Sunday, February 3, 2013

Woman, You Are Free

Praise God for His mercy and grace, I am a redeemed complementarian. That is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in me because I know that without Him, I would be a raging feminist. Why feminist? Sadly, it has nothing to do with the world and everything to do with the church. It's a sad story of extremes. Feminism is the world's attempt to re-define femininity. The Church, rightly indignant about this, wrongly swings to the other extreme and responds with misogyny. Feminism engages in men-bashing blaming manhood for the world's ills. The Church simply reverses the approach and blames women, as if that extreme is more Biblical. Then I, who am saddened and angered, embarrassed and hurt, by the Church's response, swing to the other ditch. See the problem?

I am a woman.
For many years, I was exposed to a toxic attitude that communicated that there would be fewer marriage problems and fewer church problems if women would just submit. But as erroneous, ridiculous, and simplistic as that silly assertion is, when that kind of comment is made by real people, it does real damage to real women--like me. More than that, it displays an incredible lack of understanding when it comes to both headship and the Fall. I know this in my head, but it still wounds my heart. I am thankful for my loving, scripturally grounded husband. More than once, my antagonists have come dangerously close to his protective wrath because he has seen the fallout of this deep, deep wound in his otherwise sturdy wife up close.

I am a woman.
I don't fit in your box.
I despise peasant dresses and frills and anything that makes me look like the 'little woman.' (Honestly, I like smart, chic Chanel suits. But I live in the wrong income bracket for those, so I stick to my jeans and tennis shoes.)
I think Art Monk is a more inspiring Christian than Nancy Campbell.
I detest that the default menu for women's functions revolves around raw vegetables instead of red meat. (Allow me to point out that the 'Daniel fast' was named for Daniel, who was
I can't stand it when men refer to their bride as 'the wife' like she's the family pet.
I think it's nifty that you enjoy your new serger, but I'm far more impressed that you conceal and carry.

I am a woman.
But for years I have spiritually walked hunched over like the woman of Luke 13 because I did not and do not fit the assumed model of "Christian woman."
Because I've stood by and listened to the incessant berating of my gender by men who, ironically, refuse to submit to Biblical authority themselves.
Because I do not fit all of the possible implications of what Biblical womanhood might look like.
Because I cook...but I am not a nutritionist.
Because I clean...but I hate to sew.
Because I enjoy coffee with a friend...but large assemblies of females and all those hormones and uteri and tear ducts give me a headache.

Recently, I was again feeling the weight of those expectations bending me low. But my God is such an amazing, protective Father. I guess He thought that enough was enough; it was time for me to be free. As if on cue, a friend found an interview with Pastor Voddie Bauchum, who said this:
"True womanhood looks like Proverbs 31, looks like Titus 2, but it's something else. True womanhood looks like Christ. I think that's something we often forget We're so busy looking at these practical lists of the qualities that women have or the things that women do or prioritize. And we forget that true womanhood really only begins when a woman comes to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. She is transformed and conformed to the image of Christ. So true womanhood is about Christ-likeness."
In that moment, the shackles of other people's expectations, of other people's ill-informed theology, were shattered. The confirmation of something I had always secretly thought, that Christ--not the Titus 2 woman or the Proverbs 31 woman--is my Role Model, washed over me. The sledge hammer of God's Truth set me free. I wanted to leap up and cheer. Hearing a man of God declare what a tiny voice in my soul has been saying for so long...
It was as if Jesus placed His hand under my chin, looked me in the eye, and said, "Woman, you are free."

I am a woman.
I know my role in my marriage.
I know my role in the Church.
But limiting my role as a Christian woman to Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 is sexist and reductionist.
And I am deeply offended by it.
Has anyone read Titus 2?
Do we know that Titus 2 talks about men?
Do we refer to our men as Titus 2 men?
Of course not. That would leave out the other 65 books and hundreds of chapters in the Bible.

I am a woman.
And I aspire to be a Proverbs 31 woman.
I aspire to be a Titus 2 woman.
But you know what?
I also aspire to be a Proverbs 1 woman.
And a Romans 12 woman.
And a Colossians 3 woman.
And a Deuteronomy 28 woman.

I aspire to be a Genesis-to-Revelation woman.

I aspire to be like Christ.

And behold, there was a woman who had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your disability." And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. Luke 13: 11-13


  1. This is absolutely true, beautifully radical, and incredibly empowering. Reading it just made my heart go, "YESSSS!" Thank you so much.

  2. Thank you for writing. Years ago when I was busily searching my Bible like a Pharisee for the answers I desperately needed, my MIL shrugged me off. "Trust in the Lord and He will set you free," she said. As if that answered me AT ALL. Fast forward a decade or so, and I finally get it. All those years were not wasted as I thought, but were spent by Christ building what He needed. I don't thank Him near enough because my eyes are too often still focused on me. I wish I'd met you years ago - but know that I would've been too angered by your words of truth to hear the blessing they contain. You're so right.

  3. Good grief, Noel, made my uteri cry! This is so true... SO TRUE!!! As you know, old friend, I've fallen on both sides of this extreme as well, and been hurt deeply by it too. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. Thank you for being who you are in Christ. I'd miss you if you were any other way! Much love to you sister! And..... I really miss our coffee talks!

  4. Wonderful post, Noel. I LOVE you just the way you are and I agree with you so much. I love pink hair, cute clothes, and going out to eat! :) Now, if having a bunch of babies in order to "submit' and 'be a godly wife' could be addressed as powerfully as you addressed some of these other issues, I would be completely satisfied. I feel like the homeschooling community in particular has shackled me with this expectation of the 'quiver full' for years. And what do you think they have to say to me now? *silence*

  5. Scarlett, let me be the first to admit that I am a recovering legalist. I'm sure you have felt some of those shackles from me. Be free, my friend, to enjoy your pink hair and the family that is just right for you! : ) Enjoy being the woman God made YOU to be, not the one God made ME to be. Oh, if we could all get a grasp on that truth.

  6. Hi Noel. Awesome blog. I am still trying to recover from being put in the category of doing something wrong because I am single. The Bible does not say a woman has to be married to become like Christ. You sound as if you have a wonderful, loving, Christian family. You must be doing things right. Bonnie Inskeep
    Do not know how to use a profile or I would have.

  7. As a woman in the church -- who wasn't raised in the church -- I can't begin to tell you how confuzzling the role of a woman in the church is..?!?!

    Am I supposed to be grinding my own grain? Should I hide the package of Double Stuff Oreos in my grocery cart in case I run into "So & So" from church who eats organic & frowns upon partially hydrogenated products?!? Does any of this really matter?

    I bow before the throne of Christ, not to the idols of the church.

    Jill G. in MI