True Woman 101: Part 1: Gender MattersWhy Did God Create Male and Female?
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a question for you.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do differences between men and women really matter? We’re living in a world that generally says no. Men and women are virtually identical apart from those obvious physiological differences.
But as we’re going to see, God has a very different perspective, and when it comes down to it, it’s what He thinks that really matters. In fact, since He’s the one that made us, He’s also the one who best knows what those differences are and why He made us different in the first place.
Leslie Basham: Nancy’s co-written a new small group study that explores those differences. It’s called True Woman 101: Divine Design.
Nancy: Now, if we were to try to summarize this whole study in one sentence, here’s what I think it might be: Manhood and womanhood exist to glorify God and to put the gospel of Jesus Christ on display. That means gender really does matter.
Leslie: Nancy wrote True Woman 101 with co-author Mary Kassian. She’s excited about this new project.
Mary Kassian: Because your womanhood is not a biological accident. It’s not a matter of chance. God was intentional when He made you a woman, and He wants you to discover, embrace, and delight in the beauty of His spectacular design.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, March 2.
Ever since the first True Woman conference four years ago, women have been asking Revive Our Hearts, “How do we spread this message in our churches and small groups?” So, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have written a study called True Woman 101: Divine Design.
It’s an eight-week Bible study that’s perfect for small groups. The study will help you recognize God’s unique purpose for you as a woman. Mary and Nancy invited a panel of women to get together and talk about the concepts in True Woman 101. They discussed practical ways to display true womanhood in day-to-day life. They called this series of conversations “True Woman Table Talk.”
You can get parts of that conversation on DVD to play for your small group. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com for the details. We’re going to hear some of that discussion today. Here are Nancy and Mary to introduce their table talk guests.
Nancy: A number of our friends are going to be joining us for these True Woman Table Talk discussions.
Mary: Girlfriend time.
Nancy: Let me introduce you to the three guests who are with us today. On Mary’s left is Erin Davis. Erin is a wife and mom of two little ones. We have women in different seasons of life. I love that.
Mary, you have young adult sons, and Erin, you have little ones.
Erin Davis: Very little, yes.
Nancy: You’re our (I don’t want to say token, because that sounds like it’s not important), but we needed a younger woman.
Erin: I’ll take it if you’re going to tell them I’m young.
Nancy: Enjoy it while you have it, because, as we’ve all learned, it doesn’t last.
Mary: It doesn’t last.
Nancy: But you have such a heart for teenagers, for young women. You’re passionate about that, and you’ve helped us be passionate about it, too.
Erin: That’s good, yes.
Nancy: And so Erin Davis, and then in the middle, Holly Elliff. Holly and I go back a long ways. We’re longtime friends, sisters, and you have eight children and six grandchildren.
Holly Elliff: I do.
Nancy: Then to my right is Dannah Gresh. Dannah, you have teenagers and young adult children, kind of in that age range.
Dannah Gresh: I still call them my babies. They’re always your babies.
Nancy: We had the privilege of writing together, Lies Young Women Believe. And what a journey that has been. I’ve learned so much from you and your heart for teens. And, by the way, what’s so neat about this gathering is that the Lord used you when Erin was a teenager.
Erin: That’s right. Dannah was my mentor when I was fifteen.
Nancy: Yes. And now you’re mentoring other young women, and we just see this whole thing of the beauty of true womanhood and legacy.
Now, I’m not married, and I’ve never had children, but all you ladies are moms. Can you remember, when you had that first child, did you all want to know whether it was a boy or girl? Did you find out?
Mary: There was no option when I had my kids.
Holly: When Mary and I had our first kids, probably . . .
Nancy: Okay, you’re dating yourselves.
Mary: Okay . . . back in the day.
Holly: Back in the day when I was young. So the first half of my children, I didn’t know what was coming.
Mary: They never even did ultrasounds.
Holly: No. But the second half of my children, technology had caught up. So the first four I didn’t know. The last four I did know what I was having.
Mary: Well, I just got used to hearing, "It’s a boy!" "It’s a boy!" "It’s a boy!"
Nancy: Did you find out before your first was born?
Dannah: I did not want to know. I love anticipation.
Nancy: You wanted to know sooner or later—just not sooner.
Dannah: Yes. I wanted to know when that baby was in my arms, and I didn’t know until then. So that was fine.
Nancy: How about you, Erin?
Erin: I didn’t want to know. I had to find out with my first because he had a little medical thing, and so we found out with him. We were thrilled that he was a boy. But with my second, I was determined not to find out. So we had written in our birth plan, “No one can tell Erin except Jason.”
There were people in the waiting room. My aunt had a blue blanket and a pink blanket because they were waiting. Then I had the baby, and my husband’s eyes filled with tears. I’ll never forget it. He said, “It’s another boy!” I was so excited!
Nancy: Well, gender really does matter. If you’re a mom, whether you find out before the baby’s born or the moment the baby is born, gender really does matter. But we live in a culture that is promoting the message, in many respects, that gender doesn’t matter, or that genders are interchangeable.
Mary: There’s a case-in-point in Canada where there was a mom who had a baby and decided that she was not going to let anyone know the gender of the child.
Nancy: I’ve heard about this. This is big news. It’s huge news.
Mary: Yes. It was in Toronto, and the baby was named Storm.
Erin: It’s called Gender Storm.
Mary: Yes, because it just wasn’t announced whether this child was a boy or girl, and they weren’t going to let anyone know whether this child was a boy or girl, and then they were going to allow the child to choose its own gender. It’s upheld as an ideal; that this is a better way to raise children in a neutral, gender-free environment.
Erin: I read several interviews with that mom. I blogged about it. And the way she talked about it, it was that she was giving her child a gift; it’s freedom of choice.
Mary: Yes. It’s such a wonderful thing.
Erin: And that baby whose grandparents didn’t even know . . Now, would that drive you nuts?
Holly: It would just mean that there would be a whole lot less people to change diapers.
Erin: That is for sure.
Dannah: I would be peeking.
Erin: I guess so, but the mom talked about it as if it was such a wonderful gift.
Mary: A wonderful thing she was giving the child.
Holly: And that it was optional.
Nancy: Well, you can see examples of this in a lot of places in the culture.
Mary: I’ve heard so much since that time about gender-neutral preschools, about sending your child to a preschool where there will be no delineation between boys and girls, and they are going to take gender pronouns out. They’re going to make sure that the children play with gender-neutral toys. I’m not exactly sure how they function, but my guess is that the parents that send them there will send them there with the understanding that they’re not to identify the gender of that child in any way so that the children can identify with each other just kind of as humans and not through the lens of gender.
Dannah: And we think that we have sexual gender confusion now. Wait for ten years for that to kick in. I think of Katy Perry who made popular the song “I Kissed a Girl, and I liked it.” I kissed a girl, and I liked it.
Here’s what’s heartbreaking about that for me. It’s easy to make this an us-and-them issue, but it’s not. Katy Perry grew up in a Christian home. I have ministered to the teachers in her Christian middle-school. They were just heartbroken by the fact that the truth didn’t seep into her. It was available to her, but it didn’t seep into her.
Nancy: Yet. The story’s not over.
Dannah: Yes, that’s true . . . the hope of the gospel. But this erasing gender is creating this sexual confusion.
Nancy: You use the word confusion, Dannah. I think that’s so apparent. A friend of ours was telling us recently that she was filling out an application for a position, and on the question of what gender are you (it’s usually male or female, I mean, those are the only two I know about) there were seven options: male, female, and five others. I was so confused, I had to ask Mary, “What are these referring to? What are those options?”
Mary: And there probably was an option of none or not applicable.
Holly: Or it’s complicated.
Mary: Right—it’s complicated.
Erin: That’s sort of like it’s not an important question, and I can decide.
Mary: Exactly. A lady told me just a few weeks ago that she had gone to give blood at the Red Cross. As part of the intake interview, they went through their standard questionnaire, and one of the questions—and it just floored her—was, “Are you the same gender that you were at birth?”
Erin: Wow. From the Red Cross?
Mary: From the Red Cross, for giving blood.
Nancy: So there’s the thing: Does gender matter? And then: Can you change genders? You can talk to a lot of average people and find there’s a prevailing view that gender really doesn’t matter.
In fact, we sent a team out at a true woman event, out onto the sidewalks to ask women on the street, “What is a true woman?”
Woman: I would describe a true woman as a true human being, and with sex organs that are different from men, but a true woman is a true human being who, at her best, just displays all the best qualities of humankind.
Other than the physiological differences, a woman who puts her mind to it can do anything a man can do, I think.
Mary: Nancy, that video clip just so accurately reflects what we’re talking about. There’s a widespread belief that's becoming more and more common all the time that gender doesn’t matter. We may think that it’s something that’s out there or something that’s just in pop culture, but it translates into how we do life. It’s pervasive.
Nancy: It’s one that has implications for all of life.
Mary: It has implications for all of life, and we see it in terms of a gender role reversal with dads and moms or with young women going into a relationship thinking that there’s going to be a sameness about the way they interact with the young men that they’re going out with or thinking that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a young man or a young woman. It’s just leading to so much brokenness and heartache, and it’s just tragic because women aren’t able to make relationships work, and it’s just so incredibly difficult to do so.
Nancy: One of the things we’re going to see all through this study is that God’s ways are good. They’re beautiful, and they work. And God’s design is for our good. Those who ignore or don’t know or reject God’s design, whether out in pop culture or within the church, are setting themselves up for so much pain and brokenness.
That’s one of the reasons we’ve done this study, Mary, it’s one of the reasons we wrote it. We just know that if women don’t get that gender really does matter and is good and is God-created, then there’s going to be so much pain and dysfunction and brokenness that could be averted.
Mary: And not only in their own lives, but in the lives of their families and friends, and really in the lives of their communities and really just the whole next generation.
Erin: I’m not sure moms understand how this is affecting their teen daughters and younger. We talk about pop culture, and it’s important to know that for teenage girls there’s no difference between what they see in pop culture and their worldview. Most of the time those lines are so blurry.
Nancy: And even kids in the youth group?
Nancy: The world’s been more shaped by what they see in pop culture.
Erin: And the same is true for even younger.
Mary: And so a mother, or even an older woman may not be feeling the pain of these things we’re talking about yet, but it’s worth fighting for.
Dannah: I talked with a friend the other day who has a daughter in elementary school. There is a lesbian couple with a daughter in their class, and they want the little girl to come over and play.
Mary: My kids—20 years ago, 15 years ago—didn’t have to face that information.
Erin: I mentor a girl who is working with college students on a campus with university athletes and with top caliber athletes. She says, depending on the team that these athletes are on, there is a very large percentage of the teams—sometimes as upwards as 80% of the team—that get drawn into, or pressured into, same-sex relationships with girls on the team, and it’s a whole different culture.
There’s just so much brokenness that comes through that. It’s a tragedy. But this isn’t something theoretical.
Mary: This is hitting our grade-school children. The moms may not feel it, but our children are being raised with this idea that there’s this fluidity and that there are our sex organs, and then there’s our gender, and our sex organs don’t dictate our gender. We get to pick our gender, and we can choose to be one gender one day, and a few years down the road, change the gender. And if you’re a good parent, you will allow your child to choose his or her own gender.
Nancy: Yes. If you’re not aware of it, if you just start looking around and noticing what the culture is saying, there’s this widespread belief that gender really doesn’t matter, that there are not significant differences between male and female, or that they’re interchangeable or that they’re fluid. There’s variations on gender confusion.
But that’s, again, where we go back to God’s Word.
Mary: We have to.
Nancy: Which is what we try to do all through the study—on this and every other area of life—and we realize—and Scripture is so clear—that God created male and female for a specific purpose.
Holly: The lines are not blurry.
Nancy: He designed them differently. The lines are not blurry.
I love that passage in Isaiah chapter 43, I think it is, that says “God created sons and daughters for His glory”—for His glory. So I want to just park there for a moment as we start this study and say that everything in life is about glorifying God, including our womanhood or manhood gender. What does it mean? We kind of throw that term around a lot.
Dannah: I think it means that we illuminate Him. We make Him visible. He can be seen in us. He can be seen through us. I think that’s what it means to glorify.
Holly: Well, that we understand that the purpose of our existence is wrapped up in making God more known than He would have been apart from our life.
Nancy: Putting Him on display.
Holly: Glorifying Him, yes, displaying Him.
Mary: Shining a spotlight—taking a spotlight and going . . . Wow!
Dannah: Let me read this from Genesis 1. It says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’” Then verse 27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female He created them.”
Nancy: No confusion in God’s Word, is there? He’s sure about it.
Holly: No, none.
Erin: It’s pretty clear what He’s doing.
Dannah: He’s saying, “You are in My image.”
I was reading this years ago, and I thought to myself, “There’s so much about humanity that’s amazing that God could have pointed to in this passage. Why didn’t He comment on our language proficiency or our ability to compose sonnets or our creativity or the fact that one day we would make an airplane fly? He doesn’t take any of those magnificent things. One thing, one thing only: male and female.”
I think it is through gender that we glorify God best because that’s what’s in His image.
Holly: And the interesting thing is that we’re totally not responsible for being male or female. At that moment of creation . . .
Erin: . . . God makes us that.
Holly: It is God’s business.
Nancy: We didn’t have any choice in that, nor did our parents.
Holly: No. It’s nothing that we did at that point.
Mary: I love that verse, Dannah, because it’s fascinating. I mean, you go back, and you said, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image after our likeness.’” Well, okay—who’s the our and the us? There’s a lot of plurality going on there in the language. Who’s God talking to?Himself.
Dannah: Himself. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—three in one.
Mary: And so there’s something about male and female that teaches us about the "us" of God.
Dannah: You know what I think it is? I think it’s this: God in three persons is a social being.
Dannah: He is relational, and without the distinct differences of the Trinity, there is no reason for socialness because it would just be one.
Erin: There’s no reason for Trinity if they would all be the same.
Dannah: But male and female, and their distinct differences, crave to know and be known and be social, too. So it is our gender that makes us social beings like God.
Holly: And the two parts of that gender that God set up, that He designed, display who He is better than either one could separately.
Nancy: That’s a cool thought. There are aspects of God’s image that men—males—can reflect in stronger ways, and ways that females—we as women—display God’s image. And you put them together, male and female, and then ultimately in marriage, in husband and wife, and you get together in that oneness a beautiful reflection of who God is.
Erin: That’s why studying gender through the filter of God’s Word is so exciting. I feel like when women hear that we’re going to study gender, they worry that they’re going to find out that we’re inferior. The opposite is true. God’s Word says, “Women, you put Me on display, you give Me glory in a way that men don’t.” The opposite is true.
So it’s really empowering, exciting to see that God says, “Hey, lady. Your purpose is to glorify Me, to reveal something about Me.”
Mary: I love the picture that we chose for the front of the True Woman 101 study. And throughout the study there’s this theme of artistry and this theme of painting and design and beauty.
Mary: All the colors that we chose for the inside are rich and bold and up close, and all the photos are very textured.
The thought of putting God on display is like we’re painting a picture and putting it up on an easel. We all know that pictures aren’t the real thing. If I paint a picture of a beautiful vase and flower, you know that that’s not the vase and the flower you’re looking at. The picture represents the real thing. It puts it on display. We’re talking about the glory of God. When we glorify God with our lives, we take that easel, and our lives are that painting that shows truths about God.
Dannah: You’re getting me excited.
Erin: I’m excited about it, too.
Dannah: When think of male and female being a picture, I think of the Mona Lisa. It was her smile that made her mysterious. And for 500 years our art history majors and all of humanity have been studying her because there’s a mystery in her that we don’t quite understand when we look at this painting.
Well, I don’t know if you know this, but in 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen. So the captain of the guard comes around the corner, where she was once hanging on these four posts, and she’s gone. And he thinks to himself, he reasons to himself, "She’s been taken out to be photographed for marketing purposes."
So the men entrusted to the portrait—the most valuable portrait on the planet—do nothing. That’s us. That’s us, church. That’s us right now. The picture of God is gender, and in large part, the body of Christ does nothing.
Erin: Well, let’s sound the alarm.
Holly: Right. We’re a little numb to the depth of it, to the breadth of what is happening in our culture.
Mary: Or the seriousness of it. We just think, “Oh well.”
Dannah: Or the pain, the pain of it, the brokenness of it.
Nancy: And maybe also, numb. I’ve been in church since nine months before I was born, and we’ve heard the story, the gospel, the mystery of Christ and His church. Ephesians 5 talks about husbands and wives and marriage, and then Paul says, “This is a mystery. I’m speaking about Christ and His church.” I mean, we’ve just read that so many times, heard that, done that, been there.
Mary: We’ve lost the wonder. It’s like the smile of gender, the mystery, the smile of it. What is it about that, when we look at male and female? We’ve forgotten that it’s about Jesus, and it’s about the gospel.
Leslie: That’s Mary Kassian along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. They’ve written a new book called True Woman 101: Divine Design. They were talking about some concepts in that book with their friends Dannah Gresh, Erin Davis, and Holly Elliff.
Imagine having your own small group discussions like this one. Imagine getting together with a group of ladies and talking about God’s purpose in creating you as a woman and what that means for you practically. This new book, True Woman 101: Divine Design, would be perfect for your own small group discussion.
To enrich your small group meeting, parts of the conversation we just heard are available on DVD. So you can study biblical womanhood together using the book True Woman 101 then watch Mary, Nancy, and their friends discuss the material on DVD, then have your own practical discussion.
You can order True Woman 101, the book and the DVD at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.
Well, on Monday, Nancy, Mary and the rest of their friends will pick back up on the conversation they began today. 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.