This Ain’t About Throwbacks

Women at home rocking tea-length dresses, frilly aprons, and adorable high heels, vacuuming with an Electrolux vacuum, while their 2.5 children play quietly nearby . . .

Is this the picture of perfect womanhood?

If you listen to the cultural debate on gender roles, you might think so. Too often, when we talk about womanhood, the discussion disintegrates into two sides trying to draw hard lines in the sand on issues like . . .

  • Whether or not women should work outside the home.
  • Who wears the proverbial pants at work, at church, and in the home?
  • What is femininity, exactly?

The problem with drawing lines in the sand is that, inevitably, the tides turn and those lines get washed away. Just as soon as everyone seems to settle in to a new concept of womanhood, the culture shifts, and we are left to debate gender roles all over again.

Since sin slithered its way into a woman’s heart, womanhood God’s way has always been a struggle.

These are interesting times for sure. I believe that gender is the battlefield on which God’s Word is currently being challenged. I believe that when it comes to womanhood, the traditional will soon become radical and that womanhood according to God’s design is well on it’s way to being seen as an “alternative lifestyle choice.” I believe the reasons why I am not a feminist (you can read more about that in yesterday’s post) will continue to be tested and tried, stretched and debated in every public forum in the years to come.

None of that scares me, because this ain’t about throwbacks. It’s about choosing to look at God’s Word as the plumbline for who I am made to be.

True womanhood is not about returning to some ideological era where men went to work and women happily stayed home and did laundry while raising adorable, obedient children. Despite what your scrapbooks may tell you, that era never existed.

There has never been a golden age of womanhood. There’s never been a window of time when the culture all agreed on what womanhood should look like and living God’s way was fully accepted and en vogue.

Want proof? Check out the battle that raged in the heart of the first woman.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,” but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it lest you die.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And the sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Gen. 3:1–7).

We see in Eve a woman who . . .

  • desperately wanted independence
  • ignored the authority God had placed over her
  • wanted to call the shots
  • forgot the promises of God
  • twisted Scripture to fit her agenda
  • flirted with sin and became entangled

Sound familiar?

Yesterday, I defined feminism this way:

  • valuing independence over dependence
  • resisting authority
  • convincing women that their roles are undesirable or second class

When we look at Genesis 3, we see feminism wasn’t born in college classrooms or women’s liberation rallies. Feminism was born in the Garden of Eden. The lie that women are free to step outside of God’s plan for them without consequences was whispered into the very first woman’s ear. It has continued to be whispered ever since. The battle to live according to God’s design isn’t a modern one. It has been raging since the beginning.

So to be clear, I’m not passionate about a cultural return to the 1950s. Frankly, vacuuming in high heels has never been my thing! This isn’t about finding some spot on the map of history and saying, “Look there! That was a time when women got things right.” Since sin slithered its way into a woman’s heart, womanhood God’s way has always been a struggle.

While the message of true womanhood can get a little tangled amidst the cultural debate, it’s really quite simple.

  • I believe that God created men and women, as equal but distinct image-bearers of God.
  • I believe that since He is our Creator, He gets to decide how our gender is best displayed.
  • I believe that He outlined the blueprint for womanhood and manhood in His Word.
  • I believe that by seeking to be the woman He designed me to be, I am putting His glory on full display.

As you consider the culture war about gender and decide where you stand, can I encourage you not to run to some ideological age of history, but rather to run straight to God’s Word? I know what you’ll find—a description of your identity that is timeless and eternal (high heels optional!).

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read part one,”Why I’m Not a Feminist.”