I was asked to help lead a seminar on Biblical Femininity a couple of months ago at Christ Church. I enjoyed the opportunity immensely. I have wrestled with this subject for years, and God has been gracious to lead me gently. I have found that God is not afraid of our honest questions and will lead us (eventually) beside still waters, if only we will follow.
I have wanted to transfer the notes from my talk onto here for some time. I hope they will be a helpful resource for women of the Church. Please know that I approach this as a fellow struggler who has learned much the hard way. I just laugh at the irony that I am teaching this subject at all, given how desperately I have fought it. If you resist it, or chafe under it, know that I have as well, and keep at it. Just don't give up; there is treasure there. Don't release God until He has blessed you through this.
If you prefer to listen to the audio version, it is here. Please don't laugh at me; I'm not a professional speaker. It's not as polished as I would like.
Part One: Foundational Biblical Truths
We have to begin here. When we struggle with the specifics of certain Biblical doctrines, it often reflects dis-ease in fundamental Gospel truths. Let me give you an example: If I am fearful that following God's instruction will leave me powerless and defenseless, that actually reflects a lack of trust in God's gracious and omnipotent provision for me. I can analyze the cultural implications of the particular instruction all day long, but I won't experience spiritual growth until I deal with the broader reality. Another example: If I refuse to accept a difficult teaching because it "doesn't feel right," I am trusting my own fallen heart above the absolute authority of Holy Scripture. If I hold the Bible in one hand, and my instinct in the other, and weigh them equally, I am thinking much more of myself than I ought.
So when I find myself chafing under some of these specific ideas that we'll get to later, very often it can be traced back to one of these core issues. That's why I start here.
a. God is all-powerful and all-knowing.
He knows what I feel, need, and desire. He knows what is best for me, how I may best glorify Him. He cares for me with strength and power. I do not need to be afraid. He has a plan for me, and all strength to enact that plan and protect me, even when from my limited perspective I cannot see that plan and may feel vulnerable.
b. God is all-loving, gracious and good.
Jer. 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
God is righteous and compassionate. He can be trusted. He will hear me and care for me, and His care for me will always be good.
c. I am fallen and sinful.
Jer. 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
My heart cannot be trusted. Sometimes my emotions are misleading, and it would be better to pay attention to eternal truth. Oprah, et al. would have us believe otherwise, but we can't always "find our own truth."
d. I am precious to God.
He redeemed me at great price. My obedience is the natural response to His love and sacrifice.
e. God gave His word as a gracious gift to me.
I can go to His word expecting to find wisdom and grace.
John 8:32 "and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
If these aren't registering deep within your soul as truth, the rest of what I have to say will not resonate for you either. You may even experience profound and violent opposition. Don't try to grapple with things like headship and submission outside the context of the sovereignty of God. Of course they won't work; they were never designed to function in an atheistic vacuum. These presuppositions are necessary for what follows. Please don't forget them. God asks much of us, and it can be overwhelming if we lose the big picture. Hold on to the Gospel. Don't lose sight of the cross.
Don't stop wrestling.