Biblical Ministries for Women (Part 6)
14. Various other church works for non-deaconess Christian ladies
Only a few Christian women qualify to become Deaconesses, just as only a few Christian men qualify for election as Deacons (or, for that matter, as Ministers or Elders). Yet, even for such ladies who have not been called and trained and appointed to be fulltime Deaconesses, much parttime (and even some fulltime) work is or should readily be accessible.
There are many outside jobs and even church jobs for unmarried Christian ladies, whether young or old. Too, there are even parttime (salaried and unsalaried) church jobs for married women -- provided, quite naturally, never to the neglect of their primary Christian calling as fulltime Christian homemakers, wives, and mothers.
Fulltime church jobs for non-deaconess ladies -- would include those of typistes, church social workers, Church hospital personnel, etc. Parttime church jobs (for Christians of either sex) could include those of choir directors; organists; pianists; catechists; Sunday-school teachers; church newspaper editors, reporters and photographers; church treasurers; hymn and tract writers, etc Parttime church jobs (whether salaried or not) specifically for ladies -- would include working with women and children in Sunday-schools, day-schools, reform-schools, prisons, Bible studies, women’s prayer meetings, and special women's projects in the life of the church, etc. For all Christian ladies should follow and serve Jesus with their time and their substance as much as they can. Cf. Mark 14:3-9 & 15:40-41 & Luke 8:1-3 & 10:38-42; John 12:1-7; etc.
Specifically, this could involve women ministering: through their preparations, services, and testimonies (John 4:27-50 & Luke 23:56 to 24:10). They could also offer hospitality to church leaders (Rom. 12:13 & I Pet. 4:9 & II John 1,5 cf. III John 5-8), and provide clothing and shelters (Acts 9:36-39 & 16:14-15,40) -- in the Name and for the sake of Jesus Christ their Saviour. Other church jobs for ladies include those of: church doorkeepers (cf. Ex, 38:8); and leading or attending women's prayer groups (I Sam. l:7,11,21,24-26 & 2:1-11& Acts 16:13-14) and choir groups (Ex. 15:20-21) and helping in mixed church choirs and orchestras (I Chr. 26:5-6 & Ezra 2:65 & Neh. 7:67 & Ps. 68:24-26 & I Cor. 11:5 cf. Eph. 5:19-22). They serve too in mixed prayer groups (Acts 1:14 & 12:12f); women's home instruction groups (Tit. 2:3-5 cf. Prov. 1:8 & 31:lff); and may act as patronesses of various church activities (Rom. 16:2-5,12,15 cf. I Cor. 1:11 & 16:19 cf. Jas. 1:26-27 & Acts 9:36-42 & 16:14f,40).
15. Non-church Christian works for ordinary Christian ladies
Non-church works are the most important spheres of Christian influence for almost all Christian ladies (with the exception of Deaconesses). Normally, women should expect and aim to marry (I Tim. 5:14 cf. I Cor. 7:9,21,28) -- unless they do not get a suitable opportunity (cf. Acts 21:9); or unless they are aged widows (I Tim. 5:9 cf. I Cor. 7:39-40); or unless they possess or receive the good gift of celibacy (Judg. 11:57-40 & Matt.19:12 & I Cor. 7:7-8).
When young, never-married women should help their parents (Ex. 20:12 & 22:16-17& Judg. 11:34-40). When older, never-married women should serve God in careers like domestic service (II Kgs. 5:2), or as law-court officials (Joh 18:17 cf. Judg. 4), or as schoolteachers (Eph. 6:4 cf. Tit. 2:3ff) or as knowledgeable businesswomen (Acts 16:14 & 18:3). Yet if married, women should concentrate on helping their husbands at home (Gen. 2:18-25 cf. Prov. 31:10ff) and on rearing their children (I Tim. 2:15 cf. Pss. 127 & 128).
If wives become young widows, they should expect and aim to remarry in the Lord. I Tim. 5:14 cf. I Cor. 7:39b & Rom. 7:3b. Middle-aged widows should aim to be good mothers and/or good mothers-in-law. I Tim. 5:10 cf. Ruth 1 to 4. And if widows are aged 60 or over -- they should faithfully serve God in a ministry of continuous prayer and almsgiving. Luke 2:36-38 & Mark 12:41-44 & I Tim. 5:5. Then, their diligence in good works being most undeniable -- if elected, they may serve God as full-time Deaconesses I Tim. 5:9-10 cf. 3:11.
However if married -- as most women aged 20 to 60 usually are -- the first and overriding obligation and fulltime career work of every Christian lady (Prov. 14:1 & 18:22 & 19:14 & 31:l0f & Tit. 2:4-5) is to take care of her husband (Gen. 2:18-25 & Prov. 12:4 & 31:l0ff & Matt. 19:1-6 & Eph. 5:22-53 & I Pet.3:1-6) and her children (Gen. 1:26-28 & Pss. 127 to 128 & Prov.1:8 & 6:20 & I Tim. 2:11-15 & Tit. 3:4-5) -- and, if any, also of her household servants (Gen.16:1f & Prov. 31:15). Too, she must never neglect daily family worship -- under the leadership of her husband, and together with her children. Deut. 6:1-9 & II Sam. 6:20 & Jer. 10:25 & Matt. 6:11 & Acts 10:2 & Eph. 6:1-4 & I Pet 3:7 & W.C.F. 21:6.
Yet there is more. To the extent that married women aged 20 to 60, beyond Public Worship on the Lord’s Sabbath, still have time for extra commitments without neglecting the husbands and children -- they may also engage in attending church-sponsored ladies' Bible studies and prayer meetings or good-housekeepers' meetings etc. Acts 16:13 & Tit. 2:3-5.
Not all Christian ladies are as gifted in church abilities as were Miriam and Priscilla and Phebe and Euodia and Syntyche. Ex. 15:20-21 & Mic, 6:4 & Acts 18:2,3,26 & Rom. 16:2,5 & Phil. 4:3. But all Christian wives can and should become “daughters of Sarah” -- by faithfully respecting and obeying their husbands (I Pet. 5:6). All Christian mothers can and should learn to raise their children and sometimes even their grandchildren from fetushood through babyhood and childhood to Christian maturity -- as Lois and Eunice did with regard to Timothy (II Tim. 1:5 & 3:14-17). And all Christian women everywhere, whether married or not -- by studying the godly lives of women like Deborah and Naomi and Ruth and Hannah and Esther and Elisabeth and Anna and Mary and Martha and Dorcas and Lydia -- can and should learn to sing and to play and to eat and to drink and to live and to do all things whatsoever to the glory of God. I Cor. 10:51 cf. Judg, 5:lff & Judg, 11:54 & I Sam. 18:6 & I Cor. 11:5 & Eph. 5:19-22.
(1) 1968 Reformed Ecumenical Synod: Report, p. 152; Belgic Confession art. 28 & 31; Heidelberg Catechism Q. 32; Westminster Confession of Faith 28:1; Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 167.
(2) Pliny's ad Tra.j. X:57; Ignatius's Ad Smyrn. 6,13; Polycarp 4; Justin Martyr's Apol. I ch.. 67; Hermas's Vis. 2:4; Tertullian's Ad Uxor. 1:7; Mand.. 8; Sim. 15:5; 9:26-27; H. Bavinck's Woman in Modern Society (Kampen: Kok, 1918), p. 53; Marie Zeeman's Woman in the Church (Bloemfontein: Sacum, 1965), pp. 88ff; Susan Foh's Women and the Word of God (Phillipsburg N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed), 1979, pp. 97, 255-56; and Apostolic Constitutions, 8:19-20.
(3) P. Schaff's History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971, III sect. 52, pp. 259-61.
(4) Council of Chalcedon: can. 50.
(5) Schaff: op. cit., III, pp. 261-62.
(6) A. Kuyper's Woman's Honoured Position (Kampen: Kok, 1914), p. 56.
(7) H. Bavinck's op. cit., pp. 35-55.
(8) Cf. Bavinck & Zeeman, op. cita,, in no (2).
(9) J.A.H.S. Slotemaker de Bruine’s Woman in the Church (Utrecht: Ruys, 1923, pp. 18-19).
(10) Burggraaf and DeKoster: Deacon's Manual, p. 94; cf. F. N. Lee's Calvin on the Sciences (SGU, 1969); H.F. Dankbaar's Calvin (Nijkerk: Callenbach), pp. 132-55; and other biographies.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (IN ADDITION TO BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE ENDNOTES ABOVE)
Bavinck, J.A., and others: Christianity and the Women's Movement (Utrecht: Ruys, 1923).
De Villiers, M,M.: Leave Her Alone: Don't Bother her! (Strand: Kingsway, 1957.)
Emswiler, S,N. & T.N.: Women & Worship: Guide to Non-Sexist Hvmns (New York: Harper, 1974).
Lee, F.N,: The Qff ice of Deacon (Presbyterian Church in America, 1978 Commissioners' Handbook, p.2109f).
Mack, W.: The Role of Women in the Church (Cherry Hill N.J.: Mack, 1972).
Meredith, R.C.: True Womanhood A Lost Cause? (Pasadena Ca,: Ambassador, 1968).
Presbyterian Church of Australia: References on the Office of a Deaconess: Biblical, Historical and Current (GAA Committee on the Service of the Laity in the Church and Community, Melbourne, Australia, n.d.).
Schutte, J.A.: The Housewife and the Minister (Potchefstroom: Pro Rege, 1955).
Van Bruggen, J.: Emancipation and. the Bible (Amsterdam: Ton Bolland, 1974).
Vander Velde, F.: She Shall Be Called Woman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1974).
Whitney, D.M.: More Precious Than Rubies (London: Independent Press, 1952).
Yee, Mrs. Dr. M.: The Office of Deaconess in the Church (GAA Committee on the Service of the Laity in the Church and Community, Melbourne, Australia, n.d.).
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