The Role of the Adventist Woman

The Editor in Imagination Interviews Ellen G. White on the Subject of the role of Adventist Women. . .

-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

Mrs. White, we are in a day of a women's lib movement that has as one of its goals the freeing of 'women from what is called the drudgery of the home. What would be your comment on this as you see the place and role of the Adventist woman?

Woman should fill the position which God originally designed for her, as her husband's equal. . . . We may safely say that the distinctive duties of woman are more sacred, more holy, than those of man. Let woman realize the sacredness of her work and in the strength and fear of God take up her life mission. 1

Many a home is made very unhappy by the useless repining of its mistress, who turns with distaste from the simple, homely tasks of her unpretending domestic life. She looks upon the cares and duties of her lot as hardships, and that which through cheerfulness might be made not only pleasant and interesting but profitable, becomes the merest drudgery.2

The mother who cheerfully takes up the duties lying directly in her path will feel that life is to her precious, because God has given her a work to perform. In this -work she need not necessarily dwarf her mind nor allow her intellect to become enfeebled. 3

Let woman realize the sacredness of her work and, in the strength and fear of God, take up her life mission. 4

You make the work of the homemaker and mother sound very important.

God has given the mother, in the education of her children, a responsibility paramount to everything else. 5

But do you mean, Mrs. White, with so much to be done in the world, the wife is just to stay at home and keep house? And what about women without home cares?

Intelligent Christian women may use their talents to the very highest account. They can show by their life of self-denial and by their willingness to work to the best of their ability that they believe the truth and are being sanctified through it. Many need a work of this kind to develop the powers they possess.

Wives and mothers should in no case neglect their husbands and their children, but they can do much without neglecting home duties, and all have not these responsibilities. 6

Just where, then, does this leave the Adventist woman?

All have not the same work. There are distinct and individual duties for each to perform; yet with these varied duties there may be a beautiful harmony. . . . Her individuality may be distinctly preserved, and yet she be part of the great whole in advancing the work of reform so greatly needed.

Woman, if she wisely improves her time and her faculties, relying upon God for wisdom and strength, may stand on an equality with her husband as adviser, counselor, companion, and co-worker, and yet lose none of her womanly grace or modesty. She may elevate her own character, and just as she does this she is elevating and ennobling the characters of her family and exerting a powerful though unconscious influence upon others around her. 7

Mrs. White, would you explain this a little more fully?

It is woman's right to look after the interest of her husband, to have a care for his wardrobe, and to seek to make him happy. It is her right to improve her mind and manners, to be social, cheerful, and happy, shedding sunshine in her family and making it a little heaven. And she may have an interest for more than "me and mine." She should consider that society has claims upon her. 8

Woman does not know her power. God did not intend that her capabilities should be all absorbed in questioning: What shall I eat? what shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed? There is a higher purpose for woman, a grander destiny. She should develop and cultivate her powers, for God can em ploy them in the great work of saving souls from eternal ruin. 9

Mrs. White, what you have just said implies that women have an important place in gospel work. Would you care to expand on this?

Christian women are called for. There is a wide field in which they may do good service for the Master. 10

The Lord has a work for women as well as for men. They may take their places in His work at this crisis, and He will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. 11

You speak of a place in the work for self-sacrificing women as well as men. Is their work to be the same?

The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and will give them a power that exceeds that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. 12

Then, Mrs. White, you would envision a need for professional women workers in the church, working by the side of the men?

When a great and decisive work is to be done, God chooses men and women to do this work, and it will feel the loss if the talents of both are not combined. 13

There should be selected for the work wise, consecrated men who can do a good work in reaching souls. Women also should be chosen who can present the truth in a clear, intelligent, straightforward manner. We need among us laborers who see the need of a deep work of grace to be done in hearts; and such should be encouraged to engage in earnest missionary effort. 14

What do you suggest as avenues of work for women?

There are women who are especially adapted for the work of giving Bible readings, and they are very successful in presenting the Word of God in its simplicity to others. They become a great blessing in reaching mothers and their daughters. This is a sacred work, and those engaged in it should receive encouragement. 15

Could this lead to still greater responsibilities in presenting the message?

The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth. 16

There are women who should labor in the gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God. 17

Mrs. White, would these women be regular salaried workers?

If a woman puts her housework in the hands of a faithful, prudent helper, and leaves her children in good care, while she engages in the work, the conference should have wisdom to understand the justice of her receiving wages. 18

Are you suggesting that her pay should come from the tithe?

The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women. 19

But, Mrs. White, I'm afraid you don't understand our problem. Many of our conference budgets are so tight there simply isn't enough for women's salaries.

This question is not for men to settle. The Lord has settled it. You are to do your duty to the women who labor in the gospel, whose work testifies that they are essential to carrying the truth into families. Their work is just the work that must be done, and should be encouraged. 20

If a woman is appointed by the Lord to do a certain work, her work is to be estimated according to its value. Every laborer is to receive his or her just due. 21

Would you be willing to define more specifically the kind of labor of which you are thinking?

We greatly need consecrated women who, as messengers of mercy, shall visit the mothers and the children in their homes. 22

Discreet and humble women can do a good work in explaining the truth to the people in their homes. 23 The Lord instructed me that our sisters who have received a training that has fitted them for positions of responsibility are to serve with faith fulness and discernment in their calling, using their influence wisely and, with their brethren in the faith, obtaining an experience that will fit them for still greater usefulness. 24

There are many . . . offices connected with the cause of God which our sisters are better qualified to fill than our brethren, and in which they might do efficient service. 25

Is there a Biblical basis for what you are recommending?

In ancient times the Lord worked in a wonderful way through consecrated women who united in His work with men whom He has chosen to stand as His representatives. 26

Christ speaks of women who helped Him in presenting the truth before others, and Paul also speaks of women who labored with him in the gospel. 27

It was Mary that first preached a risen Jesus. 28

At present there are approximately 135 Bible instructors in the North American Division, compared with about 3,600 pastors and evangelists. Would you have something to say on ratios?

If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth. 29

Compared to the number of other workers there seem to be fewer Bible instructors in the homeland than in some of the other -world fields. Would you care to comment on this?

I am pained because our sisters in America are not more of them doing the work they might do for the Lord Jesus. . . . Many women love to talk. Why can't they talk the words of Christ to perishing souls? When the believing women shall feel the burden of souls . . . they will be working as Christ worked. They will consider no sacrifice too great to make to win souls to Christ. 30

Should such "workers always be older, single women -without family responsibilities?

Wonderful is the mission of the wives and mothers and the younger women workers. . . . Our sisters, the youth, the middle-aged, and those of advanced years may act a part in the closing work for this time. 31

The wife can often labor by the side of her husband. . . . We need women workers to labor in connection with their husbands. 32

Are you suggesting that ministers' wives be employed as Bible instructors? Would that be in harmony with conference policy?

The method of paying men laborers, and not paying their wives who share their labors with them, is a plan not according to the Lord's order, and if carried out in our conferences, is liable to discourage our sisters from qualifying themselves for the work they should engage in. God is a God of justice, and if the ministers receive a salary for their work, their wives who devote them selves just as disinterestedly to the work, should be paid in addition to the wages their husbands receive. 33

Does this mean that a young woman might well prepare for a double career that of Bible instructor as well as minister's wife? In other words, our educational institutions should train women as Bible instructors?

It should be the aim of our schools to provide the best instruction and training for Bible workers. Our conferences should see that the schools are provided with teachers who are thorough Bible teachers and who have a deep Christian experience. 34

What other lines do you suggest be included in the curriculum for women students?

The Lord designs that the school should also be a place where a training may be gained in women's work--cooking, housework, dress-making, bookkeeping, correct reading, and pronunciation. They are to be qualified to take any post that may be offered superintendents, Sabbath school teachers, Bible workers. They must be prepared to teach day schools for children. 35

Mrs. White, earlier you mentioned that the influence of Christian women is needed in preaching the truth. What counsel have you given to women gospel workers who had the ability to stand in the desk in preaching the Word?

Address the crowd whenever you can; hold every jot of influence you can by any association that can be made the means of introducing the leaven to the meal. Every man and every woman has a work to do for the Master. Personal consecration and sanctification to God will accomplish, through the most simple methods, more than the most imposing display.36

Do you recall experiences when this was successfully done?

Sister R and Sister W are doing just as efficient work as the ministers; and some meetings when the ministers are all called away. Sister W takes the Bible and addresses the congregation. 37

Are there other places where women in public work can fill an important place?

Our camp meetings are to be conducted in such a way that they shall be schools for the education of workers. We need to have a better understanding of the division of labor, and educate all how to carry each part of the work successfully. . . . Let short discourses be given, and then let Bible classes be held. Let the speaker be sure to rivet the truth upon minds. Intelligent women, if truly converted, can act a part in this work of holding Bible classes. There is a wide field of service for women as well as for men. 38

Mrs. White, you have referred to a woman's being able to do a work that men cannot do; would you give some other examples?

Through the exercise of womanly tact and a wise use of their knowledge of Bible truth, they can remove difficulties that our brethren cannot meet. 39

In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. 40

It seems, Mrs. White, there might be another vital place for women in the Lord's work in dealing with women with their special problems. What counsel would you give to a conference president or minister in this respect?

If any woman, no matter who, casts herself upon your sympathy, are you to take her up and encourage her and receive letters from her and feel a special responsibility to help her? . . . When a woman is in trouble, let her take her trouble to women. . . . She should take her trouble to some other woman who can, if necessary, talk with you in regard to it, without any appearance of evil. 41

Do you have any final words of counsel to our faithful women workers who are ministering especially to other women in the work of saving souls?

The work you are doing to help our sisters feel their individual ac countability to God is a good and necessary work. Long has it been neglected. ... I have so longed for women who could be educated to help our sisters rise from their discouragement and feel that they could do a work for the Lord. . . . God will bless you and all who unite with you in this grand work. 42


1. The Adventist Home, p. 231.

2. Welfare Ministry, p 151.

3. The Adventist Home, p. 233.

4. Ibid., p. 236.

5. Welfare Ministry, p. 158.

6. Ibid., p. 164.

7. Ibid., pp. 159, 160.

8. Ibid, pp. 158, 159,

9. Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 642.

10. Welfare Ministry, p. 150.

11. Evangelism, p. 464.

12. Ibid., pp. 464, 465.

13. Ibid.. p. 469.

14. Ibid., p. 472.

15. Ibid., p. 469,

16. Ibid., p. 472.

17. Ibid.

18. Gospel Workers, p. 453.

19. Evangelism, p. 492.

20. Ibid., p. 493.

21. Ibid., p. 491.

22. Ibid., p. 459.

23. Welfare Ministry, p. 161.

24. Ibid., p. 158.

25. lbid., p. 147.

26. Ibid., p. 158.

27. Evangelism, p. 465.

28. Ibid., p. 471.

29. Ibid., pp. 471, 472.

30. Ibid , pp 465, 466.

31. Welfare Ministry, p. 157.

32. Evangelism, p. 491.

33. Ibid., p, 492,

34. Ibid., p. 475.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid., p 473.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid., pp. 473, 474.

39. Ibid., p. 491.

40. Ibid., p. 493.

41. Ibid., pp. 460, 461.

42. Ibid., p. 461.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

September 1972

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