Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Time Is Now

Leslie Basham: When you talk about biblical roles for men and women, it starts to sound controversial to modern ears. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says your lifestyle will be more convincing to people than your words.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I believe that we will win more battles on this subject by the attractiveness of our lives exemplifying this vision than we will by heated words and debates.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 6.

Nancy’s been in a helpful series called A Vision for Biblical Womanhood. She’s given us a balanced look at what the Bible has to say to us as women about our roles in the home, church, and society.

But why are we making such a big deal about this? Why does it really matter? Nancy will explain as she wraps up the series.

Nancy: I want to thank you for hanging in with us on this series. I know there have been some things that perhaps, to some of your ears, have sounded pretty radical. Maybe some of you are now convinced I’m crazy.

But I hope that you’ve been challenged to go to the Scripture to think through some of these issues. We’ve been talking about a biblical vision for womanhood and for manhood. What is God’s purpose for making men and women?

We’ve seen that this is something precious. It’s something beautiful. It’s something wonderful. It’s something I think the enemy has done an incredible job of stealing from the church today.

I believe that many of our listeners are going to be in a process of getting set free as we begin to embrace—rather than resisting or resenting—the implications of some of this teaching.

We’ve talked about how men and women are both created in the image of God and have equal worth and value and dignity. And we’ve talked about how there are yet differences.

There’s equality, yet there are differences between men and women, and not just the obvious physiological ones—although, interestingly, the obvious physiological differences do reflect, I think, some more internal, profound, fundamental differences. The man was created to be an initiator and the woman to be a receiver. We see that even in the way God designed men and women physiologically.

So we’ve examined what this looks like in the home, in the church, and in the culture. We’ve talked about some of the things that are at stake and what we have to lose if we don’t do it God’s way. We’ve talked about some of the sweet things that we have to gain.

I want to wrap my teaching in this series by saying, “So what?” What are we called to do?

I like to do this with anything I teach in God’s Word. We don’t want just know what it says. We want to know what we’re supposed to do about what we’ve heard. What difference should all this make to us?

Let me give you several suggestions and tell you in this session how all this fits into the mission of Revive Our Hearts.

First of all, I want to encourage you to be intentional in pursuing and living out a vision of biblical womanhood—a vision of the beauty, the value, the goodness of God’s created plan for us as women. Be intentional about finding out what that vision is and living out that vision.

I have found such great joy and freedom as I have sought to understand God’s plan. I don’t fully understand it, but as I’ve grown in my understanding—and as I’ve come to embrace God’s plan and His created purpose for my life as a woman—I’ve found joy and freedom and blessing.

I want to encourage you, if you aren’t already . . . Part of being intentional about this is to be thankful for the privilege of being a woman, the privilege of reflecting God’s glory and His redemptive plan in ways that are distinctly feminine.

Some of you have sons and daughters. Thank the Lord for your daughters. Do you know that there are parts of the world, to this day, where they actually kill daughters because women are not valued? You’ll never find that mindset in Christianity and the Word of God. Thank the Lord for the privilege of raising daughters and sons distinctively to reflect the image and the glory of God.

There’s a beautiful complementarity that we’ve talked about in this picture and that we’re pursuing, that we’re being intentional about. I think one of the things that gives me a picture of it is when you think about ballroom dancing or pairs skating—perhaps you’ve watched on television. There’s complementarity.

They’re not identical. They’re not the same. They’re both skating or both dancing, but they do some things differently. Part of the difference is that someone has to lead.

It’s the differences that are what make it beautiful. No one complains when you see these pairs skating. No one gets upset or writes letters to the TV station or to the Olympic Committee because it’s the man who’s throwing the woman up in the air instead of the woman throwing the man up in the air.

Rather, we think it’s nice that the woman is going to be caught by the man, hopefully! It’s the differences that make it beautiful.

I know a couple who have been taking ballroom dancing lessons, and the husband said to me not too long ago, “We’ve learned a lot about how this pictures life and God’s ways.” In order for the dance not to be a collision, the man has got to lead, and the woman has got to follow.”

He learned that from his ballroom dancing lessons. He says, “The man has to be thinking at least one step ahead, and the woman has to be very tuned in, flexible, and responsive to the lead.” I think that’s a picture.

We’re talking about this issue of manhood and womanhood, not some rigid set of rules: “Okay, he does this; she does this. This is his side of the line, this is her side of the line, and don’t come over your side of the line.”

That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a dance, a complementarity, a beautiful work of art as he initiates and she responds. He gives, and she receives, and they both give out of the gifts God has given them, filled with Holy Spirit of God, with Christ at the head and Christ at the center.

This is what marriage was intended to be. Be intentional about pursuing that vision in your marriage. You say, “My marriage is not a ballroom dance.” Well, then ask God to begin to help you and your husband step to a different tune and to begin to see that vision lived out in your marriage—and in your relationships with men in general.

So be intentional. Number two, be humble as you approach this position, and remember that no one has all knowledge on this subject, or any subject. Scripture says, “We see through a glass darkly.”

We need to refrain—and I’ve tried to do that in this series—from speaking authoritatively where the Scripture does not speak.

The Bible does not give specific direction on all the possible situations and questions that will arise when it comes to manhood and womanhood. There’s a spectrum of activities within the home and within the church.

They range from those that are clearly unbiblical and out-of-bounds for men and for women, to those that are unquestionably permissible biblically—say, within the context of the church.

There are certain things that I think that Scripture is clear that women should not do in the church. There are things that are clear that women may do. But then, there’s a range in between that. There are many questions that fall somewhere in between. These require, as we said earlier, wisdom and discernment. We need to make determinations humbly, basing our determinations on the teaching principles of Scripture that we do understand.

Recently, I was in a conversation with two Christian leaders about specific application of these principles. These were two men who are committed to the authority of Scripture and to a biblical vision of manhood and womanhood.

In the course of this conversation, they challenged me about an application I was making on this very topic. Now, I’m not going to tell you what the application was, because then you’ll try to draw lines and make lists, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

But they said to me, “Is this a biblical absolute?” I was talking as if it were. They said, “Is this really a biblical absolute, or have you made an application into an absolute that is more binding than what the Scripture actually teaches?”

That was good for me. It made me go back and think and realize that the thing I was being so dogmatic about—really, the Scripture is not that dogmatic about it. So distinguish between the biblical principle and your application of that biblical principle.

Be intentional, be humble, and then model charity. Model charity in responding to people who disagree. That’s a spirit I’ve tried to have, knowing even that in this room today, there are probably those who do not agree with me on some of these points.

I know that there are women ministers who will hear this program and will not agree with what I said. There are people who go to churches that have women ministers. I get emails from these people.

I know that, but I’ve tried to model charity even while saying respectfully, “I disagree.” We need to be winsome and humble when we talk about these kinds of issues, particularly these issues that are so counter-cultural.

We need to be careful not to be argumentative—not to be strident in the manner or the spirit in which we address the subject. We need to be respectful and charitable toward those with whom we disagree.

Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any positions, but it means that, in the stating of our positions, we need to be charitable. There’s a place for public debate, for public discourse. But I want to tell you, at the end of the day, I believe that we will win more battles on this subject by the attractiveness of our lives exemplifying this vision than we will by heated words and debates.

Now, I believe there are theologians who can explain this and who can enter into the written and public debate on this. But I’m so thankful for the men that I know who are leading this complementarian approach to this issue because they have winsome spirits.

The ones I know are gentlemen, and they approach this in a winsome way, and I think that’s the effective way to do it. Our heart attitude needs to be that all things are done in love, in humility, in deference, and in kindness.

Paul says in 2 Timothy chapter 2, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may . . . escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (verses 24-26).

I think Paul is saying here that those who do not take a biblical position, on whatever, have been blinded by the enemy—as we all have been in some areas. We’ll get to heaven, I’m sure, and find out there are a lot of things we thought we were really sure about that we just did not have right.

He says, “If you’re the Lord’s servant, and you believe you’ve seen the truth, then approach those who disagree with you in a way that is not quarrelsome, but is kind and gentle and patient. Then believe God is willing to open the eyes of those who differ.”

So model charity in responding to those who differ. And then we also need to model courage and conviction. We need to be women of courage and conviction.

Don’t apologize for believing the truth. Sometimes you feel like, “I’m one of three people on the planet who sees things this way.” Sometimes you start to wonder, “Am I the one who’s crazy?” We hear from listeners like that. But when you’re lined up with the Word of God, you will be accused of being out-of-step with the times. You will be accused of being irrelevant.

Don’t let the world put you into a defensive mode. The truth is powerful. The truth changes lives. Now, don’t be combative with it, but have courage, and don’t apologize for believing and speaking the truth.

Celebrate the differences between men and women. Be willing to be counter-cultural. Be willing to go against the current—and the current is the current that’s out there in the culture, out there in the world, but sometimes it’s the current that’s in the church.

On some of the things we’ve been talking about, the church is swimming the wrong direction. That’s why I’ve said to women many times over the years that we need to be salmon, willing to swim upstream and to take the beating, so to speak, of the opposition—not because we are combative, but because the truth does make people uncomfortable at times.

We need to be women of courage and conviction. Lincoln Duncan and Randy Stinson are two men who have written extensively on this subject, and in one of their writings, they say, “The church has been called to counter and bless the culture, not to copy and baptize it.”

And then they say, “This is precisely the challenge we face in this area of biblical manhood and womanhood. Will the church shape her values to the prevailing cultural mores and norms, or will she positively impact and influence our culture?”

I think that’s a great challenge. Let me say that in the final analysis, this whole discussion is not really about us—women or men. It’s not about what we think, about what we like, about what we feel.

It’s not about what makes sense to us. It’s not about what we’re comfortable with. It’s not about what we think is relevant for this generation. This whole discussion, ultimately, is about God.

It’s about how we can best glorify Him through living out His plan for our womanhood. I want you to see that His glory is at stake.

This is not just a theological controversy. The apostle Paul says in the Scripture, “Don’t get tied down in those. Don’t get buried in those. Sometimes they’re nonproductive. They just lead to pride and foolish speculation” (2 Timothy 2:23, paraphrased).

This is not just a theological technicality we’re talking about. We’re seeing God in the very first chapter of the Scripture creating something beautiful, in His image, that is male and female.

It’s an inherent, intrinsic, important part of His whole creative and redemptive plan. And it’s important that we come to understand it, to embrace it, and to live it out so we can reflect His glory.

The question is: Will we choose to go with the flow of the culture, will we let the world press us into its mold, will we ignore or reject the Word of God? Or will we trust that God’s plan is right, and will we yield to it, even if others around us do not? Will we let Him reflect His beauty in and through us as women, and will we enjoy the sweet fruit of surrender?

Within my lifetime—which has been now close to half a century—there has been a sweeping revolution in Western civilization. There’s been a revolution in how women view themselves, how they view their roles, how they view men, how they view their families, and how they function in our culture.

Some call it the feminist revolution. For some of you who are younger than 40, you’ve probably never known anything different, because that’s the way the world has been for the last 30 to 40 years.

But the world was not always that way. Well, it actually does go back to Genesis chapter 3, but the modern-day feminist revolution . . . For those of you who are older, you can remember a different day.

This revolution has taken over our culture, and whether they realize it or not, the vast majority of Christian women have bought into this “new” way of thinking in the home, in the church, in the marketplace. They have adopted the values and belief system of the world around them.

The world promises freedom and fulfillment to those who embrace this philosophy. Just look at the advertising today. What is it promising women? “You can have all you want. You can be free. You can be fulfilled. Just bite into this piece of fruit. Just buy into this philosophy.”

But you know as well as I do—and it’s so tragic to me—that millions of women who have done just that have ended up not free and fulfilled, but they’ve ended up disillusioned, wounded, and in terrible bondage. In many cases, it’s because of choices that were contrary to the Word of God.

Now, I realize that the things we’ve talked about in this series are not politically correct. What I have taught here, the complementarian position—what I call a biblical vision of womanhood—will never be the majority position. In our lifetime, it will probably never be the majority position in the church, sad to say.

It is likely to make many women uncomfortable. I know that. So why have I risked doing this series?

Why have I risked what people would think and how they would respond? It’s because I know that the truth is right. I know that God’s ways are good, and I know that God’s pathway for women and for men is the only path to true joy and peace and fulfillment as a woman or as a man.

You see, God made us. He loves us, and we can only be whole—we can only be free, we can only be full, we can only be fulfilled—when we function according to His design for our lives.

And even if we had nothing to gain from it ourselves, if it’s God’s way and it brings God glory, then we would want to say, “Yes, Lord.” I would want to say, “Lord, I surrender to this, even if I don’t get anything out of it.”

But we do get something out of it! There’s blessing for us.

It was about 10 years ago—actually, it was on my 39th birthday, as I was on my way to speak at a women’s conference—that God began to impress on my heart a vision for a new movement among women.

I’d been reading and studying—and some of you have heard me share this—some historical background on the feminist revolution and how that had taken over this country and had infiltrated and permeated even our churches.

My heart was so exercised, and I began to sense this question within me: “What would happen if there were a counter-revolution, a new movement of God’s women, where we would believe God to take back the ground that we have given over to the enemy in our Christian homes and our churche? Would we see God establish a new movement of biblical thinking and living among women?”

Well, Revive Our Hearts really is the outcome of those seeds that God planted in my heart on my 39th birthday. From that time to this, I have been believing God, by faith, to raise up a whole new generation of women that will take God at His Word—who will say, “Yes, Lord, I’m not going to let my life fit into the mold of this world. I’m going to let You make and shape me in the way You want to, and I’m going to be a woman who will reflect Your glory in this world.”

Susan Hunt has written many helpful books on this subject, and she says, “It’s time for women of biblical faith to reclaim our territory. We know the Designer. We have His instruction manual. If we don’t display the divine design of His female creation, no one will. But if we do, it will be a profound testimony to a watching, needy world.”

That’s her way of saying, “Come join the counter-revolution.” I’m praying that God will orchestrate in our day a counter-revolution, a quiet revolution of women who are willing to pattern their lives not after the world, but after the Word of God.

Ladies, I am convinced that the influence of an army of godly, surrendered, believing, praying women will be incalculable in our homes, in our churches, and in our culture. Will you be one of those women? Will you come and join the counter-revolution? I pray you will.

Thank You, Lord, for the wisdom and the wonder of Your ways. Thank You for making Yourself known to us in Your Word. Thank You for what You’re doing in stirring hearts of women—not only in this place, but all around the country this day.

We’re saying, “Yes, Lord, I want to be Your kind of woman. I want to be used. I want to be intentional about being the woman You made me to be.”

And Lord, I pray that in a quiet way, You will be bringing about a revival, a revolution. We hear sometimes the rumblings of the counter-revolution, and I pray that we may live to see the day when Christ is magnified and lifted high, and people come back under the authority of Christ and His Word, and we see souls brought into the kingdom of Christ, and we see families reunited and men and women and children living Your way—living under allegiance to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Lord, use us as women to help birth that revival and that revolution by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

Leslie: Nancy’s been challenging us as women to be part of a counter-revolution, a revival of biblical womanhood that will affect homes, churches, and the entire nation for God’s glory. You have an important part to play in this counter-revolution. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be a source of great joy and blessing in your life.

I hope you’ll be part of a historic meeting of women returning to a biblical understanding of the important role God has for them. It’s the True Woman ‘08: National Women’s Conference.

Come hear Joni Eareckson Tada, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Dr. John Piper, and many others who will be explaining God’s role for women and helping you understand how to live it out day to day. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be there leading worship, and women from across the country will encourage you to be all God wants you to be.

You can get more information on True Woman ‘08 by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Take a look at your calendar, and pray about whether you need to be there.

Complete this phrase: “Our Father, who art in Heaven . . .” This begins one of the most familiar prayers ever prayed. A lot of people know this prayer, but don’t really know this prayer. They don’t understand its meaning or power.

Nancy begins an in-depth series helping you understand the way Jesus taught us to pray. Please be here tomorrow when she begins on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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