I just recently saw a question that asked about a woman’s role in ministry: what is her ministry as a wife and mother and does it change when her husband is in full time ministry? I will attempt to answer those questions from the Scriptures.
In the beginning, God created male and female. He created male first and saw that he had no helper suitable (or “helpmeet” in the KJV). So God made the female who was to be the helper for the man. From the beginning the woman was to be the helper to the man for whatever task God had appointed him. It was also God who first gave his blessing upon them to “be fruitful and multiply”.
As we all know, man then fell, tempted by the very person who was supposed to help him in his appointed tasks. So God cursed them by making their tasks more difficult. Even here, though, we see the glimpse of what should be the proper roles. The woman is to be the child-bearer though her labor will be harder, and the man is to be the “bread-winner”. The other curse is the lack of submission from the woman and the domination from the man. The woman no longer wishes for her role at home and instead desires to rule her husband, and he in turn forsakes his role as breadwinner and instead becomes the domineering force at home. Thus the mysterious and beautiful relationship of oneness is broken into two individuals vying for control.
This one flesh is also referenced in Ephesians 5. In this passage Paul takes the idea of husband and wife to a new level. He tells us that it is referring to Christ and his church. It was no accident that God made marriage in the beginning. He didn’t just make Adam and Eve and then go “Oh, that would be a good symbol for my Son and his bride.” No this was planned from the foundations of the world to be the example of how God relates to His people and how they should relate to Him.
So how does the church relate to Christ? By submitting to His lordship over their lives and doing what he says. So how does the wife relate to the husband? I will get many people upset with this one, but I believe it is by submitting to his lordship over her life. Ephesians tells us to submit as we do to Jesus. First Peter 3:5-6 tell us to long to adorn ourselves by being subject to our husbands just like Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. That’s a heavy verse! First Corinthians 11:2 says that the head of the woman is man. In verse 7 of this same chapter, it says that the woman is the glory of the man. The next verse tells us that woman was created for the man.
So what do I believe the woman’s role in ministry is? I believe it is to do what her husband asks of her as long as it is not sinful for her to do so. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China. He pioneered in the interior of China for a long time even when his wife would have to be left behind in England. Later it became apparent that there was a need for women’s ministry in China, so he sent his wife while he stayed home with the kids. We look at that as backwards in our culture but really she was submitting in all things to him by doing what he asked.
Buried in this question is a fundamental problem: we do not understand what ministry is. We do something at a certain time and place and call it “ministry”. The Bible, though, tells us that the whole of our life is ministry. We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). A living sacrifice means the entirety of our being at all times is offered to God. The Bible also says to do ALL things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people.” I think this makes every part of every day for everyone ministry.
There is no shame in serving the Lord at home. In 1 Timothy 2:15, the Bible tells us that “she (the wife) will be delivered through childbearing if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.” I know many people quarrel over the meaning of this verse, but I think it just simply means that she will be delivered from the curse by accepting the role that God has given her in the home. If God has called us to something, it is by no means “mundane” but it is holy to Him. In Titus 2:5 we are told to fulfill our duties at home and be subject to our husbands. This is a ministry; make no mistake about that.