The Bible Doesn’t Say Women Can’t…

Posted on August 1, 2011 by

As believers, can we expel this phrase from our discussions? Or at least only use it when truly necessary? I mean really people, the Bible doesn’t say a lot about a lot of things. At least not specifically. There’s no mention of apples, automobiles, bicycles, baby bottles, cars, computers, DVD’s, diapers, and on and on. I could list thousands of things not mentioned in the Bible that are a part of our daily lives. “The Bible doesn’t say it” is not a valid reason to do some things. It is not a valid enough reason to embrace certain things.

If the Bible says to do X, then by default that means you shouldn’t be doing the opposite of X, whether or not we can cite a specific verse that says, “Thou shall not Y”, or whatever the opposite of X may be. There are few truly gray areas in Scripture. That is not to say that there are none, or that our Father doesn’t extend grace in the areas where we need it most. There are sisters and brothers in the body of Christ who have come from all different walks of life, some in circumstances that make scriptural ideals a present impossibility. In these cases, His grace is sufficient.

The Christian faith is one of conversion and grateful devotion to the One who delivers us from the power of sin and darkness. Our revived hearts desire to embrace what God says is good and shun what God says is evil. It isn’t about following a prescribed list of do’s and don’ts. Outward holiness powered by our will only serves to increase our tendency to pride and a judgmental attitude towards those who don’t stick to the list as well as we do. Some of us have more willpower (or a greater capacity to deceive) than others.

Still, it’s important that we be intellectually honest with ourselves.Somewhere along the line, we have confused grace and freedom in Christ with the idea of freedom of choice. Freedom in Christ is not about freedom of choice. I believe that rather it is, at least in part, about freedom from condemnation in the absence of the ability to make the best choice. Somehow we have mistakenly thrown out clear Biblical commands and directives on the basis of our personal circumstances and preferences. Conversely, many of us have clung so fiercely to the letter of the law that we have become legalists, wielding the sword of judgment on every sister or brother we encounter whose life looks different than our own. This penchant for spiritual exclusion is also clearly denounced in Scripture.

We need to be able to appreciate and extend love to those believers whose experiences are different from our own. But we ALL must acknowledge the truth, even if reality precludes us from living the ideal. It’s that acknowledgement that will keep us ever striving for God’s best even as we grapple with how to best serve Him and raise our families in the context of our present reality.

In a culture where we are offered a smörgåsbord of choices and paths for our life, the idea of a narrow definition of virtuous womanhood may seem restrictive. I am of the mindset that in the course of a woman’s life, it is possible for her to experience and accomplish all kinds of things and still be walking in the will of the Father for her life. However, I don’t believe that women can have it all, and certainly not all at the same time. Men either, for that matter, but this isn’t a life choice routinely offered to men; the choice to “have it all.” Men are told to live up to their responsibilities. I submit that women need to be told the same, whatever those responsibilities may be.

Single women  enjoy a lot more latitude in their life choices, and they are also more free to focus on the things of the Lord. But the appropriate lifestyle of a young wife and mother is plainly laid out in Scripture, and it is of necessity, a narrow life indeed. Our task is too great to entertain any and every thing that may grab our interest. I realize that there are single mothers, abandoned wives, unbelieving husbands, cultural pressures, economic realities, and a host of other things that may make this Biblical directive seem impossible or at least unrealistic. I get it. I was once a working wife and mother myself. That’s where the grace of God comes in, making it possible for us to love, serve, and obey Him the best we can in the midst of our trying circumstances, and to do so without carrying a burden of condemnation and guilt.

However, this is about my exasperation with our refusal to admit the truth: that our children and families are not best served when we place our need for personal achievement ahead of our families. This is not a statement of judgment against good women doing the best they can to make it. I don’t want to cross a line where I sit on a virtual high horse issuing proclamations from on high. However, no matter what the discussion, there has to be honesty. Deluding ourselves for the sake of our own peace of mind is a dangerous game. Either God’s way is best, or it isn’t. I personally believe that when we allow ourselves to acknowledge the truth, it causes us to live more deliberately, to go the extra mile in those areas when the ideal isn’t possible for us. It makes us more prayerful, more watchful, and more willing to be open to making the changes that we need to make when we’re able to. At least  that’s the case for me. Refusal to accept that there is a best way, a right way, breeds mediocrity. And while I may be able to live with being a mediocre seamstress, my family can’t afford for me to get comfortable being a mediocre wife and mother.

Posted in: Religion