A dear friend of mine just gave birth to a lovely little girl. She's the first girl in the family, and it is enchanting to see how everyone is doting over this tiny bundle. That baby will always be the best dressed in the room. She will always be pointed to the God that made her. Her brothers and father will fiercely protect her from any semblance of harm, and her mother will model godliness to her, exemplifying Christ in her ways.
I am thrilled at the privilege to watch on as these things take place, and to love this girl earnestly. But today as I've been treasuring these things, a juxtaposed headline caught my eye: "There's too Many Men–what happens when women are outnumbered on a massive scale." The article details the crises that have followed China and India in their cultural preference of male children. It's well-known that China had the "one-child policy" in place from 1979-2015, and now we are beginning to see the social effects of countless individuals and government entities valuing males more than females.
In China's population of 1.4 billion, there is an excess of 34 million males. In India, there are 37 million more males than females. Between both countries, there are 50 million more males 20 years old and younger than there are females. Corresponding to this surplus of testosterone is an increase of social crises such as: economic imbalance, rising depression among men, human trafficking in the form of mail-order brides and prostitution, and a rising rate of violent crime. These statistics preach what the Lord has said from the beginning: Women are necessary to the health of society and human flourishing.
It shatters me to know that had my friend's child been born elsewhere she might not be as valued or cherished. That she would be seen as a liability or even a disability. That there would be a high likelihood that she didn't make it out of the womb alive. And what continues to crush me is how far we still have to go, even within the realm of Christianity. It weighs on me to convey clearly that I see her value and worth and dignity as our Heavenly Father does– as a part of the Image of God within her, His fingerprints marking her and setting her apart.
During the six days of creation, God deemed all that He crafted as "good." Every sprig of leaping greenery, every stretch of land, every rock, and every beast was good. But God made man, bringing him up from the dust and said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." From the very beginning, men needed a partnership in order to be successful in stewarding the Earth, and that partnership was not found in any creature that walked the earth or cruised the skies. God's good fulfilment of such partnership was the creation of women.
But now the fall has happened, and there's sin in the world. And that curse from Genesis 3 still haunts the relationships between men and women today. It causes strife and affliction between believers. It often makes men suspicious of a woman's intentions and vice versa. It has tricked entire cultures into believing that women aren't as valuable as men, that our general lack of physical strength makes us useless or that our biology prohibits us from being educated. We are people maimed by the effects of sin, but as Christians we need one another. We need to be supportive and functional brothers and sisters in Christ.
We know that femininity is not a mistake, and we know that it is necessary to the mission and purpose of the Church. But what does true femininity look like according to God's Word? I'll be the first to admit that I often don't relate to the traditional sense of womanhood: I like bugs, hate pink, and prefer flats to heels. But these things, these preferences, don't tell the whole story about what it means to be a woman. In fact, these things don't tell us anything about what it means to be a woman. We go to God's Word for that, instead.
"But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:4
In the surrounding passage of this verse, the Apostle Peter speaks specifically to wives, however, the wisdom this verse gives is not exclusive to those in wedlock. Peter is telling women that our adornment comes from the "imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." It is no secret that our beauty will fade away, and we live in a culture that is actively trying to defy the effects of age in order that so-called beauty can be preserved. But as Christians we live in the hope and knowledge that our beauty is imperishable. Our beauty comes from the qualities that we exude by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Gentleness and quietness do not mean passive and weak. These qualities are more likened to self-control, humility, and meekness. And these are qualities that Christ Himself exhibited.
In Matthew 11:29 Jesus describes Himself as gentle and lowly. He is the ultimate example that we live by. He is the One that we are called to imitate and conform to His likeness. When we practice biblical femininity, we are simultaneously imitating our Lord and Savior.
It is easy to overcomplicate the idea of womanhood, especially in the volatile culture that we are in. There are many struggles that we, as women, will have in our fallen world. And there are parts of Scripture that take some extra attention in order that we have a proper, godly understanding of what God intended for women. But there is one thing that I know certain: Biblical femininity is fearing God, loving His Word, and tending diligently to the people He has entrusted us with.
Sarah expressed Biblical femininity when she chose to trust her husband and the call the Lord had placed on his life. Ruth displayed Biblical femininity when she refused to leave her mother-in-law and chose to cling to the Lord. Deborah practiced Biblical femininity when she used her God-given prophetic wisdom to judge Israel and enact justice. Priscilla revealed it when she discipled Apollos alongside her husband. Eunice and Lois showed it as they poured the Word of God into Timothy. Mary Magdalene showed it when she returned to the tomb of the Christ, intending to care for His broken body. The Bible has no short supply of godly women displaying their God-given womanhood in varied and useful ways.
In a world that undervalues the work of women, let's work with excellence unto the Lord. In a place that misrepresents the special gifts that have been granted to women, let's steward them for the Kingdom of God. Where the role of women is undervalued, let's invest in the imperishable qualities that God has made available to us through His Spirit. All the while let's take heart that God has called us necessary and will use us to display His strength.