Monday, February 20, 2012

Embracing Your Womanhood

Okay some of you might remember that quite a while back; earlier last summer, I was working on a project for Girlscouts called the Ideal World Clinic. My sister had a presentation to do about healthy foods, and mine was on the biblical role of women. I wrote about it here. Well I never did get the video going but in this post I have changed things a little bit and made it more readable from my original speech version to a written version. So that's it for my itroductory comments, enjoy the read. :)

The reason why I decided to choose this as my topic is because it is something very important to me and it has such an important role to play in how our world works today. I can't stand to see so many hard things going on around me I hate seeing that broken lost teenager not knowing where to go. I hate seeing families being ripped apart. I just want to fix everything right now. But I can't, the only thing I can do is to work on the individual level. Which, perhaps is the best place to start at. When you want to fix a problem you don't just cover up the symptoms, you start at the root. Changing and helping individuals will help families. Families make up households, households make up churches and schools, and churches and schools make communities. Communities make up states, states make up nations, and nations make the world.

So, the name of my presentation is “Embracing Your Womanhood”. And since the beginning is the best place to start, hence the word beginning, I think it's best we start there. We all know what embracing means but what about “womanhood”?

I've looked it up in my dictionary and this is what it says “Womanhood – n. The state, character, or collective qualities of a woman.”

So what are the qualities of a woman? Think of your mom, or teacher, or grandmother, what qualities do they have?

Maybe, she would be kind, or smart. Maybe she's funny, what about being a good cook? Or maybe she's musical. So if I was to tell you the qualities of my mother, I would say she is smart, a good cook, she likes to tease us, and she has determination to get a job done.

Now, besides individual qualities a woman may have there is a very thorough list presented to us in Titus 2:3-5 of the qualities a woman should have.

“The older woman likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their husband, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

Now first off, I've heard people question the part “that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” I am not saying that if you have a job and go to work, that if you don't stay at home all day that you are blaspheming God. Certainly woman should be a homemaker at home, but sometimes in for real situations that is not always possible. This is an issue I've seen people get hung up over, I don't have time to explain all of it right now but if you have a question you can ask me about it later.

So these are the qualities found in Titus 2 put into list form:
Not Slanderous
Not Given to Much Wine
A Teacher of Good Things
Love their Families
Obedient to Her Husband

We will go through each of these qualities one at a time.

Being Reverent

This simply means to be respectful. A woman must be respectful of others and towards God. She must be nice with her words and not tear others down.

Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds up her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”

Or in other translations it says tears down. You can think of “house” as family and people around her. That's the picture I get, here's a paraphrase “A wise woman builds up her relationships with others but a foolish woman tears them down.”

Just a side note here, if you are respectful towards others, other people will respect you. Think about it, does anybody respect the loud-mouth that is always making fun of other people?

Not A Slanderer

First off let's define the word.

Slander - n A false report maliciously uttered, tending to injure the reputation of another.

So a slanderer is just somebody who slanders.

Now, there is something similar to slander that y'all might relate to better. It's not the same but when I apply this passage to myself it's what I have to deal with. I don't have much of a problem with slander but what about gossip? As far as I know people don't really like gossips, and for good reason! They cannot be trusted, they will tell a secret just as soon as they hear it. No one wants to be around a gossip, gossip hurts.

I got mixed up in gossip once, I was trying to stop it but in my efforts I spread it around more. The whole thing blew up and there was a big meeting with our parents. Bottom line is – gossip is not good.

Not Given To Much Wine

What happens when someone is drunk? They are not themselves, they cannot be reverent, their mind is not focused, they act foolishly, they may spill a secret, they say and do stupid things. You cannot have the qualities of a woman, put before us here in Titus 2, if you are drunk. But, you must not misunderstand me, I don't have anything against beer or wine or alcohol or anything. I like wine myself, we have it during communion at church.

In the book of Proverbs there is this little piece about being drunk, it gives a great example of how a drunken person acts. I really like it and think it fits well here, it's also on your work sheets.

Psalm 23:19-35
Who has woe?
Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions?
Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger long at the wine,
Those who go in search of mixed wine.
Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it swirls smoothly;
At the last it bites like a serpent,
And stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things,
And your heart will utter perverse things,
Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying,
“They struck me, but I was not hurt;
They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

Teachers Of Good Things

How does a woman teach? By example and constructed times of teaching. Actions speak louder than words, you cannot say one thing to your children and then do the opposite. They will promptly impersonate what you do instead.

Okay so what good things do you teach?
Prepare them to be the men and women they will grow up to be
Teach good character
Teach them how to teach themselves
Teach them the qualities God desires them to have.
A woman's job, the man too but it falls mainly to the woman, is to care for the children.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There are two categories to teach in: education and character

Children may go to school or be schooled at home. Either way the responsibility for the children falls back on the parents. If you plan on sending your children to school then the education part of it is pretty much taken care of. But you still cannot sit back and expect the teachers to do your job, they only cover the education part, you've still got to teach them character!

Teaching character falls solely to the parents, other people may have influence over them but the parents are still held accountable. You see that all the time today. What happens when a minor gets into trouble? Do they call up the teachers at school? No, they call the parents. Parents are responsible for their children.

Discreet, Chaste

discreet – a. Wise in avoiding errors of evil, and in selecting the best course of means; prudent in conduct; circumspect; cautious; heedful; guarded.

Okay so lets go one step down.

discretion – n. 1.The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid being offensive or revealing personal information.
2.The freedom to decide what should be done in a certain situation.

chaste – a. Pure from all unlawful sexual commerce; free from libidinous desires; continent; virtuous; free from obscenity or impurity in thought and language;

Chasity is something that our society has lost all concept of. It is very important.

Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

There is two parts to this verse first part “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” How can the bed be undefiled when some one has all ready participated in marital relations without being married or outside of marriage? Second part. “but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Persons who participate in those kinds of things will be punished. By the Lord God himself.

Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But say to you that whoever looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

If you are dressing in a way that encourages this lust in the man you are just as bad as the man who actually does the lusting. In the Ten Commandments adultery is listed as a sin. What are girls doing encouraging this sin? That does not at all fit with the “Golden Rule” “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) It is comparable to someone whispering in a body's ear, “Kill that man.” The man who did the killing is responsible for his actions but the whisperer was not at all helpful. In the same way the man who lusts is responsible for his own sin but women should not encourage him in the vice.

This is a serious issue, I just don't know how to get my point across. There are so many versus about this topic in the Bible, you could have a weekend conference on this subject. Obviously I don't have that kind of time here so I will have to move on.

Discretion has more to do with what you say and how you handle yourself in difficult situations, chastity has more to do with your body and clothing.


Okay good, that's pretty self explanatory. But we have to remember we are not the ones that decides what is good.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

You can't just do what is good and right in your own eyes. God has set out rules, he decides what is good, not us.

And I think it's a good thing we don't decide what is good. I mean, we're selfish people, we might just choose what is good for us and not think of other people. I wouldn't want to live in a world that was controlled by my brother, he might outlaw classical music! (I like classical music like, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, those guys. My brother doesn't.) He might say the only music that is allowed is country and whatever else it is he likes to listen to.
I know, silly illustration, but my point is this: If man chooses what is right in his own eyes, there are going to be some pretty unhappy people. Sure is a good thing God has already got it planned out!

Obedient To Her Husband

Col. 3:18, Eph. 5:22, 1 Cor. 11:3

The verses go on to explain things better. This is what the Bible says and this is what I believe. Now I know there are people who question if the Bible really meant that or not. They say that the teaching is out dated and no longer applies to our modern society. But that brings the validity of the whole rest of the Bible into question. What about the most important part, salvation? What happens then? Many other questions pop up when you start to use this kind of reasoning. Notice the verses did not say for women to submit to men in general. Only her husband, the very one who is supposed to love her as Christ loved the church -that is sacrificialy- A woman whose husband is loving her in this way would have no problem submitting to him. Also woman are not supposed to blindly submit to her husband so much so that he causes her to sin. There is much more I could say but submission is a big topic that people get all fired up about and I just don't think I am prepared to talk about it. I know what I believe and why and if you want you can ask me about it later.

Being A Home Maker and Loving Your Family

In other Bible translations this text may be translated as “keepers at home” I prefer this one because there are many reasons a woman may not be able to keep at home, but she can always be a homemaker. Now, in an ideal world there wouldn't be any reason why she couldn't be at home. She should be at home. But this is world is not ideal so we got to work with what we've got and try to make it ideal, that's what this whole thing is all about.

Now, moving on, how exactly is a woman to be a homemaker?

If you are planning on sending your children to school, once you have children, you are like most American families. You may need to cut down on extra curricular activates to make time for your family. When your children and husband are home, make it pleasant and cheery. Take time to pack a lunch for your kids; it sends a message that you think they're worth the effort. Have family worship time together. Since supper may be the only meal you have a chance to sit down together, make it fun, a family activity to get ready for dinner. Use the time you have after school with your children and husband to be a homemaker and to love your children and husband.

If you are like me, the minority, you plan on homeschooling. In this case you have the whole day to spend with your children. Meal preparation, chores, schoolwork, play, talking, all these things can be done together. When Dad comes home you can have family worship. Throughout the day you must make an effort to be cheery and be an example for your children. You are given ample opportunities throughout the day to be a homemaker.

Being a homemaker requires you to make home more than just a landing dock before the next activity. It is not a one time action, it is a full time job. You must give yourself up and serve others. This idea really goes against the grain of modern society, think about these sayings: “You need to make time for yourself.” “If you don't take care of yourself no one else will.” “You must learn to love yourself before you can love others.” But this is not so!

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Both of these passages speak of giving yourself up for others.

Now, I've tried the mainstream way of doing things before. I concentrated on myself, it was all about me. About two years ago we had a family live with us while they were looking for a house to buy. There was a total of sixteen people in one house.  Mrs. ----- the mother of the family was pregnant and my mom was on a detox, a liquid diet, at the time. Mrs ------ couldn't get up in the morning because of morning sickness and it would have been awful for my mother to prepare food that she wasn't able to eat. A lot of the work fell on myself and my friend, the oldest daughter. I was busy thinking all about myself, “Look how much work I do, no one notices, I don't ever have time to just sit down, no one appreciates me.” I was very discontent and was not happy. Eventually they got their own place and moved back down to Louisiana. I still had the same attitude about things and eventually my discontent turned into a “mild” depression is the technical term for it. I stuck to my room, complained, felt like crying for no apparent reason, was very easily angered, and just over all was plain miserable.
This January my baby brother was born the same time our house burned down. That is a long story and I won't give a whole lot of time to it. But there's one part of it does pertain to our topic, God used an experience that would normally put someone into depression, and used it to take me out of my depression. He showed me that the world does not revolve around me. Trying to take time for myself, and thinking about only me had the exact opposite effect than intended.

Now I've tried the way in John 15:13 and 1 Corinthians 13. I've stopped thinking about myself and serve my family with no complaints, (or at least there's no deep rooted grudges I'm holding about serving. There may be some annoyances but that's not what defines my attitude anymore). I am content and have found the joy I was missing when I lived for myself. So all that to say that serving others and being a homemaker is not drudgery and never ending work and you won't “lose sight of yourself.” That is actually when I found myself!

Now, you may be asking yourself the question:
So how does all this stuff about being a wife and mother apply to me now?

Well, you may not be the wife and mother of a family but you are a daughter. This is the time in your life when you are preparing for that future role. Learn things now! Be a servant to your family, give yourself up for your siblings and your parents.
You can still be respectful, you can refrain from gossip, you can choose not get drunk, you can be a teacher, you can love your family, be discreet and chaste, you can be a homemaker and choose to do what is good. The only thing you can't do right now is love and submit to your husband. But you can practice this submission and love by applying it to your parents.

Being a daughter and obeying your parents as Exodus 20:12 says:

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

easily translates later on to submission to your husband as put be fore us here in:

Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

You can practice submission to your husband right now through obedience to your parents.

But wait, what about being a teacher? I'm still in school being taught.” You say.

You can still be a “teacher of good things” without having children. Think, do you have anybody that looks up to you or follows your example? Maybe your friends or younger siblings? Well I'll tell you there's more people than you think. So you might not be able to teach these people in “constructed times of teaching” but you can teach by living as an example to others.

When I was first starting to embrace this role of womanhood for myself, I thought about being a teacher. The first thing I thought of was that since I didn't have children I couldn't be a teacher. But then I tried to find away I could apply that to myself now. I thought about the people that were watching me, either on face book, on-line, or in real life. I realized how important my position was. I, a Christian, was living my life and people were watching me. I realized that the way I act reflects my God, and began to worry about what they were seeing. (Genesis 1:27) I prayed that God would use me and make me a better example of him. I prayed that he would make people see something in me and wonder what was different. I wanted to be a clear reflection of him.
Well it seems things are working out that way, because a few people have asked me what was different, or said something along those lines. God is using me to be a witness for him! And I just get so excited about this, because he's using me! Me, the one who was in rebellion against him and blaming him for the hard life that I had brought down upon myself.

So that is my example for how you can be a teacher to others even if you don't have children.
This is the starting place for Christians. Submit to what God has planned for you, get into your place and excell in it. The biblical role of women is not one of degration, it is the highest calling a woman can possibly have. This is what God designed a woman to be. Just like when you follow a recipe, you have to do what it says. Sure you might be able to change it a little -that is comparable to how you personally follow God's calling in your life- but if you steer too far from the original, your dish will go "kerplop."
When men and woman are in the proper places that God intended them to be in the world would be a much better place. There would not be so many broken families, teenagers would not get depressed and cause pain to themselves and other around them. Children would grow and prosper feeling secure in the love of their parents. Bringing the world closer to the ideal starts at the individual level. We cannot expect to make great changes when the heart is still sick. People need God, his love, his forgiveness, and his commandments.
Titus 2:3-5
“The older woman likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their husband, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

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