As a woman in the 21st century, I am appalled at the carnage I see in womanhood today. What our culture offers to young girls is a confusing mix of message and image. On the one hand, they are told to “follow their hearts.” On the other, they are told to be tough and break through the glass ceiling. Fashion icons promote glamour and packaged beauty; therapists croon the celebration of the natural woman. Cooking shows and restaurants hawk indulgent creations; gyms and trainers threaten BMI and heart disease. Hollywood teases with unrestrained womanly sexuality; woman’s advocate movements disdain the very idea of feminine appeal. And everywhere, the confusion and carnage continue.
There is often confusion in our churches. Many of our lovely young ladies do not have a defined view of womanhood and how that applies to their lives in every aspect. Maybe they can tell you the generally-accepted practices for women’s behavior and appearance, but they might have difficulty explaining why exactly.
What our culture offers to young girls is a confusing mix of message and image.
It is so much easier to enact laws than to change hearts. It seems simpler to limit the possibilities than to alter the motive. We can try to avoid tragedy with better definitions. But meanwhile, women today are still finding the means to damage themselves and others. Satan sees to that.
When I volunteered as a counselor at a Christian pregnancy support center, I saw firsthand the damage Satan wreaks in young women with his twisted messages. When I worked in a public school setting in a rough, rural country, I witnessed the pain of women who had believed the lies and acted on them. As I interact on social media, I observe the hurt of women who have been sidelined, abused, and misled through the Enemy’s assault. It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse.
The fascination with First Lady Melania Trump is certainly revealing. Her look and demeanor have been, from the day of the inauguration, an appeal to gentle beauty and submission. Whether or not she actually embodies these virtues in private is unknown, but the public persona is there at least. And many conservative Americans, reacting to what was perceived as arrogance and barely-disguised feminism in other women in the political realm, have embraced this new cue from the First Lady with open arms. Has she totally conformed to biblical guidelines? No. But even Christian women have welcomed her appeal to classic femininity. Why?
We were designed to recognize the beauty of womanhood in its rightful place.
Beauty is something we instinctively want to celebrate. We feel that way because God feels that way. He creates incredible beauty and then rejoices in what He has done. The first two chapters of Genesis tell us that. We are made in His image. We were designed to recognize beauty and, in this matter, that means the beauty of womanhood in its rightful place.
If we want to start real change in today’s woman, we must start with this message. We must communicate with hearts. We must help them understand the awesome privilege of imaging our Creator as a human woman. There are facets of His divine image that we are commissioned and called to reflect. We cannot do that by assuming masculine overtones, by sidestepping our roles, by complaining about the limitations. We can do this only if we embrace the place for which we are made. Elisabeth Elliot comments on the beauty of accepting that we are “this and not that.” It is good for all God’s creatures to have a place where they fit, and you and I, as women, certainly have one made perfectly for us.
Redeeming womanhood today means a return to biblical femininity. From the inside out and including the total person. We’re not talking about a list to check off, a new diet to try or certain wardrobe pieces to buy. We’re talking about a life perspective that inspires everything we do and transforms us in every way. It is an invitation to know the God who designed us and from Him, to fulfill our calling as women.
Redeeming womanhood today means a return to biblical femininity.
Relationship is a powerful motivator for women. Through time, women have followed men they loved into hardship, disaster and even actual death (like Ida Strauss who chose to stay with her husband Isidor, founder of Macy’s, aboard the Titanic rather than be rescued without him); they have endured unimaginable privation for the sake of their children and for others they valued. The talk about a “mother’s heart” is for real; women rarely desert those they love. For a woman, relationship is a great reason for action.
It follows then, that if we women can find our deepest fulfillment in relationship with Jesus, we will begin a journey that affects every facet of our earthly life. Elisabeth Elliot says “In order to learn what it means to be a woman we must start with the One who made her” (Let Me Be a Woman, Tyndale House: Wheaton, IL, 1976. 13).
As women who have been changed by the power of Christ, we have a calling to reflect Him and to bring others alongside us to do the same. If we want beautiful and God-honoring womanhood, we must bring women to Jesus so they can learn from His Word what true femininity is. All the laws in the world do not have the power of one living, breathing representative. Let that be you. Let that be me.
For more on godly femininity, see books by Valorie Quesenberry at www.valoriequesenberry.com.