This is the fifth post in our Feminology series. The first week of each month in 2022 will feature a post about what it means to be a woman. The first three months laid the foundation for this series as they focused on woman reflecting the image of God, our Creator. If you haven’t read those posts, I would encourage you to go back and do so. They were such a help to me!
Last month we began our discussion on a particular attribute of godly women – strength. We are going to continue that discussion this month as we consider what strength has to do with the particular roles God has given to women. Next month we will look more deeply at how godly strength is countercultural.
I hope that each of us grows not just in our understanding of God’s view of woman, but also in gratitude and awe for the way He made us and the work He has called us to.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “a man of many hats.” To say that a person wears many hats is to say that they have many roles to perform. It’s safe to say that all of us wear many hats. Daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, neighbor, employee … you can probably think of many more.
In February Wendy and Sharon laid the groundwork on our discussion of women’s roles in the second installment of the Feminology series. They discussed the Biblical truth that God, from the very beginning, created women to live out particular roles – to be helpers, nurturers, and the ones to submit in marriage. There are certainly other roles as well, but these three are a great place to start as we consider what God has called women to.
In our culture, to say that a woman has been called by God to follow and submit to her husband is synonymous with saying that she is called to live as a doormat – another way of saying she has been called to be weak. To say that she has been called to be a helper is to say that she has been called to live as a second-class citizen. Again, to be weak. But is our culture right? Are these roles of weakness? Can a woman who is weak live out the roles that God has given her in a way that honors Him?
Absolutely not. Being a woman who is a great help, who generously nurtures and gives life, and who joyfully submits requires strength. Culture might lie and tell us that these are narrow roles and that women are capable of something “more,” but the truth is that these roles – these hats – are incredibly huge, and only the strongest women will fulfill them well.
I love a particular quote by a writer named G.K. Chesterton about the role of women as nurturers. He was confronting the feminism of his day when he said, “I can understand how [mothering] might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children the rule of three [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
To nurture children, not to mention encouraging and giving life to the many other people in our lives in a God-honoring way a huge task, and so it requires huge strength.
To be a helper is an equally huge task. Just as mothering carries with it the roles of teacher, cook, translator (for the toddler), chauffeur, disciplinarian, etc., etc., helping can mean many different roles. Being aware of the needs of someone else and being willing to put those needs before our own takes strength.
When I consider submission I remember that Jesus is our example as He submitted to His Father in His life on earth and in His death for our sin. His submission wasn’t accomplished because He is weak. It was accomplished because He is strong. Jesus, who is all-powerful, submitted Himself to His Father’s will. Why do we believe the lie that submission is weakness?
Chesterton said that, if anything, he would pity the woman because of the hugeness of her task, but I am not calling for women to be pitied. Yes, we need strength to live out the roles that God has given us, but remember that God is all-powerful and He gives strength to His children. In Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that the people would be “strengthened with all power, according to His [God’s] glorious might.”
God has called us as women to wear some very important hats, and they require real strength. God is also the only real source of strength, so let’s go to Him for it knowing that He gives generously.