Posted, July 30, 1998

Women's Empowerment Movements

1 Timothy 5

Though it is totally contrary to the fallen nature that is in so much control today, the glory and honour of the woman is to be content in the place God has given her in his order of things. Her business is not to be out and about, but to be keepers at home. On the other hand, the glory and honour of the man is to be out and about the Master's business, expanding the Kingdom of God into every corner of the world. Sadly, the effects of sin in men have forced, many times, godly women to move into grievously dangerous areas in order to support themselves.

Every area of modern society, including the church more often than not, is violently militating against God's word that the woman was made for the man. (1 Cor. 11:8, 9. However, both are on equal footing before the Lord, vv. 10-12.)

Paul gives Timothy important instructions concerning how the minister must treat women for whom he is responsible--as mothers and sisters. Ministers should have the same kind of loving concern for them as he does toward his family members.

Vv. 3, 4, widows -- Paul defines who is a widow worthy of church support. This seemed to be a special class of people within the church, having special jobs. In addition, Titus 2:3 lists the duty of widows in the church. The widow indeed in 1 Timothy 5:3, 4, could have been one who had no children, childless (v. 10). Though nothing is said in Timothy, the widow in Titus 2 is responsible to teach younger women how to love their children. The responsibilities of the widows indeed in Timothy are to trust in God, and continue in supplications and prayer night and day. (See Anna, a prophetess, Lk. 2:36ff.) But the responsibilities of the widows as presented in Titus are more involved.

Titus 2, the widow is to teach the younger women, 1) to be sober, serious, 2) to love their husbands, 3) to love their children, 4) to be discreet, and 5) to be chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Thus we see that a Christian woman who does not do this blasphemes the word of God; they lead onlookers to say that Christianity does not work; it is of none effect, &c.

Notice that Paul's instructions are as opposed to modern thought as anything can possibly be. Women have started a group to work with women, as "Promise Keepers" works with men. I heard a woman state that the "female Promise Keepers" movement is not about being in subjection to their husbands (as promoted by the Southern Baptist), but it was about empowering women. Such an idea is totally contrary to what is clearly spelled out in the word of God, but it obviously appeals to the fallen nature.

Concerning Titus 2:1, Matthew Henry (1662-1714, Online Bible, v. 7.06) comments:

2. To the aged women. These also must be instructed and warned. Some by these aged women understand the deaconesses, who were mostly employed in looking after the poor and attending the sick; but it is rather to be taken (as we render it) of all aged women professing religion. They must be in behaviour as becometh holiness: both men and women must accommodate their behaviour to their profession. Those virtues before mentioned (sobriety, gravity, temperance, soundness in the faith, charity, and patience), recommended to aged men, are not proper to them only, but applicable to both sexes, and to be looked to by aged women as well as men. Women are to hear and learn their duty from the word, as well as the men: there is not one way of salvation for one sex or sort, and another for another; but both must learn and practise the same things, both as aged and as Christians; the virtues and duties are common. That the aged women likewise (as well as the men) be in behaviour as becometh holiness; or as beseems and is proper for holy persons, such as they profess to be and should be, keeping a pious decency and decorum in clothing and gesture, in looks and speech, and all their deportment, and this from an inward principle and habit of holiness, influencing and ordering the outward conduct at all times. Observe, Though express scripture do not occur, or be not brought, for every word, or look, or fashion in particular, yet general rules there are according to which all must be ordered; as#1Co 10:31, Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. And#Php 4:8, Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. And here, whatsoever things are beseeming or unbeseeming holiness form a measure and rule of conduct to be looked to. Not false accusers -[Greek word], no calumniators or sowers of discord, slandering and backbiting their neighbours, a great and too common fault; not only loving to speak, but to speak ill, of people, and to separate very friends. A slanderer is one whose tongue is set on fire of hell; so much, and so directly, do these do the devil's work, that for it the devil's name is given to such. This is a sin contrary to the great duties of love, justice, and equity between one another; it springs often from malice and hatred, or envy, and such like evil causes, to be shunned as well as the effect. Not given to much wine; the word denotes such addictions thereto as to be under the power and mastery of it. This is unseemly and evil in any, but especially in this sex and age, and was too much to be found among the Greeks of that time and place. How immodest and shameful, corrupting and destroying purity both of body and mind! Of what evil example and tendency, unfitting for the thing, which is a positive duty of aged matrons, namely, to be teachers of good things! Not public preachers, that is forbidden(#1Co 14:34, I permit not a woman to speak in the church), but otherwise teach they may and should, that is, by example and good life. Hence observe, Those whose actions and behaviour become holiness are thereby teachers of good things; and, besides this, they may and should also teach by doctrinal instruction at home, and in a private way. The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy his mother taught him. Such a woman is praised, She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness, #Pr 31:1,26. Teachers of good things are opposed to teachers of things corrupt, or to what is trifling and vain, of no good use or tendency, old wives' fables or superstitious sayings and observances; in opposition to these, their business is, and they may be called on to it, to be teachers of good things.

First, "Women are to hear and learn their duty from the word, as well as the men: there is not one way of salvation for one sex or sort, and another for another; but both must learn and practice the same things, both as aged and as Christians; the virtues and duties are common."

Second, it is evil and shameful for women to be "public preachers," other than by their chaste actions and behaviour.

Third, they can "teach by doctrinal instruction at home, and in a private way."

3. There are lessons for young women also, whom the aged women must teach, instructing and advising them in the duties of religion according to their years. For teaching such things aged women have often better access than the men, even than ministers have, which therefore they must improve in instructing the young women, especially the young wives; for he speaks of their duty to their husbands and children. These young women the more aged must teach,
(1.) To bear a good personal character: To be sober and discreet, contrary to the vanity and rashness which younger years are subject to: discreet in their judgments and sober in their affections and behaviour. Discreet and chaste stand well together; many expose themselves to fatal temptations by that which at first might be but indiscretion. #Pr 2:11, Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee from the evil way. Chaste, and keepers at home, are well joined too. Dinah, when she went to see the daughters of the land, lost her chastity. Those whose home is their prison, it is to be feared, feel that their chastity is their fetters. Not but there are occasions, and will be, of going abroad; but a gadding temper for merriment and company sake, to the neglect of domestic affairs, or from uneasiness at being in her place, is the opposite evil intended, which is commonly accompanied with, or draws after it, other evils. #1Ti 5:13-14, They learn to be idle, wandering from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not. Their business is to guide the house, and they should give no occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully. Good, generally, in opposition to all vice; and specially, in her place, kind, helpful, and charitable; as Dorcas, full of good works and almsdeeds. It may also have, as some think, a more particular sense; one of a meek and yet cheerful spirit and temper, not sullen nor bitter; not taunting nor fretting and galling any; not of a trouble-some or jarring disposition, uneasy in herself and to those about her; but of a good nature and pleasing conversation, and likewise helpful by her advice and pains: thus building her house, and doing her husband good, and not evil, all her days. Thus in their personal character sober, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good: and,
(2.) In their relative capacities: To love their husbands, and to be obedient to them: and where there is true love this will be no difficult command. God, in nature, and by his will, hath made this subordination: I suffer not a woman to usurp authority over the man (#1Ti 2:12); and the reason is added: For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression, #Tit 2:13-14. She fell first, and was the means of seducing the husband. She was given to be a helper, but proved a most grievous hinderer, even the instrument of his fall and ruin, on which the bond of subjection was confirmed, and tied faster on her (#Ge 3:16): Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee, with less easiness, it may be, than before. It is therefore doubly enjoined: first in innocency, when was settled a subordination of nature, Adam being first formed and then Eve, and the woman being taken out of the man; and then upon the fall, the woman being first in the transgression, and seducing the man; here now began to be a subjection not so easy and comfortable, being a part of the penalty in her case; yet through Christ is this nevertheless a sanctified state. #Eph 5:22-23, Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, as owning Christ's authority in them, whose image they bear; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. God would have a resemblance of Christ's authority over the church held forth in the husband's over the wife. Christ is the head of the church, to protect and save it, to supply it with all good, and secure or deliver it from evil; and so the husband over the wife, to keep her from injuries, and to provide comfortably for her, according to his ability. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be unto their own husbands, as is fit in the Lord (#Col 3:18), as comports with the law of Christ, and is for his and the Father's glory. It is not then an absolute, or unlimited, nor a slavish subjection that is required; but a loving subordination, to prevent disorder or confusion, and to further all the ends of the relation. Thus, in reference to the husbands, wives must be instructed in their duties of love and subjection to them. And to love their children, not with a natural affection only, but a spiritual, a love springing from a holy sanctified heart and regulated by the word; not a fond foolish love, indulging them in evil, neglecting due reproof and correction where necessary, but a regular Christian love, showing itself in their pious education, forming their life and manners aright, taking care of their souls as well as of their bodies, of their spiritual welfare as well as of their temporal, of the former chiefly and in the first place. The reason is added: That the word of God may not be blasphemed. Failures in such relative duties would be greatly to the reproach of Christianity.
"What are these the better for this their new religion?"
would the infidels be ready to say. The word of God and the gospel of Christ are pure, excellent, and glorious, in themselves; and their excellency should be expressed and shown in the lives and conduct of their professors, especially in relative duties; failures here being disgrace. #Ro 2:24, The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.
"Judge what a God he is,"
would they be ready to say,
"by these his servants; and what his word, and doctrine, and religion, are by these his followers."
Thus would Christ be wounded in the house of his friends. Thus of the duties of the younger women.

First, those women who view their homes as a prison are in danger of losing their chastity.

Second, wives are commanded To love their husbands, and to be obedient to them... The "modern liberated woman" sees this command as very difficult, oppressive and restrictive. However, "where there is true love this will be no difficult command" for the wife

Third, God, in his divine providence and for his own good pleasure alone, is the one who placed women in his order of things. Fallen men and women are the ones who are intent in overthrowing God's order; the women's empowerment movements over the ages have been rebellion against God's natural order. Note -- men and women rebel against nature, and nature rebels against men and women.

Fourth, since Eve's sin, women have found it very hard and uncomfortable to be in subjection to men -- her father or her husband. However, her subjection is part of her penalty for Eve's sin, just as is man's required hard -- and many times futile -- labour for his living part of his penalty for Adam's sin. Sin caused man's hard labour to many times fail, just as sin caused a woman to be in subjection to the man. In both cases, the fallen nature seeks ways to avoid the results of the fall apart from the work of Christ.

Fifth, the husband's proper love to his wife and the wife's proper love for her husband and subjection to him prevents disorder and confusion in the family, in the church and in society. (All parts of society are in great confusion today.)

Sixth, proper love is something that must be learned from those who have learned it; it is something that must be taught from the word of God. Wives must be instructed in their proper duties (love) toward their husbands and their children -- it is not something that comes naturally. Pastors are unqualified to provide this instruction for the younger women. The godly aged women (over 60, 1 Tim. 5:9) are to teach the young women. They are to pass on what they have learned from practical experience; they are to pass on what they learned in how to apply God's word into their families.

A wife can rightly tell the pastor, "You do not know what I have to go through." However, she cannot justly say that to the aged women who have been through and/or seen about every imaginable situation a wife can go through.

Seventh, the Christian God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is judged by the pagans by the actions of professing Christians. Thus when Christians fail in Christianity as outlined by the Spirit, they wound Christ.

I realize Gill (1696-1771, Online Bible) is quite "old fashion," but his comments at Titus 2:5 are worth noting: To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Ver. 5. To be discreet, &c.] Or temperate in eating and drinking, so the word is rendered in#Tit 2:2 or to be sober both in body and mind; or to be wise and prudent in the whole of their conduct, both at home and abroad:
chaste; in body, in affection, words and actions, having their love pure and single to their own husbands, keeping their marriage bed undefiled.
Keepers at home: minding their own family affairs, not gadding abroad; and inspecting into, and busying themselves about other people's matters. This is said in opposition to what women are prone unto. It is reckoned among the properties of women, by the Jews, that they are [Hebrew word], "gadders abroad" {x}: they have some rules about women's keeping at home; they say {y},
"a woman may go to her father's house to visit him, and to the house of mourning, and to the house of feasting, to return a kindness to her friends, or to her near relations--but it is a reproach to a woman to go out daily; now she is without, now she is in the streets; and a husband ought to restrain his wife from it, and not suffer her to go abroad but about once a month, or twice a month, upon necessity; for there is nothing more beautiful for a woman, than to abide in the corner of her house; for so it is written, #Ps 45:13 "the king's daughter is all glorious within"."
And this they say {z} is what is meant by the woman's being an helpmeet for man, that while he is abroad about his business, she is [Hebrew word], "sitting at home", and keeping his house; and this they observe is the glory and honour of the woman. The passage in #Isa 44:13 concerning an image being made "after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house" is by the Targum thus paraphrased:
"according to the likeness of a man, according to the praise of a woman, to abide in the house."
Upon which Kimchi, has this note.
"it is the glory of a woman to continue at home, and not go abroad."
The tortoise, which carries its house upon its back, and very rarely shows its head, or looks out of it, was, with the ancients, an emblem of a good housewife. These also should be instructed to be "good" or "kind" to their servants, and beneficent to the poor, and to strangers, towards whom, very often, women are apt to be strait handed, and not so generous and liberal as they should be:
obedient to their own husbands; see Gill on "Eph 5:22", see Gill on "Eph 5:24".
that the word of God be not blasphemed; by unbelieving husbands, who, by the ill conduct of their wives, would be provoked to speak ill of the Gospel, as if that taught disaffection and disobedience to them.
{x} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 45. fol. 40. 3.
{y} Maimon. Hilchot Ishot, c. 13. sect. 11.
{z} Tzeror Hammor, fol. 5. 4.
"But Matthew Henry and John Gill are old fashion; they are out of touch with reality; if they lived today, they would not be so dogmatic." We must raise this question: What has happened to society since the women's empowerment movements have gained prominence?

Though totally contrary to the fallen nature that is in so much control today, the glory and honour of the woman is to be content in the place God has given her in his order of things -- that is, under authority. Her business is not to be out and about, but to be keepers at home. On the other hand, the glory and honour of the man is to be out and about the Master's business, expanding the Kingdom of God into every corner of the world.

We will not cover it at this time, but Paul did not place all the responsibility on young women. Everything he placed upon women is likewise applicable to men:

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. (Tit. 2:6.)

Ver. 6. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.] Temperate, chaste, modest, moderate, wise, and prudent in all things: this is said to Titus, as being his province to instruct and exhort the young men; as it were proper and convenient for aged women to teach the young women how they should behave and conduct themselves. (Gill)

The many modern women's empowerment movements, both inside and outside the "church," are clearly the spirit of the antichrist at work.