Sunday 20th of June 2021

Biblical Femininity, Discovering the Woman’s Demeanor and Domain

Elder Wesley



Let's pray. Today in our teaching series on masculinity, femininity, marriage, and family, we come to femininity. So lets get oriented. Let's briefly immerse ourselves in the explicit biblical teaching on femininity. I don't want you to turn to these passages, just listen attentively to them.

Genesis 2:18, 21-22

[18] Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him..." [21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. [22] And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

1 Corinthians 11:3

[3] But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:7-10

[7] For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. [8] For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. [9] Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. [10] That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

[34] the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. [35] If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Ephesians 5:22-24

[22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Colossians 3:18

[18] Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:11-14

[11] Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. [12] I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. [13] For Adam was formed first, then Eve; [14] and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Titus 2:3-5

[3] Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1 Peter 3:1-6

[1] Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, [2] when they see your respectful and pure conduct. [3] Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—[4] but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. [5] For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, [6] as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

These are the texts in Scripture that most explicitly teach us about femininity. They characterize the ideal feminine posture as helpful, submissive, respectful, quiet, gentle, modest, and domestic. And as you'll have noticed in those passages, this is both a general posture for women to exude at all times and in all situations, and a specific posture for women to exude in relationship to the authority-wielding men in their households, ie. fathers and husbands. That is, these are characteristics that should mark every Christian woman in her general manner of being, but they are also specifically commanded in relationship to the men whom God has given as heads over them.

So having established that, let me begin with candor. Modern women are, by in large, unhelpful to their fathers and husbands, rebellious toward their fathers and husbands, unsubmissive to their fathers and husbands, disrespectful to their fathers and husbands, and have abandonded the household to which they are expressly called by God. And I'm willing to bet that many of you have never heard a pastor say that before. Let me try to explain why many of you have never heard a pastor say that before.

There has been a resurgence of teaching about masculinity in what might be called Reformed Evangelical circles in the last 15 years or so. In truth, it's become somewhat trendy to talk about masculinity. The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, Mark Driscoll's ministry, Matt Chandler's writing and speaking, all represent a wave that was cresting, and I'd argue, has now crashed into American evangelicalism, and that wave was an attempt to recapture biblical masculinity.

In part, this wave began in response to the sociological data from 20 years ago which showed that women attended church without their husbands. Due to the feminization of Christ that Luke helpfully explained to us, which emphasizes Jesus' meekness and gentleness to the exclusion of His toughness and penchant for controversy, men found little in the modernized American Christ that drew them to Him. Long flowing locks, soft hands, and gentle eyes are what we're looking for in our women, not from our King. So men dropped out.

Then pastors like Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler began to recapture masculinity. They yelled in sermons. They were aggressive in treating the sins of men. They called out pornography and men's exploitation of women, and they cast a vision for men as protectors and providers, and their churches and ministries began to boo. And what's more, they were teeming with men. Young men. The lost demographic had returned to the church. It turns out that men want to be led by men and prefer a Jesus who knows how to handle Himself in a fight.

But there was and is a severe deficiency in the teaching ministries of these men and the organizations they founded, as well as those that sprang up with similar missions, at similar times. They recovered the teaching of the Bible that could be tolerated by modern people, but continued to underemphasize or ignore those bits which would lead them to being treated as pariah. You see, our societal sensibilities are not offended so long you're scolding men. In many ways, to scold men is simply to join the chorus already being sung by our secular culture. No one will rake you over the coals, call you a religious extremist, or treat you like a pariah for pointing out the ways that men are failing.

Even the men won't mind- That's why the guys who started doing it ended up becoming wildly popular! Men are fueled by challenge, and our currency is respect. So when some man stands up behind the pulpit and walks into controversy, unflinchingly challenging men and calling them to be more than they currently are, men generally respond to that pretty favorably. Yes, sadly, there is a contingent of man bun, soy boy, beta males who'll be offended by the generalizations that one might make regarding masculinity, but in general, the masculine heart springs to life when the challenge is on and the opportunity to earn respect is present.

All that to say, it's acceptable to call out men and remain a part of polite society. But you know who's untouchable? You know what's become sacrosanct in our society, and even in our church subculture? Women. Particularly, the sins of women. There is no shortage of sermons to be found about the sin and failure of men. Pornography, lust, workaholism, passivity in the home, authoritarianism or despotic leadership, all thoroughly treated- a google search away.

And look, I'm grateful for that, we need to cover all of that ground. We need to be acquainted with the ways that masculinity can go wrong. But I'd argue that we've paid inordinate attention to masculinity, to the neglect of femininity. We've identified the ditches on either side of the road that is masculinity. One is passivity. The other is tyranny. Many modern men, as Luke helped us see, will not use their strength to lead because they've been told that it is more admirable to stand aside and let women lead. Other men are all too eager to use their strength, and they use it tyrannically, compelling those under their authority to comply with and conform to their preferences, not necessarily the Word of God. Passivity, tyranny, biblical masculinity.

But if I were to ask you, "how does femininity go wrong?" Could you answer? Have we been as diligent in our identification of female sin as we have been in our identification of male sin? I don't believe we have. I believe that in recovering the Bible's teaching that men are to protect women, that we have taken it too far, and husbands and pastors now seek to protect women even from conviction and repentance, because of the emotional distress that attends them. In order to do this we've had to conflate male headship with male guilt. I'll give you an illustration of this from a book that a pastor friend of mine gave me several years ago. The book is about Christian marriage.

"Your wife isn't the problem. You're the problem. I'm the problem. Men are the problem. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. If you want to change your marriage, you must first see that you are the main problem in your marriage."

He goes on:

"You are the husband. You are the man. And God has given the man the ability to be the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to a marriage. Before you can be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage, you need to see that you have always been the worst thing that happened to your marriage."

You see church, as far as modern evangelicalism is concerned, women don't sin. At least not in uniquely feminine ways. In our society, even when a woman murders her own child we manage to treat her like a victim, which is why even pro-life bill proposals don't want to bring penalties down on the mother, just the abortionist. Women don't sin... they just find themselves in tough situations. Femininity doesn't have any toxic tendencies like masculinity does, right? Wrong.

The book that my friend gave me conflates male responsibility with male guilt. While it is true that a man is responsible for the state of his home, it is not necessarily true that he is to blame for it. Responsibility and guilt are different. It was our guilt, but our Head, the Lord Jesus, took responsibility. But in order to make the Bible's headship doctrine palatable to modern people we had to contort the doctrine in such a way as to leave women, our protected class, untouched. So, it's the man's fault, period. Since the man is the head, the man is to blame. Now we can preach male headship in 2021 without people throwing things at us, because our culture already hates men and is already blaming them for everything- so that's how we'll teach male headship.

Unsubmissive wife? Well if he was leading well she'd have no problem submitting. That's his problem. Sexless marriage? Well if he served her better, I'm sure she'd serve him. That's his problem. Nit picking nag? Well if he wasn't an incompetent, absent minded dope, she wouldn't have to order him around all the time. That's his problem.

Husbands and pastors do not address the sins of women straightforwardly because we've drunk in our culture's aphorisms. You know them, "happy wife, happy life." "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." So, in a desperate attempt to keep mama happy, we won't look mama in the eye and say,

"Repent." "Submit to your husband." "Be quiet."

But here, because we obey God and we love His daughters and we know that sin destroys, we will. So, we'll begin in the beginning. Let's go to Genesis chapter 2.

The Foundation Text:

Genesis 2:18

[18] Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."*


[21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. [22] And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. [23] Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." [24] Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18 gives us the purpose statement for the woman. Why was she made? What is she called to accomplish? What is her assignment from God? She is man's helper. And notice that the very first malediction, or negative word, in the Bible is reserved for the absence of femininity. You know the rhythm of Genesis- God creates and says, "it is good." He creates again and says, "it is good." He creates again and says, "it is good." By the end of chapter one and verse 31, it is, "very good." Then the, "it is good," rhythm comes to a halt in 2:18 with the very first, "it is not good." What's not good? That man should be alone. God designed woman to be a helper for man.

The woman, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:7-10, was created for the man, to serve as his helper, and to be his glory. "Woman is the glory of man." He builds and guards. She makes what he is building and guarding beautiful. You know this if you've seen a single mans apartment before he got married, and then after his wife moved in. She's his glory. Men, let that serve as a subtle rebuke for the times that you roll your eyes when your wife asks you to spend money on the aesthetics of your home. She was made by God to make it glorious, to fill it with warmth, and life, don't stifle her in this.

So, the very first thing that the Bible teaches us about femininity, indeed about females, is that they are helpers and "accenters;" they are not the builders and leaders. In fact, as we'll see, they need to be built up and led by competent, godly men. All of the other biblical passages about femininity and a woman's calling, are out-workings and entailments of the purpose statement found in Genesis 2:18. If the woman is to be a helper for man, what should her disposition be, where is she most helpful to him, and what kinds of things should she be doing and not doing in order to be a helper?

I pray that that is the fundamental question of every woman in the room after considering Genesis 2:18. "God made me to be a helper, so, what do I need to be like, and what do I need to do, in order to be that helper?" The New Testament texts that we'll consider next answer the question. And just so that I've stated it, we must let the Bible answer this question.

A women doesn't get to use the Bible to discover that she is to be a helper and then put the Bible down and decided on her own how to be helpful. Neither can the man use the Bible to discover that he is called to lead and then put the Bible down and decided on his own how to lead. God gives the design and then He gives specific commands to the man and to the women that tell them how to carry out that design in the course of our relationships.

In other words, a woman is not permitted to disrespect her husband and then cite Genesis 2:18 as the justification for it. "Truthfully, I think that my sassy tone was the most helpful thing for him in that moment." "I'm not being unsubmissive when I tell him all of the reasons why his decision is stupid, will never work, and that I won't go along with it, I'm just helping him see that he should submit to me on this one...." Obeying what God has commanded the woman to do is what will make her the helper that God created her to be. She doesn't get to define helpfulness on her own any more than the man gets to define headship on his own. We are under the authority of the Word of God.

The Explanatory Texts:

So, what has God commanded the woman to ensure her helpfulness and to shepherd her into the fulfillment of the purpose that he outlined for her in Genesis 2:18? We'll consider two points for the remained of today's message: the feminine demeanor and the feminine domain. What commands does God have for a woman's demeanor, and what is her assigned domain? And remember, these commands are what define female helpfulness. To fail in adherence to these commands, is to fail to fulfill your purpose as a woman, however "successful" you may otherwise be. So, first the feminine demeanor. Two texts for this, 1 Timothy 2:11-14 then 1 Peter 3:1-6.

1 Timothy 2:11-14

[11] Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. [12] I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. [13] For Adam was formed first, then Eve; [14] and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

First, note that this is not a command that is specific to women with a certain relationship status. Paul's allusion to Adam and Eve here is not an allusion that is centered on their martial status, but simply on their status as male and female. He is arguing, and this will be offensive, that there is something inherent in femininity that makes women more susceptible to being deceived. That's why Satan attacked the woman, not the man. It is easier to take advantage of a woman than it is to take advantage of a man. She is the weaker sex. This is a feature of femininity, not a flaw, and that is why she is placed under the authority and care of a father until such a time as she is placed under the authority and care of a husband.

Because of this inherent aspect of femininity, Paul calls women to have the disposition of a learner, being postured submissively, rather than assertively. He is calling women to posture themselves in a way that is consistent with their nature as the weaker sex, which, again, is a feature, not a flaw. Feminist brainwashing has caused generations of Westerners to hear the word "weaker" as an insult when it's applied to women. This is, of course, dimwitted and illogical, because calling something weak is only insulting if the thing you're calling weak isn't supposed to be weak. Telling my kids to be careful when the place their dishes in the sink isn't an insult to the dishes- they're fragile by design. Telling Harper and Chambley to be careful while playing around our seven week old son, is not insulting to babies, they are fragile by design.

In God's good world He has included strong utilitarian elements, and He has included delicate beautiful elements. Both reflect His image and serve His ends. So, the feminine demeanor is to be consistent with the feminine nature. She is by nature, the more delicate and fair sex, which is why she is the helper, under authority rather than the leader who wields it. Her demeanor should depict the reality of her nature. We'll learn more about that in 1 Peter 3:3-6.

1 Peter 3:3-6

[3] Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—[4] but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

Again, the demeanor should reflect the nature. God made woman as the helper, not as the leader. That's why God, through Peter, commands women not to be loud, ostentatious, assertive, drawing attention to themselves, but instead to be gentle, quiet, and modest. That demeanor is consistent with the feminine nature and purpose to which God has called women.

Our culture, of course, values the exact opposite in women and is constantly goading them to be precisely what God says they aren't. We've bent over backwards in our media and marketing to present femininity as exactly what it isn't. I saw a video last week of a young man on a college campus asking students what they thought of when they thought of a woman. The students replied with adjectives like, "fierce," "strong," and "dominant." But, pray tell, if women can be accurately generalized as fierce, strong, and dominant why is it almost all men who are in prison for violent and white collar crimes? Why is it men who perform the most dangerous and laborious jobs in every successful society? Why is it that I know where the battered women's shelter is in Winston-Salem, but I couldn't find the battered men's shelter? It's because the sex that is actually fierce, strong, and dominant doesn't need a shelter, he is the one who is supposed to build it for the weaker sex.

We used to know these things. But that was before God gave us over to a debased mind. Now we call evil good and good evil. We call weakness strength, and strength weakness. Everything's backwards and upside down. The feminine nature is designed by God with a beautiful delicacy that should inform her demeanor. The Christian woman ought not be known for her assertiveness, for her loudness, for her brazenness. Rather she should be marked by gentleness, quietness (the Greek word there means tranquil or peaceful), and modesty, that is, not drawing undue attention to herself.

Now at this point someone has an objection in mind. I call it the personality objection. But before I deal with that objection, I want you to know that in my experience, I generally run into objections to this teaching from men, not women. In fact, women are often happy to throw off the yoke of modern feminist foolishness because it's difficult trying to be what you're not. Women make bad men. I've interacted with women who presented themselves in masculine ways, so from time to time, I'd interact with them in the way that their demeanor suggested I should, and every time...not one time, every time, someone who wasn't me ended up in tears. Women are burdened when they are called on to be fierce, strong, and dominant. And most of them, upon hearing the Bible's real teaching on this, come to delight in God's design pretty quickly, but it takes men longer.

That's perplexing to us, but it shouldn't be. We've been sold a false bill of goods that says men are generally power hunger, egotists who revel in exercising authority and love all of the Bible verses that call them the head of the household. Those men exist, but they aren't pervasive. Most men are Adam in Genesis 3, passing the buck to their wives. Most men are all too happy to put the leadership in the hands of the wife because it frees him up to watch more television. Men, not women are resistant to this teaching because men reap all of the carnal benefits of women acting like men because now they get to share the burden that God intended them to carry for their wives, with their wives. Egalitarianism has given men access to sex without commitment, double the money, because there is no pressure for him to be the sole provider, and a tremendous amount more free time because no one is looking to him troubleshoot the problems in his household. Egalitarianism works great for passive men who don't want to take responsibility, so they're really slow to come around to the clear teaching of God's Word.

Now for the objection: "You're saying that the feminine nature- helper, weaker vessel, fairer sex, should determine the feminine demeanor- gentle, quiet, modest. I understand the point, but not all women have gentle, quiet, modest dispositions and personalities. Women have different personality types and your scheme here doesn't seem to account for or make room for those women who have big personalities, are outgoing, or are more naturally assertive due to their type-A cognitive categorization."

Here's the answer: Your personality idiosyncrasies don't trump God's commands. This objection demonstrates our allergy to dealing with feminine sins, because we would never argue like this against any other biblical command. Some people have a natural tendency toward anger, but none of us would accept it if someone in our congregation ignored the biblical command not to sin in our anger or not to let the sun set on our anger because someone objected by saying, "but I really am naturally inclined toward anger..." We'd say, "that will make your obedience to that text more difficult than someone else's, but it doesn't dissolve your responsibility to obey."

In the same way, a woman may have a personality type that isn't marked by gentleness, quietness, or modesty, but her personality type isn't authoritative, the text is. The texts that we've considered don't tell a woman how to feel on the inside, they tell her how God commands her to behave and present herself on the outside, regardless of her feelings. Again, conservative Christians apply this truth just fine to other issues. Take sodomy. When the homosexual tells us that he really does have a strong, innate attraction to the same sex, none of us says, "well gosh, if you're wired that way there's no way it could be wrong." We say, "thus says the word of the God. You obey externally, and ask the Spirit to change you internally, but you don't wait until you feel it to obey it." When a woman takes issue with God's commands for feminine demeanor, the problem is with her, not the commands. Now we come to the feminine domain.

Titus 2:3-5

[3] Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Older women should be coming alongside younger women in the church and teaching them what is good. And, older women, in God's kindness, He has not left you to figure out on your own what the good you're to be teaching is. "Train the young women to love their husbands and children..." Christian women should be about the household and the people in it. This isn't to the exclusion of other interests, but it is to say, that it should be obvious that a Christian woman is delighted to serve and be identified as wife and mother. She's into it, she talks about it, she revels in it, she loves it. But you have to train that. Especially in America in 2021. We've trained two to three generations of women to love their jobs and extra-domestic accomplishments, rather than their husbands and children.

Women have swallowed the feminist lie that their greatest potential is reached outside the home and therefore, a spouse and children may stifle the female ascent to societal significance. But let me ask you, is there anything more important on God's earth than people who are fashioned in His image? No. So is there a higher calling than that of producing, caring for, and shaping human beings made in God's image? I don't care what your industry is, mechanic, doctor, lawyer, real estate, whatever. Your industry, whatever it is that you produce, is dramatically less important than the industry to which the woman is called, because your industry only exists to support and supplement hers.

The family produces and shapes people. It doesn't get any more important than that! But Satan has told women that there is something more meaningful that they should be doing with their time than producing and caring for the most important thing on the planet. How blind and foolish we are. Older women, train our younger women to embrace and love and delight in your high feminine calling.

Verse 5 continues, train them " be self-controlled, pure, working at home..." again this household orientation emphasis for the woman is struck. And note that this is what older women are supposed to teach younger women... it's general. The assumption is that women marry and have children because as we've stated, God's creational pattern is marriage and family, so in general, the family and the church are preparing women for and calling them to the roles of wife and mother.

So women in the church are supposed to be training younger women to be workers at home. This verse shocks modern people because they believe the lie that we just deconstructed. But I do want to put a point on this. Everyone knows that moms are workers at home, so it's easy for the "working mom" to soothe her conscience when she comes to this text because by nature even in families with two parents working outside the home, everyone knows, the mom still does more of the domestic work.

But this text isn't saying that a woman should make sure that when she finishes her 9-5 and picks up the kids from school or daycare that she should then be dialed into the home. No, it is saying that her assigned domain and highest priority is her home and the people in it, that is her work, as assigned by God Himself. Any pursuit a woman engages in that compromises that priority or stifles her work in and for her home is an unlawful pursuit.

I'll tell you something that's been disheartening to me is the conservative Christian praise for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Here's why I bemoan the praise of the Christian community for Justice Barrett, because she had to disobey God to get there. The media made much of the fact that Amy Coney Barrett has 7 children. Do you think that she ascended to the highest court in the land because of her diligent attention to and care for those 7 children and her husband? I don't.

The Bible's teaching on this point is not unclear, it is simply unpopular, so most pastors will not stand before their congregations and say, the lions share of Christian women are in sin in both of the categories we've discussed today. Most of our women do not work diligently to present themselves with the feminine demeanor that befits their nature and calling, and most of our women do not functionally make their household their primary and highest pursuit. And I used that word, "functionally," because I don't want us to be confused by a woman's obvious emotional commitment to her husband, children, and home. It isn't enough that you think about them a lot while you're at work, God has assigned them to you as your work.

There are caveats that I could have made in this message, nuances that I could have teased out, exceptions that I could speak to, questions I could have addressed that are no doubt leaping to your minds, but I'm going to let them sit because I want you to wrestle with the Word of God. I don't want to say something eloquent, sophisticated, and nuanced that provides husbands and wives the perfect opportunity to give themselves a pass on these passages.


You've heard the Word of the God read, explained, and illustrated. The question that remains, is this: will we obey it, or will we make excuses for why we aren't. I pray and I trust that now that we have heard, we will trust and obey our King, lest we fall more severely under His judgment than we already are. May it not be so.