|Volume 23 Number 3 March 2021
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone asked, “What is the role of an elder’s wife?” We will attempt to offer a consideration on which readers may desire to reflect.
Generally, the non-gender specific biblical qualifications for elders and deacons (e.g., “the husband of one wife”) ought to be the goals of every child of God (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). Both Christian men and Christian women should pursue for themselves the virtues that the New Testament absolutely requires of elders (and their respective wives). Yes, a woman must mirror the godly qualities of her husband in order for him to be biblically qualified to serve as an elder. Ungodly, immoral or unruly wives and children disqualify men for appointment as elders.
There are some areas in particular where an elder’s wife participates with her husband in his ability to function well in his role as an elder. An elder’s wife doubtlessly assumes much of the responsibility regarding hospitality in the home, though an elder must be “hospitable” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). In addition, an elder’s wife bears a tremendous duty in the home for childrearing, though an elder must have “faithful children” (Titus 1:6). In a lengthier statement, the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 that an elder must be “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (NKJV). An elder’s wife contributes immeasurably toward that end.
Aside from the above or similar tasks in the home, an elder’s wife or several wives of elders, as such, do not have specific roles in a local congregation that are any different from what works in which older Christian women may be entrusted to do by the eldership. Older Christian women especially have a responsibility toward younger Christian women (Titus 2:3-5). Irrespective of age, though, every Christian is supposed to perform “good works” (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; 3:8, 14; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 2:12). Women, too, are required to do “good works” (1 Timothy 2:10; 5:9-10; Titus 2:7). Phoebe is an example of a sister in Christ especially serving or working within and for her local congregation (Romans 16:1).
Elders’ wives are likely to be of comparable age of their husbands – older – hence, experienced, as well as share the godly attributes of their husbands. Therefore, it should be of no surprise, then, that one or more congregational ‘Phoebes’ may be the wives of elders. Yet, simply being an elder’s wife or even a plurality of elders’ wives does not automatically bestow upon them roles in the local church.
Christianity and Government
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone asks, “Due to the drastic change in government, how should we as Christians prepare for living in a socialist country?” This is an interesting question, especially since Christianity was birthed in Jerusalem under iron-fisted Roman occupation. Furthermore, the entirety of New Testament events and epistles relating to incidents in the first century transpired within the sphere of control by the Roman Empire. Therefore, the New Testament is actionable in our lives today, irrespective of the government under which we live – anywhere in the world.
Whereas many in the USA may view the country lately as taking a significant turn from its roots to socialism, overnight the Burmese populace recently went from governance by a feeble democracy to control by historically lethal and harsh military rule. Christians around the world, today, experience many forms of governments under which they live and by which they are constrained.
No matter where a child of God lives on the planet, there are fundamental characteristics that underscore what it means to be a Christian. These do not change irrespective of a person’s environment because the Bible stipulates them, and the Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God. To what extent, how and where Christians can assemble to worship God in spirit and in truth may vary depending upon the constrictions under which they live, but Christians will worship God in spirit and in truth each Lord’s Day. The level of public activity in evangelizing non-Christians with the Gospel may also be hampered by a coarse political environment, but Christians will find a way to tell others about the saving truth of God’s Word.
The person making the inquiry above may have been thinking of how Christians are to react or function politically under socialism. Essentially the answer is the same irrespective of under what type of government one may live and to which one may be amenable. That is, we should do what is right regarding our practice of Christianity and evangelizing our countrymen as widely and as freely as possible. Nevertheless, we will practice our Christianity faithfully and seize opportunities to acquaint our fellows with the Gospel of Christ, even if we are not able to do so openly or without restrictions.
Particularly many Christians in the USA, who have enjoyed for many decades freedoms and rights under democracy, have historically gloved their form of government over the hand of Christianity as though they were somehow and to some extent the same thing – even viewing the USA as a Christian nation. Consequently, missionaries have been accused of exporting not only Christianity but democracy and American ideals, too. It is no wonder, then, that some nations, sporting a form of government foreign to democracy or having laws, customs and culture alien to Americans, have negatively reacted to the introduction of Christianity into their countries.
The truth is that though the United States of America upon being founded was guided by Christian principles, the USA was never really a Christian nation. Few today would acknowledge that the USA is a Christian nation, despite perhaps thinking that were true of the country in former years. It is well past time for Christians in the USA to relinquish the delusion that Christianity and government are one in the same. We must practice our Christianity irrespective of the government under which we live.
Yes, be thankful if you reside in the United States and enjoy whatever rights and freedoms are afforded. Participate lawfully in the political spectrum (e.g., voting, holding office), but especially now if not previously, remember that we are first the children of God – Christians. Secondarily, we may be bound by the governance of democratic leaders, socialists, communists, dictators, etc. Nonetheless, we are Christians!