Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

There is so much nonsense and lies passing for Christianity these days. God would love a church that is holy to Him, but it is hard to take the words of church people these days without taking a lot of lies with the good. See, for example, this poster on what ”A real woman” is/ does.

This is typical gender role posturing: It takes virtues not limited to one sex, and words it as a gender role, so that, if a Christian agree with the importance of the virtue, he/she will get nearer to accepting “Biblical” gender roles. For example: “A real woman seeks to make God her number one desire and the Lover of her soul, knowing that only He can fully satisfy.”  That is, of course, equally suitable for both Christian men and women.

But words have meanings, and real womanhood is not defined by anything that is as true about men. Those who teach this on womanhood simply gives the church the potential to be ridiculed, because everyone knows (real) womanhood is not defined like that. (This article will have my words in black, the words of the “Real Womanhood” poster in dark red.)

My article will not be an attempt at snark. I want Christians to cut the lies and speak what can be believed, so that believers can be built up, and so that unbelievers could see we are speaking the truth in love. “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”, promised Jesus. This is a small attempt at cutting through the lies, so we can see the truth instead.

A Real Woman…

A woman, by any dictionary definition, is firstly defined by having a certain sort of genitalia, as opposed to the other kind. If you distinguish between a woman and a girl, it is defined as being a certain age and having a certain maturity level, in addition to those bodily parts.

A Christian woman is no more- or less – a Real Woman than a Hindu, pagan or orthodox Jewish woman. A woman of loose morals with revealing clothes is as much a Real Woman as a virgin with dresses down to the floor and up to the neck. There are certain behaviors which please God, but they do not make womanhood more real.

seeks to make God her number one desire and the Lover of her soul, knowing that only He can fully satisfy. (Ps. 73:25, Ps. 63:1)

You just made a lot of dedicated Christian men Real Women

realizes her imperative need to allow the Holy Spirit to control her emotions and expressions of them. (James 1:19-20)

Once again, you just made a lot of Christian men Real Women

does not compete for equality with men or chafe at God’s design for male and female, but delights in and understand the importance of her calling to complement man’s role. (1 Tim.2:11-12, Eph. 5:22-24)

Those passages does not say women should complement man’s role. The first passage mentions one thing women should do (learn), and one thing “a woman” – singular – should not. Neither thing has anything to do with complementing men. The second passage mention a wife complementing a husband (not just any male) , but if that is Real Womanhood, then single women are not Real Women – they do not complement a husband.

And if a male “does not chafe at God’s design for male and female”, is he a Real Woman in that respect? 

Then there is the problem of making something a womanhood role by putting gender in it – they say real women “complement man’s role” and can say real men “complement women’s role” but that says nothing about the actual roles of the two. The same way, “gibalors are things that work well with nipposhers” and “nipposhers work well with gibalors” does not tell us what gibalors and nipposhers do.

man-in-wedding-dressdoes not wallow in self-pity or make a habit of voicing complaints, but radiates cheerfulness and joy. (Prov. 15:15, Prov. 17:22)

Joyful men without self-pity or complaining are Real Women. Get it.

portrays chastity, modesty and reverence in her manner, and wears the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is her true beauty. (1 Pet. 3:3-4, Titus 2:4-5)

Men have to be chaste and reverent too, and be gentle (that same Greek word is used in Mat 5:5) and quiet (that same word is used in 1 Tim 2:2).

does not have a nagging, contentious or manipulative manner in which she deals with others. (Judges 16:16, Prov. 21:9, 19, 26:21)

Uhm, nothing in those verses say Delilah was not a real woman (and I think Samson found her very real). Call her a bad woman if you like, but she was a real woman too. And men who don’t nag, and are not contentious or manipulative, are real women by that metric too.

appreciates her father’s protection, and respects and submits to his authority. In so doing, she is preparing herself to exercise the Biblical role in her relationship with a possible future husband. (Eph. 5:33-6:3, 1 Pet. 3:1-2)

A woman whose father is dead or does not protect her is not a Real Woman. And a boy who appreciates his father’s protection, and respects the father’s authority, is a Real Woman.

is trustworthy and gains the respect of those around her. (Prov.31:11)

Trustworthy and respected men, you are Real Women!

is glad she’s a woman and rejoices in her femininity, expressing it through her attitude, appearance and bearing. (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

A woman who is very sad to be a woman, as that caused her to be molested/ not get an education despite her aptitude/ not be listened to when she had something meaningful to say; is still as much a Woman – a Real one – as the one whose life experiences make her rejoice in her womanhood. And almost everything in 1 Tim. 2:9-10 is said of the Christian male attitude too, elsewhere in the Bible. Nothing in this text say she should rejoice in femininity, although rejoicing in what God made you is certainly Christian.

If you are really a woman when you like your womanhood, it does not say anything about womanhood itself. In a matriarchal society women may rejoice in their womanhood because they can reign by it, so is matriarchy real womanhood by this definition when they do?

encourages and builds up those around her instead of criticizing and tearing them down. (1 Thess. 5:11, Eph. 4:29)

So, men who encourage instead of tearing down are Real Women?

is not offended by respect shown her through gentlemanly courtesies (opening doors, etc.) but cultivates the differences between the sexes that make her worthy of this deference. (1 Peter 3:7, Mark 10:6)

What difference make a woman worthy of a man opening a door for her, and where does the Bible say she is worthy of door-opening? The Bible say women are worthy of respect, and suggest it has to do with similarities – women are also heirs to the grace of life, also made in the image of God, has the same Holy Spirit, etc. 

And what does that say of the (Real) Womanhood of women in cultures like mine, without door-opening as habit? Am I not getting what I am worthy of?

holds her virginity before marriage sacred and will not compromise it for anything. (This one for guys too!) (1 Tim. 5:22)

Guys should also be Real Women?

uses her years of singleness to seek and serve God without distraction, and is content to leave the details of her future to Him. (Ps. 73:25, Phil. 4:11)

Is Jesus a Real Woman?

values the cultivation of her mind and diligently seeks after wisdom and knowledge. (Prov. 22:17-21, 2:2-6)

Are men exempt from this?

does not relate to members of the opposite sex in a flirtatious or forward manner, but instead saves all her passion for her future husband. (Thess. 4:3-8, Prov. 6:25, 1 Cor. 7:1)

Are men who save their passion for their spouses and are not flirtatious real women?

restrains herself from listening to, or participating in gossip, but instead speaks with wisdom and discretion. (Prov. 11:12-13, 22, 20:19, 3:11)

So, speaking with wisdom is womanly, not suitable for males, and men should not refrain from gossip?

is not boisterous or loud in her speech or actions but is characterized by a gentle and quiet spirit. (Prov. 9:13, 1 Pet. 3:4)

A gentle and quiet spirit, as shown in a previous point, befits a Christian man too. And a loud and boisterous woman is called a foolish woman in the Bible, not a less real one. In fact, by the mere fact of still calling her a woman, the Bible admit she is a Real Woman.

…Does Hard Things.

By this metric, Sir Edmund Hillary proved himself a real woman.

The real womanhood list is simply not true. It cannot be called real womanhood. Most of it can probably be called Christian living, but then it should not be said in a deceptive way, as if it distinguishes male roles from female: Almost all of it applies to Godly manhood too.

I think that about 80% of the contents of gender role promoting material are like that – it calls good, Christian attitudes which God wants from men and woman “Womanhood” or “Manhood.”

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Comments on: "Real womanhood: Do men have it too?" (16)

  1. I would also wonder, are they implying that men SHOULD be flirtatious and forward? Is that part of a man’s role and that’s why it’s excluded from a woman’s role? Or would they hold that NEITHER should be flirtatious or forward? And if that’s the case, how are men and women going to be able to fulfill their (questionably) “Biblical” mandate to be fruitful and multiply (unless we go back to arranged marriages, which, I believe, are pretty much the “Biblical” norm also, but oddly enough nobody seems to be calling for a return to that model)?

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  2. Arwen: Sadly, there are actually people who speak up for arranged marriages in “Biblical” patriarchy groups… Their poor children.

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  3. Nick Bulbeck said:

    Today, I made two things. A brick wall, and a chocolate sponge.

    I came up with an outside-observer kind of observation that helped my wife solve a long-term strategic problem she’s facing at work, and between us we worked on how we’re going to develop our social enterprise for job-seekers over the upcoming summer holidays. And I went shopping for child-friendly ibuprofen as part of helping my Gorgeous Big Little Girl (or “daughter” as some people like to say) recover from a nasty headache. And I explained some of the ramifications of apartheid to our teenage son, after watching the sci-fi thriller “District 9” with him.

    a) Does that make me a real man, a real woman, or what?
    b) Have a guess – do I actually give a monkey’s? 🙂

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  4. So which of the red words applies only to women and not to men? Just replace the word husband (or man) for wife (or woman) and all these things can apply to both sexes.

    And what happens if a woman doesn’t do all those things, does she become a fake woman?

    Also, the writer of the red words seems to think that men only have one role. He uses the word role in the singular. Men and women are involved in all sort of activities, ministries and life situations. And these can change through life. Human beings are complex and diverse; we are not defined by a single role.

    Good post, Retha.

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  5. This one is confusing: “does not compete for equality with men”.

    Men and women are equal, at least, that’s what the Bible teaches. The only time anyone has to compete, or make efforts, for equality is when there is inequality and injustice.

    I am not competing to be equal with men, but I am making efforts to promote equal opportunities and unity for ALL people regardless of their race, sex or socio-economic situation.

    Christian men should welcome and promote the full equality of their sisters-in-Christ. Where there is equality, there is no competition from women or from men.

    The red words suggest that the writer does not regard men and women as true equals.

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  6. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if women refused to marry men until they treated them all with equal respect and none of them were allowed to mistreat women. I just imagine little scenarios like this, because frankly, it’s gets really tiring of how much misogyny there exists. I am a women who has never had children by the way, and neither has my sister. I am almost past child-bearing age, and frankly, I’ve no desire to bring a child into this twisted world full of twisted men. That there is the truth. Many mens’ hearts are so twisted and perverse, that they do not know HOW MUCH HARM they are doing psychologically, as well as physically and emotionally, to ALL women. Even the “nice” liberals guys I’ve known are all full of misogyny if you go deep enough. Honestly? I wish Jesus would come soon because all of this is very depressing.

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  7. Retha

    Have you ever done a post on the Proverbs 31 woman and how most of the attributes listed for her apply to men too? Just wondering. I’ve been thinking about and researching that myself. I’ll post what I’ve discovered so far later. Just wondering it you ever did a post on it because I may have missed it.

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    • I have one among my 80% done-but-never-finished blog entries that I keep in word files on my computer. I do not have one on the blog.

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      • She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (Pr 31:12). As believers, men and women are admonished to “do good” to our enemies (Lu 6:27, 35). Hebrews 13:16 is another example where Christian men and women are admonished to “do good” and to share with others. The virtuous woman is hard working and not idle (31:17, 27). Apostle Paul proclaimed the value of hard work and sternly warned men (and women) not to be idle (2 Th 3:6-12). She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy (31:20). As believers, we are all admonished to care for the poor and needy (Ma 25:34-40). She is clothed with strength and dignity (Pr 31:25A). King David wrote, ” the God who clothes me with strength… (Ps 18:32A). Therefore, being clothed in strength is an attribute for men too. She speaks with wisdom… (31:26A). The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just (Ps 37:30). Therefore, wise speech is not just a characteristic for the virtuous woman, but it’s also characteristic of a righteous man.

        Just working through this, and that’s what this particular post made me think about.

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  8. Another thought about this kind of “true womanhood” article, filled with qualities equally true of good men: And they say egalitarians promote androgyny!

    (Androgyny: Having both male and female characteristics, having an ambiguous sexual identity, being neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine.)

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  9. The way that you’ve quoted and torn down a load of sexist nonsense reminds me of Wollstonecraft’s criticisms of Rousseau in A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Great job.

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  10. Well done Retha! very clear.

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  11. “… virtues not limited to one sex” – Great turn of phrase to go along with your excellent analysis.

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  12. This is so amazing. Finally someone understands that submission, gentleness and quietness are not feminine traits: males must also submit to God, be gentle and quiet (just like Jesus was). It feels like people just keep coming up with stuff to make sure women won’t “forgot their place” and possess a threat to masculinity.

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