A woman’s place is, where?
Be careful how you answer that question. It tells me much about your values and worldview.
The Feminist culture would respond to that question with something that goes like this: “A woman’s place is at the top! Gone are the days when men get to dominate and lead our society.”
In stark contrast, ultra-conservative, (mostly) religious groups claim that a proper woman should be content with a mindless obedience to her husband. This woman’s hobbies are sure to include sandwich making and rubbing the knots out of her husband's shoulders.
It seems as though there are but two options put forth for a woman to choose from. You can either be oppressed and defined by men, or you can liberate yourself from the burdensome chains that the 1950’s would have you wear like June Cleaver’s pearls.
If you are able to break free from this patriarchal prison, you will play a grand part in history.
The future (female) generations will look back and venerate you for your courage.
I need not explain to you that these factions are at war with each other. Their opposition poses a dangerous alternative to their own ideas.
Have you ever felt stuck in their crosshairs?
I have often been misbranded and strong-armed into one caucus or the other.
To the feminists, I am wildly archaic and to the ultra-conservatives, I am just plain wild.
Scripture offers us a tertiary option.
Though I would argue that this view isn’t truly tertiary, it is actually the original blueprint of womanhood.
The creator of femininity designed women to work and function within a particular role; not to compete with men, but to complement them. I know that may harken you back to the 1950’s model of womanhood, but keep reading.
God did design women to complement men, but not in the way that most people assume.
Women were created to have all of the same rationality and intellect as a man. She is fully capable of making more than a meal plan and a neatly folded pile of laundry. Now I am sounding more feministic, right?
Herein lies the catch 22 many Christian women find themselves in.
God designed women to be feminine; soft, homeward focused and submissive to their own husbands (1 Peter 3:4). In a seeming paradox, scripture heralds the actions of women like Deborah and Abigail in their seemingly un-soft, un-submissive actions. Can a Christian woman hope to attain any clarity?
What would happen if we were to dust off the centuries of accumulated cultural debris and take a fresh look? Let’s set aside what we think we understand about a woman’s role and ask scripture to define womanhood for us.
From the very beginning of her creation, the woman was created to be distinct from man; to be his helper.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).
This verse doesn’t fashion a woman into a custom made Stepford Wife as the feminists claim it does.
On the contrary, it means that a woman was uniquely designed to complement how God already designed a man to function.
Both male and female were designed by God, not just the woman.
Thus, God gets to define the role and functionality of His creation. The feminists and the ultra-conservatives do not get that privilege. They have professed too much authority and assumed a role that wasn’t theirs, to begin with.
Without questioning or challenging these self-proclaimed authorities, many women (and men) readily ascribe their allegiance.
The cultural mandate that God gave to his new creation, in Genesis 1:28, was given to both the man and the woman. Both were instructed to produce more image bearers and to take dominion over the Earth, but how?
Here is where we begin to see the factions split off. The feminist will say that a woman and a man hold no distinctions (aside from anatomy...maybe) and therefore should have no differentiation in roles. A woman can do anything a man can do, and probably better.
The ultra-conservative faction states that men are to be the chief of the home. A woman’s role is merely one of support and necessity. After all, God did say that men needed a little helper, right? She is viewed as a less sparkling version of Tinkerbell.
Can you see the error of falling off into either side of an over-crowded ditch?
Instead, let’s be skillful and walk the road laid out for us in scripture.
Let’s labor to rightly view the role of a biblical woman.
The man was created to assume responsibility and take the lead of his home (Eph. 5:22-24).
His wife ought to joyfully submit to his leadership, just as she submits to Christ.
Why? Because, in submitting to her husband, she is portraying a mirrored image of how the church (that she is simultaneously a part of) submits to Christ.
Her focus is primarily on the flourishing of her home. Her hands should be busy in all of her tasks, including the ones that stretch outside of her home (Titus 2:5 & Prov. 31:13).
To rebel against this order is to fall into the same sin that Eve fell into way back in the Garden of Eden.
Eve wanted to define herself by her own terms; to exalt her decision-making abilities to that of deity. She rejected the role that God gave to her. She and all her daughters after her have been cursed with this same proclivity.
We are to be the helpmate to our husbands. The Holy Spirit is called our helper (John 14:26). This role is not a menial role, it’s a marvelous and lofty role. One that God Himself takes on. As we grow in this role of biblical womanhood, we also begin to see that the roles of Deborah and Abigail weren’t as contrarian as they first appeared.
Deborah encouraged and pleaded with General Barak to assume his God-given leadership.
She did everything in her power to see him flourish and succeed in his role; his victory would be Deborah’s victory also. She didn’t need to compete with Barak or assume his role as her own. We can see from Barak’s brief mentioning in Hebrews 11:32, that Deborah’s correction of Barak was indeed a redemptive success.
Likewise, Abigail was gentle and submissive to her foolish husband, Nabal. She was homeward focused and dedicated to seeing it flourish. Her quick-thinking ultimately saved her home (and husband) from the vengeance of David and his men.
You see, God’s true design for womanhood isn’t able to be understood by either of the previously mentioned extremes.
They have believed opposing sides of the same lie that Eve believed so many centuries earlier.
“Has God really said?” is a shallow echo that pangs inside of our sin worn minds.
Without fully embracing the truth of God’s word, we will never find our place in His creation. We will be perpetual nomads, clinging helplessly to the current cultural narrative.
Fellow sisters, it is about time that we turn away from Satan’s lies. Let’s shine up those mirrors and reflect the beauty of the gospel by embracing the biblical role that God has given to us. By design, this is how we expand God’s kingdom and impact history.