There are a few things in the Word of God that are hard for us to understand or accept in this "modern" age. One of those things is the attitude toward women. For a long time there has been a quiet debate in the Body as to the place of women. It may sound like a silly thing to discuss in an age when equal rights was dealt with a long time ago and we have moved on to other matters. However, it is still there in the Bible. What are we to do with this?
First of all, let us understand where we all are in our relationship with Jesus:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
There are your equal rights long before such a phrase was ever uttered. This is a wonderful passage, beautiful in it's writing and application. The context needs to be read:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
Many people would like to leave it there and walk away but there are several passages that need to be dealt with that may make some people uncomfortable. Although our relationship with God puts us all on the same footing, God has set up a certain order for things in the Body of Christ in this world.
We may have messed things up with our own ideas but there is a type of authority God has put in place. Not authority as we understand authority but instead an authority of service. In order for people to receive from this authority there has to be a volunteer submission to it. For instance, within the context of the Body God has called a select number of people to act as servant authorities. They are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These are the training servants to the Church, who have the responsibility to train believers in works of service. Look it up for yourself in Ephesians 4.
In this same way God has placed the husband in this servant authority to his wife. Paul commands the husband:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)
I apologize that I shared so much here but it is a beautiful passage that must be read in its entirety. When a husband takes his proper place and is mature in the Lord he sees his role as fulfilling, completing and increasing his wife. His greatest joy is to offer himself to her to see her blessed, multiplied, and again I use the word, increased. But in order to receive this blessing the wife must do the same thing the Church must do with Jesus:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
It is unfortunate that we have allowed the world to taint our understanding of authority and submission because God's definition is a beautiful relationship that is not based on power but on love. Jesus does not force himself on anyone nor should he be forced on anyone. The relationship only works when, out of love, we gladly surrender ourselves to him and he in turn lavishes us with his love. This is marriage.
So now, when we read Paul's statement to Timothy we can better understand what Paul is promoting here:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. (1 Timothy 2:11)
"Woman" here is also translated as wife. Who is the wife suppose to be in submission to? Her husband, who is her covering, who has a relationship with her to see her increase. This is also in context to worship. The passage continues:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12)
Understand again here that "woman" and "man" also translate as wife and husband. It is out of sync with God's order that a husband should have to be taught by his wife. The roles are reversed. Unfortunately we have a lot of that in our current age but it is seldom the woman's fault. Men do not act like real men. They shirk their responsibilities. They are lazy and do not want to take the place of authority servant. They are selfish and just want to pursue their own interests. They allow their wife to go off to church and take their place while they go golfing or watch their sports. The reason women make up so much of the leadership in churches now is because men have failed to take their place.
Not much has changed. Adam would have saved us all a lot of trouble if he had just been the man who should have been. God placed everything under his authority but he couldn't even say no to his wife when she faced temptation. He wasn't there to protect her, defend her, cover her. Oh, he was there physically but he wasn't spiritually and he allowed her to lead him instead of him leading her.
Think what you want about God's order but his Word never changes. In the context of two people filled by the Spirit of God, this is a beautiful thing. It only gets messed up when we allow selfishness, sin and the world's wisdom to enter in. Men, take your place. Love your wife in the same way Jesus loves his Bride. Give yourself fully to her and desire her increase. Women, respect you husband which is the highest form of love. Submit to him in the same manner as the Church submits to Jesus so that you may receive the blessings God will pour into you through him. Let this be done according to God's wisdom and will, not man's.