Embracing God's Divine Design, with Mary KassianThe Beauty of God's Design
Leslie Basham: Here’s Mary Kassian.
Mary Kassian: Regard the other as more significant than yourself. If we would just do that, I think that we would see our relationships just flourish. I think that we would see our marriages flourish. I honestly think that as we become more godly we become more of who God created us to be. So as a man becomes more godly, he becomes more of who God created him to be as a man. And as I become more godly, as I am moving toward becoming more and more Christlike, and towards incorporating more of these directives and these parameters into my life, I become more of whom God created me to be as a women.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, December 5.
Egalitarian, complementarian, mutuality, biblical womanhood . . . you hear all kinds of words used when discussing what the Bible has to say about the roles of men and women. Do you ever have trouble sorting out all the terms? Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian co-wrote the book True Woman 101: Divine Design. They’re about to explain what they mean by some of these terms. They’ll also explain what they don’t mean, and they’ll explain why it matters.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Mary, thanks so much for joining us back on Revive Our Hearts today.
Mary: It’s good to be with you.
Nancy: And we have a great time when we are together. We stayed up late last night.
Mary: Way too late eating cookies.
Nancy: You’re not supposed to tell that part.
Mary: Oh, sorry.
Nancy: Yes, we did. We were just chatting about what God’s doing in our own lives and through the ministry that He’s allowed us to share together and also some of the challenges that we face. We’re going to talk a little bit about that today. But I wanted to say again, how grateful I am for the part that you had in writing with me True Woman 101: Divine Design. It’s an eight-week curriculum—Bible Study—on biblical womanhood.
Mary: If you really want to know what biblical womanhood means, you’ll want to do that study.
Nancy: Yes, that term is being thrown around a lot today. And actually, some would like to throw it out and say there’s no such thing as “biblical womanhood.”
Mary: Some are using it in a very negative way. There are some that are using the term “biblical womanhood” in a way that we would not agree with saying that it means “June Cleaver” or that it means a certain stereotype.
Nancy: A throw back to the fifties.
Mary: A throw back to the fifties, yes. That’s not how we define it. That’s not how we have ever defined it. I believe that’s really clear in True Woman 101. So if you want to find out, it’s a good resource to dig into.
Nancy: We’re getting great feedback from women who are actually doing this study. I’ve got a couple of emails here. One woman said, “I’m so excited about this study. It’s something the younger women and less spiritually mature women need to hear. But honestly, I consider myself a pretty seasoned Christian, and I love it. I’m getting so much out of it.” So women in different seasons of life, at different levels of spiritual maturity.
Here’s a note I got from a gal on our staff who is in a study at her church that’s going through True Woman 101. They have women in different seasons of life, different ages. She said, “One of the ladies in my discussion group after just doing the first week of homework was so excited. She was making comments like, 'Why have I never heard this stuff?' This woman said, “After a few days of working through the book, I had to ask my husband’s forgiveness for the way I’ve treated him.' And she said, 'This is going to be so helpful as I raise my daughter and son.'"
So we’re talking here about not just what biblical womanhood looks like, but how it is different from biblical manhood. It's a great resource for parents, for grandparents. We’re hearing from younger women. We’re hearing from single women, married women.
Mary: And from all around the world.
Nancy: Women in different cultures.
Mary: Yes, all around the world. That’s actually one of the statements that I get the most often about this resource is, “Why haven’t I heard this before? This is new to me.” And sometimes that surprises me a little bit because I think for me it was something that I was taught from a young age. But I think that we’ve gotten away from that, and we really have lost that.
Nancy: The culture in the last two or three generations, since the mid-fifties, has had such a different view of womanhood that it’s promoted. And now that view is in the air we breathe—even within the church.
Mary: Even within the church. It’s true. So it’s good to take a look at it and good to have a look at True Woman 101 and what the Bible has to say more importantly because that’s really what we do there is we just dig into Scripture and go back to Genesis and creation and say, “Why did God create male and female? How did He create male and female? How are we different?”
We wrestle with it—I still wrestle with it sometimes because I don’t understand all the ways of God. I think that if I were God, I may have done things differently. And yet God in His wisdom and in His providence and in His grace and mercy and in His desire for us to understand truths about the gospel created us a certain way as men and women. It’s important for us to look at that and try and figure out what that means.
Nancy: I think it’s interesting as you go back to the book of Genesis that the creation account has two bookends. In Genesis 1:27, you have “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” So very early on in the creation there is this distinction between male and female. There’s a whole issue of gender.
Then as you come to the end of the creation account at the end of chapter 2, God makes the woman for the man in the retelling of that creation of woman. And then the man says, “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” That’s gender differences there. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (vv. 23–25)
So there you have the whole issue of sexuality within marriage. It’s just interesting how important God believed gender and sexuality to be. And isn’t that two huge pillars in our culture that are being torn down?
Mary: Very much so. If it is true that God created gender and sexuality and male and female and created us in His image—we’re created in His image, to put His glory on display—then is it any wonder? I mean, is it any wonder that Satan is attacking us at that very point, on that very issue that displays the glory of God and that is who we are as male and female and marriage.
Nancy: . . . and what constitutes marriage. Therefore we just remember that this whole issue of should marriage be only man and woman—this is not a political issue. This is a theological issue. It’s at the very heart of God’s whole created order. So yes, we have the enemy launching an attack against this—not only in the culture, but sometimes, sadly, within the church.
When there are days I think, “Oh, can I just get off this subject? Is it so important? We are so swimming upstream, and there’s so much push back on it." And you think, you know, just do we need to keep talking about it?” And I go back to God’s Word, and I say, “Yes, it is important, not only because it’s part of the creation story but because it’s the way that God first gave whispers of the redemption story that was to unfold through the rest of Scripture.”
Mary: And whispers of the story of what will happen at the end of time. So really, when God created male and female, He was giving whispers and glimpses into His whole plan from beginning to end and His whole plan of sending Christ to redeem us—the plan of redemption and then the plan of us, one day, seeing Jesus face to face and experiencing the consummation of that relationship and being one with Him.
That’s one of the things that I love about Genesis. As you were reading it there, it’s one of the things that I picked up on again. There’s the holding fast and becoming one flesh. So there’s that unity. Then they’re both naked, and they’re not ashamed, so there’s intimacy. And so you have the differences, but the differences aren’t the point of it. The point of it, the whole overriding point of it is this unity—this union and this oneness and really the differences being superseded by the greater relationship. It’s like we were talking about yesterday about the dance becoming more important than the steps and just becoming just this thing of beauty.
Nancy: Yet you wouldn’t have that unity and that intimacy if it weren’t for the fact that there are differences.
Mary: That’s right.
Nancy: I mean, just the very physical relationship between male and females, there are differences that make that possible and beautiful and intimate—there’s giving; there’s receiving. And I think of that quote that I’ve seen you use on your blog from C.S. Lewis that says, “When we turn from role sameness” which would be the egalitarian position “to role distinction” which is that there are complementary differences, he said “it’s like turning from a march to a dance.” Help us understand what he meant by that.
Mary: It’s a great analogy because what’s he’s saying is that if we’re all doing, functioning the same or interchangeable, that if we’re all interchangeable pieces then it’s like we’re just lined up and all doing the same thing like marching together. But when you begin to understand that God created male and female as complementary parts, it’s like a dance with one another. There’s more beauty there, and there’s more unity there. There’s more harmony there than is possible if you’re just lined up side by side.
It’s an interesting analogy, too, because I think that it brings up the question of, I think one of the things we’re often accused of as people who believe that male and female are complementary instead of just interchangeable in function is that we don’t believe in mutuality. That we don’t believe that there’s a give and take or that there’s a reciprocal relationship.
Nancy: And Mary, you just used the word, “mutuality.” That’s a word we’re both seeing a lot in the blogosphere and things that are being written on gender issues today. Help us flesh out what is meant when we hear that word.
Mary: Well, mutuality is based on the term “mutual.” Mutual which means “both; shared.” And mutuality as it’s often being used nowadays not only means “shared,” but “shared same.” So a person who would say, “Well, I believe in mutuality” would say, “Well, I believe that men and women are not distinct in role and function, but they share the same function.”
Nancy: So for example, within the church one of the things we hear being said is that who preaches and pastors should be based on giftedness, not on gender—that it shouldn’t matter whether you’re male or female, that there should be a mutuality. There should be mutual opportunities for men and women to have identical roles within the church.
Mary: Or in marriage—saying that in marriage there really should just be a shared authority. That it is based on whoever’s better at something, and there’s no distinct roles or responsibility. When Ephesians 5 talks about gender specific responsibilities, well that’s not really quite the case. It’s shared. Everything is shared. The wife can step into what she feels she’s better at and the man can step into what he feels he’s better at. If that means the wife "wears the pants," well, that’s okay. That’s mutuality.
Nancy: You often hear it used today interchangeably with egalitarian, for example, which is maybe a more familiar word to some. And those two words are being used synonymously in many circles today.
Mary: Yes. The thing that bothers me a little bit is that that would seem to imply that someone who believes that God created male and female as complements to one another doesn’t believe in mutuality or doesn’t believe in mutual relationships. They just believe in one-way or unilateral relationships. It’s the guy bossing the woman around. It’s the everything favors the man. He’s the one that has the greater presence, and everything’s about him.
There’s probably nothing that could be further from the truth because I think that if we are living out who God created us to be, if husbands are loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and wives are respecting and responding to their husbands as the Church would to Christ, there is more oneness and unity and intimacy and back-and-forth in that relationship.
Nancy: That’s not to say that there aren’t those who abuse the biblical teaching of complementarity and male and female roles and take that to apply it in ways that are really contrary to Scripture.
Mary: Oh, that’s for sure, and I see that all the time. We’re sinners. Men are sinners. Women are sinners. I have seen men, and actually I have walked through relationships with girlfriends of mine who have had husbands who claim the name of Christ to put down their wives or to abuse their wives. That is such a tragedy.
Nancy: Or to give women no sense of value and service in the context of the local church.
Mary: Or not to listen to women or not to validate their concerns. Or to really come in with just a real sexist attitude.
Nancy: We are not saying that that is the way Scripture intends it to be.
Mary: Not at all. Not at all. But we are saying that even though there is sin and even though sometimes it’s hard to work this out—it’s hard to work this out in a marriage . . . It isn’t always easy, and it’s not simplistic. I think we make a mistake when we make it sound simple. It isn’t always simple.
Nancy: And it doesn’t always look the same.
Mary: It doesn’t always look the same. But you wrestle with, "Okay here’s the situation and what does it look like in this situation? How do I be a godly woman in this situation?" Even though it’s difficult and it’s not simplistic, what I believe is that Scripture does uphold this as the ideal. Now, many of us are never going to reach that ideal completely in our lifetimes.
Nancy: None of us are going to reach that completely.
Mary: Well, that’s the truth.
Nancy: You may.
Mary: No, not me! It’s not going to be me. But God helps us to grow. He gives us the tools that we can become better at it. But we’re not going to reach that ideal. I don’t think that the answer is to say, “Well, there’s no plan there.” We say, “This is the ideal and not everybody’s going to live or experience that ideal. But you keep shooting for it. You keep aiming for it. You keep aiming for God’s ideal even though it will take you a lifetime to move in that direction, and you will never fully achieve it.”
Nancy: Another analogy I’ve heard you use that I think is helpful is that of a team—and a team that wants to win games. There is complementarity and mutuality on that team. You know a lot more about sports than I do.
Mary: I do know a lot about sports. I am such a sports mom. You’ve never been to a game with me have you?
Nancy: Oh, that would be a lot of fun.
Mary: It would be a lot of fun.
Nancy: I’d learn a lot on that.
Mary: I’d teach you my cheers. But yes, I’ve been a sports mom and a hockey mom and a volleyball mom and a baseball mom. My sons are grown, but my second son is still playing sports. He’s a grown man, and that’s what has turned into his career. He’s now a professional athlete. So anybody who has been on a team or has observed sports knows that it’s not a contradiction to have differences of responsibilities amongst team members and yet to have this mutual goal and this mutual interaction amongst the team. In fact, that’s really the ideal is that the team functions a lot better when there are assignments and when you understand your assignment and when you work together and interact with one another.
Nancy: Including for some, the assignment of leadership.
Mary: Yes. Exactly.
Nancy: Which doesn’t mean they’re a better athlete or more important or more necessary to the team.
Mary: Exactly. If they are a good leader—if you have a good team leader—that team leader is going to be listening and drawing out the gifts and the opinions and the insights and the strengths and drawing everything out of that team to make that team the best team possible because the only time when that team is at its best is when all the players are at their best.
Nancy: While at the same time there are some common callings and responsibilities that we share alike. And Scripture has a lot to say about those.
Mary: It sure has a lot to say about those. I look at the list of “one anothers” in Scripture, and I just think, “Wow!” If we could all aim for that and keep that at the forefront of what we’re aiming for we would really see our teams flourish. We would see marriages flourish. We would see relationships flourish.
Nancy: There are a lot of those “one anothers” in Scripture that can be applied in marriage and family and the local church.
Mary: Yes. Love one another. That’s a commandment that’s really at the forefront. One that I like is, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Nancy: Yes, from Romans 12.
Mary: See who could show more honor to the other. Can you imagine if we just lived in communities where you know a group of girlfriends gets together and each tries to outdo each other in just ministering to the other persons? I mean, that’s a great one. Live in harmony with one another. I have pulled up a list right here in front of me. Serve one another. Or how about this one, be humble with one another? Be gentle with one another.
Nancy: So those apply even where there are relationships of authority and submission whether it’s between parents and children or between husbands and wives. There are those God-ordained roles of leadership and headship and authority, and yet those who have those positions still have the obligation to be humble, to be gentle, to serve one another.
Mary: To be patient, to bear with one another, to be tenderhearted and forgiving.
Nancy: Build one another up.
Mary: Build one another up. Exhort one another.
Nancy: Use your gifts to serve one another.
Mary: The humility is just a huge thing because I think that that’s one of the things that is really a characteristic of Christ. I think that husbands and wives both need humility so profoundly. I need humility when I come into a situation and the humility of just a gentle spirit and addressing things in the right way and not saying that I have to insist on my own rights or getting it my own way. My husband needs humility in terms of just really understanding what my concerns are—humility in thinking that he may not be right.
Nancy: There’s certainly no room here for one of those players to dominate or to abuse or to repress the others or to say that the person who’s under authority has no voice, has no influence, has no value or is of less value in that relationship. That really is the essence of true mutuality understood biblically.
Mary: Well, the Bible says in Philippians 2:3–4, “Regard the other as more significant than yourself.” And even that little bit there, “regard the other as more significant than yourself.”
Nancy: Boy, if we would just do that.
Mary: If we would just do that. If we would just do that, I think that we would see our relationships just flourish. I think that we would see our marriages flourish. I honestly think that as we become more godly, we become more of who God created us to be. So as a man becomes more godly, he becomes more of who God created him to be as a man. And as I become more godly, as I am moving toward becoming more and more Christlike and towards incorporating more of these directives and these parameters into my life, I become more of whom God created me to be as a woman.
Nancy: Well, the workbook that Mary and I have been telling you about will help you in the process of becoming the woman that God created you to be. We’d like to send you this workbook, True Woman 101: Divine Design when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.
This offer ends today, so you want to make sure that we hear from you right away. And not only will you receive the workbook, but when you send a gift, your donation will also help us meet and exceed a $450,000 matching challenge that’s going on right now. Some friends of this ministry have offered to double the gift of every listener between now and the end of the year up to that challenge amount.
Your gift really does matter. Listener support is the fuel that keeps Revive Our Hearts running. Each year around four out of every ten dollars that our listeners donate comes during the month of December. So if we don’t hear from listeners like you in December, that’s going to affect the kind of course that we’ll be able to set in 2013. So give us a call and let us know that you’d like to send a gift to Revive Our Hearts. When you do, don’t forget to ask for your copy of True Woman 101: Divine Design. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. Or if you prefer to make a donation online, just visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie: Imagine this. You’re sitting in the mall when you hear a woman talking very loudly into a phone making plans to get an abortion. What do you do? Get involved? Pray and hope someone else interacts with the woman on the phone? Tomorrow we’ll hear from a woman who had to make that decision. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.