I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman. Maybe because the headlines regularly suggest to me that the definition of womanhood is in question. Is a woman of more worth if she has an online business, drives the right SUV, and gets to the gym five times a week? Is the most significant contribution and impact she can make in the workforce? Is her womanhood fluid…meaning anyone who wants to call themselves a woman can fulfill the role? Is her body hers and hers alone?
Feminists have been duking many of these definitions out for years. Strangely what ends up happening when the feminists win their battles is that femininity and the distinctions which make her a woman end up getting erased and the sexes become homogenized, making us simply human, rather than distinctly woman. In the end it doesn’t help women, but erases them.
Years ago I may have added my own 2 cents to the pot by saying something about the unfair disparages between the sexes and how women bear the differences unfairly. But I thank God for His word which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). My own thinking and understanding has been transformed by God’s word since then. For it is in the Bible that we find the answers to our questions about what it means to be a woman.
I realize many women could stop reading right here. Perhaps having no regard for the Bible or conjuring up images about what they have heard the Bible says (caricatures of women like the Handmaid’s Tale…subservient, mindless, put-upons) makes it easy to dismiss. If you are in that camp, you may read this post, get to the end, and think that still.
But for Christian women, what other guidelines do we have than God’s word and His design for Biblical Womanhood? It is tempting to follow the way of the world’s women and value things which gratify immediately. The trouble is they soon fade. Instead, are we allowing God’s word to distinctly define us and offer something which truly lasts?
A cursory read through scripture leads us to passages on Biblical womanhood like:
1 Peter 2
1 Timothy 2
and other places like 1 Corinthians 6-7 along with the creation telling Genesis 1-3
Examples of women scorned, honored, and everything in between are found in the Bible. There is much honor and provision for women. Complementary and equally valued as man, but distinct and different in her role.
I wanted to take a quick look at 4 areas today and highlight how scripture does not erase femininity, but allows her to be a woman. It is a privilege not a curse. Some examples offered are extreme and some are controversial, but may we remind ourselves of the truth of God’s word and stay grounded in that when we face extremes and controversy. Let God’s word be our guide and let her be a woman…
In her nature…
God created them male and female. One of the simplest and perhaps most undisputed claims in scripture for centuries is now hotly contested by a few loud voices in the public forum, while dissenters seem to remain strangely quiet.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
This is not a fluid statement of scripture. It is a concrete description of truth. Female in nature and design, she was formed from man’s rib by God to be a helper suitable. “Isha”…of man. He is a man. She is a woman.
Let her be a woman…
In her nurture…
Recent absurd statements have been made about men chestfeeding infants and how it is an interchangeable role of nurture done by both men and women. Obviously though it is women who are able to lactate: a reflex which is incredibly activated within moments of her infant’s delivery. Mammary glands are part of her anatomy making her able (in most cases) to involuntarily produce a perfect formula of sustenance for her infant. Put that same infant to a man to chestfeed and suckle, and the baby will die from starvation.
Let her be a woman…
In her vessel…
Furthermore showcasing the life-giving capacity she holds, it is her womb which nests and gestates the egg for 9 months: sharing blood, air, and food symbiotically with her unborn child. Her baby stretches, pulls, and weighs heavy within her very vessel which was amazingly created to do such work. How can this be denied? Whether a woman bears children or not, she has a capacity that is distinctly female and simply amazing.
Let her be a woman…
In her service…
Scripture calls her a helper suitable (Genesis). The woman in Proverbs 31 is diverse, strong and capable. Her focus is on nurturing and caring for her husband and children and the people in her sphere. Emphasis is given to her serving hands, strong arms, and instructed tongue. She has influence and glory. If she is a mother, her influence is mainly in the home but spills out into the world. She does not neglect the people in her home in order to influence the world. It is a matter of where her heart lies and how her actions reflect that.
1 Timothy 2 speaks of ways women are to serve in the church and it distinctly says not in the pulpit. The bible says Women are not to be pastors or elders, nor to preach to men. Many women (Christian women) are ignoring this part of scripture. Titus 2 describes the teaching a leading women can and should do in the church: to younger women, teaching them to love their husbands and children. Perhaps women feel this is distasteful or demeaning to not have the same leadership roles in the church. Yet if we will be soft to God’s word and allow it to shape our lives, we will find great joy and provision. Praying to accept all of scripture, even ones we may not personally agree with is how our wills become conformed to His will.
There is great joy and blessing in being a biblical woman. I am not speaking as one who has arrived and wears it so well. It can still become a struggle at points for me to love my role, but when I trust that God has ordered this world and expressed that order to us in His word, I am blessed when I obey. People may mock and jeer, but may we live unto the Lord. May we fix our eyes on him and may our lives distinctly give him glory as Biblical women in this generation.