Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Preparing Young Women for the Future

Leslie Basham: Is the next generation of women ready for marriage and parenting? Here’s Dannah Gresh.

Dannah Gresh: What’s frightening to me is we’ve had the issue of young women saying, "I don’t know if I want to submit to my husband when I have a husband; I don’t know if I really want to have a husband.” Within the last five years or so, they are saying, “I don’t know if I want to have kids, at all, ever. I haven’t seen that be a good thing. I don’t want to be tied to that. I don’t want to be slowed down.”

It’s frightening to me that this isn’t just a cultural pressure anymore, but it’s something within the church.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, April 30.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss interviews a lot of authors on Revive Our Hearts, but since she just co-authored the book Lies Young Women Believe with Dannah Gresh, we’ve invited Bob Lepine to ask the questions today. He’s the co-host of the radio program FamilyLife Today, and he’s been talking today with Nancy and Dannah about a generation of young women who need our involvement in their lives.

Bob Lepine: I’ll never forget a conversation I was having once with two college professors. These professors taught what is a dying discipline on the college campus. They were teaching Home Economics. They were meeting with a group of young college women. They said to these women, “How many of you hope that some day you will be married and that you will be parents, that you’ll be a mom?”

And virtually all of the women raised their hands. That was their hope and their longing. And these college professors said, “How come you’re not taking Home Economics classes?” And one of them said, “Because my dad said, ‘I’m not spending all that money sending you to college just so you can learn how to cook and clean the house.’”

We do seem to live in a culture today that is somewhat confused about what God’s intention for a woman is when it comes to career, when it comes to her role in the home, and it’s one of the issues that young women are having to address, having to confront.

In fact, I remember speaking to a group of teenage girls once, talking to them about their plans for going to college, what they were planning to major in, and what they hoped to be doing five or ten years from now. Virtually all of them gave me career answers to that question, and when I stopped and said, “What about marriage and family? Is that something that you’re interested in?” They said, “Oh yeah.” But their thinking was career not how do I prepare to be a wife and a mom.

This is one of those challenging issues for us in today’s culture.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And that is the fruit, really, the result of now decades of an intentional effort on the part of some to minimize the value and importance of women as bearers and nurturers of life and to say that that is a second-rate and inferior calling.

So this younger generation today, I think, has never known anything other than to assume that, of course, you’re going to pursue a career, and whatever you do in relation to family is secondary or later.

Bob: In your book Lies Young Women Believe, you say this is a lie that young women have been sold and have believed. I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised that a 15-year old girl would think, “My worth, my value is where I find myself in the marketplace, not necessarily at home as a mom or as a wife.”

And, Dannah, as you talk with teenage girls, as you talk with them today, how is this shaping their thinking, and how is it subtly influencing them in a directional way from what God would have for them?

Dannah: Well, I don’t think it’s very subtle. I think it’s pretty direct. What’s frightening to me is we’ve had the issue of young women saying, “I don’t know if I want to submit to my husband when I have a husband; I don’t know if I really want to have a husband.” Within the last five years or so, they are increasingly saying, “I don’t know if I want to have kids, at all, ever. I haven’t seen that be a good thing. I don’t want to be tied to that. I don’t want to be slowed down.”

It’s frightening to me that this isn’t just a cultural pressure anymore, but it’s something within the church.

Bob: So the lie that teenage girls are believing today is that being a mom, being a wife, is not something that has any real value. Is that it?

Nancy: It’s not just what a woman’s role is, but it goes back to this whole thing of our calling and our design as women, and the fact that God made women and men for distinctive, unique purposes to bring Him glory in this world, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about our fulfillment or our happiness. I think we had stripped from us, in the last two or three generations, the sense of what it even means to be a woman.

Now, you take these younger women who’ve grown up with moms who don’t know what it means to be a woman, and what is God’s design, what is God’s purpose, and going back to God’s creation, which He said was good. It does tie the calling of a woman, in a significant way, into her role as a helper to her husband and as a bearer and nurturer of life.

I mean, the name Eve means life giver—mother of all living. Having babies is something that, to date, men cannot do. A specific part, not just physiologically, biologically, but spiritually, it’s a part of the calling of women, and there’s almost zero comprehension of that today, and very little even within the church, sadly.

Bob: Some folks who read Lies Young Women Believe maybe surprised to find that there was a time when you weren’t sure that you wanted to fully embrace what it meant to be a woman.

Nancy: For the best of motives, I think. I had a strong sense of just an intense love for Christ as a young girl and a desire to serve the Lord. I had this mistaken notion, and I don’t think I would have articulated it this way, but as I look back, what I was really feeling, and the lie I was believing was, “If God had made me a man, I could really have served Him.”

My theology was conservative enough to know that God had called men to be pastors and the preachers, and I wanted to preach; I wanted to serve the Lord. I don’t think I was in any sort of feminist-sense bucking God’s way, I wanted to do it God’s way. But I had a sense that, “because I’m a woman, I can’t really serve the Lord in ways that I could if I were a man.”

Honestly, it wasn’t until I was probably in my early twenties that I started grappling with:

  • What did it mean?
  • What does it mean for me to be a woman?
  • Why did God make me a woman?
  • Why is that a good thing?
  • How can I glorify God as a woman?

I think I was probably in my early thirties before I was really comfortable with that, and not just comfortable. What God did was so sweet. It’s not just something I said, “Okay, I surrender to this.” There was that, but more than that there was embracing a vision for how my life could distinctively glorify God as a woman and finding joy and freedom and fullness in that.

Bob: Now, God has had you in a path where you’ve been single, so this issue of marriage and motherhood really hasn’t been something that you’ve had to wrestle with. But Dannah, you grew up in the middle of the feminist revolution. You were being taught as you were growing up, at least the culture was teaching you, that a real woman competes in the marketplace, and that being a wife and a mother is kind of second-class. Did you find yourself being influenced by that lie?

Dannah: Absolutely. The first five to seven years of my marriage was very painful because of it.

I understood theologically enough that if Bob said, “We’re going to move across the nation, and we’re going to live in the middle of nowhere, honey, and you’re going to be happy,” I would say, “Okay, I submit, babe.” But if he should dare pick where we were going to park in the parking lot on Sunday morning, oh my.

I found myself rebelling against every small decision. I wanted to wear the pants on a daily basis. Yes, he could control the big decisions of the direction of our marriage, but I was in charge of everything else. I really couldn’t see it. He was trying to lead, but I wasn’t giving him room.

It wasn’t until about seven years into our marriage, at 3 o’clock in the morning, on vacation, that I had started another fight about where we would park and realizing, “My marriage has been broken because I have to control where we park. How foolish is this!”

I remember that night getting down on my hands and knees in front of Bob, at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I really felt like God wanted me to be in a posture of honoring him, and just saying, “I don’t know if you can forgive me for how much I’ve hurt you these past seven years, but will you give me a chance to learn to honor and submit to you?”

What happened in my marriage was so beautiful, because he started protecting me. Often what a woman wants when she’s rebelling against her husband is, “Why aren’t you protecting me?” He started opening the doors for me. He started carrying my bags for me because he blossomed in my respect. He blossomed.

I didn’t really see that creeping in my heart, but I was really rebellious.

Nancy: Knowing Dannah and Bob a bit, as I’ve come to know them working on this book, it could sound like Dannah has no mind now of her own and no input into their marriage. . .

Dannah: . . . Bob might tell you otherwise.

Nancy: Well, she does think, and she contributes hugely. They’re one, and they need each other, and you can see that. Her strengths support him in his areas of weakness, and his strengths support her. There is that mutuality and that contributing to each other. It’s not that Dannah never has opened her mouth since that morning at 3 o’clock in the morning. But it’s a spirit, it’s a heart that says, “I don’t have to be in control here, and I’m willing to relinquish control of my life to the control of God,” and part of that means to honor and respect.

I’ve talked about it sometimes. It’s called manhood/womanhood. It’s a dance, and someone has to lead and someone has to follow. Even as single women, there’s a calling of God on our lives to womanliness. The fact that you are a woman makes a difference. It ought to make a difference, and there’s a way of responding to men and to male leadership. So this applies across the board whether we end up being wives and mothers in a literal sense or not.

Bob: One of the great things you’ve done in the book Lies Young Women Believe is at the very back of the book. You’ve taken the 25 lies that you outlined throughout the book, and you’ve restated the lie and then alongside of it, you’ve stated the truth and listed Scriptures that deal with this.

In this specific area of the lie of young women believing that there’s not value or worth in being a wife or a mom, what’s the corresponding truth and then what are the Scriptures that speak to that?

Dannah: Well, we believe the truth is that when you’re feeling like a career is the most rewarding thing that you can have, the truth is that in the will of God, there is no higher, holier calling than to be a wife and a mother.

Bob: God brings you a husband and gives you children. He has given you a noble assignment. Right?

Dannah: A beautiful assignment. Titus 2:4-5 talks about the beauty of that assignment.

Working through this lie, I sat down with my son who is seventeen, and I just said, “Robbie, what do you think the girls that you’re friends with are facing when it comes to this area?” He said, “Well, it’s a negative thing that they can’t be a wife and mom.”

Then he said, “Do you know if I had that attitude as a guy, if I said, ‘Hey, if a girl wants to be my wife someday, that’s okay, but my highest calling is I’m going to have a great career,’ you’d think I was a jerk. So why is it that girls can’t have the freedom to say, ‘I want to be a great wife. I want to be a great mom. That’s going to be a great mark of my life.’? Why can’t they have that freedom?”

Bob: Titus 2:4 and 5 is where older women are instructed to teach younger women.

Nancy: There’s a core curriculum there. What are they supposed to teach them? They’re supposed to teach them:

  • to love their husbands and children
  • to be pure
  • to be working at home
  • to be kind
  • to be submissive to their own husbands.

That’s the curriculum that God said we’re supposed to pass on from one generation to the next, and here we come back to having to ask the adult generation, “Is this something that you really value? Have you let the world suck you into its vortex, its way of thinking that it’s a side calling, a side occupation?” I’m not saying that a woman never does anything else, but her priority is that husband and those children that God made her for this.

If we don’t capture this generation, this next generation, with that heart, we’re going to see some even more serious ramifications, I think, on the whole family front. This is how we pass the baton of truth on from one generation to the next, by having God’s heart for marriage and parenting.

Bob: That really does bring us to what I think is the core thesis of this book Lies Young Women Believe. It’s really the same thesis as the book you wrote, Lies Women Believe. When you look at what’s going on in your life, and you look at things that aren’t working, you need to stop and say:

  • Are there lies I’ve been believing?
  • Are there lies that the culture has been telling me?
  • Are there lies my own flesh has been telling me?
  • Are there lies that the enemy has been influencing me to believe that have shaped my behavior?
  • Are those things true?
  • Does that square with the Word of God?

And when you find that it doesn’t, when you find that you’ve been believing a lie, then you have to retrain your mind. You have to take a passage like Titus 2:4 and 5 and look at this core curriculum that you’ve talked about. As a woman, you have to say, “This is true because God says it’s true, even if the culture doesn’t value this, this is what God values, and this is how I’ll live my life, according to these things.”

Then as our daughters are being raised, we need to help them begin to develop that same process, to ask critical questions, and to say, “Am I believing truth? Am I living truth? And when my life isn’t working the way I think it ought to be working, are there lies behind that that I’ve bought into, and how do I begin to retrain my mind?”

Help somebody who would say, “You know, I think I have bought into some lies.” How do you retrain yourself in this area?

Nancy: I think there’s that two-fold process. It’s in this book, it’s in the book Lies Women Believe. First, expose one of the lies, expose the deception, “What have I been believing that’s not true?”

I’ve been amazed. I’ve gotten a lot of letters from women who read Lies Women Believe, and they said, “When I first looked at the table of contents, I looked at those lies, and I said, ‘I don’t believe those lies.’ Then they said, ‘As I began to get beneath the surface, I realized that the way I lived says I do believe those lies.’”

It’s been an awakening, an enlightening thing for women to say, “There is deception that I have bought into,” but it’s not just enough to expose the deception, the truth is what sets us free, and that’s where we need to begin to, where we’ve been dwelling on the lies, we’ve been fueling the lies, we’ve been putting them into our minds, now we need to begin to counter and replace the lies with the truth.

That’s why we put this last chapter in Lies Young Women Believe. It’s a list of truths that set us free.

I find, again, I don’t really think age is the issue here. As a mature woman, I find that I have to go back to the truth and start telling my heart the truth, and not just once, but over and over and over again. So I go to a chapter like this one, or the one, the last chapter in Lies Women Believe, and just start to counsel my heart according to what God says.

So, when I’m tempted to sacrifice holiness for immediate fulfillment, I counsel myself, personal holiness is more important that immediate happiness. I get the Word of God, that’s why we have the Scripture all through this, so I’m engrafting the Word into my spirit until I start to think in a way that is biblical.

I think the biggest reason that most of us, when we’re under pressure, we’re frustrated, we’re angry, we’re irritated, we’re lonely; the reason we default to the lie-based way of thinking is because:

  • that’s what we’ve been feeling
  • that’s the kind of stuff we’ve been reading
  • that’s the way we’ve been talking
  • that’s the kind of language we’ve been listening to.

But if we start to fill our minds with the Scripture, if we—that’s why Scripture meditation is so hugely important—fill our minds and our hearts with the Word of God, that’s the truth that sets us free.

Bob: Dannah, you have experiences as you were working on this book where just after you’d been dealing with lies and the truth, did there start to be thoughts? Did you have a little bit of an emotional meltdown? Did you start to doubt what you’d been telling young women they needed to believe?

Nancy: It wasn’t just Dannah.

Dannah: I had a few meltdowns this year working on this book. That is not any way or shape or a reflection of Nancy, but the Lord saying, “Hey, there are things that you’ve gone through, lies that you’ve walked through in your life that I still have a little bit of cleansing to do.”

One of them was particularly powerful. I was in New York, writing about how these young women should believe God’s truth about their beauty, writing about how they should believe His truth about their value, and I had about three days of fantastic time with the Lord, so much so that I didn’t intentionally fast, but I didn’t want to leave the hotel room because the presence of the Lord was so powerful there, as He was feeding me His truth, so I just ate granola bars and apples and water.

I was on such a spiritual mountain with the Lord. But as I drove home for four hours from that hotel to my house, I was plagued with these thoughts that I had long sense overcome, “You’re fat. You’re ugly.” I mean, I’d eaten granola for three days, for goodness sakes, I’m fat? “I don’t have any value. You’re a hypocrite. You’re going to ruin Nancy’s reputation because you have sin in your past.”

Even just coming to this interview today, I had to go to the back of this book, which Nancy primarily wrote this last chapter of truth, and just believing that when I feel like I’m in over my head, God doesn’t make any mistakes. Isaiah 46:10 promises me that there might be other things going on in my life that are crazy, but God planned for me to be here on this day. And as a 39-year-old woman (you didn’t hear me say my age), I still need to go back to this process that I so wish I had had when I was fifteen, to embrace the truth of God, so I can live in it.

Bob: And our hope is that a lot of fourteen, and fifteen, and sixteen, and seventeen-year old girls’ moms will introduce them to this process, or a youth worker will, or they’ll just pick it up on their own. We hope they’ll begin thinking, “There are lies that I’ve believed, and I need to learn how to begin now counseling my own heart with the truth of God’s Word because it will transform my life.”

Nancy: I think God has put in both our hearts a vision for their lives and their future, and to see how their lives can be instruments of blessing and benefit to the whole next generation.

So there’s a lot at stake here. There’s a lot at stake if they buy into the lies, but there’s so much blessing and joy and fruitfulness to be had, long-term. The grace and the power of the cross can:

  • redeem
  • renew
  • restore
  • revive
  • and give those young women a purpose and a passion and a vision for Christ and make them useable for His glory.

Leslie: The young women you influence at your home or in your church need your example and involvement if they’re going to have the kind of hope and future Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing.

Nancy and Dannah Gresh have been talking with Bob Lepine about the book they wrote, Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. We’ll send you a copy to share with your teenagers or to read along with them. You set the donation amount, and we’ll make sure you get a copy of the book.

Donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Lies Young Women Believe when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Nancy and our guest Dannah Gresh are both part of the lineup of insightful speakers getting ready for a big event. Bob Lepine is back to ask them about it.

Bob: I know one thing that a lot of Revive Our Hearts listeners are looking forward to is the event that’s going to be taking place in Chicago in October. This is the Revive Our Hearts National Conference. Nancy, this is the first time Revive Our Hearts has hosted something like this, and it’s two and a half days long, is that correct?

Nancy: It is. We’re hearing such encouraging reports from women, church groups that are coming together from across the country, really wanting to fuel this movement of biblical womanhood at the True Woman Conference.

Bob: Dannah, you’re going to be a part of this conference, along with speakers like Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, John Piper, Barbara Rainey, Karen Loritts. There are a number of women who are going to be speaking, but you’re particularly interested in the teenaged young women who will be coming with their moms, and you’ve got some special plans for them.

Dannah: Yes. I’m so honored to be able to do kind of a leadership, workshop track for young women. They’ll be able to attend the keynote sessions with Nancy and these other fantastic speakers, but we’ll be pulling them aside to talk to them about what it means to be a biblical young woman. How does biblical womanhood apply as I approach my relationships with guys? How does it apply in how I respond to my parents and their authority? We want to really send them out as leaders to infuse biblical womanhood into their generation.

Bob: In fact, Nancy, I’ve heard you refer to what you’re hoping will happen at this conference as a counter-revolution.

Nancy: We’re calling women to be salmon—swimming upstream against the culture where needed in order to represent to our culture the heart and the spirit and the beauty and the wonder of what it means to be God’s kind of true woman in this generation.

Bob: The details about the True Woman Conference are online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Plan to join with thousands of women from all across the country for this national conference in Chicago in October. All the details are on the website at ReviveOurHearts.com.

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

 

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