It seems women are everywhere. Whether we are talking about women’s issues in politics, women’s roles in church, or what defines a woman according to Biblical standards, women as subject seem to comprise most of my twitter and blog feeds.
I am a woman and one would think that, as such, I would be encouraged by this push toward keeping women at the forefront of conversation. And, I suppose, to some extent I am. I understand and share some of the frustration expressed by many who seek a stronger, louder voice for our gender in the public square as it were. In our current culture there are certainly gender specific issues deserving discussion and evaluation and correction.
But not all I read is encouraging. In fact, I wonder sometimes if we do not do ourselves a great disservice by framing so much of our dialogue and critique in terms of our gender. I do believe that God created us uniquely as women and as such different from our male counterparts. Unsurprisingly, I hold a complementarian perspective. As I stated earlier, I believe that there are real issues facing churches and our culture at large and in many of those cases women play a critical role in asking and answering the hard questions. But, those sorts of situations aside, must everything about us be defined by our womanhood?
For example, in the current evangelical blog world, if we can delineate and define such a thing, there seems to me to be a plethora of articles and blog posts across major sites written to women mostly by young moms about being young moms. While I applaud the efforts on behalf of these mostly male dominated sites to include women and while I do agree that young moms are in a uniquely difficult stage of life, as an older mom I often want to say “I am more than my motherhood.” In other words, must our conversations about who we are as Christian women continually center around being a mom and a housewife? What about infertile women? Or single women? Or older women? Or empty nesters? We do these sisters a great disservice by implying, however subtly, however inadvertently, that motherhood is the pinnacle of Christian womanhood.
Years ago I read an article about women’s ministry. I don’t remember where I read it nor who wrote it. The author–whoever she was–in no uncertain terms asserted that all ministry to women must be couched in the Titus 2 directive. All ministry. All instruction. She contended that any lesson taught to women should have its (singular) application drawn from the imperative to “love husband, children and care for your home” as outlined in Titus 2:4-5. I remember this article so very clearly because it shocked and saddened me greatly.
In that author’s view the sum total of all that a woman needed to know about the Word, about God, about the gospel, about theology and about doctrine, has its only benefit in how it helps her to love her husband and children and care for her home. How she shortchanges us!
I think of my recent experience at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference where I heard theologically trained women exposit the Scriptures. No mention of housekeeping nor the narrow application to motherhood that I could recall but instead the encouragement, the mandate even, to women to study the Word, to know the Bible, to wrestle with the truths of who God is and who we are and to rejoice in His plan to redeem sinners for His own glory. Kathleen Nielson, Nancy Guthrie, Paige Benton Brown, Nancy Leigh Demoss–these smart, intelligent women used their gifts to propel their listeners toward a deeper knowledge, a richer theology, a greater sense of awe and worship.
It was women teaching women, to be sure, yet the truths taught transcended gender. Wendy Alsup makes my point far more succintly when she summarizes the Bible’s directive to women: Be Like Christ (click the link to read her post). In this respect, I am not only more than my motherhood, I am more than my gender. The call of God in my life has everything to do with me being a woman, yes, of course, but it also has nothing to do with me being a woman and everything to do with me being like Christ first and foremost, always and only.