Church, Sunday School, Women

Godly Womanhood – God’s Role for Women in the Church ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-22-13

sunday schoolThese are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for the previous lesson.

Godly Womanhood – God’s Role for Women in the Church
1 Timothy 2

Review/overview of God’s structure for leadership:

Creative Order (Genesis 2-3):

1. Man was created first, then woman.

2. Man was given responsibility, position, and instruction before woman was created.

3. Woman was created to be a helper.

Marriage Order (Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 7):

Reflects and builds on the Creative Order:

1. Consistency with Creative account

We do not see a reversal or equalizing of roles in the New Testament’s teaching on the roles of men and women in marriage. The marriage roles continue to be understood basically as they have been since Creation.

2. Conformity to God’s original plan in the Creative account

Not only do we see consistency with the Creative account, we also see a reiteration and fleshing out (with more specifics) of God’s original plan for the roles of men and women. Men have primary leadership/responsibility, women play a supporting role. Eph. 5:31 even quotes Gen. 2:24.

Reflects the relationship between Christ and His church:

1. Christ –the bridegroom- is the head of the church –the bride- as the husband is the head of the wife. (Ephesians 5:23-24, Matthew 9:15, John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7, 21:9)

2. The wife is to submit to her husband as the church is to submit to Christ.

God’s pattern- in the Creative order, the marriage order, and the bride of Christ order – is that the male is in the primary role of leadership, and the female is in the support role. What do you think He will say about the roles of men and women in church leadership in 1 Timothy 2?

Seeing that established pattern, would it make any sense for God to break that pattern, especially in His bride, the church, and establish an order opposing this pattern, in which women have authority over men in the pastoral/teaching/leadership roles of the church?

8- Paul sets the tone of the passage as primarily a leadership “do” for men.

Not primarily a “don’t” for women, this is secondary. He begins by telling men to stand up and take responsibility in the church. Men- take the initiative and lead, don’t shirk leadership responsibilities.

9-10- Two “do’s” for women: modesty and good works.

Women also have responsibilities here. Clothing/apparel is to be modest physically and in “showiness.” We are to adorn (arrange, put in order, make ready) ourselves with good works. We don’t “sound a trumpet” (Matt. 6:2-4) about our good works—that’s immodest. We are to let our reputation for good works precede us. Good works should “wear us” rather than us “wearing” (flaunting) them.

Notice again the emphasis and tone that has been set here. This is primarily a “do” passage, secondarily a “don’t” passage, but we often focus on the “don’t” to the exclusion of the “do.” Men are to stand up and take the leadership responsibility in the church, and women are to be busy about doing good works.

11- Women are to be taught God’s word.

Emphasis here is primarily on “let” secondarily on “quietness and submission”. Paul is commanding that women be taught, a somewhat new concept for 1st century Jewish/secular culture. Women were often not deemed important enough to be taught, nor capable of learning.

But they were not to find themselves lifted out of one ditch- undervalued- only to jump into the ditch on the other side of the road- domineering. Women are to learn respectfully and submit to the role God has assigned us.

12- Women are not to teach men or exercise authority (leadership) over them in the church setting.

This includes Bible teaching (small groups, classes), preaching, various leadership roles. Men are to assume the responsibility for these roles. Not only is this biblical, but it frees women up to do the good works God has called us to adorn ourselves with.

13-14- Why? The answer goes back to Creation.

Paul does not give current culture as the reason for God’s instruction that women are not to teach/exercise authority over men, though many today argue this. Nor was the reason that women are dumb or incapable, nor because men are smarter. The bedrock reason is 1- God set it up that way at Creation for HIS reasons (we don’t have to understand, just trust and obey) and 2- Eve was deceived. 2 Timothy 3:1-7.

Just as God put Even in the Garden with a myriad of options and delights, with one restriction, so God puts women in the church with plenty of opportunities to serve Him, yet one restriction: leadership/teaching/preaching is reserved to men. That does not make God unfair or sexist. He is in charge. He gets to make the rules. He is God. We are not. Are we going to be like our mother, Eve, and step over God to steal the fruit He has forbidden us, or will we instead spend our time delighting in all the other options for serving that He provides us?

15- One opportunity for serving God that He has set aside especially for women: raising up the next generation of godly men and women.

From the note on this verse from the MacArthur Study Bible (ESV):

“Paul is not advocating that women are eternally saved from sin through childbearing or that they maintain their salvation by having babies, both of which would be clear contradictions of the NT teaching of salvation by grace alone through faith alone sustained forever. Paul is teaching that even though a woman bears the stigma of being the initial instrument who led the race into sin, it is women through childbearing who may be preserved or freed from that stigma by raising a generation of godly children. Because mothers have a unique bond and intimacy with their children, and spend far more time with them than do fathers, they have far greater influence in their lives and thus a unique responsibility and opportunity for rearing godly children. While a woman may have led the human race into sin, women have the privilege of leading many out of sin to godliness. Paul is speaking in general terms; God does not want all women to be married, let alone bear children.”

Additional Resources:

Women in the Local Church by Lindsey Carlson

Women in Ministry at CARM.org

What Roles Can Women Fulfill in Ministry? by GotQuestions.org

Marriage, Sunday School, Women

Godly Womanhood – Sex, Marriage, Singleness, and Divorce ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-8-13

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Godly Womanhood – Sex, Marriage, Singleness, and Divorce
1 Corinthians 7

Background on 1 Corinthians:
Written by Paul to the church in Corinth (in southern Greece) circa A.D. 55. Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love) worship was the major religion.  Gross immorality and drunken debauchery included: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, polygamy, concubinage, prostitution, and incest. Ch. 7 was in response to a previous letter from the church to Paul asking questions about marriage/sex.

7:1-2- What is the Corinthians’ question? Why would they ask this? How did Paul answer?

v. 1- Paul is restating a quote from their letter, not giving instruction himself. Because of the extent of the sexual corruption in Corinth (most in the church had grown up in this environment and didn’t know any differently), the baby Corinthian church has a skewed, confused understanding of sex and thinks maybe Christians should stay away from it altogether (even inside marriage). Paul has to hit the “reset button” on their theology of sex and show them it is a good gift of God in its proper context.

7:2-5- Parameters for a biblical theology of sex:

1. Sex is only to take place between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (2ff)

V. 2- “Each man his own wife/woman her own husband.” V.3ff all continue to assume sex inside heterosexual marriage as evidenced by the terms “husband”/”wife”. This automatically precludes homosexuality, prostitution, adultery, fornication, etc.

2. Both husband and wife have a right to reasonably expect regular sex in their marriage (3).  (Assuming the health and capability of both.)

Notice that the husband is mentioned first- emphasizing that the husband should fulfill the wife’s sexual needs, not just his own. As in all other aspects of marriage, we serve each other unselfishly, and don’t use each other for our own gratification.

3. Sex is a gift that both spouses should give generously, and as an act of love and service, to one another (4).

This is the other side of the coin to #2. There should be a healthy and mutually agreeable balance, but we are not to be stingy in responding to requests for sex. Sex shouldn’t be dependent on the whims of “mood”. God gave us our bodies to serve in all aspects of our marriages, including sex.

Think about it: there are a lot of times we don’t especially feel like doing the dishes, cleaning up after the kids, etc., but we do it anyway and with a good attitude. What does it say to our husbands when they see us doing all those things because they’re important, but constantly turning down sex because we’re “not in the mood”? What if he constantly wasn’t “in the mood” to say “I love you,” or listen to you when you need to talk?

Notice that the wife is mentioned first here for emphasis as this can be an area more in need of improvement for women than men.

4. Do not deprive one another (5).

Sex, as in #3, is a gift we freely and lovingly give to one another. It is not a weapon, a reward, a bribe, or a bargaining chip. Would we use food as a reward, bribe, weapon, etc? Any break in normal sexual activity must be by mutual agreement, and even then only for a short time for SPIRITUAL PURPOSES. (Again, assuming the health of both. This particular verse doesn’t address the incapacitation of a spouse.)

5. A godly sex life inside of marriage is a safeguard against temptation to sexual immorality (2, 5-9).

Yes, there is sexual temptation even in the best of marriages, but how much more would there be without a godly sexual relationship in marriage? We are not just serving a physical need, but also a spiritual one- helping each other avoid temptation.

Being single is a good gift of God, and there are advantages to it (later in chapter), but if the temptation to immorality is too great, it is better to get married and have that sexual outlet in place.

7:10-11- We are not to desire and seek out divorce. Related passages: Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9, Genesis 2:24, Malachi 2:16

“Not, I but the Lord” Paul is reiterating what God has already spoken. Repentance and reconciliation is God’s desire, not divorce.

7:12-14, 16- What if one spouse isn’t saved? Related passage: 1 Peter 3:1-2

“I, not the Lord”: New revelation. God had not previously spoken on this. New Corinthian believers were confused and thought perhaps they should divorce unsaved spouses to marry saved ones. Just as 1 Pet. 3 says, spouses and children can be won to Christ through the testimony/behavior of the saved spouse.

“Made holy” doesn’t equal “vicariously saved.” It means God will be working in lost spouse’s/children’s lives toward salvation through the testimony of the saved spouse. They will also benefit from the blessings that go along with being married to someone who is saved (having a spouse who is faithful, kind, forgiving, etc.) and constant exposure to the gospel.

7:15- God does not hold divorce against a Christian (as sin) in this situation.

There are only two instances for “biblical divorce”: Infidelity (see Matthew passages above) and an unbelieving spouse leaving. In this situation, it is not the Christian seeking divorce, but the lost spouse. The Christian is a victim of divorce, not the initiator. The Christian spouse should be living in obedience to the Lord and doing everything he/she can to keep the marriage together, but notice: “God has called you to peace” Every situation is different, but a point comes when continuing to fight for the marriage can violate the peace God calls you to, and you have to let go and leave things in God’s hands.

7:17-24- God saves people “where they’re at” for a reason.

God knows the situation/time of your life you’re in when He saves you. One reason for this is so that people in your life (spouse, co-workers, friends, etc.) can see the results of Christ saving you, which can open the door for you to share the gospel with them. God doesn’t save you just to save you- He saves you to save the people around you. One of those people could be your lost spouse.

Unless your hobbies/job/friends are inherently sinful (you’re a hit man who likes to hang out with dope dealers at the strip club), you don’t necessarily have to dump everything in your life when you get saved. You don’t have to quit your job to become a missionary or dump all your old friends and replace them with church friends. You could be how God saves them.

7:6-9, 25-40- Singleness and marriage are both good gifts given to different people for God’s sovereign purposes.

Marriage is a good gift for protecting from temptation and for raising Godly children. Singleness has the wonderful advantage of allowing one to concentrate more time on prayer, study, and ministry.

Additional Resources:

What Are Biblical Grounds for Divorce? from GotQuestions.org

The Best Thing Out There on Singleness from CBMW

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

Fireproof (movie)

Bible, Bible Study, Church

Context Message Me

gettysburg-veterans-public-domainYesterday, I saw several friends and organizations re-posting this article (and others like it) on Facebook. The gist of the article is about teaching the Gettysburg Address to students in a “stand alone” sort of way without teaching that it has anything to do with the Civil War.  As a teacher myself, this seems utterly ridiculous to me. How can students grasp the full meaning, depth, and impact of the Gettysburg Address without knowing the history and events that led up to it, who wrote and delivered it, the people to whom it was delivered, and why it was delivered? Yes, a few things can be gleaned merely from the text itself, but is that all we want our students to learn about the Gettysburg Address? Are we satisfied for them to merely skim the surface of this document and leave with a superficial (and likely, incorrect) understanding of it, or do we want them to dig in and learn all they can about it?

And then it hit me:

What many of us would not abide in the classroom,
we embrace in the sanctuary.

Week after week, many Christians sit under pastors and Bible teachers who fail to preach and teach God’s word in context. A verse from one book is thrown in here, a half verse from another passage, there, like so many sprinkles on top of an ice cream sundae.

No mention is made of the historical (pre-Exile or post-Exile?) or cultural (Was this written to Jews or Gentiles?) context of the passage.

Prescriptive (thou shalt/shalt not do X) passages are conflated with descriptive (here’s what happened to this particular guy) passages, leading to confusion over law, grace, and precisely what it is that God wants from us.

Promises that were never meant for 21st century Christians (because they were written only to a specific person(s) at a specific time) are ripped away from their intended audience and plastered, bait and switch style, onto you and me. (I’ve always wondered why Jeremiah 29:11 is preached as applying to today’s Christians, but verses such as Jeremiah 29:17-19 are not.)

Pastors and teachers treat individual Bible verses and brief passages as “stand alone” items rather than showing how they fit into the immediate context of the surrounding passage and book, while simultaneously neglecting to show how those Bible tidbits fit into the broader, complete story of the gospel revealed across both Testaments.

Pastors and Bible teachers, myself included (and, believe me, I’ve failed many times in this area, too) are to care for those who sit under our teaching by doing our best to handle God’s word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15) and by preaching and teaching, as Paul put it, “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). May we as teachers not merely skim the surface of God’s word, but proclaim the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. And may our hearers demand nothing less.

 

Sunday School, Women

Godly Womanhood – Submission (Continued and Review) ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-1-13

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Godly Womanhood – Submission (Continued and Review)
Colossians 3:12-21

I didn’t feel like we got enough chance for discussion during last week’s lesson, so this week we studied Colossians 3:12-21, which neatly summarizes the passage we studied last week: Ephesians 5:22ff.

3:12-17– This passage addresses Christian character and behavior on a more “macro” level. In the church, at work, in society, wherever we go, we are to exhibit compassion, patience, humility, etc.

3:18-21– This passage addresses Christian character at the microcosm level: the family. We are to show the same kindness, love, forgiveness, etc. at home, in the way that God prescribes, that we show to others outside our home. We are to be genuine, the same person at home as we are at work, the store, etc.

Submission to our husbands is “fitting in the Lord.” We don’t submit because of any wonderful quality our husbands possess, who they are, whether or not they treat us like queens, or whether or not they deserve it. We submit out of obedience to the Lord, because we love Him. We offer submission as an offering to the Lord, as “living sacrifices”. (Romans 12:1)

I added one item under “Forgiving as Jesus Has Forgiven Us”:

When people came to Christ in repentance, He didn’t hold a grudge, punish, or demand penance. He didn’t keep a mental list of the ways people had sinned against Him to bring up as ammunition at a later time (1 Corinthians 13:5) . He graciously, lovingly, and completely forgave from the heart.