Biblical Womanhood: It Probably Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
Biblical womanhood is the distinguishing character of a woman as defined by the Bible. When God created two genders (Genesis 1:27; 5:2; Matthew 19:4), He also instituted different roles for each gender. The quest for biblical womanhood begins in the same place that biblical manhood begins. Galatians 3:28 states that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Christ, we have equal value and equal responsibility to obey and serve the Lord. All scriptural commands about surrender (Romans 12:1-2), service (Romans 12:1), and dedication (1 Corinthians 7:33-35) apply equally to men and women.
A New Creation
So the Bible’s instruction for any woman who strives for biblical womanhood begins with her being born again (John 3:3). She must have become a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and take seriously Jesus’ words about the need to abide in Him (John 15:1-5). The Word of God must be her final authority in life because, if its authority is not clear to her, then she will become a judge of Scripture rather than letting Scripture judge her. This leads to compromise and eventual moral collapse (see Romans 1:22-25).
Femininity Is Not A Cultural Stereotype
One common error in discussing biblical womanhood is to mix cultural stereotypes with scriptural truth. This mistake has kept millions of women from pursuing their dreams and developing their gifts. Many pursuits or careers were considered “for men only,” and women were expected to stay home and keep house. However, biblical womanhood does not mean that every woman must conform to a societal standard of femininity. For some women, embracing their femininity will mean they pursue careers in medicine, construction, or law enforcement because God has gifted them to serve in those areas. For others, raising children and making a home is a fulfillment of their God-given desires.
First Peter 3:3-4 sheds some light on God’s goals for His daughters. Although Peter is speaking specifically to wives, this instruction applies to all women who seek biblical womanhood: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” The Bible does not give similar instructions to men, which reveals God’s understanding of the women He created. He knows that the physical beauty of a woman is often exploited, cheapened, and used for selfish ends. He wants His daughters to dig more deeply to find the reflection of Himself that He placed inside them.
Radiating God’s Glory
A woman who walks with God radiates the glory of God to everyone she meets. A woman who models biblical womanhood has a gentle and quiet spirit, but she can also lead a corporation, head a maintenance crew, or discover medical cures. In fact, as she allows the Holy Spirit to control her, God blesses her natural gifting to accomplish even more than she could if she tried to succeed in her own way. When a woman turns her attention to the beauty of her soul, her attractiveness becomes a cause of her exaltation rather her exploitation. As she focuses on developing kindness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22), she becomes more like Jesus, whose attractiveness was not outward; yet the world has never produced such beauty (Isaiah 53:2).
Biblical womanhood is more than a career path or the ability to reproduce and nurture. Because every human being carries a unique facet of God’s own nature (Genesis 1:27), we glorify Him by reflecting that nature to the world. Women can reveal God’s glory in ways unique to their gender, as can men. In this confusing day when gender identity has become a matter of preference, it is vital that those who know and love God and His Word remain grounded in His truth. God designed men to reflect His glory through biblical manhood. He designed women to reflect other aspects of His glory through biblical womanhood. When we all seek to honor Him in every part of our lives, we will live harmoniously, fulfilling complementary roles as we carry out the mission Jesus gave to all of us (Matthew 28:19).