This is Part 3 of a series of posts answering a multi-part question asked of me on another blog. Read my introductory post to the series here.
In this post we’re looking at what the Bible says about being a woman. Since I’m not a woman and have no experience being a woman, I enlisted the help of my lovely and wise wife, Lauren. The following is a lesson she prepared and taught to the teen girls at church recently.
To understand femininity, or what it means to be a woman, we must take a look back to the Genesis account of creation, just as we did when considering God’s intention for manliness.
God created man and woman co-image bearers of Himself. Genesis 1:26-27 says,
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he create them.
Isn’t it amazing that God chose to create women and men in his image and that we are the only image bearers of God in all of creation. Man and woman were created equally valuable and special and we reflect God’s image differently. No other creature is said to be in the image of God… not even the angels.
How cool is that!
It is obvious from this passage, that God didn’t create woman somehow less than man, for they are both image bearers of God, rather He created her with a different task. God created man first and gave him a job. Genesis 2:15 says that,
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
By creating man first, God establishes male leadership. This is affirmed In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus where he writes,
Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Can you image a school run where there is no leadership. A school with no principal and classrooms without teachers! It’s ridiculous. It wouldn’t be a school at all… no learning would take place in an environment like that. It would only take one day without leadership, and complete chaos and madness would set in. We can all agree that nothing productive would occur in a school where there was no leadership.
Like a school without leadership, is a world or family void of Godlly male leadership… chaotic, confusing and unproductive. Though the job of leadership doesn’t come without cost or difficulty… in fact, in many ways the man’s job may be more difficult and burdensome than the woman’s, as he is directly accountable to God. And it certainly is not to bring glory to man… after all, man and woman’s sole purpose is to bring glory to God. Rather, God sets up male leadership so that things run smoothly and orderly.
God creates woman with a job of her own. Genesis 2:18 says,
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Woman was created by God, distinct, different and complimentary to man. We did not become feminine because our moms gave us dolls and put dresses on us. We are divinely feminine with certain innate qualities that make us unique. Granted we can enhance or detract from our femininity but we can’t change it. Our sex chromosomes are in every cell of our body. And God created and equipped woman for the job of being man’s helper.
The Genesis account shows clearly who was made first, and what God’s purpose was in creating Eve. She was meant to be a helper. So far as I can see, this is not in the least demeaning — for her or for any of us who follow the Master. It is a privilege and a vocation. Much resentment has arisen in women’s minds because of the suggestion (strong in advertisement and in nearly all feminist literature) that one’s position defines one’s worth, a grossly secular view. Ought not Jesus’ position (born in a cattle shed, raised in poverty, rejected by those to whom He came, then acting the part of the household slave when He washed the disciples’ feet, and, at last, forsaken by His nearest friends, bound and imprisoned and flogged and finally nailed to a cross) prove to us beyond any least doubt that there is no such equation? Was His worth impaired by these humiliations? He told His followers that whoever is chief is meant to be the servant of all. Why should we who have the high and holy calling of being His servants, ever protest for equality in the sacred realms of marriage, home, and church? These are not political arenas, for here a much higher law than the civil one is in operation, the law of love.
Elisabeth Elliot – Men, Women, and Biblical Equality (1990)
So what does it mean to be feminine? I would say that it means to accept the femininity of old… the femininity set out for us in the scriptures. To assume our role as helper and look to the examples of godly women of the past. Femininity is much more than the way you dress, or talk or behave. Though, when one is feminine according to God’s design those certainly play a part. Pure Christian Femininity is humbly embracing God’s job for you as a woman and doing and being that to the Glory of God.
What are ways women can be helpers in their teen and single years?
Well first of all, if you are still living at home… you are a helper in training. If you are blessed enough to be raised by Christian parents, you should be on your knees thanking God. Your parents are the agents God has placed in your life to help train you in what it means to be a helper. Of course, your parents are not perfect… so you must also look to scripture. If your parents are not Christians, I would suggest that you find Godly women ahead of you in the walk of life and look to their example as to what it means to be helper. Ask them questions, observe them and spend time with them, if possible. It is even more crucial for you to look into the word and see what God has to say about being a helper. Read the biblical stories about Ruth, Esther, Mary, Elisabeth. Read the writings of more modern women of God… Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot.
Where appropriate look for opportunities to encourage you brothers in Christ in Godly leadership. Encourage them to plan activities and allow for failures and shortcomings as your brothers grow in this area. Let your brothers treat you like ladies… allow them to open doors for you and carry items for you… certainly you are capable of doing these things on your own… but allow your brothers to honor you as Christ honored the church. Don’t be so quick to shoot down their attempts at servant leadership.