Biblical womanhood: restrictive or freeing?

Authors: Alyssa and Kaela Kaiser

The kitchen is spick and span.  The table is immaculately set. Dinner is perfectly cooked and right on time.  The children are upstairs, content with their playthings. Everything is all set and ready for her husband to come home from work.  Sounds just about like June Cleaver’s life, from Leave it to Beaver.

Seems pretty restrictive, right?  It’s no surprise that the feminist movement took off following the 1950’s ideal of the perfect housewife. The pendulum took its toll.  

Being a godly woman isn’t about clean kitchens and pretty dresses

The Bible is thought of by some as a rulebook.  Do this, don’t do that. Like a guidebook on “how to be the perfect housewife”.  A guidebook like that would have unreasonable restrictions. There would be no freedom, just a rigid set of rules to follow.

There’s no denying that there are commandments in the Bible.  It is God’s very word. It’s His instruction to His creation.  But it’s different than a rulebook on “how to the perfect housewife”.  The purpose of a “rulebook” is just that. To be a perfect housewife.  It has a single-minded goal. Rulebooks can be controlling and oppressive. But God’s Word contains guidelines for His glory.  

Being a godly woman is about glorifying God

We were created for the purpose of glorifying God.  The guidelines that He has set before us are not for the sake of being restrictive and oppressive.  They are to ultimately bring Him glory. When we are glorifying God, we are fulfilling our purpose. The rules and so-called “restrictions” will bring about freedom because we are living out what we were created for.  

This may seem counterintuitive, so here’s an example to consider. Imagine that you have an entire carton of your favorite ice cream just sitting in the freezer. You know that you probably shouldn’t eat more than a bowlful, but you decide that just for tonight you can eat to your heart’s content. Now that sounds like freedom. But as you eat one bowlful, and then another and another until the whole carton is gone, you feel sick to your stomach. What seemed like freedom actually brought about pain, quite literally. There were consequences for not following healthy guidelines – one bowl.

Similarly, when we don’t heed God’s Word, we find that we don’t gain freedom.  Instead, we find bondage and pain. God is the creator and sustainer of the world.  His guidelines are to help us live according to his design.

Psalm 19:7-11 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  

If you skipped over that passage, go back and read it. It’s powerful.  

Being a godly woman is life-giving

It’s so easy to view the scriptures as restrictive and burdensome to live out. But the adjectives used to describe the law of the Lord in this chapter are perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and sweet. It revives the soul, rejoices the heart, and enlightens the eyes.  Living according to God’s Word brings freedom because His ways are best.

At Across My Heart, we talk a lot about passionately pursuing the heart of God. His Word reveals what His heart is. And obeying it is how we pursue.

In today’s culture, the Bible is accused of being out of date and confining concerning the roles of men and women.  It’s true that there are specific guidelines and roles throughout scripture. But these are the very things that bring about freedom. 

Being a godly woman is laid out in Scripture

God’s unique design for women is not about wearing dresses or liking the color pink. It’s not a June Cleaver list of expectations. It’s a Proverbs 31 inspired life. We are called to be strong like Deborah, compassionate like Ruth, brave like Esther, faithful like Hannah, and wise like Miriam. I could tell you more about these women, but I encourage you to pick up the Bible and discover for yourself how God’s Word uses their stories to inform ours. When we live out the guidelines of scripture, we become the women of God that He created us to be. We are sisters, mothers, wives, helpers, life-givers, homemakers, and servant leaders. We are women. (If you have questions about these roles, check out the blog Lies We’ve Believed | Being a Homemaker Isn’t a High Enough Calling to be a Successful Woman).

In her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot writes…

“Every creature of God is given something that could be called an inconvenience… the bird [might complain]  about the weight of his wings…The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that the wings bear the bird up into freedom, so the woman who accepts the limitations of her womanhood finds those very limitations her gifts, her special calling—wings which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God.”

God’s design for womanhood as laid out in scripture is beautiful. It’s not about being the “perfect housewife.” It’s about finding freedom in glorifying God when we live out His ways.

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