Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ch. 1 - The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood

If you have spent any time with me at all, you know who my favorite pastor is. All together now . . . John Piper! You've no doubt heard me expound upon all of his worthy attributes in glowing terms, so I won't go into that today (maybe). Suffice it to say, though, that I'm thrilled that the very first chapter in Voices of the True Woman Movement is authored by him. I remember hearing this message on the CDs from the True Woman '08 conference. Michael & I listened to it repeatedly, it was so fantastic. The chapter is no less electric. I'll attempt not to constantly quote him word-for-word, but - I'll warn you - that will be hard, because he's got such quotable thoughts!

Three points stand out for me in this chapter entitled "The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood".

1) "Wimpy theology makes wimpy women."  I know I said I would try to refrain from quoting Piper word-for-word. I'm going back on my word here, but I guarantee you'll thank me. There's no way I could put this like he does! "Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, & good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness & man-centeredness. Wimpy theology doesn't have the granite foundation of God's sovereignty or the solid steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all things." And don't you find this true in real life? Don't you know women that use human-centered explanations for God rather than God-centered exultations in God? When trials meet this woman, she will whine, complain, get angry, blame Satan, or walk away from God altogether. And, in all truthfulness, she will be more than happy to have her influence come from the culture around her & her own fleshly desires than from God's Word. But, we do have to be careful to define the opposite of wimpy. This sentence made me laugh out loud: "The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant Amazon." HA! All of us have known or have been the wimpy woman, & all of us have known or have been the Amazon woman. Some of us have been both. But neither are strong, God-centered women. So, how do we become her?

2) Robust, God-centered theology makes strong, God-centered women.  I can attest from personal experience how life-changing God-centered theology is. Thinking about God correctly - & yes, there is a correct way to think about God - comes from a correct interpretation & application of Scripture. God has given us a way to know Him in His Word. And in that Word, we find a treasure trove that ultimately leads us to the way to know God - Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Savior. Only this robust, God-centered theology can make a young girl choose imprisonment for 38 years until her death rather than reject her faith. Or make a wife choose love & forgiveness for the people whom she & her family had spent 3 decades ministering to, only to have them burn her husband & two young sons alive. Or make her young daughter exclaim praise to God that He had found her father worthy to die for Him. Or make women with physical handicaps trust in God unwaveringly & even rejoice in their infirmities because they've been driven to Him. Or a woman who has lost both her husband & her mother & discovered cancer in her own body realize that what she needs most is not relief from her trials but forgiveness & cleansing from her sin of self-pity & self-centeredness (pg. 18-19 contains all of these examples). This very robust theology is the only thing that was able to free me from years of devastation & anger over my molestation. It was only when I realized how vile & wretched my sin is against our infinitely holy God, & yet He forgave me, that I was able to be cleansed from the sin committed against me. Only robust, God-centered theology leads to cleansing, freeing faith in Christ.

As incredible as all of this is, this only leads up to Piper's main point, which is that:

3) Women are distinctly created by God to bring Him glory in their femininity. Okay, here's the bottom line. Women & men are different. Not just anatomically, but we're created to be different. And our differences are created to complement each other, to bring out the best in each other. I glorify God in my femininity in a way wholly different from how Michael glorifies God in his masculinity. God designed it this way. How? In our roles. Ephesians 5:22-24 says, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, & is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." This is the complementarian view of marriage, & it's thoroughly biblical. Remember, this is how we bring out the best in each other & glorify God distinctly. A husband is the loving, protecting, providing, sacrificing head of his wife - just as Christ is for the church. And a wife fulfills her calling in lovingly honoring, affirming, & supporting her husband's leadership in humble submission - just as the church submits to Christ. These are not interchangeable any more than you can interchange Christ & the church in these verses. After all, you can't have the church being the head of Christ & Christ submitting to the church, now can you? The extent to which we faithfully demonstrate these truths in our marriages is the extent to which we reflect Christ & the church to the world.

But, what if you're not married? Piper has a section devoted to how women can glorify God in their femininity through singleness, too. And he gives 3 beautiful examples of this:

     1) It demonstrates to the world that only faith in Christ grows God's family,

     2) It demonstrates to the world that your family in Christ is more permanent & precious than your family by blood,

     3) It demonstrates that marriage is temporary by pointing to Christ & the church, for whom marriage is simply a mirror.

"God's ultimate purpose in creating the world & choosing to let it become the sin-wracked world that it is, is so that the greatness of the glory of Christ could be put on display at Calvary where He bought His rebellious bride at the cost of His life." (pg. 19-20).

No wimpy theology there.


Brad said...

Good thoughts, though I felt like I was on the outside looking in, so to speak. John is an excellent pastor and a treasure to the Church. Keep striving for joy by faith in Jesus Christ!


The Boyds said...

Thanks for commenting, Brad! We don't get many comments from people other than family & close friends, so this is a treat! This topic may be about true womanhood, but so far, I've found the points are just as applicable to men. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful reminder from Piper about true womanhood that brings glory to our great God! I am encouraged by your thoughts on each of his three points - yes, right theology will make us strong, God-centered woman. Thanks again!

The Boyds said...

Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! I never fail to be strengthened by Piper! This is an incredible book - chapter 2 is coming soon, I promise - one that I have already found immensely edifying.