Biblical Womanhood in the Home
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
In 1990 Time magazine devoted an entire special issue to the subject of women.1
The managing editor's column began:
As roughly half the world's population, women would hardly seem to need to struggle
for attention. Yet struggle is precisely what they have been doing in the final
decades of the 20th century. Their endeavors deserve no less a word than revolution--in expectations, accomplishments, self-realization and relationships with men. It is a
revolution that, though far from complete, promises over time to bring about changes
as profound for men and women as any that have occurred in Eastern Europe or the
Soviet Union in the past year.2
The eighty-six-page special issue included articles on such revolutionary
developments as "the road to equality," the psychology of growing up female, the
changing roles of women in the workforce, women as consumers, changing views
on marriage and family, and the hurdles women face in pursuing political careers.
One section featured profiles of "10 tough-minded women" who have combined
"talent and drive" to become "successful" in their careers: the police chief of a
major metropolitan police force, a baseball owner, a rap artist, an AIDS activist, a
rock climber, a bishop in a mainline denomination, a fashion tycoon, a saxophonist,
an Indian chief, and a choreographer. These women were lauded chiefly for their
success in their chosen vocations.
Conspicuous by its absence throughout the issue was any recognition given to
women who have succeeded in ways not tied to careers--women who have
successfully stayed married to the same man or who have succeeded in bringing
up children that are making a positive contribution to society. Not surprisingly, no
bouquets were handed out to women for being reverent and temperate or modest
and chaste or gentle and quiet, for loving their husbands and children, for keeping a
clean, well-ordered home, for caring for elderly parents, for providing hospitality,
for acts of kindness, service, and mercy, or for demonstrating compassion for the
poor and needy--the kind of success that, according to the Word of God, is what
women should aspire to attain (1 Tim. 5:10; Titus 2:3-5).
I was struck by the fact that though Time's coverage featured women in many
different roles and settings, there were precious few references to home. (The few
references to marriage and family highlighted "single women who are choosing to
be unmarried ... with children,"3 stay-at-home dads, divorced moms, lesbians, and
working moms--all evidence of the pervasiveness of this revolution that recognizes
all lifestyles as equally valid choices, except perhaps those women who choose to
center their hearts and lives around their families. Women readers who have
chosen a career as "home-makers" could easily have been shaken by the solitary
sidebar article on "Wives" entitled "Caution: Hazardous Work." The subheading
read: "Looking for lifelong economic security? Don't bank on homemaking."4)
My intent in this context is not so much to address the issue of women and
careers as to point out the extent to which the identity and value of women has
come to be equated with their role in the community or in the marketplace. That is
how their "worth" is defined, measured, and experienced. By contrast, relatively
little priority or value is assigned to their role in the home.
As I read commentaries such as that provided by Time, I feel deep sadness over
what has been forfeited in the midst of this revolution--the beauty, the wonder,
and the treasure of the distinctive makeup, calling, and mission of women.
It should come as no huge surprise that the secular world is confused and off-base
about the identity and calling of women. But what I find distressing is the extent to
which the revolution described above has taken hold even within the evangelical
We see the fruit of that revolution as prominent Christian speakers, authors, and
leaders promote an agenda, whether subtly or overtly, that encourages women to
define and discover their worth in the workplace, in society, or at church, while
minimizing (or even at the expense of) their distinctive roles in the home as
daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers--as bearers and nurturers of life, as
caregivers, as those privileged and responsible to shape the heart and character of
the next generation.
The feminist revolution was supposed to bring women greater fulfillment and
freedom. It was supposed to make us feel better about ourselves; after all,
"You've come a long way, baby!" But we see the poisoned fruit of the revolution in
the eyes and pitiable cries of women who are drowning in the quagmire of serial
divorce and remarriage and wayward children; women who are utterly exhausted
from the demands of having to juggle one or more jobs, function as single parents,
and be active at church; women who are disoriented and confused, who lack a
sense of mission, vision, and purpose for their lives and who are perpetually,
pathetically shrouded in woundedness, self-doubt, resentment, and guilt.
Yes, the revolution has come to church. And when you add up all the gains and
losses, there is no question in my mind that women have been the losers--as have
their husbands and their children and grandchildren--as has the entire church--as
has our lost, unbelieving culture.
Some years ago a fresh sense of mission began to stir within my heart. Since that
time, the sense of pessimism and hopelessness, of being swallowed up by the
revolution, has been replaced by rich hope and excitement.
A study of the development of modern feminism (feminism itself actually dates
back to the Garden of Eden) impressed me with the fact that this massive
revolution did not begin as a massive revolution. It started in the hearts of a
relatively small handful of women with an agenda, women who were determined
and intentional in their efforts; it started with a few seminal books and speeches; it
spread throughout the living rooms of America (which is where women were at the
time) until it became a groundswell; it spread by painting for women a picture
(deceptive as it was) of their plight and creating a vision of how things could be
different; it ignited indignation, longing, and hope in women's hearts; it sparked a
refusal to be content with the status quo.
As I pondered these things, I began to wonder what might happen in our day if
even a small number of devoted, intentional women would begin to pray and
believe God for a revolution of a different kind--a counterrevolution--within the
evangelical world. What would happen if a "remnant" of women were willing to
repent, to return to the authority of God's Word, to embrace God's priorities and
purpose for their lives and homes, and to live out the beauty and the wonder of
womanhood as God created it to be?
Of course, I realize that such women will always be in the minority (as were the
early feminists). But as this inner compulsion has grown, I have taken courage
from the promise that "one . . . of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your
God is He who fights for you" (Josh. 23:10, nkjv). I have come to believe that the
measure of success is not whether we "win" the war (for we know that in the end,
this battle has already been won), but whether we are willing to "wage" the war.
You need to understand that I am not a fighter by nature. The older I get, the more
I crave a simple, uncomplicated, anonymous lifestyle. I had a natural reluctance to
jump into what I knew would be a lifetime of going against the flow (even in the
church); I didn't relish the idea of being politically incorrect all the time. But greater
than my fears and reservations is a passion for the glory of God. And God is
glorified through thankful, trusting, obedient, compassionate, serving, virtuous,
joyful, feminine women who reflect to our world the heart and character of the
Lord Jesus Himself. As we are filled with His Spirit, we radiate His beauty and make
the Gospel believable.
Unlike most revolutions, this counterrevolution does not require that we march in
the streets or send letters to Congress or join yet another organization. It does
not require us to leave our homes; in fact, for many women, it calls them back
into their homes. It requires only that we humble ourselves, that we learn, affirm,
and live out the biblical pattern of womanhood, and that we teach the ways of God
to the next generation. It is a revolution that will take place on our knees.
As I have come to accept God's call to be a part of this counterrevolution, I have
discovered that I am not alone. Everywhere I have shared this vision, I have found
that "deep answers to deep"; the call to return to biblical womanhood resonates
within Christian women who have tasted the bitter fruit of the feminist revolution
and who know within their hearts that God's ways are right.
Further, I have met a number of women who are serious students of the Word and
are particularly gifted at communicating God's plan for our lives as women. What a
joy it was to sit and share with some of those women at the conference on
Building Strong Families cohosted in March 2000 by FamilyLife and the Council on
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Our hearts beat alike for the glory of God to be
seen in our homes and churches as women embrace their God-given calling.
The women who led workshops at that conference, and whose messages are
presented here in written form, represent a variety of backgrounds and life
experiences. They approach the subject of biblical womanhood in the home from a
number of different angles and teaching styles. But there runs throughout a thread
of delight with the greatness of God's created order and the part we as women
play in His grand redemptive plan.
These women join me in inviting you to become a part of this counterrevolution--waged not with the weapons of anger, discontent, rebellion, and rancor, but with
humility, obedience, love, and prayer--believing that in God's time, the changes
that result will indeed be more profound and on a higher order than any of the
massive sociopolitical changes our world has experienced in this generation.
Though not written in the context of the topic at hand, this prayer by John
Greenleaf Whittier captures something of the heart of this book and of the
movement we are believing God to birth anew in our day:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
1.††††††Time, "Women: The Road Ahead," Fall 1990.
Taken from Biblical Womanhood in the Home by Nancy Leigh Demoss, Copyright © 2002. Used by
permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 60187. This
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