What is a Woman?

A letter to women….

There are thousands if not tens of thousands of different cultures in the world today.  Shaping those cultures are ideas and belief systems. Many of the belief systems revolve around a religion or a world view–the lens through which we view the world.  If I make culture my starting point in defining a woman I am going to come away with multiple answers as to her worth and value.  Each culture will define her differently and some will not even give her honorable mention. So what is a woman?  Is she human?  Is she valuable?  Is she competent? Is she necessary? Is she a product of ideas and ideals thrust upon her by her culture?

I began studying this subject after picking up a book called “Nurturing the Nations” by Darrow Miller.  The book was written to bring attention to the war on women, girls, and femininity around the world.  The book expressed the various crimes against women that are allowed, propagated, and encouraged in the cultures where they live. This war is not recognized or understood, however,  if the meaning of the word “woman” is not defined and understood, and therein lies the problem that generates and perpetuates the loss of womanhood.

Speaking only from the lens of my culture, I can tell you that the term “woman” is quite often just a tag applied to those who want to wear it.  My culture has done its best to remove biology, physiology, from reality and began a de-sexualizing of culture through the scalpel of language.  Sex distinctions between male and female are now labeled “gender” which is a rather loose term applied to anyone who has surgery to change their sexual anatomy.  We are trying so hard to become gender neutral without realizing what that will cost us.

Gender neutrality is rooted in a philosophy called “androgyny” which allows gender to be constructed or deconstructed by the culture it lives in.  It is affected by fad, fantasy, and celebrity stunts.  Androgyny denies any inherent meaning or significance to physical bodies or sexuality, therefore eliminating the biological differences and role distinctions between the sexes.  In a sense, each individual is a sexual blank slate to be written on with any pen or carved with any scalpel.  Androgyny teaches a “sameness” in the sexes by blurring or removing any lines of distinction

My culture will celebrate “International Women’s Day”.  We celebrate the right to vote, the right to have jobs in the market place with equal pay.  We have equal rights, and a voice that is heard in our government.  Simultaneously, however, my “Feminist” culture will tell women  that only masculine characteristics are valued.  A woman who bears children, nurses them, or stays home to care for them is seen as a woman who has not yet realized her intellectual potential.  She is pitied as one who needs to assert herself and “take her place” in society.  Children are seen as baggage that slow down her progress, and even marriage and commitment are viewed as attachments that will inevitably bring her demise.  In doing this, gender neutrality, as perpetrated by my culture, kills womanhood by strangling some of her greatest strengths and influence in an effort to look strong.

The Bible says that in the beginning God created mankind both male and female.  When He was done, He said that what He had accomplished was good.  He made them equal in being, and value, but distinctly different in form, strengths, and roles.  He gave both man and woman the mandate to subdue the earth.  It was a team effort that would not succeed without both sexes working together.  (Genesis 1:26-31) If the man could have done it alone, God would not have needed Eve.  Eve was created to be the counterpart for the man.  She was fully equipped as a woman to be fully human, and fully alive possessing strengths that Adam would need.  God said that all of this was good.  Male and female working together in varying roles now reflected fully the Glory of God.  Through the sexes of man and woman, the world would see God’s provision, strength, nurturing, patience, mercy, ambition, creativity, power, love and justice.

As we reflect on women of influence today, this “International Women’s Day”, remember that who you are is by design.  You have great influence.  The Master Craftsman thought out every part of your being and created you in His image to be the sex that you are to reflect His glory.  To sacrifice your gender or any part of your inherent characteristics would be a devastating loss to humanity and a diminishing of God’s glory reflected here on earth.  You are necessary, you are valuable, you are designed on purpose to reflect the Glory and image of God to a hurt and broken world.  You have a purpose to fulfill and a world to change and God will give you the courage to meet that challenge using all of your femininity empowered by His Spirit whether it be in the marketplace or in your homes and communities.

Today, I celebrate you!

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