’s Spirit would be poured out on both men and women and that both would prophesy. (Acts 2)

Paul, the Misunderstood

Paul, unlike some have thought, was very close to Jesus, having had several visitations and visions from him, and he wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So we ignore him at our peril. But we have to look at the Greek to see what he really said. He was not, as many have characterized him, a woman-hater, he continually commended women and counted on them as fellow workers for the gospel but he never put them down—or us.

All the People

The vast majority of the time when Paul or the other apostles wrote “men” or “man” the word was anthropos or “all the people”. Many times, the English translations insert “men” when the Greek says simply “ones”. The word translated, as “brothers” is adelphoi, which literally means, “from the same womb” and according to lexicons “can be rightly translated as brothers and sisters. In addition, a word often translated as “son” actually means child—male or female. Paul wrote his letters to the entire church in each place, so everything he said in general applies to women as well.

The Head

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 5:23

This one verse has been a pivotal point of controversy in the Church but much of the controversy comes from a misunderstanding of one word—“head”. Paul uses the Greek word “kephale” but we get stuck when we think of the English word head—we think it means “boss”. When I was co-founding chapter of an international Christian women’s group in Texas and going through leadership training, we were told, “We don’t want bosses here, we want leaders.” And as it turns out, the word kephale has no relationship to boss or even leader though Paul could have chosen one that did—but he didn’t; he and the Holy Spirit knew what they were doing! Here is a list of what kephale DOES NOT mean,: headmaster, head of a family, head of state, head of the clan, head of the household, headman, principal or supreme—all of these come from words other than kephale. The word simply means that which sits on one’s shoulders—a physical head with eyes, nose, mouth and ears or it can mean a head of garlic (I don’t think he meant that!) or LIFE.* So when you read Ephesians 5:23 with the definition of “life”, it would say, “For the husband is the life of the wife as Christ is the life of the church” Wow! That makes a difference! It fits the context of the verse is of husbands laying down their lives for their wives, loving and nurturing them—not ruling them.

* Liddell,Scott; Georg Autenrieth, A Homeric Dictionary; Woodhouse’s English Greek Dictionary


21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-32

The dreaded “S word”--submit. Many preachers are afraid to tackle this subject—afraid of being “the bad guy” and many others tackle with this subject—not caring if they’re “the bad guy”. The Bible does indeed say that wives are to submit to their husbands, but there are a couple things to note. In the Greek, the word submit, doesn’t even appear in Ephesians 5:22 but comes from verse 21 “submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ”—all Christians are to submit to one another. It’s about mutual submission because we love Jesus and we love each other. The Greek word translated as “submit” is hupotasso, which is a military term; when it’s used in a non-military sense as this is, it means to voluntarily come under with the idea of cooperating together to accomplish something*. Paul and Peter always spoke directly to the wives and never told the husbands to make them submit. I’ve come across several women who want nothing to do with God because their fathers yelled at their mothers, “Woman, submit!”

From the beginning, it was not so… Incidentally, the Bible never tells all women to submit to all men just because they’re men. And it NEVER commands women whether Old Covenant or New, to obey their husbands. But Sarah obeyed Abraham… Yes, but she chose that and was commended not commanded. ( However, God commanded Abraham to listen to his wife and do what she said concerning Hagar. (Genesis 21:12)

If you look at the whole section in Ephesians 5 you’ll see that once again, the Bible interprets itself. Paul emphasizes one role of Jesus toward the church as a comparison to marriage, that of a savior who laid down his life. Paul used a metaphor; metaphors don’t compare on every point, only those that the author emphasizes, just as when we refer to Jesus as “the Lion of Judah”, we refer to his strength, power, and leadership, even ferocity. We’re not saying that he has four paws and a tail and sleeps all day draped over tree branches! In the same way, Paul does not mean to compare husbands to Jesus in every way. A husband can never save wives from their sin, he didn’t create them and he’s certainly not God! What Paul does say is that a husband is to give himself up for his wife, loving her as much as he loves himself, to feed and care for her—just as Jesus did and does for the Church (this was a culture that treated women with contempt and as property), even leaving his family behind. Notice that the majority of the instruction is to the husband! It’s about love not rulership!

Think about it, when you go to a salon to get your hair cut, you have to voluntarily come under the stylist, you have to sit still and let him or her serve you. Peter didn’t want to allow Jesus to serve him by washing his feet—he didn’t want to hupotasso to Jesus’ loving service. Jesus washed his disciples feet to be an example for us to serve one another.

*Bauer’s Ardnt Gingrich, (Chicago University of Chicago Press) 847
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (software)

Priest of the Household

But isn’t the husband the priest of the household? I’ve searched the New Testament through and cannot find even one reference to that. I find that those of us who follow Jesus are all “a holy and royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9) and that “there is only one mediator—our high priest, Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) Not only is it not there but why would only married women need an extra intermediary?* We can all “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” (Hebrews 4:16) Where I have found husbands as priests of the household is in Mormonism** , Roman paganism*** and in Nigerian Juju spiritism.****

The earliest Christian reference I’ve found is in one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons***** but he didn’t say where he got it. People have probably meant well; they seem to have said, hmmm “spiritual head” (it’s not spiritual head, but metaphorical or figurative head—“Buddhism considers husbands to be the spiritual head of the Burmese household because of his spiritual status.”******) that means leader (it means “life”) sooo, they think, an example of a spiritual head in the Bible is…let’s see, a Levitical priest, let’s look up what a Levitical priest does… They completely forget that Hebrews reminds us that the Levitical priesthood is obsolete, that not even Jesus qualifies for it because you have to be born into the right tribe, that Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek—not Aaron. (Hebrews 7:11-18) We’re all priests; Jesus is our high priest, we don’t need an extra layer in between.

If you’re not married or your husband’s not “into that stuff” you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?” Plenty! First of all, all Christians are one body “fitly joined together” and when one part of the body hurts—it all hurts. In addition, many unmarried women hope, plan, expect to be married one day and tend to make themselves expert at reminding married women that their husbands are to be the “priests of the household”, etc. But maybe more to the point is that many church leaders have the mistaken idea that marriage is the model for the church rather than Paul using metaphor to compare marriage to one aspect of relationship between Jesus and the church—that of his laying down his life. They say ah, male headship in marriage means, since we’re the “family of God”, that the church should have male headship. Oops, the church has only one head and that’s Jesus!

*See J. Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, (Creation House) 76
** concept 7; ;
PBS special The Mormons, aired February 4, 2010
*** Everett Ferguson Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Eerdmans) 158 from H.H. Scullard Festivals of& Ceremonies of the Roman Republic
****Ruthanne Garlock, Fire in His Bones (biography Benson Idahosa) 13
*****Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons on New Testament Women 149
******Pauline King, Countries of the World, (Gareth Stevens Publishing) 22

Women & Church Leadership: Deacons

Women are to be working to spread the Kingdom of heaven, exercising their God-given gifts to encourage the Church—just as the men. Paul commended Christian women as his “fellow workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:3), just as he did the men, they were “ministers” just as the men. The Greek word diakonos strangely gets translated minister or deacon when it applies to men but servant when it applies to women. Phoebe was a diakonos and it’s quite possible that she personally carried Paul’s letter to the Romans. (Romans 16:1, 2) Junia, a relative of Paul’s was named as an apostle. (Romans 16:7) Priscilla taught Apollos, “the way of God more adequately.”(Acts 18:24-26)