Generally in church, and particularly as an elder, there is need to be great wisdom exercised about how we speak about each other’s personal appearance. Great damage can be done by needless throw away comments which can cause frustration and distress to people.
Humour, in particular, can be particularly destructive. By way of example it is best to steer clear of joking about someone’s summery clothing. You may think that their appearance provokes a response, but is it called for for you to joke about it? The person may have issues of health or personal comfort. If you think their clothing is immodest then you need to speak to the person about it seriously.
Men making comments on the clothing of women, particularly those who are younger to them, should be a completely embargoed. If such is done it can arouse all kinds of feelings in the woman about the man being interested in her.
However, when the clothing of a woman is unseemly and not fulfilling the call of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to be discrete. The Word there says: likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. In such a situation an elder or older sister should approach the lady involved.
In all this husbands should encourage their wives as regards to appreciating them and treasuring them. They should tell them of how they appreciate their appearance.
I just feel it is area where great care be exercised. In everything we say we need to think about whether this is contributing to building someone up.
One of my observations in visiting many churches in the earlier part of the year was how much “air time” women in the church are given in leading “up front”. I am left wondering about this.
Now I am not sure that all the churches I visited would take a complementary view of the role of men and women in the church. I know, for sure that one of the churches would be egalitarian in their perspective. Many would have been clearly complementarian. For details of what these viewpoints mean see here . What I want to ponder upon is the fact that ladies in complementarian churches seem to be given more and more time up front.
There seems to be this thought that we need to show everybody that the ladies in the church can do so many things at the front. So rather than gaining the overall sense that the men are given the role of leading publicly, we are given a sense that the men lead, but we will make sure that the ladies are leading as much as possible as well.
It is as if we have to show that the ladies can really do lots of things in terms of leadership. It all seems a little bit gratuitous. In one church where the preaching had been very good we had a lady come on afterwards whose role I could not really suss. It seems like she was giving some extra application.
Now I want to make it clear that I am convinced and committed totally to all men and women being involved in church life, growing in grace and being effective in ministry. But what I saw left me wondering. In fact I wondered whether it was even counter-productive; the ladies rather than concentrating on their ministry call were placed in up-front roles which took them away from their ministry call.
One outcome of this is the neutering of the men. They see all these women now emerging on stage and they are not spurred to step-up.
It seems to be an increasing phenomenon that churches have deacons who are ladies and “women workers”. I just want to consider this issue.
The initial thing to consider is whether or not there should be women deacons in a church. The key passage here is 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and in particular v11. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. The word women here can also be rendered “wives”; the context determines which it is to be. If it is taken as wives then it is very curious that no mention is made of the elders wives in vv 1-7 where the qualifications of elders are stated. Accordingly, it is best to take it as meaning “women”
So if there are women then are they to be recognised as deacons? It is clear from v12 that the deacon is a male, after all he has to be married to a woman. So the women described in v11 cannot be deacons.
However, their description is stated within the passage giving the qualifications for deacons and so it seems that their ministry is closely connected to that of deacons, but they are not deacons. The use of the term “in like manner” indicates that they are a different, but similar, category to the deacons.
So to refer to “the women” simply as that would not be untoward. But the terms “women deacons”, “women servants” or “women workers” all seem to be appropriate designations. The mentioning of Phoebe in Romans 16:1 as the “diakonos” of the church in Cenchreae would refer to a woman of this ilk.
So what would their ministry be? It would be the like that of the deacons, but probably with an emphasis on those ministries to other women which would be more appropriate for them to undertake.
If you are a Christian man anticipating being married then be aware of the call for you to caringly lead your wife. I particularly want to urge you to think about your responsibility to lead your wife spiritually. Your wife will flourish through your exercise of servant leadership. If you wimp out and expect her to lead spiritually or if you act out the domineering tyrant role you have failed in the godly call upon you.
So what are you to do?:
- You are to lead your wife in church attendance. Church on a Sunday should not be greeted with a should we or shouldn’t we dilemma. Rather, unless health, hazard or hardship get in the way you will be there. I particularly urge husbands to think about your first Lord’s Day together as husband and wife. I find it shocking that a husband would cop-out and not make sure that the first Sunday morning of marriage finds them among God’s people to worship the Lord.
- Right from the start make your home a place of worship. You must be leading in this. There should not be a day ever that goes by without you and your wife praying together. Furthermore, you must make sure you read and study the Word together.
This scripture appears in Titus 2:3b-5. The Word says concerning the older women in the church that they are to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Could it be that I have just mentioned the most disobeyed portion of scripture in the Bible.
Amidst all the debate and dispute about the role of women in the church and whether they should have leadership / preaching roles, a scripture which clearly mandates a ministry for mature lady believers is largely ignored. I am not sure why it is. But I do know that our churches lack so much as a result.
Perhaps church leaders should pair the ladies up more; that is older ones with younger ones. But the thrust of the passage seems to be that the women through knowing this Word should get up and act upon it. How many younger sisters would just love a word of encouragement from an older believer. As they sink in a morass of nappies, washing and crying babies would not a kindly sister come stand encourage them in this vital ministry?
Oh what a lack there is here! Perhaps you feel you are not old enough. Well very likely you are older than some other sister and you can get on and serve them through your loving prayerful interest and advice. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified enough. Well the scripture does not talk about that it just infers you should get on and do it.
So older sisters be praying for those you can help and get on and help.
I have written at more length on this subject here