Vision Forum: The Biblical Picture of a Virtuous Woman Is Against a Woman Holding Civil Office

Part III:

In Proverbs 31:10-31, we are given the biblical picture of a woman who fears God and walks in His ways. The passage begins with a question: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The question implies that such a woman is rare and precious, just like rubies. The description of the virtuous woman shows her to be an industrious, loving woman who devotes herself to the well-being of her husband and children. The center of her interest and the place of her ministry are in her home. God has called her to be “a keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), and she willingly and joyfully fulfills her calling to the great blessing of all who depend on her piety, wisdom, and homemaking skills.

Of great importance to the issue before us in this essay, are these words concerning her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land” (Prov. 31:23). The “gates” in Old Testament times referred to the place where the leaders of the city (i.e., “the elders of the land”) would gather to discuss community affairs, administer civil law, and judge in criminal and civil cases. The “gates,” therefore, is a reference to the “city hall,” the “capital building,” the “courthouse” or, in short, to the seat of civil government. The key for us is to note that, in the case of the virtuous woman, it is her husband who is active in the gates; the virtuous woman is not herself seated in the gates — she is active in her home. This should not surprise us, for the order of creation and the law of God establish the fact that men are to bear rule in civil government. The virtuous woman understands this, and takes the vital place that God has assigned her in the home and with her family; she does not try to intrude herself into a seat in the gates. However, we need to note that the virtuous woman’s works are to praised in the gates (Prov. 31:31). Her works are not in the gates, but they are to be praised in the gates; that is, those who are leaders in the community ought to recognize the great work that she is doing in support of the community by faithfully fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother (1 Tim. 2:15; 5:10, 14; Titus 2:3-5). This is her glorious work for the Lord and His kingdom. It is of the utmost importance!

Furthermore, it should be recognized that the virtuous woman does make her presence felt in community concerns. But it is through the influence that she has on her husband (and mature sons) that her wisdom and knowledge will help to direct the affairs of the community. Yes, it is her husband who sits in the gates, but his renown and ability as a civil leader is due, at least in part (if not largely), to her help and support. Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor.

Let no one speak lightly or disparagingly of the woman’s appointed role and her service to Christ and His kingdom! And let no woman set aside the example of the virtuous woman and seek to sit in the gates with the rulers of the land. And let no Christian have any part in putting her there.

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13 Responses to “Vision Forum: The Biblical Picture of a Virtuous Woman Is Against a Woman Holding Civil Office”

  1. anon Says:

    I haven’t read the posts below yet, but I happen to agree with Doug on this one. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Maybe I see the Bible differently. Whatever the reason, I agree that women should not be in public office. I do believe their highest influence and most satisfying place for them is in the home. Maybe I feel that way because that’s what I’ve always wanted for myself, since I was a little girl. When I worked outside the home before marriage it was at a preschool-which obviously has children in common with homekeeping. I’ve always “just” wanted to be a homemaker so maybe I see all women thru my own rose colored glasses. I don’t know.
    I will say that I do believe Titus 2 addresses women today, and I do believe it means what it says when it talks about women being busy at home. You can look up the original language to see exactly what homekeeper means-I’ve read it before elsewhere but can’t remember now but it doesn’t refer to holding public office-I do remember that. 🙂
    I’m not a fan of DP but I do hold to the old-fashioned position of godly womanhood being lived out at home.
    Please don’t blast me for my opinion. I am a Christian, I have feelings, there are many women (and men) who hold the same position I do, and I’d like to feel that my opinions are welcome here without getting personally attacked for sharing them. This is what I sincerely believe. If you disagree please use scripture. That’s where the rubber hits the road. If we’re going to discuss this hot issue, then let’s use what the Bible says.

  2. anon Says:

    http://www.efbt100.com/evangelical_feminism.pdf

    This mentions Deborah. You can’t take one example from scripture and build an entire case from it. (I read a post below which mentions this instance.)

  3. Jen Says:

    Hi, Anon! You are welcome to disagree with us and agree with Doug. I do have one request, though. Please pick a name, any name, but not “Anon.”

    You are right about using Scripture. Could you please provide a verse that says women cannot hold public office? Are you saying that Titus 2 says all women for all time must always stay at home all the time and therefore they cannot hold public office?

    Thanks!

  4. Corriejo Says:

    “Yes, it is her husband who sits in the gates, but his renown and ability as a civil leader is due, at least in part (if not largely), to her help and support. Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor.”

    Then I guess this pretty much cinches it.

    Deborah was a sinner and a feminist. She usurped her husband’s rightful place in the city gates where he was supposed to be speaking and judging. She left ol’ Lapidoth home to do her job while she brazenly sat under the tree and wore the pants in the family.

    I am sure there was a lot of gnashing of teeth going on while she was playing the Jezebel.

  5. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Yup.. and how about God Himself, Who approved of her and raised her up?
    The nerve of God, to do a thing like that. He oughta know better.

  6. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    From “Part III” above: “Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor….Let no one speak lightly or disparagingly of the woman’s appointed role and her service to Christ and His kingdom! And let no woman set aside the example of the virtuous woman and seek to sit in the gates with the rulers of the land. And let no Christian have any part in putting her there.”

    Here’s where I get stuck. If I wanted to run for public office, my husband would be my biggest supporter. He’s encouraged and supported me to speak on matters in the local church and on these matters concerning patriarchy. He sees my efforts as one means of bringing honor to him in the gates. What if he agrees that civil service in public office (sometimes very like some of the past roles I’ve held as a nurse in public health endeavors) is my appointed role under his delegation and as his representative (the covenant representative of my husband???). Dare I utter such a thing??? He trusts me enough that way and knows that I wont do anything that would jepordize his name.

  7. Patty Says:

    Cindy,
    Having spent 24 years in egalitarian churches I must say this topic is a little foreign to me.
    I have always been taught as I hope we all have since conversion, that ALL of our decisions and direction in this life proceed from God’s word, and his Holy Spirit and the multitude of counselors.
    He is the one who has gone ahead of us and knows the way you should take; he maintains your lot; He works all things according to the counsel of His will etc.
    My concern for you or any brother or sister in Christ regardless of what they wish to do or path to take is whether you did things God’s way. That you crossed your ‘t’s’ and dotted your ‘i’s’ as you know you should along the way. Everything we do will be tested by fire and as long as God’s word is the foundation in our lives we will stand and our fruit remain.
    Since you are married your husbands position and support is important. I wouldn’t say its the final word because thats God’s place but certainly your husbands blessing sure can make life easier and since the two are one its doubtful he would ever lead you into an arena like public service without his help, knowledge and expertise. What a privledge you have and what a blessing you have to have him! :>) ( Since we are also spirit lead he may have had a hunch before you did!! )
    I am in awe of Condoleeza Rice and am personally convinced that God put her there. Ever read a biography of her? Linda Smith a former congresswoman who runs ‘Shared Hope International’ also is dynamite.
    I’d say “go for it”!!! :>o
    Some men and women may be able to get into positions in life by buying their way in,charisma or the ability to speak or belt out a song but getting there through death and resurrection and faith is the best way. If you do that, noone will be able to stop you just because of your gender. God will intervene and stop them.

  8. CD-Host Says:

    Well I am happy to report A defense against Patriarchy (part 5) is done, this covers the high middle ages. I have something for everyone:

    1) How the death of patriarchal marriage happened
    2) The best proof in the whole series that the church never advocated patriarchy
    3) The rise of proto-protestantism inside a woman’s community movement
    4) Our first advocate for complimantarianism
    5) A world that makes a religion out of their madonna / whore complex
    6) oh and lots and lots of adultery

    Hope you all enjoy.

  9. Red Ink Says:

    re: Deborah

    I don’t think Deborah is a good example, really. In Judges 5, her song, she still sings a whole lot about princes and kings – even though, as an empowered woman, we might expect her to talk once or twice about princesses and queens.

    Deborah is referred to as a mother. Sure, a position of authority, but I think the import of motherhood is quite a bit different than that of a queen.

    Starting in verse 13, I hear a lot of language about men tarrying and not fulfilling their duties. This is consistent with how I’ve always understood Deborah’s role: she arose out of a lack of men. She was not necessarily in sin, but her status was the result of cultural sin. When the men falter, God is the type of God that raises up a woman to do the job.

    I think this is reinforced by another aspect of Deborah’s story. Jael. She gets some air time in the poem, and in Judges 4, but I don’t think many here would argue that God intends women to be mighty warriors. That’s a pretty distinctly masculine role in the Bible. Yet, Jael rises up when the warriors would not come, and strikes God’s enemies down with a tent peg.

    Deborah and Jael: could they be parallel? God tells stories like that an awful lot, and Judges 4 and 5 sure seem to run in a panel structure.

    Just some thoughts. Certainly open for debate.

  10. The Happy Feminist Says:

    Anon in the very first comment to this post says:

    I do believe their highest influence and most satisfying place for them is in the home. Maybe I feel that way because that’s what I’ve always wanted for myself, since I was a little girl. When I worked outside the home before marriage it was at a preschool-which obviously has children in common with homekeeping. I’ve always “just” wanted to be a homemaker so maybe I see all women thru my own rose colored glasses. I don’t know.

    Although obviously I disagree with anon’s position that women should not hold public office, I found this comment extremely refreshing. I read a lot of anti-feminist blogs and one theme I see over and over again is that women PREFER to stay in the home. But I am a woman and I don’t have any such preference. I often find myself wondering how people I have never met, men as well as women, presume to opine on my true nature as though they know me better than I do.

    The truth is that women are unique individuals. We are not all the same. Just as some men have a driving ambition to lead through politics, while others want to be scholars, and others prefer a quiet life of farming (just to give a few examples), women come in all stripes with a variety of different preferences. It has honestly never occurred to me to want to devote myself to homemaking, despite the example of my own mother who truly enjoyed all things home-related. My mother and I are simply not alike in that respect — but we respect each other’s different life callings. And my mother would not hesitate to vote a woman into high public office, even though politics is not her own inclination.

    As for Doug Phillips, the articles at the Vision Forum site about women not voting and not holding public office are what drew my attention to him, and made him so fascinating to me. There are also some articles by Scott Brown about fathers protecting their daughters, in which Mr. Brown seems to long for days when women did not travel in public without a man to protect them.

  11. CynthiaGee Says:

    “The truth is that women are unique individuals. We are not all the same. Just as some men have a driving ambition to lead through politics, while others want to be scholars, and others prefer a quiet life of farming (just to give a few examples), women come in all stripes with a variety of different preferences.”

    Exactly. This is where I have a problem with people who FIRST point out that men are naturally aggressive, dominant leaders, and women are naturally more reticent, more nuturing, and more inclined to follow than to lead, AND THEN go on to say that because of this, all men must be leaders, and all women must be followers, or they are sinners who are rebelling against God’s blueprint for humanity.
    These stereotypes (actually, archetypes) may be valid in GENERAL, but they are still only types. Real people come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments, and there is lots of room for variation (obviously — if God had wanted cookie-cutter clones, He wouldn’t have made us all as individuals!)
    The other thing that these people fail to consider is that the old male and female archetypes are passing away — Jesus has become the archetype of those who dwell in Him, replacing Adam and Eve, and in Him there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free.
    It is true that while we still live in this world, we are male and female, marrying and giving in marriage as mankind has done since before the Flood and will do until Jesus’s return, and that is VERY, VERY GOOD, but it will pass away — Jesus said that in the resurrection we shall be as the angels, neither marrying or giving in marriage.

  12. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Hi Happy Feminist,

    You wrote: Although obviously I disagree with anon’s position that women should not hold public office, I found this comment extremely refreshing. I read a lot of anti-feminist blogs and one theme I see over and over again is that women PREFER to stay in the home. But I am a woman and I don’t have any such preference. I often find myself wondering how people I have never met, men as well as women, presume to opine on my true nature as though they know me better than I do.

    I do better all around when I work part-time. I get very off balance whenever I work more than 24 hours per week, but I do better all around (both at home and at work) when I work about one long day or two days outside the home. This type of schedule actually enhances my life all the way around. I don’t understand why it is always an “all or nothing” issue with these folks?

  13. K. Theodore Jenkins Says:

    Hey Patty (and everyone)

    CD-Host is for “gay-friendly churches”. He provides a link to this perverted sodomite website on the left side of his page:

    http://welcomingresources.org

    I say this just to re-inforce my conviction that anyone who says the Patriarch of Constantinople was against patriarchy is not alright upstairs.


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