I recently read an article proclaiming the danger of feminism in the church. It stated that it was a danger because it leads young women away from submitting to their husbands and from building homes that honor God. It begged people to raise their young women better in order to save the church from the ills of culture and urged them to teach women to be a specific version of feminine (“Biblical Womanhood”). To be anything other is divisive.
This is my response as an other.
To a younger me:
I see you, my dear, searching, fighting to define who you think you should be as a Christian woman. You’re hearing messages and learning truths about womanhood that seem opposed to what you have learned from the Spirit and how you have been equipped by the Spirit.
Most messages you hear will shame you into thinking that you’re less than because you don’t fit cultural expectations for what your life should look like. You will read blogs and hear sermons that will tell you that your value in the Kingdom is being submissive to a man and cultivating a household. You will read books that encourage you to wait for your “prince charming” and pray for a man to be a savior.
You will look at the wonderful, joyful life you’ve created in your singleness and...
All of it will feel a bit much.
You’ll feel like you failed, that your not quite…
Not an acceptable version of…
You will hurt.
But deep down you’ll know that your worth is not defined by a wedding band, or an expanding family. Your worth is not in your sex organs. I know it seems cruel that the world defines you by your sex appeal, while the church defines you by your utility. It seems cruel, because it is cruel. You’ll wrestle with anger over that cruelness for years, I’m afraid. You’ll wrestle with the thought of not-being-enough, not-having-enough because you don’t fit that very specific cookie-cutter mold.
You will hurt.
But you are enough.
You were created enough.
Married or single, you will feel the joy of submitting to the King. That is your strength.
Mother or childless, you will nurture your world into a place of more comfort and beauty. That is how you will share your light.
You will celebrate weddings and you will cry over newborn babies. Your life will be a technicolor celebration of love and joy and peace. You will be every bit as rooted as you want to be in community and in the intimate life of the church. Your life will have every bit of value as anyone else. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are enough.
Whether you like it or not (and sometimes you will not like it) your independence is a gift. Your ability to go out and serve, to be the hands and feet of love, will be a unique thing that you and your singleness bring to the kingdom and to your community. You will learn to taste and see how wonderful Christ is as you exercise that independence and grow fully alive in yourself. You will learn intimately about your skills, intelligence, and courage and all the ways God has designed you to be fully, unapologetically yourself.
Your righteousness will not be found at the wedding altar, but at the foot of the cross like everyone else. Just as you appreciate the intimacy a union brings, be careful to appreciate the independence your singleness brings. It is a gift, a healing balm to the world.
Let them call you a feminist. Let them worry. Let them question. Your life is not there’s to own or to judge. Your life is a marvelous dance of redemption and fully yours to live. Let them talk. And love them well through it. We are all weighted down under the expectations of our roles, married and single alike. Choose to turn your hurt to hope. Choose to live with courage, cultivating kindness in all of your spaces and places.
Just like the saints that walked before you, the Rahabs, the Ruths, the Esthers… the Marys, the Marthas, the Elizabeths… your worth will not be defined by your relationship status, but rather, your courage to love and to serve with adoration and abandon. The more you walk into that truth, the more others can as well.
I believe in you, young woman.
I believe in your worth.
I celebrate your independence and the great gifts you bring to all of those you know and serve. And if you get married, I will celebrate that as well.
Your life brings glory to God.
Your unique femininity and womanhood has something special to say about Him. Don’t worry about the cookie cutters and whispers. Don’t worry about the expectations.
You are enough.