By Phil T. Arnold
A few weeks ago our own brother George Bittner was talking with me and reflecting on the beginnings of this congregation. The main point that he stressed was the role that godly women had played in the early days of this church. He said that probably very few people in the congregation today realized what a vital role those women had played godly women who stood firm and committed, often without their husbands, to allow this congregation to “get off the ground” and succeed. I would add to that not only in the beginning but throughout the history of this congregation even to its present, godly women have continued to play a significant role in seeing this congregation continue and experience success. Shamefully we fail to acknowledge this as often and rightfully as we should. Perhaps it is just such failure to rightfully acknowledge the church has perhaps become role of godly women that has helped fuel the fire of controversy over the role of women in the church. I realize that there are radical feminists who cry for change and want to break down all barriers of distinction between women in the church. men and women. But there may also be those women who perhaps have been swayed to listen to these cries at least in part by the unfulfilled expressions of appreciation for their contributions to the cause of Christ in the local congregation. Certainly, no Christian serves God rightfully if he does so to receive the praise of men (John 12:42-43; Matt. 6:1-8; Gal. 1:10; 2 Cor. 5:9).
But no one should be taken for granted. No one likes to have his efforts and labors ignored. The lack of recognition and honor that has been given to godly women in the church has perhaps become a fertile soil for the seeds of change being sown in an effort to alter the divinely authorized role of women in the church. The call for women to be held up in leader-ship positions within the church and to lead in public assemblies is no longer merely being heard in denominations, but is now being heard among many of those wearing the name church of Christ. While no abuse or failure in the past could ever be pointed to as cause for rejecting the divine pattern for the present, we need to recognize and acknowledge the rightful role that godly women have and do play in the Lord’s church.
In today’s church, the women outnumber the men in most local congregations. In fact, many congregations would not exist at all if it were not for godly women. This is not to say that godly men have not and do not contribute to the success of the church, but so many times it is godly women who have been the source of spiritual maturity in their homes and in the church. Many husbands have sinfully abdicated their role as spiritual leaders in the home and in the church. In so many cases, godly women after the pattern of Lois and Eunich (see 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14-15) have been the source of godly teaching, training, and example that has helped shape the next generation for servants and workers in the Lord’s kingdom. Many of us can personally look back upon godly mothers and other godly women who have greatly influenced us to arrive at our current positions of faith and service in the Lord’s church. Yes, the Lord’s church would be in quite a fix without the efforts of such godly women.
Many a man in the Lord’s church today can also point to his godly wife as the source of his conversion. The persistent, faithful teaching and example of a godly woman has introduced many a man to the Lord. And many of us men in our current positions of service also realize the difficulty it would be for us to carry on that service without the faithful support of our companions who do all to hold up our hands and encourage us in all things that are right. Yes, we men would be in a terrible way without godly women!
Yes, we must resist the attempts to conform the Lord’s church to the ways of the world. Yes, the Lord has made a distinction between the role that men and women are to have in the home and in the church. Yet, while there may be a difference in function there is no difference in value. While a woman’s leadership role in the church is limited, the in-valuable work that she may do is virtually limitless. Women may teach Bible classes of children, young women, and ladies (Tit. 2:3-4). Women may teach privately those that are lost (Acts 18:26; Matt. 28:18-20). Women are especially adept at the work of benevolence and seeing to the needs of others. There are an endless number of things that women may engage in to further the cause of the Lord and serve in his kingdom. Without their efforts, any local congregation (this one included) would be greatly handicapped.
So let us thank God for godly women. Let us ever ac-knowledge their irreplaceable and priceless role in the kingdom of Christ, and never be guilty of placing a stumblng block before them by minimizing or overlooking their value. Any may godly women never be discouraged when their service is not rightfully acknowledged. Nor may they every be tempted to abandon the glorious state to which the Lord has called them for the cheap counterfeit being touted by the world.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 9 p. 2
April May 1, 1997