Women: You’re Reading the Bible All Wrong!
“And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions, but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful for doing it.”
1 Timothy 2 (MSG)
Sometimes a different Bible translation helps me clarify a misunderstood or misused scripture. Surely Paul was not concerned about whether women wore jewelry or nice clothes. What he was saying was don’t get caught up in the outward things so that you forget your calling.
Say what? You thought Paul was a misogynist or you thought Paul forbid women to talk in church? The danger in taking scripture out of context or in applying an interpretation without understanding the culture in which it was penned is that we make God’s will and direction one-dimensional.
God is not living in a time-constrained box and neither should we! The Bible can be used to control, manipulate, and frame one person’s or group’s message. Did you know that scriptures were used by slave owners to keep slaves from thinking that God wanted them free?
The old adage that if you say something often enough people will believe it’s true applies to repeated verses from the Bible taken out of context.
Do you see how all scripture needs to be taken in the context of not only the words around it but the culture, place, time, language, and society in which it was written?
Another thing to keep in mind: One sentence does not a doctrine make. If you really want to narrow down how to live as a woman who follows Christ, then study the life of Jesus. His actions and words make it abundantly clear how he valued women.
Who did he appear to first after the resurrection? Women. How did he treat the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery? With warmth, respect, and love. What was his reaction to the disciples chiding Mary for anointing him with oil? Leave her alone — what she’s done for me will be repeated throughout the ages!
One thing that I see as a common thread among Christian women is a high level of anxiety and lack of self-confidence. It’s no surprise to me since I’ve lived that way most of my life too.
You see it can be hard to be a strong woman in the Christian church. I’ve been bullied, blasted, held back, and shunned because I didn’t fall in line. One pastor told me to “fit the mold” of a good Christian woman if I wanted to please God.
Hmm…sounds a lot like some slave masters using scripture to keep their slaves in line and submissive. I mean, if I love Jesus I want to please Him, right? And that might mean fighting hard against myself until I can squeeze into the false narrative of the submissive woman. Better that I should pay attention to fashion and reality shows than to show an initiative for leadership and wisdom, right?
It’s equally hard to live with a burning dream and gift in your gut but knowing that if you really told your story, honestly talked about what you think, used your brain and gifts fully, you might get some haters on the inside. It feels a lot easier to stuff it all and toe the line.
Paul was not setting a precedent to tell women they should be lowly and homely. He clearly says get in there with the men! Will Satan see you as a threat to his kingdom if the mirror is your altar and fashion your god?
Paul is actually exhorting women to get busy in ministry and as laborers for the harvest.
We live in an age and society that dangles many distractions and lies in front of us. Beauty and fashion? Aren’t those just cleverly disguised “cares of this world”? That’s really the warning and the takeaway from this text. Get serious about the message you hold and don’t let the superficial bright shiny objects of this life pull you away from your mission and your message.
Let’s take this life-changing message to all the women we know. Let’s encourage them to know more about the Designer of the universe than the latest shoe designs. Let’s exhort them to seek God’s wisdom as if searching for rubies and gold instead of seeking ways to add more sparkle to their outward appearance.
Let’s stop playing the superficial game of what it means to be women of God and let’s get in there with the men and make something beautiful happen in the world!
Let’s become more beautiful by doing beautiful things for God!
“I find no easy answers in the Bible, but only a holy simplicity.” Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace.