“Iron Lady?”…Why not just, “Iron Prime Minister?”

President Obama was in hot water recently for commenting on a woman’s leadership and her looks. He found out that those comments are off-limits when he referred to Kamala Harris as “the best-looking attorney general.” Why does it seem to be so difficult for some to separate job performance from physical qualities?

Women play such an important role in the church today. They teach bible classes, instruct our children, and have various ministries for God’s glory. At Clover, we are forming a Ladies Bible Class, we are promoting mentoring among the women, and we are encouraging those roles that have biblical authority. Yet, incredibly, we are able to do all of this without judging performance by looks! Many in the secular world seem to continue to struggle with this idea.

Margaret Thatcher, who passed away this week at the age of 87, was a glass ceiling smasher who enjoyed being a woman and a leader. Nevertheless, Thatcher’s gender was never separable from her career. She was given several names during her career, including: “Thatcher, milk snatcher” by detractors, the “Iron Lady” by cold war communists, and even “that woman” by Edward Heath, whom she beat for Prime Minister.  Even one of her kindest names, “Britain’s Fighting Lady,” given by Time magazine, still proves an inability of writers to separate her gender from her job performance.

The bible has always praised strong women such as Deborah, Esther, and Mary to name a few. The New Testament encourages the role of women in the work of the church. Many scholars agree that Priscilla’s name being mentioned before Aquila’s in Acts 18:26 and Romans 16:3 indicates that she often took a primary role in private teaching. Paul reminded the Roman church to help Phoebe “in whatever matter she has need” (Romans 16:2); women have equal worth and access to Christ (Galatians 3:28); and older women are given the task of instructing younger women (Titus 2).

The bible instructs all of this without judging job performance by looks. Perhaps we should take note? The important thing is whether we are faithful in our work to the Lord, regardless of age, sex, race, or other external qualities. God does not show favoritism (James 2:1) and neither should we.

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