Our church has been on a journey through 1st Peter recently, which included the often contentious verses in chapter 3:
1 Peter 3:1-6 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
I have to say , that the evening that these verses came up for discussion at our life group, I was a little apprehensive.
It’s not comfortable or popular, in today’s culture of equality and women’s rights, to talk about wives being respectful and pure.
Throw in the word “submitting” and you have yourself a lively discussion, that’s for sure!
The thing is though, and this is often overlooked, that the following verses go on to say
1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Now, I’m not sure about the “weaker vessel” part – but I do know this – most marriages, my own included, would benefit from more submission and honor in equal measure.
In today’s world, there is much made of women’s rights – and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be treated as equals – of course not – but in the scramble to be seen as equal and the fighting for equal position I can’t help feeling that we have lost something.
It’s not trendy anymore for a man to look after his wife. It’s not cool for a woman to look to her husband for leadership.
I would suggest however that there is much to be said for a more old fashioned approach.
I’m not advocating for a return to women being seen as second class citizens – but I am calling for a return to the emphasis on submission – by both parties – and honour on both sides.
This Sunday, we heard from our Pastor about the church vision moving forward, and he was speaking about leadership structure within the church. The simple, original model being:
We are all saints. The moment we make a decision to follow Jesus, we are a saint (not a sinner). Deacons are appointed within the church to oversee and lead various areas of church ministry and life. The Elders, recognised as such and appointed by the membership, oversee and lead the church as a whole.
All good so far. Now here’s the potentially sticky part. The church movement we are part of (New Frontiers) firmly believes that Elders should be men – based on the description in 1 Timothy 3.
Personally I think this can be looked at in different ways – but that’s not a discussion for here. Our Pastor was obviously aware that this could be an issue for some in our congregation and went to some trouble to explain that this in no way excludes women from ministry.
As a strong, vocal woman in the church You might reasonably expect me to be one of those who struggle with this.
You’d be wrong though.
I am actually glad that as a female, the heavy burden of Eldership will not fall to me.
There is great freedom in it. Freedom to be all that God has called me to be. Listening to the message this morning I felt celebrated, empowered and loved.
So go ahead – oppress me. Give me boundaries.
There’s a whole world of opportunities out there for me to be blessed and be a blessing. Just not that one – and I’m ok with that.