By Cindy Koch –
Many believe that we have already moved past the stinging issue of a woman’s place in society, the home, and even the church. We, in America, now have such a transcendent and loving understanding of the equality of gender, nation, and race that the discussion is over. Even my beloved LC-MS church body seems to have moved past the conversation; we now only refer to the lines that were drawn between a woman’s suffrage in a church voter’s meeting and Pastoral ministry. But then I see my friend, the Cantankerous Critic, recently pressing on a deeply emotional nerve, for a girl, and I remember again that this conversation is still white hot.
When I began my intense love and study of theology (back in high school) this particular question drove me deeper and deeper, “Where do I fit in?” Yes, I know that is not the most important question in the realm of theology, with Christological heresies and all. But looking around in this world of men’s voices, I had yet to experience one from a female. Passionate, compelling, sound teachings have always been spoken on the lips of gentlemen. My expression of this ancient Faith always came full circle – how do I, as a woman, make this confession?
As I studied scripture, the teachings were painfully clear. There are distinct differences between man and woman. “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” There are clear purposes of each gender. There are things that were encouraged and forbidden. “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” There was an extreme disconnect from my “liberated” experience as a woman – and the Word of God.
Where do I fit in?
Then, a sexy bearded man (yep, even a beard back then!) confessed his love for me and I was terrified! Wasn’t my independent status, as a young college student, good? What would happen to “freedom” if I was joined to him? I was confident to continue following the headship of Christ, but now the headship of a physical person would stand in the flow of His gifts. In our wedding sermon our wise mentor, Dr. Rosenbladt, warned us of this weighty reality of joining two sinners together as man and wife. Marriage meant a word of correction, comfort, and forgiveness would be spoken to me by this man who stood before me.
And now, where do I fit in?
Earlier this month, Scott proposed that modern women are not really free. Amen, brother! But then again… who promised that we should be free? The women’s liberation movement did serious damage, not simply to our everyday choices about what is socially acceptable and what is not. The damage is much deeper and profound. This generation of women taught us all a deadly new expectation of freedom; women should be able to do whatever they want. We should be a “free” individual.
There is a problem with this redefined identity; it is not from God. According to our Lord and His gracious creation of man and woman, neither were created to be free individuals. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” From the extreme beginning, man and women were created for each other. The liberation propaganda has encouraged us to crave “alone-ness”. This is not good.
But ladies, here we are. We are torn by friends who scream freedom, but truly seek to gather support for their own life choices. We are pulled by mentors who preach submission, but we must keep in line to be worthy. Experience shows us we can be hurt by depending on another. Every side of the passionate spectrum binds our conscience to do it the right way, to be a real woman. Worse than that, for a Christian woman, God’s Word speaks of a relationship that we have almost never seen. This biblical truth about headship and submission is not displayed, understood, nor desired.
Where do we fit in?
I am here to remind you of the forgotten gift God gave to women. He daily cares for you, protects you, forgives you, and loves you through one who is your head. I can’t say it any better than St. Paul:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33)
This is a beautiful picture of our honored place in creation, in our faith, and in our home. I am bound to another, and he is bound to me. This amazing story is told again this Maundy Thursday as Christ stoops down before his bride to wash her feet. He submits His honor, His life, His individuality to be united to the Church. In turn, she lovingly trusts Him as her head.
The proper understanding of freedom is in a context where we are bound to another.
We are truly free from death and fear, in the loving arms of our bridegroom, Christ. I am likewise free from danger and popular condemnation caught up in the flesh of a husband that loves me, as Christ loved the church. Where do we fit in? God created us to fit right into his side.