Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.
It is time for women of biblical faith to reclaim our territory. We know the Designer. We have His instruction manual. If we don’t display the Divine design of His female creation, no one will. But if we do, it will be a profound testimony to a watching, needy world. – Susan Hunt.
Upon completing the second portion of this scripture infused book and digging deeper into the topic at hand by reading related articles and random chapters from books covering the same in depth, I found myself reeling from an informational overload…a tad bit too much to cram into one afternoon. Research has brought back multiple memories of college…the hours spent pouring over books and articles at the library, note taking both in long hand and on the computer (thankfully, Microsoft has that awesome little highlighter icon standard on Word now!) and essays. I’ve come to discover that writing isn’t complete without research. To completely debunk and rehash everything I’ve contemplated would take a considerable number of separate entries. I’ve opted to do the best I can and not cram everything into this. It may be a lot to take in, considering the plethora of information, viewpoints and biblical truths around this topic, but I will do my best to keep the resolution listed above in mind as we proceed.
“Feminism encompasses much more than the cultural phenomenon of the women’s rights movement. It’s more than women having the right to an abortion, the right to vote, or the right to pursue a career. Feminism is a distinct world view with its own ideologies, values, and ways of thinking… [The feminist movement] was a period of time during which feminist ideas were proposed, developed, articulated, promoted and accepted into society’s collective mindset” (Mary Kission; author of The Feminist Mistake; interview).
The feminist revolution was supposed to bring women greater fulfillment and freedom, states Nancy DeMoss in A Call to Biblical Womanhood. This period of time occurred during the 1960s and moved right on through to the turn of the century. In her research, DeMoss found that this movement did not begin as a massive revolution. It started “in the hearts of a handful of women with an agenda—women who were determined and intentional in their efforts.
In the last ten years, our culture has transitioned from that feminist era to a post-feminist era where these ideas have now been completely developed, known by all, carried as common knowledge and have completely integrated into our worldview. Kassion states that “feminism has seeped into people’s systems like intravenous drugs into the veins of an unconscious patient. The majority of people in today’s churches are feminists and they don’t even know it.” A vast majority of Christian women have bought into the world’s way of thinking. It promises freedom and fulfillment to all who embrace their philosophy and many have ended up disillusioned, wounded and in bondage. Shirer points out that “being a woman was never a curse to be endured or a trait to be tolerated. It is a gift to be treasured and esteemed” (pg. 40).
These ideas have infiltrated our views on manhood, womanhood, male-female relationships, sexuality, marriage and family, just to name a few. “Prior to feminism, culture upheld many of [these ideas]. During the feminist era, all of these ideas were challenged and deconstructed. This upcoming post-feminist generation has absolutely no concept about God’s plan for gender and morality…truths were generally ‘caught’…now, they must be ‘taught.’
In today’s society, the assumption that everyone attending a church holds a biblical understanding of these ideals is incorrect. All of these ideals have become primary discipleship issues with the last ten-twenty years, and it continues to get worse. These truths are essential in combating our culture’s current views on what it means to be a woman, to be a man, or have work male-female relationships.
Shirer argues that “while we may possess an appreciation for many of the rights and recognitions that have been hard won by courageous women of years gone by, we want to balance it with our simultaneous desire to protect the venerated definition of womanhood as it is presented to us in God’s Word. This is not a cop-out. It is a commitment to honor the One who created us female and who knows us best, who has proven time and again that only in obedience to His plan for us will we find ultimate fulfillment.”
DeMoss points out that much has been given up in the midst of this upheaval: “the beauty, the wonder, and the treasure of the distinctive make up of women…Yes, the feminist revolution has come to the church…and, women have been the losers. As have their husbands, children and grandchildren. As has the church. As has our lost, unbelieving culture” (A Call to Biblical Womanhood).
Kassion points out that in today’s society, girls are growing up thinking that the “essence of womanhood is the exercise of personal power” in all forms. They are encouraged to be initiators and pursuers in male/female relationships. This form of thinking has had no small impact on both marriage and family life in our culture. Relationships are strained, marriage is often delayed or put off all together, and because feminine ideas about womanhood stand in direct opposition to whom God created man and woman to be, it has become increasingly difficult to make those relationships work. DeMoss states “little attention is paid to the kinds of accomplishments that the Word of God says women should aspire to” (based on 1 Timothy 5:10, Titus 2:3-5, and more).
DeMoss challenges: What would happen if a ‘remnant’ of women were willing to return to the authority of God’s Word, to embrace God’s priorities for their lives and homes, and to live out the beauty and the wonder of womanhood as God created it to be?
A Christian woman – one who proudly wears the badge of womanhood given by her Father – must resolve to go against the tide. She must stand for what she believes based on her confidence in the One who has delivered eternal truth to her in writing. She must return to God’s design and definition for women and then joyfully embrace, accept, and experience its blessings…You, God’s woman, are designed both strong and vulnerable. Powerful yet tender. More than able yet willing to yield. You are smart, wise, capable, equal in worth, and secure in yourself as you relate to others yet content in your God-given role. You are a paradox – a potent mixture that surprises with your controlled energy, who inspires and entices by your mysterious grace, whose lifestyle causes others to reconsider and refocus their presuppositions, drawing them toward the God who makes a woman so reach, deep, and captivating…(Shirer).
You can rest assured in knowing that our leaders in the church are very aware of this and are taking steps to defend God’s principles in these areas of our lives. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the understanding of God’s design for gender roles. God created man and woman for very a very specific purpose: to put His gospel and His glory on display. A new women’s movement has begun in churches across the nation; a quieter counter-revolution where women are committing themselves to say “no” to the world’s ideas about womanhood and saying “yes” to God’s design.
According to the website created for this movement, a true woman is “willing, serious, and determined to reflect the beauty and heart of Christ to her world.” She seeks to “live a God-centered life, trusting Him and saying ‘Yes, Lord.’” A true woman “knows this is only possible by His grace, and seeks to do so in community” (www.truewoman.com). God made us, He loves us, and we can only be whole and functioning when we follow His design for our lives.
This revolution does not require women to march the streets or to contact their Congressmen to make their point. It requires that we “humble ourselves, that we learn, affirm, and live out the biblical pattern of womanhood, and that we teach the ways of God to the next generation” (DeMoss). The movement will never be the majority position and it is likely to make some women uncomfortable.
It requires a sincere, deep and constant study of His Living Word. From Genesis, we learn and come to understand that God is purposeful in His creation. Genesis 1:27 reads, God created man in His own image…He crated them male and female. As women, we are worth neither less nor more than our male counterparts. We are different only in function, not value. We are equal partners in the created order and have been called “good” and necessary by the Creator Himself.
…from the beginning, God placed a mark of importance on women. They were 1) good because they bore His image and 2) necessary in the achievement of His purposes on earth. (Shirer, pg 38)
God did not design human relationships to be a raw contest of power and strength, but rather a self-controlled acceptance of clearly outlined roles.
From the Gospels, we learn that God is purposeful in His redemption. Shirer points out that in the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, the story highlights just one of many remarkable occasions when Christ demonstrated His regard for women and their inherent value:
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. “Give Me a drink,” Jesus said to her. John 4:7
The arrival of this woman at the well posed an extreme problem. In ancient, Jewish culture, it was not custom for Samaritans and Jews to exchange a friendly conversation. First century men also didn’t initiate conversation with women in public, not even their own wives. You can imagine the scandalous uproar when Jesus was found speaking with this woman. And He not only engaged her in casual conversation, but invited her opinions on theological issues that men of His historical age would never have expected a mere woman to be capable of entertaining. And despite the cultural disdain for women and this act, Jesus treated her like a human being, a “person of intelligence, someone who mattered, someone who was as worthy of the Messiah’s ‘living water’ (v. 10) as anyone else (Shirer, pg 40). Jesus offered a gift of which most all others would think this woman unworthy: His grace, His covering…Himself…to cleanse her, keep her and sustain her.
Through this gospel, we see that women are both “important and worthy, as well as fully qualified to be entrusted.” Jesus didn’t only bestow on her the gift of His salvation, but He entrusted her with His message to share with others.
And there’s the question of submission. Many equate the term to being a slave to something, but that is far from the truth of the Word. Submission, where “everyone finds ultimate freedom” is a universal principle. Take the following for example:
- Colossians 3:22: Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. In other words, employees must submit to their employers.
- 1 Peter 2:13: For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority – whether the king as head of state… The citizen must submit to the governmental authority.
- 1 Peter 5:5: In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” The believer, male and female alike, must submit to spiritual authority.
- Ephesians 6:1: Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. The child must submit to the parent.
- Ephesians 5:22-23: For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of His body, the church. Yes, the wife must submit to the leadership of her husband.
After all, Jesus led by example:
Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NLT
Surrendering provides “a framework in which your potential can be truly flourish…your strength can best be displayed, its benefits most fully experienced when you choose the trusted, effective boundaries of God’s established order…women experiences life to the fullest extent as they exert their influence through God-trusting submission” (Shirer, 46).
A woman’s strength is best seen not in the demonstration of her power but in her ability to harness it under the authority of God-given leadership.
Hearing that truth should make me want to take a stand for the biblical role of womanhood in our amoral culture. Because I was created “good…necessary…important…worthy…trustworthy” (Shirer, pg 40). God made me female, and He has specific tasks and roles for women that would glorify Him to an unbelieving, yet watching, world. I must become concerned with His glory rather than my own.
Shirer points out that “we are all on a platform every day, a position entrusted to us each morning when we swing our legs out of bed. From atop this daily rostrum, you and I remain constantly in the spotlight, where the life we’ve resolved to life will either champion or demote the beauty of biblical femininity. We will cause our daughters either to desire it or fight against it. We will encourage our sons either to appreciate it or take advantage of it…this platform has been entrusted to us. As a result, an audience of friends, family, loved ones, children, and public acquaintances are all watching not only to see how we live but to ascertain our attitude as we live it” (pg. 35). She goes on to state that the people God has surrounded us with are in need of us. The “touch, experience, wisdom, and feminine heart you bring into these arenas are all required if their outcome is to be what He has purposed it to be…without your participation and input, much will be lacking. This was God’s intention” (pg 38).
I’ve been fortunate enough not to have been raised with the mindset of today’s post-feminism. God blessed me with a mother who prays daily to live out Proverbs 31 and has shown me what it means to follow her husband’s lead. I’ve also been blessed to see these biblical truths lived out in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ at my church.
God has indeed blessed me in being single during this season of my life, but I’ve seen (Scripture) lived out through men who sacrificed their own preferences and pleasures to make sure that their wives and children were cultivated spiritually. They took their position as leaders seriously and didn’t view marriage as a trap or children as a hindrance to the pursuit of their own agenda. Instead, their families are seen as gifts worthy of their hard work. My married female friends seek to respect and build up their husbands. And…they’re free in doing so. The teamwork shared in those relationships mirrors in the church. It is “God’s chosen way for us to relate to Him as Creator and Father and to demonstrate, along with our male counterparts, the unfolding love story of Christ’s relationship to the Church (Ephesians 5:22-31). It is our special way of experiencing Him and his love for us in a harsh, critical, deconstructive world. And it is our gift to our generation and the world in which we live” (Shirer, pg 40).
I’ve seen wives submitting to their husbands’ leadership and I’ve seen the same men submit to the spiritual leaders God places over them.
My greatest role model for submission is Jesus Himself whose obedient submission guaranteed my redemption. During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7
Titus 2 teaches seven qualities Paul urges Titus to have the women teach to one another; two of them are directed towards married women and one to mothers, the other four, however, I can actively apply to my life now, in this season.
- To love their husbands: I can service my married sisters think biblically about their marriages and to think the best of their husbands. I can serve unbelievers in being prepared to explain the mystery of Christ and the church in the institution of marriage. God’s Word equips me for wise discernment regardless of my expertise and/or experiences. And, lastly, if God should bring the gift of marriage to my own life, I want to love my future husband now by developing a biblical perspective on love, marriage, and a wife’s role well before our wedding. Proverbs 31 states that a wife of noble character brings her husband good, not harm, ALL the days of her life – days before and days after marriage. I want what I do with my life now to bring blessing to my husband. I want it to primarily bring glory to God, no matter my marital status.
- To love children: Whether I have children of my own one day or not, I am called to nurture the new life around me in various ways. I can be a leader and set an example to kids in my neighborhood as well as the children with my extended family when that day arrives. I want to be a relevant relative, not a distant aunt. I want to be involved in their lives.
- To be self-controlled: My greatest challenge to self-control as a single woman lies in the areas of men and marriage. I know I’m not alone in this. I am called to wait and trust…easier said than done. Women have a tendency to manipulate circumstances in our favor, to day dream about what he said (thus, taking it out of the situation at hand…and, being creative, my imagination tends to get the better of me most often than not), and complain when others are blessed in one area while they are left empty. To exercise self-control means to put reasonable limits on excessive writing/journaling and the types of conversations I have with my girlfriends. Self-control is to limit those types of conversations to my accountability partners and spiritual leaders over me.
- To be busy at home: This one gave me pause, but I eventually did come to realize that I can be busy with advancing His Kingdom with the walls of my own home. My small downtown apartment provides a place where I can pray with others, counsel girlfriends in need, evangelize to my neighbors and serve with hospitality. Romans 12:13 reads when God’s people are in need; be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. And that command does not differentiate between married and single women.
Shirer closes with pointing to the fact that we, as women, are responsible for how we function within our submitted roles. We can accomplish this by putting our trust in God’s faithful love and goodness by obeying Him against any urge to the contrary.
Do you take seriously the need to pursue a biblical heart for marriage, should you one day become a wife? Are you even now pursuing a spiritual covering by seeking by seeking accountability with those whose lives you respect, those whose godly maturity can provide you with strong, helpful counsel and direction as you navigate life? Does this call resonate with you? If so, set an example for those your life impacts. Excel towards biblical femininity.
A place of freedom and peace awaits every woman who aligns herself with God’s design. It’s up to us to expose the lies of our age and to remind this generation of the true beauty and value of the submitted woman. – Priscilla Shirer
Sites for your own perusal: