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One of the hottest political issues in the world today is that of women's liberation. They say, "All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Well, men have had a lot of power throughout history, and they have often abused it. The women's lib movement has focused on this abuse and forced many men to reconsider their attitudes.

As Christians, we have been encouraged to take more note of such passages as Galatians 3:28. We have noticed that Jesus broke sexist taboos by doing things like commending a menstruating woman who touched him (Mark 5:25-27, 34), like defending women against husbands who divorce them for no good reason (Mark 10:2-9), and like speaking first to a woman after his resurrection (John 20:16-17). Women are listed with the twelve apostles (Luke 8:1-3); and women are recognised in the Bible as prophets (Luke 2:36) and judges (Judges 4:4). Paul taught husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, laying down their lives for them (Ephesians 5:25). He said there is a link between Christ's love for the world and what he was trying to teach men about their attitude toward women (Ephesians 5:32). All of this we have taken more note of as a result of the women's liberation message.

But there is a deeper message in the women's liberation movement which is not from God. The message is one of rebellion, not only against men but against God himself. Just as there can be false prophets, so there can be false prophetesses, and we need to be on guard against them (Revelation 2:20). Extreme women's lib teaching is pure sexism. It says that men are inherently evil and women are inherently good. Because God is portrayed as a man, he is evil, and he must be replaced by a female figure: Mother Nature.

If it is true that all power corrupts, then women are just as likely to be corrupted by power as are men.

The Bible warns against letting novices lead in the church (1 Timothy 3:6). Obviously novices need to start somewhere, but they need to do so under the guidance of those who have had more experience. If women are to gain experience as leaders, they must also learn to work with at least some of the men.

Men have often abused power, but they have also developed systems of accountability, at least amongst themselves. The women's lib movement is weak in the area of accountability.

It is not enough to want power. You must show that you have a plan to use it constructively. It is pointless to ask for the pulpit if you don't have anything worthwhile to say when you get it. Yet this is often the naive attitude toward leadership that a novice takes. He/she thinks, "If only I had enough power, I could fix things." But power needs to be earned.

While Jesus was ahead of his time in recognising the needs and feelings of women, he still chose only men to be his apostles. Paul is accused of having a hang-up about women, yet most of what he said was backed up by Peter (See 1 Peter 3:1-6) and/or Jesus.

Paul said that women should not try to "usurp authority over men." (1 Timothy 2:11-12) This does not mean that women cannot lead or teach, but only that they should do so in submission and cooperation with others, in particular with the men. Women sharing leadership with men is not the same as women trying to overthrow the men.

In 1 Timothy 2:13-14 Paul says something that seems to be an exaggeration. He says that Adam was not deceived, whereas Eve was. But of course Adam was deceived! He was deceived by Eve just as Eve was deceived by Satan. Although Paul has overstated it, there may be a truth here about the difference between males and females. The truth may be that the weak spot in the male spiritual armour is not so much that we will be deceived as it is our attraction to females. Adam's sin was that he followed his wife when he should have been following God. The bulk of scripture suggests that women should follow their husbands, but that husbands should follow God. Both are equally tempted to rebel against their leader.

"But why," ask the women, "can't women lead and men follow?"

On the whole, God has made men physically stronger than women. It is likely that this was the basis for the original assumption that men should be the leaders. When dangers arose, the women naturally turned to the men for protection. But this alone is not sufficient justification for male leadership, especially considering that there are a lot of women who are stronger than a lot of men.

Another theory is that in spiritual matters women often react more emotionally and men often react more rationally. But once again, there are a lot of women who are more rational than a lot of men. So it seems to us that a humble recognition of these issues by both parties will cause men to submit to women in areas where they show superior skill. As a class, the Bible recognises men as leaders; however, wise leaders will not overlook the skills of followers, and they will give them opportunity to use those skills.

Paul told women to submit to men, but he also told everyone to submit to everyone "in the fear of the Lord." (Ephesians 5:21) This includes men submitting to women in areas where women show talent. God can speak through a woman or a novice; but he will be most likely to do so when the novice (or woman) is humble. More experienced leaders will hear God best when they too are humble.

Perhaps it is time for the sexes to stop battling and start working together in submission to one another.

(See also The Spirit of God, and No Effeminate Person.)

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