Judges were Israel’s primary rulers for almost three-and-a-half centuries. They also commanded armies, making them some of Scripture’s strongest leaders. So why did Deborah serve as judge? Her position is often the first mentioned to support female leadership. Does she conflict with God’s pattern of male leadership? Let’s take a look!
1. There’s no mention of Deborah being appointed by God
Throughout the book of Judges, as men rise to leadership, verses identify them as chosen or empowered by God:
- Judges 3:9—The Lord raised up a deliverer . . . Othniel.
- Judges 3:15—The Lord raised up a deliverer . . . Ehud.
- Judges 6:14—The Lord [said to Gideon], “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel . . . Have I not sent you?”
- Judges 11:29—The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.
- Judges 13:24–25—Samson . . . grew and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him.
But with Deborah there is no recognition of God’s appointing. Judges 4:4 simply says, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” Her introduction emphasizes that she is female, but in a negative light. Wayne Grudem, co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, explains in Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (p. 134):
Judges 4:4 suggests some amazement at the unusual nature of the situation in which a woman actually has to judge Israel, because it piles up a string of redundant words to emphasize that Deborah is a woman. Translating the Hebrew text literally, the verse says, ‘And Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she was judging Israel at the time.’ Something is abnormal, something is wrong—there are no men to function as judge! This impression is confirmed when we read of Barak’s timidity and the rebuke he receives as well as the loss of glory he could have received.
2. Deborah’s ministry was private versus public
Continue reading 5 reasons Deborah supports male leadership
What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? Is one biblical? Unbiblical? Read on!
God created Eve because He wanted Adam to have “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say:
- NASB & NIV—“suitable for him”
- ESV—“fit for him”
- HCSB—“his complement”
The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.” Men and women were designed to fit in all ways. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh at their wedding, they perfectly complement each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:
- When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
- When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.
We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing the different roles and responsibilities He gave men and women.
What is egalitarianism?
Egalitarianism is the rejection of the different roles and responsibilities. Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women. They see them interchangeably. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.
The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:
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.
Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders. Continue reading Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism