In part three of my critique of Jen Wilkin speaking on what pastors need to know about women, I will be focusing on Wilkin’s claim that women should be dignified with pay that reflects their service and workload.
Is there anything inherently wrong with wanting women to be rewarded well for our hard work, expertise, and unique perspectives? Of course not. Being a good steward includes stewarding resources for wages as well as shepherding and discipling those women to serve in ways women can do best. Women have specific strengths that can contribute mightily to discipleship and the well-being of any church. If there is a woman or multiple women in your church or ministry who contribute their creativity and wisdom in ways that glorify God, it is an altogether good thing to take note of those women and if possible, pay them for that work. In 1 Corinthians 9:9-14 Paul writes to the Corinthian church and urges them to provide for those who sow spiritual things among them, namely their leadership. Just as the priests in the temple shared in the sacrificial offerings as their food, it is important we now see those who work bountifully in the church as the same. Provision for them is not only acceptable, it is good and commanded by God.
The problem lies in Wilkin’s claim that we must hire women as soon as possible and that their service should be constantly rewarded and rewarded generously. Giving and rewarding generously isn’t the issue; of course believers should be generous with one another and recognizing service in others should come easily for all. But I am a firm believer that diversity for the sake of diversity is just virtue signaling, and virtue signaling is just another way to divert others from the dark spaces in your heart by pointing them to what you think they want to hear. Hiring women because a woman thinks women should be on all church staff to further the gospel is not only virtue signaling, it’s just not true. God will use whom He wills to further His gospel and no set number of women or otherwise will accomplish His purpose faster or better just because we think we’ve met a quota.
Unfortunately, all of this lines up pretty well with what Wilkin seems to be insinuating throughout her entire speech. Wilkin complains that women are more valuable than the Church currently acknowledges and we should be part of elevating them to a higher status of value. Has there been a history of men leading women to believe they are not valuable to the Church? Yes. Will there continue to be men who don’t see the worth and value of women in the Church? Probably. But I would like to point out that there seems to be a far more insidious problem at hand: women themselves don’t value Biblical womanhood and have rebelled against it since our mother Eve.
1 Peter 3: 1-6 tells us, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct… as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” Obviously, Peter doesn’t say anything about this being easily done, nor does he expound upon what a woman’s feelings in the matter might be. Instead, he commands us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to obey our husbands just as Sarah obeyed Abraham. Sarah’s submission to Abraham was attributed to her as faith because she was not just obedient her husband, she was obedient to God. We know Sarah’s faith wasn’t perfect for her obedience and submission to Abraham wasn’t perfect; she asserted control over her husband to bear children when she lacked faith in God’s promise and inadvertently caused the birth of a nation that would forever be at war with her own children. But praise God for His mercy and grace that completed Sarah’s faith and will also complete ours if we will not only submit our strong wills and control issues to husbands more equipped to shepherd our hearts, but also if we will submit those same wills, our dreams, our emotions, and our entire beings to the One who created us and called us ‘very good.’ If we are so caught up in placing women in leadership to get paid and act as “mothers” to the church so that our egos are sated, we are serving with hardened hearts instead of worshiping in faith.
My sisters in Christ, God made us with the desire to delight over his creation and be glorified by our praise. He formed Eve not just so that Adam would have someone beautiful to look at, but so that Adam could be helped. We are not afterthoughts, we are not second best, we are not worthless. We are image bearers and the blood spilled on the cross spilled for women as much as it spilled for men so that we might have true communion with Him. This is truly something to rejoice over. If you are listening to the lies of the serpent, I urge you to open your Bible and stay in the word until you have a firm foundation again. Wages aren’t a cure all. Fair recognition won’t make our lives worthwhile. Being leveraged and thanked and regarded and publicly loved won’t save us. Looking to anything but Christ will have us sinking to the bottom of a tumultuous and unforgiving sea.
The sad part is that we make this harder on ourselves than it has to be. God didn’t look at women and say ‘very good’ while really meaning ‘just alright.’ He didn’t gift Eve with femininity and all its creative power because He was out of ideas. He has destined women to be multipliers in not just creating other humans, but in the way we create and make food for our families, in the way we prepare gifts for friends, in the way we turn living spaces into homes, in the way we build and renew relationships with others, in the way we work and toil in and out of our homes to the glory of the Lord, and in the way we present ourselves humbly before our God to give back to Him all of these things He gave us to begin plus interest.
The one thing we don’t need to create is a new way that women are valuable. God has already shown us multiple times in His word how we are not only valuable but loved. He has created women in His image, chosen women to bear the sons and daughters of the next generation, gifted women with unique perspectives, and commanded women to submit and follow so that we may also reflect the beautiful imagery of Christ and His Church. You see then how our culture twists the way we are viewed so that we tend to see ourselves as something inferior when all along we could be given crowns to throw at the feet of our Savior? We have been given something so precious in our femininity and yet we reject it, when the masculinity we crave won’t satisfy our hunger pangs either. But if we can apply 1 Peter 3 to our lives, and if we can see the value of what Titus 2 tells us women should be doing, and if we can read about the women in scripture who serve humbly and faithfully and know that God desires our praise and worship above all of it, if we can submit our hardened hearts to Him for repair, then we can know what true joy and contentment in being a woman feels and looks like. Until we value the things God values in the way He values them, whether in men or women, we can be sure to stumble, sowing discord and resentment wherever we go.