Monday, June 18, 2012

How does God want "younger" women to receive financial support?

1 Timothy 5:9-14 NIV
(9)  No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 
(10)  and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
(11)  As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.
(12)  Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.
(13)  Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.
(14)  So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

1. How old are "younger widows"?  

A. 1 Timothy 5:9 says no widow may be put on the list unless she is "over sixty", so apparently "younger" means anyone who is under 60.

B. It's talking about women who still have "sensual desires", and who could thus be tempted by immorality (5:11).

C. It's talking about women of an age that is able to "have children" (5:14). Younger widows then, would apparently be anyone under 60, especially those who still have sensual desires and who are of a child-bearing age.

2. What problems do "younger widows" face?

A. Lack of money.  The whole point of the instruction in 1 Timothy is to determine whom the church should help financially. Anyone who has relatives who can take care of them are supposed to receive financial support from them, so the church won't be burdoned. The instruction then, explains how "younger widows" should get the money they need to live on.

It's interesting, that Paul doesn't instruct "younger widows" who need money to "get a job". Today's mindset is that women should work outside the home. But here, even in a case where a woman has become a widow, Paul doesn't mention getting a job as the means for her financial support. Rather the woman should marry. The direct implication is that husbands are God's means for providing for women, even if they become a widow and have no other source of income.

B. "Sensual desire".  In order to get on the list of widows who receive financial support from the church, you apparently had to take a pledge of devotion to Christ. Younger widows who were of an age that still had sensual desires, would be tempted to break that pledge. To break a pledge you make is sin, so Paul instructed women who could still be tempted by sensual desire, to marry, not to surround herself with unregenerate men all day, working away from home. 

C. Idleness.  Another problem with younger widows receiving financial support from the church, is that they would become idle, and tempted to be busy-bodies and gossips. This would give enemies of the church an occasion to slander believers. If it were God's will for women to work outside the home, the problem of idleness would be the perfect reason to tell them to "get a job". Yet even in the face of this problem, Paul does not teach that women should seek employment, but that they should marry, bear children, and manage their homes. God's cure for the need of money, sensual desire, and to avoid the temptations of idleness, is clearly for a woman to marry, not to pursue a career.

1 Timothy was written to explain how to live a "godly" life. Godliness means to live according to the character and will of God Himself. Thus, the principles of "godliness" don't change from generation to generation, or from culture to culture. They are timeless standard between right and wrong, based on who God is, and what He wants. If the standards of "godliness" only apply to the age and culture in which they were written, then the whole Bible can effectively be dismissed and replaced with pop culture that contradicts what we know about who God is and what He wants us to do. Hoever popular, such a view puts the culture and will of man in the place of God.

Titus 2:3-5 NIV
(3)  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
(4)  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,
(5)  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Again, God's will for "younger" women is to love their husbands and children, to be "busy at home", and to be subject to their husbands.  

Proverbs 7:10-12 NIV
(10)  Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
(11)  (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
(12)  now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)

Here, Proverbs presents a sinful woman who represents the opposite of God's will, and who seeks to make men unfaithful to their wives.  She is described as "loud", "defiant", and one whose feet "never stay at home". This seems to imply that a godly woman would not be loud or defiant, and that staying at home is a virtue, not an evil.

The Bible repeatedly presents taking care of the children and home as God's place of work for women, and husbands as their means of financial support. This is without even taking into consideration, the fact that everything the Bible says about children, indicates the parents are the ones responsible to train and raise them. The family is always presented as God's institution for the education and care of children, and nowhere does the Bible teach they should be abandoned to day-cares or other institutions, so parents can pursue careers and the material things of this world. 

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