Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Womanhood

Let’s Not Knock Beauty

The longer I live, the more I see that balance is hard to achieve. That’s one of the (many) reasons why I need to keep coming back to Scripture again and again, repeatedly challenging my own worldview. I need to be constantly challenged to prove that what I believe about something (whether conscious or sub-conscious) is being corrected and informed by the mind of God.

One example of how I’ve been challenged lately is by thinking about beauty. As a father of three daughters, I’m responsible for thinking hard about beauty and trying to help my girls learn to value what God values.

Pendulum to the Left

In our culture, beauty, body image, being physically attractive — this is everything! Girls grow up in our day learning the fine art of taking photos of themselves constantly, always trying to make themselves look attractive.

Joe Carter posted some interesting facts on ‘female body image‘ back in April that indicate some very serious concerns about the emphasis our culture places on physical beauty:

3. By age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.

4. The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction. The median ages for onset of an eating disorder in adolescents is 12- to 13-years-old. In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

5. Only four percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.

Clearly, our culture swings the pendulum toward a view of external beauty that places far too much of a burden on girls and women in particular. Young women are being led to live and die — literally — for beauty.

Pendulum to the Right

Conservative Christians, like me, are able to discern the disproportionate value being placed on externals. We see that it doesn’t line up with God’s heart (1 Sam 16.7), so we call on each other to esteem hearts over clothes. We hear the words of the New Testament that call us to modesty of dress (1 Tim 2.9-10; 1 Pet 3.3-6; 1 Cor 12.22-24), so we call on each other to prioritize good works and good character over fashion.

And that’s all right and good.

But, there’s a tension present in Scripture that needs to pull us in from both the right and the left of the pendulum, back towards the centre.
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What Gospel-Contented Mothering Looks Like

In a couple other posts this week (The Story of the Bible Told Through Motherhood and Satan’s Desire for Mothers) I have argued for the high calling of women to be mothers, since it reflects and magnifies God himself. The immediate and appropriate reaction to that, however, is to respond by asking, ‘What about those who can’t be moms?’

There are many women who would simply love to bear children, but cannot for a variety of reasons. Also, there is the problem of women who are saved or begin maturing spiritually later in life and have many regrets about the way they mothered their children, but cannot go back and change anything now. How is a message like this at all hope-giving for them?

The Gospel Shifts Our Categories

The gospel, which is the foundation of all our contentedness, must also be the foundation of our categories. When we speak of ‘mothering’ and ‘motherhood’ we want to make sure we’re using these words in a gospel-informed way.

Simply put, the family that matters most in the New Covenant is not husband, wife, and 2.1 kids with a minivan and a white picket fence surrounding a house in the suburbs (or even a quiver-full of kids in the boonies). Rather, it is the family of God; the the motley crew that surrounds you every Sunday morning. We can’t miss this:

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10.29-30)

Foundational to the promises of the gospel and the new covenant is a new family. And we cannot miss this. The very call to follow Jesus will mean that many people will have to forsake natural family relationships.

Some will become singles and ‘eunuchs’ for the cause of Jesus’s kingdom. But that is not a call to be family-less, it is a call to join the family of God (the church).

In fact, this is how Jesus himself viewed his world. When people asked Jesus about his family, he said, ‘Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3.31-35). For those who hear the gospel-call to follow Jesus and are willing to leave all this world behind them to gain the pearl of great value, Jesus promises a family. Just not in the categories we’re used to.
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Satan’s Desire for Mothers

God has a plan and a design for women. So does Satan. God desires women to be grounded in the gospel and content in their role; as the one who created them, he knows the way he has created and the way that they are to be fulfilled. Satan wants to create the illusion of satisfaction and fulfillment in anything and everything other than God and his design.

Satan Desires Discontentment

Satan’s desire for mothers is the same as his desire for all women. He desires to create discontent in the roles that God has assigned. That is what Satan did in Eden, by approaching Eve first. And according to Paul (1 Tim 2.11-15), that is what Satan was doing in the early church in Ephesus. And you can rest assured that’s what he’s doing today.

God has designed women to be wives and mothers in order that they might reflect God himself, in whose image they are created. But Satan wants to create discontent with all of it so that the image of God is marred and belittled.

There are many ways Satan still works to create discontent in women — even Christian women — today. Here are two:

1. He says you’re too good for mothering

He tells women that the ideal is to get a degree, be a professional, and shatter the glass ceiling. The idea of being a wife and a mother is good for some or perhaps for a time, but the idea of being forever identified as a wife & mother is clearly not for you. The idea of letting a husband ‘lead you’ is so far beneath you it’s inconceivable, and having your identity be something bound up with your husband and your children is degrading.
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The Story of the Bible as Told Through Motherhood

It occurred to me the other day, in preparing for a Mother’s Day sermon, that the story of the Bible (the story of God redeeming his people) could be told almost entirely in categories of motherhood. So I thought I’d give it a shot.

In Creation & Fall

God created and ordered the world — and it was good. But one thing was not good: Man was alone. So God created the helper suitable for him who would be not only his wife, but the ‘mother of all the living’ even before she had children (Gen 3.20). Once this ‘mother’ was created and given to her husband, creation was ‘very good.’

Of course, the downfall of humanity came when the one who was created to be mother took on a different role, was deceived, and led her family into transgression.

But God was not done with this woman and was not content to leave motherhood unredeemed. Rather, in the very context of pronouncing his judgement on motherhood (Gen 3.16) he also pronounced that the role of motherhood was going to be blessed with the privilege of redeeming all of humanity and all of creation (Gen 3.15). Through this mother would come the one who brings true life to all those who will truly live.

In the Old Testament Narrative

The narrative of Genesis unfolds as a fulfilling of the blessings and curses of God as the seed of the woman is forever opposed by the seed of the serpent. The climax of the stories in Genesis surround the wives of the patriarchs and their inability to bear children. If the women can’t become mothers, the whole plan of God falls apart. But each time God intervenes and gives children to the mothers so that his plan of redeeming the world continues through them.

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How Revealing Should a Christian Woman’s Clothes Be?

Question: Just how revealing should a Christian woman’s clothes be? Answer: Very revealing… in fact, Christian women should aim to dress in a manner as revealing as possible.

Of course, what they are revealing should be something other than flesh. Christian women, rather than having ‘covering up my body’ as their goal, should have ‘revealing the gospel’ as their goal when they pick their clothes each morning.

The warmer weather is upon us again and the spring outfits are about to make their return. So I thought I might be able to serve our church by offering a little reminder to Christian women everywhere to pursue modesty for the sake of revealing the gospel.

Here are two truths Christian women can use to connect the gospel to modesty in their attire:
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It’s Sexism

As a man who lives with and cherishes his wife and three daughters, there are few things that I find as frustrating as seeing young girls demean their value and objectify themselves by the way they dress. Many of the styles young girls find themselves drawn to these days make me wonder, ‘Why are they wearing anything at all?’

Feminism Divided

Feminism has won the right for women to dress however they want, right? Men have forever been hushed, and trained not to speak about what a woman wears, right? But here’s the thing: A house divided against itself cannot stand. If the goal of feminism was to increase our awareness of the inherent value and dignity of women, but the clothes they choose to wear actually diminish their dignity and value, which side wins? And if we, as men, know that we think differently about inappropriately dressed women, but don’t say something then aren’t we in fact contributing to the diminishing of the display of the dignity and value of women?
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On the Creation of Women

In the beginning God created all things, but according to Genesis 1, the climax of God’s creation was humanity. God literally ‘saved the best for last.’ He made them alike, male and female, in his image, after his likeness. He created them with distinct beauty and inherent value and dignity. They were (and are) equal, but different.

Does the Bible Attribute Less Value to Women?

Sometimes skeptics try to make the case that the Bible runs women down of makes little of women. In my study last week, however, I was reminded of just the opposite. Here, in point form, are some of the evidences from the creation account of how highly Scripture views women.
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