Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Do Roles Really Matter?

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has noticed something. If a woman wants to take charge in a relationship, she’ll often find little resistance.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I do think there’s a tendency on the part of men to say, “You women want to be the men? Go ahead.” And a tendency on the part of men to step back and say, “You women want to take charge? We’re not going to compete with you for it.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, February 5. God has designed men to play a unique role in the home and church. He’s given women a different role. Nancy’s been explaining the Scriptural basis for this idea. Today she explains why embracing biblical femininity isn’t a tedious chore but a great blessing.

Nancy: Well, we’ve touched on a number of controversial issues over the past several days. There’s part of me that’s very nervous to air this series and part of me that’s excited because I think this is a day where we really need clarity. We need the conviction that God’s ways are right. I hope that what I’ve said you’ve taken with a spirit of gentleness and humility.

I read recently that Calvin, the great reformed theologian, said that the best and most accurate theologian is right about 80% of the time. So where does that leave the rest of us on our best days? So I’m not claiming any infallibility on these issues or any authority on these issues.

What I’ve tried to do is take us to the Word of God and show you what I understand the Scripture to teach about the roles of women and the spirit with which God wants Christian women to conduct themselves as we model and exemplify the gospel to our world.

Now we come to this question: Does all this really matter? Why take two weeks of expensive radio time, air time, to talk about this issue? Is this something we really need to talk about? Is it something we need to care about? Why does it matter? Does it matter and why?

Let me read to you an email I got from one of our listeners who said,

As I listened to the message this morning about how foundational the differences of the sexes are to God’s plan, I realized that when we tamper with that, we’re destroying part of God’s creation.

I began to see how these seemingly simple changes we have made over the years have moved us into a culture of homosexuality and bisexuality. Little by little the differences became blurred or unimportant to us until the whole nature of our society has changed.

I also was left sobered by the fact that when women demand to take over a man’s role, he will cease to act like a man.

Now I don’t know that that will be true of every man, but I do think there’s a tendency on the part of men to say, “You women want to be the men? Go ahead.” And a tendency on the part of men to step back and say, “You women want to take charge? We’re not going to compete with you for it.”

Now I don’t want to broad-brush there because I know that some men are different than that. But there’s a spectrum of positions when it comes to this whole matter of manhood and womanhood and gender issues, particularly within the home and the church. You have on one side the theological liberals who would reject the authority of Scripture and would say, “Yes, Paul may have said that, but that’s not inspired, that’s not true. God’s Word isn’t true."

Then you have some different positions among those who would call themselves evangelicals. That’s what I want to focus on because that’s where more of our listeners would be. There’s some who would consider themselves evangelicals and accept the authority of Scripture, but they claim on this issue that it means something different than what I believe is the clear meaning and the historic interpretation of these passages.

Some in this group would call themselves evangelical feminists. I want to say that some of these people are smart. Some of them are godly. Some of them are well-meaning. Maybe most or all of them are well-meaning. I think some are motivated by a desire to be culturally relevant. Certainly the position we’ve taken at Revive Our Hearts on this subject is not a good fit with our culture. It goes against the culture.

I think some who would take the evangelical feminist position want to reach more people and they want to avoid putting up any unnecessary walls or barriers. I’ve seen people do that. They say for the sake of the gospel, let’s not take a stand on this.

It think there are others who still hold to what I believe to be the biblical perspective, but they’re hesitant to speak up either because they don’t think it really matters or in some cases I think because of fear of man, fear of rejection. I have to tell you; I wrestle with that when we start to address these subjects on Revive Our Hearts.

What are our listeners going to think? What are the donors going to think? What are the radio stations going to think? We have to be sensitive to others and humble in how we present our positions, but we need to be true to the Scripture.

I want to tell you this is not a "hobby horse" for me. It’s not a subject we address often on Revive Our Hearts, but I do believe that it is a crucial watershed issue in the church today. I believe there’s more at stake than most people realize, in the home, in the church, and in the culture. I want to pull out several things today to just give you a sense of how I think everything around this is being affected by this issue.

I have a friend who emailed me. She’s actually a person who has a public profile, so I won’t tell you who she is. She says,

With all the men in my family [she’s got a husband and several sons], I routinely hear stories about outrageous behavior of women in the workplace and the military.

Many of these instances create a low morale and disenfranchisement among men of which they can never speak. There are few people I could tell these stories to without fear of being ostracized for even telling them. It seems women have become the untouchable goddesses of our culture that the radical feminists have preached.

I thought that was an interesting insight. She says,

In our culture, feminism is now a way of life that everything, including most Christian thought, revolves around, and most people do not have any understanding of its impact.

Now when it comes to the impact in the culture of the feminist agenda and the concept that there are no differences between men and women, what we end up with is enormous confusion and disorientation in relation to sexual identity. The impact on children has been huge. Let me read to you a couple of pieces to illustrate this.

I saw one article. The headline was:

Boy to Attend Kindergarten as a Girl
A counselor claims the student believes he is the opposite sex.

The article began:

A 5-year-old boy in Florida will begin kindergarten this year—as a girl. After visiting a counselor, he was diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, a condition in which the person believes he or she is the opposite sex.

This is a five-year-old.

Then here’s another article. Let me just read the first part of it to you.

In many ways, eleven-year-old Kayla is a typical pre-teen. She likes skateboarding and Playstation. She studies hard to get good grades and wears those trendy, baggy, hip-hop shorts.

But Kayla is atypical regarding what she wants to be when she grows up. Kayla—who prefers to be called by the more masculine name Kaden—wants to be a man.

Five-year-old Dylan is in the self-same dilemma but desires the opposite anatomical transformation. Dylan is convinced that he is a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.

And then there is the sadly convoluted world of nine-year-old Halle, who, at age six began to experience a similar crisis of gender identity. She now wants to be a boy and insists that her parents call her “Hal,” a request to which they have equivocated, promising to support Halle—or Hal—“whichever way he chooses to go.”

Confusing? Viewers who tuned in to the August 24 telecast of the Oprah Winfrey Show [this article says] were treated to this incredulous scenario under the topic line “Transgender Children: The 11-year-old Who Wants a Sex Change.”

Predictably [this writer said], Winfrey—America’s leading postmodern theologian to the soccer mom set—argued that so-called “transgendered children” must be allowed to choose their own gender.

Kayla, Dylan and Halle—to use their birth certificate names—appeared on the show alongside their parents, each child asserting his or her right to determine their own gender.1

Okay, you see the confusion? I believe this is the fruit of multiple generations now of confusion about the difference between men and women. We’ve sown to the wind and we’re reaping the whirlwind. So this philosophy that there are no differences has created havoc in marriages, in families, and in relationships, and in other fronts as well.

For example, in the church, practically speaking, female leadership in the home and in the church is driving away male leadership—ironically, the very thing many Christian women say that they want from men. So we don’t see here the complementarity that God designed for the church.

In the Scripture, male leadership in the home and the church are closely connected. They tend to stand or fall together. Erosion on one of those fronts tends to affect the other. So when we don’t stand by the biblical teaching of male headship in the home, then we lose the ground in the church. When we don’t defend the biblical position on male leadership in the church, then the issue tends to fall in the home as well.

As a further illustration of the fallout of wrong thinking or unbiblical thinking on this issue, I believe it can be demonstrated that churches and denominations and ministries that have adopted the egalitarian position have tended—not always—to drift from faithfulness to the Word on other doctrinal issues as well. It’s called a slippery slope.

In some cases, and in fact many cases, they have drifted from the gospel itself. So we’re no longer preaching the gospel as it is in the Scripture. An unbiblical or imbalanced teaching on the whole subject of roles, men and women, femininity and masculinity, distorts the picture that we portray to the world of the character of God and God’s plan of redemption.

You see our goal as believers is to properly reflect to our world what God is like. It’s to demonstrate the character and the ways of God. Properly lived out, a biblical position of the complementarity of male and female—masculine and feminine—glorifies God.

Remember we talked about how there are relationships within the Trinity of authority and submission? When we have relationships that fit into God’s design, we reflect to the world the relationship that God the Father has with God the Son.

We reflect the plan of redemption where Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it—laid down His life for it as the Savior of the church and where He is the head of the church and where the church comes into submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

When we have male/female relationships in the home and in the church that are ordered according to God’s plan, we give the world a picture of the gospel of redemption, the way Christ interacts with His bride, the church.

Now, there’s much to be gained by embracing God’s plan and God’s design. This is not just something where you say, “Okay, I guess if we’re going to believe the Bible, we got to suck it up and grin and bear it, and we’re going to have to just fit into this plan. This is tedious. This is onerous. This is a burden, but this is what we’ve got to do.”

You know God’s ways are good. His ways are for our blessing. Not only for His glory—that first and foremost—but also God wants to bless us. We find that there is blessing when we do it God’s way. It’s true on a personal level. It’s true in families. It would be true in churches as well.

On a personal level, embracing our womanhood and embracing what that means for us in the home and in the church is a pathway to blessing. It’s a blessing for us and a blessing for our relationships. It leads to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness, which is what we’re trying to help women experience in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Some time ago I was asked to speak on this subject to a group of staff in a ministry that is wrestling with some of these issues. They asked the man who is the head of the ministry and myself both to address this topic, particularly how does this relate to the biblical perspective of women in ministry?

I shared some of my own journey in that session. The next day I got an email from one of the women in that organization who had been in that session. She said,

Thank you for your words yesterday. I took them to heart and pray that God will teach me to really affirm, receive, and nurture those men in my life so they may be strengthened in their leadership.

I can remember as far back as I can always really kind of not liking the fact that God made me a woman. I don’t mean to say I’m not thankful for my life, but I just hadn’t really connected the two and that was huge for me.

I want to start fresh today giving thanks to God for the first time truly that I am a woman and that I can glorify Him that way.

Have you ever stopped to thank God that He made you a woman? Now, not in the sense of saying, “Boy, I’m sure glad I’m not one of those men.” But in the sense of saying, “Womanhood is a gift and I as a woman am created in the image, the likeness of God. There are distinct and unique ways that I can reflect the glory of God and that is a blessing. It’s a high and a holy calling. Lord, I thank You for that. Help me to glorify You as a woman.”

Now, there are some ways that men and women can glorify God alike. Not everything is different, but to cherish the things that are different and to say, “I want to make a contribution to the kingdom of Christ and to the family of God as a woman.” There’s a lot of freedom that comes when you come to that point.

Well, embracing God’s calling and His plan for our lives as women can be transformational. It can be transformational in our individual lives and in our relationships. I want to read an email. I’ve actually shared this before on Revive Our Hearts, and I’ll probably share it again because it just summarized for me the importance of this issue and the impact of a woman’s life.

This was sent to me by a friend, a woman who’s a friend, who had been transcribing an audio message of me speaking on this subject. The Portrait of a Foolish Woman actually is what I was talking about from Proverbs 7. After she transcribed it, she wrote me back. She said,

I have been the epitome of the foolish woman you described. I’ve seen the tragic consequence this has brought to my husband and to our marriage. I can see the signs of these vicious seeds I have planted in our daughter.

Moms, don’t be surprised when the seeds that you have planted by the way that you respond to your husband and the way you respond to men and the way that you respond to your pastor and his leadership and authority. Don’t be surprised when you see those seeds showing up in your children.

So this woman said,

I lived this way, and I planted these vicious seeds in my daughter. I have emasculated my husband as a man and in his walk with the Lord because of my selfish, arrogant, manipulative, intimidating ways and words. How terribly, terribly wounded he is because of me.

I have taken him down to the very core of hell itself because of my ungodly and willful ways. Today he took the wife of another man to church with him. How could I have driven such a wonderful man to do such a hideous thing before God?

At the time she wrote this, her husband was in the midst of this adulterous relationship. She said, “Is there any hope for him? Is there any hope for me? God help me.”

Let me be quick to say that that man’s adulterous relationship is his responsibility. There’s no excuse. There’s no justification. He could not look at her and say, “You made me do this.” But she’s looking at her own heart, or the Holy Spirit is having her examine her own heart, and she’s saying, "I contributed. I drove this man away."

Now, don’t hear me saying that every time a man is unfaithful it’s because his wife drove him away. But in this case, she’s saying that’s exactly what happened.

For months after I got this email, there was a long, hard process of restoration. First for this woman in her relationship with the Lord. Then ultimately for her husband and for their marriage. She wrote me sometime later to share what God had done.

Had God not allowed me to hear His truth through you, I not only would have filed for divorce two weeks short of God working a miracle in my husband’s heart, but I’d still be a woman most miserable in her wicked ways wounding everyone she loved. Praise God, I truly am a new person. Old things have passed away.

We recently celebrated our 29 year of marriage. We thank and praise God everyday for the miracle He did in restoring us. He has remade me and our marriage, and I will be eternally grateful to my Lord for His amazing grace.

Now, God is the one who writes the script. I think we hear that and that’s when we say, “Thank You, Lord. Praise You. You are a miracle-working God and You can do that.” Some of you have miracle stories of God’s grace working that way in your marriage, but it doesn’t always happen that way. God is the one who writes the script.

I’ll tell you the thing that you can experience is God’s amazing grace in your own life. Regardless of whether that situation is ever restored, regardless of whether the other person comes around, you can be a woman of God who lives out the vision of biblical womanhood. The beauty and the radiance of God’s heart and Spirit of Christ in your life as you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and you say, “Lord, let me be a woman who brings glory to You.”

You can see in this story the incredible potential we as women have for wounding and damaging men. But you can also see the amazing, incredible grace of God that is able to restore and make all things new.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been casting a vision of biblical womanhood for us as women. Ultimately this is about God’s glory, showing the world an accurate picture of Him. Nancy will be right back to pray, but before she comes, let me tell you how you can learn more about this topic.

Nancy’s been quoting from John Piper throughout this series. He’s written and edited scholarly works on what the Bible says about roles in the home and church. He’s also written a more condensed book on this subject that I think you’ll find very helpful. It’s called What’s the Difference? Dr. Piper will show you what the Bible says about the relationships between men and women and the church and then address a lot of practical questions on how this gets lived out.

When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you What’s the Difference? by John Piper along with a CD from Nancy called Embracing the Gift of Womanhood. It’s a concise version of our current series.

This is a listener supported ministry and your donation helps us keep biblical teaching in front of women who are eager to hear it. You can donate online at or call 1-800-569-5959.

Our series on biblical womanhood may sound kind of controversial to some ears. Well, tomorrow Nancy will wrap up the series explaining why your lifestyle will be much more effective in conveying ideas of biblical womanhood than a multitude of words. Now, Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: Father, You know each woman who is here listening today. You know what she faces when she leaves this place and goes back to her home, back to her workplace, back to her church. You know the struggles. I have been sitting here watching some tears. You know what’s behind those. You know what the issues are, the hurts, the hardships, the struggles.

Thank You, Lord, that Your grace is sufficient. Thank You for Jesus who has shown us the highway of holiness and the pathway of loneliness. Thank You that He did it for us. Thank You, Lord, for women all across this country that You are raising up to be women of humility, women of virtue, women who fear You and love You, women of prayer, women of faith, women of courage, women who are willing to take that active, intelligent, joyful submission in their marriage and women who are willing to be womanly and not to strive for a place or a role other than that which You have given to them.

Lord, I pray Your blessing on these women who are serving You, serving their husbands, serving their children. I pray that You would encourage them, that You would strengthen them. Lord, we do pray for this counter-revolution. We pray for a movement of humility and repentance and brokenness in the hearts of women all across this country, starting with our own hearts, O Lord.

Would You use our lives to be a representation of a heart and spirit of Jesus, to draw others to You. Lord, we pray for revival in our marriages, revival in our homes, revival in the sons and daughters that these women are parenting, revival in our schools and our churches, in our communities, revival in this nation, Lord.

We pray that the enemy would be restrained and that the foolishness and the wrong ways of thinking that he has foisted on women in this generation, the lies that he has told, the deception that he has brought about, and the bondage that he has put people in. Lord, we thank you that one stronger than the strong man has come and His name is Jesus. We pray that You would loose the bonds of wickedness and that You would set captives free and that You would make Your name and Your ways known in us and through us.

Spread about, Lord, through us everywhere the fragrance of Jesus Christ and may You be glorified and Your name exalted through our lives so that Your kingdom may come and Your will may be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1"More Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Oprah and ‘Transgendered’ Children." Jeff Robinson. Tuesday, August 31, 2004.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.