Abigail Dodds

The Brave Mother of Men: Lessons from a Favorite Story

During our family’s first time through Andrew Peterson’s four-book series The Wingfeather Saga, I found myself carefully paying attention to one person more than any other: Nia Wingfeather. By the time we were rereading the series for the third and fourth times, I had to resist the urge to take notes on this courageous and queenly (albeit imperfect) mother. Her womanly valor, her fearless sacrifices, and her ability to bring out the best in men have spurred me on in my own callings as wife and mother.

Bravery in the Kitchen

For the uninitiated, Peterson’s saga traces the unforgettable Wingfeather family, particularly the three children, as they run from the Fangs of Dang, from the Overseer of the Fork Factory, and worst of all, from Gnag the Nameless.

We get one early glimpse of Nia’s savvy courage when she is faced with the capture of her son by the wicked Fangs of Dang — cursed creatures, men who have willingly been transformed into wretched beasts. In their twisted existence, their appetites are insatiable, but not for good food, only for all that is rotting and putrid. Nia negotiates the release of her son: “I told him I could cook the finest maggotloaf in the four seas and that if he let you go, I’d cook it for him every third day of the week once the meat had plenty of time to fester” (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, 68).

Her quick thinking reminds me of women like Jael, who lures her enemy in, gives him milk, and covers him with a blanket before crushing him — or Abigail, who brings enough food for an army, accompanied by her own gracious words, to calm David and divert him from violence. Nia, though fictional, shows us a particularly feminine kind of think-on-your-feet bravery. She acts on behalf of her child, but she does not confront danger directly (for she would have surely lost); instead, she comes at the problem creatively. She proceeds to make the aforementioned maggotloaf to satiate the appetite and the anger of the Fangs.

This type of feminine bravery is quite different from the bossy, brash, beat-up-the-boys counterfeit we see in so many movies today. Nia is a brave woman — not a manly woman — and she solves problems accordingly.

Fearless in Sacrifice

Later in the saga, Nia’s second son has undergone the same sort of horrible transformation that the Fangs had. He is a beast, but still a boy. With her husband assumed dead, her life centers on helping her son become the man he should be, despite this irreversible change. When the people of the Hollows wish to cast her son out, she invokes Turalay, the law of pardon in the Green Hollows, and is warned, “You hold your life forfeit for his, and should he break the life laws of the Green Hollows, from this day forward, it is not only his blood that will be shed, but yours” (The Monster in the Hollows, 67–68)

“A mother’s willing release can put steel in the spine of young men.”

On the surface, we may think she is confident simply that her son will somehow overcome his beastly reality, that she knows all will be well. But Nia’s trust is deeper. She trusts her Maker, even if her son were to do the unthinkable and break the life laws of the Hollows. She binds her fate to her son because she trusts her Maker’s purposes and does not fear death. And in tying her life to his, she strengthens his weak frame and plants seeds of hope in his heart.

Multiplying the Courage of Men

If there is one visceral driving force in mothers, it is the desire to nurture and protect. This natural, God-given instinct, however, can give way to fear-soaked overprotection. “Safety first!” can undergird almost every decision mothers make. Nia, however, taps into a rare feminine virtue — the cheerful willingness to forsake safety now for the better hope of raising courageous future men.

As Nia’s oldest son nears his thirteenth birthday, he approaches a rite of passage for boys called the “blindplop.” After being stuffed full of food on his birthday, he is left alone, deep in the woods, in the middle of the night. His guild master leaves him his pack and a letter saying,

No one is watching over you, ready to rescue you as soon as things get difficult. . . . That means you’re on your own. Of course, if you don’t show up at Ban Rona for a week or so, we’ll send out a search party to bring you home, though there probably won’t be much of you left. Your mother grew up here; she knows how it works, and she’s given me her full permission. I expected to have to talk her into the blindplop, but she agreed without hesitation. That should make you feel some pride, boy. (The Warden and the Wolf King, 20)

A mother’s willing release can put steel in the spine of young men. When a mother confidently blesses her son’s launch into the world — whether in small matters, like persevering in hard work, or in large changes, like moving far away, independent of her — her blessing is like a current of wind that pushes his sails farther and faster and straighter than he would have otherwise gone. But when mothers coddle and hover, doing all they can to keep sons from any whiff of danger or failure or pain, they nurture vice rather than virtue.

Strong Men and Their Fearless Wives

Yet it isn’t just sons who are bolstered by the appropriate confidence of their mothers. Husbands, too, can be inspired by the trust and assurance of their wives. Nia’s husband, Esben, is mortally wounded after a heroic effort to stand between the Fangs and his family. Yet even as his blood pools around him, and he begins to sink to the ground, she issues an urgent but steadfast reminder not to give in to death — not yet. “Our children need you, my king” (The Monster in the Hollows, 332). And he rouses himself once more to do what seemed impossible, to do what she could not do — to rescue their children from the enemy at the cost of his life. Her words beckon his courage.

A woman’s respect multiplies the courage of men, not with manipulation or fear, but with loyalty, hope, and abiding trust. To be a woman of valor is to be a woman who is free — free from the chains of fear because her security is fixed in her Maker. And it is free, fearless women who are best equipped to call forth and inspire the masculine strength and courage of Christ in the godly men around them. The world desperately needs such men — and such women.

Closer Than a Sister: How Women Cultivate Real Friendship

Friendship, C.S. Lewis concludes, is “unnecessary.” He says, “I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend, and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art” (The Four Loves, 103).

Friendship is a little bit like the offer of dessert after a wonderful meal. No one must eat it any more than the host must provide it — the unnecessary best part. So too with one’s friends. Friendship runs on the fuel of shared enjoyment, not by way of contract or debt or familial duty. Yet in friendless seasons, we feel at a loss — of companionship, comfort, sharpening, and edification.

The Scriptures show us just how strong the bonds of friendship can be, as with Jonathan and David: “He loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:3). We also see the pain of a friend not living up to the name, as with Job’s friends: “My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God” (Job 16:20). We know “a friend loves at all times” and that the love of a friend even includes his willingness to injure us, for “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 17:17; 27:6).

Considering such a potent blessing, how can young women pursue godly friendships?

Pathways into Female Friendship

At times of transition in life, we can find ourselves friendless, or at least in short supply of any tried-and-true friends nearby. One thing I know is that you don’t make new friends by sitting around wishing for them. The best way I’ve found to make friends is to get busy doing whatever God has given me to do that day and then to see whom God puts in my path.

Now, it should go without saying that our closest friends are Christian friends, not just anybody in proximity to us. We need to be around people at church, in our family, and in our friendships that honor Christ and his ways. When we walk with the wise, we become like them — when we hang out with fools, we will suffer for it (Proverbs 13:20). Friendship is a fellowship, and “what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

I often observe that women admire someone from a distance and then invite her to grab coffee. Trying to spark a friendship isn’t wrong, but it may result in disappointment when the woman doesn’t live up to your ideal. In my experience, the best way to get to know someone is to do something alongside her rather than starting off primarily one-on-one and face-to-face. Serving shoulder-to-shoulder with women from church is a great way to have unpressured conversations. Inviting a family over for dinner is another helpful way to get to know a potential friend, as you will see a fuller picture of what she’s like when surrounded by her husband and children.

I’m occasionally surprised when a woman whom I seemed to get along with well in a private conversation isn’t as compatible when with our families or a larger group of friends. But I’m also surprised when someone with whom I didn’t sense any great kinship at the start eventually becomes a dear friend in the context of our families and shared work. In other words, get to know potential friends in real life, not just by sitting with coffee away from the bustle of children or classes or home life or service or work. Female friendships shouldn’t mainly be siloed away from husbands, children, parents, or hands-on work. Rather, our real-life context is fertile soil for healthy friendships.

“We have the opportunity to give our friends a precious, Christlike gift: our constant love.”

The most rewarding friendships God has given me are secure enough to take our eyes off the friendship, lock arms, and take a hill together. Maybe the hill is a feat of hospitality that’s too big for just one person. Maybe it’s trying to solve some tough problem and praying together. Maybe the hill is finding the best way to educate our children in the Lord. Maybe it’s working on a writing project with a friend, providing critical feedback or receiving it. In these cases, friendship has moved beyond itself to productive fruitfulness that spills over to others.

Enemies of Female Friendships

Certain weeds regularly find their way into the garden of friendship among women and can keep a friendship from becoming fruitful in the Lord. Female friendship grows in a particular kind of soil prone to particular weeds — envy, flattery, rivalry, pretense, deceit, complaining, and gossip, to name a few.

My first memory of an envious thought takes me back to twelve years old with a friend I loved (and love!) dearly. I envied her appearance and form. That envy sat in the background of my heart for several years, an unwelcome but persistent guest, before I realized I could do something about it. Likewise, I can recall rivalry — a competitive urge to be or do better than my friends — from an even earlier age.

What’s more, even as a grown woman over forty, I am still putting to death the occasional urge to gossip or complain or exaggerate when with friends. I thank God that he has given me a new heart that desires to put to death those sins and also desires to love my friends in truth. But the battle isn’t over yet. So, for the sake of our own souls and the good of our friends, we must relentlessly pull the harmful weeds out of our friendships.

We can start by developing the habit of dealing with those sinful tendencies lightning fast. If an envious thought springs up, kill it immediately by confessing it to God. Ask him to resurrect gratitude instead of envy, and then give thanks to him for the very quality you were about to envy in your friend. Thank him for her beautiful hair, or her good humor, or her lovely home. Then cheerfully move on — give it no more attention.

If you catch yourself shaping stories either by exaggeration or by withholding information to somehow protect your reputation or make others think better of you, then quickly, before another false word can come out of your mouth, walk it back. Tell your friend, “I’m sorry, that’s not right. Here’s what really happened.”

If you find yourself starting to gossip with a friend, do not succumb to the second temptation that would try to get out of it by acting like it never happened. Quickly deal with it on the spot. Say to your friend, “I’m sorry I was just gossiping. Would you forgive me?” Even if your friend also participated, take responsibility for your part, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness. Gossip and complaining provide cheap ways to intimacy. They make friends feel close and bonded. But in the end, they remain crumbling foundations for friendship.

Love Through Thick and Thin

While Lewis is right that friendship is not a duty that can be demanded from one to another, we do have the opportunity to give our friends a precious, Christlike gift: our constant love. This love is not something we give on the basis of how much fun they are to be around on any given day, but on the basis of our Savior, Christ, who calls us his friends and loves us to the end (John 15:15).

Our friends will face deep valleys and high peaks over the course of their lives. If we are to love them in the valleys, we must not be selfish; if we are to love them on the peaks, we must not be envious. God can grant us real enjoyment in our friends in every season because he has done a wonderful thing in uniquely making them, calling them, gifting them, and letting us partake in their lives. It’s a privilege to call someone friend — and still more to be called it in return.

Marital Conflict for New Wives

The early months and years of marriage are a time of significant change. Marriage involves at least one or both people moving to join as husband and wife under one roof. A young wife changes her name to show she now belongs to her husband as the two form a new family. Both the new husband and new wife are stepping into new callings they have never had before! With all the change and transition, it shouldn’t surprise us when conflicts, disagreements, or misunderstandings arise.

If you’re a young woman preparing for marriage, you need not fret that marital conflict will spoil the first years, nor should you assume that you and your husband won’t deal with any bumps or tense times. Rather, you can prepare to be the kind of wife who handles conflicts with maturity, charity, and inner peace. Which is to say, you can prepare to be a Christian wife.

He’s Not You

The profound mystery of marriage is that two become one — a man and a woman, distinct and different, joined together in a one-flesh union. Yet in that bodily joining, the two minds do not meld into one. You will think about things much the way you’ve always thought about them; so will your new husband.

Over lots of time and with lots of effort, you will begin to think together — to think alongside your husband, to let him know how your thoughts are developing, and also to understand and appreciate that he will always think differently than you do, no matter how well you both may communicate. This is one grand blessing of marriage: he’s not you!

Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak

Because of these natural and good differences of frame and mindset, a new wife can prepare for moments of disagreement by cultivating patience when her husband’s opinion or decision doesn’t make immediate sense to her. Remember, he’s not you. He may have many good reasons for how he thinks, talks, acts, and leads. Perhaps he sees an angle you don’t see; perhaps he has a priority you haven’t considered.

James says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20). If I could give you one very important piece of premarital advice, it would be this: slow down and listen before you answer or react.

I would guess that the sin for which I’ve most regularly needed to ask forgiveness in marriage is making a snap judgment over some innocuous (or even good) way that my husband was thinking or leading. I would mistake and challenge his choice or initiative because I thought my way of thinking was right and normal, and his way was abnormal and therefore wrong. I was routinely caught off guard by just how different we are.

Now, after 21 years of God’s helping me to slow down and listen, I can say that I am more thankful than ever that my husband’s frame and mindset are different from mine. It is a gift from God to be married to a godly man, who is not me. Don’t try to make your husband be like you or like your closest girlfriends. Praise God for the differences, and practice patience as you grow in appreciation for him.

Whispers Singe Marriage

Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” This bit of God-breathed wisdom pictures quarrels as a fire. And what is the fuel for the quarrel-fire? A whisperer — that is, one who shares information or secrets or private matters with someone who shouldn’t know them.

A young wife must realize, from the get-go, that her marriage is a sacred trust. The Golden Rule can go a long way in helping us grasp what we ought, and ought not, to share with others: Would I want my husband to share [blank] about me? As Proverbs 31:11–12 tells us, a husband’s heart trusts his godly wife. As he confides in her, she does not harm him but does him good all his days.

In the early years of our marriage, I realized that some women wanted to turn conversations into complaining about their husbands. In the process, they almost relished the misery of others alongside their own. Others simply grasped to know more than they ought to know about the intimate details of another’s married life.

What might not be obvious to you yet is that joining in this sort of indiscrete “whispering” can cause conflict in your marriage. When you complain about your husband to friends or overshare the intimate details of your life together, you can expect that your regard for and treatment of your husband will begin to lack honor and respect. And don’t be surprised when the things you “whispered” about him make their way to his ears.

Decide now not to engage in that sort of talk. Be the kind of wife whom your husband can trust in every way. If there is some private matter with which you and your husband need outside help, go to a trusted pastor or godly couple for guidance. But don’t denigrate the sacred bond of trust that you have with your husband through indiscretion or gossip.

Disagreeing with Submission

Even when we avoid hasty speech and practice discretion, and even when our husband is loving us as Christ loved the church, legitimate disagreements will still, at times, arise. When they do, the overarching posture of the wife will often determine whether her input is a welcome counterpoint for consideration or a difficult hurdle to get past.

When a trustworthy wife pursues godliness, seeks good for her husband, and submits to him, a Christian husband will not balk or be threatened by her sincere (and respectfully offered) disagreement. You may even be surprised at how eager he is to gather your input and how seriously he takes it, even though he isn’t bound by it (nor would you want him to be!). You want him to be a man who fears God and acts as one who will give an account for the way he led his wife and family.

When a young wife looks to “the holy women who hoped in God,” such as Sarah — who submitted to Abraham, even “calling him lord” — she can have inner peace through marital disagreements (1 Peter 3:5–6). Why? Because, as Peter tells us, her hope is in God, not in her desired outcome or in her husband’s ability to make the perfect decision. When a young wife’s hope is in God, she can trust his work in the heart of her husband and in herself.

Chapters of Mothering: How Reading Shapes a Child

Some milestones in our children’s lives stick with us. I cannot forget teaching our children to read — a pleasure that continues as I help our youngest son.

I remember the weight of my charge to help my young children’s developing minds grasp written language! This skill enables them to read God’s word for themselves. What could be more motivating for me as their mom and teacher? Yet the process of training them to read started long before they turned four or five or six or seven. It started when they were babies being read board books by Mom and Dad.

Cultivate the Right Tastes Together

Reading doesn’t begin as an activity your child does by himself. It begins with fathers and mothers. It begins with us reading aloud. We increase our kid’s appetite by narrating books that they enjoy and understand. These books are not the books you would choose to read in your alone time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them together.

This is a benefit of being a mom — getting to find joy and delight in the things that our children find joy and delight in. We get to reexperience every stage of childhood, which means we get to reexperience every stage of reading. Are there moments when this is more duty than delight? Of course! But not often if you’ve taken care to put off that sinful sort of adulthood that can’t enjoy the childlikeness that marks the very kingdom of God.

I have memorized many books over the years (even longer ones!) simply because my young children wanted to hear the book over and over, day after day, night after night. This sort of repetition is good for them and us. We often benefit more from knowing one good book inside and out than we would from barely knowing ten books, so welcome your child’s love of repetition.

Discipling Readers

From the earliest books you read to your children, remember that you’re cultivating tastes — tastes for rhyme, rhythm, and cadence; tastes for artwork, color, and illustrations; tastes for themes, plots, and morals.

Books are not inherently virtuous. Books can have good content and bad content. The cadence can be off, the themes can be foolish, the illustrations can be gaudy. As mom, you get to help weed out the bad and offer up the good. It won’t do to send young sons or daughters to peruse the aisles of the children’s section at the public library or bookstore without your steady hand to guide them.

“From the earliest books you read to your children, remember that you’re cultivating tastes.”

Books can teach and catechize all sorts of ungodly ideologies, but thankfully, that’s why children have a mom — so that she can help to discern between books that are junk food, books that are snack food, books that are poison, and books that are healthy. And, as a Christian, it’s perfectly acceptable to avoid the public library altogether if you find it unhelpful. That was my approach. Instead, we started our own home library — a decision I’ve never regretted.

The Good, the True, the Beautiful

One of our favorite family pastimes has been to listen to books together while in the car — either a lengthy book series over a long trip, or shorter books on the way to weekly activities. We made the decision early on to avoid screens for our kids in the car, but instead to listen to books and music, and talk to each other.

Once we were driving a fifteen-hour trek from Montana home to Minnesota in one day, and we had been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia. It was our first time listening to the whole series as a family, and our five children ranged from infant to grade school. We finally arrived home late at night, but we still had about fifteen minutes left of The Last Battle. So, at the older kids’ request, we parked the car in the garage and sat for fifteen more minutes going further up and further into True Narnia, as tears streamed down my face at the wonder of it all.

But why do we encourage our kids to read? I’ve noticed that there is a sort of strange pride we moms can have about our children being “readers,” as though a child with his head in a book must be a good kid, or at the very least, a smart one. But we moms need to know better. Reading is a means, not an end. And it ought to be a means to Christian virtue — to the good, the true, and the beautiful — and to help sharpen or challenge thinking, to inspire courage, and glean insight. If reading is desirable merely because it’s better than the TV or iPad, then we should probably raise the bar.

“God knows how to write the best stories. We want our children to read of him, trust him, and enjoy him forever.”

Just as we must be discerning readers and help our children develop into discerning readers, we also must be discerning moms — seeing clearly whether our children’s reading habit is cultivating virtue or suppressing it. As our children have grown to love reading, I have frequently confiscated (good!) books, and reminded them they have stories of their own to be living. Get outside, solve a problem, talk to people, do your chores, tell some jokes, make music. Do I want them to be “readers”? Yes, inasmuch as reading cultivates virtue, not a malformed introversion.

Expect the Eucatastrophe

When our oldest daughter, Eliza, was ten, she was finishing up a book in the back seat of our minivan. Seth, her younger brother, was reading the last chapter along with her, not having read the rest of the book. He commented to her, “It looks like it’s going to be a happy ending.” She responded, “Oh, I don’t like happy endings. That means the book is over.” Then she gave this insight, “But when things are scary or sad at the end, you know there will be another chapter or book coming.”

Haven’t you known the sinking feeling of ending a book that you love? J.R.R. Tolkien said that the best kind of stories (which he calls fairy-tales) don’t have an ending. But what they do have is the eucatastrophe, which Tolkien describes in one of his letters:

I coined the word eucatastrophe: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives . . . that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest eucatastrophe possible. (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 100)

Perhaps the greatest virtue we aim to instill in our children through reading is to recognize the eucatastrophe, and learn to expect it — which is integral to the Christian faith and story. This reality is why we would have them daily become acquainted with the stories and rhythms and plots and cadence and themes of the Scriptures through reading.

The Best of Stories

The great Eucatastrophe has happened — God the Son was crucified and buried, then raised to life on the third day. But there are more eucatastrophes to come for those who are in Christ.

That is why the chief book we encourage our kids to read is Scripture. The God who brought his people through the Red Sea as they were pressed by Pharoah’s army, and who toppled the walls of Jericho with trumpets and shouts, and who used a young shepherd to take down Goliath, and who kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego unsinged in the hottest fire, and who rescued his people with a beautiful young woman turned Queen Esther — he knows how to rescue the godly when all seems lost. He knows how to write the best stories. We want our children to read of him, trust him, and enjoy him forever.

Are You Glad to Be a Woman?

As a third grader of average size and ability, I had no outward reason to aspire to be the first to finish the mile. Not only was I average, but this wasn’t a competition. We were merely running as a physical-fitness assessment for gym class. Yet inside me was an overwhelming urge to win — in particular, to beat the boys.

I used all the running wisdom I had gleaned from my dad: “Don’t start out too fast. Keep a steady pace. When you round that last turn, dig down deep and sprint for all you’re worth.” And it worked. I managed to be the first third grader to finish the mile at Sunnyside Elementary School in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred ninety. Some people peak early. Let’s just say that I peaked in the third grade, in a non-existent race, against competition that had no clue I was gunning for them.

Over the years, I’ve reflected on that gut instinct to “win” a competition that didn’t exist. Nobody taught me to want to beat the boys; it was instinctive for me. I knew there was a certain sort of glory in it, albeit fading and twisted. In just a few years, it didn’t matter how much I gutted it out and pushed myself: I couldn’t beat the boys in gym class.

When Winning Is Losing

This beat-the-boys phenomenon wasn’t peculiar to me. Quite the opposite: as I went away to college, it seemed to be endemic, although not in sports as much as in academics.

There was particular praise heaped on young women who studied in fields that were mainly filled with men. There was a push to get more women into math and science and computers — to see them succeed when put up against male peers. Never mind the fact that women dominated fields where nurture and helping are primary, such as nursing and early-childhood development. Was no one curious as to why that might be? Did no one see a connection between women’s most popular professions and their bodily design?

The terrible lie sold to and perpetuated by women is that their God-given bodies are of no consequence, and not merely when it comes to the skills or jobs they pursue. The lie has gone so far as to persuade many that they should scorn their childbearing capability and instead live for self-actualization and supposed consequence-free (sexual) immorality.

Deceiving Women, Slandering God

That one lie is especially terrible because it carries a multitude of slanders against God. The lie assumes that God’s design of woman as made for man is not good, but bad; that his design for bringing children into the world through women’s bodies is not good, but to be avoided; and that a woman’s freedom to live in sin is better than the freedom from sin that God offers in his Son.

“Ungodly competition with men, although seemingly harmless in its seed form, leads to a myriad of evils.”

Ungodly competition with men, although seemingly harmless in its seed form, leads to a myriad of evils — it is even used to justify the murder of unborn children when they impose on the life of an ambitious woman. Is this lie not an echo of the very curse God warns us about when he says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16)?

What became clear to me is that this desire to beat the boys — or at the very least, to become functionally the same as men in the world — wasn’t contained to certain competitive individuals; rather, it was and is a societally approved goal. Schools and colleges encourage it, government funds it, parents cheer it, and even some churches preach it. Yet to do so requires a willful rejection of created reality. Men and women are not the same; they are designed for different callings. And this is really good news.

Grace Agrees with God

Sometimes, Christian women can embrace the gospel, embrace their need for a Savior, and yet ignore the implications for how God made them as women. But the grace that saves us also comes to expose the blind spots that keep us from seeing that womanhood is good and serves a deeply good purpose. Our growth in the Lord Jesus and his ways is not some generic sort of genderless growth — rather, as we grow in him, we grow into godly women.

“Men and women are not the same; they are designed for different callings. And this is really good news.”

That means we learn to agree with God when he says that his creation of male and female is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). We agree with him when he says women were made as “helper” and as “the glory of man” (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:7). We agree with him when he says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). We agree with him when he says women are not independent of men, but dependent (1 Corinthians 11:11). We agree with him when he says that a quiet and submissive spirit is precious to him (1 Peter 3:4–5).

Apart from his grace, we don’t agree with God. Apart from his grace, we don’t even accept ourselves or our bodies as a gift. We may be full of self-esteem talk or self-acceptance talk, but the world’s “self-acceptance” isn’t any such thing — it could better be called “sin-acceptance.” Accepting our created bodies and sex as from God, for his glory and our good, is something his grace enables.

Begin by Thanking God

There are many reasons well-meaning Christians shy away from the wonder, goodness, and necessity of a woman’s design in childbearing — her unique and essential role in this world. I believe they mainly balk because they don’t want to make a woman who isn’t married or can’t have children feel bad. I don’t want to do that either. I want single women to know that God has a good plan for their lives and that they can absolutely trust him with every bit of the path he’s laid before them.

I also want both single and married women to open their eyes to the gift of having been made a woman. And part of that gift, even if you never have children personally, is being a member of the sex that bears children, being given a body equipped for it. You are made to nurture life — physically and spiritually. You are made to transform almost nothing into something quite remarkable. You are made to take what is simple and boring and make it beautifully complex. You are made to be an irreplaceable helper.

The first place to begin for any woman is with gratitude. Start by thanking your Creator for making you a woman. Thank him for the breathtaking gift of life as a woman! Praise him for making you his precious daughter. All his works and ways are good.

Happy to Be She: My Glad Path to Complementarity

Complementarian is a strange word. I never heard my parents or my pastor use it as I was growing up. I can’t recall the first time I heard it — though it was likely sometime in the early 2000s, as a young married woman, sitting under the teaching of John Piper.

However, long before I heard the strange word, I had seen the concept. I saw it when my dad’s heart to be generous and hospitable was taken up by my mom and transposed into a welcoming home that operated like a bed-and-breakfast for family, friends, and strangers. I saw it when my dad would take the initiative to warm the car and pull it up to the curb, always hopping out to open the door for my mom — my fearless mom, who wielded chainsaws and rode young green horses, yet gladly welcomed this kindness from her husband. I saw it when my mom helped shoulder my dad’s call to be a physician, making the best of a constantly changing schedule. I saw it in my dad’s hard work and provision for us and in my mom’s labor in the home to turn that provision into something truly wonderful. And I saw it when my dad led us in prayer and gratitude to God for everything, especially God’s Son.

Woven Through All of God’s Word

Yet there was another place I’d seen complementarity: the Scriptures. From the opening pages — the genesis of Adam and Eve — to the final chapters revealing the marriage supper of the Lamb, this concept of part and counterpart; of the distinctiveness of man and woman (in Hebrew, ish and ishah); of the design and order of husband and wife, lord and lady, bridegroom and bride, was everywhere. From Sarah’s willingness to obey Abraham to Boaz’s noble protection of Ruth, the stories of Scripture show us both the beauty of complementarity and the consequences of rejecting God’s design for men and women — as when Adam submitted to Eve rather than to God in the garden.

“The husband is head, and the wife is glory — just as Christ is head, and the church is body.”

Even the gospel itself is intertwined with this foundational reality of creation: the husband is head, and the wife is glory — just as Christ is head, and the church is body (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22–33). The husband loves his wife, and the wife respects her husband — just as Christ lovingly sacrifices, and the church gladly submits and receives (Ephesians 5:22–33; Colossians 3:18–19). I had observed, too, how the Epistles reiterate the distinctions between men and women as they give separate and particular instructions for older women, younger women, older men, younger men, wives, husbands, and widows (Titus 2:1–6; 1 Timothy 2:8–15; 1 Peter 3:1–7).

By the time the strange word complementarian became part of my vocabulary, with its accompanying pushback against the idea that men and women are interchangeable, I didn’t need to be convinced it was true or scriptural. I’d seen it — both in print and in life.

Speed Bumps Along the Way

Of course, seeing a reality and living a reality are two different experiences. I could see the reality of complementarity. I could see the beauty of God’s intent for men and women. But stepping into that reality as a young woman and trying it on was more difficult. From the time I was little, the word equality was a good word. Especially as an American, I was proud to consider everyone equal. I’d heard that egalitarianism was simply that: equality between men and women. Who could be opposed to equality?

Thankfully, a complementarian position was able to account for both the equalities and the inequalities of men and women. To embrace the Bible’s teaching on men and women is to acknowledge an equality of value alongside physical and positional differences.

“What a gift to be a woman! What a gift to be endowed with a woman’s body and to have a woman’s mind and instincts!”

I found over time that, rather than bristling at this reality, there was great relief in stating the obvious. I came to acknowledge that treating men and women as the same was actually an affront to God — and at the same time, I became free to acknowledge that how he designed men and women was truly good and beautiful. Many women are indoctrinated by the world to believe that we will lose something essential in ourselves if we admit that we are physically weaker or inherently different than men. When we acknowledge that we don’t choose what we are but are created to be what we are — man or woman — the world teaches us to shudder and rebel, but God teaches us to say thank you for his good gift. What a gift to be a woman! What a gift to be endowed with a woman’s body and to have a woman’s mind and instincts!

Two Precious Tutors

Two books were especially helpful to me as I began to really practice the complementarity I saw in Scripture, both in my marriage and in how I conceived of myself as a Christian woman in the world. The first was Matthew Henry’s The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, and the second was Jim Wilson’s How to Be Free from Bitterness. Neither book mentions complementarianism, neither is about the differences between men and women, and neither is written particularly for women. But both books helped me gain a frame of mind and heart and soul that served my submission to God and his ways — and helped me flourish as a result.

The books gave me a window into the inner workings of a heart that truly trusts and obeys God. And it just so happens that the kind of heart that trusts and obeys God is the same kind of heart that does not rebel against God-ordained relationships of authority and submission. Whether submitting to the elders of my church or the authorities who make our traffic laws or my own husband as he leads us on a new adventure, my frame of heart and mind must be wholly trusting God. I need a stability of soul born of meekness and a faith-filled heart that is free from bitterness.

Henry and Wilson fanned the flames of my happiness in day-to-day life as they helped me turn from sins of grasping, bitterness, and inward strife and replace them with simple gratitude, peace, and joy in Christ. I commend them to you. My happiness in complementarity was directly tied to my own sanctification and my willingness to bow my knee in submission to King Jesus, no matter what the world or anyone else thought.

To agree with God’s word that a wife ought to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22), or that woman is the glory of man and man is the glory of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3), or that God himself ordains who is a man and who is a woman — these positions won’t earn you accolades or applause in many circles. But agreeing with God — even more, loving what God has said and done — will bring you peace and hope and joy, both now and in the age to come. Complementarian is a strange word, but that’s alright. Christians have often been strange to the world.

For Mothers of Future Men

If you look at the beginning of Proverbs 31, you might find a surprise. The chapter includes not simply the famous portrait of an excellent wife but also the teaching and influence of a godly mother on her son. Proverbs 31 begins with the recitation of a king. And what is he reciting? He’s reciting “an oracle that his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1).

What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?     What are you doing, son of my vows?Do not give your strength to women,     your ways to those who destroy kings.It is not for kings, O Lemuel,     it is not for kings to drink wine,     or for rulers to take strong drink,lest they drink and forget what has been decreed     and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (Proverbs 31:2–5)

Verse 10 begins the more famous portion of Proverbs 31, but it’s worth noting that King Lemuel is continuing to recite his mother’s teaching.

An excellent wife who can find?     She is far more precious than jewels.The heart of her husband trusts in her,     and he will have no lack of gain. (Proverbs 31:10–11)

“If our sons were asked about the most common teaching of their moms, what might their answers be?”

If our sons were asked about the most common teaching of their moms, what might their answers be? What sort of teaching characterizes our commands?

What Does Mom Say Most?

Our most common commands might be mainly safety-oriented: “Always wash your hands before you eat.” “Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.” “Don’t forget your bike helmet or seatbelt.” Those are not necessarily bad commands. But if they are the primary teaching of a mother to a son, they will not keep a son safe, but handicap him.

Perhaps your teaching is mainly practical: “Be sure to clean your room and make your bed every day.” “Finish all the food on your plate.” “Always be on time.” “Waste not, want not.” These are not bad commands; often they’re good and helpful. Yet, if those commands are left to themselves, without a foundation of weightier instruction, they will provide only earthly help without eternal benefit.

King Lemuel’s mother taught him two very important lessons: (1) how to avoid temptation so he could rule as king, and (2) how to find and value an excellent wife. In other words, his mother taught him how to be a man. And sons today still need mothers who can help teach them how to be wise, just, loving, good men, if not quite kings.

Our sons need to learn how to be heads of a household — perhaps also leaders of businesses, churches, or governments — and men who know what to look for in a wife. That means they need moms who can instruct them in how to judge between right and wrong, true and false, good and best. And between an excellent wife and an evil woman — because evil women actually exist, and our sons need to avoid them.

“There are a lot of sons today who need mothers who can help teach them how to be wise, just, loving, good men.”

Mothers instruct their sons in the importance of being a son, a boy, a man. Mothers help sons know what clothes are fitting for a boy versus a girl. They help them know what manners and mannerisms are appropriate for a young man. While our sons are young, and especially during the teenage years, mothers should keep an eye out to help their sons become godly men — not mom’s protégé, not mimicking her femininity. Moms remind sons that their broad shoulders are not meant to slouch, but to carry heavier loads for the sake of others.

Guarding from Sexual Confusion

Mothers need to wisely, shrewdly translate the wisdom of King Lemuel’s mother to the world we live in today, where it’s not just a king-destroying woman or the dangers of drunkenness he needs to avoid — it’s all manner of perversity and addiction. We need to help our sons avoid the enticements of the LGBTQ+ madness, to learn self-control when it comes to phones and technology, to avoid the deceitful euphemisms that have found their way into some churches, like “pronoun hospitality” or “gender-affirming care” or “reproductive freedom.”

Our sons may not be solicited on the street by a prostitute, but they will likely meet with some sinister images or a person who tempts them online. Without the warnings and cautions and roadblocks, and the faith-filled prayers of their godly mothers restraining them, they will be tempted to respond to the sexual advances of perverse men and women who seek them out in the unseen places of the Internet. Or, at the very least, they will be tempted to make light of those who do indulge such perversity — they will be tempted to affirm what God calls an abomination (Romans 1:32).

Home as a Mirror of Mothers

We mothers also need to show our children, and perhaps especially our teenage sons, the respite and safe haven of a Christian home, where God’s ways are normal, and the gospel is for them, and repentance and forgiveness are quick and ongoing, and God’s friendship is for those who fear him. We need to be mothers like the excellent woman in Proverbs 31, the one King Lemuel’s mother told him about:

Strength and dignity are her clothing,     and she laughs at the time to come.She opens her mouth with wisdom,     and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.She looks well to the ways of her household     and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:25–27)

God calls us mothers to look well to the ways of our household. We make and keep the home, so home is often a reflection of us, of our own godliness, maturity, submission to our husband, and conformity to Christ — or the lack of all those things. The atmosphere inside the home can be stale and tense and smothering or full of clean air and light hearts. The rhythms of our home will either indulge or discourage idleness.

We can wear the strength and confidence and dignity of a mother who fears God and entrusts herself to Christ, or we can make anxious people-pleasing or selfish strife our default setting.

From Teenage Sons to Godly Men

Remember that our homes are testifying and speaking to our children. It’s likely that our sons will not verbally give us up-to-the-minute details of all that is in their hearts, but their hearts are either being softened to God and his ways or hardened to them. Our home life either authenticates the gospel and the goodness of God’s commands, or it misrepresents those things and becomes a stumbling block through our own hypocrisy. We can speak the words and warnings of life to our sons, or we can prefer safety-oriented rules and practical instruction over the weightier goal of godly manhood.

It’s easy to think that our growing teenage sons don’t really need their mothers. And certainly they don’t need us the same way they did when they were little. They don’t need our constant physical care; they need the wise and godly oracles of their mom telling them how to avoid worldly temptations, and what true justice is, and how to find a good wife. They need to know the respect and love and friendship and counsel and prayers of their godly mother.

They don’t need to be smothered or controlled or manipulated or used. They don’t need to be pitied or babied or coddled. But they do still need their godly mothers to offer wise and repeated instructions on how to be a man while showing them the contagious joy of a woman who fears the Lord.

She Needs Truth: How Hard Words Serve Women

As an adult, the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon remembered hearing his mother pray for him and his siblings like this:

Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.

He recounted how deeply her prayers and warnings had shaped him, writing, “How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?”

I too grew up with a mother who warned me of my sins and their consequences. Once, after observing a pattern of sin in me as a teenager, she called into question my sincerity toward Christ, reminding me of the deadly hypocrisy of acting one way at home and another way at church. Her words stung deeply, revealing my cavalier attitude toward God. I didn’t fear him as I ought, nor did I honor him.

Those hard words, although painful, were like a meat tenderizer to my heart, softening and sensitizing it. The frank and pointed way she spoke to me throughout my childhood left me no room to hide in vague half-truths or nice-sounding platitudes or Christless good-girl behavior. She was God’s ambassador to me, and as such, she regularly created a fork in my road: follow Christ or go your own selfish way.

Rare Gift of Warning

The longer I live, the more I realize how rare it is to have a mother, or anyone at all, who earnestly warns those around them of the deadliness of sin.

Many women are simply terrified by the prospect of speaking hard words to someone they love, like their child or a close friend. They are terrified of the possibility that a relationship could be damaged or undone if the person won’t receive a biblical warning. It is easier to offer vague encouragements to grease the wheels of relational ease than to say something truthful that you know could offend.

“Good job, Mama” or “You did the best you could with what you knew” are just a couple among thousands of common encouragement-memes that get shared and reshared among women. They’re tailored to quell an anxious conscience, never mind whether they’re true or not. Yet we rarely hear similar speech when it comes to the warnings of Scripture, particularly warnings shared from women to women.

Off-Limits Sins

It seems many today — not just fellow women, but even pastors — have taken a hands-off approach when it comes to applying hard truths to the lives of women. Some of this may simply be because well-meaning teachers feel ill-equipped to understand precisely how they might faithfully apply some passages to women. Some of it may be because we know so many women who are in a self-professed hard time, so we worry that they might hear a hard biblical word and wince, taking it in a way it wasn’t intended.

Yet the Scriptures are full of fork-in-the-road sayings, some of them aimed directly at women. Sometimes I like to picture what might happen if we regularly heard these sorts of biblical imperatives without all the hemming and hawing and caveating and ducking:

Deny yourself and follow Christ (Mark 8:34).

Be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to your own husband so that God’s word isn’t reviled (Titus 2:5).

If you’re a younger widow, don’t be an idler or busybody, but seek to get married and serve the Lord (1 Timothy 5:11–14).

Stop worrying about how you look or being vain; instead, be gentle and quiet in your spirit (1 Peter 3:3–4).

Just as the church submits to Christ, you should submit to your husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24).

If you do not obey the Son, the wrath of God remains on you (John 3:36).

Do you know what I picture in churches where verses like these are stated clearly and unashamedly? Not a mass female exodus or a bunch of mad-crying women (although that’s a possibility) — I picture women receiving a precious gift and becoming strong in Christ.

Hard Words That Heal

Why speak hard words to women about their sin? Because if you believe women can be co-heirs, then you also believe they are fallen in Adam and in need of the salvation found in Christ. Their sin must be dealt with –– repentance, faith, and conformity to Christ are the only way.

If the Scriptures rebuke parents for not disciplining their children, calling it hatred, then what must our Lord think of those who refuse to address the damning sins of women with the hope of the gospel? How much do you have to hate women to ignore their culpability for their sins?

“Sometimes, in our good desire to minister to women, we can begin to treat them like hypersensitive car alarms.”

Sometimes, in our good desire to minister to women — to meet their needs, to build them up — we can begin to treat them like hypersensitive car alarms, tiptoeing around their sin, rather than loving them enough to help them obey, and to make them unflappable in him. The truth is, when you read an online “encouragement” that declares you’re doing a great job as a mom, it’s possible that it is true. But it also could be completely false. You may be doing a poor job, and that’s why you’re on the Internet looking for someone to tell you you’re doing great. Yet when we read the hard words of Scripture, they are always true — and they are always truly good for us. There is always an application. We always need to repent and believe. We always need to deny ourselves. We always need to obey God.

We love women with the truth. We speak truthful words that upset, that cause pain, that produce guilt, that pierce, but only because we know his healing and forgiveness and comfort is found no other way. I often think about the hard words my mother spoke to me — they were God’s appointed means to preserve me and keep me from making a shipwreck of my faith. How many daughters have wandered from the faith for want of such a mother?

Make Hard Words Normal

Another statement my mom was not afraid to say to me was, “You’re being too sensitive.” This is true for scores of women today — they are sensitive to their own feelings and reactions and therefore quick to take offense. And we need to hear, in truth and love, from other women when the gift of our sensitivity is becoming sin.

“Flat-out refuse to let yourself be offended by anything God says to you.”

Most of all, the way to desensitize an easily offended or disquieted spirit is by regular exposure to the unfiltered word of God. We can’t survive on a Bible diet of uplifting bits only. We must not let ourselves get skittish and squeamish around direct and discomforting truth. Try saying out loud the parts of the Bible you find most difficult. Put God’s own words in your mouth and start to get used to them. Say them in love to a friend. Make them normal.

Lastly, flat-out refuse to let yourself be offended by anything God says to you — whether his words are on the page of your Bible or rightly handled in the mouth of your husband or friend or pastor (2 Timothy 2:15). You may be wounded by God’s word, but his words are the faithful words of the truest friend you’ll ever have. And they are the only words whose wounds can make you whole.

Meal Times Are God Times: Cultivating Fellowship at the Table

“Eating out is my love language” — that’s what I’d tell my husband in the early years of our marriage. I was a newbie to the rhythms of making daily meals and found the responsibility a bit overwhelming and, at times, discouraging.

My common refrain was, “Food tastes better when someone else makes it.” My now-legendary-to-our-family cooking failures — such as the gorgeous-looking biscuits that my newlywed husband had to spit out of his mouth at the dinner table — kept me trepidatious about trying new recipes. Who knew that a surplus of baking soda could render otherwise delectable-looking biscuits totally inedible?

But my lack of cooking skills didn’t make the need for daily sustenance go away; it only increased as we added children to our family. With each child, we added a new tummy to fill, a new person to grow, and a new palate of peculiar tastes to train and satisfy. Preparing food wasn’t just a hobby I could take up if I felt like it; it was a necessity that I would either neglect and do poorly or be faithful in to bless others.

Much to my delight, practice really does make perfect — or at least in my case, greatly improved. After years of plodding along through boring menus, some fantastic new dishes, and occasional flops, I began to look forward to our evening suppers. The planning, prepping, cooking, table setting, and serving all became an extension of my love for the people God gave me.

As I ventured into new areas, my suppertime creativity wasn’t driven by self-expression — a means of showing my talent or hard work. It was driven by love-expression — a means of blessing and making our table joyful and memorable.

Serving Food That Endures

The food I prepare for our family never lasts. It is consumed, eaten, and sometimes discarded after sitting too long in the refrigerator. Jesus told his disciples of a “food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27).

I can’t get around the fact of daily food. We won’t survive without it. But Jesus tells us there is a food that is even more important than what I set on our dinner table. It is an enduring food, a food that lasts forever. What food is it? It is God’s Son. “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33).

“There is one ingredient to our family suppers that is truly essential. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is one ingredient to our family suppers that is truly essential. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is present at our table, a meager meal of the most basic, unadorned food, such as rice, or the most culturally despised food, such as McDonald’s, becomes an opportunity for thankfulness to God. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4–5).

We bring the Lord Jesus to our table by opening his word together, or simply discussing the events of the day in light of his word, or singing a psalm or hymn full of the truths of his word. Just as we eat physical food every day in order to survive, so we eat God’s word every day in order to survive. And just as our physical meals are meant to be eaten at a table in fellowship with others, so too our eating of God’s word is a family meal — the shared food of an eternal fellowship.

Edible Seals of Fellowship

There is something profound about sharing a table of physical food with others, because it represents a deeper fellowship. Paul even warns the Corinthians that they must not eat with a man who professes Christ while he persists in high-handed sin (1 Corinthians 5:11–13). Physically eating together as Christians is a signal of our spiritual fellowship with one another.

This means that every evening meal is an opportunity to welcome children (as well as neighbors, friends, and strangers) into the fellowship of Christ that exists between father and mother. It is an opportunity to offer physical food that nourishes and delights, as we daily hold out the eternal food of Christ that endures forever.

If this sounds like an all-too-picturesque goal, like a Christian version of a Norman Rockwell painting, let me disabuse us of that ideal. Family meals are full of real people. And real people spill, cry, bicker, and can be picky. But remember, practice makes perfect — or if not perfect, greatly improved. My cooking skills didn’t improve without lots of trial and error and years of work.

“God does not invite us to a potluck. We bring nothing but our hunger and need for him.”

Family meals don’t become joyous occasions of fellowship just because we all sit down at a beautiful table at 5:30 p.m. Fellowship is work. It takes practice and patience. It means keeping short accounts — repenting of petty sins, asking forgiveness, granting forgiveness, following up on a bad attitude, refusing to be lazy or neglectful as parents when our children need loving discipline. Partaking of physical food and the food of God’s word together around the table is plodding, repetitive, but eternally rewarding good work.

Preparing Meals Like God

I was right about one thing in those early years of learning how to make food. Food really does taste better when someone else makes it, at least when that person knows how to cook. That’s why children love their mom’s cooking. It’s why having food made by a talented chef at a restaurant is such a treat. And it’s why the food prepared for us by God — his only Son, the bread of life — is the best food of all.

The food God makes, he makes without our help. He does not invite us to a potluck. We bring nothing but our hunger and need for him. We come to his table full of faith and hope and eager expectation. He invites us to his table and offers us the fellowship of himself and his people. He is the Provider; he is the Maker of the food that lasts; he is the Nourisher of both body and soul forever. We have the privilege of being like him as we gather our families around tables to partake of the work of our hands and to share in the provision and fellowship of Christ.

Is Jael a Model Woman?

When God wove Deborah’s and Jael’s stories into his big story, he didn’t do it so that we would turn the whole thing into a call for female empowerment, intent on making it all about how awesome women are. He did it so that we would know what kind of God he is — he is a God whose mercy triumphs over, and even through, judgment. He is a God who keeps his promises to his people and provides everything we need to walk uprightly in the strangest of circumstances.

Many have noticed the trend in modern films: the warrior woman. From animated stories to superhero genres to crime mysteries, women are cast less frequently as the damsel in distress, and more often as the physically powerful rescuer come to save the day.
Rather than reflect the realistic differences between men’s and women’s physical strength, many of these movies portray impossible ideals. While our family is very picky about what movies we watch, we occasionally go ahead with one that indulges this sort of fantasy, and when we do, we talk through it together, asking questions and making sure we don’t check reality at the door.
It matters what kinds of figures we set before our sons’ and daughters’ eyes. Stories shape our understanding of what’s good, true, and beautiful. They shape our sense of what’s normal and what we ought to aspire to in life. Often the stories that put women in the role of the physically dominant hero do so to serve a particular feminist agenda that would have us understand men and women as interchangeable — or, even more so, it would have us believe women are superior to men, both mentally and physically.
Tent-Peg-Wielding Weaker Vessel
Stories from the Bible give us glimpses of women in real life — some godly, some not. There are women we should imitate, like Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and women we should not imitate, like Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.
The book of Judges tells the story of God’s people, Israel, during one of the more terrible times in their history. God’s people were doing what was right in their own eyes rather than remembering his faithfulness to them and obeying all he commanded them to do (Judges 17:6; 21:25). So he gave them judges, each of whom ushered in a brief time of turning back to God and subsequent rest. Of all the judges God gave to Israel, he gave one who was a woman — and she wasn’t only a judge, but also a prophetess. Her name was Deborah.
When God made a woman to rule over Israel as judge, it was likely a signal of his judgment on them. The prophet Isaiah describes the judgment upon Judah this way: “Infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12). And God doubles down on this theme by using another woman, Jael, to deal the fatal blow to Israel’s enemy. In God’s good design, men are rulers and fighters; they bear the responsibility of providing and protecting. A female judge and warrior, then, suggests that something has gone wrong in Israel.
But first, God commands Barak to gather ten thousand of his men at Mount Tabor, where God himself will draw out the troops of Sisera’s army and give them into Barak’s hand. Barak refuses to obey, instead insisting that he won’t go unless Deborah goes with him. Because of his disobedience, Deborah tells him, “The road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).
Read More
Related Posts:

Scroll to top