12 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Judges 21:1–Ruth 1:22
John 4:4-42
Psalm 105:1-15
Proverbs 14:25

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

John 4:27 (CSB): “Just then his disciples arrived, and they were amazed that he was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?'”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

In the past two years, we have seen and heard much as the #MeToo movement has brought sexual harassment and sexual assault to light.

In a culture that wants to throw off all moral restraints, this movement has been a reminder that humanity can never ultimately get rid of a moral code or a desire for justice when that code is violated. Clearly, our growing secular culture realizes that sexual harassment and assault is wrong and worthy of justice.

Yet, we realize that sexual abuse against women isn’t the only way in which they have been devalued. We realize that in our own culture, they did not receive the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1919-1920, over 140 years after our country became a nation. And if you watch some of the popular sitcoms from the 1900’s like “The Honeymooners” and “All in the Family”, you will realize that women were horribly, verbally mistreated as America laughed.

When we read today’s Bible readings, we see the same sort of thing. We see men who chose and approved of specific actions based upon their low view of women. We read in Judges 21 that men contrived a plan that advocated kidnapping young women and forcing them, against their will, to become their wives.

Judges 21:20-21 (CSB): “Then they commanded the Benjaminites: ‘Go and hide in the vineyards. Watch, and when you see the young women of Shiloh come out to perform the dances, each of you leave the vineyards and catch a wife for yourself from the young women of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.”

Remember that in one of my recent posts, “One Bible Story that Makes Me Angry”, I noted that while the Bible truthfully tells us what occurred, it does not necessarily affirm the moral choices of those in the story. We are left to search the rest of Scripture to make a determination on the morality of the people in the stories.

When we consider the kidnapping of young women in Judges 21, we can certainly affirm that God played no part in that plan. It was wrong on every level.

So, what does God think of women? Does He see them as less valuable than men?

For that answer, we can look at the story of Ruth that took place during the time of the Judges.

We can also look at the New Testament as God shows up as a man. When we observe how Jesus treated women, we come to realize how God the Father views women because the Jesus of the New Testament and the God of the Old Testament are One.

John 14:9 (CSB): “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?’ “

To understand how Jesus viewed and treated women, all we need to do is reflect on today’s Bible readings in John 4. When we observe Jesus speaking respectfully to a woman (who was a ‘despised’ Samaritan that was also a serial adulterer), we hear Him saying things that would bring conviction to her heart while continuing to show her that He valued her.

When Jesus’ disciples showed up, they saw Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman. They came with their chauvinistic notions.

John 4:27 (CSB): “Just then his disciples arrived, and they were amazed that he was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?'”

But, Jesus wasn’t finished with them yet. He was still teaching and training those men. Eventually, Peter would write a letter making it clear that women were so valuable to God that He would not answer a husband’s prayer if he mistreated his wife.

1 Peter 3:7 (CSB): “Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

Some may look at Peter’s words and say: “Aha! Peter DID have an inferior view of women. He called them the ‘weaker partner!’

Well, my friend, I would simply respond by asking the question: “Which is weaker – fine porcelain china dinnerware or a brick?” Weakness doesn’t necessarily speak to the value of something or someone.

Further, we realize that God orchestrated the resurrection of His Son by letting women be the first ones to see the empty tomb (Luke 23:55-24:9) and the first one to see the resurrected Jesus (John 20:11-18). What an honor to be the first ones to see the empty tomb and to see Jesus! And God made sure that it was women who had that honor!

The Apostle Paul also made it clear that men and women were equals in Christ.

Galatians 3:27-28 (CSB): “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Someone may say: “Oh, well isn’t the Apostle Paul also the one who told women to submit to their husbands? Doesn’t that show that he devalued women?”

Great question! Let’s look at that passage of Scripture!

Ephesians 5:22-23 (CSB): “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.”

If we read these two verses by themselves, we may come to a wrong conclusion. So, let’s look at the verses around them.

If you look at the verse right before the previous two, you will read the following…

Ephesians 5:21 (CSB): “submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Clearly, one of the activities of someone who is “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) will be submission to others. This simply means that we put others first. We don’t live for ourselves. We strive to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (Mark 12:31).

So, the wife is told to “submit to your husband” (Ephesians 5:22) but the husband is included in the “submitting to one another” (Ephesians 5:21). So, BOTH the husband and the wife are to submit to each other. Submission simply looks different for the husband and the wife.

For the wife, submission means that she follows her husband’s loving leadership. For the husband, submission means he loves his wife so much that he follows Christ’s example and gives himself daily for her. Essentially, the husband’s leadership is servant leadership as he follows Christ’s example.

Matthew 20:25-28 (CSB): “Jesus called them over and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”

Given this understanding of what Christian leadership looks like, we realize that when the wife is told to submit to the leadership of her husband (Ephesians 5:22-23), she is essentially being called to entrust herself to the man whose God-given duty is to serve her.

Now, let me elaborate a little bit more on the husband/wife relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33. I want to show you something that you might never have seen before. But, before I do, let me ask you a couple of questions.

  • If you were to ask 100 husbands what emotional needs they crave the most from their wives, what do you think the general consensus would be? Generally speaking, we would expect those men to answer: “Respect! I want my wife to look up to me.”
  • If you were to ask 100 wives what emotional needs they craved the most from their husbands, what do you think the general consensus would be? Generally speaking, we would expect those women to answer: “Love! I want my husband to listen to me, get to know me, and genuinely love me.”

A man generally craves to be respected and a woman generally craves to be loved.

So, let’s go to the very last verse of Ephesians 5. After Paul has been talking about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives, he sums it all up. He tells us what he’s been truly saying.

Ephesians 5:33 (CSB): “To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

Wow! Essentially, God is saying: “I know how I made you. I know that men crave to be respected and women crave to be loved. So, I have created marriage to illustrate the Gospel as it meets those basic needs in the husband and wife.”

Friend, there is so much more that could be said about God’s view concerning the value of women. Clearly, the cultures that have embraced Christianity have generally been the cultures that planted the seeds in which the value of women would be recognized.

So, in a culture that is becoming more and more militant toward the Bible and that believes its teachings to be archaic, it would do us well to realize that God’s Word was written for human flourishing. God knows how He made us and His Word tells us what to believe and what to do in order to function best.

Wow! After all of this writing, I can’t wait for my wife to get home so that I can give her a big hug and a kiss.

Matt & Kim
Proverbs 18:22 (CSB): “A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”