Archive for June 18th, 2008

Originally published on my personal blog:

For the past four years or so, I have really struggled with that it means to be a godly woman. What is unique about me as a woman in contrast to my husband, as a man? What is my role as a woman? What kind of character should I exude? Is it different from my husband’s? Is there anything special I need to be doing as a woman, for instance, in the way I order my day or behave toward others or teach my children? Should I be dressing a certain way? Is God more concerned about my developing specifically “feminine” character, Christian character, or both? Am I becoming a legalist?

Does any of this really matter?

I have searched and studied. The internet can be a dangerous place for a woman with too much time on her hands. That is where I found myself just under three years ago. My daughter had just died at 20w 5d gestation and I didn’t know what to do with myself. My home was in order. I was working from home. I had no other children. And there it was… the internet. I found a wonderful site called A Christian Home, a site maintained by a woman I truly admire, Pam Spurling. She has compiled the most incredible links to articles and sites all dealing with some of the issues I listed above. Through her site, I found Ladies Against Feminism, a site which sent me on a tailspin. This site taught all kinds of ideas to which I’d never been exposed before- women should not work outside the home; women should dress with femininity and modesty (the modesty part I’d seen before, but femininity?) and that meant in skirts or dresses; homemaking is a woman’s glory; women should stay home until they marry and not go to college… I’ll admit it. I was taken in. I didn’t throw out my pants or anything, but I did start wearing skirts and dresses most, if not all of the time.

When I had a nervous breakdown shortly after we returned from Colorado, I was able to be a stay-at-home wife, then mother a few months later. What a glorious time! It all seemed to make sense- how could I work outside the home, even if it would help my husband, when my calling, my vocation, my glory, God’s LAW required me to stay home? That’s how I saw it for a while, albeit a short while, anyway.

I had no idea that the standards imposed by LAF and other sites were extrabiblical or culturally mandated instead of being required by God until I really started digging. Oh sure, they believe that God is behind everything they write about- from wearing dresses to daughters “giving their hearts to their fathers”, but be assured that you will not find much of it commanded in God’s Word. It all sounds great. By doing things this way, you are fulfilling God’s role for you as a woman. All those questions I’d been asking had been answered… or so I thought.

I didn’t want to see that I was making my husband miserable. I sure was miserable. Let me explain. I love homemaking and child-rearing. I do believe it is my calling and my vocation. I have no career aspirations outside the home whatsoever. I certainly am happiest when I am home. I derive a good deal of satisfaction out of having a clean, orderly home. I feel even more satisfied when Nicky recites the first ten answers of the Children’s Catechism to me when I ask him the questions. I love it. Heck, I even prefer to wear skirts and dresses, but that’s more to do with the “look” I’m going for (funky-hippie) as opposed to being “feminine and modest”. Anyway, something wasn’t right. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ll have to ask the Chief.

Anyway, something happened between two friends of mine that exploded any lasting desire I had to live in this fantasy world. The details are unimportant. However, as I’ve watched the negative impact this has had on a friend of mine and how it is impacting and challenging her marriage, how its affecting her relationships with others outside her home, I became convinced that all the ideas needed a thorough going-over in my mind. I’ve come to several conclusions.

1. Radical Feminism is bad news. I think I’ve always accepted that. It is right and good to work against it, in our homes, in our churches, and in the world at large. The question then arises: what is the proper response to feminism? Is it really legalism? (Let me pause here by saying that I do not believe that all these are teaching “legalism unto righteousness” meaning “if you follow these rules, you will be saved.” Not at all! I would suggest that they are teaching a sort of legalism that adds human tradition to God’s Law. This legalism also focuses primarily on the external. Another definition I think is useful is this: attempting to obtain godliness through a systematic change in behavior). I believe these sites propagate legalism.

The answer, of course, to the questions I’ve posed above- No, the proper response to feminism is not legalism. It is not focusing on the external. The response is not homemaking. It is not a return to the Victorian views of women promoted so heavily on these sites, a charge which they deny but cannot be escaped, I’m afraid. The response is not withdrawing from the world or wearing “dresses-only”. I’m not sure what the answer to feminism is, but I know its not this.

2. The view of the family propogated by LAF, Vision Forum, the Botkin sisters and others is catered to white, upper-middle class Americans and disenfranchises millions of Christians worldwide. Think about it for a second- how many people around the world can afford to have mom stay home while dad is away working? How many Americans can actually do that? Pretty much only white, upper-middle class families. They recommend that DAD stay home and start his own business. How many men can do that? How many families can actually afford to feed the ten children they could have if they don’t practice some form of family planning? That is a real, down-in-the-dirt concern for millions of families worldwide! And that is totally ignored by these people.

Think about it- if this is GOD’S way for the family, it must transcend culture. It must be God’s way for every family, in every country and culture, for all time. Frankly, I think many of their views on entreprenurialism, modesty, homeschooling, and women are based on Western American cultural mores rather than on God’s Word. Believe me, if I believed that this truly was “God’s Way” for women/families etc. to operate, I’d be the first one in line to promote these views… but I don’t, so I don’t.

3. God is more concerned with character and relationships than he is with whether or not I earn an income outside the home or wear a dress. Seriously. He cares more about how well I nurture my husband that whether or not my kitchen floor is clean. He’d rather I spend time with my children than spend time scrubbing the bathtub. It really isn’t as much about what you do as who you are.

I spent some great time with my own Titus 2 mentor this weekend. Rachel has never taught me a thing about managing my home. She bakes bread, but I’ve never gleaned one insight from her on how to get my finicky wheat dough to rise better. What she HAS taught me is how to accept my husband for who he is and love him for it. She has taught me how to love and treat others who are different from me. She has been a shining example of a life poured out in service to others, her husband and family first, her church, and then her friends and strangers alike. She has taught me to embrace those qualities that are particular to my husband, even if they are qualities that frustrate me.

Never compromising in doctrine, constantly learning, valuing education, Rachel is the epitomy of a biblical woman. She is gracious and hospitable. She listens! She cares! And its never “her way or the highway”. For her, relationships are what is important. I watch her with Jim, how she cares for him, how makes his needs her priority, but somehow knowing how to balance his needs with her own the needs of others. She is a tremendous listener and learner. I cannot speak more highly of her character. I know the heart of her husband safely trusts in her and that her children rise up and bless her- even those who have a rocky relationship with the Lord.

Frankly, I’m not sure what the response to feminism is, but I am thoroughly convinced that it is not what purports these days to be “biblical patriarchy.”

I prefer to follow the Christ-like example set forth by my very dear mentor than allow myself to become obsessed with the length of my hemline or whether or not I am bearing Adam’s curse as well as Eve’s. I am a Christian first and then a woman.


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By His grace – For His glory is a blog written by a man. A preacher’s kid.   A brother-in-Christ. A husband and father. Richard wins me over on his blog fairly quickly. He’s got quotes that range from Martin Luther to Captain Barbossa. Sure, I would have preferred a quote about rum, but I can’t be too picky. He’s obviously got a sense of humor. And humor is a rare commodity in Christian blogs.  His writings immediately put the reader at ease.

As I read through Richard’s blog I was struck by how open it is. He’s just a guy, trying to be a good husband and father, stay true to his faith, and enjoy the life that he’s been given. He seems to have a soft spot for thinking Christian women and that’s definitely a point in this blog’s favor.

I think this blog is a great example of a “guy’s view” and I will continue to read it in the future.

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Marriage Friend Or Foe?

I suppose my ideas of marriage are clouded by the fact that I am a product of a happy one, and that I have been blessed with a happy one as well. I’ve never understood how anyone could view the loving relationship I have with my husband as one to be avoided at all costs. And yet, I know that there are women who avoid marriage because of their belief that it is a harmful institution.

After reading David and Tim Bayly’s blog post Wooing as warfare, part 1, I now have a better understanding of how these women view marriage. If this were the true meaning of marriage, I don’t think I’d want any part of it either.

But though a potential bride may be deeply loved, she’s also at some level the foe. To achieve victory the young man must not only win her, he must defeat her and her family, snatching her from their bosom, converting her to himself, breaking her natural bonds with father and mother, brother and sister, nurse and friend, dog and home. There’s little that’s tender about it. At funerals we cloak harsh reality in kind words and soft colors. So too, at weddings soft words and vibrant colors disguise a bloody truth. The wedding ceremony is really a mini-Versailles, an Appomattox-in-a-nutshell of capitulation and triumph, the surrender of one woman to one man, the victory song of groom over both bride and family.

This has never been my understanding of marriage. My husband is the head of our home, as Christ is the head of the Church. I do have a vision of marriage that includes submission. But it is not just the submission of me to him.

When my husband and I married, I was not conquered by an enemy as an act of war. I chose, as an act of love, to submit myself to my husband who is my best friend. In return he must submit daily, both to the Lord, and to the needs of this family. As Christ leads the church with the spirit of a servant, so must my husband sacrifice to the needs of the family, which come before his own.

Every day, as an act of love we continue that submission, me to him, him to Christ and to the responsibility of his position. He and I are on the same team, following the same path, and it is my great honor to assist him in that position which brings him closer to God.

The bible says that a man leaves his family and cleaves to his wife. That sounds as if it is totally opposite to what these two pastors claim. I have not severed my ties with my family and siblings. My relationship to my husband is primary, but not my sole definition.

I find the view of marriage shared here to be fatalistic, cynical, and not at all the beautiful relationship I’ve found discussed in the Bible. Marriage as I understand it is not about power, but the choice to serve another human being, caring more for them than for yourself, for the rest of your life.

And I will thank the Lord every day for giving me a husband who’s goal was not to dominate me, but to love and care for me forever.

Originally posted to Our Hope and Our Faith Blog November 26th, 2007

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