Revive Our Hearts Podcast

True Hope for Women

Leslie Basham: Modesty is important for several reasons. Carolyn McCulley tells us about one of them.

Carolyn McCulley: Modesty is a good thing because it enables you to celebrate your sexuality in marriage without any inhibitions, because it hasn’t been flaunted or trashed or traded on or abused by many, many other people prior to marriage.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 7.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re talking this week about something Carolyn McCulley calls “radical womanhood.” I love that phrase because it calls us to be intentional about stepping out of the world’s flow of thinking about what it means to be a woman.

Carolyn, your intent is to call us back to biblical womanhood which, by today’s standards, really is radical. You’ve written a book called Radical Womanhood. The subtitle is Feminine Faith in a Feminist World.

We’ve been talking in this series about the impact and the legacy of feminist thinking in ways that many women today don’t even realize they’ve been affected. Thank you for doing the research. I know it’s been hours and hours and hours of study and reading. I’m really glad I didn’t have to read some of the things that you have digested for us and presented in a way that I think is going to be very helpful to a lot of our listeners and a lot of younger women who are clueless about where we’ve come from and how we got here on some of these issues.

So thank you for writing it. Thank you for coming and talking with us about it on Revive Our Hearts.

Carolyn: I always love being here, so thank you for asking me back.

Nancy: I know you love being here, but I know the subject you are going to talk about today is not the easiest one for you or for me, but I think it’s important to address it. We want to talk today about the impact of feminist thinking on the whole issue of female sexuality and what you called “the rise of the raunch culture.”

Before we jump in here, let me say this is one of those programs we have occasionally on Revive Our Hearts that is not best for little ears to be hearing. So if you have little ones around you, you may want to get them in another room or engaged in something different during the rest of this program.

If you’re not able to do that, you may want to turn your radio off and find the transcript or go back and listen to the program on the Internet, ReviveOurHearts.com. We intend to be discreet in this program, but we’re also talking about some subject matter that we think you’ll agree your little ones don’t need to be hearing, but you need to be hearing this.

It’s a good thing actually, I think, for moms to listen, perhaps with your teenage daughters, and to discuss some of these things. These are issues that they are experiencing in their world, in their schools, among their peers, and you can help them know how to think through these things, the world’s way of thinking about female sexuality, from a biblical perspective.

Carolyn, at the beginning of this chapter, you gave a summary, an executive summary of the chapter to tell us where you were going on this whole issue of sexuality and how it’s been influenced by feminist thinking. Give us, if you would, that nutshell version of what the concern is here.

Carolyn: I really wanted women not to have to be confronted with things that were in this chapter if they didn’t have the faith for it or if they were sensitive to certain topics. I certainly found it quite difficult to do the research for this particular chapter.

Nancy: Because you were having to read things that you didn’t want on your mind.

Carolyn: Right, and because I didn’t want to, I’d have to go to secondary sources which would then re-quote those materials, and that requires a lot more time and effort as a researcher to confirm their accuracy.

It was a difficult subject to research, but I think it’s very important because in every day life we see the results of what we talked about the other day of third-wave feminism.

Third-wave feminism came about in the early 1990's to say that women should celebrate, exhibit, and mimic the most caricatured aspects of male sexuality in their own sexuality. In other words, women could be just as raunchy as men could be.

For many of us, we were unaware of the ideology that developed, but we saw the outcome of it. Suddenly it became very difficult to shop for clothes that were modest, to avoid vulgar sayings on tee-shirts, and we would be aware of this hyper-sexuality being sold to little girls.

I can remember taking my niece to the Build-a-Bear® factory a few years ago. She was picking out the sleaziest outfits for her little bear, and I’m trying to explain to her why we’re not even going to dress her bear like that, which she perceived as just being cute or flashy or fun. She had no idea what was the worldview behind that, and it’s being marketed to young children now.

So we live with the outcome of what’s been called “porn positive” or “sex positive” feminism, which means it’s good to celebrate pornography, and other aspects that we would see through the lens of Scripture as being sinful. The feminists say, “Let’s just let it all go. Let’s celebrate it and have no limits.”

In my summary that you asked me about earlier, I wanted to explain that this is where things came from and to give a quick overview, but I also wanted to remind Christians that we have a sex-positive message to share.

Christians are usually known as the “just say ‘no’ people” and that our message is “no” to sex and “no” to this and “no” to that. But in fact, Scripture hands us a high view of sexuality within marital fidelity. We have an entire book of the Bible devoted to this erotic imagery of the beauty of marital sex.

We should be the “just say ‘yes” people” within the bounds of marriage and teach clearly on that so people coming into the church and those who are being raised in the church understand that God was the originator of sex. It was His idea. He created it. It’s a beautiful thing within His boundaries, and it’s an explosive and dangerous thing outside of those boundaries.

Nancy: So the concern in the culture today is about the distortion and the abuse of a good gift that really came from God.

Carolyn: Yes, and that distortion causes young women so much pain. They live with it every day, thinking, “This is just how it is. I need to steel myself against the emotions that follow a hookup with another young man, the disappointment that comes with flaunting my sexuality but not receiving commitment for it,” and the disappointment of the high number of young women walking around with sexually transmitted infections.

This kind of heartbreak and disappointment, they feel, is the normal course of life, that this is what the price of sex is, but it’s not, not according to Scripture. It’s to be beautiful and celebrated and free and untainted within the monogamous confines of marriage.

Nancy: Isn’t it like the enemy to take what is intended by God to be such a gift and to use it in such a perverted way. To cause such pain and heartache, and even ultimately death in some cases, as a result of its abuse.

Carolyn: In writing this chapter, I met a 15-year old girl whose short life to date is a great disappointment, Nancy, a real heartbreak. The way that she is treated by men and believes that that is the norm breaks my heart. I looked at her from across the table, and I said, “You know that’s not the norm, don’t you? You know that’s not good. God has such a better plan for the way for men to relate to you.”

By the way, she being 15, not only is this wrong, it’s criminal because these men are older. The way that they are taking advantage of her, relating to her . . .

Nancy: . . . as a minor.

Carolyn: As a minor, and she’s thinking this is normal to have these multiple varieties of relationships and encounters and couplings. She thinks that this is just the way that it is. When I told her that I wanted her to meet some of the young men at my church who could offer respect and honor and consideration, she was very eager—“Sign me up. Where do I meet these guys?”

I explained to her, “They’re going to relate to you differently. They are saving sex until after marriage.”

This was such a foreign concept to her that her eyes just bugged out of her head, and she looked at me and said, “Are you crazy?” She’d never heard anything like that.

Nancy: She couldn’t even fathom that kind of restraint.

Carolyn: No. To her that’s like encountering Martians from Mars. I’m listening to her lifestyle and thinking, “I can’t believe you have to live with this. You choose this and think, ‘This is good.’”

For the sake of decency, I can’t get into those descriptions, but believe me, I don’t think that I’m an easily shocked person, but I was shocked.

Nancy: There was a period of time when the feminists were anti-pornography and prostitution, sex worth, etc., even allied with evangelicals in the sense of saying that pornography was degrading to women. How did we get from that point to this?

Carolyn: There was a backlash against that position, which was the second-wave position, and the young women who’d grown up with their mothers being second-wave feminists, etc., just rebelled and said, “No. We’re going to live a completely different way.” They chose to mimic the worst caricatured aspects of male sexuality. What second-wave feminists, their elders so to speak, have often noted to them is that, “That’s a very limited kind of sexual power. You’d be better off to educate yourself and get a job and do other things that are more lasting sources of power.”

This is all in a mainstream view of what’s good: power or no power. This doesn’t even incorporate what we would understand from the scriptural perspective, which is that modesty is a good thing because it enables you to celebrate your sexuality in marriage without any inhibitions because it hasn’t been flaunted or trashed or traded on or abused by many, many other people prior to marriage.

Nancy: My sense is that we have yet to see the full implications of these young girls as they become adult women and enter into marriage and motherhood. It’s really starting at very young ages now, this hyper-aggressive sexuality. What do you anticipate is going to be some of the long-term fallout of this raunch culture?

Carolyn: I’m not really sure, but I do hope that the author Wendy Chalet is right, that there is now a counter-movement to this of girls gone mild—women who are embracing the “rebellion” of being good girls rather than bad girls. I hope that movement does take root and flourish because certainly it would be good to see girls having a different standard and a different model.

I can remember a conversation one time where a woman was talking about how she’s the mother of two teen sons and how she is scared of the teen girls these days because they are so aggressive in their sexuality.

Nancy: I’ve heard mothers say this galore.

Carolyn: Galore—and it’s not just the calls night and day and night and day, and girls chasing boys, but the exhibitionism of young girls flashing themselves to try to attract the attention of these young men.

Nancy: I assume the Internet has had a huge part in this "pornofication" of the nation. What kind of role has that had?

Carolyn: The issue of the Internet wasn’t even on the horizon at the time that feminism and evangelicals were trying to make changes in the pornography industry because of their belief that pornography degraded women, and I think we would agree with that.

At that time I can remember a very famous serial killer who was on death row, named Ted Bundy, and he had inspired a lot of terror in people because of this spree of perhaps up to a hundred young women he had sexually tortured and killed. During his time on death row, before he was executed, he asked to speak with Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family. He gave a very chilling interview about the effects of pornography on his life.

Nancy: I remember this.

Carolyn: It was very scary. There are those who would say that Ted Bundy was a master manipulator, and I agree. He may have had many reasons for why he gave this interview.

Nancy: But it was still very telling.

Carolyn: It was still very telling. He was talking about how pornography shapes a person’s appetite and drives them.

I’m not sure what Ted Bundy was expecting for the future is actually what came about, but we do see that there’s been an increase in the perversion of child pornography, and that is certainly out of control.

That wasn’t on the radar that I remember back when I was a feminist and concerned about these issues. No one was concerned about child pornography. They were concerned about sexual violence against women, and yet this is a huge concern with the FBI right now. It’s a huge concern of ministries around the world who see the effects of sex trafficking on the lives of poor children.

So certainly pornography has mutated appetites in an ungodly manner. Even third-wave feminists see that there has been an effect on normal relationships between men and women because it has deadened the sexual appetites that men have for women if they’re not glossy, stylized, and picture-perfect as in porn.

Nancy: Yet you point out that there are many young women today who are imitating porn stars in dress, etc. because it’s what they believe is attractive to men.

Carolyn: That’s why you see young girls running around with vulgar sayings on their tee-shirts, like “porn star,” or even, like I referenced with my niece, you go to a Build-a-Bear® factory, and you have these sleazy outfits just for your Build-a-Bear®.

All of this is an outcropping of this belief out of third-wave feminism that this kind of sexuality is good and beneficial, and the third-wave feminism was very upfront and outspoken about this. As we saw, it actually can be traced back to Margaret Sanger and earlier feminists prior to her.

Nancy: So how are we to think as Christian women? Obviously we’re not to buy into that perversion, that raunch culture, but what is the message and the lifestyle that we are to proclaim that will make a difference in this kind of world?

Carolyn: I think we have to be willing to meet young girls in the culture where they are and not be overtly shocked by where they are, not condoning it, but being willing to engage these girls, to hear them out and to earn a relational right, if you will, in that friendship to be able to say, “There’s another viewpoint that you should consider, and I’d like to talk to you about it.”

I think that godly married men can actually be one of our greatest weapons in this battle. I’d mentioned earlier in the show about this 15-year-old girl who had no knowledge or understanding of godly sexual relationships. I had the opportunity to introduce her to a married couple where I knew the man would be very direct. I encouraged him to talk to her very candidly about what men think of women in their sexuality and the value of modesty, the value of women who are reserved.

He looked at her, and he said, “My wife cost me everything. You need to understand something about economics in social relationships.”

He said, “If a candy bar costs a dollar, you’re just going to pay one dollar for the candy bar. You’re not going to pay two.”

He said, “So whatever value you put on yourself and access to you as a woman is the price it goes for on the market place, if you’re following me.”

He said, “I looked at my wife, and I knew that in order to have her affection, her attention, her romance, and her sexuality, I had to be able to pay everything I had. Her price was everything I had, my whole commitment to her and then some, for the rest of my life.”

Nancy: As in the covenant of marriage.

Carolyn: The covenant of marriage. That was her standard, her price. “If you want access to me, you marry me. There isn’t anything lesser than that.”

He said, “So she was no one-dollar candy bar. She was an everything-I-have candy bar, and it was worth it.”

He said, “You need to understand the value that God has given you because of who He created you to be.”

From there he had her ear, and he was able to share the gospel with her, to talk with her about the sin in this world and the Savior who came to redeem us and the God who created our sexuality and all that He has for us in that intimacy He created within the very good and wise boundaries of marriage.

Nancy: That gives Christians the opportunity to combat false notions of sexuality by presenting a clear, unblushing portrayal of marital intimacy, sex God’s way.

Carolyn: It’s another reason why that Titus 2 call to older women to mentor younger women is so important. Older women need to be able to go to the younger women and talk to them about God’s view of sexuality and also provide them with some very practical advice about how to preserve this intimacy in marriage.

I love this one illustration I heard from Carolyn Mahaney, who is my pastor’s wife. She talked about the peanut butter principle. She was saying to young wives, “Your sexual relationship with your husband is very important. Make time for that. One night, skip making an elaborate dinner and serve him peanut butter so you have time to be intimate with him later on. He won’t mind. He’ll love that peanut butter sandwich because he knows you’re caring for him, and that you’ve made that aspect of your marriage a priority.”

The first time I heard that, I fell out laughing. “Really? Wow. Okay.” In hindsight, I’m very glad to have heard a woman speak that frankly and to speak that honestly because we need this kind of clarity. In a culture that is so vulgar, we need to be able to talk about it as discreetly as possible, but also as forthrightly as possible.

People inside and outside of the church need to hear these kinds of frank discussions.

Nancy: How can we, as single women who love the Lord and want to please Him and want to reflect the gospel, present a view of sexuality that points people to Christ?

Carolyn: Not only do we need to share these perspectives, to share the truth of Scripture, to share the anecdotes and the insights we’ve gleaned from other people, we also need to preserve the relationships around us. This is done in a variety of ways.

  • It’s by not allowing inappropriate attentions from married men.
  • It’s by not allowing your married women friends to complain incessantly about their husbands, but to point them back to the evidence of the grace of God’s work in their marriages.
  • It’s by being pro-marriage, and being pro-purity—because purity looks different in marriage than it does when you’re single.

The marriage bed is to be celebrated and kept free from outside intrusions. That’s purity in marriage. Purity in singleness is keeping your heart and life pure for the Lord Jesus and saving any physical relationships until such time as He gives you marriage.

Nancy: Say a word to a listener who has bought into or been damaged by that raunch culture and feels used and spent and like she’s that one-dollar candy bar. Can you say a word of hope and the gospel to that woman?

Carolyn: Not only can I say a word of hope, I can say a word of personal experience as well.

I think it’s obvious that I lived a worldly lifestyle before I became a Christian at 30. Not only is it possible to receive God’s forgiveness for your past sins, it’s possible to receive God’s grace for the purity and lifestyle He calls you into. There is so much freedom in relating to men in purity and being cherished and esteemed as a woman, and God will give you the grace to be able to celebrate the marriages of others around you without feeling like you’ve gotten cheated, and to be able to thank Him for femininity that can be embraced and lived out even if you’re not married. Being designed by God to be a woman is all that it takes to be a fully feminine woman.

So to be able to receive all that in godly, pure relationships with other men is such a treat. It’s such a blessing. It’s a mind-blowing concept when all you’re used to is thinking that you need to trade on your sexuality and your overt sexual power which will one day fade and then leave you with—what? Scripture says, “The beauty of a woman who puts her faith in God and cultivates a quiet and trusting heart never fades” (1 Peter 3:4, paraphrased).

So you don’t lose your femininity. You increase your femininity even as outwardly you are falling apart, and we are falling apart as older women, but that doesn’t mean in any way that our sexuality has been diminished before the Lord.

Leslie: When you seek after purity, it will bring you great peace. Carolyn McCulley has been showing us why, talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about the book, Radical Womanhood. They’ll be right back.

In this series with Carolyn we’ve been making this book available when you donate any amount. Today is the final day we’ll be making this offer, so I hope you’ll get in touch with us and get a copy. It will show you how to nurture biblical femininity in your life, how to pursue modesty, and pure relationships.

When you donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll send you Radical Womanhood from Carolyn McCulley. You can also call with your donation at 1-800-569-5959.

When you talk about the book of Revelation, it can sometimes lead to debate, conjecture or fear. Nancy takes a different approach tomorrow, showing you how the book has a lot of practical application for you today. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Let’s get back to Carolyn McCulley speaking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Carolyn, it’s been a really rich thing for me in the years that I’ve known you to see such evidence of God’s grace restoring, renewing your mind, your life, and taking you from what was a very feminist’s thinking and ideology into a pure and feminine faith. I wonder, as we close this program, if you would pray for women who are perhaps where you were when you first became a Christian or even before that in your years of following after the feminist thinking. Pray that God would redeem and restore and renew and walk with them in that journey into feminine faith.

Carolyn: Holy Spirit, we ask for Your ministry here among the women who are listening via the radio or the Internet or reading this transcript. You can work in the hearts of those who’ve encountered us today.

I pray that You would pour out such grace and faith, that women who’ve grown weary in the message of purity would not flag, would not fall down, would not stumble, but would continue to pursue You.

Jesus, I pray that that glorious image of You as our Savior, the One who has paid for our sins and offers us a life of forgiveness and who redeems us from our past, I pray that that glorious image of You would be burned into the minds of women who think that they have blown it, and that there’s no grace for them in the future, that there is no being able to turn away from the way they are and the past.

I pray that they would be so encouraged by the message of the gospel. We are great sinners, but You are a great Savior, Lord, and You can reclaim and make clean again all the things that we have messed up in our past and in our lives, and we can walk with You in the future and to be made clean by You and forgiven by You.

What an amazing gift to exchange our sinfulness for Your righteousness, and to know that You will equip us with the grace that we need every day.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: Amen.

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

 

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