Just What IS Godly Womanhood?
When you think of the term “Christian Womanhood,” of what do you think? How do you describe what this really means today, as it is lived day to day? For most of us, I think it has been defined this way: church attendance three times a week, being involved in the women’s ministry, attending Sunday school, perhaps being in the choir or helping with the children’s ministry, etc. Then we are to continually search for “our” ministry, defined as an area bringing us recognition, using our God-given talents and abilities, but which keeps us on the road and away from home. But does this fit the Biblical model of Godly womanhood which GOD described? Just how DOES God define Godly Womanhood?
God’s definition of our role is found in several Scriptures, so let’s take a look at what He’s said.
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Wives, be subject – be submissive and adapt yourselves – to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:21-24)
I Peter 2:12-28 talks about honoring those in authority over you
and even patiently bearing injustice. Then it talks about Jesus doing the same;
that He was sinless, yet suffered on the cross for sins He didn’t commit! OUR
sins. Then it picks up with:
In like manner you married women, be submissive to your own husbands – subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them. So that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband. That is, you are to feel for him all that reverence includes] – to respect, defer to, revere him; [revere means] to honor, esteem (appreciate, prize), and [in the human sense] adore him; [and adore means] to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love and enjoy [your husband]. Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which (is not anxious of wrought up, but) is very precious in the sight of God. For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were (accustomed) to beautify themselves, and were submissive to their husbands – adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent upon them. It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham (following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by) calling him lord – master, leader, authority. And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you – not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you.(I Peter 3:1-6)
Let’s break these two scriptures down into a list of the traits mentioned within them. To our husbands, we are supposed to have or be:
2. Submissive (said twice)
3. Adapt ourselves to them as a service to the Lord (said twice)
4. Subject to them in everything
5. Make ourselves secondary to them
6. By our ACTIONS we are to be examples by which they can come to Christ if unsaved
8. Modest conduct
9. Reverence for husbands
Be devoted to
10. Inward adorning
11. Beauty of the hidden person of the heart
12. Incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and quiet spirit
13. Not anxious or wrought up
14. Dependent upon
15. Acknowledge his headship
16. Let nothing terrify us
17. Don’t give way to hysterical fears
18. Don’t let anxieties unnerve us
This seems an almost impossible list and most of it has been covered in a previous article, but for now, let me ask you this, where on this list do you see the traits listed in the first paragraph of this article? Are those things listed anywhere in GOD’S description of Godly womanhood? If not, then WHY do we think this is Godly womanhood? Is it possible that we have been unknowingly misled into practicing a form of religion, but having lost the power (and thus, truth) thereof? I think we have.
Several years ago, the Lord led us away from our local church to a church that was an hour away. We were also told that we were there only for a short season. This was really a blessing to us as we were totally burned out from being so active in our local church, the hour drive gave us some real family time, and we were too far away to get pressured into being “involved” (though they did try!).
After leaving this church, I had months of seeking God for many reasons. This time of seeking God was so precious! Not having to be on the road for three services a week, not being involved in all the “ministry” stuff gave me SOOO much more time to spend with my Lord!! That time of communion with Him was more precious to me than I can tell you! AND I also had time to LISTEN to what He wanted to speak to me! No more flying prayers as I frantically ran out the door on my way to “church.” I can’t tell you how many times we had ARGUED our way out the door to go “worship God”!!
The most important question I constantly asked the Lord was whether or not we were being deceived by the devil on the path we had taken. During this time, I got a really interesting perspective from the Lord. The first answer He gave me when I asked this was: “Beth, I only EVER required ONE day.” I thought about this, and you know what? He was right! God DID say:
“[Earnestly] remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy [withdrawn from common employment and dedicated to God].” (See Exodus 20:8-11; Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14)
Do we keep it holy? Do we set it aside, do no work that day and rest after the example He set? He didn’t require us to set aside any other day as His, just the Sabbath.
The next time I was going around and around over this issue, the Lord spoke this to me,
“Man was not created for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.” (Mark 2:27, “And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath.”)
God created the Sabbath for us to REST, not for man to serve the Sabbath!
If we follow the Scripture as God has given it to us, perhaps there would be less strife in our homes. Perhaps our husbands and children would be less pressed and even less cranky! And what about us? Don’t we also need a day for “temple maintenance”? God did! Isn’t this a way that we can accommodate ourselves to our husbands? It has been my experience that it is mostly the women who feel pressured to be at church “every time the doors open”, not the men! And in so doing, just who are we obeying? Our husband, or the preacher? Check our list, above, and see if there is any description of you obeying the preacher over obeying your husband! Is it there? NO! Scripture clearly states that we are to be subject to our OWN husbands in EVERYTHING! (See The Struggle to Honor Our Husbands)
So, why do women feel such pressure to be there? One reason is peer pressure – OUR peer pressure. We’re “expected” to be there and our own school and social experiences have trained us to conform to the expectations of others. Another reason is because the preacher tells you he expects you to be there from the pulpit! Generally, women are very susceptible to “guilt trips”, which is why the Scripture in Romans 8:1 is SO important to us!
“Therefore [there is] now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who live not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.”
Scripture never contradicts Scripture, so this tells us that when those “guilt trips” come on us, they are not of the Spirit!!!!
Well, isn’t my pastor a godly man?
Why would he do this if it isn’t “of the Spirit.” For a while, this one stumped
me, too, until one day the Lord reminded me of Habbakuk 2:3:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
I believe that these men who truly love God have the same failing I have, and I’m sure many of you do, too. When God speaks something to them, gives them a word of direction or even shows them what He wants them to do, they are SO excited about it that they bring it to the congregation to share what God has said. Then they encourage you to join them with this new thing God has revealed. This makes us feel guilty if we don’t feel the same “umph” to join in on this project, knowing that we’d have to squeeze more time out of our busy lives in order to accommodate this new thing and then the pastor is disappointed and disturbed when the congregation doesn’t “enthusiastically jump on board.”
Unfortunately, Habbakuk says to proceed a bit differently. If we moved according to the above Scripture, the scenario would look like this; the pastor gets a word from God and knows that it will not fail because God spoke it. So, as it tarries, HE TARRIES, bathing God’s project in prayer and asking God to supply the right people to fuel this new thing. Then, he can sit back and watch as God miraculously provides for His project, with His people, in HIS time! The pastor isn’t stressed, the congregation isn’t stressed, and when people show up telling the preacher, “God told me to come to you to help you with a project He has given you”, the preacher KNOWS the people whom God has sent, avoiding wolves among the sheep and strife for all, and most importantly, GOD gets ALL the glory! Isn’t that a much better scenario than having to live up to expectations that exhaust you and your family and keep you under stress and on the road? This also provides a “checks and balance” for the church. This will only happen if this is truly God’s plan and thus, this provides protection for the minister, as well.
Am I slamming pastors? NO! I am writing this in order to teach you a biblically sound way to be guilt free when you are NOT called to “be at church every time the doors open” and to live a much less pressured life! This way, you can concentrate on the God-given calling that is spelled out in scripture: your husband and children – your FAMILY!!
One day my eldest daughter was pressured to go to the youth group at the church that was an hour away. I told her I’d pray about it, but she knew what the Lord had told us, and I doubted that He’d changed His mind and not told me. The instruction the Lord had given my husband and myself was that the children were to stay with us in the service. This particular day, my husband was out of town and we were riding with some friends, whose teenaged daughter was involved in this request. The mother of this family had given me a book written by an M.D. in order to read a passage from it about a nutritional issue. This book also contained the testimony/interview with a woman who had been heavily involved in the occult, but who had gotten saved. As I flipped through the book, I came across a passage in which this former witch said that one of satan’s cleverest tactics is to separate the family at the church door. The children go to children’s Sunday school, the women to women’s classes, the men to men’s, the children go to children’s church and the parents to “big” church. The children NEVER see their parents worshipping God, nor do they participate with them! I turned to my daughter, and told her to read that passage. I never heard another word about going to youth group.
Our children need to see us model our walk with Christ! They need to see that God is the TOP priority in our lives, they need to see us broken and repentant, even on our faces weeping before God; they need to see us praising God with our whole hearts.
Scripture tells us that King David danced before the Lord in worship, and that his wife, Michel (Saul’s daughter) despised him for doing this. Why did she have this attitude? Because she had never seen HER father do it and therefore didn’t value it. This attitude also brought God’s judgment against her.
How can we expect our children to be MORE, to be a generation ready to do the work of God at the end of the age, to harvest the “fields white to harvest” if they have no foundation upon which to build? It’s the PARENT’S responsibility to build this foundation, not the “church”!! As we have all heard, children copy what they SEE, not just what they are told.
As I have said before, it is my goal for my children to be MORE in love with the Lord than their father and I, to want to serve Him MORE, to want MORE of God. One day in school, we had watched a science video by Dr. Kent Hovind* and immediately afterward, we were reading What’s Her Name, a Lamplighter book. All of a sudden, I got a “flash” from the Lord and we entered a unique conversation. I told my girls that I felt that we should take notes on the videos of what really jumped out at us, because it has been my experience in the past that the things that grab my attention are ultimately the very thing I’ll need at a later date when talking to someone about the Lord. I also told them that the only people who had ever “intimidated” me were those who were really smart where I was really not; science and math. But, I felt that with the information we were getting from Dr. Hovind, who has a love of science combined with a passion for the Word of God, we’d be able to learn what we didn’t know and therefore be able to stand up to ANYONE, “always be ready to give an account for the hope that is within you.” If we are at home with our children homeschooling them, doesn’t it also make sense that we will teach them about reaching others and disciple them in HOW to go about doing this?
(*HIGHLY REOMMENDED! See his blue video series at www.drdino.com)
If we are home, then we can also fulfill the calling God has on us as wives and mothers. First, we have time to meditate on the Word, to seek the Lord and, as I learned, to LISTEN to Him. Turn off the TV, the radio, the stereo and DARE to be different and spend time with the Lord until He speaks to you. It is SO worth the price and once this happens, you’ll never be satisfied without it! Time also allows us to make our home the center of our family life AND the center of ministry. I have seen the Lord bring people to whom He wanted me to minister to my very door! I didn’t have to go out looking for ministry; it is right here in my home. An open heart, a listening ear, a cup of tea and time with a sister-in-Christ can be a precious blessing, not just to the one who came, but to the giver, as well. I cannot tell you how blessed I have been by some of my dear sisters who have come to me. They think they got the blessing, but I know the truth. It was I who received the biggest gift.
What about your unsaved neighbors? What about their children? It takes time to pray down strongholds. It takes time to even find out what they are. Why haven’t we won our street for Christ? We’re “too busy.” We have an open field to reach the lost for Christ right in our neighborhood. We can open our homes to love them, we can send food when they are in need, we can visit them when they are sick. Being home allows our entire family to minister to them. BUT, we have to invest time into getting to know them and their needs. We can’t do this if we are always running to “church.” Most of the unsaved will never darken the door of a church, but they’ll visit you, neighbor, in your home! They’ll begin to see you and wonder what makes you and your children so different. What about your respectfully loving relationship with your husband? Wouldn’t THAT open a few doors?!!! Once they see you living under the Lord’s leadership, they’ll begin to observe you and ultimately, ask questions. You don’t have to beat them over the head with the Bible or God. Just live your relationship with God and your family before them, love them with the love of Christ and watch as God whets their appetite for what YOU have.
[One note: if you are in a love relationship with the Lord, walking with Him in intimacy and obedience AND it is His plan for you to have a “large ministry,” do you really think He’d allow you to miss it? No! He has a much larger stake in this than you do because God’s coin is souls and lives lived in holiness! For the most part, I think the body of Christ has a misconception about this “ministry” issue. We’ve sought the ministry over and more than we’ve sought Him and sought to know Him. We are to seek GOD, not just what He can give us.]
There is one more scripture in Titus 2 that is specifically directed at women. It says:
Bid the older women similarly (to the men mentioned in the verses above) to be reverent and devout in their deportment, as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober-minded – temperate, disciplined – and to love their husbands and their children; to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers [keepers at home], good-natured (kindhearted) adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach – blasphemed or discredited. (Titus 2:3-5)
Whew! WHAT a list this gives us! Did you see any repeats from that first list? So, what do you think, now? Is this consistent with what God has given us in the other two Scriptures? Do you think that just because we live in the 21st century that God has changed His mind about this? (If so, please read Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8.)
Several years ago, God called me to break the above verse down, word by word; to go to the Greek words and find out what each one meant. I was SO surprised to find that “keepers at home” in the King James, literally meant, “stayers at home.” So, why would this be important to God?
I can think of several reasons, some of which we’ve already covered. But in addition to those, at home we have been removed from many temptations. We are in a place of God’s protection. If we are at home, we are much more protected from gossip, jealousy, anger, offenses, division, factions, immorality, etc. (see Galatians 5:20-21)
“Oh!” you say, “These are WORLDLY things!” Really? Let me ask you this, have you ever experienced any of these or been HURT by any of these at “church”? I don’t think you can live on the planet and not experience these, even at “church”!
How do we get over these hurts? How do we proceed as Godly women? First, we obey the Scriptures we’ve covered by acknowledging what God has said and changing our lives to be in compliance with Scripture. Go to you husband and share with him your desire to “de-involve” and see what he says. Most husbands will welcome this move. Next, we take another look at Titus 2.
This passage brings forth an interesting idea: older women are to teach younger women. This is an idea with which most homeschoolers are familiar as those further down the HS path reach back to help those who are newer. And this is the essence of what Jesus practiced with the twelve. What do we call the twelve? DISCIPLES! Discipleship is God’s model throughout history. God talked to Moses, Moses to the seventy, the seventy led the thousands. The Father talked to Jesus, Jesus discipled the twelve, and the twelve changed the world. We are to re-establish this model today, for God hasn’t changed the model He’s given.
Why isn’t this happening on a large scale? Partly because, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The ball was dropped somewhere in the past and today there is a lack of mentors, indeed, there is a general lack of women who have truly investigated the Scripture and chosen the difficult path of dying to self to live for Christ. Most women haven’t even died to self to accommodate their husbands! But God IS turning this around. He has called and there are women who have heard the call, paid the price and have been trained by God to teach other women to live Godly lives, how to love their husbands (even when they are or act like jerks! ºÜº), how to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” and to love them in a Godly manner. You may know one and can probably think of others. Not all are well-known, either. Indeed, I would venture to say that most of them are quietly living their lives as unto the Lord, but when you meet one, you’ll recognize her. She’ll be VERY different from everyone else AND she’ll bring you a breath of fresh air; you’ll feel the burden lift from your shoulders, you’ll be inspired to do whatever it takes to live for Christ. She will show you that the prize is worth the price!!
So, if we stay at home and aren’t running to church or Bible studies, then how do we get “fed”? How do we stay motivated to be in the Word and to make the hard choices God asks of us? Well, I’m glad you asked that question. There are a couple of answers. First and foremost, God will call you, motivate you and give you a hunger and a thirst for time with Him. He was faithful to do so in past generations and He’ll be faithful to do so for you, because Scripture tells us that He is “no respecter of persons”, meaning that God doesn’t play favorites. Another answer may surprise you, but let me tell you about it through my own experience.
About a year or so after having made the choice to “de-involve,” I was questioning God as to whether or not I had missed Him, been deceived, “led down the garden path”, etc. I questioned the Lord about it one night and had gotten no firm answer before I went to sleep. The next morning, the Lord woke me up before my alarm went off. He told me, “Find Joyce Meyer.” I knew He was talking about the TV, I knew who she was, but had no idea where to find her! I got up and checked the digital schedule provided by our cable company, and there on Channel 48 it said, “Joyce Meyer”! I rejoiced that I had obviously heard the Lord correctly and found what I was supposed to find, and I got in with a minute or so to spare. During the course of the thirty minutes she was on the air, she said something which made the hair stand up all over me! She said that the place for women with children was in their homes! And she said that they have no business being gone all the time, even at church to “serve the Lord”!! They were not to run from Bible Study to Bible Study, but to stay at home with their kids! She said, “If you need Bible study, just study with me!” I KNEW that God had instructed her to say that AND waked me up just to hear the answer to my question from the night before! So, one part of my study at home is with Joyce Meyer. I have done so for three years, and will do so until the Lord gives me different instructions.
The most astonishing thing about this story is that for one full year I went to the digital TV schedule and it never again said, “Joyce Meyer”; it only said, “Paid Programming.” GOD put that there that day for me to hear the EXACT answer to my prayer! If you don’t have cable or a way to do this and you feel led of God to do so, then purchase a package of video tapes and send to a family member who has TV and see if they’ll tape her (or anyone else you choose) for you. When you’ve seen one tape, send it back and they can re-tape on it for you. While you are watching the first tape, they are filling the second, etc. I have done this for someone I disciple who hasn’t any way to receive the broadcast.
A third way to have Bible study while at home is over the telephone with someone you know. This may sound odd, but you and a friend can decide to study a book or passage together and then get together and compare notes. The trick here is to set your time, stay on track and not let the phone eat your day. Set a kitchen timer and make an agreement that you will get off the phone when your timers ring, whether or not you are “finished.”
A fourth way is to do the same thing through a weekly tea time. This works best if you have children the same age as yours who can play together and help entertain each other giving you some grown-up time.
A fifth way (which could be incorporated into numbers three and four) is to get Bible study books like those by Kay Arthur similar to “God Are You There?”, which my eldest daughter is now finishing. Kay Arthur teaches a Bible study methodology known as “Precept” which I highly recommend. Once you learn this, you can tear apart any Scripture and know that you know what it means. You will be MUCH more difficult to deceive and you have a wonderful assurance about the Word when you have “studied to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If we’re going to “de-involve”, then what will that bring? Let’s take a minute to look at how God taught the Jews to worship. After all, the Jews were not grafted into the Gentiles. Instead, we were grafted into the vine of Israel through Jesus, (Romans 11:17-18, Galatians 3:29) so the principles God laid for them are also for us.
I want to give you a picture of how God told the Jews to keep the Sabbath. I am not telling you to keep the Jewish Sabbath, though some families are being led of God to do so. For this article, I’m simply using this as an illustration to make a point.
We have some mistaken ideas about the Sabbath, the Temple in Jerusalem, the function of synagogues (there was a local one Jesus attended – Luke 4:16-30); we are virtually ignorant of the feasts of Israel, which were “a perpetual statute throughout your generations,” so there is much in Scripture that we miss.
Have you ever heard Ray Boltz’s song, “Watch the Lamb”? If so, then you’ve heard the story of a man and his sons taking the family lamb for Passover to the Temple for sacrifice. The streets are crowded on this holy day and the father instructs his sons to “watch the lamb” in the midst of the crowd. Along the way, they come across Jesus headed for the cross and the father realizes that HE is the ultimate Lamb of God and instructs his sons to “watch the Lamb.” This is a picture of how the Temple, which was also the local synagogue for Jerusalem, worked in the life of the Jews. For those too far away from the Temple for it to be their synagogue, there were local synagogues where the men would gather to learn and debate the law. This was also where the boys would study the law in order to pass their Bar Mitzvah in order to “become a man” at age thirteen. (The girls had to pass a Bat Mitzvah at the same age, so both sexes had a “rite of passage” ceremony.)
But, when it came to the weekly worship, it was not done in the Temple or the local synagogue! It was done in the home!! That is why the first century Christians met from house to house because they were used to the home being the place the Sabbath was held! (Rent and watch Fiddler on the Roof. You’ll see Golda running around, watching the sky for sunset, for all work had to be done before the beginning of Sabbath. You’ll also see her light the Sabbath candle and say a prayer to begin the Sabbath.)
The Jews and Messianic believers celebrated (and still celebrate) the Sabbath, called Shabbat, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I have a friend who is a missionary in the Middle East. We were discussing this one day when she was in the U.S. and she was telling me how Shabbat is celebrated over there. Friday night the family gathers together, has a special meal (similar to “Sunday dinner”) and spends the evening worshipping God and studying His Word. On Saturday, they each get up and quietly have their own time with the Lord and then the rest of the day is spent as a family, resting. They might go to the beach at the Red Sea, they might do any family activity that includes a day of rest for the family. So, when we read in the New Testament that they “broke bread together,” “meeting house to house” all of a sudden, it takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
The point I’m making is that we have been told that going to the building where believers meet and working there is “Godly Womanhood,” when the Scripture and Jewish tradition based on Scripture show us otherwise! There are SO many beautiful things about doing this God’s way instead of the way our tradition has taught us. It is summed up in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good-not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Amplified)
God’s way of centering our worship and ministry in the home brings peace into our homes, reduces strife in our marriages and families, strengthens our bodies by allowing them to get enough rest and reducing the load of stress under which we live; it allows our husbands to assume the role God gave him of high priest of the home; it allows our family to work together in UNITY, a very powerful place which the “church” today, and we as families, rarely achieve.
We CAN change the world just like the first century Christians did – from our homes IF we are willing to obey the Word of God and live according to Scripture. I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but it IS the Master’s plan.
“For My [God’s] thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Home is the God designed center of ministry and once there, the opportunity to become a Godly woman by God’s definition is available and much more easily obtained.