Jani: Hello, everyone! Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and Heidi Howerton. Heidi has been on fall break, and so she’s unable to record with me today and I miss having her here. I’m sure you do, too. I know, she adds so much to this podcast, and helps me to relax more and interact more. So we really miss her and can’t wait to have her back.
Some of you have written in and told us how much you appreciate the podcast, some of you have contributed to help fund it. Thank you so much. We really really appreciate it.
Our Goal for Today
Today we want to think about what it means to be a godly woman in the culture into which God has called us. What does that look like? What does it mean to be fearlessly feminine in today’s culture?
We’ve looked at some of the world’s feminist goals and heroes in past episodes but today we want to think about how to be effective for Christ in the midst of this cultural chaos He has called us to live in. God’s not surprised. He has planned and called each one of us to live for Him today, in the midst of this.
A Word of Caution
Women have fought for greater freedom, and so much of that is good. I’m so glad I can vote and receive equal pay for equal work. I love seeing a mother of seven children nominated as a Supreme Court justice.
But let me suggest a word of caution here to each one of us women: we may be more liberated as women now, but at what price?
I think we’ve become more strident, more abrasive, more loud, and sometimes even more lonely. I think that we as women are less happy and secure and dignified and romanced. We women worship what feels good. We seek escapist entertainment regardless of how it darkens our spirits. We expose our souls to the vulgarities of Hollywood. We degrade ourselves with gossip magazines and movies that taint our purity. We watch TV shows to feed our fantasies.
Think back with me over the past week. How much time have you spent immersed in TV and internet entertainment? Let me ask us, why should we let the media, which shows little moral or spiritual restraint, exert such influence over our schedules, our minds, our hearts?
Not only have we become more liberated, I think we’ve also become more utilitarian. We as women honor what is most useful or helpful. Therefore if something is practical for one generation, fine, but if it doesn’t fit the next then we discard it. One of the worst insults of today is to call something or someone “old fashioned.”
Is our past really as expendable as we think? What is true about being a woman? What connects you and me with every other female since Eve? What does God, The one who created us as women, say to us through the ages?
An Alternative Voice to Our Culture
Well, I believe our culture drives our dreams and it feeds our fantasies. Let’s be women who are alert and wise as we interact with our culture. Let’s be a catalyst for cultural renewal. There needs to be an alternative of voice for Biblical femininity from women, a position that only fearless women can fulfill.
Comes from Scripture
Let’s lift high the truths of Scripture.
God asks us as women to be mediators of truth and wisdom. Proverbs 31:26,
“She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”Proverbs 31:26
God challenges us to defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:20,
“She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”Proverbs 31:20
Now this takes courage, and generosity, and energy and selflessness. Proverbs 31:17 puts it this way,
“She dresses herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.”Proverbs 31:17
I believe this requires daily interaction with God and His children and our needy world.
“But what will happen if I lose control?”
What takes more courage after all, dear friend, self-absorption or self-sacrifice? To be fearlessly feminine means choosing to make decisions based on what is best for those we love, rather than what is most convenient or satisfying to us.
You see, the cultural cult of convenience is opposed to fearless femininity. When Jesus calls us to leave the God of the mirror and to follow him, he’s asking us to give over to him the fear of losing ourselves. Two times in Matthew, Jesus says,
“Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25
Do we think God may have gotten this wrong? Do we strive to attain and achieve and accumulate all that we can because we believe that this really is our only true happiness? Oh, what does that tell us about our thoughts of God, our beliefs in who he really is? I think, at least in my own life—I believe in yours, too—that the core issue here is fear. What will happen if I lose control?
We’ve let feminism call us into this unnecessary frustration, where we fall prey to a stylish hysteria that tells us that we must make our lives work, look out for ourselves and withdraw into our own little world of security. And so we spend our lives building that little world. We’re continually checking our feelings to see if we’re happy or not. We’re continually guarding our rights, protecting our time and our turf. This isn’t happiness. It’s foolish slavery to the devil’s trap for you and for me.
Feminism is Partly Right
You see, the problem is that feminism is partially right. As Carolyn McCauley says, in Radical Womanhood,
“Men do sin. They can diminish women’s accomplishments and limit women’s freedoms for self centered reasons. Some men do sexually assault women. Some men do abuse their wives and children. Many men degrade women through pornography. Feminism didn’t rise up because of fabricated offenses. As a movement feminism arose because women were being sinned against. But feminism also arose because women were sinning in response. That’s a classic human problem. Sinners tend to sin in response to being sinned against.”Carolyn McCauley, Radical Womanhood, p. 27
Christ came to rescue us from this cycle of sin and sinful response. Only the gospel can help offer both sides: forgiveness and restoration. Our happiness is God’s concern. He made us, and he knows best how to delight us. Psalms 36:8 says,
“You give them drinks from the river of your delights.”Psalms 36:8
Isn’t that a beautiful picture? His “river of delights” he offers us drinks from.
“You want me to do what?”
So let me ask you, dear listener, will we trust and obey our heavenly Father?
The fearlessly feminine woman learns to abandon the tyranny of self and bow in glad humility before her Savior. She says to him, just as the Lord’s own mother did so many years ago,
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.”Luke 1:38
What does it look like to “Trust & Obey”?
What will this look like in our lives as women?
If I’m single…
Well, if you’re single, you will learn to count God is more precious than your needs for companionship and sexual fulfillment. You’ll lean heavily on him to fulfill all the deepest desires of your hearts.
If I’m married…
If you’re married, you’ll learn to seek to live above your feelings, so that you’re changing emotions don’t dictate your level of commitment to your marriage. You will not think of submission as a sign of weakness or victimization. You will recognize that Jesus Christ Himself submitted to his Father’s will and way.
If I’m a mother/grandmother…
Well, what about if we’re mothers, or grandmothers? We will learn to make difficult choices professionally, financially and personally. We will seek to set an emotional tone in our homes that will nurture our children as we postpone dreams and make sacrifices to inculcate godly values in the next generation.
In our homes?
What about in our homes? We’ll learn to see our homes as vitally and eternally significant, making them a little foretaste of heaven for anyone who enters. Jesus said in John 14,
“I go to prepare a place for you.”John 14:1-3
He understands that we all need a place.
I love that cartoon of the toddler sitting on his daddy’s lap, and they’re looking at a wedding album. And he turns to his daddy and says, “Oh, so that’s the day mommy came to work for us.” It feels like that sometimes doesn’t it? But the scriptures reinforce what we’re talking about here:
“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands, tears it down.”Proverbs 14:1
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”Proverbs 24:3-4
“But that’s so Old-Fashioned!”
I want to ask you to think of a woman you admire. Someone who lives out her faith every day of the week. Is she, as some feminists would have us believe, repressed and dispirited? Is she a victim of male dominance and a patriarchal society? Are her moral values something to laugh it? Or is she one of the happiest women you know? Is her life one to be emulated?
An Encouragement to Women in the Marketplace
Now, I’m sure there are those listening who are working full time in the marketplace. Maybe you have the choice to work or not. Others here may have no choice but to work, and perhaps in a very tough environment. I’ve been there, too. I had no choice. I had to go back to work. I know what you are going through. And I want to encourage you that God is able to guard your feminine heart against the hardening forces of aggressive self-promotion, and the conflict that swirls in our workplaces today.
The world outside our homes needs fearlessly feminine women, too. So let’s not be intimidated into a distortion of the women God made us to be. If he called you to work outside your home, embrace it.
Is “Popular” Culture Popular with you?
These are dark days for Christian women. In the name of tolerance, we have allowed ourselves to be misled and silenced. We’ve wasted time and energy sipping from the sewage of this world. We’ve allowed feminist ideology to triumph in the communications and entertainment industry and ultimately in our homes. How? Ask yourself as I try to, “How has such a dark ethos become so popular?”
Well, Robert Bork in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah gives us an answer,
“Popular culture remains just that, popular. The American public watches, listens to, and makes popular art forms it agrees are debased. That is an important point. The entertainment industry is not forcing depravity on an unwilling American public. The demand for decadence is there.”Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, p. 132
Oh my, I have to ask myself, am I part of that demand? Will you ask yourself? Are you part of it? Have we sought the intrigues and titillation of our sin-saddened world as we minimize our own godly responsibilities to those we love? Have we salivated too much over those things that money and power can buy? Have we forgotten what Jesus told us in Luke 16:15, that
“What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”Luke 16:15
Our calling for Today
I want to call you through this podcast to exalt in your God-given femininity. Let’s be women who welcome God’s Word and His ways in our lives. Let’s stop trying to bring to God our own version of what it means to be a woman, as if he didn’t consider our generation and culture when he penned His eternal message to us all.
God is calling us to play our part in his plan. Will you join me? I want to help nurture in this generation, a new joy and energy and being what only God’s daughters can be: godly women, godly wives and daughters and mothers and grandmothers and aunts and nieces and sisters. We can have a profound influence.
Let’s become Daughters of Sarah, and do what is right and not give way to our fears. By God’s grace, and with his divine guidance, let’s not allow the evil of our popular culture to dirty our souls with its filth. Or fritter our time away on materialistic pursuits and silly entertainments. Or give our husbands and children in homes a back row seat, while we strive to maintain a center-stage image. Let’s not forget that heaven is real, and that our choices now have eternal consequences.
Today, God is calling us to renew our commitment to him and his eternal Word to us. You, dear listener, you are one of his key players in this present age. Will you bow before Him and ask Him to show you ways he wants to use you in your home, your job, your church, your community? Begin by opening your heart up to him. Tell him what is there. Your hopes, your fears. Ask him to show you new ways to follow him into fearless femininity.
Good Questions to Ask:
Here are some questions to get you started.
- Who are some of your female heroes? Think about why you admire them.
- And then think through what would you like to be remembered and honored for as a daughter or a mother or a grandmother; as a sister or a niece or a friend or a teacher?
- How have you been playing with popular culture?
Draw near to God in humility and ask him to help you to be fearlessly feminine in all areas of your life. Humble yourselves before the Lord says James 4:10 and he will exalt you.
May God bless you as he restores your soul in fearless femininity.