term paper #3: Cultural Problems and Answers in Theology
People often get extreme when it comes to treating various issues. One such problem that is sometimes tearing the Churches (and not just Churches) apart is the definition of a woman’s role in society.
Partially influenced by WWII (and WWI), women of nowadays were raised by mothers who had to be strong during the tough times. During the war, when husbands went away, women had to assume all the roles at home – and at times, take up the arms and go fight. Therefore, while the feminism movement hasn’t been too active in Ukraine as it was in the Western countries, it crept up on us quietly.
What is the society’s answer to that? Most often, one can see two extremes. One – young women fighting to be considered on the same level as men, in work places and at home. Career minded ladies who don’t want to even think of a family, but they want a status of a successful businesswoman. The other extreme is the semi-religious answer that dictates that a woman’s role is strictly limited to stay home, give birth to and raise kids, and serve the husband, because the Bible says that “wives should submit to their husbands.” That verse is often used against women whose husbands want to have full control of their spouse.
If we look at the full passage, however, it says later that husbands have to love their wives as much as Christ has loved the Church (and He laid down His life for the Church). Therefore, even if we take this particular most-quoted passage from Ephesians 5, taken in context of the Paul’s letter, submitting to a husband who loves you so much is much easier than just “submit to the husband whoever he is and whatever he does.”
Should a woman stay home and not work? The Bible does not say anything about it. However, as we see in our cultural context, it is possible to have a happy family where both parents work. We have kindergartens and schools for kids, therefore it is possible for a woman, if she desires so, to work. However, their family should be on the first place and not the career. This also applies to husbands, not just wives – it would be much better to have a happy family, where kids know they are loved andn cherished, rather than have another promotion at work. What is needed, as always, is good balance.
The other example of the passage used by many is that “women should remain silent.” This has been used against the churches (like the Nazarene one) where women are allowed to be pastors or teachers. However, in the same letter, Paul talks about the requirement for women to cover their hair when they are “praying or prophesying.” While it is possible to assume that women could prophesy at their homes and not the church, it is easy to assume that they have been prophesying during church as well. Therefore, while in the Judean (and Greco-Roman) cultures it was rather odd to have women speak or teach, if it were under God’s Holy Spirit’s influence, it could (and did) take place. After all, why else would God give women of those times such gifts if He meant for them to remain silent and not follow His lead?
So what should women do? My personal opinion (since I am happily married) is that if husbands indeed follow what is said in Ephesians 5:25-33 (love his wife as Christ loves the Church, etc.), then it is easy for wives to follow what is said in Ephesians 5:22-24 (submit to a loving husband, respect him, and let him be the leader of the family). All the other decisions they can make together, since they have become one flesh, anyway.