Volume 7, Issue 5: Femina
Women in Ministry
Scripture encourages older women to teach younger women to be husband-lovers
and children-lovers (Tit. 2:3-4). In the twentieth century, given modern media
and transportation, etc., what does this look like? Are there any limits to
ministry a woman may have to other women? What are the dangers and blessings
associated with teaching women?
First of all, notice the nature of the teaching in the Titus passageit is to
be very home-centered. This is not narrow; it gives women a very broad spectrum
of subject matter that can be covered. Teaching women to be "into husbands" and
"into kids" must include many topics, ranging from personal holiness to methods
of education. Just about any aspect of the faith taught in Scripture can be useful
to the wife and mother. Any Bible-centered study could be used as a real tool,
for a good Christian woman will be a good wife and mother.
But what else do we learn in Scripture? What other principles are laid out for
Christian women that can come to bear on this subject of women in ministry? Today
we have women in the Christian world who write books, edit women's magazines,
travel on speaking tours, have radio or television shows, lead seminars, etc.
If the teaching itself is biblical and Christ-centered, is it automatically to
be assumed that the ministry is biblical and Christ-centered?
The first question to ask and answer is, "Who is this woman's husband?" Next we
must ask many subsidiary questions. Is she fulfilling her ministry to him? Is
he her priority? Is she helping him? Is her house in order? Is he leading her
in this ministry? Is her identity as a Christian woman centered around her relationship
to her husband?
If the answer to any of these is "no," then her ministry is likely independent
of her husband, and it is much like a separate career; but because it is "Christian," it
is somehow seen as a valid ministry. In contrast, because Scripture clearly teaches
that the husband is the head of the wife, a Christian woman in ministry should
clearly be seen as under her husband's visible headship. In other words, her ministry
should be visibly connected to him.
This can be a real help to him, for her teaching can be a complement to his
work. He can protect her from becoming too committed to ministry outside the
home; he can see objectively whether she is keeping her priorities straight;
he knows how she is doing spiritually and whether she is even qualified to teach.
He can protect her from many temptations and lead her in her ministry to other
women. This protection is a blessing. When people listen to or read her teaching,
it is organically connected to the head God has placed over her. This is obviously
difficult if husband is always across the country, or if his name is merely listed
in the book with the other "credits" in the fine print.
Scripture teaches that a wife is specially created by God to be a helper to
her husband. When a woman in ministry becomes successful, independent of her
husband, many temptations will accompany such success. She will be tempted to
put her "ministry" ahead of her first calling as a wife and mother. She will be
tempted to find more satisfaction and gratification in her "ministry" than in her
calling to be a wife. Then comes the temptation to accept more and more speaking
engagements, to like the financial independence, to work harder outside the home,
get used to being successful apart from her husband, and to become more independent
In some cases, husbands' careers are considered inferior because they are not
as lucrative, so the husbands quit their jobs to manage their wives' "ministries." This
is so backwards. How can we expect God to bless a ministry that is in essence
run by wives and supported by husbands? This is especially tragic when the career
is Christian in name and the teaching is about being a "home-centered" wife.
Women have often been vulnerable to deception, and frequently they are self -deceived.
The woman who sacrifices her own home, while teaching other women to be respectful
and submissive wives, has been deceived and is deceiving others. This eventually
becomes apparent when we read about the divorce. She has torn down her own house
with her own hands.
By the time she recognizes the trap she is in, it is often too late. To quit
and go home would be a public scandal; to openly confess sin would be humiliating;
to ask for help would be to admit weakness; to fold up the ministry might put
other women (or men) associated with the ministry out of a job. Then she realizes
the cost is too great, so she continues to live the lie.
The church today needs godly teaching for younger women. It must come from godly
older women. But godly older women need to be submissive to Scripture and submissive
to their husbands first. Then, in a husband-centered context, they are protected
from the hazards and temptations of the "ministry."