Women can be leaders, but only under certain conditions.
In these feminized times, it is common for women to assume a position of leadership in politics, government, social movements, and even the church.
But this arrangement does not follow God’s proscribed order, nor does it glorify Him.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”1st Timothy 2:12 (KJV)
We do not need the Bible to tell us that women are generally unfit to lead. We can know this through simple observation.
“I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson replied, “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.””James Boswell, in The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) Info*
Yet, the Bible contains stories of women who were leaders, in a sense.
- Deborah was a judge and a prophet. (Judges 4-5)
- Miriam was a leader in worship. (Exodus 15:20; Micah 6:4)
- Rizpah defended the sanctity of human life, and the honor of her tribe by keeping watch over her slain sons and fending away wild animals and birds. Her public mourning, night and day for months, came to be regarded as a civil protest against the senseless massacre of war. (2nd Samuel 21:1-14). Her unrelenting despair won the solidarity of a war-weary people and finally moved King David to grant her sons a proper burial, thereby ending the famine that had swept the land.
- Huldah was a prophetess who had a leading role in the restoration of Israel. (2nd Kings 22)
- Esther risked her own life to save the lives of the Jewish people. (Esther 1-10)
- Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, as well as Joanna and Susanna were leaders in service, submission, adoration, and providing sustenance to Jesus and his disciples. (Luke 8:1-3; Luke 10:38-42)
- Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Lord and received the task of proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples, specifically the men. (John 20:1-18)
- Lydia, a merchant, was a leader in hospitality to Paul and Silas during their missionary work (Acts 16:14-15). She also hosted one of the first home fellowship assemblies of the early Church (Acts 16:40).
- Phoebe held a special role in the early church on account of her willingness to help anyone in need (Romans 16:1-2).
- Priscilla boldly accompanied her husband Aquila while he joined Paul in his work as a tentmaker and a missionary (Acts 18).
- Rahab was a gentile prostitute who displayed exceptional wisdom and faith by colluding with two Israelite spies. (Joshua 2). In spite of her sins, God honored Rahab’s faith and courage by placing her in the lineage of not only Israel’s great King David (Matthew 1:6) but also of Jesus, the King of Kings (Matthew 1:1).
Other women who showed extraordinary initiative in their personal relationships with men include Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Tamar, Leah, Ruth, the Shulamite girl in the Song of Songs, Abigail, Bathsheba, and Mary the mother of Jesus.
God Glorifies those Women who Help and Serve
Looking through this list, we see that the female leaders in the Bible glorified God through their faithful service to men or to a larger body of people. These women played the role of a helper, a mediator, a prophetic advisor, or one who provided sustenance, and not as a conqueror or teacher. In all cases, it was obvious that God was the power behind their leadership, and not the woman herself. It should also be noted that they all worked in cooperation with other leaders who were men.
The examples of Deborah, Huldah, and Esther are unique, in that they were political leaders. God is glorified when people who fear the Lord follow the leader, not because of the leadership ability of the person, but because they recognize that they don’t need a great leader to be obedient to God’s authority.
These female leaders in the Bible exercised faith by recognizing that all they needed to do was to speak the Lord’s truth, and/or offer a unifying voice of direction to coordinate the people’s labor for the Lord.
People are willing to follow such leaders because they fear authority, are intuitively aware of God’s purposes, or else they recognize the truth of the prophetic Word, and therefore, they only need a united effort and the willingness to obey in order to carry out His will. Thus, the Lord did the work through the people’s obedience, and not through any leadership expertise on behalf of the leader.
God Glorifies the Weak and Helpless
From a larger perspective, we know that God often chooses those who are seemingly unable to do great things for the simple reason that this glorifies Him. Therefore, women, as being the weaker vessel (1st Peter 3:7), may be recruited by God to serve in His purposes and to glorify Him.
But this state of weakness is not necessarily something we should seek out, nor be envious of. The apostle Paul spoke of this as being a “thorn in the flesh”.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)
A Strong Independent Woman™ (SIW), or one who claims or aspires to be such. is not a Christian woman, nor one who glorifies God.
Now before readers jump to the conclusion that I am defending the rulership of many women in power, I need to emphasize that a woman in a position of leadership can only glorify God if she is dedicated to doing the Lord’s work.
- Without God, a female cannot be a leader.
- Without glorifying the power of God through her weakness, a female cannot be a leader.
- Without God-fearing followers, a female cannot be a leader.
- Without followers that are unified in working together to do God’s will, a female cannot be a leader.
Let’s not forget the reason why God appoints females to be leaders at special times and under unique conditions. It is to glorify Himself.
Only by the power and authority of God can a female serve in a leadership position. The moment she ceases to act as an agent of His will, the moment she fails to glorify God, she will fall from her position, or else the followers will be misled and will fail in their efforts.
Of course, we know that practically 100% of all women in politics today are in it for other reasons.
* H/T: Patriactionary: You, madam ‘preacher’, are no lady (2020 April 26)
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