A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood (Part 2) - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

How should we understand womanhood biblically? And why are we so confused about it, anyway?
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Living God's Design for Your Life 
Day 2 of 5
Guest:                        Nancy Leigh DeMoss
From the series:       A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood
Bob: What does womanhood look like biblically at home?  Here is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy: Scripture talks about a woman as reverencing her husband, honoring him, lifting him up; a woman who loves her husband, loves her children.  Proverbs speaks of the importance of a woman having the quality of discretion.  I think so many of these come back to the fact that God made us, as women, to be responders and to allow the men to be the initiators that God created them to be.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, June 17th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  What are the core character qualities that define biblical womanhood?  We'll talk about that today, stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  I remember when I was growing up, back then the "CBS Evening News" was hosted by Walter Cronkite – remember – Walter Cronkite, and over on NBC it was Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and I don't remember who was on ABC and neither does anybody else because nobody was even watching ABC.  And so the executives over at ABC, I think it was Fred Silverman at the time, decided he was going to have two anchors, kind of like Huntley-Brinkley.  One of them was going to be Harry Reasoner, and the other Barbara Walters.  And for the first time, America was going to be asked to get their evening news from a woman.  There was a lot of discussion – was America ready to have a woman as a nightly news anchor?  
And, you know, we look at that now from the perspective of more than 30 years, and it's almost laughable.  I heard somebody the other day saying that most of the cable news anchors are women today, and we don't think anything of it.  And yet back then we were asking a lot of questions about what is the essence of manhood, what is the essence of womanhood?  And, frankly, even though we'd look back at having a female news anchor being revolutionary, and we'd laugh about that today, I still think there is a lot of confusion in our culture today about what's at the essence of manhood, and what's at the essence of womanhood?
Dennis: And because of the cultural shift, there has been a shift in the Christian community.  Unfortunately, we have lost our biblical moorings, our anchor point in the Scripture, and I fear that we're raising a generation of daughters and, for that matter, sons, who do not know what it means to be a woman or to be a man.  
And that's why we're committing these broadcasts just to helping women truly have a good grasp of what it means, biblically speaking, to be a woman.  And with us in the studio to help us here on a second day is Nancy Leigh DeMoss – Nancy, welcome back.
Nancy: Thank you.
Dennis: Nancy has spoken to women's groups for more than 20 years, and I think it's fair to say, Nancy, that this is a life message for you – defining what it means and painting a portrait of femininity, is that right?
Nancy: Well, God certainly has given me a heart to glorify Him, as a woman, and that means that there are issues that have to be wrestled with.
Bob: Yes, and you spend time wrestling with this issues on your daily radio program, "Revive Our Hearts," which many of our listeners are familiar with because it's heard on some of the stations that also carry FamilyLife Today.  You have also written a number of books including a bestselling book called "Lies Women Believe."  There is a new book out called "Lies Young Women Believe."  You've written a study guide called "Seeking Him," and our listeners may not know that you're going to be hosting a national conference in Chicago coming up in October.  
It's called True Woman '08, and you're going to be speaking there along with Joni Eareckson Tada and Janet Parshall and, Dennis, your wife, Barbara is going to be there, Karen Loritts is going to be speaking as well – Pastor John Piper is going to be speaking to the ladies, and there is already a lot of excitement about this conference.  In fact, it's starting to fill up.  So if our listeners are interested in attending the True Woman '08 conference, they should go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and click where it says "Today's Broadcast" on the right side of the screen, and they'll find a link to the True Woman website, and they can get registered online and plan to attend the conference.
Let me ask you about this issue of masculinity and femininity.  Does the Bible give us insight into why God created us differently?  Why He created us male and female?
Nancy: Well, actually, God answers that question for us in His Word, thankfully.  And we find, if we go back to the Genesis record, that God made the man first, God created the man in His image, unlike all that had preceded man, unlike the animals or the plants or the seas, the waters.  God looked at the man and said, "It's not good."  It's not good that the man should be alone.  
And then it is interesting to me that God sent Adam on a little hunt to find, if he could, a completer for himself.  Adam failed in that attempt.  There was no completer for him, and then I think Adam realized that God was the one who had to provide his completion.  God was the one who had to provide that which would complement him.  And then, as we know, God put the man to sleep …
Bob: And I don't know this, but I bet he snored like crazy during that nap.
Nancy: Probably, probably.
Bob: Just guessing on that.
Dennis: You think?
Bob: I just am guessing he was in a deep sleep and was sawing some mean logs.
Nancy: Isn't snoring the result of the Fall?
Bob: Well, that's a good question.
Dennis: That's a great question.  I'm more certain of this – that when God came walking up with the answer to the question, "Why am I incomplete?"  He woke up at that point, didn't he?
Nancy: He did, and the thing that's helpful for us, as women, to understand is that God made us for the man.  So much of the teaching in our generation has been that the woman was is to be independent of the man; that her identity is not to be tied into that of the man.  But as we go back to the manual of life that we have here in God's Word, the manual that tells us how life can best function, we find that God made woman for the man.  He made her from the man.  They are not independent.  They are together created to reflect the image of God.  God gave her to the man as his helper.  God is saying, "The man needs one to help him in this task of exercising dominion over the earth, and the woman is the one that I have made to be able perfectly to help him fulfill that task.
Bob: And in Genesis God immediately gives that a context of marriage, but you're saying that even a single woman has been created to be a helper to man?
Nancy: Well, as we go into the New Testament, which helps us to understand more of the Old Testament record we get into 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, for example, that tells us that the woman was made for the man.  So obviously that relates to the context of marriage.  But I believe that God made us as women – me as a single woman – to have a role of being a helper, to be a cheerleader, an encourager, one who helps God's men fulfill their role in life.
Bob: You know, you can almost hear a woman kind of flinching as you offer that definition, because she is saying, "That's it?  I'm a cheerleader?  I stand on the sidelines while men play the game, and I cheer them on, and I run the water in during the water break, and I pat them on the back, and then I got back to the sidelines and let them play?  That doesn't sound like God to me."
Dennis: Yes, and there would be those add their voices, Nancy, who would say isn't being a helper a demeaning term?  Aren't you unnecessarily subjugating me to this sinful, selfish man and, after all, that was before man sinned.
Nancy: The New Testament tells us that men and women, husband and wife, are heirs together of the grace of life, and that a man's greatest fulfillment and a woman's greatest fulfillment in life will come through complementing each other, not competing with each other, but being willing to complete each other.  This is not a secondary role – the woman, as much as the man, was created in the image of God.  The woman, as much as the man, is a recipient of the grace of God and, by the way, that means for both sinners in need of the grace of God.  
I look at the New Testament record in Matthew, chapter 1, of the genealogy of our Lord Jesus and included in that record are five women, which would have been unusual for a Jewish audience to include women in the genealogical listing – five women each of whom, from the Jewish standpoint, had a strike or a mark against her either because of an immoral background or a foreign background or even, in the case of Mary, the mother of Jesus, having a child without having a husband.  
In that passage, I believe God even shows us this pattern that women, like men, are heirs of the grace of life – participants, full participants together in the Gospel and the redemptive plan of God here on this earth.
Dennis: Nancy, you're single, and thus you're not a mom, but if you were a mom, and you had three daughters like mine, all of them teenagers.  How would you be purposeful and intentional about developing and rearing a daughter to develop her femininity in relationship to men?  There's a good chance she may be single.  
Nancy: You see, whether single or married, I believe God created all of us, as women, to be bearers of life.  Not only physiologically are we designed – men cannot have babies – women are physiologically designed to be able to have babies, but I think that is a picture of a deeper, inner truth that God made us, as women, to be bearers and nurturers of life.  As a single woman, one of my roles and responsibilities in ministry is to give spiritual life, to nurture spiritual life, in the lives of other young women.
And you have, Dennis, speaking of your daughters, in your wife, a woman who is a model to those daughters of what it means to be a supporter, an encourager, a cheerleader, and she's modeling for your daughters the blessing of establishing that as a priority – the building of a home.
Bob: Boy, that is so key, Dennis, because what Nancy is saying is that before a mom can ever teacher her daughter what it means to be a woman, a mom has to understand and embrace it for herself, model it for her daughters, or the instruction is not going to make any sense.  And we've seen just the opposite occur.  We've seen women in the culture embracing the cultural definition of femininity and wanting to raise daughters who fulfill a more masculine design for life.
Dennis: Yes, and as a result of taking on the water of the culture, their own boats are sinking, because they are confused, as women, as to what is a woman, and she can't pass it on to her daughters or to her sons.  And, by the way, I think it's very important that our sons not only know what biblical masculinity is from mothers and fathers, but that they also know what it means to be a woman, as well, so that when they see a woman, they know what a true woman is.  They don't define a woman around the exterior, which, over in 1 Peter, chapter 3, Peter warns a woman about merely placing an emphasis on the exterior.  Our sons need to be discerning about what a true woman is and what a true woman is to become.
Nancy: Of course, the whole purpose of Proverbs 31 is that it was written to a king to tell him what qualities he ought to look for in a woman; what were the womanly qualities, the qualities of a woman who fears the Lord – what would she look like and how should he choose a wife?
Dennis: I think a key question for every mom and, for that matter, every woman, whether you're single or married or whether you even have children – but put yourself in this position – if your daughter came to you and asked you, "Mommy, what does it mean to be a woman and not a man?"  And, Nancy, I'm going to put that question to you right now – what if you had a daughter, and she asked you that question?  How would you answer her?
Nancy: You know, Dennis, since I was a teenage girl, I have searched the Scriptures, the Word of God, and also as I've talked with literally thousands of women around the world, come to see if there are certain qualities, which, when you put them together, form a portrait of God's kind of woman.  We've talked about some of those already – a woman as a helper, as an encourager, as a cheerleader, a woman distinctively in a role as a servant, a servant of God and of God's men.  We've talked about a woman as a nurturer, a mother, a bearer of life.  Scripture talks about a woman as a teacher, a teacher of her children, a teacher of younger women.
And then we read in the New Testament that there are specific qualities that God considers precious and beautiful in a woman.  You talked about how it's not just the outward beauty that a woman is to focus on, but 1 Peter 3 speaks of her having the internal beauty and radiance of a spirit that is gentle, it is meek, it is quiet, a spirit that trusts in God.  Scripture talks about a woman as having a submissive spirit, being willing to come under the covering and the protection of God-ordained authority.
Scripture talks about a woman who fears the Lord in Proverbs 31, is a woman who will be praised.  So there's the dimension of her personal walk with God.  There are a number of passages in Scripture that speak of women in the role of concerned praying women, and how a culture that has been taken over with secularism needs women who are weeping, burdened, praying women – how we need that in our day. 
Scripture talks about a woman as reverencing her husband, honoring him, lifting him up; a woman who loves her husband, loves her children.  In addition, there are numerous passages in Scripture that speak of a woman being modest, chaste, pure in her speech, in her behavior, in her clothing.  Proverbs speaks of the importance of a woman having the quality of discretion.  
I think so many of these come back to the fact that God made us, as women, to be responders and to allow the men to be the initiators that God created them to be.
Bob: I want to ask you about that, but there are some women who just heard that portrait, that description, and they said to themselves, "Yuck, I don't like that.  That's not who I feel like, I'm not sure that's who I want to be."
Dennis: And they are also saying, "I question whether that's the way God made me.  He didn't make me to be a responder."
Nancy: Not too long ago, I had the privilege of talking with two different women on the same day who are both dear friends.  The one woman is a young mother who came and expressed to me that she was experiencing some depression, some frustration in her life, there were some issues that were unresolved between herself and her husband.  She was wrestling with the feeling that she did not feel motivated or successful in her role as a mother, so she was wanting to take on a career outside of her family, and she and her husband were wrestling through some of these issues.
And she said to me – "What if my husband" – now, she has a godly husband – she said, "What if my husband wants me to be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen for the rest of my life?"  It wasn't long after that conversation that I had another conversation with another woman who is a dear friend.  She's the wife of a pastor, and I saw, in this woman and older woman who has devoted her life to being a helper, a completer, a responder to her husband.  Her children are now grown, she has taught her children to love their husbands, to love their own children, and I saw in this older woman, a woman who is deeply at peace, who is radiant, who is fulfilled, a woman whose husband is nuts about her, because Proverbs 31 says that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.  What woman could ask for more than that Proverbs 31 woman has, and that is children who call her blessed, a husband who praises her publicly – this is deep in our hearts, as women, what we desire and what we were made for.
Dennis: And, you know, Nancy, as you were going through your list and talking about all this, I thought "How refreshing.  What a clear, refreshing voice in a culture that, again, is trying to define what it means to be a woman without reference to what the Scriptures say."  Every one of these in your list are all biblically based, and what a great portrait to hang in our living rooms for our daughters to attain to and to seek to become.
I thought of, as you were talking about being modest, chaste, and pure, how boys are never challenged to be modest, chaste – now they are called to be moral.  They are called to be in control of their own sexual passions, but this is a different set of words than you would use for a boy who is being called to become a man.
And a young lady who is growing up, having had this portrait lived out in front of her by her mom and then having had that portrait painted from the Scriptures by both of her parents – think of the contentment, the possibilities of her life and what she can mean to a young man, to a family, to another generation of children.  This is where Christianity becomes uniquely powerful.
Bob: And, ultimately, to the woman who sees this portrait and goes, "I don't know that I like it; I'm not sure God made me this way."  The issue is not what she feels like.  The issue is whether she will come under the authority of the Word of God and be the kind of woman that God's Word says He has made women to be.
Nancy: I think, equally, a man could look at the portrait of biblical manhood in the Scripture and think, "I don't think God made me for leadership.  I don't think God made me for initiative."  But joy and fulfillment in life come from saying, "Yes, Lord."
Dennis: And, you know, there are women listening to this broadcast right now who are not married to godly men, they're not married to a pastor, and yet you can take this portrait that you've painted here, this is still true regardless of whether they are married to a man who is a godly man.  This is still biblical femininity.  This is what God says is the picture of what it means to be a woman, regardless of your circumstances.  There is hope there, isn't there?
Nancy: There is, and I don't think that the average woman has ever begun to fathom the extent of the influence that her life, when she surrenders to the Lordship of Christ and His design, the influence that her life will have on her husband and on other men around her.  We, as women, have profound influence on the attitudes, the values, the lifestyles of the men around us whether or not we choose to embrace God's pattern for our lives.
Dennis: And, Nancy, hanging in the gallery of my own heart is the picture of my mom who, although she didn't have – well, the resources that we've had today and the great teachers like you are, to be able to instruct her about what it meant to be a woman, she did get in the Scriptures, and she was a helper, a cheerleader, a nurturer, a bearer of life.  She was modest and chaste and was a woman who feared the Lord and had a meek and quiet spirit, teachable, and was profoundly influential – just exactly what you are talking about.
Bob: But, you know, if we had called your mom back before she went home to be with the Lord, and we had said to her, "Do you think you're an influential woman?"  She would have laughed at that idea, and I think there are a lot of women who hear us talk about these ideas, and they look at their own lives, and they say, "I'm not influencing – okay, maybe I'm having some influence on my children, but I don't feel like a woman of influence.  I don't feel like I'm making a big difference in anybody's life."  And that's an issue, Nancy, that you've addressed in the book that you wrote called "Lies Women Believe," which has gone on to be a bestselling book.  
And you've also addressed it in the new book that you and Dana Gresh have written together called "Lies Young Women Believe," because, as you've noted many times, Dennis, there are a lot of young women who are growing up, not with an eye toward home, but with an eye toward the marketplace as the center of influence for our culture. 
We've got copies of the books that Nancy has written in our FamilyLife Resource Center, including the booklet called  "A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood" that addresses many of the themes we're talking about this week.  You can go to our website, which is FamilyLife.com and if you click the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," you can get more information about the resources that Nancy has written and if you have not read "Lies Women Believe," let me encourage you to get a copy of that book and read through it.  Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, and you need to click on the right side of the screen on the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast."  
And there is also information available there about the upcoming conference in Chicago, the True Woman '08 conference.  It's October 8th through the 11th, and it's a national conference.  Women from all over the country are going to be coming in to hear a great variety of speakers including Joni Eareckson Tada, Pastor John Piper, Nancy is going to be speaking, your wife, Barbara, is going to be speaking, Dennis, and Keith and Kristyn Getty are going to be there to help lead the worship.  It's going to be a wonderful two-and-a-half-day event, and if our listeners are interested, they can find out more on our website at FamilyLife.com, and they can register by clicking through to the True Woman website.
Or if it's easier for you to get more information or request these resources by calling us, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. 
While women are wrestling with this subject of what it means to be a woman according to the Scriptures, men have been wrestling for some time with the same thing from our perspective – what does it mean to be a man, to be God's man?  And our friend, Pastor Stu Weber, who is a former Army Ranger and a Green Beret has a wonderful message on this subject that we are making available to listeners this month.
When you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, it's a message called "Applied Masculinity," and you can request a copy when you make a donation either online or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY.  Because FamilyLife Today is listener-supported, those donations are essential for us to continue on this station and on other stations across the country.  
If you are making your donation online, you will come to a keycode box on the donation form, and you will need to type the word "Stu" in there, s-t-u, so that we can send you a copy of this CD, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like a copy of the Stu Weber CD.  We're happy to send it out to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow Nancy Leigh DeMoss is going to be back with us.  We're going to continue to look at what it means to be a woman according to the Scriptures.  I hope you can be with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today. 
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