Today is International Women’s Day.
If you browse social media for a little while, it will be impossible not to observe masses of women applauding themselves with cries of, “Me! Me! Look at ME! I am awesome! I am amazing!” In the spirit of the builders of Babel: “We will build a monument to our own greatness!”
Aside from coming off as immature, cringe-worthy, self-glorifying, and deeply insecure, it’s hard not to notice that this behavior stands in glaring contrast to the woman in Proverbs 31, who cheerfully, humbly, and industriously goes about her God-ordained, home-oriented role and is instead praised by her husband and children. (Proverbs 31:28)
It’s also in direct opposition to the Biblical command, “Let another praise you, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)
Today I would like to call us to something different.
For the last number of years, God has stirred in my soul a deep, urgent, aching desire to search my own heart and to call my fellow sisters to search theirs.
To confess… to repent… to, yes, weep and mourn and fall on our faces… over the stubborn hearts and the rampant rebellion that has come to typify Christian womanhood.
Yes: CHRISTIAN womanhood.
We have NOT been amazing, nor excellent.
We have NOT loved, embraced, and sincerely pursued lives of willing and joyful submission to our husbands, walking that out in the fear of the Lord.
We have NOT loved our children the way they need to be loved, without complaining about how they naturally make it hard to focus on “self-love.”
We have NOT been thankful for who God made us to be, either running from femininity altogether or looking to the world for its definition.
We have NOT pursued the development of “gentle and quiet spirit(s),” which, according to Scripture, “in God’s eyes is very precious.” (1 Peter 3)
We have NOT lived in humility and embraced the priceless, unspeakably beautiful role of serving and supporting behind the scenes, and we have failed to see and believe the COLOSSAL, ETERNAL RAMIFICATIONS of that.
This is mostly because we don’t know or don’t believe what Scripture has to say to us as women.
We have had the arrogance and the audacity to not only set ourselves up as judge enough to know how our husbands need to change, but also to take it upon ourselves to set out to change them. All while not doing the one thing Scripture tells us wives that we can use to influence our husbands for God: changing our own behavior, and being obedient to them. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
We have acted as our husbands’ mother, teacher, armchair psychologist, ball-and-chain, policeman, guy friend, nuisance, cold shower, third member of the Godhead– everything except his help-meet, lover, and true friend.
We have had the presumptive gall to put ourselves in the place of God and of men: to obsess and speculate loudly over male behavior, to make ourselves judge of what is acceptable masculinity and what is not, to condemn them with labels such as “toxic” rather than focusing on our own areas of shameful shortcoming, and to run our unbridled tongues on subjects about which we are truly not even qualified to speak.
We have grasped for control, power, prestige, comfort, pleasure, egalitarianism, to be heard, and to do things our way. We have chased applause, acceptance, popularity, flattery, and a name for ourselves.
We have been gossipy, cliquish, busybodies, lazy, self-righteous, hypocritical, immodest, gluttonous, disobedient to our husbands… and by some miracle, we have managed to spiritualize all of this behavior in our own minds.
We have become brazen, without fear of God or His ordained order of authority, and then have had the gall to call it “strength.”
We have been blasphemously self-exalting. We have been so very proud of ourselves— and for what, exactly?
We have followed our hearts— and they have led us astray.
When I say “we,” I mean professing Christian women as a whole and in general, with exceptions. We have become hopelessly, tragically, indistinguishable from the Godless world around us.
Some of you are going to sneer at this. Some will justify their dismissal by calling it unloving or an exaggeration, or will criticize and pick it apart. Some will simply not be able to see the vision I’m painting. Many will go back to living life as they always have. I accept this.
But some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m speaking to you– those of you with tender hearts, in whom God is stirring this same vision. Maybe tears are filling your eyes at this very moment because it’s resonating with you as truth.
Some of you are sick of fighting your husbands, sick of faking your life, sick of the struggle, sick of holding in resentments, sick of the energy it takes to be stubborn and proud and defensive, sick of trying to explain away passages of Scripture directed toward women, sick of trying to live with one foot in your Biblical role and the other squarely in the world’s way of doing things, sick and exhausted from acting like your husband’s Holy Spirit.
Are you longing to be honest, craving truth that will set you free, wishing for a clean slate, desiring more more holiness and wanting to press on to higher things? Wanting to start building your home rather than tearing it down? Aching for a glorious marriage? Done with the excuses, the winking at sin, the mediocrity?
Our men are not likely to become bold, strong warriors for Christ who lead their families, change their communities, inspire other men, and charge the gates of Hell if at home they are disrespected, disobeyed, unappreciated, nagged, emasculated, belittled, interrupted, usurped, gossiped about, and their every other decision questioned, disagreed with, or challenged.
Our sons will probably not grow up to cherish, respect, and protect women if their mother was anything but respectable and lovable.
Our daughters will probably not grow up to have happy marriages, enjoy running their homes, find deep fulfillment in loving and shaping the next generation, and joyfully submit themselves to male authority in the church if we don’t.
And our children are most definitely not going to have a healthy relationship with authority in life if we mutilate the image God chose as their closest and single most visible example: our marriages.
That’s because we hold massive power in the form of influence. Feminism sold us Satan’s brainchild lie from the pit of Hell when it said, “You were born a powerless victim. You need to be empowered.” The church swallowed that lie almost as quickly as the world did.
Women… it’s not too late. You can change. We all can.
The thing is, we can’t just resolve to “do better.” We can’t just muscle up and buckle down and try harder. We all know that’s how we land on our faces.
We cannot do this apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will not be living with the reality of that power as long as we are grieving His voice in our hearts. We will not be availing ourselves of all He has to offer as long as we’re denying our sin, ignoring passages that speak directly to us rather than taking them for exactly what they say, digging in our heels about our roles in the home, church, and toward our husbands. The Bible says that in God’s eyes, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23)
Ever opposed your husband? Despised having to do things his way? Been uncooperative… stubborn? “Witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry.” God said it… don’t look at me.
I want to call us all to a time of serious Scripture reading, prayer, and fasting for the rest of the month of March (fasting however you wish, not necessarily for the rest of the month). I’m pregnant and highly sick and wouldn’t be able to participate in fasting right now, and didn’t want to call any of you to something I’m not doing with you— so I’ll just suggest the idea for any who are able, willing, or feel led to do so.
This is my vision for us. Will you commit to do this with me?
1.) Confession and repentance. This means getting alone and serious with God, and getting right with Him. Asking Him to break and grieve your heart if you’re not at that place already. Pouring it all out. Confessing all of the sin that’s been weighing you down… He knows anyway! You’re not going to scare Him off.
Consider also confessing to a trusted friend or two. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, that you may be healed.” The old saying that “Confession is good for the soul” is really just adapted from Scripture. There is great healing in confession.
Then go to your children and apologize for any way you’ve wronged them, as well as for sinful behavior and attitudes toward their dad. Tell them that God has put their daddy in charge, as the head of your home, and that you have been wrong to argue, contradict, nag, make irreverent faces, sigh, roll eyes, not act as his helper, be judgmental about his spiritual state, be dismissive of what you know his wishes to be… whatever it is in your particular case.
And, finally, go humbly to your husband, confessing and asking forgiveness for the same things. Ask him for specific examples of how you make him feel disrespected, and how you can better respect him… and really listen. Don’t get defensive. Don’t argue. Ask him what you could be doing (or not doing) to better support him in whatever God has called him to– whether that’s his job, ministry, or developing his skills and talents. Ask him for his top three specific ways you can make him feel like your true priority. You may think you already know, but you might not. And the very act of asking and listening to him shows respect.
Then, change: turn around and start going in the opposite direction. That’s the actual meaning of the word “repentance.”
2.) Prayer and fasting. Let’s commit to a special and significant daily time of prayer this month. This will look different for each of us because we’re all in different seasons and have different schedules– with four very young children myself, I totally understand– but my challenge to you is to make it happen, no matter what.
If you have to get up before the children, stay up for a little while after they and your husband have gone to bed, or use their naptimes as your prayer time… DO IT. You can do anything for just a few weeks. It can be as long or as short a time as you decide. But let me encourage you not to put a time limit on it, if you can help it.
Pray for God to change you, to make you sensitive to the Holy Spirit, to completely erase any wrong and preconceived notions about what femininity or marriage or childrearing should look like, to help you to live in thankfulness rather than resentment, to teach you what it truly means to “reverence” and respect your husband, to help you believe the truths that would help you delight in your role… the list goes on. You know what’s on your own heart– make your own list!
If you are fasting, you can use times you would normally be eating or preparing food to pray. When you feel hungry, you could even treat this as a personal prompt to pray throughout the day, as well.
3.) Studying all that Scripture says specifically to us. The Bible actually has much to say to women, wives, and mothers, and the fact that God goes out of His way to address us is more than enough reason to pay attention. Yet it seems that we currently prefer to ignore such passages, and concentrate on gender-neutral passages. Why would we do this?
Women teachers of the Bible primarily teach anything except the one thing God says older women should be teaching the younger women (which is outlined in Titus chapter 2)! I call this “the lie of omission in women’s ministry,” because by not exploring and embracing these passages, we paint an incomplete or even false picture of God’s intent for womanhood.
So at least for this month, let’s forget what this book said or that teacher said. Go to Scripture as if it’s all you have and all you are familiar with. Ask the Holy Spirit to silence your flesh, quell your pride, destroy your assumptions, and open your eyes to what God’s heart is saying.
Do a word study in Proverbs, looking up every verse that mentions wives or women. Or study the creation of woman in Genesis, and how that relates to New Testament passages about the role of women in the church. Or study the meaning of each of the individual qualities women are commanded to embrace in Titus 2. Ideas abound!
Curious what exactly is meant by a particular word or title? Go to BibleHub.com and click on the Greek lexicon (I’ve linked to an example– you can open up the passage in Greek and then click on any word! Try clicking on hupotassomenai— “be subject”– and see the true meaning ;)). The original Greek or Hebrew word can offer a colorful array of meaning, which may have been butchered by the translation into English. Don’t you want to know God’s exact intent and message to us?! Discovering the meaning of the actual words God Himself inspired is an exercise I find to be insanely exciting!
Women, our nation and our world have fallen apart and are in many ways a depraved, doomed, dystopian nightmare. Many people are aching for the truth, whether they recognize it or not. This is a time when the light shines ever more brightly in the darkness. We have an incredibly important role to play “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), as women who both act and intercede for our families, the lost, the hurting, the needy, the innocent, and “all who are in authority.” (Romans 13)
But Scripture says that it is the prayers of a righteous person which are “powerful and effective” (James 5:16), and I do not believe that God blesses the prayers of women who willingly reject or live in defiance of His words to them.
Now is the time to change.
To humble ourselves and become a “servant of all,” like Christ. (Mark 9:35)
To, like Jesus, “not consider equality something to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6).
To pray, as our Savior in the garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will– Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)
To get behind our husbands and be adaptable as we support them in God’s calling on their lives– with kindness, prayer, affection, service, obedience, joy, and a helping hand.
To believe that the One Who created us, Who literally put every piece of us together, knows best how we operate and what we need, and intends all things for our good! (Romans 8:28)
To cut out of our lives any sources of false messages that feed our flesh, mimic the world, or align with the whispers of the Serpent in the Garden… no matter how tasty they may be, and no matter how much we may want to believe them.
Are you with me!? I KNOW some of you are, because you have said so— BLESS YOU. Would you also consider sharing this challenge with a woman friend? Let us be the lifter of each other’s arms when we feel beaten down by the lies all around us.
Let it begin with us.
Go with God! ❤