The first wave of feminism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included an increased interest in the place of women in religion. Women who were campaigning for their rights began to question their inferiority both within the church and in other spheres justified by church teachings. Some Christian feminists of this time period were Katharine Bushnell, Catherine Booth, Frances Willard, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[i]
Jesus and the early apostles elevated the position of women above that of the surrounding culture. Men were told to love their wives sacrificially in the same way Christ loved his woman, the Church.
One of the metaphors to describe God’s view of the church is that of a bride. We are the bride of Christ. In ancient cultures of the East, a father would arrange a suitable wife for his son.
Our Father in Heaven arranged that you/we would become the Bride of His Son Jesus.
Just as individuals differ from one another, each church has its own unique personality. We can say that the local assembly has a personhood. Scripture often refers to the church as an individual, even though it is a group of people. One of her descriptions is ‘The Bride of Christ’.
Consider the ancient picture of a virtuous woman found in Proverbs 31. We find a woman who was well suited to the needs of her time and responded with appropriate actions and attitudes. It’s an ancient picture, but the heart of virtue is eternal.
Let’s consider Proverbs 31’s description of a woman of character and use it as a metaphor for God’s People, as expressed in a local church. As we do let’s identify the kind of church that we want to become, the kind of virtuous church that we can root our families into. Let’s replace the ‘she’ words with ‘the church’.
Prov 31:10 - 31
10 A CHURCH of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 JESUS has full confidence in THE CHURCH and lacks nothing of value.
12 THE CHURCH brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
You know it when you find it. Who can resist belonging to a church with noble character? Who doesn’t want to belong to a group of people with a heart that longs for Jesus?
If you were ever part of a church that rejected Jesus and followed other lovers, you would know how ugly adultery is.
God wants a woman He can trust. She is so valued for her attitude of doing the right thing. It would be unusual for a man to marry a woman with whom he had no trust or respect. Jesus has confidence in the church and looks forward to being with her.
Her character is focused on making Jesus proud. She does good things to please Him.