My eight year old daughter recently stood in the grocery line staring at a magazine vaunting the barely clothed and pregnant Beyonce. The tagline on the magazine touted Beyonce’s impending motherhood and nude extravagance as an assimilation of her “goddess” roots and “inspirational” womanhood. I gravely sensed my daughter correlating the tabloid imagery with what mommy and daddy have long taught her about being a woman of God…
The most common questions that Breanne (my wife) and I respond to are based around the attitudes and responsibilities of Godly womanhood. Beyonce’s belly, and other gaudy courtiers of the paparazzi, prompt the American media waves to entertain lively opinion on the marks of a mother. But, amidst all the mom “clatter” there’s an ever-deepening dearth of biblical clarity regarding the true beauty, dignity, and humility of a Godly woman…
Clearly, the entirety of biblical womanhood can’t be entertained in brief because women live in diverse cultures, in different eras, with varying socioeconomic conditions and numbers of children. But, while the applications of a Godly woman may be unique to context, there are certainly foundational biblical principles which every Godly woman should know:
THE GODLY ROLE
The starting point for every Christian is the ability to follow. A new Christian will choose to follow Christ. Next, he or she will follow their church leaders. And, in marriage a husband will follow the Bible, a wife will follow her husband, and the children will follow the parents.
Ephesians 5:21 tells us, “Be subject to one another in the fear of the Lord.” This mutual commitment to following – what the ancient Greeks termed “submission” is part of every Christian’s life, and allows for true and lasting relationships. Without mutual submission (elevating one another above self) all relationships are destined to fail.
In marriage, the Bible demands each husband to set aside his own desires and prioritize his wife, and consequently that his wife commit to “following” his goals and objectives for the home. Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” This concept of submission for the wife comes from an old Greek term, hupotasso which means literally to line up under.
Thus, the first foundational identifier of a Godly woman is her ability to trust and follow her husband. She must not berate his failures, mock him in public, or impugn his decision making, but instead offer her opinions in a constructive format. Further, she will not attempt to show him up nor make public spectacle of her body which has been privately given to him, and him alone, in the covenant of marriage (1 Cor 7:4).
From the very beginning God intended a woman to respond this way and even warned that the sinful nature inside each woman would make it difficult. In Genesis 3:16 the Lord told Eve, “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The term “desire” refers to the woman’s desire to usurp leadership from her husband, a carnal craving to break the God-given order and dominate her man’s attentions. Yet, God says that the man will oversee her. This pits her carnal desire against God’s design. And, this is what we see played out on the grand American stage – Men who neglect their God-given responsibility to provide and protect and subsequently, women who fight desperately to fill the voided leadership shoes!
Yes, God’s design is not popular today. But it was not the Renaissance, French Revolution, Suffrage movement, Feminism, an Emma Watson speech, or Beauty and the Beast movie, that awakened women to lust for leadership. As mentioned above, God’s design has been unpopular since the beginning, and the serpent of sin has long been luring men and women away from God’s best.
Sadly, Hollywood satirists are more aware of the humor surrounding husband-wife role confusion than most church Christians! Reflect for a moment on the following television shows of the past century: Dick Van Dyke, Get Smart, Bewitched, Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Munsters, Leave it to Beaver, Mary Tyler Moore, Murphy Brown, King of Queens, Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Married with Children, Roseanne…
The humor of these shows is based entirely on a man who cannot lead, protect, and provide for his home, and conversely, a woman who will and can! Billions of dollars were made on this subconscious disposition that it’s humorous for a wife to dominate a husband.
Many women’s Bible studies discuss how to become a Proverbs 31 woman, “An excellent wife, who can find!” And, great encouragement that is… Yet, these studies would also do well to caution women against becoming a “Proverbs 21 woman, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9) Instead of clamoring for the spotlight and overpowering her husband’s dreams, a Godly woman will choose the path of prudence and constructive speech so that the “heart of her husband may trust in her.”
THE GODLY SOUL
It is important for every Godly wife to examine her speech and conduct towards her husband, ultimately discerning the motives from which those actions stem. The second identifier of a Godly woman is her commitment to doing right even when she doesn’t feel like it. 1 Peter 3:1 says, “You wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word…” In this verse, Peter is urging wives to love their husbands in the good times and in the bad.
When a husband isn’t in church or reading the bible or spending time with the kids or helping around the house, a wife may be tempted to get upset and go out with the girls or place a note on the TV that says, “Repent you reject!” but Peter says that she should stay humble and supportive with a clear purpose, “(that he) may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” Remarkably, Peter says that the wife’s commitment to love a disobedient husband, because she loves the Lord, could very well in the end be the transformation of the husband’s soul!
I’ve seen this happen. A man who goes to church one Sunday is suddenly convicted of his sin. Crumbling to his knees, penitent and changed, seemingly instantaneously by the Word of God, but we must not forget the years of Christ-like example exuded by His patient and loving wife.
1 Peter 3:3 continues, “And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses…” Not only does she possess a commitment to endure hardship but also models her appearance in a way that glorifies God. The word “merely” admits that women will look beautiful, but Peter commands that her focus not be on the external, but on the internal. Verse 4 continues, “but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Paul’s point is that internal beauty; the elements of listening, not gossiping, being patient, and staying still, are the most admirable and beautiful traits of God’s woman.
Paul uses the example of Sarah and other matriarchal heroes of the faith stating that they literally met “face-to-face” with God. His point is that every time a woman looks in the mirror to start her day, God isn’t concerned with her external beauty, He’s looking at her heart. The Bible commands Christian women to look in the mirror and ask, “Do I call attention to myself or to the Lord today?” a far cry from Beyonce’s voyeurism.
There has been much made in recent years about how women should dress at church. In youth ministries girls are told to wear shirts over bathing suits and many other behavioral items get discussed. This is helpful for the immature and youthful. But, if a woman simply assesses her heart; questing to walk, talk, and dress for God’s glory, the outfit of choice will virtually select itself off the shelf.
THE GODLY GOAL
Finally, both the role and the soul of a Godly woman motivate a final characteristic of biblical womanhood, specifically that she pursue a Christian legacy which will continue after she’s gone. One popular criticism of Christian women is that they are supposedly “silenced” or have no impact on society, but the Bible states exactly the opposite!
In a letter to Titus, Paul wrote, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women…” (Titus 2:3 NASB) Paul urges these older women to not sit around wasting away with gossip or alcohol and instead to focus their time teaching younger women. The obvious question is, “Teach them what?” He continues in verse 5, “…To love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”
Mature women were to teach younger women to be husband-lovers and child raisers focusing extra attention on the management and care of the home (oikourgos). Stunningly, Paul says that the culture in which these women lived would notice the behavior (radically different from it’s own) and not be able to dishonor the Bible! Isn’t that marvelous? Older women teaching the younger women how to build a legacy of Christ-likeness at home and people in the city admitting, “Yea, that Bible thing really works!”
As Peter Marshall wrote;
“The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure…”
Husband loving and child raising didn’t mean that a mother would never work outside the home… Certainly there were times a family needed ancillary income or dealt with crisis. Further, there have been many wonderful women who never got married, by choice or God’s design, but chose instead to serve Christ in greater capacity as a single (1 Cor 7:29-31). But, the principle remains that the overarching goal of biblical womanhood is to build a home that honors the Lord and leaves a legacy unto His glory.
So, what must we say to our daughter in the grocery line? Answer: “The role, soul, and goal of biblical womanhood is directly opposite that singer exposing her bared baby-bod for fame!”
Beyonce and the world which applauds her with cheapened notoriety (until the wrinkles set in) should be shunned by young stalwart women of the faith as they glowingly represent the eternal standards of humility, purity, dignity, and grace.
Biblical womanhood goes far beyond the youthful years of external beauty, melding the magnificence of internal beauty, with the wisdom of lifetime maturity, all culminating in an eternal legacy!
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. – Proverbs 31:30