Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Carolyn McCulley says the gifts and talents God has given you are not about you.

Carolyn McCulley: Whatever personality or gifts that we’ve been given have been given for the furtherance of the gospel. We can’t be distracted by this message of self-centeredness that comes out and says, “You must make the most of yourself.” That’s what’s at the heart of feminism, egalitarianism and other things. They say, “You must grasp. You must aspire to be like God and make the most of yourself,” when we are really called to make the most of God.

Leslie Basham: It’s Friday, September 7, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

This week Nancy’s been talking with friends about feminism and biblical womanhood.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We are continuing in this conversation with Carolyn McCulley and Jennifer Epperson. Thank you so much to both of you for being willing to pursue a biblical vision of what it means to be a woman.

In the time I’ve known both of you, I’ve seen such a renewing of your minds and your openness and teachable spirit and willingness for God to continue molding your lives. That is the kind of woman I want to be. Thank you for sharing with us here on Revive Our Hearts out of your own personal journey this week.

Jennifer Epperson: Glad to be able to do it.

Carolyn: Most definitely. I was thinking about something that you were saying yesterday, Nancy, about the power of the gospel and about our relationships. So often we see other people as being the enemy. That would be something that Satan would want us to see—Satan who is our real enemy, sin who is our real enemy and fleshliness and worldliness, which are our real enemies.

We have three real enemies, and we fight against those, not other people. It is so easy for us to blame shift. That is the heart of feminism. It’s blame shifting. It’s saying, “You are the reason for my problem.” It takes great strength of character to be a Christian woman, to subdue your own sin in order to bring glory to God and to be a benefit—a helpmate and a blessing to others.

Jennifer: Yet what compassion we should have for those who are outside of Christ, who have bought into the lie of feminism. We should feel compassion for women who are lesbians because they are trying to solve the great pain and hurt inside of their hearts outside of knowing God; outside of knowing Jesus Christ who loves them unconditionally and who would seek to draw them to Him.

It just pricks me in the heart when I see these women who are demanding, who are bossy, and some who are lesbians, because I know at the very core of it is a soul that wants to be loved.

Nancy: We need to remember that as we’re promoting the biblical perspective on femininity that the feminists are not the enemy.

Jennifer: That’s right.

Nancy: Our mission is to reach out, to restore, and to give hope. The hope is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. By sitting in our little churches and throwing stones at the women of the world who don’t think God’s way, we’re not demonstrating the heart of Jesus Christ. He is the One who came to seek and to save those who were lost.

Our burden at Revive Our Hearts is not just to reach the hearts of Christian women who already agree with the biblical perspective, but to say, “How can our lives be an instrument to reach out to women who have never understood how to experience the fullness of womanhood as God intended it?”

Carolyn: I agree. Humility is such an important aspect there. Humility before God that says, “Apart from His grace, I would continue to be just as proud and challenging and unteachable.” It is really His change in my life and His redemption of my sins that allows me to hold onto this belief system and to trust God. This will bring about fruit in my life.

As we’ve been talking, I’ve had a sense that perhaps there is somebody who is listening in the car or some place who’s stumbled across this show and is just going, “What is this? What are these women talking about?”

I remember feeling the same way. My younger sister was a Christian long before I was. I didn’t understand. I thought, “Why do you keep studying that same book over and over again? Haven’t you read it already?” I would refer to the Bible, wondering, “Why do you need to keep doing this?”

Our own hearts will always lead us astray because of the indwelling of sin. Even as Christian women, we need to always be reminded of what God has done for us and be reminded of the fact that every day we need to live gospel-centered lives and to call others to that. The enemy is within—the enemy is not another place.

But for somebody who is listening today who may have been greatly sinned against, who may have been abused, who may have a husband who’s abandoned them, whatever the situation is, God is aware of it.

There is a judgment to come. That is something that the world doesn’t understand. They say, “Well, how can these people go to jail,” for instance, “and have the famous ‘jail-house conversion?’ How can get they get into heaven scot-free?” It’s because there is a judgment to come. God will be the avenger of those who are sinning continually.

He would be our avenger and our judge, too, apart from the fact that the Judge got off the throne and took the punishment for our sins upon Himself. That is the only way to make sense of all this. When you realize all that God has done for you, you can live for His glory. But if you don’t understand it, none of this makes sense.

For that listener who is listening here, you need to know—that’s the point.

Nancy: God may have sovereignly caused you to tune in today because He wanted you to hear the gospel—the good news about Jesus Christ and the fact that He did come and die on a cross to pay the price for your sin. Thank God there is a Redeemer! There is a Savior who can save us from our sins!

That is our hope, not only eternally, but in this life as well.

I want to come back for a few moments to something we’ve skirted around the edge of. We’ve talked about feminism out in the culture and in the secular world and the feminine mystique and some of the more radical (at that time) elements of feminist thinking.

But what we’ve seen within the last 20-30 years is an increased intrusion of feminist thinking within the evangelical church today. Writers, speakers, influencers, teachers in Christian colleges, and pastors within the evangelical church are saying, “No. There are no differences in roles between men and women in the home or in the church.”

Jennifer, I know that you’ve seen some of these developments, and it’s something you’ve expressed a real concern for.

Jennifer: I have. As a child growing up in one of these liberal, mainline denominations, I was asked during a children’s Sunday to stand up and preach at the pulpit. As a young girl, I prepared a sermon on children’s day and stood up and delivered the sermon and thought nothing of it.

Years later, as I approached the Scriptures I learned that there was a differentiation of roles, not only in the home between males and females, but also in the church. I learned from the Scriptures that males have been given the final authority as pastors and teachers within the church by the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.

As I approached Ephesians 5:22 we read, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of His body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything” (verses 23-24, NLT).

I couldn’t get beyond the fact that Christ never changes places with the church. So wives never change places with their husbands with regard to the role because there is an allegory there.

Nancy: As soon as you say this, of course, within the liberal denominations, which do not believe in the authority and the inerrancy of Scripture, this is a principle that went by the way long ago. But in our evangelical churches that still claim to believe in the authority of Scripture, there are many today who are trying to reinterpret the Scripture and say, “Well, that’s not really what that means. Paul was being culturally bound there. Those were things that applied in those days, but that was a patriarchal, male-dominated society. If Paul were speaking today, he would not say it that way.”

We have all kinds of theological gymnastics to get around this concept of male leadership in the church and in the home, within our churches, that still claim to believe in the authority of Scripture.

Carolyn: I think one of the reasons why this has become popular in the evangelical circles is because we have taken on a “personality-driven ministry” model. Leaders are seen as the stars of the church. Everyone should aspire to be that person who has their own television ministry or books or speaking ministry or radio ministry! We have lost the concept of servanthood.

If you have the right perspective on leadership in Scripture, then you understand that this is something that God calls a certain number of men to do in order to equip the rest of the Body for the works of ministry.

But because we are a consumer society, we come in as the members of a church and we say, “Feed me. Entertain me. I’m here paying my tithe, and you’re here to work for me,” rather than seeing the biblical model which says that the leaders’ job is to equip us to do the work of ministry. If the whole church is not doing the work of ministry, then women can feel cut out.

Jennifer: Isn’t the same thing true in marriage, Carolyn and Nancy? A lot of time people see that wives are to submit. Well, that means that the men have the power. They’re the ones that have the control. But that is what we want in our society. We want the power. We want the control. We want the ability to make the decisions—we see that the wife must submit no matter what—but that’s not what the Scripture is saying.

Nancy: Well, just look at the standard it gives to the men!

Jennifer: Right.

Nancy: In Ephesians 5 . . . We didn’t read that part, but it’s very demanding of men as well. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. I mean what a standard is that?

Carolyn: Who has problems with submitting to that? If you’re going to be loved as Christ loved the church!

Jennifer: I am married to a man like that! Of course there are times where his will clashes with my will! But there really has only been one time in the five years of my marriage that he has said, “I do not believe we should go in this direction.” He gave me the reasons why and they were reasons that he felt were based on the Scripture.

I disagreed, but I said, “My job right now is to submit. The man is not out of his mind. He is asking me to wait to do something. He gave me his reasoning. Therefore, I’m going to trust in God and he is to give the account of his decision before God.” There was great peace in that because it was God who ultimately was in control. My husband was trying to do the best for us by placing His faith in God as well.

Nancy: Jennifer, as you’re saying this, your husband Jack has walked into the studio and is sitting right behind you. Jack, I’m going to put you on the spot and ask if you would come over to the mike here. He had no idea I was going to do this. I had no idea I was going to do this!

Jack, do you remember the situation?

Jack Epperson: Yes, I definitely remember that situation.

Nancy: What did it do to you as a man—as a husband—for Jennifer to respond in the way that she did?

Jack: Well, first of all, we had a strong disagreement and it created a situation where she wanted to do something that I didn’t think should be done. She was saying, “Are you telling me what to do?”

I said, “No. You are free to do whatever you wish. I’m just telling you, that if you do, it’s going to impact our relationship. So you have a choice to make. Which is more important: what you want to do or our relationship?”

She actually chose our relationship—not what she wanted to do. In that case, it strengthened our relationship and it increased my love for her and my respect for her, too. By her decision, she articulated back to me, “Okay, this is why I will do it that way,” and responded in a selfless manner rather than, “No, I’m going to do it my way because I think this is what we ought to do now.”

Nancy: You are a blessed man to have a woman who in that situation was willing to say, “Yes,” to that leadership and trust the Lord. She is also a blessed wife—Jennifer you are—to have a husband who is really seeking to do what the Lord wanted him to do in that situation.

Jennifer: I have found that one thing that really diffuses situations like that where there is a power struggle within a marriage—which we’ve been talking about that power struggle between men and women—is when you sit down and you say, “Okay, let’s pray.”

When you go before the Lord together and you are both seeking His will, that power struggle ebbs away as you’re placing your trust in our sovereign loving Father and saying, “Lord, You’re in control.” As we operate in our respective roles, we are able to be drawn closer to the Lord, closer to each other, and also able to better discern what it is that we are to do.

Jack: What was interesting about that is that later on down the road, without any intervention on my part, Jennifer came home and shared with me an incident that had happened which confirmed the decision was correct. I didn’t have to prove myself. She came back to me and said, “I’m glad we did it that way as opposed to the way I wanted to do it.”

Jennifer: Which doesn’t mean that Jack is always right. (Laughter)

Nancy: Feel the need to point that out?

In a sense, it doesn’t matter because as you said, Jack, it’s the relationship each of you have with the Lord and with each other that supersedes perhaps the rightness or wrongness. I’m assuming you’re not talking about doing something sinful. It doesn’t matter whether you do this or don’t do this. Maybe what matters more is that you’re both submitting to the Lord and fitting into the roles that He has for you as a husband and wife.

Jack, thank you for letting us put you on the spot there. What a joy it is to see how God is using this marriage to refine you as a woman, Jennifer! It is awesome to see how He has allowed you to flourish as a woman and to experience the fullness of what God intended for you that is so different than that angry, bitter, hating men woman that you were 20 years ago. God is so good, and we’ve talked about that a number of times.

Coming back to living out biblical womanhood—not only in the home, but in the church. Carolyn, one of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the church and the ministry that you’re a part of, Sovereign Grace Ministries Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is that your former pastor, C.J. Mahaney, and your current pastor, Joshua Harris, and the men who are a part of your ministry really do have a great appreciation for the gifts of women and the need for women in the Body of Christ.

But at the same time, these men recognize the Scriptural teaching that God gives men the primary responsibility to feed and to lead the flock of God in the church and in the home. Tell me, as a member of that church and as a staff member of that ministry, what does it look like when men and women in the Body of Christ do live out those differences in ways that are positive rather than viewing them as negative roles?

Carolyn: I think one of the great legacies of C.J.’s leading in our immediate church, Covenant Life, and in the churches that make up Sovereign Grace is his emphasis on humility that stems from an understanding of the gospel—which is the reason why, over this week I have continually brought that to the floor. Without humility, it doesn’t make any sense.

How I see that lived out on a daily basis is that men see their leadership roles as something to equip the church toward greater passion for the cross, greater passion for the gospel, and greater passion for evangelism and the glory of God.

These men are not working to build us into them. They’re working to build us into the Body, the bride of Christ, to the church, and to the truths of Scripture. I see them work very hard to make time to be with their families and wives.

C.J. is zealous in protecting his Monday off—his family time. He’s zealous to protect his weekly date night. He’s zealous to honor his wife’s gifts. He has pushed her to do many more books than what would be her own preference, and she’s laughingly said that. But he’s seen her giftings, and he has cultivated those. He has cultivated the gifts of his daughters for the glory of God and for the building up of the church.

I think when we often talk about womanhood, biblical femininity, and feminism, we forget that there is a component of spiritual warfare. We forget that our enemy—our spiritual enemy—wants us to forfeit our femininity.

He wants us to forsake it in order that we lay down what God has given us—our influence that God has given us to encourage others to higher standards of godliness—so that the church is not built up—so that the gospel does not go forward. When we talk about biblical womanhood sometimes people can think, “Oh that means long skirts and teacups and lace.”

Nancy: Yankee candles.

Carolyn: Yankee candles and speaking in tiny little voices. But that’s not it at all! Whether you have an effervescent personality, whether you have a quiet personality, whether you have gifts like one woman in our church who has a Masters of Fine Arts in construction and drama!

She is able to construct things. These are not unfeminine things. She’s using the gifts and the training that God has given her to bless her husband, to bless her family, and to build up the church. She uses them not to compete but to build up.

Whatever personalities or gifts that we’ve been given, we’ve been given for the furtherance of the gospel. We can’t be detracted by this message of self-centeredness that comes out that says, “You must make the most of yourself.” That’s what’s at the heart of feminism, egalitarianism and other things claim, “You must grasp. You must aspire to be like God and make the most of yourself!” But we are called to make the most of God!

Jennifer: We remember, too, that God made all things before the fall. They were good. A sparrow is most glorifying God when it’s flying in the sky like a sparrow and a dog is barking. While God has made men and women in His image, women have certain qualities that reflect God and men also have certain qualities that reflect God.

When those images are marred, it is a mockery of God. Satan seeks to do that, doesn’t he? He is the great mocker. The best thing that we can do is to seek out who it is that God has us to be and operate in that image just like the little sparrow flying through the air. In that way we will glorify God in who we are.

Carolyn: In Genesis 3 we find Satan asking the question: “Has God said?" Iin other words, "Is God’s Word trustworthy?” That’s the battle. That’s the forefront where we’re at today. It hasn’t changed because our hearts are the same as Adam and Eve’s. We do aspire to prideful positions.

Satan doesn’t have to renew the battle plan. He just keeps up with the same battle plan. It’s a very successful battle plan because our hearts incline that way.

But God has shown us a way to bring glory to Himself and to realize that when we aspire to something that seems good in our own eyes—pleasing to our own eyes and seems wise in our own eyes—if we don’t look to see how it compares and lines up with God’s Word, we’re going to be deceived. We’re no different from Eve.

But it’s very interesting in that account that God calls Adam to account first. He comes looking for him. That’s what spiritual leadership is. The man will have to give an account for how he has led his family and his church.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t accountable for our own sin, but that should sober us. Are we being helpmates? Are we being blessings? Those men we follow are imperfect. Those men we encourage are sinful. But they are redeemed, and they will one day give an account for how they stewarded this life to God. We should aspire to make that easy for them and not difficult.

Nancy: Carolyn McCulley and Jennifer Epperson, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! You are beautiful women, filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who reflect His beauty. You do that to me. You’ve done it for our listeners this week.

Thank you for joining us. Thank you for this conversation this week that has been such a blessing and an encouragement to me and I know has been to our listeners as well.

I just want to wrap up this program by reading something that you wrote, Carolyn, and something you sent me. I couldn’t say it any better.

“It’s not easy to stand up for God’s authority and His assignments. But we don’t want to live for the praise of our culture. We want to live for the praise of our Creator and Redeemer, and to advance His cause in our culture.”

Then you go on to say, “In God’s wisdom, He has assigned us roles to accomplish that very purpose, and there is amazing beauty in His plan for His daughters.”

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss quoting one of our guests, Carolyn McCulley. We also heard from Jennifer Epperson. We don’t have time to air that complete conversation about biblical womanhood, but when you get the series on CD, you will be able to hear additional minutes of material we had to trim out for the broadcast.

Both the series and the recommended companion book, Does Christianity Squash Women? by Rebecca Jones, will be sent to you for a donation of any amount. Just call toll free 1-800-569-5959, or order online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Revival isn’t necessarily something that happens in a tent somewhere. Revival can transform every part of your life, providing a surprising amount of freedom and joy. Catch a vision for personal revival starting Monday, when Nancy begins a monumental series called Seeking Him. Now let’s pray. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, how we thank You for the precious truths of your Word and for the truth of Jesus Christ—the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. We pray, oh Lord, that You would cause our lives, as women, to live under that standard of Your Word, that we would embrace Your standard with joy—not with resentment, not half-heartedly, not bucking and kicking in our spirit. But that we would whole-heartedly say as Mary of Nazareth did all those years ago, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Lord, I pray that our lives as women would always be saying “Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord!” Lord, there is such a need in our culture today for women who are radically counter-cultural; women who are filled with the Spirit of Jesus; women who are not contentious and competitive in the worldly sense of that word, but women who love You and are full of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

Lord, we pray that that would be true of our lives and that You would use us in our homes, in our churches, and in this culture to be lights that brightly reflect the glory and the beauty of who You are. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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