“Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature…Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” – Genesis 2:7&18
As created in the image of God, men and women are equal. In other aspects however, men and women are not equal. We were not created the same physically or emotionally and we were not created with the same particular purpose. As Genesis 2:18 says, God created the woman with the purpose of helping the man. Each gender has a specific role and these roles have been created to complement one another and ultimately to glorify our God and Creator.
There are many things in society that destroy our God given roles as women. Perhaps the most prominent of these is feminism. Feminism lies to us. In an article that can be found at bible.org, Sue Bohlin writes about these lies. She says that feminism tells us we can have it all; we can have a career, a family and a great social life all at the same time. It tells us that men and women are fundamentally the same when the Bible clearly states otherwise. Feminism tells us we can and must be great in the world’s eyes. In order to do this we need to put off childbearing and even marriage to pursue our personal (and most likely sinful) ambitions. Feminism tell us that we are self-sufficient as women; we don’t need men. It also tells us that being feminine is being weak. Feminism blurs the line not only between gender roles but also between genders.
Yet God does not call us to “have it all.” He calls us to humility and hard work. We are not to “be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2 ESV) in seeking after greatness. At creation God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). God gave the covenant of marriage to us within which we are to be fruitful and multiply; bear children. To put this off until you feel like in order to chase your dreams is to deny the very thing you were created for as a woman. But we can’t just have children of our own free will; we need men. However, we don’t just need them in order to reproduce. Men and women were created to complement one another and to do so specifically within the marriage covenant. Being feminine is not being weak. “A gentle and quiet spirit…in God’s sight is very precious” (I Peter 3:4 ESV). Proverbs 31 tells us that an excellent wife “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong,” that “strength and dignity are her clothing” and she “does not eat the bread of idleness.” “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” This is beautiful yet this is hard work.
Reading through this passage of Proverbs 31 is challenging to me. I think of all the times I have preferred sleeping or just doing nothing over simple things like helping my mom make supper or folding the laundry. Then my sinful heart says “well what about all those times I did the dishes without being asked or told? And what about all my responsibilities as a working student? I need some rest. And this is talking about the excellent wife, not the excellent daughter. I’m not a bad daughter.” Even though I’m not anyone’s wife yet, I should still strive for these things which a wife should be. My purpose is to be a help to my future husband and in order to be a help to him, I need to start practising now. Saying my wedding vows is not going to magically give me the ability or discipline to “work with willing hands” or “rise while it is yet night and provide food for [my] household.” Getting married won’t make me “love [my] husband and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to [my] own husband” as Titus 2:4&5 call us to.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” – Titus 2:3-5
Carolyn Mahaney has written an excellent book on femininity called Feminine Appeal. In this book she unpacks “seven virtues of a Godly wife and mother” taken from Titus 2:3-5. But these virtues are applicable to all females, no matter their age or relationship status. Women were created as helpers for men. This was the plan from the beginning and it has been stated since the beginning. Titus 2:3-5 give us specifics on how we are to fulfil this God-given role.
As young women, we need to listen to those older and wiser than us. The first “older woman” God has placed in our lives are our mothers. I have been blessed with a Godly mother who has taught me what is good, sometimes without realizing it. Simply by her actions, my mom has taught me a lot about how to work out these seven virtues. I know that not every girl has been blessed with such a mother as I have, but that does not mean you have been abandoned to figure things out on your own. When we are saved, we are adopted into the family of God. We commune and fellowship with this family by means of the church. This is the second source of “older women” God has provided us with.
Now we shouldn’t just sit back and wait for an older woman to come to us and start teaching us stuff. A mutual relationship needs to be built and this isn’t going to happen on its own. We need to be involved in various ministries within our church and this will give us exposure to build such relationships. We need to actively search for this good teaching. This is something I struggle with. I tend to be a loner and that’s not always good because I tend to rely on myself for my own teaching and learning both in and out of the Word. But God has given us the community of the church so that we may learn from one another spiritually and practically.
So what about him? What about our husbands or our future husbands? Well, if we obey God’s Word and marry within the faith, we have nothing to worry about. We don’t need to tick stuff off of a list to see if he is doing or will do his job properly as a husband. If I work on fulfilling my God given responsibilities and purpose as a godly wife and he works on fulfilling his as a godly husband, we should have no worries. And honestly, I’m glad I’m not self-sufficient. Being feminine is hard enough even with the support of a husband (in my case it’s still my parents). I’m relieved that I don’t have to try to be great or self-sufficient and that I won’t “have it all.” I’m relieved that I’ll be dependent on my future husband and that I’ll be in the supporting rather than leading role.
Finally, we do this “that the word of God may not be reviled.” We are to live in such a way, the way that the Bible calls us to as women, so that the Word of our Lord will not be spoken of with contempt. That our lives may reflect the life of Christ our Saviour who suffered and died for our sins. By living in such a way, we demonstrate the gospel which “is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16 ESV) and give no basis for criticism of God’s Word.
By Rebecca Gage
Thursday, 17 September 2015
I grew up surrounded by women who longed to be more than they are.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having goals and dreams; it's just that as humans, we tend to fall more on the offside of the 'field' of God's will. It took a long time for me to grasp the truth about who I am as God's child. I knew there was more to living than what I was seeing. Many women were suffering at the hands of 'men' and complained bitterly about how 'men' weren't good and how they treated them. This birthed fear within me as I thought about marriage and motherhood, which led me to consider the possibility of God making me a eunuch (My former mentor, Pastor Bell, laughed at me greatly. I join him in that every time I remember it). Stories of some great men in the Bible didn't comfort me either, tainted with polygamy (Solomon), infidelity (David), insincerity (Tamar's husbands), unequal love (Jacob to Leah), fear (Joseph before the angel's visit) and many other examples beside. This continued on as I saw women soaring above the home, leaving their homes to attain a 'better life'. My classmates had ambitions of being independent and not depending on anyone; this struck me as strange, considering that they were in relationships back then. Now then, the problem drew me closer to God, asking Him to help me discover who I am in light of His truth. My best friend persisted in telling me to stop being selfish and consider getting married one day. She even formed a 'pact' with one of the teachers at my former high school to convince me of the beauty of marriage. To me, singleness was just so perfect! And believe you me, there is nothing wrong with being single if that's God's gift for you.
Going back home and spending time with the Bells let me see the beauty of marriage; I could see Christ and the Church's relationship in their union. It was refreshing, and meeting other married couples besides my parents got me to question what being a woman meant. Not just a woman, but what biblical womanhood is. Does this mean me staying home, cooking his meals, changing diapers and just being sweetly submissive?? Hmmmmm...who told you that? I wonder.
I would like to propose to you the real meaning of biblical womanhood. The following points may not be exhaustive but they will get you on the right path. It entails knowing that:
¤ God created you.
You are a delicate design made by God Himself (Genesis 2:21-22). He built you instead of formed you. It was in His will and plan to make you a woman. He didn't make any mistake, and there is nothing like He will change His mind on your gender. He is pleased to have made you a beautiful woman. When Adam saw the woman God made, he broke into poetry!
¤ We are sinful, and Christ died for us, too.
At the top of the foundation of true biblical womanhood is the deep realisation that you are a sinner in need of mercy. Christ did not die to redeem men only; He died for men AND women, and that includes you (John 3:16, Romans 3:23-26). God's redemption plan includes women, too. The cross does also require us to humble ourselves before God and realize that we are sinners before God and man. And God is willing to come to your aid and calls us to Him (Mathew 11:28).
¤ We need Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the true foundation of biblical womanhood. Without Him we are so lost within ourselves and whatever the flesh may demand from us. It’s a drought without Him, a famine that knows no end and an empty life. We are prone to live for ourselves, 'selfishing' our lives away instead of giving it away. With the Vanity Fair that the world offers, our desire for it overrides even what some call common sense. You are going through a tough time? Call unto Jesus. You are lonely? Christ is always there. You need help? He is ever ready to provide in what He deems fit.
¤ A community of believers surrounds you.
You are not alone! You have brothers and sisters in the Lord, elderly women and men, deacons and pastors who are called to give you spiritual and sometimes material support. Stop being an island and embrace this gift God has given you, a church family. Most of all, He has given you godly women and has commanded them to teach you (Titus 2:3-4)! Isn't that wonderful? Having elderly and mature godly women in my life has taught me so much. Sometimes I even muse over the fact that I have suffered heartache for nothing just because I did not want them watching my life like a ‘soap opera’, or so I believed. You will find that they are more than happy to help you.
¤ You are to live to satisfy God and bring Him glory.
All the time, we hear the faithful media telling us to live to satisfy ourselves, and live our lives how we want to. The whole world has also spiced it up with 'a woman can do it all'. Nothing wrong with wanting to do more in life, but if that takes over or overrides God's will for you, then you have but yourself to live for. Ephesians 2:3 tells us who we once were, and how that after being united to Christ those fleshly desires were crucified, (see Galatians 5:24). Dear woman, God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him and not ourselves.
¤ The Word of God never changes.
The call to live by its commands and principles does not change even though the world changes; its ideas, fashion, politics and decor (Romans 12:2). God does NOT change. He deliberately and intentionally gave us this love letter so that our hearts may not be snatched by the vultures of this world, but rather that you and I may continue to reread this letter until He comes to take us home.
¤ We should not despise the vocation He has called us into.
When God has made it clear what He wants us to do, we have to do it wholeheartedly as unto Him and not man. If your call is being a housewife and mother, then do it as unto God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and so on and so forth. Our primary vocation is to be a helpmeet; however, not many women get married to fully execute that role, but it’s not impossible. God has put men in the leadership role and us in the helpmeet role; we have to respect that, ladies. Wherever you are, you can exemplify biblical womanhood (read John Piper's book titled Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).
¤ We are called to a godly and holy life.
Romans 12:1-2 states clearly that God delights in such a sacrifice. It comes out in the form of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). It flows from the inside to the outside. She dresses modestly; she is kind and above all a woman who seeks after God's own heart.
For some time I struggled with dressing modestly. I was greatly in love with garments that strangled my skin. Talking to godly women helped me understand the nature of my calling as a woman. My dressing before I got saved; yeah, it got attention but definitely the wrong kind. I enjoyed the attention but later hated it because - unless you are blind - one was able to notice the lust in men's eyes.
A woman is adorned with virtue, and that which the Lord provides requiring daily dependence on Him. It also calls for humility when the elderly women correct you and lack of self-defence. I remember a time when I started off home with a top that was alright; I mean, I checked it in the mirror and it was okay; I mean what kind of brother would be stumbled by that? I went to church and the top started to have a mind of its own...hahaha, and boy, didn't one of the aunties from church approach me. I thank God that I listened to her and her suggestion. Had it not been for her honesty, I would have packed it or given it away...hehehe. It’s still mine and now I wear it in a non-stumbling manner. So ladies, this walk involves accountability. You need to get some, 'kay? Remember, God wants you to pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:16). Read The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.
¤ It’s not for those getting married or married; it’s for everyone regardless of marital status.
It is part of your personhood and practical life. Its primary reason is to focus itself on God and nothing else. Therefore cast away those thoughts of it belonging to a certain group of women away. Are you a woman by creation? Then seek Him more earnestly and open your heart to Him and He will show you great things! Delve yourself deeper into His Word and you will find that you understand yourself better, because no one defines you better than God.
¤ If you are waiting for a future husband, set realistic demands for and biblical characteristics of him.
I know a handsome, romantic, eloquent, sensitive, smart, rich or well-to-do, funny, knows-what-to-say-all-the-time, fun, nice-bodied and understanding man is likely to sound mmmh mmmh mmmh to you but really, is that what you need? We have been clouded by the television channels we watch, magazines we peruse, and the novels we read to box men in such a disturbing storage box. You want to be free to be you, right? So let him be free to be himself and you have a chaotic world! Yes God knows you need a handsome man, and He will give you one whom He deems fit. I grew up having a crush on the character Harry Potter. I had a picture of him pasted next to my bed and to me, I wanted him to be my husband. I now laugh at my 11 year old self and sometimes hit my head. That's because right now, he can't measure up to the man in my life...one whom God answered point by point in my request.
¤ Understanding that you can't mix family with your own selfish ambitions and actions.
If you are called to be married and later have children you need to understand that you are needed in the home. Mrs. Bells is a wise woman who made it a point to talk about family with me whenever I visited her home. Hmmmm...that wasn't on my mind as I thought I was a 'eunuch' and wanted to get my degree, then later my masters and then PhD, THEN think of marriage. Not a bad plan, eh? A woman can do it all too. There is nothing wrong with seeking to get educated....nope, nothing. However, there is something wrong with seeking something that will have you spend all your time and energies away from your own home. Who is going to keep house, raise your children and tend to your husband? Your maid? Your sister? Your niece? Your mum? God forbid (Titus 2:3-5)!!! It’s a desperate call for the elderly women to teach young women what is right and good. Many have left their homes unattended to go in search of greener pastures. Families are failing, not because they can't live with each other, but because men and women love their spouses less and love themselves more. It’s a call for biblical manhood and womanhood.
¤ Give yourself to the church and the ministries available.
God has given you gifts and talents and expects you to use them at church. No, you won't be able to preach in church (1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35), but there are ministries and activities that you can do. Romans 16:1-3 has some examples of women in the early church...not forgetting Mary and Martha. So stop warming the chairs in church and help out. Oh! It brings such joy and satisfaction to work for the Lord.
Biblical womanhood is a life pattern for women to seek after God's heart more earnestly, to seek Him first (Mathew 6:33), love Him (John 14:15) and to glorify Him with our gender and its roles and duties, thereby having joy in it. God made you feminine for a reason. John Piper defines femininity as this:
"At the heart of mature femininity is a feeling disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman's differing relationships."
We need to thank and praise God for the task He has laid before us. Examples are plenty in the Bible (Ruth, Esther, Sarah, Anna, Rahab -after conversion, Mary, etc.), and in the godly women in our churches. May God guide you in discovering who you are in Him.
By Chisomo Mwandila