West Columbia, Texas
Women, wives, and mothers are to be honored as the special creation of God. When God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion. . .," he was not talking about the male only. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:26-27). Male-and female reflect the image of God Himself, not a fleshly image but a spiritual image. That image includes a spirit that never ceases to exist and which reflects free moral agency, initiative, and forethought. It includes both intellect and emotion.
Man without the woman has no suitable helper and no adequate companion in all the universe. Women, wives, and mothers are to be honored as a special blessing to man. She was made from man's rib by a miracle of God-and like man's rib, she is to be at his side, not under his feet or over his head. Man is to make a unique place in his heart and life for his wife: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:18-24). The man who breaks these promises to make his wife first, to keep himself to her alone, and to blend his life with hers is himself a dishonor to all that is holy and good. He is to seek her well being and to share every blessing he has with her. He is to protect her and provide her every need. In blessing her, he blesses himself, for she is an honor to him! She can enlarge and enhance everything about him, for good or for bad.
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31:10-31 honors woman her faithfulness to her family, for her diligence in duties of life, for her bounty to those in need, and for her good name among all who know her. Her greatest honor is not physical beauty, but above all, "a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." She is beautiful for what she is and wh she does.
A man honors his wife by loving her as Christ loved the church — with an unselfish love. Christ is not a tyrant a dictator, yet He has full authority in the church. ow is this? It is because He won our hearts by emptying Himself in every way in order to save us. That is exactly how a man attains to his proper role as head the house. Our physical head does not direct the parts o the body to harm each other. When a man tries to be head of his wife by threats, shouts, beatings or any kind of abuse, he defeats and destroys himself. He weakens the love and respect which make it possible for him to lead. "Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (see Eph. 5:22-33). "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7).
When men and women worship together as the church of God, the woman's honor is not to lead men but to recognize man's role as the leader. She does not exercise authority over men as a teacher or in any other way. She participates as a learner and a follower of those who lead. Honor is not found by making a display of her body before the eyes of men in the assembly, but her honor is in her modest habits of dress which reflect soberness and godliness of heart (1 Tim. 2:8-15).
Woman's Greatest Honor
1 Timothy 2:14-15 stresses a proper understanding of woman's true honor. Eve stepped out of her role as a submissive and cooperative companion when she was deceived by Satan. Satan deluded her with promises of the power and authority which belong to God, and she acted as a leader in tempting her husband to sin. The result was a blight of sin and death on all the earth until this day. What a lesson in the dangers of assuming powers not authorized by God! In this, woman cursed mankind.
But, to balance the pictures, the Holy Spirit also points out her redeeming work on earth and her greatest blessing to mankind: "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." This does not discuss the conditions of pardon for individuals who sin, but speaks of the saving quality or redeeming work of women in general. The woman's greatest role is to live a life of faith, charity, holiness, and sobriety so as to raise children of the same character. She may choose not to marry or may not raise a family, and can still go to heaven. Great honors may be attained in this world outside the home without sin. But, her greatest honor comes from blessing this sad world with godly children as she herself lives a godly life.
Women bring honor to themselves and to their husbands when they encourage and support their husbands in spiritual growth. Men cannot serve as elders and deacons if their wives are materialistic, spiritually indifferent, and ungodly. "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things" (1 Tim. 3:11). No man ever developed into a true elder or deacon without the constant encouragement of a godly wife. Men appointed to these offices of trust and service will function effectively only so long as their wives support them.
Honorable, aged women uphold the very highest standards of holiness, avoid gossip, are never intoxicated, and always seek opportunities to teach the truth. They especially delight to "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Tit. 2:3-5). Aged women who exercise themselves unto godliness are especially effective in teaching these vital lessons. Those who do this privately and publicly are due honor.
Wives and mothers are to be honored who cooperate with their husbands, and yet who must serve the Lord without the leadership of their husbands in spiritual matters. Such women discuss the Word of God with their husbands as opportunity permits, without badgering them or being overbearing. Even "without the word," the habits of such women in dress, speech, and faithful attention to spiritual duties become another avenue of teaching their husbands (1 Pet. 3:16). To the credit of some such women, their husbands obey the gospel. To the credit of others, they continue serving the Lord in spite of their husband's rejection of Christ and by special diligence are able to raise up men and women with the character of a Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5).
Postscript: Welcome Home
Our godless society has done everything possible to destroy woman's true honor and to hold up before her idolatrous images of success and accomplishment. Women have been deceived by the lie that the real meaning of life will pass them by if they put their heart into their home life. The influence of truth is felt at times beyond the realm of the Lord's church as people run into dead end streets on the road of life. It is a good sign that many people are realizing they have been lied to and are searching for answers. A healthy "Back to Basics" movement has affected people's attitudes toward education, the work ethic, politics, and homelife. Such trends can help to prepare people to see their need for God (1 Cor. 1:21).
Women who focus their interest and energy on the home and family life are doing an honorable work. My sister-in-law, who is encouraging women in that kind of an effort, is Marsha Halbrook (3840 Glenbrook Rd., Fairfax, VA 22031). She has consented for Guardian of Truth to publish her article entitled . . . Mothers At Home' Organize," telling about a new group called "Mothers At Home" and a new journal called Welcome Home. Being non-religious, it occasionally contains something Christians could not approve (such as an article on taking teenagers to the beach for mixed swimming), but by and large it is filled with helpful, healthy, and happy material which reflects Bible principles on home life.
Martha is a staff writer. Mothers At Home published an article which is now a brochure by Marsha on "Miscarriage: A brief look at its frequency, causes, emotional impact, recovery process and dealing with its grief." She commented to me on this little discussed subject:
While society views miscarriage as "only a miscarriage" (it was for the best, you can try again, etc.), for the victim it is the death of a child. Through my writings on the subject and their distribution and use by area hospitals and physicians as well as other doctors nationwide (even St. Mary's Hospital in London), I have been able to put my losses in perspective and use my experiences to help, comfort and support others.
People who have this high regard for life and who love children will find our society's wide-open approval of abortion repulsive. Efforts such as the Mothers At Home group and Welcome Home not only share counsel and comfort, but also strengthen the moral fiber of our nation.
As a sample of the good things included in Welcome Home, we got permission to reprint in the Guardian of Truth Dr. John W. Greene's article on "Raising Teenagers. " We wish to publicly thank both the journal and Dr. Greene.