The night is darkest before the dawn. This is a universal metaphor for hope. The metaphor loses its meaning, however, if while waiting the people become enamored with the night, the light of the moon’s reflection lulling them with a sickly, pale sort of illumination, a shadow hiding the beauty present there rather than illumining its true glory in the light of the noonday sun. That is the problem with the night. While waiting for daylight, its illumination can deceive you.
A few decades before the 21st Century, the church in America found itself under the light of a new freedom. The women’s rights movement had swept through the nation, winning a voice and platform for women who’d been frustrated at windows of opportunity shuttered and abandoned for them. And while this illuminating sun was rising over America, shining its rays on every darkened corner of society, a pale, similar spiritual moon rose over the church. The shadow it cast was feminism. Under the guise of freedom, it imitated the mindset of the secular world and took legitimate wrongs in society and projected them on the church — the humanistic notion that anything a man can do a woman should do in God’s family. It reflected the exact image of secular feminism, twisting Christianity to its worldly conclusion. That there is no significant difference between man and woman. No difference in design in God’s family. Mere biology. Parts. No inherent beauty hidden within.
This pale moon shone over the church. The church became enamored with a seemingly enlightening pretense of self-fulfillment of one’s own passions or desires, regardless of their influences, amidst this growing spiritual darkness.
At that time, a woman rose up to awaken the church from her seduction by the world. She became the most respected female Christian voice of her day, and is respected still, though few today know what her message was. Penning Passion and Purity and Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot fought to snap the church out of this worldly obsession with following secular humanism and feminism in the church. She turned countless Christians — men and women alike — back to the humbling, transformative power and truth of the Word of God.
And though she shaped a generation of young women who sought to be godly, feminine women of faith, the church as a whole crept further from godly femininity toward society’s allure of feminism instead.
I am going to take a sharp turn and not argue the Word of God in this post. I am not going to argue for or against feminism in the church. I am going to let the most famous Christian voice of the 20th Century do that for me.
In stark contrast to the creeping influence of feminism, Elliot taught,
Femininity receives. It says, “May it be to me as you have said.” It takes what God gives — a special place, a special honor, a special function and glory, different from that of masculinity, meant to be a help. In other words, it is for us women to receive the given as Mary did, not to insist on the not-given, as Eve did.
With poignant biblical power, she wrote,
Sexuality is a mystery. There are two theaters in which this mystery is played out: the Christian home, and the local church. The casting of the characters in this play was done by God Himself. Men, he decided were to hold the position of authority. Women were to be subordinate. Men actually (hold onto your hat now) represent Christ — play His part in the two earthly theaters as they relate to women. What is true in the theater of the home is also true in the other theater, the local church. Christ is the true Head. Men represent His authority in the local body of believers. Women, in subjection to Christ, are subject to the representative authority — not because they’re not competent or worthy, but quite simply because they are enacting a drama. This order stands for something.
It stands for Christ and the Church.
Listen to the message of popular Christian women today:
Can a woman pastor a church today? …There are men — and entire denominations — that are very much against women holding key positions in church leadership… This makes me sad. Why should women be prevented from fulfilling their God ordained destiny by men who have an oversized ego and refuse to look at everything God has to say about women? -Joyce Meyer
Which is…what? What message does God have to say that’s different from the Bible? Is it possible that it’s not an understanding of time-tested biblical truth that has changed in the enlightened 20th and 21st Centuries, but we who have changed in reflection to the world?
Or as one widely popular female blogger states,
The Christian versions of the household codes (in the Bible) were clearly progressive for their time, but does that mean they have the last word, that Christians in changing places and times cannot progress further? -Rachel Held Evans
Should we really progress beyond the Bible? Does this progress look more like the world or more like the Word of God? Because the church today is trending toward the pattern of this world, and that is expressly what Jesus warned against. When the church follows the pattern of secular society, which we know is controlled by the evil one, can it possibly be biblical? Shouldn’t that concern us?
Francis Schaeffer said, “Tell me what the world is saying today, and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years.”
That is exactly what has happened with feminism and the church.
What we need now is women like Elisabeth Elliot who are willing to stand up for the Word of God against this influence of feminism in the church, because our seven years have long gone. And look at us now. Nearly every leading female voice advocates female pastors. Many Christian men have acquiesced. Elliot, the most respected voice of yesterday’s Christianity, forgotten. Biblical instructions rationalized or ignored. Few noticing how we are becoming like the world.
Woman of God, the church needs YOU now desperately, in a way you probably haven’t thought, perhaps now more than ever. Elisabeth Elliot of tomorrow, somewhere I know you are reading this. Will you stand up and wield the mighty sword of the Word of God in your hands, woman of God? You are equipped by God for such a time as this to bring a generation of young women, and perhaps a whole church, back to God.
I say — aware of the irony — will you lead her?
Will you lead the church and Christian women today to hear God and honor his Word above the temptations of the culture? To value the beauty of femininity, unique and awesome?
My wife, a pastor’s daughter her entire life, shares her valuable insights on this:
“I am a child of God. I am strong. I am powerful. I am destined to change the world. I can overcome anything through Christ. I am a leader. I am also a woman. I love being a woman! It saddens me how many women don’t really like being women. Instead, they would rather be men. Or act like them. This has confused me for a long time because both men and women’s natures TOGETHER reflect our God. We were both made in his image. It’s in being a woman of God I am truly free and able to fulfill my destiny. I read many books by Elisabeth Elliott and every time I breathe a sense of relief. Phew! I can be ME! I don’t have to be a man. And I really do NOT want to. Except pregnancy, then all I want is to be a man.”
“There are times in my life where I can see that I didn’t let the men around me be men. Sure, I could do some things better than them. That particular youth service may have gone better if I had led it. And there are other times where I see that I deferred and said, “No, you’ve got this. You can do it. I’m here to support you.” I look back on young men in my life who maybe didn’t give the best sermons to the youth or on mission’s trips, but God was training them and I didn’t want to get in the way of that. I was raised speaking in front of congregations. But I reached a point in my life, while in college, where I was tired of women saying that the men weren’t stepping up. I knew plenty wanted to, but they thought the women could do better. How could they step up if we kept the reigns in our hands? We can make excuses all we want, but we must look to what our nature is in God, who he created us to be. Isn’t that what you want? I know I do! Men are called to lead. They are called to shepherd. I am called to follow that lead. As Elisabeth Elliott would say, “LET ME BE A FREAKING WOMAN!!!”
Beloved female reader who loves God enough to obey him, who is willing to follow in the footsteps of heroes of the faith like Elliot and Sarah, Abigail and Ruth, I am writing to YOU.
The church needs YOU. The church needs a woman, or a whole army of women, bold enough to declare:
The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. ‘If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,’ Jesus said, ‘he will find his true self.’ A Christian woman’s true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate—humble obedience—but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested. -Elisabeth Elliot
Prominent women today simply tell women, “If God has called you to leadership, then you should lead. If he has called you into ministry, then you should minister.” (-Joyce Meyer, The Confident Woman, p.37-38)
Woman of God, we need you to reply, “Let me be a woman.” (-Elliot)
We need a voice to explain that the shadows of sameness we have had pulled over our eyes is one we can only avoid if we are distinctly aware of society’s influence, which is why God warns,
Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
The pattern of this world is exactly what the church has followed.
Perhaps what the church needs now more than ever, like Elisha in Bible days, is a woman who stands up with a double portion of the spirit of Elisabeth Elliot against the influence of feminism in Christianity.
A woman for such a time as this.
Surprisingly, we live in a church hurting for outspoken, feminine (not feminist) Christian leadership. Ironically lost in this pinnacle of the allure of feminism, are those who will stand up and teach how it is antithetical to godly femininity. To declare, as Elliot did, “Let me be a woman, holy through and through.”
Because shouldn’t womanhood matter? If women are supposed to be the same as men in the local church, what’s the point of being a woman, anyway?
Woman of God, is God calling you to stand up and speak his Word amidst a society that hates to hear it and an increasingly feminist church that doesn’t recognize how much it has lost? Will you take this calling?
I guarantee, no matter what a feminist society tells you, and no matter what you think you have to give, the church needs YOU.
Will you rise up and lead her?
The moon waxes high above, and yet the night grows darker still. Shadows stretch long and away in the distance as we strain to make out vague figures in this illusory darkness.
They say the night is darkest before the dawn.
Let’s hope in the case of a waiting church they’re right.