PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS OF MODERN CHRISTIAN WOMEN
TOMIJO W. BROWN
There has been a great deal of discussion pertaining to the role of the modern Christian woman in the church and in today’s society. The principles for everything we have the right or obligation to do are found in the Bible. Only the methods used by the Christian women of the past were different from those used by women of today. Living in the era of mechanical and electronic aids far beyond the imagination of our ancestors, we have much more time from our household duties to decide on and do other things of importance.
With the extra time also comes added responsibility. Even without this extra time our mothers and grandmothers found or made the opportunity to do many things they felt were their duties as Christian women.
One of the most important obligations we have, and the first mentioned in God’s Word is to our husbands (Genesis2:18-25). We were made especially and specifically to be a help suitable for man. Many persons have missed the main point of that passage as they think of the help “meet” for man merely as a “helpmate.” But that the help was to be “meet” or suitable is an important part of God’s plan.
Since this relationship is for life, it is very important, not only from the standpoint of doing God’s will, but from the standpoint of being vital to our own and our husbands’ happiness. We should, therefore, be diligent in our efforts to fulfill our obligations as a help suitable for our husbands. This includes a great deal, as a companion, comforter, encourager, and one who sees that his physical and emotional needs are furnished in the realm of the home.
Those of us who have Christian husbands will find it a joyous privilege to be a help meet for them, for they love us as Christ loved the church (Ephesians5:25, 28) and as they love their own bodies. Formerly, for these Christian women, much more effort had to be involved, but with our modern conveniences, we can be good wives with less time involved. This leaves more time to do other things that are required of Christian women.
Another obligation and happy privilege of equal importance, and perhaps of more lasting value, is performed with our husbands as we rear our children in an understanding of and obedience to God’s will. This can be done only by teaching AND example (Ephesians 6:4). Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy, are surely excellent examples of this principle (2 Timothy 1:5). Sometimes it may seem as if we have failed, but God’s promise is still true (Proverbs 22:6). That passage does not say what some seem to think it says: “Take your child to church services and send him to Sunday school and he will turn out fine.” Training involves teaching by word and example, discipline, providing the proper environment in work and play, and many other facets of life.
With all the activities in which parents and young people are involved, it may take a great deal of thoughtful planning to decide what is really the most important. We always need to keep uppermost in our minds and hearts that souls — eternal values — are most important, and plan with those values as top priority.
Christ, in giving the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark16:15-16), told his Apostles to teach all creatures as they were going into all the world, and having made disciples (disciplined followers of Christ), teach them to DO all that the Apostles had been taught for them to do. Thus, as Christian women, we have both the right and responsibility to teach others his will.
In all ages, I am sure that women have taught others. In Acts 18:26, we find Priscilla, along with her husband, teaching Apollos. Before that, in Acts18:18, we find Priscilla andAquilaaccompanying Paul toSyria. Today if we choose to go outside our hometown to teach God’s word, we may go in a variety of ways that are faster and more comfortable, but Priscilla still remains an inspired and inspiring example for us.
Phoebe is another example of a woman who was a servant of the church (Romans 16:1-2). She had been a great help to many, including Paul. It is hard to imagine her going about helping others and NOT teaching them of Christ.
Lydiamust have been not only gracious, generous, and hospitable, but also devoted to the Lord. She is the first known Christian convert inPhilippi, and certainly a woman who stands out as a Christian worker. After her baptism, she welcomed Paul and Silas into her home (Acts16:14-15). Later, after their release from prison, they went directly to her home to meet with her and encourage the brethren (Acts16:40). We cannot but conclude that she had a great part in the work and growth of the church in Philippi, and was no doubt included in Paul’s prayer and thanksgiving for the church there (Philippians 1:3-11).
We, as Christian women of today, have the same responsibilities as Phoebe, Priscilla andLydia, but we should be thankful that we have far easier and more convenient ways to discharge those responsibilities.
Dorcas is the woman probably most thought of as one who did for others. In Acts 9:36, we are told that she was always doing good and helping the poor. It may be that there are only a few who ALWAYS go about doing good, but we can all do for others some of the time. She made garments for those who needed them, and must have been ready to help with food or anything else that was needed. How much she might have done if she had possessed the food processors, microwave ovens and many gadgets we have! Do our THINGS help or hinder our service to God and man?
The Bible has given us very clear commands and examples to help us in our roles as Christian women. Now we must decide what needs to be done, and how we can live up to our obligations. We may not be able to do all these things all the time, but each of us can look for those opportunities that present themselves, and view them not only as obligations, but as privileges which God has given us to be fellow workers with our Lord and sharers in His Divine nature and plans, with joy and thanksgiving.