What does it mean to be a woman? How can a girl know how to be a woman? We need not look far to understand the messages that the world is sending girls. “Be pretty… and seductive.” “Be important.” “Strive to achieve equality with men.” As pervasive as these messages are in our western culture, are these the messages we should follow in order to be the very best version of ourselves? Do these line up with God’s message to women? What is God’s view of womanhood, we ask in the midst of so many conflicting ideas.
Many women, like myself, did not grow up in a home in which their mother modeled godly Christian character. But as God’s adopted daughter, at the age of fifteen I began to learn what God designed women to be. God’s clear and wonderful Word helped me to know what womanhood looks like. God’s Word is full of examples that help us to decipher what godly femininity is, among the backdrop of our modern society’s mixed messages. By reading His Word and soaking in His Holy presence, I learned what it means to be a Christian woman. Let’s delve into the subject of biblical femininity together and find out what God has to say on the subject.
In the Bible we find that women are:
Loved by God
First and most importantly, as I study the Bible I find out that God loves women! From the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of the New, God goes out of His way to demonstrate His love to all types of women. He goes to outsiders and insiders, young and old, to intentionally display His love to all women. In cultures that did not traditionally give to women the same value as men, God goes out of His way to show His love and care for women. Consider Hagar, an outcast Egyptian slave, to whom the Lord personally appears, speaks, and encourages (Genesis 16:7). And consider Sarah, to whom the Lord comes and speaks when she is 90 years old and waning in her faith (Genesis 18).
Consider Jesus in the New Testament as He goes out of His way time and again to meet with women and address their needs personally. For example, He goes out of His way to meet a Samaritan woman by a well and has a lengthy, personal conversation with her. With great patience He shares His good news with her. His disciples could not fathom why He would do such a thing (see John 4). Consider the woman caught in adultery, whom the Lord Jesus sets free to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Consider the woman of Canaan, whom Jesus traveled far to meet (in the region of Tyre and Sidon). He strengthened her faith and healed her daughter (Matthew 15:28). A widow in the town of Nain felt the personal touch and compassion of Jesus too, as He raised her son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17)! It would take too long to describe here all the encounters, but reading the Bible all the way through, I find that God really does love women just as much as men, and He goes out of His way to make sure that we know that! This brings me great personal assurance to know that the Creator of the universe loves me!
Designed to Beautify, Help & Nurture
We are unique. As women, we have been uniquely designed by God to fulfill a purpose that only we can fulfill. God has placed certain attributes in women that enable us to fulfill our purpose. Firstly, God has given women beauty, and a desire to beautify. When Eve was brought to Adam, he took one look at her and he was out of his mind with excitement! Finally God had given to Adam someone like him, but beautifully designed to complement and complete him. “At last!” [Adam] exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” (Genesis 2:23 NLT). Women are continually recognized for their beauty (for example, Genesis 6:2, Genesis 12:11, Genesis 24:16, Proverbs 6:25, and Proverbs 31:30), and yet we are taught to seek the inner beauty of the heart. “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4). So while the world around us is teaching us to focus intently on beautifying our exterior, God in His Word teaches women that true beauty is found on the inside.
Women are also uniquely designed as “helpmates” and nurturers. These truths apply to women whether or not we ever marry or have children. Genesis 2:18 says, “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” God has made women helpers. Women have a natural gifting toward helping others. We instinctually see the needs of others and desire to help. Women are also designed by God to bear children. Within that design He has given to women a wonderful ability to nurture and care for others. Women are often the first to notice the emotional and physical needs of others, and desire to care for that need.
Called to Faith and Great Purpose
Although the Scriptures teach women to be in a support role, as helpmates submitted to God’s authority in their lives, this does not in any way mean that we are weak or less than men in God’s eyes. Women throughout Scripture who walk with God are valiant and courageous for Him. Consider Deborah (Judges 4:4), Rahab (Joshua 6:25), Esther (book of Esther), Ruth (book of Ruth), and Mary the mother of Jesus as just a few examples of godly women who demonstrated great strength and courage. When we too chose to walk with God, He will do incredible things in and through our lives. According to His Word, He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory” (Ephesians 3:20-21). Jesus has plans for us and through us that are greater than we could even imagine.
Made to be His Bride
Women uniquely understand what it means to be a bride! Almost every girl seems to be born with a desire to someday be a bride. Many little girls practice being a bride from the time they are very young. Girls dream and play and plan their weddings! The Bible teaches us that ultimately we are called to be God’s bride (Isaiah 62:5). While the church as a whole is called the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32, Revelations 22:17), understanding that I am ultimately called to be Christ’s bride brings good perspective and balance to me as a married woman. And although earthly marriage is designed to be a gift from God, no man on earth can fulfill every dream in a little girl’s heart. In Scripture I find that Christ is the perfect fulfillment of that dream. God’s Word has the wisdom we need in order to know how to live on this earth. He teaches women what godly character looks like, and how to be a wife (Proverbs 31, Titus 2:4-5; Ephesians 5:15-33, 1 Peter 3:1-6). Ephesians 5 describes the roles of wives and husbands, while placing everything in the greater context of marriage as a picture of Christ’s love for His bride. Our marriages are to be a reflection of the ultimate marriage. How different is this message to the message of the world around us?
God’s Great Purpose
This world’s message directs people in selfishness and a survival of the fittest mentality. The message of the world is do whatever is best for you, with no greater purpose in mind. God has a greater purpose in mind. When we cling to Him, we find that everything “works together for the good of them that love Him and are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). May we as women seek God’s greater purpose and let His Word and His power through Christ, transform our lives. As God loves us, let’s pour out His love and grace onto others.
Jesus promised, ““He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38 NASB). As women living in this world yet alive to God, may God’s living water sustain us, supply us with His grace, and pour out to refresh others.