Women, for ages, have appeared to be victims who’ve been handed the shorter end of the stick as opposed to their male counterparts. This perceived marginalisation is what gave rise to the feminist ideology. According to the Council of Europe, feminism can generally be described as a movement aimed at ending sexism (discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex) and attaining full gender equality in law and practice.
That definition might mask feminism as something good, but not until the ideology is placed under the scrutiny of the Bible. In essence, feminism asserts that the traditional understanding of manhood and womanhood advocates for inequality, while nowhere are men and women treated with greater equality than in God’s eyes (1 Peter 3:7, Galatians 3:28). Both are equally made in the image of God, none more superior than the other (Genesis 1:26-27). Yet that doesn’t mean men and women are the same.
The woman is a weaker vessel both by design and with the aim that she would be honoured (1 Peter 3:7). Her weakness, which feminism works tirelessly to eliminate, serves her good. In the coming paragraphs, we will see how God uses women, even in their weakness, for his glory.
Biblical Femininity Defends the Identity of Women
Feminism is a clear manifestation of the curse God spoke to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband…” (Genesis 3:16). Even though God “made them male and female” (Genesis 1:27), feminism encourages women to disown their God-given femininity, seeking the place of the man instead. In this manner, it wrecks the identity of the very woman it claims to defend. It is no surprise, then, that the door has been thrown wide open for every assault on a woman’s identity to enter, so much so that even men can today claim to be women and find approval.
Biblical femininity, however, acknowledges that the woman is pleasing as the Lord made her (Genesis 1:26-27, 31). It not only praises her physical gracefulness (Esther 2:7; Genesis 12:11); it also commends her to such inward beauty as is the essence of womanhood (1 Peter 3:1-6).
The Bible, therefore, not only grants women an identity in the sense of perfectly defining them, but does so in an even better sense of perfectly valuing them. The world blames the woman’s woes on her design and vocation. Scripture, on the other hand, identifies them as a result of sin. As such, the woman needs liberation not so much from a male-dominated world as she does from a sin-infested world (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:1-3, 1 John 5:4-5). And this she finds in the God who through Christ now calls her his child (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1).
Biblical Femininity Points Women to a Firm Refuge
An evil world is always a threat (in the physical sense) to the vulnerable, most notably women and children (1 John 2:15, James 4:4). The evil of abortion, for example, harms no one more than children and their mothers–O the irony of seeing women at the frontline advocating for abortion (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Psalm 139:13-16)!
Feminism offers as a refuge for women the idea that they become a strength unto themselves. Girls are safer, it is believed, if ‘girls run the world’. But what a failed experiment this has proven, for today’s more liberated woman is likely more restless and less happy than the ‘enslaved’ woman of yesteryears. A liberation that enslaves women to an anti-God lifestyle is no liberation at all (John 8:31-34, Romans 6:16-20, 2 Peter 2:19, Titus 3:3).
Biblical femininity, however, points to an immeasurably more secure hope (Isaiah 43:1-2, Psalm 118:8, 37:5). Instead of asking a woman to self-protect (and ultimately self-destruct), biblical femininity presents God and his design (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Psalm 34:19) as a woman’s sure refuge (Psalm 9:9, 14:6, 46:1). And would the Almighty ever fail to establish his daughters and guard them against the evil one (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 32:7, 37:39)?
Biblical Femininity Echoes into Eternity
Among the things Scripture charges older women to instruct younger women to do is work at home (Titus 2:3-5). Fewer commands would be frowned upon harder by this generation than this. Today’s model wife is not the woman who joyfully submits to her husband (Ephesians 5:22) and cares for her home (Titus 2:5) but the one who ascends the corporate ladder to heights previously unimaginable.
But why would God place such emphasis on home-making as a woman’s primary calling? That the woman was deceived, Paul argues, is partly a reason for her not being allowed to fulfil a prominent ministerial calling like preaching (1 Timothy 2:12-14). And yet, in an often missed wonderful turnaround just a verse later, Paul offers hope for the woman: she will be saved through childbearing (1 Timothy 2:15). Childbearing could not be offered here as an alternative to Christ’s finished work on the cross. Paul must, therefore, mean that whatever the woman forfeited through falling for the serpent’s scheme, that she stands to regain through childbearing. The woman may never fulfil the more spectacular aspects of ministry, like preaching before the masses, but she can no doubt impact the masses through her faithfulness in the home (Psalm 127:3-5). Her quiet obedience in the home will one day have loud ripples in the square.
Timothy, to whom Paul writes, would easily have known this. His sincere faith is described as having first lived in his grandmother Lois, then in his mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1:4). Every harvest reaped by Timothy is a harvest reaped by these two little-spoken-of women!
It is worth noting that the weight of 1 Timothy 2:15 also applies to childless women, either single or married. They can do so by following the example of women like Amy Carmichael, serving God by caring for other people’s children at every opportunity. Such kind service will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Temptations abound to live counter to this biblical design. But Christian women must pursue with joy to obey Christ in this way, for it is indeed their loud witness. They glorify God by embracing his design for women, seeking to live pure and self-controlled lives everywhere, and working always, whether in the home or out in the corporate (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 1 Peter 3:1-6).
Whenever weakness should set in and discouragement be felt, might we remember to entrust ourselves to the care of God, preferring biblical femininity to any other worldly refuge. For in Christ, we know when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).