Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Godly Women of the Bible.. Who Worked Outside the Home

A lot of people discussing Sarah Palin are pointing to Deborah and Esther as two examples of women working outside of the home, and even leading, in the Bible. It is very easy to shoot down these two examples because they are from the Old Testament, and also because both women rose to power at a time of extraordinary need in the history of Israel.

(Just briefly, although it is not the subject of this post, I want to rebut just a little of the criticism I have heard in comparing women today to Deborah. It is true that she was given command of an army because the men were too cowardly to stand up without her. However, the men were also cowardly in the time of David, Saul and Goliath. God did not *have* to raise up a woman to lead the Israelite army. He could have raised up a child, like he did with David. Or He could have commanded Barak to get over his cowardice, as He did with Moses. He didn't even have to make Deborah a judge, and yet He did.

I am not saying I think Sarah Palin is a modern-day Deborah. I do not know if she is. All I am saying is that God's ways are not are ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Let's not pretend to understand what God is doing as events unfold. There will be time enough for that when all this is history and we can analyze with more leisure.

And now, back to the topic of this post.)

Two New Testament examples of ordinary women working outside of the home are Lydia and Phebe.

Phebe was travelling to Rome on business, and carried Paul's letter to the Romans for him.

Romans 16:1-2 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, and also one of the first Europeans converted to Christianity. She influenced her entire household to be baptized and her home became the first church in the city of Philippi.

Acts 16:14-15 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she constrained us.

These were ordinary women with ordinary lives who worked outside of the home and were not condemned for it by Christ or His Apostles. Indeed, Paul commands the church at Rome to help Phebe, which is an excellent way to show Christian love and demonstrate what Christianity is all about. Far better than criticism.

Previous post on this subject.

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