14 May 2014

What, oh what... is a Woman?

…female He created them. 
–Genesis 1:27

If you had to sum up the essence of womanhood in a single, pithy sentence, what would it be? I believe that now, more than ever, it behooves us to be clear about such things. In a time when our school-aged children are being fed with a curriculum designed to make them question their own gender identities, we need to give them clarity on what makes a woman, and what makes a man.

And yet, this often seems to become an issue of contention, even within the church, just one more reason to line ourselves up on one side or the other. But as I think about it, it occurs to me that one reason for this is that all too often, the pastoral message can come off sounding like: “The role of a man is to lead, and the role of a woman is not to.” Not very inspiring for those of the feminine gender!

This, to me, is tragic. Not just because of the confusion such a half-baked presentation creates, but because of the way it shortchanges womanhood, and ultimately, God’s word. Because when it comes to womanhood, you can be sure that God does indeed have a word…

Women are to impart strength.

You can see it in every aspect of the feminine being: From the moment her womb bequeaths life in its earliest stages, to the nourishment provided by a nursing mother, to the emotional relief of her spoken comfort, to the inspiration, the invigoration a man feels when a woman (not just another man) believes in him and tells him so. All of these social, biological aspects are nothing less than the varying colours of a single, essential vision: That a woman was designed as a bestower of strength.

This is the reason that in the Bible’s books of Wisdom, you find her described with such strength-giving imagery. She is a fountain, a garden, a well of flowing water. She reaches out to the needy, and kindness is on her tongue. She lends her loved ones dignity as they move into their world. In the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, and the social, the woman stands as an imparter of strength. This is a positive vision, and one you can pass on to your daughter, confident that it will make her even more of who she was designed to be: a womanly reflection of the character of God.

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