After writing and posting yesterday’s blog, I turned on the Today show and learned it was International Women’s Day.
If you’re not familiar with IWD, according to their web page “International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.” Their history goes back to 1911 to the first celebration in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
In 1975 the United Nations celebrated IWD for the first time. In 1996 the UN adopted an annual theme. And in 2011 President Obama proclaimed March to be “Women’s History Month” and called upon Americans to celebrate women’s accomplishments.
Recently my wife picked up a special edition of Time magazine celebrating 100 women of the year that includes activists, entertainers, athletes, and innovators who’ve defined a century of women’s achievements. The list includes women like the suffragists of the 1920s. Babe Didrikson. Eleanor Roosevelt. Lucille Ball. Marilyn Monroe. Madonna. Golda Meir. Gloria Steinem. Margaret Thatcher. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Jane Roe. Ellen DeGeneres. Oprah Winfrey. Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And Michelle Obama.
I offer that extensive list to illustrate who the world considers great, honorable women who are influencing our culture in a positive direction. While all of the 100 women honored in Time have left a legacy and made a difference in society, many of them have failed to influence us toward more virtuous values and wholesome living.
Many from this modern-day movement claim that Christianity demeans and degrades women. Actually, the opposite is true. In a culture in which women had no rights and valued them as little more than a piece of property, the apostle Paul advocated that “in Christ” women held an equal standing with men before God (Gal. 3:26-29).
Women played an integral role in the ministry of Jesus, and apparently, some supported it financially (Lk. 8:1-3). The Bible commands husbands to love and honor their wives (Eph. 5:25, I Pet. 3:7). The importance of the woman’s role and influence as she partners with her husband as a Shepherd of the Lord’s church is defined in Scripture and observed in practical application ( I Tim.3:1-11).
In Romans 16, the apostle Paul honors numerous women, including Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, and the mother of Rufus, who were valuable to the ministry of the gospel and were making a difference in the churches where they served. They were called “co-workers with Christ.” And honored as worthy of praise and recognition. The Bible does not disparage or denigrate women; it elevates and exalts women who fulfill God’s plan and purpose for which they were created.
I think of the women who’ve made a difference in my life. Beginning with my mother, Mattie Weliever, who taught and exemplified to me values of honesty, honor, integrity, decency, self-respect, industry, and righteous conduct. My wife, Norma Jean, has faithfully and patiently loved, supported, sustained, and encouraged me through the highs and lows of ministry for 52+ years. She’s worked diligently both in the home and in outside employment to make a difference in my life and the lives of so many others.
Through the early years of preaching, as a young couple learning about working with churches, there were women who stepped up with motherly advice and gracious support. Emma Mae Gilliland. Doreen Coffman. Vera Grushon. Barbara Kelso. Fonda Thomas. Jean Hudson. Jerri Galloway. And Evelyn Fielding.
Then there are the preachers’ wives who served as a role model and encouragement to my wife. Verna McKee. Margaret Hamilton. Janelle Owen. Bobbie Miller. Lillian Keith. Mary Lou Pierce. Jeanetta Clifford. And Norma Bowman. Just to name a few. Then there are many female friends in her peer group who’ve been a source of support and inspiration.
None of these women, or others like them, will ever grace the pages of Time Magazine to be honored as “Women of the Year.” While unknown and unheralded by the world, they are known by God. They are women of God. Virtuous. Valued. Admired. And appreciated. Their worth is “far above rubies” (Prov. 1:10). Or gold. Or silver. Or any earthly accolade.
Look around you. In your life. Your home. Your church. And you will see many wonderful women loving and leading us to greater spiritual heights. Appreciate them. Honor them. And thank them.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman