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There are biblical womanhood passages we hardly blink at. That older women should impart wisdom to younger women is esteemed. That women ought to love their husbands and children is expected, even if challenging at times. And as much as we may give attention to hair and clothing, we understand that in Christ, the inner person deserves our utmost adornment.
But other passages spark something more. Submission can ignite a lively exchange all by itself. Toss in “worker at home” and roles in the church, and you might be ticking towards an explosion. The casualty, however, is often the word of God. As believers, we have an obligation to treat Scripture — even “troublesome” passages — in a Christ-honoring way.
Treat Scripture with Humility
When we encounter hot-button issues in biblical womanhood, we do so armed with our own experiences and opinions. These issues are central to our identity as women and stir convictions that are deeply entrenched. Almost instinctively, we rise to defend them. But in Christ, we have a higher call, to elevate the Lord and his word above all.
Humility bows to the word of God. Humility recognizes that the world and the god of this world cloud our views. Rather than defending our personal convictions, we are called to inspect them in the light of truth. In humility, we pray to understand the truth — not to fit our sensibilities, but in the way God intended when he revealed it. We ask the Lord to strip us of any convictions that aren’t of him. In the process, we are transformed and our minds renewed, “that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
When we humble ourselves, we aren’t clothed in womanhood but in Christ. We aren’t casting a wary eye at Scripture. Rather, we are submitting ourselves to God and esteeming his word as holy. It is especially when we do not understand or agree with Scripture that we ought to bow, knowing that God is good and his ways are higher.
Treat Scripture with Reverential Fear
The word of God is divinely inspired, timeless, and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) — until an issue such as submission comes into view. Once we enter the quagmire, reverence is disassembled. Suddenly, portions of the New Testament are fit only for a particular group and point in time. The apostle Paul is no longer a bondservant of God, but a man gone rogue, speaking from personal opinion. Thus, we are free to put forth opinions of others, including ourselves, to rebut Paul’s questionable bent.
Since the garden the enemy has targeted reverence for the word of God. God’s word is holy and pure. Christ is the Word made flesh. As his followers, we are to esteem his word highly, which is reflected in all that we say and do.
In Titus 2 we often focus on what the older women is to teach the younger (Titus 2:3–5). But we ought not miss the reason given: “that the word of God may not be reviled.” If our conduct brings honor or dishonor to the word, how much more if, for the sake of an issue, we call the authority of the word itself into question.
This side of heaven, there will not be one uniform interpretation of particular passages of Scripture. And certainly, we expect the world to come against anything in the word that is counter-cultural. But as followers of Christ, we do well to take caution as to how we handle such issues. Do we really want to posit that certain passages were a product of the apostle Paul speaking, essentially, in the flesh? Do we want to call into question the truth that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16)?
If we desire to honor the Lord, we don’t take aim and fire at verses of Scripture. We esteem those verses, however “troublesome” we may deem them, as God-breathed and holy. And we pray for the Spirit to lead us in understanding them.
Let’s Be Honest
A long-standing statistic indicates that few professing Christians read their Bibles. Yet, when hot-button issues surface, particularly in the area of biblical womanhood, almost everyone has an opinion. Often it is a visceral reaction, informed more by culture, perhaps even a Christian or denominational culture, than by a study of God’s word.
What if we were honest about our lack of understanding, beginning within ourselves? If we haven’t prayerfully studied an issue, should we rise to vigorously debate it? And if we have studied, was it with an agenda or with an attitude of submission to God?
As believers, our goal should be growth in biblical understanding. In order to grow, we must be honest about what we do not know. We should be willing to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). And always, growth comes with looking to the Spirit.
God inspired those womanhood passages (and others) of Scripture that cause us to bristle. They are profitable and holy. As those who are called to be holy, we are also called to treat every verse with reverence, with the utmost aim that the Lord and his word be glorified.