The last place a woman should feel oppressed is in the local church. When we think of women being oppressed in the local church we automatically assume it’s coming from the top down. It must be the pastor or the male ministry leader, but it’s not the men causing the oppression. More often it’s women oppressing other women. It manifests under the disguise of women’s ministries, mom groups, and bible studies. We develop our (wo)man made ideas of what biblical womanhood is and instead of teaching women what the bible says we teach our interpretations of what the Bible says, leaving no room for the work of the Holy Spirit in our women’s ministries.
How we oppress one another as women:
You oppress women when you teach them only out of sections of the bible where women’s names are mentioned. Women’s ministry is not nor will it ever be limited to Proverbs 31 and Titus 2. Women need the whole Bible. When we teach the entire bible it is there that women hear and are reminded of their redemptive story. God’s whole word is powerful. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.” Psalm 33:3-6. It’s through all of scripture we see who God is, his power, learn his attributes, and learn how to live; we need the bible in its entirety. The Bible is God speaking to us, how can your women know God if you are only teaching them a limited view of him by limiting what they are taught?
You oppress women when you teach them to live as you are and not as Christ was and is. Are you teaching woman to respond as you would or as God calls us to? You need to remember that each of us combined are all a part of the body, each with unique gifting. You can’t be dependent on your personality and how you would respond in a situation. How the Lord may have you respond may not be how someone else needs to respond, therefore train them to be like God. . .not like you, you are not God no matter how many women are at your bible studies, or call you for advice. Step out of the way and teach them to respond in godliness not in you-ness. “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:7-10
You oppress women when you teach them that biblical womanhood can fit inside of a cookie cutter. We each are made in the image of God, uniquely and differently. Because your women’s ministry director may have one view, like one author, doesn’t mean all woman apart of your church need to fall in line. Are you more interested in creating clones of you (to worship you) or teaching and equipping women to use their unique gifts in their station of life to reach the lost around them investing in their workplaces, homes, and families (to worship God). There are many examples of how we do this from organic foods, dating, and even childbirth. Your personal conviction of childbirth is just that, your PERSONAL conviction. We like to speak with authority when we speak to other woman about our choices, leaving them condemned if for some reason they medically had to or chose to have a c-section. You need to stop making personal opinions gospel issues.
You oppress women when you confuse being a helpmate with being a doormat. The word helper used in Genius 2:18-22 is translated to ezer, which means strong warrior. A helper isn’t a servant to her husband or a weak woman who never has an opinion of her own and never steps into a need. A helper is a strong woman who is grounded in knowing whose she is and who she is and is therefore ready and available to serve the Lord. She is strongly submissive to her God, her pastors, and her husband (the single woman her parents), ready to battle along side her brothers.
You oppress women when you teach them to respond in fear and not freedom. You put up false unbiblical boundaries for women. Teach women to fear the Lord not the fear of messing up. Paul says it beautifully in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." The battle has been won, you are free, be free to delight in God and live a life that is pleasing to him not a life fearing of crossing a line that is no longer there. Don’t just live as though you have been redeemed. . .live as though you have been redeemed and set free from all of your past, your sin, and your future self.
There is hope for the oppressed. There is hope for you and me. Ladies, let’s stop oppressing one another into our conceived notions of what we know to be true. Instead let’s teach women to be strong women, who live courageously for their God delighting in him and training other women to be like God and to find their delight in him.