Whilst many in the Body of Christ have come to terms with the fact that women have a huge part to play in the furtherance and sustenance of the gospel message, there remains an adamant faction that seeks to veil women in a similar way to Islam, only without the public display of submission through the niqab or burka.
Take the chookwatchers, for instance, whose main adherence, theologically, is Reformed, and includes prohibition of women from leadership roles, preaching, or speaking in public places.
Cherry-picking scripture to fit their point of view, they take this dogmatic stance so far that they actually produce more articles condemnatory of women in ministry than just about any other subject.
And their posts are more than apologetics separating male and female. They are mocking and scathing of any woman who stands in a position of responsibility, even in churches and movements where the main leader is male, being their own husband, or someone in recognised oversight who, identifying her gift and call, permits her to have a role in the church.
In this way chookwatchers, led by extreme Reformed theology, seek to place restrictions on women, effectively veiling them from Christian society, albeit in a surreptitious manner compared to Islam.
Christ the emancipator
Christ, however is the great emancipator of women.
He released them from servitude in a patristic society. He loosed them from separation and subjugation.
He stepped beyond cultural norms to introduce a new way of thinking regarding the role and position of women. He not only spoke to women, which was not considered appropriate during His time in Israel, He conversed with women from other religious backgrounds and cultures, which was culturally frowned upon, despite His own mandate to preach the gospel to the people of Israel.
Even Paul, who was of the old school paternalistic line, having been a Pharisee of the Pharisees, as he put it, brought the revelation that there was, in the Body of Christ, no longer Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond nor free, demonstrating God’s will that all peoples would be liberated by the power of the gospel.
Galatians 3:26-29 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This is an astonishing statement in view of the times in which it was given. It is written to the Galatians as a defence against Judaisers, religious fanatics who sought to make law out of grace and add constraints on the Church that essentially drew them back to the Law.
Liberty for all
Paul points us back to the work of the cross that brought liberty to those who believe. All are one in Christ Jesus. The veil has been lifted for all peoples, not just Israel, who saw the actual veil in the Holy of Holies of the Temple torn in two – signifying the end of bondage to the Law.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The veil of the Law is removed. We have been given the Spirit of the Lord. We have been ushered into liberty – beyond the veil, through the curtains that were torn atwain.
The veil is removed and we are free, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or freeman, male or female – all are delivered from bondage into liberty. All are emancipated through Christ.
And all are transformed into the same image as Christ – with unveiled face. We are led by the same Holy Spirit. We are of the same Father. We are in the same Body. There is no difference.
Unveiled because the glory that now shines on the faces of God’s sons and daughters is reflective of Christ, and we are not ashamed of Him, nor afraid to reveal His face on ours in public places and discourse, nor of His gospel that saves.
Those who preach bondage would veil our women from their presence. They would separate women into another class of being. They would segregate the Church. They would silence women and set them back from the decision making processes of church life. They would cast them back to a time before the Law was fulfilled in Christ.
Legalists preach another gospel which produces two classes of people, that places burdens on women they would not themselves endure.
There is a divine headship in the family role, but it is a mutual submission in love and faith. It is a protective system where each member is loved by those around them.
Men undoubtedly have a leadership role within the family and the local church. But women need to be allowed to live and experience the same liberty in the same Spirit under the same grace without fear of being mocked by legalists for speaking of Christ’s goodness.
The veil needs to be lifted from the eyes of the religious so that they can release their enforced veil from those they hold captive to their misrepresentation of scripture.
“Let My people go!”