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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Monday Meditations: How Women Keep Themselves from Straying after Satan

on April 14, 2014

ImageYesterday, Dave preached part 3 of a series on caring for widows from 1 Timothy 5:3-16. In discussing the qualifications for those who should be registered as “truly a widow” for whom the church should take care, we looked at those who were disqualified from care. Young widows who sinfully remarry (i.e., marrying an ungodly individual) or who refuse to marry are tempted to have “passions [which] draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (11-13).

This last message in the series focused on verses 14-16. I thought verses 14-15 particularly insightful, being a wife and mom myself. Paul said in previous verses that a younger widow (i.e., someone under 60; cf. v. 9) can become a woman :

  • who learns to be an idle gossip and busybody (v. 13)
  • whose passions drive her away from Christ (v. 11)
  • and rather stray after Satan (v. 15),
  • evidencing the abandonment of her former faith  (v. 12)
  • and incurring eternal condemnation (v. 12)

Rather than being such a woman who strays after Satan (v. 15), Paul commands that a young widow do three things to help her persevere in her faith:

1. Remarry

Here Paul is talking about the type of remarriage that is not driven by sinful passions, such as those which drove the ungodly young widow in verse 11.

2. Bear Children

These two words are one word in the Greek, the same word that is found in 1 Timothy 2:15

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Paul described childbearing (i.e., everything involved in the bearing and raising of children) as a means by which women persevere in their salvation. The “mundane” task of caring for my children is a means by which I persevere as a believer and keep myself from straying after Satan!

3.  Manage their Households (read “master/despot of the house”)

First of all, let me remind my readers that I (and my husband) are complementarians. We believe that God has given authority to the husband to lead the wife and children (which we often call the “home,” which can be confusing when you understand this verse correctly).

However, this verse clearly indicates that the woman exercises her God-given dominion mandate by exercising authority over her household.  Dave explained that the Greek word for “manage their households” is one word, oikodespoteō (oiko=house, despoteō=despot, master). He quoted an excellent couple of paragraphs from one of Dr. Kevin Bauder’s In the Nick of Time articles titled “Bishops and Fathers”:

 An oikodespotes exercises a sphere of authority. Sometimes that authority comes from ownership or position, and sometimes it comes through delegation. Significantly, 1 Timothy 5:14 does not present the wife exercising oikodespotein under her husband’s delegation, but under God’s. What this probably means is that a wife has a sphere of authority—actual, decision-making power—that comes directly from God and not by grant from her husband. Her responsibility is to govern the household. In a modern home, this responsibility would give her authority over such matters as meals, décor, and cleanliness. She can tell her husband to move the sofa. She can decide what color the walls will be, how to hang the drapes, and whether the home will have hardwood floors or wall-to-wall carpeting. She has the authority to order her husband to take out the garbage or to pick up his socks and put them in the hamper, and he needs to obey her.

Even though the text does not indicate that this household authority is mediated through the husband, a wise wife will exercise it deferentially rather than demandingly. Within his sphere of authority the husband will do the same. In any case, within a certain sphere the authority of the wife acts as a check upon and limitation of the patriarchal authority of the husband and father. His biblical leadership does not consist in simply telling his wife and children what to do. The Bible does give him real authority to make some decisions, but it does not give him the right to make every decision within his household.”

Paul commanded young widows to remarry, bear children, and manage their households as acts of godliness by which they persevere in their faith and keep themselves from straying after Satan. While God does not call every woman to have children, let alone marry, he does call many. He has called me to do so, and I must take my marriage, my child-rearing, and my household management very seriously. These God-given responsibilities have eternal ramifications. They are means in part in which I keep myself from straying after Satan for the protection of my soul.

Clearly, being married, having children, and managing a household are not means of godliness (or salvation) in and of themselves. But as I do these things in order to obey Christ, exemplify Christ, and point to Christ, I will be drawn closer to Christ.

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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