WIVES, MOTHERS, SISTERS, DAUGHTERS: Part 2, The State of Womanhood





This one is a hard one. My days of early womanhood were in the seventies during the height of feminism. Glamour magazine was the magazine for the liberated woman. I always loved makeup and glamour (and still do) and thought the women on the cover looked so beautiful, so I would buy those magazines, just because I loved that look. They were filled with articles that were laying the groundwork for feminism and sexual liberation. My father would see the magazines lying around the house, and told me and my sister that he didn’t want us buying those magazines anymore. But I couldn’t imagine not buying the latest issue every month, so instead of obeying my father (I still lived at home), I still bought them, but just kept them out of his sight. What happened was that I became conflicted and confused as a young woman in my twenties, because I knew what the Bible said about these things, but these messages from the magazines, combined with every show that was appealing on television and all the commercials, sent a loud and strong messages about how we as women needed to be liberated. And now forty to fifty years later, going from at first conditioning, to indoctrination, this stuff has been ingrained in all of us. But God’s Word doesn’t change. We have a decision to make. Do we want to be women of the world, or do we want to be daughters of the King?

I will be using the New King James Version and Amplified Version Bible and Blueletterbible.org and Strong's Concordance for this study.

In the last study, we focused on wives, what it means to be a helpmeet and our specific instructions in God’s Word for being a godly wife, even in difficult marriages. One thing I forgot to mention for wives was Proverbs 31: 11-12: (Amplified version) “The heart of her husband trusts in her [with secure confidence],and he will have no lack of gain. She comforts, encourages, and does him only good and not evil all the days of her life.”  A godly wife is going to put her husband first above her own needs and her own self. This may seem obvious to some of us older women, but in this present culture of me, me, me, this is more likely an alien concept to most. We are told to look out for number one, that we need “me time,” to take care of self, etc. You’ve heard it all. This study is going to look at all the things the world tells us and throws at us in the light of God’s Word and see what the truth actually is.

The typical image of females that we see today everywhere we go is a bold, confident, kind of in your face, aggressive, oftentimes even militant, girl/woman with an attitude that she is not going to take anything from anybody. There are basically two representations of females today. One we see dressed provocatively, because she has been conditioned and trained that her ultimate goal is to have men desire her and to use her attributes to evoke desire.  A young woman today has been taught that she can put it all out there and needs to, in order to be a liberated woman, not only in the way she dresses, but her body language and how she presents herself. She holds nothing back, and is encouraged to be free with her sexuality. Also, the woman of today looks more and more “plastic.” We have become even more obsessed with youth and perfection. As a result, women are afraid of aging, but also, girls are now changing everything they don’t like about themselves. What should be embraced and venerated, namely how God made each one of us, along with the process of growing old is instead hated and fought against every step of the way. The visible celebrity women that young girls see and are in front of us constantly are so heavily made up and physically altered, they no longer look like normal women. These are what women think they should look like. We are, as a society, obsessed with looks...with youth, with the physical..with perfection.

Another thing that has happened is that women have become more masculine and men have become more feminine. The trend started many years ago to make men look dumb or stupid, totally incompetent, bumbling everything, and to make women look brilliant and the one to come to the rescue. Most every TV commercial selling some household item now shows a soft, weak father who does the best he can, but still comes up short in menial chores like laundry and then the strong woman comes home from a hard day of career to see what didn’t get done properly, and then redoes what he couldn’t do. I heard an illustration years ago that I think came from Focus on the Family, but I’m not sure. It was a cute little story that was meant to show how we were devaluing more and more, men in general, and fathers, in particular. It went something like this:

There was a mother who had two or three children. The children decided that they needed a pet. A hamster. The mother said, ‘No, I’ll be the one to have to feed it and to clean up after it, and I’ll be the one who loses sleep at night from its noises. So, no.’ But they begged and pleaded, so she gave in. They got their pet and they named him Danny. Things went well for a few months, but then the kids kind of lost interest and sure enough, Mom was the one left with the responsibility of Danny. Now Mom was patient for a while, but one day she had had about enough. She called the children in and told them Danny was gonna have to go. ‘Well, he wasn’t that much fun anyway,’ one kid said. ‘Yeah, he never really did that much,’ another chimed in. ‘Okay, you can get rid of him.’ A couple days later, a neighbor friend came to pick up the pet. Mom called for the kids, ‘Go get Danny, his new owner is here.’ ‘Wait a minute,’ they all cried, ‘we thought you said Daddy.’*

This little story was meant to illustrate, back in the eighties, what had already begun to happen in our society: an effort to tear down the family and the idea of a strong father as head of the family and to deconstruct Christian family values. Now this indoctrination has fully taken root in our culture and society.

We are going to continue to look at the passages in the Bible specifically for women and see what the portrait of a godly woman looks like. Once again, ladies, I ask you not to bristle. This is God’s Word and you have to decide if you want to be a worldly woman or a godly woman. We will begin with Titus 2. I would say this subtitle could be entitled Mothers and Daughters because whether you have children of your own or not, an older woman in the church can be a spiritual mother to the younger women. And the younger women will be wise if they seek out the older women and tap into their wisdom. Older women have much to offer, but they’re waiting for you to come to them.

Titus 2: 3-5: (Amplified Version) "Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

First we will look at the instructions for the older women. They are to be reverent in their behavior. The word reverent is hieroprepes and means "befitting men, places, actions or sacred things to God."  Strong’s: "reverent:—as becometh holiness."

The next three things are pretty self explanatory: not malicious gossips, nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right or good, or a teacher of good things. Now look at what we are to teach the younger women. First, we are to teach them to love their husbands and their children. An older woman is going to understand what it means to love your husband and children with a different perspective than a younger woman, because the older woman has seen how fleeting time is. If she has had children, she knows you really only get to enjoy them in your physical presence for a brief time. Then they are gone. She knows now, that the things that were frustrating and wearing, were only for a moment, and she sees how the things that she thought mattered, really didn’t. She sees that loving your husband and children means more of being intentional in ways to love than just having affection for them. Loving them means letting God’s instruction take hold in your life and being obedient to Him, and thus blessing your husband and children by your obedience. Love is being present with them in the moment, and not preoccupied by things that, in the end, won’t matter.

The next thing older women are to teach younger women is to be sensible. The word is sophron and is translated discreet in the New King James Version. It means “of a sound mind, sane, in one's senses, curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.”  Strong’s "sṓphrōn, so'-frone; from the base of G4982 and that of G5424; safe (sound) in mind, i.e. self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion):—discreet, sober, temperate."

This is one of the most important words in this passage. A godly woman needs to be discreet. She needs to possess discretion. We don’t need to “put it all out there” in any way, whether it’s the way we dress, our body language, or telling everything there is to tell. Proverbs 11: 22 "As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who is without discretion [her lack of character mocks her beauty]. " (Amplified)

Let's remember how God created us. I would refer back to the Part 1 of this series and the Matthew Henry Commentary where he says that God refined us when He created us. I believe He gave women a mystique that the enemy has been trying ever since to destroy, beginning with Eve. That mystique gives us the ability to influence those around us. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Let’s be the influence that God intends us to be, which for one thing, means holding something back, maintaining that mystique. Let discretion be one of our main characteristics.

The next word is chaste and goes along closely with discreet. The Greek word is hagnos. Strong’s " from the same as G40; properly, clean, i.e. (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect:—chaste, clean, pure." This has application in several ways. First, we need to be modest in our dress and in our conduct and demeanor. We also need to be pure, of course, sexually, and pure in our thought life. It is so important not to fantasize about things we would be embarrassed if someone could read our mind. But also pure in the sense of having a pure conscience toward God. We don’t need to be weighed down by a guilty conscience. It is so important to let God do His work in us. Let Him visit all the secret rooms that we don’t want Him to go into. He takes His time with us, because He knows we couldn’t handle it all at once, but God cleans us up, little by little, showing us things in our hearts and lives that have to go. Don’t be afraid to let Him do this work.

Along with this direction of being chaste and modest is the instruction from Paul in 1 Thessalonains 4: 3-8: (Amplified) "For this is the will of God, that you be sanctified [separated and set apart from sin]: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor [being available for God’s purpose and separated from things profane], not [to be used] in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God and are ignorant of His will; and that [in this matter of sexual misconduct] no man shall transgress and defraud his brother because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we have told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness [to be dedicated, and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or in private]. So whoever rejects and disregards this is not [merely] rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you [to dwell in you and empower you to overcome temptation].  (Emphasis mine.)

Ladies, we have to be careful not to defraud our Christians brothers by the way we dress, by our conduct, by any way. This concept is sadly lacking in our church teaching these days, but is of vital importance. This, too, goes back to the idea that a woman is not complete without a man, that her goal is to be found desirable and wanted by a man, and that we must dress and put ourselves out there for men. This thinking is a double whammy for mess up. First of all, we need to find our value in who we are in Christ. Understanding our identity in Christ is the only way to overcome all this wrong thinking and live a victorious Christian life. But when we think our goal is to be found desirable to men, it sets us up for all kinds of failure and disappointment. It sets us up for unrealistic expectations and a romanticism of life. And then a casualty is our brothers fall into sin, because we have defrauded them by a subtle, or not so subtle seduction. Notice, Jesus in Matthew 5: 28 says that if a man looks on a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Emphasis mine.) We are complicit in this when we dress or act in such a way that causes them to lust after us.

Let’s delve further into what a godly woman looks like from the Word. The aforementioned passage in 1 Peter 3 is a good place to start: "Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God." (Amplified)

This isn’t a legalistic command not to braid our hair. It’s saying our beauty shouldn’t and doesn’t come from the external things we do for beautification. And even that we shouldn’t be preoccupied with all the externals. Rather, that our true beauty is the inner beauty of the hidden person of the heart. This is an imperishable quality and it doesn’t fade. Physical beauty fades as we grow old, but the true inner beauty of a woman grows and grows. A quiet and gentle heart, one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature is not only real beauty, but very precious in the sight of God. That’s the beauty we should be aiming for. Not all these things that the world is falsely telling us is beauty.

This Biblical woman is very smart and confident. A look at the Proverbs 31 woman shows us that. Many women feel intimidated by this passage, but there is no need for intimidation. It’s just a portrait of what a godly woman is and can do. We are very capable and strong and very influential. When we are fully surrendered to our Lord and find our strength and identity in Him, then we are a force to be reckoned with. But it is vital to know who we are in Christ, and then to find our strength in Him. The Proverbs 31 woman works with her hands, she has a business of her own, yet her husband, family and household come first. She has her priorities in order. She helps the needy. She is clothed in fine garments, but her most important clothing is strength and honor.

Other women in the Bible, like Jael and Deborah give a portrait of strong, smart women who walked with God and knew exactly what was going on. They were watchful and attuned to what the Lord was doing, and took the opportunities presented to them. We are called to do the same—to walk with the Lord, be in His Word, and be ready to do the works He has designed for us from the foundation of the world. Our ultimate goal is to be a woman who brings glory and honor to our King. Mary sat at Jesus' feet and Jesus tells us she chose the best part. She anointed His feet with precious perfumed oil to prepare Him for His burial. I’ve heard it said that He probably still could smell that fragrance as He endured all the torture and suffering. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to be glorifying to my wonderful Savior.

As an artist, as I sit close to the piece I’m doing, I can fail to see things I need to see. If I step back and study, I gain a better perspective of what I’m trying to do and am able to see areas I need to work on. We need to step back from all these images and everything that smacks us in the face daily on social media and the world in general, and get a better perspective of Who and what we want to represent and reflect. Do we want to look like the world or do we want to reflect Jesus? What do we want our daughters to look like as they are growing and when they are grown? God doesn’t make mistakes. It’s our imperfections that make us who we are and teach us things we need to know. We don’t need to strive for physical perfection. Instead we need to strive for spiritual growth.

So we have a decision to make. It’s time to draw our line in the sand. Actually the line has been drawn for us. We have to decide are we going to be a woman of God or a woman of the world? Are we going to be devoted to God? Are we going to choose the best part and sit at His feet? The Amplified Bible has a footnote which speaks about the Proverbs 31 woman in how she excelled them all “in her spiritual and practical devotions to God, which permeated every area and relationship of her life. All seven of the Christian virtues (II Peter 1:5) are there, like colored threads in a tapestry. Her secret, which is open to everyone, is the Holy Spirit’s climax to the story, and to this book. In Proverbs 31: 30, it becomes clear that the ‘reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord,’ which is ‘the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10), is put forth as the true foundation for a life which is valued by God and her husband as ‘far above rubies or pearls (Proverbs 31: 10).’”

I will close with a passage from Isaiah 54 that the Lord has taken me to many times during my times of struggle and difficulty. I think it speaks to the foundation of precious stones He lays in our lives when we sit at His feet, learn from Him and worship Him. “O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:11-13 (NKJV)  I want my foundation to be these beautiful stones that will reflect beauty and will remain when I stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ.

Ladies, we are special in God’s creation. We feel things very deeply. We understand the cycle of life because we get to carry an unborn child from conception to birth, and then influence that child in the way he/she should go. A nineteenth century poet by the name of William Ross Wallace wrote, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  And whether we have children or not, we all are called to disciple.  We all have people in our sphere of influence. Women have a great deal of influence, no matter what our station in life is. This is both a privilege and responsibility. Let’s get serious and finish well.

 

*I believe this was a story from Focus on the Family, but if it came from some other source, I apologize, and will give credit if anyone wants to give the correct source.

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