Traditional womanhood encourages beliefs or principles that have been passed down from generation to generation that are not necessarily bad, but not necessarily biblical either. Biblical womanhood encourages a lifestyle that is rooted in faith and glorifies God. When we think of it in this way it’s easy to understand, but we often confuse one for the other. Just because something has been enforced for years, or even centuries, doesn’t make it biblical by default. Although tradition is important, especially in the sense of family and legacy, there are some concerns that need to be addressed.
Society’s blueprint for women
One of the biggest issues that keeps women bound is the fact that the lines between biblical womanhood and traditional womanhood are often blurred. We assume that because certain principles concerning womanhood have been practiced for generations, that it’s all biblical and that’s simply not true. This can cause our hearts to be anxious because we are trying to uphold an unrealistic standard.
According to tradition, we must be careful to display stereotypical “lady-like” characteristics – don’t talk too loudly and don’t be too opinionated, or else you may be perceived as a threat to the woman’s image. Stay at home, raise the kids and take care of your home while your husband works. While there is nothing wrong with desiring this for your own life, and I do believe that every God fearing wife should take care of her family, but what if God’s will for a woman’s life doesn’t include being a wife and mother? Does that mean she will never “qualify” to be a godly woman? Does that mean we only become godly women once we get married? Does it make a woman ungodly if she doesn’t have a desire to be married and have children?
That is what happens when we focus on tradition – we look past Jesus and make Him an accessory rather than the focal point of our existence.
We are expected to look a certain way, speak a certain way and have certain desires to be perceived as godly women. We enforce our own beliefs upon others and discount them when they don’t fit into our box of ideals. The trouble with traditional womanhood and ticking off items from a “godly woman checklist”, is that someone may very well match every item on the list, but then not have a heart after God at all. Traditional womanhood focuses on appearances rather than cultivating an authentic, godly character.
God’s blueprint for women
The Word of God teaches us that what matters most is the heart of a woman. In Luke 10 v 38-42, we read of Mary and Martha; one practicing traditional womanhood, and the other practicing biblical womanhood. This is such a beautiful depiction to me of the distinction between the two. Martha was too busy ticking off items from her “godly woman” checklist and too occupied with looking like what a “good Christian girl” looked like according to culture, that she overlooked Jesus. That is what happens when we focus on tradition – we look past Jesus and make Him an accessory rather than the focal point of our existence.
The trouble with traditional womanhood and ticking off items from a “godly woman checklist”, is that someone may very well match every item on the list, but then not have a heart after God at all.
Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus – to quiet her heart and rest in His presence. That is what happens when we choose to spend time in God’s Word and prayer. We receive revelation of His love for us, of our identity in Him and our purpose. It changes our hearts and minds and enables us to live out true, biblical womanhood in its many dimensions. Biblical womanhood is focused on Jesus and grace, rather than a checklist.