Yesterday, I preached a sermon on Biblical Womanhood from Genesis chapter 2. Preaching these kinds of sermons always feel like trying to navigate a minefield. One wrong step and “boom”, you are hated or misunderstood by the women in your church.
Even though the Scriptures are quite clear about biblical manhood and womanhood, anyone who teaches on these topics must speak with tremendous amounts of grace (especially if they hope to be heard the same way). Unfortunately, many pastors and churches make the mistake of compromising truth in the name of “grace”. That is a destructive mistake that does a disservice to anyone who might hear.
The other mistake that preachers like myself can make is failing to communicate the whole truth to the whole congregation. It is probably unreasonable to expect a single sermon on a single text to speak to every flavor of men, women, young, old, religious, irreligious person equally (or at all). But in terms of Biblical Womanhood, I am concerned that, historically, it is something almost exclusively preaching in the context of marriage. Anyone who is not married may as well “check out” or check Facebook.
I confess, I have made this foolish mistake. I believe that marriage is an important and essential part of God’s original design in the garden; but it is not every woman’s reality in our post Genesis 2 world. This is not to say that somehow single people are living in a less-than existence (though they can be made to feel that way by preachers) or that a spouse is a gift for “good behavior” or proof that you’re “good enough”. On the contrary, Paul declares everything, even one’s marital status as under God’s sovereignty, and describes singleness as a good gift from the Father.
We would do well, therefore, to find ways to elevate the beauty of Biblical Womanhood for the single ladies! In other words, they have to be able to fulfill their God-given role to help do God’s work with or without a husband. To that end, following the sermon I have had some great conversations with different women in our church in hopes understanding their perspective. Here is one part of one exchange:
ME: When all is said and done, I want you to feel loved and valued. I also want you to feel free to use your gifts–that are awesome–in building a God-glorifying culture (as you are through your business and artistry) whether there is a man in your life or not! When all is said and done, you don’t NEED a man to live out what God has for you now…but all men certainly need your “help” in all kinds of ways. Hope that makes sense.
The response to the above statement surprised me, but offered some important insight. She said:
SINGLE WOMAN: You know something that yesterday made me realize is one of the things I desire most is to be a helper. And yesterday showed me the times of greatest hurt in my life were when I was a helper to someone I shouldn’t have been. When I put a man above the Lord it turned into idolatry. Something I have had to repeatedly repent from.
Women are naturally helpers. They want to help those in need. But, when helping men, there is a genuine temptation to be that which God did not design her to be in that moment. Without question, this is a danger in the romantic relationships of pre-married people. She can begin to “help” a man in ways that only a wife is meant to “help” a husband. Even though the “helping” is well-intended and, quite natural, because they are not married, there may be problems.
This is not to say that single men and single women cannot have meaningful friendships. It is to say that one of the biggest dangers in these kinds of friendship is that, if not careful, a “helper” can easily become a “savior” for either the man or the woman–this is idolatry at its baddest because it feels the best-est (in the moment). They will end up depending on one another in ways reserved only for the Lord. They will begin to make their relationship with one another more important than their relationship with the Lord. Believing they are loving each other, they will in fact be leading each other into sin and away from the Lord.
Don’t be fooled. This can also happen IN a marriage context where, as the wife fulfills her role as a helper, she too may be tempted to try and “help” in ways that Jesus alone is supposed to–especially when her husband is failing in his role. One thing is for sure, when live out their roles, living selflessly and not taking selfishly, then women will flourish in living out theirs married or not.
I hope this young lady realizes how she helped me understand God’s truth here, ironically, fulfilled the role God gave her. Awesome.
Next Blog: “Submission for the Single Ladies” (That ought to be a popular one)