The Value of Women

Maybe it’s because I worked six years for a faith-based women’s center. Or maybe it’s because I have known so many incredible women with amazing giftings. Maybe it’s because we are in the middle of International Women’s Month. For whatever reason, the topic of valuing women is front and center.

image of woman in blue blazer, teaching a presentation to mixed audience

Growing up in a legalistic religion, I heard about submission at least once every calendar quarter. It was drummed into us from the pulpit, in our society’s ethics, and in everyday life.

Men were supposed to be the head of the home. Men should do all the most important jobs in the church and in faith-based nonprofits. Men should be paid more. Men were in authority over women — always, no matter how toxic the situation. Women must submit and be silent, even to the point in some cultures, of denying their right to live.

Some of this teaching was based on random Bible verses here and there that the male authorities decided to make into a doctrine. No mention was made of the serious issues of abuse and sex trafficking — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse. Not once did I hear a sermon about mutual submission as recorded in Ephesians 5:21.

No one explained why it was okay for Abraham to force Sarah to lie about their marriage at the risk of her being raped. No one described the inequities of women being stoned for adultery while their male partners threw the stones. Nobody explained to me why only the male disciples of Jesus were recorded, and the women apostles ignored.

The leaders of my church denomination seemed to negate biblical examples of strong women by pounding into my brain that my own gifts of leadership were not acceptable. I was not allowed to pursue an MDiv at our church’s denominational seminary. Women were not allowed to stand behind the pulpit. Women could use their giftings only when teaching young children. At puberty, the men took over.

I wondered then — and still wonder — are the sons of Abraham afraid of losing control? Do they not know how to deal with women who might balance out their gifts? Women who can assist with the difficult issues of our time and exercise leadership that benefits the entire Church?

It was only much later in life that my heart, mind, and soul were opened to those hidden truths of spiritual abuse. It was only much later that I accepted the reality that invisible women are just as valuable as the obvious men, and assertiveness was not a sin.

In her book, Half the Church, Carolyn Custis James reminds us that as authentic Jesus followers, we need to put on our spiritual armor and do whatever is necessary to stop the lies of patriarchy. James reminds us that as women, we have many giftings and should not hide our abilities behind the cemented walls of submission. The captives of gender inequities deserve the attention of all God’s children, and we women can rally to meet the needs of people around the world.

Since God has gifted us with compassion and creativity, we have a responsibility to use our giftings to help others. We, the female portion of dust people, must continue to march toward freedom, whether fighting for physical or spiritual liberties. We, the female half of the Church, must loosen the bonds of spiritual abuse within the Church, to work beside our brothers to underscore the value of every human being. To march against that glass ceiling that is colored with stained glass.

In our American culture today, some of the old rules have changed. Women attend seminary and stand behind pulpits. Women lead corporations, and many women are the head of the home because the man is absent. I salute the courage of these sisters.

Yet I wonder, how many male church leaders will invite a woman to preach during International Women’s Month? How many male-dominated religions will study all of scripture and find the women who helped shape the kingdom of God? How many female leaders will be offered the same payroll package as their brothers?

Of all the religious leaders in the world, Jesus was the only one who truly valued women and respected their giftings. He invited Mary to sit at his feet when it was culturally unacceptable for a woman to learn. He inspired Priscilla to serve with Paul and possibly co-write the book of Hebrews with Aquila. Jesus called Rachel Saint and Anne Graham Lotz and Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore to teach the Gospel to anyone who would listen — male or female. 

And today, this Savior of the world, this Jesus reminds us that time is short and in the last days — men and women will prophesy. (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17)

In spite of the lies of the past, I do believe that Jesus values me and likes having me around. I honor him as my heavenly husband and maker. I find purpose in hearing him whisper, “Don’t be afraid. You are one of my chosen women. I have given you the right to serve me.”

And I challenge all of us to do whatever is necessary to free women from the stigma of ‘not enough,’ even if it means marching against the status quo. To use our creativity and our intelligence to be an equal half of the Church and a force for good in the world. To rescue those in any type of manmade slavery. To follow the radical social justice outlined in Micah 6:8.

To understand our value and be who God created us to be.

©2024 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Image by: Geralt / Pixabay

In honor of International Women’s Month, check out The Invisible Women of Genesis.

6 thoughts on “The Value of Women”

  1. At age 85 I reflect on my life and what I have been able to do only because of the full partnership of capable women, who now perpetuate the mission we created together. Much more thoroughly and creatively than I ever could by myself or with other men. And, Rebecca, you are one of those women! Thank you.

  2. Hear Hear. The new heavens and new earth will, I am convinced, yield a galaxy of surprises as the kingdom discloses at last the richness and depth of Christ’s influence brought forward throughout the earth by way of God’s vast stream of faithful, courageous handmaidens. Privileged to have crossed paths with many, both here and abroad. Thanks for the good reminder.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: