(Much of this content first appeared in a seminar I gave in spring 2018 entitled “Redeemed Womanhood: An Alternative to Cultural Feminism.”)
I am a woman.
I am a woman who loves teaching.
I am a woman who loves leadership.
I am a woman who loves public speaking and sharing her thoughts and ideas.
I am a woman created in the image of God, equal in value with a man before God.
But I am not a feminist.
I am a woman who believes that God created specific roles for men and women, and that the world is a better place when each of them gladly carries out those roles for His glory.
I am a woman who believes that many travesties have been committed against women over the years due to wrong beliefs about those roles – but I don’t believe that man’s actions negate God’s original design.
I am a woman who has had to learn the hard way that her opinions aren’t always right, and even if they are, they don’t always need to be shared.
I am a woman who practices submission – not currently to a husband, but to the elders and pastors and mentors of my church, and ultimately to God Himself – and I find great joy in it.
And I am a woman who believes that God has lovingly redeemed womanhood and that if we embrace it for what it is, it can put His glory on display in ways that nothing else can.
We live in a broken world. But it hasn’t been broken because women have had less power over the years. It’s been broken because of the sin in both men and women’s hearts which have caused them to abandon their God-defined roles and try to reach for something more.
At one moment in time, the woman tried to reach for all the power – and the world came crashing down around her. Because God didn’t intend for her to have all the power. Neither did He intend for the man to have all the power. He intended for Himself to rightfully have all the power and for men and women to humbly step into the roles He created for them as a gift.
God – in His infinite wisdom – knew that men and women would most thrive in these roles meant to complement each other perfectly.
But men and women didn’t trust God’s wisdom in this area. They just had to try out their own version, where Eve said, “Why trust God’s wisdom when we can have our own?” and Adam said, “Sure, honey, whatever you say” – and from then on, the world was cursed. And it’s been a power struggle ever since.
In today’s culture, it feels like if you’re a woman, you either have to be a blazing feminist who is opposed to any kind of male leadership, puts men down, and to whom the word “submission” means the same thing as female enslavement. OR you have to be the meek, quiet housewife who always asks her husband for permission to do anything and has no spine of her own.
I am neither of those things, and I think there can be another, more moderate and biblical approach to womanhood.
Because on the one hand, I absolutely think it is biblical for women to have the same political and educational rights as men. I think it’s biblical that women should not be sexually harassed or treated as less than human because of their gender. Whenever women are mistreated or abused, Christians should be the first to stand up for them – because we are created in the image of God, with the same intrinsic value and worth as a man.
But on the other hand, when the cry for justice becomes the discontented cry for more and more “rights” that seem to elevate women as more important than men, we’ve tipped the scales in the other direction. And not only have we tipped the scales, we’ve begun to make woman something God never intended her to be.
And what God intended her to be – what he designed her to be – is something beautiful. And somewhere between the “feminine mystique goddess” and the “there’s no important difference between men and women” camps is the feminine core of womanhood – that which carries the glory of God in every curve of her DNA.
This is worth fighting for. This is worth preserving and championing because when women fully understand their God-given roles – and when men understand theirs as well – there is harmony and beauty and fulfillment.
I might not be a feminist in the cultural sense of the word, but I believe in all the beauty, strength, creativity, innovation, nurturing, and life-giving that women bring to the world. And I believe it should be celebrated as a reflection of God himself. God’s design for womanhood reflects an important part of the Gospel story, and when womanhood gets twisted, so does the Gospel story.
As I was listening to a sermon recently called “Sex and Your Body,” this became startlingly clear. The pastor, Dave Lomas, said this –
Why is God always the husband and humanity always the bride? Why is God always male in these metaphors and humanity female? […] The reason why humanity is always the bride is because humanity is first receptive to the love of God – we first receive the love of God. The woman’s body primarily tells the story of receiving divine love while the man’s body primarily tells the story of offering that love – of pouring it out. It’s the husband who gives the seed or inseminates. It’s the bride who receives the seed within and conceives new life.
In the same way, Christ gives us his Holy Spirit to give us new life, and in turn, we as believers are to generate new life by making disciples of others.
The design and purpose of men and women then are important and should be valued and fought for. Our culture wants to do the opposite. They want to say they aren’t important, and everyone should do whatever they want. But when we “do whatever we want” with our bodies, we are dishonoring God – and furthermore, we are walking further away from his plan for our must fulfilled life.
God’s design for womanhood and manhood is complex and beautiful – and there is much more to dive in to. But we’ll save that for another day. Today, let us pause and be grateful for the gift of this design. It’s not always easy to understand or carry out, but instead of running away from it, may we press into it even more deeply to see his purpose for our lives.
*Disclaimer: If you have thoughts or questions on this topic that you’d like to discuss with me, I’m always open to private, respectful conversations. I do not, however, engage in debates via comments.
Photo by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash.