Etiquette. Femininity is best expressed through tea parties, dress up, and home economics. This is the most important indoctrination of a girl in our culture. If you can make her reserved and agreeable, you will be able to control her better. The unbridled female is your worst fear. A woman must be tamed. She is a temptress. In the garden, it was Eve who caused Adam to sin.
Yeah, this is the common mentality regarding girls and how to raise well behaved daughters. It infuriates me. I am a strong willed, independent, professional lady. Sadly, I often find myself at odds in the church. As a woman, I feel that my extroverted, opinionated character traits are seen as contrary to the proper conduct for a Christian girl. I try to change and fit the “ideal Christian girl” mold. Every time I try to alter my behavior to fit acceptable Christian girl conduct, I feel empty. I don’t feel like my faith is growing.
Some would tell me that I need to obey my husband more, be more meek, and practice silence that my faith my grow. I will mature if I allow God to mature me. When I do this though, I feel myself doubting God. Yes, I am a sinful individual. We all are. We need a Savior to rescue us from ourselves. However, I was also created by God and for God. Didn’t he make my personality strong? Is that wrong?
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”- Titus 2:1-5
I read verses like the one above and sit dumbfounded. The Bible is hard. I don’t get it. I believe the Bible is true and I shouldn’t deviate from its truths. If I do stray from its principles, I fabricate God into my own making and I wouldn’t want that. However, these verses are aggravating. What did God mean? Is my only place in the home? Bills are bigger than in the first century. Am I not trusting God enough with my finances? I get so caught up in works based faith. Yet, how do we not when we seek to not just love the Word, but live it?
Submission isn’t a curse word. It doesn’t have to imply slavery or abuse. I get that. How do I teach myself, let alone my daughter, how to serve God in submission without forsaking talents, skills, and achievements for the sake of a man, especially my husband, though?
I can look to the Bible for a guidance on womanhood. I get frustrated with churches though when we say that the Bible is clear. What Bible do these folks have? I can read it through cultural lenses, as exegesis would mandate, but it is also a timeless book, no? Can we admit that we interpret Scripture, even if not intentionally, through our experiences? Faith lived out will look different between various individuals because we do not have the same personalities. The previous statement doesn’t help rectify my conundrum. How do we apply Biblical truths without compromising its intent and without being too works based? I know you have to look at the text in context, but it doesn’t change the parts that are difficult.
I’ve often been told that the man is to be the spiritual leader in the home. Women wouldn’t want this responsibility because we would be held to greater accountability with God. Isn’t this easy for a man to say? The man is free to express himself through prayer and worship, while a woman is “under his authority”. I know that God is also a judge. We wouldn’t want to endure his wrath. However, for the Christian, we are forgiven through Jesus. Yes, we still have to account for what we did with the life God gave us, but we will not be condemned. As such, does the man really require greater accountability with God? Is this just an excuse to not let a woman lead? What are we afraid of when a woman is in charge?
I’m floundering. I’m not sure how to navigate Biblical womanhood and I am certainly confused on how I am to teach it to my daughter. I know that I can’t let this fear paralyze me. I just wish I was allowed to voice these things in church without being told that I’m getting hung up in works, that I am misinterpreting the text, and that I just have to trust God to grant me the wisdom. These are such simple answers. I’m tired of the simple answers. I miss college. At least in college we confessed that the question was sometimes the only thing we had to offer God and we were comfortable with the mystery of that. I just want to wrestle with this and have others wrestle with me. Wrestling doesn’t have to equate to skepticism and denial of God. In fact, I think that in the circle laps I just might gain a slight insight into navigating Biblical womanhood.
[On a completely separate note, our culture’s obsession with looks is another thing that drives me bonkers. I didn’t realize how ingrained the pretty sentiments were in my mind. We always comment on a person’s outfit or looks. I understand that I won’t gather a person’s character in passing and sometimes the only thing we notice is appearance, but an outfit can allude to an individual’s personality if we pay close enough attention, no? Also, why are girls consistently called cute? We have much more to offer than our bodies. How do I teach my daughter to respect her body but not get wrapped up in purity culture, the sex crazed secular society, or be concerned only about her figure (including face)? I struggle with this balancing act myself. Prayer is my only answer, but alas, I come back to the wrestling I talked about in the previous paragraph.]
Being a woman is hard. Being a wife is difficult. Being a mother is debilitating, downright impossible. I’m grateful God trusted me with this responsibility, but curious as to how he could trust me so much.
Dear Lord, have mercy.
…much study wearies the body. -Ecc. 12:12