In the past couple of months some amazing women of God have breathed their last breaths on this earthly plain and have woke up in their heavenly home, face to face with their Reward and Lover of their souls! These women were for me some of the "older women", women who lived their lives as His, loved His word, and were bold in their speaking, teaching, and modeling of God's word to those around them. They were women who God used to deposit truth into my life. They took the command for older women to teach the younger women seriously and although they could exegete any passage of scripture, teach, and or write on any theological subject, they never diverted from being a woman of God and the need to teach other women to be women of God. "
Since the fall in the garden of Eden, women have desired to answer the question, Who am I? When God created us, He created us male and female, both made in the image of God. We were created equal in dignity and essence, and given different roles to function in. Through these roles male and female would reflect and respond to God and to those around them. When sin entered into the human condition, it broke everything, it broke man, it broke woman, it broke how we related to God, and it broke how we responded to one another. At that point, life for man and woman became self-oriented instead of God-oriented. Sin also caused a rebellion against God the Designer and the very design He desired for us to live in. His design being that of, a man being a man, a woman being a woman, both under the authority of God, and functioning in their God-designed roles for the purpose of reflecting and responding to and for God. Ultimately, to bring God glory and to tell His story of relationship and redemption to a watching world. We still live in the consequences of that original sin, and that is evident in our culture today. Men and women are still rebelling against Designer God. Looking for fulfillment in their own identity, or being able to define their role for themselves. This should not be the status of those of us who call ourselves followers of God. Our lives have been redeemed. God, Himself lives in us, to overcome our weaknesses with His strength, and to live His life and design through us. The question for us should be not, who am I, but Whose am I? Even in Christian circles and our church culture we still want to find our identity in what we do, in our abilities, in our titles, or in us being superior than someone else. This causes us to always desire significance and power outside of God and His design.
To know what it means to be a woman we must look to the One who made us, to the One who designed us, and seek to live in His design. This is what brings Him glory. For my single girlfriends, there is a beauty in singleness. Those of you who approach each day as God as your husband and apply the truths of scripture in how you live your lives. This beauty causes the watching world to take notice to your God-oriented and gospel centered lives.. For those of us who are married to a man of earth, to be a woman of God's design we must look to His word and not to our culture to tell us how to live. The truth we find goes against what our culture tells us. Culture has dictated and spoke so loudly for so long, that even those of us who desire to follow find ourselves squirming at some of the words we find. We want to regulate them to no longer relevant, or culture sensitive to the time they were written, and or think there are more important things of scripture for us to concentrate on. To be faithful to the word of God, and to those amazing women who have passed on the baton of the older women teaching the younger women, there are some God-designs for us as married women that we must know.
1. A married woman of God is to be a well suited helper. (Genesis 2:18, 20)
The very first description we see in scripture for a married woman is that of a helper. In our cultural context we think of the role of a helper to be subservient, but the same word of help or helper is used to describe God! (psalm 10:14, 28:7, 54:3-4, 72:12, 86:17, John 14:26, Hebrews 13:6) so it can't mean a lesser role to play! It carries the meaning of being on the same team, having an essential part to play. Man or woman alone could not accomplish what God intended, both genders are necessary to fill the earth with God's image. The opposite of helper is competitor. A competitor is always striving or fighting to win something for themselves. One who exposes gaps and exploits them to gain the upper hand and go for the win. A woman who is not willing to live in her God-given design of helper will tear her house down with her own hands. Because it will always be a competition between her and her husband.
2. A married woman of God is to be submissive to her own husband. (1 Peter 3:1-7, Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19)
The word submission to many is a dirty word! Many in the church have regulated the word submission to a "woman's word" in scripture, which is a distortion. Submission is a biblical word. The thought of submitting to anyone is repulsive in this self-oriented culture. Yet, Christ submitted to God, we are to submit to God, and we are to submit to one another. Submission in scripture is a picture of humility and beauty. We are uncomfortable with the word because we don't have a biblical understanding of it. Glad submission in scripture is a response to loving authority. Authority that has been God-given and used of God to bring order and a picture of relationship. We also have a distorted understanding of authority, thinking that authority is given to one to be domineering, in charge, and wielding HIS own wants and desires. Loving authority is submitted as well, to God and God's desires and wants. For years I have heard much teaching to women on glad submission but have heard very little teaching on loving authority to men. My prayer is that we would as men and women of God, know God's ways and God's word, and with His help and power seek to live it. Ephesians 5 is not a marriage passage, it is a church passage! Paul is wanting a God-centered marriage that possesses loving authority and glad submission to paint the picture of what relationship is to look like and what Christ and the church is to look like to the world! What picture are we portraying?
3. A married woman of God is to be an overseer of her home. (Titus 2: 3-5)
So much in these three verses I have already talked about, but clearly the mandate for us as women is to watch and care for our homes. If we grapple with these verses it is usually because we value something more over our home. Possibly work or even ministry can take a more important place for us. Our homes are to be valued by us as women of God, they are the most powerful sphere of influence we have. We should view this responsibility as a high honor. When our family life reveals that we value outward success more than our families, we discredit what the Bible says. For my own daughters and all of the young women in my life, you are doing the most important thing there is to do as a woman, when you are about creating a home that reflects God and by raising your littles to know and love God. So many women speak and act like they are just biding their time with their children until they can get out and do something really important with their lives, or even more disheartening is when they speak as if they will be able to do something great for God once they get pass these days of diapers, meal preparation, and or school. Our homes are places that can be refuges that reflect God our Refuge. Our homes are places that can be peaceful that reflect the Prince of Peace. Or, our homes can be places of disorder and chaos that reflect our culture. This has nothing to do with the amount of money you make or how many things you have, this has everything to do with the woman of God who is overseeing her home.
4. A married woman of God is a competent woman. (Proverbs 31)
This entire proverb is a celebration of a woman who belongs to God. It is not one day in the life of this woman but the commentary of her life. This scripture values women and celebrates a woman's competence. She is a hard worker, she makes wise business decisions, she is strong, she is generous, she anticipates the future, she makes those around her better, she is brave, she is wise, she is more than a pretty face, God expects those that know her, will praise her for all that He has equipped her to do. Never let someone tell you that God's ways or His word devalues women! And, please do not think that women in scripture are subservient wimps! I am drawn to the prophet Deborah who as described in scripture was a wife, a prophet, and willingly went to battle.
God desires for us as women is to have our confidence sunk in Him and to live out His design. The cultural pressures are great. They want to conform us. For us to live as God's women we will have to stand up against our culture and even the church culture in some settings. It's not popular, it's not the newest and hottest topic, but it IS God's word. I wish I could tell you that I have done this perfectly for 32 years of marriage, but I can't. I am a flawed and sinful woman that, just like you, needs God's grace everyday to live and practice His truth and live in His design. I also know that there are many of you that are struggling in your marriage and the words that you have read are hard. I have sat across a table from many of you or read your emails. For many, there are deep and hurtful issues in marriages that will not change with a change of behavior or you doing a list of things. Whole books have been written on the scriptural mandates that are briefly listed above and there are many women who are teaching them and holding them high, for that I am thankful. My desire for those of you reading and for the community of young women I live in, is that we as women of God will take in the whole counsel of God, not just the parts we like, or the parts that are not controversial. Study for ourselves and lay our lives down on God's truth instead of what our culture is so loudly speaking to us as women.
Whose are you?
Who designed you?
Who gets to tell you how to live?
Still learning to abide,