There is much discussion today about the role of women in the church. The idea of submission is difficult for some women to accept.

Because of the differences of thought, let us take a look at what the Bible says about the kind of submission God expects of a married woman.

After making it clear that mutual submission is required, Paul went on to say: "Wives, submit to your own husband, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Eph. 5.22-24.)

The word of God says that a wife is to follow the lead of her husband just as her husband is to love her as Christ loved the church. (Eph. 5.25.) Recognition of a husband's leadership comes with being a Christian wife. (I Cor. 11.1-31; Eph. 5.22-24.)

Peter wrote that such submission is right even if a husband is not being the kind of godly, loving sacrificing person he should be. "Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." (I Pet. 3.1-2.)

Certainly such submission is made much easier when a Christian husband is the kind of person God wants him to be. Blessed is the woman who has a husband who shows love, gentleness, reasonableness, patience, and fairness to her. That's God's pattern.

But keep in mind that neither role is dependent on whether the other partner is doing his or her part. A husband is to serve his wife lovingly whether she is submissive or not; a wife is to be submissive whether or not her husband is showing her Christ-like love.

A woman, married or not, is to take a supportive role in the church. (I Cor. 11.3-16; 1 Tim. 2.11-15.)

The women of the New Testament church were co-workers with men in the gospel, but not elders, preachers, or apostles. The New Testament makes it clear that women are not to be in a position of authority over men.

"Let a woman learn in silence with submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (I Tim. 2.11-14.)

Paul was consistent with Jesus. Jesus respected women. He took them seriously. He counted them among His companions and disciples. He cared for them and taught them. He gave them consideration uncommon in His day. But when it came to naming 12 apostles, He did not include a woman.

Paul expressed affection and appreciation to women he acknowledged as co-workers and spiritual equals in Christ. (Rom. 15.1-3,6,13,15; Gal. 3.26-28; Phil 4.3.) He encouraged mature women to teach younger sisters in Christ. (Titus 2.3-5.) But when it came to whether or not a woman could be a teacher over a man, Paul taught that a woman pleases God by taking a supportive role in the church.

Differences of roles do not imply differences of honor or worth. Being submissive does not imply inferiority of person. Jesus Christ showed us that. He lived on earth "under the law" (Gal. 4.4), under the authority of His parents (Luke 2.51), under the authority of government leaders (Matt. 22.21), and above all, under the authority of His heavenly Father.

Paul used the Lord as an example of one who lived under the headship of God just as woman is to live under the headship of man. (I Cor. 11.3.) Yet by assuming such a servant role, Christ did not diminish His honor. Jesus did not become less than God when He temporarily took on the form of a servant. (Phil. 2.2-8.) He didn't degrade Himself by humbling Himself and becoming obedient even to the point of death. (Phil. 2.8.) By voluntarily accepting His obedient, submissive role, He actually gave the Father reason to exalt Him and give Him a name that is above every name. (Phil. 2.9-11.)

In this way, Jesus gave woman a precedent for knowing that her supportive role does not in any way mean that she is less of a person, less in honor, or less in potential. She is merely different in form and role for the purpose of carrying out the purposes of God.

While God the Father and God the Son are different persons, they are equal and co-eternal in nature. So, man and woman, while having different roles in family and the church, are equally made in the image of God.

Paul wrote: "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 slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3.26-28.) This puts into perspective the nature of our differences. Peter declares that men and women are co-heirs of God's gift of life in Christ. (I Pet. 3.7.)

This means that a man has no basis for pride, no basis for doing anything but loving, honoring, and serving the woman God made. Men and women stand on equal ground before God. Differences of function and form do not signify differences of essence or equality. They reflect differences in roles.

The most beautiful women in the world are not those who parade in swimsuits and evening gowns before judges and television cameras. The truly beautiful are described in I Pet. 3.3-5: "Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands."

The beautiful Christian woman does not depend on expensive jewelry, fine clothes or cosmetics. That doesn't mean she won't use them, it means she won't count on them for her beauty.

There is no more beautiful woman than one who is clothed in the Lord. She is marked by tender kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, joy and thankfulness. (Col. 3.12-17.) The godly woman puts her confidence in the graciousness, strength, and integrity that comes from her relationship to Christ. She will become a model of what God can do in a woman.

There is no one needed more in the body of Christ than godly women. By being the kind of woman God wants you to be, you have an influence that no man could ever have. Your role in the church is one of honor. Fill that role proudly and faithfully.