True Womanhood for Newbies

Oct. 10, 2014 Mary Kassian

Session Transcript

Mary Kassian: We're going to be really casual here, which will be fun. If you want to kind of tuck in even closer, that's good. I'm just going to walk around and look at you.

If you have questions, we do want to get them on mic. You can put your hand up and we'll have somebody run and get your question, so we'll have some interaction here as well.

Let me start by telling you . . . you heard this morning that in my family of origin I have five brothers, and I'm the only girl-so six of us kids, and I lived to tell about it. Here's how the story goes: My mom and dad are German, and they went through the war in Germany.

Two of my siblings were born in Germany, and then they emigrated to Canada. So brother #1 was born, brother #2 was born, and my mom starts going, "Man, I would really like to have a girl!" So she starts praying for a girl. Brother #3 was born-another boy. She's praying for a girl and praying for a girl. Nope. Number 4 was born, and it's a boy. She's praying for a girl.

As the story goes, one night she wakes up-is startled from sleep, as though by an angel, and she gets the message, "If you want a girl, tonight's the night." [laughter] So she leans over, wakes my dad up out of a deep sleep, and that was the night! And I was born nine months later, November 11, which in Canada is Remembrance Day (here it's Veteran's Day). And just to make the point that it was not an "oops!," it was an act of God, they had another boy after that. [laughter] So that's the story of my life.

I feel bad for my mom because she wanted a girl. You get what you pray for, I suppose, but she wasn't specific enough. She should have prayed for a girly girl, because I was not a girly girl. I was a girl, but I was a tomboy. So my poor mom, who was a European seamstress and could hardly wait to put together all these pink, lacy things for me to wear was sorely, sorely disappointed when I just ripped them to shreds and hated them. I took them to the nearest tree, and they did not survive, ever!

I wouldn't let her comb my hair and do the little braids. I was uber, uber independent, very much a tomboy and very much "anything they can do, I can do better." So it is rather amusing to me that God would have put His Word into my life and said, "Tell women about being women-womanhood." I would say, "No, no, no, that's not my assignment. You've got the wrong girl! I'm not a girly girl. I don't own a shred of pink-no! I'm not a pink girl; I don't do pink, I don't do lace."

But He revealed to my heart that there's a whole lot more to it than that and that it doesn't matter. Actually, here's a funny story. My executive assistant booked a rental car for me, for the conference, and it was a special car-whatever that meant. I went to the Dollar Rental thing and I said, "I've got a rental agreement," and he said, "Well, what kind of vehicle?"

And I said, "A 'special' one. What does that mean?" He said, "Well, it's special." And I said, "Well, yeah, I know it's special, but what does that mean?" He said, "Well it means we get to choose which vehicle you drive." So anyway, I get out to the Dollar Rental car parking lot, and it is the most massive black hemi truck ever!

And so, I'm driving this truck, listening to the country music, and going, "True women drive hemis!" [laughter]

So having said that, is just to say you can drive a hemi and be a true woman. You can be a wrangler and be a true woman. You can be a plumber and be a true woman. You can be a girl that's not a girly girl and be a true woman. You can be a girly girl and be a true woman.

True womanhood transcends your personality and goes to the core of who God created you to be in terms of your purpose. As I have discovered and found out, the more you step toward it, the more you find yourself and the more "you" you become. You don't become less; you become more you. You become more of who God created you to be.

So we're going to do a bit of an overview in the next hour, and by necessity it's going to be pretty quick. I'm going to kind of just banter with you a little bit and give you a little bit of an overview of what we mean when we say that, why it's important, and how you can find out more-and some resources to point you in the right direction a little bit on that.

I was born in 1960. Any 1960 babies here? Yes! My friends! I grew up through the sixties, seventies. By the late seventies I hit university, and that was really the height of the feminist movement. I went through, really, a lot of different phases of what womanhood looked like in my life.

Coming out of the 1950s . . . I still remember when my mom got her first electric washing machine. That's how old I am, okay? That was like-she was dancin' a jig! Before that it was the roller kind where you press it through the little rollers to get all the moisture out. Eeeeeee. . . You young ones don't even relate to that. Look it up and Google it-you'll find something.

So the media image of womanhood in the 1950s (and really, it was post-war) was the image of if you are a woman and you want to be happy, you need to have all the latest appliances and you need to be at home with your kids and your husband-white picket fence in the burbs. And that was sort of the cultural definition of womanhood.

Now you've gotta think, back then, this was just after World War II. There were hardly any TVs in the homes, and then all of a sudden this big . . . you know, during the war they were making bombs. After the war they needed to find something new to make with their technology, so they started making appliances and TVs. People didn't have those things until after the war. Then they started having them.

So all these new appliances-you know, your Hoover vacuum cleaners and your electric washing machines and your Suzy Homemaker kinds of things-all the companies were pushing this out, and so they put this marketing image out there on TV (which nobody ever had before). All of a sudden, there were TVs in homes, and all of a sudden in every living room there was a picture of what the ideal woman was and what her life looked like.

Now, I don't think that most people's lives necessarily looked like that, but that was the ideal, that you were married, you had kids, you stayed at home-and you enjoyed your appliances. And the best thing about your whole day would be having a tub free of a bathtub ring. And then you Hoover vacuumed your floor, you put your cookies into your Betty Crocker oven, you brought them out, and all happy smiley families-you know, the 1950s image.

This of course was a media image, and it was in direct response to what happened during the war. Because during the war, where were the guys? They were gone. Where were the women? They were in the factories; they were working. Who was having babies? No one! Because there were no guys to make babies, right?

So the guys come home from war, and all of a sudden, what do the women want to do? Make babies! They want to have a husband; they want to have a home. The war was a terrible thing. My parents went through it. I'm actually working on my dad's memoirs right now. He was in Germany and fought for the Germans in the war, was on the Russian front-went through terrible things, horrible things. He was a Russian prisoner of war in the gulag.

So after the war, it's like "yes!" So my mom and dad-just the idea of emigrating to Canada, just the idea of having a home and a family! And the ability to have children: one, two, three, four, five, six. And the ability for them to work hard. My dad could go out, and he worked very hard-long hours-immigrant, couldn't speak English.

And for her to be able to afford an electric washing machine, when just a few years earlier they were literally dying of starvation. One million Germans died after the war from starvation. So here you have this cultural situation that created this image of the ideal woman, this image-not everybody attained it, obviously. Actually, in the 1960s, thirty percent of women worked outside of the home, so it wasn't like everybody (women who weren't working outside of the home).

In the 1960s also, by then higher education was available to women. You were able to go out and get a university degree, you were able to a lawyer, you were able to be a doctor, you were able to do all those things. . . but guess what? The women didn't want to. Why? What did they want to do? They wanted to stay home and have babies.

They had been out in the factories. They had had the shaking of a cultural event that made them cling to family and some sense of stability. So if you were to ask my mother, who is eighty-six, if women were oppressed-were you oppressed? What do you think she would say? "Huh? Well in the war we were!"

And if I asked her, "Were you in a situation where you had no choice?" She would say, "Well, in the war we were." But if I were to say to her, "Well, like, was there this big plot on behalf of Dad and on behalf of all the men in the world to keep you in your place, and keep you silent and keep you shut up and keep you in the home and keep you barefoot and pregnant-and you couldn't do anything?" She would look at me like I was a crazy woman!

Because that's not the way that generation thought. But the next generation saw things very differently. So my generation-and a little bit older than me-started being bored. We're the post-war baby boomers. Why was there a baby boom? Because all the women were at home making babies!

So my generation started getting older and we started noticing, "Hey! All these women are housewives, they're mums, and their lives revolve around their children and families. Hmm." We also noticed there aren't that many women pursuing professional degrees, there aren't that many women in the upper echelons.

Let me also say, another thing that happened at this juncture in history was there was this huge industrial revolution thing that started happening before the war. Before the war everybody worked, because the whole family had the same job-usually in agriculture or production, or if you're a storekeeper, the whole family worked in the store. It was like production and economics centered around the household.

So it wasn't like the husband went off and worked and the wife didn't. Everybody worked. And the income that the family brought in was the family income. But through the industrial revolution, what changed was all of a sudden there are factories and all of a sudden the men are going off to work. The location of work separated from the home.

Before the two were together for thousands of years (home and work) and then they separated, so that work is over here and home is over here. So you've got to pay attention to either one or the other, and that was a reality for women of the day-after the industrial revolution. And they did the factory thing during the war and they decided, "Huh-uh, we want to be"-where?-"in the home, making babies."

So we have this whole cultural thing coming together, and then the baby boomers-the women of my generation-said, "Wait a minute." And there was one woman in particular, and her name was Betty Friedan. She wrote a book in 1963 called The Feminine Mystique. How many of you have read it? How many of you read it in university or college? Probably not that many of you, but I guarantee you that every single one of you in this room has been affected by it.

In that book, she said, "There's a problem with our image of womanhood." This was 1963, this was after the war, this was after electric washing machines. This was Betty Crocker, the TV in your living room picturing the ultimate fulfillment for women is having all these great appliances.

So at that time, Betty Friedan looks at this and says, "There's a problem with this image of womanhood. We have this mystique about womanhood-this cultural expectation about what women should be and how they ought to behave. And in this cultural expectation, the whole image of the ideal woman is that she's married, she's dependent, she's not educated. Or actually she does have a college education, but she chooses to stay home and she doesn't pursue a career. Her life revolves around her family. She's fluffy and frilly and she's just nothingness."

So in 1963 she published this book, and the book was actually based on a questionnaire that Betty Friedan did with all the women in her women's college at their reunion. In that questionnaire she asked the women, "Are you feeling fulfilled and happy in your life?" And what do you think the answer was? No, they weren't.

Betty Friedan concluded that the problem for the women of that day was that they had been given this ideal for womanhood that wasn't fulfilling and that wasn't what it ought to have been. And she and other feminist theorists who came after that basically said, "You know the problem here is that these big old, mean men have defined who women are and have used women, kept them in the home; have kept them subservient for their own advantage and for their own benefit. There's this whole structure called patriarchy (pater = father; archy = the ruled: the rule of the father), that throughout history there's been this plot, maybe unspoken, on behalf of the men to keep the women down."

I wouldn't disagree that there's been a lot of sin and a lot of bad stuff toward women. But you know what, it's called "sin." And I think that women, because we're created a certain way and in a sense are more vulnerable to being used and abused, that sin has reared its ugly head. And there are a lot of wrongs that need to be righted in women's lives.

This crusade started in 1963, and Betty Friedan got together a few women, and twenty-eight of them actually met in a hotel room one day. (Betty Friedan was involved in government counsel on economic equality for women.) These twenty-eight women sat in a hotel room one day and dreamed what could happen if they could get the message through to women that they were oppressed and that women ought to rebel and women ought to get angry at men, and women ought to throw off the whole womanhood image that they had swallowed and would start to define themselves instead of letting men define them.

For Betty Friedan that meant you need to pursue your career, you need to break out of these traditional roles. And as the feminist movement gained momentum, it became the idea that "we get to define who we are. I am woman, I am strong, hear me roar." Okay, how many of you remember Helen Reddy's song? Are you going to sing it with me?

"Yes, I am wise, but it's wisdom gained by pain; yes, I've paid the price, but look at how much I've gained. If I have to (have to), I can do anything." Now, here's the crescendo-all you women help me.

"I am strong (strong!), I am invincible (invincible), I am WOMAN!" In 1972, top of the charts. I was twelve years old, and I remember singing that song with my girlfriends in middle school, linked arms; "I am woman, hear me roar! Dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum." And back then, we started getting this attitude-attitude, okay? And it began, as the years went on, to be a really, really good thing for a woman to have an attitude.

I am woman, hear me roar! I am strong, I am invincible! Nobody's going to tell me what to do. I'm going to buck back at men, I'm going to take charge of my own life. I'm going to define who I am. And of course, if you read my book-it's called The Feminist Mistake (instead of The Feminist Mystique)-it maps out the whole history and philosophy of the feminist movement.

Now, "feminism"-that word is many things to many people. You will hear the message that feminism (in fact, it's gotten very popular again of late), that feminism just means women are people and women have full personhood and that women ought to be treated with full dignity and respect.

Now, if that's what feminism were, then I would be a feminist. But feminism is much more than that. I always tell my students at seminary that feminism is an "ism." An "ism" is a coherent philosophical system or worldview. You have commun . . . ism; you have human . . . ism. You have existential . . . ism-Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre.

In fact, Simone de Beauvoir, who was an existentialist and helped Jean-Paul Sartre develop his whole philosophy, wrote the book called The Second Sex, in which she argued that women were, in fact, an existential twist with womanhood attached. She was the first real feminist theorist. Betty Friedan actually borrowed from her work.

Basically, her whole philosophy is that women are the second sex. Women shouldn't be the second sex. Men have defined women; women need to rebel; women need to define themselves. So throughout history-if you just even look from the 1960s to now-there are some very clear stages in terms of philosophical thought, which started off with this whole idea "we define ourselves; we women define ourselves."

And then it moved into the whole idea "the world has been defined by men. Women get to redefine the world." How many of you ever went through a women's studies course? Okay, you know what I'm talking about. "We need to put on a woman's set of glasses and look at the world through woman-centered analysis and begin to correct all the wrong perceptions and all the wrong definitions that have built up over thousands and thousands of years, because the world has been male-dominated."

And so, it was really interesting, this whole burgeoning of the feminist movement. The first women's studies course was 1969 in New York. Sheila Tobias, that was the very first one. By the end of ten years later, there were 40,000 women's study courses. You could get a bachelor's degree in women's studies, you could get a master's in women's studies. And women's studies has disseminated into every discipline. Every woman who was educated in the 1970s and 1980s began to come under the influence of feminism-whether or not you recognize that, or whether or not you would call it that, that is what started happening.

There was a lot of government funding that went into this. Textbooks were rewritten; television programs sort of started pushing this idea. You started having the celebrity "who's who" standing up for the whole idea of feminism. Gloria Steinem threw her hat in at that time.

Gloria Steinem had a real famous saying: "Women need men like fish need a bicycle." So you have this whole cultural movement, and there has been a cultural upheaval. For you women who are sitting here who are under the age of thirty, you have not known any different way of thinking or any different way of life.

For those of us who are older, we saw the transition take place. You saw the changes happening and you lived through them, and you were part of being fed that cultural line. Now, here's the problem: If we were to do a survey nowadays and ask women the question, "Are you feeling fulfilled and satisfied in your life?" what answer do you think we would come up with?

In fact, Time magazine reported on that just a couple of years ago-I think it was 2012-that they did just that, and they found out that women's power and women's control and women's economic status, women's career path, and everything was going up, up, up and up. And women's happiness was, what? Going down, down, down, down, down and that women are unhappier now than they had been when feminism set about to solve the whole problem of women's happiness.

Because ultimately, the question of whether or not we are happy is a spiritual question. It's a question of whether we understand who we are, whether we are living on purpose-according to who God created us to be-and ultimately whether or not we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of things I could tell you. I could go on for a week and tell you all sorts of things about how all this developed in society and in history. I'll just summarize it by saying that our world, now, is very different than it was thirty or forty years ago, and it will be very different in another twenty or thirty years. I think that the major issue in our culture and the major battle for whether or not we're going to believe the truth of the Bible sort of tips on the whole question of gender, tips on the question of who did God create us to be.

Who did He create us to be as male, who did He create us to be as female? And you can see it, even in the last five years there's been a tremendous (almost like "gas pedal down") change in terms of our understanding of gender and our understanding of marriage and our understanding of what does it mean for a child to be born with male parts versus a child being born with female parts.

That's just going to get more. Because-and this is the foundation of the True Woman Movement-I believe, and we believe, as Christian women, at the core, is that we are created male and female for a purpose. And that purpose is to shine the spotlight on the amazing story of Christ and His Church. We were created to bring glory to God, and when God set about to create male and female-right in the very beginning-He said, "Let us create them in our image."

Who was He talking to? He was talking to God; the members of the Godhead were talking, in Genesis chapter 1: "Let us create them in our image." And then He created the male and female. And why is that? Well, I believe that history started out with God creating male and female and marriage, because history will conclude-over here-with male, female, marriage. Who's the male? Jesus. Who's the female? The Church. What's the marriage? Our union with Christ through eternity.

So God created us as storytellers. When you look in the mirror and you see a female body with female plumbing, female parts-and when you go out in the world and relate to other human beings who live in either a male or a female body, and even if they'd tried to change that, still, to every core, every cell of the DNA; and even if there's something wrong or something at birth that goes wrong and there's some dysfunction in terms of the gender, they can still do a DNA test and find out if this is essentially a male or female-that God has created us that way to tell a story.

The reason He set about at creation-and He's creating male, and He's creating female-and the male is down on the carpet as if dead, and He's piercing the male's side to draw out and create the female. What does that point to? It points to the cross, when the side of our Savior was pierced. And the Church exists because of Him and through Him and for Him!

If you walk through the story of Genesis, which I'm not going to have time to do; I'm just giving you a real glimpse. You go check it out; check out if what I'm saying is true. Check it out, because I don't want to be just making things up. Theologically in Scripture, in the Bible, we were created male and female, God created us men and women for His glory and to tell His story.

As women, we tell that story from a different angle than men do. We are uniquely equipped-whether you are married or single, if you have female body parts and God has created you to be a woman-to tell the bride part of the story, from that angle. A man is uniquely equipped-whether or not he is ever married, whether or not he ever has kids, that is inconsequential-even just as a man, he tells the story from a slightly different angle.

Same story, same Savior. We're exalting Jesus. This was borne out in creation-that there's a counterpart telling of the story. There's an equality, but we tell it from counterpart. So right in creation, we see that the narrative is different.

The narrative in terms of how man was created is different from the narrative of how woman was created. Why is that? Well, it's because it's different, and male and female are different. And God created us for different purposes, different reasons. God created women . . . and even in our biological, physiological makeup we are so different than men.

Women are created to be the receivers, the responders, the nurturers, the soft ones. In fact, if you go back to the original Hebrew, in Genesis when woman is named, Adam says, "She shall be called Woman (Isha) because she was taken out of man (Ish)." The roots of those Hebrews words: the root for man, Ish, is "strength." and the root for woman, Isha, is "softness."

Now you know, after my talk this morning, softness does not mean weakness. But softness . . . there's something God created us to be. Be soft, amenable, beautiful women. Not weak! But women who are created according to His design, who shine the spotlight on the story of the Church of Jesus Christ in relationship to her Bridegroom.

And you women who are single or who do not have a man in your life, and you're thinking, Oh man, here we go again. Marriage, marriage, marriage, that's all I hear about! I go to church, it's all I hear about; it's all about the married people. Here's the thing: In 1 Corinthians Paul argues and he says, "Do not get upset if you are not married." And he says, "Let me tell you why. If you are not married, guess what? You have more time and energy to commit to what is eternal, to the eternal storyline. All these married women, their time is consumed with this temporary storyline. You get to participate more fully and completely and dedicate more of your time and energy to that to which it points, because there will be no marriage in heaven. Why? Because we're all getting married. The Church is getting married." Why do you think there will be no marriage in heaven?

Now, you may have a special relationship with the man you're married to for fifty years and know inside-out, but there will be no marriage, because that's the eternal. All the temporary will pass away. This sign, this symbol, this picture . . . there will be no more need for the picture, because we will be participating in the real thing! So don't squander your years of singleness, thinking that your life is about finding a guy. It's not.

And don't squander your years of marriage, thinking that your little marriage pod is everything that there is. It's not. Whether married or single, our purpose is to be fruitful and bear fruit for the kingdom of God. Now, some of us have physical babies, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it's not about having physical babies; it's about bearing fruit for the kingdom of God.

If you're a single woman and you've got that volleyball team, your mission is to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. It's no different than a married woman-it just works its way out in your ordinary life a little bit differently. There's no man on the face of this earth, ladies, that will ever satisfy your deepest desires except Jesus Christ. And all our desires, all our longings, all our desires for intimacy, all our desires for connection and unity and oneness, all our deepest longings, all of that, is ultimately to draw us and woo us and point us to what's going to happen in eternity and to make us lean in toward our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So in Scripture we have this amazing picture, and its threads weave throughout all of its pages. We see in Genesis that there was this amazing relationship-Adam and Eve-and that in Genesis chapter 3 there was something that came along and destroyed all that. That is actually the beginning of the battle of the sexes, right there in Genesis chapter 3.

There has been this kind of thing going on throughout history. And I will be the first to admit that women have walked a hard path sometimes and there are terrible injustices against women in this world. When I see a woman being abused, it's like I just want to go and claw someone's eyes out. That is such a heinous misrepresentation of God's story.

Women were created to be the helpers. Let me ask you this question: What is it we are supposed to help do? Anybody want to take that on? Help our husbands? Okay, what if you don't have a husband? Help other men? Bring people to Christ? Okay, here's my answer: Women were created as the counterpart to men, as men's helpers, to help men tell the story of the gospel. Chew on that for a minute.

If there was no woman, if there was no womanhood, how would men tell the story of the Bride and the Groom coming together and being fruitful for the kingdom of God? How would that happen? It wouldn't. It wouldn't! There would be no babies, there'd be no intimacy, there would be no covenants.

You see, we're tellers of the story. We're tellers of that story of Christ's covenant with His Church. So as women, the help that we bring is not about helping the guy, though we do that. It's not about him. It's not, oh we help him pick his socks up, we help him stay organized, help him to remember our anniversaries, help him know what to buy us. No, no, no, no.

We help tell the story of the gospel. That is what we were created to do, and we were created as the soft counterparts to tell the story of what the Church is like toward Christ.

I'm just going to give you a quick visual illustration. I love this illustration; I do this with my students. I want you to put your arms out. Okay, will you do that for me? Put your arms out. Have a look at mine? What do you notice about my arm? Okay, I've got big veins. Yeah, I do. Here's the thing-is it straight? If I were to draw a line right here, what happens? It veers off. That's my called my "carrying angle." Women have a carrying angle of probably about thirty degrees, roughly (some are bigger, some are smaller).

You go and grab a guy . . . stand up, would you? This is our sound man. Put your arm out, would you do that? (What a great sport!) Take a look at his arm. What do you notice about his arm? It's straight! So that is why guys look so silly trying to hold a baby, and girls have a hard time throwing a football. Because of our carrying angle.

The carrying angle is so that you can hold and nurse a baby, even if you never have a physical baby. I think the story that God has stamped on your spiritual being is the same. Women are the nurturers, we're the soft ones, we're the receivers, we're the cuddly, soft, mmm-mmm, emotional, relational people whose relationships mean far more to us. We draw our identity far more from that than we do from a job, and that's the reality.

You have a guy that's unemployed and a woman unemployed-who's it going to affect more? The guy. Because his identity-that's the way God has created him. So we are storytellers. You need to grasp that.

So we've got a little bit of history going on, we've got a little bit of "who are we?" and we've got a little bit from Genesis. All of these are little bits; I'm just doing like a fly-by here for all of you. We had a little bit of the woman's movement: things have happened, we have changed our identity; we've decided we're going to define who we are as male and as female. And I believe, actually, that the reason Satan works so hard to deconstruct manhood and womanhood and marriage is because he wants to destroy the storyline and obscure us looking to Christ and looking to the gospel.

So we have all that. What about the True Woman Movement? How I got into all this, I was in university, twenty-two years old, and I was in rehab medicine. The women I was interacting with and my friends (they were doctors, lawyers)-we were the first generation of, "We're going to take hold of this and we're going to make our own story lines. We're going to become professionals; we're going to conquer the world; we're going to break the glass ceiling; we can do it."

And I have exactly the right personality to do that! I'm wired that way. It's like, "Okay, the gauntlet is down. I'll show them! Anything he can do, I can do better." I had a girlfriend at the time who was struggling with the whole issue, because we were hearing these things all the time in university.

I loved the Lord; I've loved the Lord since I was wee and little and I gave my heart to Him when I was four or five years old at a backyard Bible club. I loved the Lord, and I loved His Word. My friend began to challenge me (she wasn't a Christian), and she began to say, "I don't want to become a Christian because I don't think God likes women."

I said, "Oh, okay. Let's take a look at that." So I started a Bible study with her. I didn't find anything written that I was satisfied with, so I wrote a study myself and I began to take a group of girls, my little pod, through it. We began to see some things in the Word of God, some of them which I found very hard and some of them which really did rub me the wrong way. But I love Jesus and I loved the Word of God, and I believed it was truth and I believed that if I rubbed up against the Word of God and one of us didn't agree, it was probably my fault-it was probably me that was in the wrong and not the Word.

So God began to work on me and transform my heart, and then as I worked with her and this material actually ended up being published (nobody bought the book, and I'm so glad they didn't; it's out of print now) as part of my whole process of wrestling with this whole question: "Who am I? What does God have of me? What does God think? What is gender all about? Why am I a woman?" Because I honestly thought sometimes that God had made a big mistake. I would have made a far better guy.

So I wrestled with that question on a personal level, and I came to the conclusion that God was right, that God's plan was right and His design right. Long before I came to the conclusion (it was many years actually) that His plan was not only right, but it was good and beautiful, and that the reason I was wrestling with it was because I had been sooo brainwashed by my culture to think a certain way that I couldn't even think God's way and I couldn't see the beauty of it all.

So I worked on that book, and then I went into the history and philosophy of feminism. I've read virtually every feminist book that was published between 1960 and 1985, and after that it got really tough because there were so many you couldn't read them all.

But just to figure it out and to take this philosophy and line it up with this philosophy that I found in the Word, and to go, "Okay, hmmm, wrestle, wrestle. Show me truth.

What is it?" I wasn't the only Christian woman who was wrestling through those years. Nancy was also one of them. Her story is probably very similar to mine in some ways and in other ways dissimilar.

She would tell you also that she would have wanted to be a preacher, and she thought sometimes that it would have been a better idea maybe if God had made her a guy. But she also loved God's Word and began to wrestle with the question.

So we're wrestling with this question . . . I did not know Nancy, but Nancy came across my book The Feminist Mistake, read it, was deeply impacted by it, phoned me up and said, "Mary, I'm starting up a radio show (this is the beginning of Revive Our Hearts), and this has just rocked me world. At some point in time, would you come and be on my show?"

So that really was our first opportunity to be together. We found out as we talked that we were really kindred spirits. We're as different as day and night in some ways. I'm tall, she's short, our tastes are different, our styles are different. There are so many differences, and yet kindred spirits in terms of loving God's Word and figuring it out.

She invited me to her radio program, and we began to talk this over, began to talk and think just about these questions and began to challenge women publicly through the radio program, on these questions. The week that we did that-she was recording in Little Rock, Arkansas at that time-I had gone to her condo and there was a group of us women.

Actually Nancy was really sick that weekend. She had a terrible, terrible cold, and she was on the couch and there was a group of us . . . Nancy's friends. I didn't know these women initially, and we've all become very good friends, a close group.

We were sitting around her condo and she was on the couch under this big comforter and the Kleenexes were everywhere. The rest of us were sitting on the carpet and around the coffee table, just talking-talking about how dramatically (they were all about my age) our lives as women had changed, and what a tremendous upheaval we had seen in philosophy and ideology in our society.

We were saying, "It is just so amazing that it was such a small group of determined women that brought about this massive change and brought about the women's lib movement (women's liberation) and just essentially what has turned out to be a global movement that has shifted our ideas about gender.

So we're lamenting this, and we're saying, "Betty Friedan had twenty-eight women, and that's all! That's how it started. They mapped out a strategy and it's all changed! It's impacted each and every one of us." So we hear this little snuffly voice from the couch, which was Nancy, and she basically said, "Well, if such a small number of women, determined, kind of hell-bent to do things their own way for unrighteousness can affect such a profound, powerful change, just think what a small group of determined women empowered by God's Spirit could do." That was the start of True Woman.

That was several years before 2008. Nancy began her radio show in 2001; it must have been about 2001, 2002 we were together and just kept in touch a little bit over the years. So probably in about 2005, she called me. I was ready for her call, not because I knew Nancy was going to call, but I knew that God was on the move. It was like I could see a few signs, and I'm going, "God is on the move. Something's going to shift here, in the world and Christian culture."

So when Nancy called me, and she said, "Mary, I have it on my heart to do a True Woman Conference, and I believe God is going to start a movement." I don't think she really knew what she was saying at that time, but all she wanted to do was plan this conference in 2008 around the Chicago area.

So the first True Woman conference was in 2008, and at that time we just kind of laid out some foundational teaching on why we think this is an issue, why we think the church needs to be addressing it, why we as women need to understand these issues and so that we can begin to resist the world's message and begin to walk in who we are as daughters of the most High King and begin to train the next generation and begin to challenge the next generation, because we've come to believe that God's way is not only right, but that it's good and it's healthy and it's beautiful and it is what makes us flourish.

So in 2008, we did the True Woman Conference in Chicago. It was sold out-8,000 women and 10,000 women online-and then afterward they all started clamoring for resources.

That was just a powerful, pivotal, historical event, I believe, in the life of the church. Women who are unredeemed do not have the understanding or the power or the capacity to live as true women of Christ, because it's not a formula. It's an identity.

So we wanted to impact the Christian world, and we wanted to impact it with this message, not because we care so much about womanhood, but because we care so much about the gospel of Jesus Christ and we want to see revival in our day. We believe that in our culture, this is such a pivotal issue of obedience or non-obedience to God's Word.

If women ignite, and if women grab hold of who they are and exalt the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can transform our worlds for Christ! [applause] Yes, thank you.

We've had a women's event every two years. The goal of what we're doing here is not to hold up womanhood and say, "Oh, womanhood is so great, we all have to be this way." This is, "No, Jesus Christ is so great, His gospel is so great, His story is so great, His healing is so great. Our identities in Him are so amazing! He brings healing as we walk into His ways. As we believe Him and say 'yes' to Him, our identities will be restored. He's going to pour life into who I am. He's going to bring freedom into me."

"I'm going to go home to my marriage and it's going to make a difference in how I relate to my husband and in our marriage and how we glorify the gospel in our union together. It's going to make a difference in our kids' lives. It's going to make a difference in the lives of the next generation." And it only takes a few to start a movement.

After the 2008 conference, all these small True Woman events started happening spontaneously. People started phoning Revive Our Hearts and saying, "We're doing a True Woman event." Nancy and the rest of the team would say, "What?!" It's almost as if we had lit these fires and they started burning all over.

Women started going back into their own communities and churches and telling their girlfriends, "Listen, there's something we've been missing here and we need to get back to God's truth on, for the health of our families and our communities and our churches and for the next generation and to uphold the glory of Christ and, hopefully, to spur revival."

After 2008 we all just sat back and went, "Oh my goodness, what is happening? What have we done?" Because God started something, and He set it in motion. So now we have several resources that you can actually join in and you can be part of what's going on, and you can find out more about it.

Because this is not just Mary Kassian, Nancy Leigh DeMoss; this is not just Revive Our Hearts; this not just even just True Woman Conferences. There's a lot of this stuff happening outside of True Woman Conferences, in terms of the Church of Jesus Christ just being awakened to truth in this area. I believe that it's a movement, and movements are not controlled-they're messy and happening in lots of different places at once. We bless that; we want that to be happening.

We want you to be equipped, and we want to give you resources to be an ambassador-to go back into your sphere of influence, into your church with your girlfriends (even if it's just in your family) to be impacted by this message, to begin living it out, figuring it out, wrestling with it, wrestling with the Word of God because it's important.

It's not important because that's the end, it's important because it's the means for you to glorify Christ, in terms of your identity, who He created you to be. We have published True Woman 101. True Woman 201 is in the works. It's just about finished. We're finishing some final artwork, and it will be out in just a few months.

There are resources online. If you go to TrueWoman101.com, you will find a lot of videos and things that go along with this. If you just go to TrueWoman.com, that will open up a whole lot of information for you . You'll be able find a lot of information. You will be able to go back-I would suggest you go back to the 2008 conference-they are all online, all the messages.

Go listen to John Piper . You can listen to the message that I gave in 2008 (I'll have short hair-you won't recognize me) on the history and philosophy of feminism and how it's affected us. You can listen to that online. You'll be able to find everything on TrueWoman.com. Go there.

There's a blog, there's a blog for young women, there's a blog also that you can sign up for daily information. There are all sorts of messages you can listen to. I would encourage you to work your way through it and figure it out. You can do True Woman 101. Girls Gone Wise has a lot of the same information in a different format, different packaging. I wrote that very specifically for college-aged women, but there's a much broader audience than that. I have my seventy- and eighty-year-olds always coming up to me and telling me how much it shook their worlds.

So read Girls Gone Wise, read True Woman 101, go through it, go through it with some girlfriends. And you know what? Here's the honest truth: When I first, in my early twenties, read a book that some stodgy old woman had written on womanhood at that time, you know what happened to that book? It's probably the only book I ever did that with. I pitched it across the room. I was so mad at what that woman said!

But here's the thing: She made me think, and I had to wrestle with it and figure out if it was true. So if you pitch this across the room, that's just fine with me. If you don't agree with it, that's just fine with me. I want you to wrestle with God, and I want you to wrestle with His Word and go figure it out and see if what we're saying is true. See if it's truth. Check it out, weigh it. Ask God to turn the spotlight on your heart and figure it out.

Have any of you gone through True Woman 101? Have you? If not, grab a girlfriend and go through it. You may not agree with everything, and actually it's probably written so that you don't-so that you wrestle with it. It asks you provocative questions so you can get in a group of women and wrestle these things out, and work on them.

There is also at the back of this book a really good list of resources and there is also a really good list of what you can do to get involved in the True Woman Movement, because you can make a difference. The first thing we have is the True Woman Manifesto. We have had tens of thousands of women all around the globe sign this statement. It's like a marker in the sand.

It's not the Word of God. It contains the Word of God. We believe its precepts are based on the Word of God. You might say, "Well, why sign a manifesto?" Throughout Church history, Christian history, there have been points in time when certain doctrines of the Church have been challenged and where people have put a marker in the sand and said, "This is what we believe!"

It happened in terms of the Trinity of God, who Jesus Christ was. There are lots of different statements of faith over the years that just basically said, "Culture is pulling in this way. This is what we believe!" That's what the True Woman Manifesto is. We would encourage you to take a look at that, sign it and see if your heart says "yes" to it.

There are a lot of other ways you can get involved. Do the Bible study. Probably we'll have another True Woman event, if we recover from this one, so bring your girlfriends to a True Woman event or a Revive event and just begin to talk about it. Begin to discuss this. Ask the questions. Are we believing what the Bible says about who we are as women and men, or are we falling for a lie?

So that's kind of a real quick, brief overview. My time is up. I wish I had you for a week! And we could just sit, as girlfriends, and I could take questions, but we are out of time. So let me just pray for you, and I'll let you go.

Heavenly Father, I thank You! I am astonished at all the newbies in this room, and I thank You that they have come, that they're asking questions, that they're women who want to know You and who want to know Your design and purpose for their life.

So Father, I pray that they will be intentional about asking You this question of who they are as women and how they can best glorify You in their lives as women (whether single or married). Lord, I pray that You may also just help them always keep their eyes on Jesus, because this is about Jesus and about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the amazing, amazing cosmic love story that will be consummated in heaven, and we thank You so much for that story and that we can be part of it.

In Jesus' name, amen.