I’d just like to point you now to several key New Testament passages which pertain to our current discussion of the relationship between men and women; and I encourage you to do some further study… honest study… on each of these passages, and I think you will find them surpassingly informative and helpful.
1 Corinthians 11:3-16
One key New Testament passage is 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. The context of this passage is order in worship services and understanding gender roles within a worship setting. Paul states that God the Father models headship, and the Son models submission, in a way that allows us to know how differing roles can help us better reflect God’s image. Paul is trying to get the Corinthians to understand the concept of ontological equality and functional diversity, while reaffirming male and female interdependence (11:11-12).
1 Corinthians 14:34
Another key passage is 1 Cor. 14:34, which tells women to remain quiet in the church. 1 Cor. 11:5 makes it clear that this silence surely is not meant to be taken to mean that women are literally not ever to say anything in the church, but rather as a reminder that there is a time to be silent; and in the worship service, women must not disrupt the order of things. This seems to have been a problem in the church in Corinth. The underlying principle is that women should show a submissive and respectful attitude to their husbands and church leaders.
Ephesians 5:21-33 teaches that a woman’s role is to submit to and respect her husband, which is emphasized due to the fact that, as was mentioned earlier harkening back to Genesis 3:16, women tend to seek to rule over and dominate men. The rampant disrespect of husbands, and men in general, is breathtaking, and clearly against Scripture. At the same time, because men tend to oppress and lord over women, they are instructed in this passage that the role of the man is one of love and self-sacrifice.
Paul commands men not simply to love their wives, but to love them as Christ loves the church. How did Christ love the church? He gave His life for her. This is a radical kind of love. This is an utterly self-sacrificial love. But the other side of it is equally as challenging. Christ gave himself for the church, to sanctify her… to present her holy and blameless. Husbands, ask yourselves this question, “Is my wife more holy because of me?” That is a high and difficult calling indeed!
1 Timothy 2:9-15
In 1 Timothy 2:9-15, we see that modesty has been an issue among Christians since the beginning. Women are commanded to examine their motives behind their appearance, and make sure they are not dressing seductively or extravagantly, which distracts both men and women from the focus they should have on the more important things in life.
Paul says that women are to learn and live in a respectful manner. He also makes clear that women are not to hold the position of authority in the church, because of the inevitable conflict that comes with the responsibility of guarding the doctrinal purity of the church. Paul then states that the best way for women to flourish is through embracing their gift and glory of motherhood – whether a woman ever bears children of her own, pouring her life into the lives of children is how a woman flourishes in who God designed her to be.
1 Peter 3:1-7
In 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter commands women to focus on their inner beauty rather than the outer beauty. As Gene Cunningham says, women would do well to make sure they are spending twice as much time working on their inner beauty every day as they do on their outer beauty! Women should also be quiet and gentle, meaning they should keep a humble and peaceful attitude even when provoked or when faced with an undesirable situation.
The men are then commanded to live with their wives with an understanding of women’s nature as a weaker vessel, speaking of a woman’s tendency to be more vulnerable, physically and emotionally, than men. We men must take care to never treat a woman like tupperware, but to always treat her like fine china. A woman needs to be loved, valued, and understood, no matter how hard she makes it for a man to understand her! Why? Because men and women are co-heirs of the grace of life. That is, men and women share an absolutely equal standing in Christ, as is made clear in Galatians 3:28 (which, by the way, says nothing about differing roles, and isn’t a verse one can use to support feminism, but rather is speaking of our equal standing before Christ as heirs; and 1 Corinthians 11 is the correction of an over-equalizing between the roles and functions of men and women).
But here’s the kicker – we must love our wives and be understanding, so that our prayers are not hindered! Men, if you do not love your wife; if you do not live with her in an understanding way, your prayers are hindered! God takes this seriously. He will not hear your prayers if you do not properly love your wife. Frankly, that is terrifying to me. Not that I will try to love my wife better in order to be benefited in some way – that’s not loving her. The point is simply to be made that God takes this so seriously that it will directly affect your relationship with God if you are disobedient in the way you treat your wife by failing to love her the way Christ loves the church. How awesome it is to think of the value our Lord places on the love and respect that must exist within marriage!