Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle And Quiet Spirit

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on November 7, 2008 at 8:46 pm

This interview originally appeared at Jeremy Walker’s blog, The Wanderer.

Can you give us a précis of your new book on Womanly Dominion, and briefly explain your purpose in writing it?

The false stereotype of a Christian woman being a helpless and frail mouse, who passively shades herself under the parasol of her soft femininity, and adoringly waits for her husband to do all the heavy lifting, is shattered by the Scriptures.  I fear that some Christian ministries and literature, seeking to counter feminism, have drawn such a sub-biblical picture of Christian womanhood.

Yes, the godly Christian woman wears beautiful ornaments that are “precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4b).  But her jewelry is not only the necklace of “a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4a), but also the bracelets of “strength and dignity” (Proverbs 31:17, 25).

Women, just like men, are called to the grand and challenging mission of subduing and ruling in their God-assigned spheres of life – in personal godliness, in emotional resilience, in marital life, in motherhood, in the church, in the public square.  That’s what we explore in Womanly Dominion.

I like Russell Moore’s summarizing endorsement blurb on the back of the book jacket: “We do not need a generation of evangelical Stepford Wives (weak-minded women who robotically smile and sweetly whisper “yes, dear” to their husbands’ every wish), nor do we need a generation of Proverbs 31 Ann Coulters (brilliant but sharp-tongued women who stridently bark out a conservative world view).  Instead, the Scripture calls us to promote Christ-honoring heroic women with a gentle and quiet spirit that is beautiful in the sight of the Lord.”

I see contemporary feminism, with its high octane propaganda, luring our girls and women away from their God-assigned posts and priorities.  The Scriptures summon them to a rival life full of rich challenge, adventure, and fulfilment.  I’ve sought to inspire women with the greatness of their mission.

One could argue that there has been a recent glut of books in the Christian market to do with masculinity, femininity, and family.  What makes another one necessary, and what is distinctive about your book on Womanly Dominion?

Just last night, I took my bride out for her fiftieth birthday.  We struck up a discussion with our 20 year old unchurched waitress.  She spontaneously bubbled over concerns regarding her role in life as a woman, and her boyfriend’s disappointing incompetence as a man.  She said that all the traditional roles have been scrapped, and that she’s so confused in our “make it up as you go” culture.  I believe that my earlier book, Manly Dominion, and now Womanly Dominion, have their fingers on the sickly pulse of our needy culture.

I mentioned above my concern about commonly distributed sub-biblical pictures of womanhood.  I’ve sought to take into consideration important gender themes from the whole counsel of God.

The book is a call for women to assertively subdue and rule in their lives according to the Genesis 1:28 mandate.  But today’s environment is cunningly hostile.  Godly women must accomplish their mission in a feminism-soaked society that is daily seducing them to leave their crucial womanly posts, take up manly roles, and conform to a godless egalitarian culture.  Their challenging assignment calls them to wed initiative-taking dominion with humble-spirited submission.

The book confronts head on the God-defying philosophy of the politically-correct establishment, while avoiding the tunnel-vision narrowness of some unbiblically ‘hyper-submissive,’ ‘home school only,’ ‘no higher education for women’ type writers.  It presents a theologically serious, refreshingly realistic, biblically based portrait of the strong, competent, spiritually-minded woman of God.

It’s penned in a popular style in order to “win over” women who are presently thinking according to worldly patterns, to “stir up” women who are half-heartedly plodding without inspiration, and to “cheer on” women who are laboring hard at their posts.

Most books on womanhood are written by women.  This one is written by a man who is a pastor who has given his life to studying the Scriptures.  I think women will find the treatment from the perspective of a man, husband, and father to be refreshing and edifying.

In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Reformed Baptist teaching and practice with regard to the role of women?  How are you seeking to address these in your book?

I don’t know that I’m qualified to critique ‘Reformed Baptist’ teaching and practice.  But I have heard many of my pastor colleagues expressing how ‘outsiders’ caricature the women of their churches based on partial testimonies and antagonistic biases.

People have said, “Oh, the women of that church are not allowed to teach or preach or lead publicly.  They must be a weak-minded, passive-temperamented, male-dominated, bare-footed, and unsophisticated band of pathetic females.”

This makes me laugh – especially in the case of my own congregation!  Our church is teeming with women of the highest calibre who rise to the top as cream in our community.  They are impressive in their appearance, style, demeanour, and conversation.  Their strong personalities are recognized and sought after for their leadership skills and moral convictions.  Our men are disproportionately, so strikingly, strong pillars in our community, and it’s by experience that I’ve drawn the axiom: “Behind every mighty man of God, there’s typically an even mightier woman of God as his helpmeet.”

I would love to put Womanly Dominion into the hands of any feminism-brainwashed criticizers of the bible’s view of womanhood.  I think generally its content will instinctively resonate with readers, leading them to be impressed with the Scriptures’ elite calling for gifted females.

What do you think are the greatest challenges to godly femininity in our day and culture?

1. The lack of true manhood. Where are the men to husband these promising young Christian women?  Where are the fathers to raise up a generation of daughters who must stand against a hurricane of polluted propaganda?  Where are the pastors who are willing to stand firm against the tide of feminism?

2. The lack of biblical motherhood. Where are the women who will model Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5 home-making, child-nurturing, husband-focused, kingdom-inspired godliness to our daughters?  The lack of fully committed, stay-at-home mothers is very troubling.

3. The plague of sexual impurity. Young women are being culturally seduced into becoming erotically immodest in their wardrobe, aggressively forward in their flirting, and sexually promiscuous in their relationships.  They’re made to feel that such patterns are necessary to achieve social popularity and relevance.

4. The lack of biblical teaching. There is a famine for hearing the words of the Lord on the theme of God honouring womanhood.  Regarding this theme, Christ’s sheep are by and large grazing on feminized sawdust instead of biblical alfalfa.

5. The trend toward marrying later. In the US, many forces are pushing back wedding dates toward the age of 30.

Can you briefly describe the extremes of error to which a Christian woman might go in seeking to cultivate godly femininity (I am thinking, for example, of sinful domineering or sinful effacement)?  How does a woman of God walk a Biblically balanced path?

Let me here provide an excerpt from the book.  I’m here writing about Abigail’s bold yet tactful confrontation of David in 1 Samuel 25 regarding her endangered family:

I’ve heard some argue that Abigail was in the wrong here – that she should have kept on knitting with a gentle and quiet spirit, that she had no business to act so decisively without first submissively consulting with her husband Nabal.  I strongly disagree.  There are times when it’s a subordinate’s duty to act contrary to an authority’s wishes.  Should a woman submit to an abortion simply because her evil husband requests it?  When a woman’s inaction will result in the breaking of God’s Law and Word, she must move.

Matthew Henry hits the mark:

We have here an account of Abigail’s prudent management for the preservation of her husband and family from the destruction that was just coming upon them; . . .  Abigail not only lawfully, but laudably, disposed of all these goods of her husband’s without his knowledge (even when she had reason to think that if he had known what she did he would not have consented to it), because it was not to gratify her own pride or vanity, but for the necessary defense of him and his family, which otherwise would have been inevitably ruined.

Such a praiseworthy interpretation of Abigail’s actions is vindicated by David’s commendation of this magnificent lady of dominion. “Then David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed, and from avenging myself by my own hand'” (1 Samuel 25:32-33, emphasis added).

There’s a time for a woman to resignedly sit back and wait for the Lord to change her husband’s mind.  And there’s a time for a woman to assertively rise up and take matters into her own hands.  Abigail knew how to tell time.

Joe proudly parks his brand new four-wheel drive muscle truck in the driveway and excitedly asks his wife to come out and take a look.  “I know we talked about our buying a less expensive older model, but having spent most of the day in the showroom with the salesmen, I’m convinced that new is the way to go.”

Though the truck is a sleek and handsome black, Rachel sees red, especially when she reads the sticker price taped to the window – nearly $14,000 more than Joe planned to spend.  Rachel pays the bills and knows that this “mortgage payment” on the truck will send the whole family into a financial tailspin.  It’s not time for Rachel to smile and affirm her husband’s folly by gently and quietly returning to prepare dinner.  It’s time for her to discuss with her man the implications of this impulsive purchase and to suggest that he seriously consider returning the vehicle within the “24-hour no-questions-asked return policy.”

Abigails know how to tell time.

Abigail also knew how to remain sweet.  A besetting sin of many women is sharp-tongued argumentativeness.  “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9; see also 21:19; 25:24).  This was not Abigail’s style.  She was not arrogant and shrill, but assumed a humble posture and enlisted soft, self-effacing words: “Abigail . . . hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David, and bowed herself to the ground.  She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the blame.'” She even called herself David’s “maidservant” (1 Samuel 25:23-24).  Abigail wonderfully combined bold assertiveness with humble sweetness.  Such a woman of dominion “wins” the hearts of men, as in the end, David actually proposed to the freshly widowed Abigail (25:39).

Should men – especially husbands – bother reading your book?  If so, why?

Absolutely!  If they’re not yet married, it’s a blueprint for what they should be looking for in a wife.  If they’re married, it will help them shepherd their wives toward the high country of biblical womanhood.  Men too have been subjected to false stereotypes regarding how their wives should act.  Men need to know and encourage the priorities of a God-honoring woman.

I’d also recommend that the men read the prequel, Manly Dominion.  There I call a male to strive to become a Man of Dominion worthy of a wife who is a Woman of Dominion.  We must get our own lives together if we’re to responsibly lead.

How important are role models and mentors to the development of godly femininity?  What would be your advice to older and younger women in cultivating these relationships and the maturity and humility required to profit from them?

Let me provide another excerpt.  I’m here writing about a woman’s responsibility to be about the business of Titus 2 (older women teaching younger women):

Avenues of such ministry in the church are uncountable.  Mrs. Schmidt may occasionally open up her home for book studies that last for six weeks in a row.  Emma may invite a group of young women to her home once a month for a gourmet lunch during which she instructively prepares the meal before their eyes, then at the table discusses a relevant angle on husband loving.  Julie may volunteer to come over and help clean the home of an overwhelmed mother of many, creating a day full of teachable moments and insights.  After the services, Mrs. Stewart may roam about the sanctuary, discreetly holding informal “counseling sessions” with her grateful yet unofficial flock of younger “clients.”

And a mature woman of dominion will not merely keep things shallow and surfacey.  Sure, she’ll be winsome and sweet.  But she’ll also be edifying and helpful.  Martha Peace writes in Becoming a Titus 2 Woman:

Often I will ask a younger woman, “What sins or what character weaknesses do you think God wants you to work on?”  They might reply something like, “pride, anger, fear, gossip, or selfishness.”  Once I asked a woman what she thought her sins were.  She could not think of any, so I asked her this, “If I could ask your husband what he would like for you to change, what would he say?”  Quickly, she gave me a list.

Younger women, there’s an important message for you here, too.  If you are a godly woman, wise older women should not need to exert great efforts to hunt you down.  You should be hungrily and eagerly seeking them out for their wisdom.  It is a sad evidence of worldly-minded hearts, when younger women disinterestedly rebuff the overtures of older women by detouring opportunities for mentoring relationships, in favor of easygoing shallow chats with the girls.

Are there any other particular books that you would recommend to Christian women of various ages and stages in life as a help to them in embracing the will and purpose of Christ for them?

1. Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

2. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.

3. The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace.

4. Will Medicine Stop the Pain? by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Laura Hendrickson.

What practical advice would you give to a young woman who said to you, “Pastor Chanski, what can I do to become like ‘the holy women who trusted in God’ (1Pt 3.5)?  How should I pursue true, Scriptural, God-pleasing womanhood?”

1. Read your bible daily with a humble and hungry heart.

2. Become a woman of fervent and daily prayer.

3. Find and join a church that’s committed to uncompromising Biblical Christianity.  Such a church will have its centrepiece the faithful exposition and preaching and application of the Scriptures.

4. Find at least one woman of exemplary godliness whom you can imitate and counsel with.

5. Commit yourself to a life of Christ-like, sacrificial selflessness.  John Flavel said: “He stood like a brass pillar till the last breath was beaten out of His nostrils.”  That’s how he served us, and that’s how we should be willing to serve Him.

6. Read Womanly Dominion: More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit.

Thank you, Mark, for your time and effort both in writing this book, and in responding to these questions.

  1. This post was interesting, especially the greatest challenges to femininity. Young ladies do not understand dressing as a lady anymore and their parents are not teaching them.

    Just a note: The automatically generated posts at the bottom are not suitable for the content of this blog. Even the titles are graphic at times.

    Berean Wife

  2. I know this author is well-intentioned and sincere in his desire to help lead women into a more fulfilling Godly lifestyle but there were a lot of red flags for me as I read this. I think more intensive bible study is necessary. Primarily, the idea of having a “husband-centered” life is weird and decidedly unbiblical to me. I am going to have a God-centered life. In Ephesians 5 in reference to marriage, it says “Submit yourselves one to another out of reference for Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 7 it says that the wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. IN THE SAME WAY, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” It seems to me that the bible teaches that marriage is a two way street with both participants keeping their eyes on Christ. In Ephesians, it even goes on to explain that women should submit themselves to their husbands as unto Christ and that men should submit themselves to their wives by loving their wives in the same way Christ loved the church (he died for it.) The original text does not have the word “submit” in the verses which references how a woman’s attitude should be toward her husband or in the verses referring to how a man should treat his wife. It only has submit in verse 21 because the concept is intended to be applied to both sexes but men broke the text up and wrote it in later, trying to clarify something that was not intended. So, some older translations break the text after vs. 21 instead of after verse 20 which flows much better. Also, that passage where it talks about a man being the head of woman. Study the greek. That word head, does not mean “in charge.” The word is kephale. It means source of origin. Helpmeet does not mean helper. It comes from the words ezer kenegdo – which means “sustainer BESIDE” not behind. If you want to have a happy marriage and a happy home, do what Jesus said to do. Love one another. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, whether it’s your husband, your wife or your kids. So far as dominion goes. God told us to have dominion over the earth, not each other.

    If you are a woman, don’t get sucked into these ideas. If you are a man, resist the urge to take a power trip. Paul said there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave or free. We are all on level ground before Christ and what will you do when you stand before Christ? What can a woman say? “Oh, I didn’t do what you called me to do because my husband needed me to stay home and cook supper. So, I guess you’ll just have to take that up with him?” Really? Come on now. Does God save women through their husbands? Did you ever consider that the first evangelists were women? After the resurrection, Christ appeared to women first. He instructed them to “Go and tell”. A large portion of the apostle Paul’s ministry team were women. Just imagine how much more of an impact christianity would have had on the world by now if 50% of the church hadn’t been silenced and marginalized the majority of the time.

    Do you really think Paul wanted women to always be silent and never have any input or authoritative teaching or preaching role? Why would he have women on his ministry teams and just have made reference to women praying and prophesying in church during the headcovering passage in 2 Corinthians if silence in church were intended as a mandate forever and ever amen. The women were so excited about what they were learning that they were asking questions in church. He said, they need to hold their questions for later and let their husbands teach them about the scriptures (including how to read them) at home.

    You know what else, Eve may have eaten from the fruit first but Adam was standing right there beside her, elbow to elbow – apparently with a “you go first” attitude. If you want to get into discussion of headship. God didn’t judge Adam for Eve’s sin. He judged him for his sin. He didn’t go to Adam to have him to work things out with Eve either. He didn’t instruct Adam on how to reprimand Eve or “lead” her as the spiritual authoritarian. He went to Eve directly to communicate with her. He will go to women today directly too just as he always has.

    One more nugget. Would you like to know why Paul said in Timothy that he did not permit women to speak and that he did not permit a woman to have authority over a man? Some scholars remind us that Paul was writing to Timothy about this church in Ephesus that Paul had started and giving him some advice. Did you know that in the city of Ephesus the main religion was the worship of the goddess Dinah? Women had been brought up to take authority over men through sexual promiscuity. (That’s probably why the dress code was enforced too and why the repeated comments that men in leadership roles should only have one wife).

    In some respects, Ephesus was a matriarchal society but these women who had worshipped in the temple of Dinah were wanting to take leadership in the church at Ephesus using their old ways and even contradicting the story of Genesis by sharing their version of the story which was essentially backwards. Paul was reminding Timothy that it was okay to set the story straight and not allow an inaccuracy to be shared but in order to do so these domineering women would have to be silenced long enough to get the message across so they could learn something. He followed up the statement by adding that women would be saved through childrearing because – Yes, Eve came from Adam and was the first deceived but the reputation of womanhood was redeemed when God chose Mary to bring Christ into the world through childbirth. Now all women can be saved if they continue after Him in faith, love, holiness and propriety. It would do us well to remember that Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 11, “In The Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” If I were Paul, I’d advise Timothy similarly…. “Hey, buddy. When I was in Ephesus, I handled the Bible study this way.” Different situations and different cultures, call for different methods sometimes.

    My bishop once said to me (and he happens to be male). A wise man of God will realize that it is really his wife who is the head. I could not understand what he meant? Why do you say that, I asked. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Because she is.” I finally realized he was referring to the passage that warns men that they should have things right with their wives because if they didn’t their prayers were in danger of being hindered before God.

    If you want an alternative to this book or the ones mentioned or if you’d like to introduce a little more balance to your study, you might consider reading, “Ten Lies the Church Tells Women” by J. Lee Grady or “A Woman’s Place” by C.S. Cowles. Both authors happen to be men, by the way, just in case you still think that’s how it needs to be…. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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