Biblical Womanhood and the Single Woman

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by BuckeyeGirl, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. BuckeyeGirl

    BuckeyeGirl Puritan Board Freshman

    What does "biblical womanhood" entail for a single woman? Biblical womanhood in the context of marriage and motherhood seems relatively straightforward. A woman must submit to her husband, she must attend to her home, and she must raise her children (if she has them). But how is biblical womanhood expressed in the life of a single woman, who has no husband to whom she must submit and no children to raise?

    As a single woman, this is a question that I often puzzle over, and I would appreciate any insight the board has!
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  2. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Francesca, I think you just be a Christian, seeking to know and obey God’s will as revealed in his word. Any specifics that trouble you?
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  3. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    While you're not "tied down" so you speak, I would encourage you to pursue a job or another useful skill (this is general advice since I don't know your exact situation). Even the Proverbs 31 woman was working in addition to managing the household. Being a Christian woman is not only about raising children or submitting to a husband.

    In addition, study the Scriptures. If you are to marry someday, what you had time to learn now will help you in your relationship with your husband. Sometimes he will need to be taught by you (yes, my wife has taught me many things!). Sometimes this will be in word, sometimes by a quiet example.

    Sometimes it is helpful/necessary for a woman to work outside of the home (the Proverbs 31 woman was in real estate). Lydia a seller of purple (that was skilled labor back then!). You can develop useful skills now that may be needed later. And if you never do marry, won't you be glad that you didn't spend your whole life sitting around and waiting?

    Finally, do you think there is any significant difference between unmarried men and unmarried women? Both should be growing in their relationship with God. Both should be productive in their communities. Both should seek to be faithful witnesses in a fallen world, ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them.

    And don't forget to pray. You really do have more time to pray as a single person than you will as a wife/mother. Redeem the time!

    EDIT: I see you went to law school. Wonderful! Use that skill to God's glory! I'm glad to see you are active in this way!
  4. BuckeyeGirl

    BuckeyeGirl Puritan Board Freshman

    Jeri, thanks for your response. The Bible is clear that men and women are different. The different roles of men and women in marriage and in church are clearly delineated. (Well, I think they are clear - I guess an egalitarian would dispute this point, ha). I suppose I'm wondering whether there should also be a difference in the way single men and single women live their lives.

    Most of my female friends are married and have children. They are following the "normal" pattern for womanhood. In contrast, I have a career in a male-dominated profession. The older I get, the more I seem to have in common with my male friends than my female friends - I'm more at home talking about politics and the law than about more domestic concerns. This has had me wondering whether I'm somehow living my life wrong - are there ways I can/should be more feminine? Am I supposed to be more deferential to men's opinions? Should I be less apt to join in on discussions about theology or politics?

    I hope this makes sense! My question seemed straightforward when I was thinking about it, but now that I'm trying to put it into words it seems significantly less clear.​
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (I Corinthians 7).

    If you feel the Lord has called you to singleness (at least for this time), think about the many lost females of the world. Perhaps you could consider missions among Muslim or tribal women (many of whom I cannot even approach in some contexts due to being male). Some populations are very gender-segregated and men cannot go to them or discuss the Gospel with them in any meaningful way. In a sense, you are freer to serve the Lord, and this could be one way to do so.
  6. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Pergamum makes a great point above, especially with the quote from 1 Corinthians 7. To make the things of the Lord our highest aim is the calling and duty of all believers.

    But yes, your career and profession brings particular challenges to your calling as a woman to exhibit the biblical modesty and quiet demeanor women are called to pursue. I would say hang even tighter with godly women friends esp in your church, and seek the prayers and counsel of the church to help you in these things.

    One point in your asking about whether you should defer more to your male colleagues— deference is something given to those who know more, are wiser, are put in authority over us by God, etc. So there are times to defer to the counsel or leadership of those people, male or female. But respect might better define the heart attitude you’d probably want to develop. Men and women should always mutually respect one another. I think in keeping with the gentleness and modesty God sees as becoming to a woman, I think it would be good to consider how to best respect the maleness of men both in and outside the church. (I’m just kind of stream of thought saying this. Others feel free to say it better or refine.) Again, the same respect is due your female colleagues but there may be things to say to flesh each out differently.

    Some aren’t worthy of true respect but it’s your demeanor and godliness in all your dealings that are the issue here.

    Takeaway: stay close to your elders in the church. Stay close to the godly women of your church. Stay close to your church! You live in a tough world for these things. I rejoice in your interest in these precious matters in the Lord.

    Editing to add that I don’t think there’s anything amiss in your love for discussing politics and law, even for debate and argumentation. Just keep first things first.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  7. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    One point of clarification: I have heard some argue that women are subject to men in general. I'm assuming you are not operating under this belief, but it's worth mentioning that men are in no way "over" you outside of a husband in marriage or officers in a church. Even then, their authority is delegated by God and has limitations. Other roles of authority such as a boss or the like is not a gender-specific role (i.e. gender is accidental (not essential) to the office).

    I hope this helps...
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Some excellent things said already. One thing I want to say: if God has called you to singleness at this point in your life, then there is no reason to view that state as somehow not normal. Maybe it is a transition stage, but maybe not. What the majority of your friends do does not necessarily define what is normal, at least, not in such a way as automatically to define your state as not normal.

    And then I wish to repeat what others have said: use the time you have wisely. You have way more free time than a married woman typically has. Invest in knowledge and wisdom. Learn voraciously. Read in the various fields of theology. Read history. Read classic literature. Also, engage in evangelism when you have opportunity. Disciple younger women. Volunteer your time to take care of the poor, the orphan, and the widow. Fundamental here is a desire you need to have to see your state not as a liability but as an asset to be used for the glory of God. God may change your assets one day, but this is the big one you've got right now.
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  9. Jonathan95

    Jonathan95 Puritan Board Freshman

    Matt Chandler's sermon serious labeled Beautiful design speaks on this for both men and women. It's worth a listen. Check out this video for a teaser.
  10. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't know that there is a "normal" pattern for womanhood, per se. Because some really are single for a lifetime, and many are single for significant portions of their life (pre-marriage, widowhood). To say that marriage and children is "normal" is to, in some senses, make singleness the "abnormal" or an "exception." One thing that I appreciate from Christopher Yuan (a friend of Rosaria Butterfield) is that he speaks to how the church has lost the value of singlehood as being a whole calling, rather than a back-up, relegated to an incidental if one "doesn't" achieve "normalcy." You are not in a state of waiting to experience normal womanhood if you are single; you are currently living it out. With that said, there will be women in your life that are in different stages of life and living out Biblical womanhood in different ways: motherhood, empty-nesting, grandmotherhood, widowhood (it is helpful to remember that there are many stages outside of direct motherhood that a woman, even with family, goes through in life!). I also have a similar, albeit different, situation.

    While I am married, I do not have children and am not expecting. This has in the past put me in an interesting situation of feeling sometimes "in between" peers on either end -- but one thing that has helped me is to realize that women are living various stages at different times, and just as the Body of Christ can serve while each is in his or her own stage of life, so can I to these other women, and vice versa. I intentionally have formed friendships and meet with women in my congregation who are of various ages: I assist in Sunday School with middle schoolers, I sometimes help with childcare, I attend meetings and Bible studies with retired women. I have also been intentional about making friends with mothers, especially those new mothers, because it can be an isolating time in life--it is very easy for those new mothers and mothers of young children to feel isolated even from church activity. So I find that helping by delivering meals, and even just coming to "hang out" at the home of these women and being a fun aunt that tires the kids out, and also gets to have one-on-one time with her to just be a friend and relax has been an easy way for me to strengthen relationships and be of service while also being edified myself! Just this Friday I had brunch with a friend whose husband took the kids for the morning and we had a great time of encouragement and building one another up. Just because these women are mothers does not mean they are not still individual women who enjoy human interaction and discussion that doesn't center around the home! In fact, one of the biggest themes in my discussion with women from church that I have intentionally met with has been spiritual encouragement and talking through theology! And I mean big "T" theology! Not to say you do it all in the same manner as me, but perhaps think about ways you can stretch your innate gifts in service of your church, especially those who are in different stages of life, while also challenging you to try to incorporate other women into your life rather than assuming that they are only concerned with domestic matters. Once you get past the "how are the kids" and the weather topics of the first discussion, I find that prodding with the right questions can help to draw out good discussion. (Of course, I subscribe to the Anne of Green Gables method of seeking out kindred spirits--insistently, earnestly, and with lots of questions :D)

    That brings me to...politics and theology are not gendered fields, and they should not be! More women, especially in modern American evanglicalism, should be more knowledgeable about theology! It is not only men who ought to know their God, why they believe him, where their hope is founded...and be able to articulate that to others.

    From how you have presented yourself and your thoughtfulness, I would not worry too much about trying to be more "feminine" if that means adding on interests and superficial things that are not genuine. Being female is not something you become or groom to be, it's what you are, how God made you. It sounds as if you are already conscientious of your role in submission to the church elders. I sometimes have interests that are more "male-centric" to some perspectives (I dabble with working in wildlife...lots of real outdoorsy guys...and also I work with herpetology loving snakes and lizards and turtles and such--neither of which are gendered interests, but have historically been male dominated circles). I am not concerned about my femininity because I have interests that check of a "blue" box in some peoples' minds. I think practical advice would maybe to be to find those Christian women who *do* share those interests...a place like the PuritanBoard is a place to start, especially with theology! But, also, know that in a church, it's a small subset of the you won't always have people who understand your profession/interests, but that differences can be helpful for building one another up, helping in practical areas that you have expertise in, education for others, etc. The same is true for natural born families. We don't choose our parents or siblings, but we know our common thread is bigger than any individual differences. The church is diverse, but has one body, one mission, one Christ.

    Also I will at least note, thinking of possible marriage prospects, that it was my interest in theology that drew me to my husband (and vice versa). We started as friends who would discuss much theology and our faith. I learned so much from my husband in these conversations (even when he was not yet my husband)! It turns out that that's an interest that's a really good building block for a healthy relationship founded in Christ...when your interest in things of Christ bubbles so much over in conversation! So, without necessarily being imprudent, I'd say...keep chipping in on those theological conversations! ;)

    That was a lot of general ideas with personal experience, so hopefully something of that was helpful. There's no checklist for how to life the Biblical Womanhood Life (TM) just as there isn't a checklist for the Christian life in general. And ultimately, womanhood or manhood--both aim at that latter which is to live the Christian life, and persevere in our sanctification.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  11. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I really liked a section I read in a Larry Crabb book many years ago, I forget which one. All the accusations of psychobabble towards Crabb scared people off from somebody who delved into gender differences better than anybody I can think of.

    He said that if you make it your goal to serve the people around you and unselfishly do anything you can to help them, a woman will instinctively become more of what we call an old fashioned womanly nature. Gentle, tender, kind, motherly, soft, etc. In the same way a man will become more masculine- he will rise up to help with strength, protect, defend, etc. Of course there will be overlap-a man will be tender and a woman will properly defend- but femininity and masculinity truly emerge in selfless service.

    When you hear complaints today about how all men are yyyyy and all women are xxxxx, underneath the root of the complaints what they describe is self centeredness. Lazy men who won't lead, and bossy hard women, underneath are just selfish.

    I would say seek to love and help the people you are in contact with, and you will be and feel feminine. ( I am sure you already are!) Don't make it about different roles and what can a woman do or not do, just make it trying to serve, and you will end up exactly the way God designed you to be.

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