Sunday, February 24, 2008

Does Christianity Squash Women?


This is my first post here at Reformed SHEology and I would like to say it is a blessing and privilege to be a part of what God is doing here. I pray that any contributions made will bring Glory to our Father and encouragement to the body.

The following is not only a review of Does Christianity Squash Women by Rebecca Jones but it is also a testimony, so please bear with me as I weave the two together. I picked up and started reading this book shortly after going through one of the toughest times so far in my walk with God. If I had to describe what my walk has been like so far I would have to say it has been very much like a path with many obstacles which had to be overcome. No sooner was one overcome, I had no time to reflect on what I just went through when I was met by another! The most recent one was the darkest. But glory to God He brought me through and I feel like a different woman.

This brings me to the point of this review. What is it to be a woman?

In the preface of Rebecca’s book she tells us about a conversation she had with her hairdresser. After telling her hairdresser Jakki the title of the book she is writing Jakki asked, “But the question is, what is a woman?” In chapter 1 Rebecca talks about feminism and "how women fair under feminist cultural rules". The chapter is brief but it was a sobering and informative read. Clearly feminism has caused much confusion as to what a woman really is and how we are seen in the world. At the end of the chapter Rebecca writes:

What is a woman? Who defines womanhood? How we answer this question will determine our goals, our actions, and our satisfaction. On this level, the feminist issue brings us to the heart of what can only be a religious question. Feminism began by attacking societal structures that support male authority. (pg 16)

All my previous ideas of what it meant to be a woman slowly fell down around me as my walk with the Lord went on. I began to see that women cannot have authority over men and if married are to submit to their husbands. This REALLY bothered me. I thought women who submit in this way were in bondage and seen as completely powerless, "squashed" as Rebecca would put it. But where did this thinking come from? Why did I feel this way? I have grown up to believe a woman can have it all even having and exercising dominance and authority over and above the man/husband. My own mother is a very strong and independent woman. She reflects the mantra Rebecca mentions on page 7: "For thirty years, feminism has been repeating the mantra, “I can look after myself, thank you!”

Ironically enough I turned thirty this year. I have grown up with this very mantra reverberating throughout all the women in my family. On my mum's side they are all strong, independent women and I have been expected to be the very same. Much to their dismay (more to my mother and father) from the moment of my birth I was considered "weak". Often I was called names by my own family that reflected my "weak" appearance. So I grew up thinking my performances would gain the respect I longed for, and so for the first years of my walk with God I believed I could gain God's favour by my works (legalism). Because I longed for the approval of man I also found myself putting more trust in people than the Lord.

Last year I entered a very testing time. All those in my life I trusted hurt, mistreated, falsely-accused, used, and abused me. I was devastated to say the least. It was in this dark time the Lord brought me out of the bondage of legalism and I saw God for who He really is…the God of grace. I longed for Jesus for who He is and my desire was to know Him, to seek His face and have a closer relationship with Him. What I had before that wasn’t really much of a relationship as I gave more of myself (trust, works etc) to man than to the Lord Himself.

From this I longed to please God and become the woman He designed me to be. The remaining chapters in Rebecca’s book all point towards the same source….our saviour Jesus. I discovered that it is always about the Lord. Rebecca traces the women in Jesus’ lineage all pointing to the saviour to be born. She then writes a very encouraging chapter on Jesus and women when Jesus was on the earth and amongst men. Time and space will not allow me to tell you just how encouraging a chapter this is, I can only recommend you read it. Everything about us as Christian women points us to Christ. As Rebecca says when we accept God’s authority to define us we discover what it means to be a woman. I believe this is key. Once I accepted God’s authority to define me I am discovering more and more each day what it is to be a woman. Again words fail me to completely express what it is to be a woman as I believe it is only to be experienced by women as we accept God’s authority for us and seek Him first in a living, loving relationship with Him. I can give you a very brief example. Headcoverings….a post in itself, but as I personally accepted that this was His will for me to cover my head whilst in prayer (1 Corinthians 11) and expressed to God my desire to do so and put it into practise in my daily walk I found it brought immense blessing to me in a way I cannot explain. I felt closer to God.

In a nutshell Rebecca Jones’ book explains to us the blue print of biblical womanhood. Once we accept this blueprint for our lives and live it out practically we will learn and discover for ourselves what it is to be a woman.

I heartily recommend this book as part of a study on biblical womanhood that will become not a head knowledge but heart knowledge, lived out practically pointing you to the captain of our salvation, our husband, the Lord Jesus.

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