Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Don't Waste Your Womanhood

Leslie Basham: Here's Pastor John Piper.

Pastor John Piper: If a reporter came up to me and said, “All right, what’s the main point of marriage?" I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation. Marriage exists to display the covenant-keeping love and grace that exists between Christ and His Church. That is the meaning of marriage, ultimately.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, March 11.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When a building's foundation shifts, cracks start to appear in the structure above. Our lives are kind of like that. When we are resting on solid biblical foundation, everything else holds together.

Last week we began laying down a foundation for true womanhood.  We've been looking at the first foundational statements in the True Woman Manifesto. In the coming months, we'll tackle other parts of the manifesto, but we wanted to start with the foundation. Pastor John Piper's helping us in that process.

Yesterday we heard part one of a message that he delivered at the True Woman '08 conference. He began by talking about theology. And he said, “Wimpy theology makes wimpy women." Then he began laying a solid theological foundation for true womanhood. Let’s listen to part two of this important message from the True Women conference.

Pastor John Piper: Genesis 1:27, "God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them." Now sometimes I think we make a mistake by thinking like this: "Well, God created us that way, then later He sends His Son to die for sinners and created a people for Himself by His own blood, and He thought, ‘Now I want to make this intelligible. I will look for some analogy that might be illuminating and work. Oh look, there's marriage. That might work. I will apply marriage to the meaning of what My Son has achieved.'" That's not the way it happened. 

When God designed in His own eternal mind how He would make a creature called a human in two varietiesmale and female, He had in His mind already the cross. That's why He made us the way He made us. He didn't make us this way and then later think, "Oh that would work. I'll apply that to the cross." That's not the way it happened.

Here's why we know that: Because in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 31, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is reaching back before the fall, all the way to the beginning, the first marriage. He is quoting it, then he adds this spectacularly important interpretation. He says in verse 32, "This mystery is profound and I am saying it refers to Christ and the Church."

Thousands of years before there was any cross, God said about manhood and womanhood, "This is about the most important event in history. That's why I made them this way. I mean for this manhood and womanhood choreography, in marriage mainly, and in singleness, we will see, to be a display of the most important thing in the universeMy Son, displaying My grace in sacrificing His life as a husband for His wife."

So here's my main point: What is the ultimate meaning of true womanhood? It's this: True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of His Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood.

When God described the glorious work of His Son as the sacrifice of a husband for his bride, He was telling us why He made us male and female. He made us this way so that our maleness and femaleness would display more fully the glory of His Son in relationship to His blood-bought Bride. This means that if you try to reduce your womanhood to physical features or biological functions and then determine your role in life purely on the basis of competencies, you not only miss the point of womanhood, you diminish the glory of Christ in your own life.

So here's my application question: What does that look like for marriage, and what does it look like for singles?

First, a word to you married women. Paul says in Ephesians 5:22,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Now, the point here is that marriage (headship and submission and the dynamic that exists between them) is meant to display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His Church. If a reporter came up to me and said, "All right, what's the main point of marriage?" I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation.

Marriage exists to display the covenant-keeping love and grace that exists between Christ and His Church. That is the meaning of marriage, ultimately, which means that husband and wife, headship and submission, are no more interchangeable than Christ and the Church are interchangeable. They're not interchangeable.

Men take their cues from Christ as the head, and women take their cues from the Church, called to admire and stand in allegiance to Christ. Men have the greater burden and the greater responsibility. I do not like to talk about headship in terms of rights. I like to talk about it in terms of weight and responsibility, which thousands of men are too wimpy to pick up, and that's one of my biggest prayers for you.

Some of you God is going to touch so profoundly in these days. You won't want to go home, because he's letting you down so badly. So let's pray for each other. I would like to be speaking to 6,000 men. I would, and I would get in their face big time (a lot harder than I'm getting in your face). I would tell them, "You're the main problem in most of these situations. Your women would rise to this if you did it like Jesus."

Let me define headship and submission just briefly.

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

I could unpack that for an hour, but I won't at allfrustrated as I am. I'll read it again, though. Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

Here's my definition for submission, and I believe I could show all of these from Ephesians 5.

Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

I'll say it again. Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

Now the point here is not to go into detail about how this gets worked out in every marriage, and every marriage looks a little different. The point is that these two, headship and submission, correspond to true manhood and true womanhood in marriage. They're not the same, and these differences are absolutely essential, by God's design, so that marriage will display more fully the glory of the sacrificial love of Christ for His Bride and the beauty of the lavished reverence and admiration of the Bride for her Husband.

I know that leaves 200-300 questions unanswered. What about unbelieving husbands? What about believing husbands who don't do this leadership, protection, provision? What about wives who resist leadership, don't like the idea of being led, think it's all 50/50 always?

There are hundreds of questions that we could take up now, and I apologize that I won't. But here's my comfort: If you could embrace this truth that as married women (and I'm turning to singles in one minute), if you as married women could embrace this magnificent truth, that your true womanhood ultimately means that your distinctive role in marriage is meant to magnify the glory of God's grace supremely expressed in the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His Church, you would have a compass with which to navigate hundreds of questions. You have a lifetime to ferret them out.

It's not a small thing to believe that true womanhood is meant to display the glory of God's grace in the sacrifice of the Son of God in the purchase and purification of His Bride who then lives her everlasting life in exquisite joy in His presence, standing in awe of Him, and reverencing Him and honoring Him. But what if you're not married? 

The apostle Paul loved his singleness, really loved his singleness. He loved it because it gave him such radical freedom to get arrested month after month without having a wife at home crying her eyes out, and to be beaten with rods over and over, and be lashed so that his back became jelly five times multiplied by 39, and so he could be shipwrecked at sea. Singleness is a high calling if you take it like that. He celebrated it and called many of you to follow him in it, even though marriage is meant to display the glory of Christ.

So how can that be? Why would He lure some of you out of marriage, that is,out of pursuing marriage? Why would He do that if He made marriage as this magnificent portrait of His Son's covenant-keeping love with His Bride so that husbands and wives, living out their unique manhood and womanhood, become a magnificent drama of that glory? Why would He lure anybody away from that, which He does? There's a very clear reason why.

In this season of history since the Fall, the natural order that God established at the beginning is not absolute. "It's not good that man should be alone. It's not good that woman should be alone." That's true. It's just not absolutely true because now sin has entered into the world, and there are other things to take into consideration besides the sheer natural order that God set up before there was sin and collapse, and thousands and millions of people to be rescued from perishing. The reason that it is not an assault on God's glory for the apostle Paul to say, "I would that you were single like I am, if you had the gift" (see 1 Corinthians 7:7).

The reason that's not an assault on God's glory is that in this world there are truths about Christ and His kingdom which can be more clearly displayed by womanhood in singleness and manhood in singleness than by womanhood in marriage and manhood in marriage. I'll give you three of them.

These are three things that your womanly singleness can say better to the world than any married woman can say by virtue of her marriage.

1)   A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that the family of God grows by regeneration through faith not propagation through sexual intercourse. The family of God grows by regeneration not by propagation, by faith, not sexual intercourse. The main thing we're about is growing that family. So if you never marry, and you embrace a lifetime of chastity and biological childlessness, and if receive this from the Lord's hand as a mercy and a gift with contentment, and you gather to yourself the poor and the lonely, and you spend yourself for the gospel without self-pity; you will, in your unique single womanhood, magnify Christ in ways no married woman can.

2)   A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that relationships in Christ are more permanent and more precious than relationships in families. If a single woman turns without bitterness and regret from the absence of her own family and gives herself to creating God's family in the church, she will find a flowering for her womanhood in ways never dreamed of, and Christ will be uniquely honored.

3) The Christ-exalting singleness of a woman bears witness to the truth that marriage is temporary and finally gives way in the end to the relationship to which it was pointing all along, Christ and the Church, the way a picture is no longer needed when you're face to face.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, and I want to bear public witness and gratitude for Noel. She has been a gift to me that I didn't deserve, and we together have labored to raise five children and ten grandchildren and are still, with tears, laboring. As parents you never ever stop being a parent, we have now learned, never stop with tears, never stop with joy.

Nevertheless, she and I would both say, we say it with deep conviction: Marriage is not the main thing. It's momentary. Otherwise Jesus would not have said, "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven because they do not die anymore." My relationship with Noel has a few more years, and then she and I will experience what that was all about, ultimately, with Him.

As I close, I commend to you this truth: The ultimate purpose of God in history is the display of the glory of the Son in dying for His Bride. God created man male and female because there are aspects of Christ's glory which could not be known and displayed any other way than through the dynamic relationship between femininity and masculinity or manhood and womanhood. Those complementary differences are essential to the revelation of the most important event in history.

Therefore, true manhood, true womanhoodtrue womanhoodis a distinctive calling to display the glory of the Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood. Married womanhood has ways to magnify Christ that single womanhood cannot. Single womanhood has ways to magnify Christ that married womanhood cannot. So whether you are married or single, do not settle for wimpy theology. It's beneath you. God is too great. Christ is too glorious. Womanhood is too strategic. Don't waste it. Your womanhood, your true womanhood was made for the glory of Christ.

Father, I pray that You would work a great, deep, deep sense of why these women are women. I pray they wouldn't trivialize it; they wouldn't be small. That it would be great and that it would be supreme in their hearts, as they seek to live out their marriages and their singleness would be the glory of the grace of God expressed in the sacrifice of His Son for the purchase of His Bride and her everlasting admiration and joy. I pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Amen. If you’ve never thought about the question, “What is my unique purpose as a woman?” John Piper has given us a lot to think about. He first delivered this message at True Woman ’08, the national conference for women.

I believe that every one of us as women needs to grapple with the issues Dr. Piper has brought up. What’s the ultimate purpose of your life and your womanhood?

This kind of message is desperately needed today. I would guess you can think of  friends who have drifted from God's design for women and men. I'm so grateful for listeners that donate to Revive Our Hearts. They allow us to continue spreading this message in your area.

Would you be willing to partner with us so that we can continue to speak to your community through your radio station. It's only possible when listeners like you donate to Revive Our Hearts.You can do that today at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us all call at 800-569-5959.

Thanks so much for standing with us for such a time as this.

Leslie Basham: Sin always brings pain. We've seen the results of this ever since the Garden of Eden. Nancy takes us there tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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