5 minute read

Does God Discriminate against Women?

By Rev. Dwight Hellmers

My beloved daughter, you have asked me a hard question. When you were in grade school, you began to observe that the boys in your class were usually stronger, taller, and faster than most girls. In confirmation class, you learned that God is the Creator of all people and you wondered why He seems to have put women at a disadvantage.

Even in the church, we say that women can’t teach or have authority over men and they can’t be pastors. The Bible says that women are “the weaker sex” and are to be “subject to their husbands.” “How unfair,” you say. “Isn’t God discriminating against women?”

As your dad, I want to assure you that I love you. My imperfect love for you is but a reflection of the perfect love of your heavenly Father who cared so much for you that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live, suffer, die, and rise again for you. When did He start loving you? Before you were born—when He determined that you would have an earthly life, so He formed you in your mother’s womb to be the person you are—including your gender. He also wanted you to have an eternal life by means of your Baptism wherein He gave you faith in Christ and He nourished that faith by means of His Word.

It is by that Word of God, our Bible, that you know your Savior Jesus. It is by that Word that you know what purpose God has for your life. He who made you to be His child also made you to be a woman.

As a child of God by Baptism and faith, you have equality with any man insofar as the most important things are concerned. Although you are a sinner, you have the complete and full forgiveness of God which Jesus bought for you on the cross and conveys to you in His Absolution and His supper. Because of His love for you, He will treat you as His child and an heir of heaven.

As a woman, He created you to be different than any man. Through you He may choose to bring new life into this world, that is, to bear a child. God enables you to think differently than a man; scientifically we know that the brain of a man and a woman are “wired” differently. What is sometimes referred to as “a woman’s intuition” is actually her ability to consider, all at once, a wider ranger of factors than a man does. God made you with skills and abilities which complement those skills and abilities He gave to men.

Sometimes people may look at the Bible and say that since God chose men to be His leaders, what is left for women? The writer of Genesis tells us that the “man” was created first. But remember that God knew from the beginning that this man would be incomplete without the companionship of a woman. It is true that men are put in positions of leadership, but it is also true that men are counseled by wise women (for example, Nabal is given wise counsel by his wife Abigail in 1 Samuel 25). It is also true that God chooses to speak through women such as Deborah the Judge and Anna the Prophetess, though He does not give women the office of priest in the Old Testament nor of pastor in the New Testament. But our gracious God does still speak through women today. The married woman who gives wise biblical counsel to her husband and the married or single mom who teaches her children by word and example about the love of Jesus speaks for the Lord in her family. The career woman who demonstrates faith-born morality in her workplace, as well as a sincere Christ-like consideration for others and a desire to share her hope in Christ, when it is appropriate, is the Lord’s agent in that place. Many women serve their own churches with tireless effort in the Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, weekday school, Altar Guild, as well as members and officers (within the guidelines of God’s Word) of various boards and committees essential to the functioning of the congregation. Women today are called by God to be teachers in our Lutheran schools, and deaconesses who call on the sick and teach other women in Bible classes, not to mention Directors of Christian Education, Directors of Christian Outreach, and talented musicians.

When God came to earth, He came as a man, but one must never forget that our Lord Jesus came by means of a woman, the Virgin Mary, and that His earliest nurturing and care came from her. The Gospels witness to the fact that it was women of means who supported the ministry of our Lord. The Gospels also point out that at the time of the resurrection of Jesus, the women first witnessed the empty tomb and the proclamation of the angels while the Apostles found it hard to believe.

The unbelieving world will tell you that the only way that women can gain their proper position is to seize the roles of men and demonstrate that they are the same as men. The problem with this way of thinking is that it results in pain and frustration for all. In the very beginning, when our first parents fell into sin, God said to Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband and He will rule over you.” Some Hebrew scholars have pointed out that the word translated “desire” has to do with “control.” The battle for control is what sets man and woman against each other as competitors rather than partners.

In Jesus Christ we are “recreated” into the people He intended us to be. Although the process is far from complete, Christians, male and female, see each other as “partners,” that is, we are “joint-receivers” of God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. We also see each other as having different gifts which are to be used in different ways to accomplish our God-given purpose. We are placed on earth to do good as God wills and to appreciate the diverse gifts which our Lord has given to men and women.

Does God discriminate against women? No, He doesn’t, but He has given you, as a woman, a role that no man can fill. For that we can praise His name together! With love, Dad

Rev. Dwight Hellmers is pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Golden, Colorado, where he lives with his wife. He also is the father of two grown children. He has served two other parishes in Colorado and taught at Milwaukee Lutheran High School and Lutheran High School North in the Detroit area.