(This post is a follow-up to my earlier post, Thoughts about beauty. I realize that no person or church is perfect, so please understand that this isn’t a critique of any church, program or pastor. These are just my honest thoughts and desires as a Christian today.)
I have spent much of my life concerned with what I am not instead of who I am.
Part of the problem is that I am my own worst critic, and I need to relax. However, I think part of it is the way we teach women in Christian culture sometimes.
So much of our ministry to women is about what they are not doing (i.e. not living up to a Proverbs 31 woman who is simply an ideal in context) and less about who they actually are (new creations in Christ).
I don’t just want to take what I do as a woman seriously.
I want to take my identity as a daughter of the King seriously.
How? I want to talk about sins other than immodesty and gossip. I want to hear my sisters in Christ honestly and openly discussing things like lust, doubt, hardship and trusting God with our futures. (Side note: We need to stop categorizing “girl” and “guy” sins or “little” and “big” sins—sin is a human condition and it all leads to death if we don’t surrender it to Christ. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start confessing our sins to other sinners who are just like us. But that’s a blog post for another day.)
I want to learn God’s Word—all of it, not just Proverbs 31. The Bible is not just “God’s love letter to me;” it is God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. To read the Bible with my life or my cultural identity as a woman at the center cheapens God’s majestic power and eternal glory. I want His Glory to be the lens through which I view the Bible—not myself.
I want to see more of my sisters in Christ commit to learning and studying God’s Word with me. Not just reading it—studying the meaning, the context, the author, and how it applies to our lives. How are we supposed to give an account for the hope that we have in us if all we know of our faith are our emotions? I want to go deeper and learn what the Scriptures have to say for themselves, and not just in the context of how I react to them emotionally.
Finally, I don’t want to base what I am learning on a future husband that may or may not be in God’s will for me. Instead of talking about ways I can prepare myself to be a wife someday, I want to learn about ways I can follow Christ today. I want to see women and young girls taking up their crosses and surrendering their lives to follow Jesus.
We are called to so much more than a cultural identity of a “Godly Woman” we have created.
We are not called to be imitators of the “Proverbs 31 Woman”.
We are called to be imitators of Christ.
Instead of just having fashion shows with modest outfits for young Christian girls, we need to look at the heart issue of immodesty. We need to teach young girls that modesty isn’t just covering up “unmentionables,” but that we are striving to be holy as God is holy.
Instead of solely teaching young girls that purity equates to waiting and saving themselves for their future husbands, we need to teach them first to wait on the Lord—on His provision, His timing, and His will. The “finish line” in this run as a godly woman is not marriage. If women learn to trust God with their futures, a husband may or may not fall into place—but when that’s not the end-all, be-all of our Christian walk, we will learn to be joyful no matter how God provides in that area of our lives.
Instead of simply preaching “feel-good” sermons that cater to young womens’ emotions, we need to teach them how to study the Bible and learn sound doctrine. Then we can answer for ourselves questions about tough topics like lust, doubt and trials, or even topics that we’re just not sure about, like submitting to a husband someday, prophecies, or speaking in tongues. We’re called to love God with all our mind, and that includes pursuing the truth about Him.
We need to teach young girls and grown women alike that their identity is not found in their outward appearance, but in the fact that through Christ they are new creations.
When we focus on looking and acting more like a “Proverbs 31 Woman” on the outside without developing our relationship with God on the inside, we get dangerously close to finding ourselves in a 2 Timothy 3 situation: in which we have the appearance of godliness, but deny its transformative and life-altering power.
My hope and prayer is that I will constantly strive to find my identity in Christ and not in my outward appearance or affiliations. The reality is that Jesus died for us, and it didn’t matter how we looked or how we saw ourselves. We are redeemed and bound together in Him by His blood. We’re all part of the same body, and we follow the same Head.
So let’s grow together as Christ followers and as sisters in Him.