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Identity Matters: Women's Issues

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

What does it mean to be a woman? Is womanhood rooted in gender, identity or emotion? Is womanhood rooted in strength, or beauty, or respect? Is womanhood so individual that every woman has a choice to define what womanhood is for herself? Does it even matter?

Oh, it matters. Women are increasingly well educated - today more women graduating from college than men. Women are increasingly more powerful - women are now garnering positions for secretary of state, speaker of the house, and even Presidential nominee. Today, women are wealthier than in centuries past, since they can legally own property and other assets. Women are influencers. So, what are women doing with this influence?


Women are learning, and leading, and investing. Women are believing, and listening, and spinning narratives. Women are selling marketing strategies and rolling out ideas. These narratives, strategies, and ideas vie for our time, our understanding, and even our allegiance. We are told to lean in. We are told to make a difference. Some of us even tell others, "you do you," or we urge others to "be yourself." We even wain poetic with poems like "Invictus" which Mandela popularized: "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."


So, Yes. Womanhood matters. What we choose to believe about womanhood matters. What we say and do about our womanhood matters. Why? Because women have always been influencers, and child-bearers, and disciplers; and how we influence, and parent, and disciple makes a difference not only for our own destiny, but for the destinies of those around us.

Culture Shift


There is no better time than now to consider carefully what we believe, what our destiny is, and how we can use our influence to help those around us. If you are a woman who is struggling with your identity, or you are confused about where you are going, or you feel that you are inadequate to help those around you, there is no better rock, no better word, and no better place to find your identity than the Gospel.

David Platt defines the Gospel as,"The just and gracious God of the universe looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who turn and trust in Him will be reconciled to God forever."

If you are wondering whether identifying with Christ will somehow make you lose your identity as an individual and a woman - you're right. Christ's invitation to discipleship bids us come and die. Jesus wholeheartedly affirmed the scriptures, and even stated that he came, not to abolish the scriptures, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus made it clear in affirming God's Word that he affirmed every "iota" and "dot" of the scriptures. This includes Genesis 1:27, which roots the identity of both man and woman in God's creativity: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Thus, the Bible teaches that our gender is not an act of our strength, a product of our emotion, or the result of our personal choice.

Christ's invitation to discipleship bids us come and die.

In fact, the Scriptures are filled with all sorts of descriptions of God as Creator, Lord, King, Messiah, and Savior - all revealing titles which undermine the beautifully poetic, but foolish notion that we are the masters of our destinies or the captains of our souls. Though the poem "Invictus" was penned during the turn of the 19th Century, the philosophy these words represent has been around for ages and ages - since the beginning. The concept of wanting to be "like God" isn't new. In fact, Genesis 1-3 reveals that Adam and Eve turn away from God in search of better wisdom and a better way, only to find that their way was cursed, and God's way was blessed.


Thankfully, Adam and Eve, though cursed, were left with a promise. This promise was fulfilled in a Savior, Jesus Christ. It is hard to express how profound, how meaningful, and how historically relevant the impact Jesus had on women was. Jesus lived during a time when women were not educated, did not have power, and had limited access to wealth. Some of the women of the Bible who were remarkably transformed, validated, and even given a new sense of identity after meeting Christ include:

  • The "woman with the issue of blood" was marked by her culture as "unclean," and therefore an untouchable. This all changed when she touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was healed instantly (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48). In a moment, she was transformed from a woman who would have been banned from the synagogue, and treated as an outcast, to a woman who was both blessed by a Savior and allowed back into her society.

  • The Widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17) is another account of a woman whose identity was amazingly transformed by Jesus. Jesus comes upon her when she is grieving her only son, who had died. Jesus saw her weeping, surrounded by a crowd of mourners. He approached her and his heart went out to her. In front of the crowds, he comforted her and said, "Don't cry." Then, he raised her son from the dead. This amazing event caused great rejoicing. The people, who witnessed this event were so amazed that they realized this was not just another day, this was a day that God had come down to help his people. This event is astounding both because it was miraculous, and because it instantly restored this woman's joy, livelihood, and closest relationship. The Lord gave the woman not just a second chance, but a new identity.

  • Another incredibly touching evidence of Jesus' intervention in the lives of women is depicted in his response to a sinful woman with a costly alabaster jar of nard (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8). She approached Jesus in public during a meal and poured her costly gift upon Jesus and washed his feet with her hair. The onlookers were horrified. Some scolded her for using the nard on Jesus rather than donating it to the poor. Others whispered that Jesus should have known what kind of a woman she was. Jesus rebuked both the merciless judges, and the suspicious hypocrites, by letting them know that he knew exactly who she was (she was a woman with many sins), and he approved of her actions (she was anointing him for burial). In addition to this, he forgave her sins publicly - a scandalous display of love toward this sinful woman. This was astounding. Jesus elevated his love for this woman (and all women) even in a setting dominated by critical men, who had not yet learned to love like Christ. Jesus rebuked them with the reminder that the woman would be remembered for her sacrifice. He also chose this moment to reveal himself as divine - he had forgiven her sins - and who but God can do that? This woman arrived as a sinner and left a forgiven child of God.

What these women believed about themselves, and what they believed about Jesus mattered. Each of them demonstrates something important - when they chose to become disciples of Christ, this choice shaped their identities. No longer was the "woman with the issue of blood" defined by her illness. No longer was the Widow of Nain defined by her personal tragedy. No longer was the woman of disrepute defined by her past. For each of them, the search for identity began and ended with Christ.


Even after Jesus died, women (and men) continued to follow Jesus. Individual women continued to find new identities in Christ; and being Christ's disciples shaped and defined them. Jesus' own mother, Mary, continued to devote herself to prayer with other disciples (Acts 1:14). One woman named Lydia (Acts 16:13-14) listened to preaching about Jesus, demonstrating that she was one of several women who was educated in spiritual matters. Lydia later housed the church and played a role in Paul's ministry. Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, explained the way of the Gospel more adequately to the gifted speaker Apollos (Acts 18:26). Thus, women used whatever influence they had in a myriad of ways to grow the church that Jesus loves - by serving, investing, and teaching. Each of them reflect how important beliefs are, because their faith fueled their thoughts, words, and actions. It is the same for us. What we believe about ourselves, and what we believe about Jesus influences our thoughts, our words, and our actions, and it matters.


But not everyone chooses to believe. Not everyone chooses to identify with Christ. Not everyone demonstrated thoughts, words, or actions that reflect true discipleship. One notable woman in Acts, named Sapphira, is a tragic example of a woman who (along with her husband) chose wealth, relationship, and the hope of being honored over Christ. Sapphira lied about her finances to church leadership. She stated that she had given everything when she had only given a fraction of her wealth. It is noteworthy that both husband and wife were under no obligation to give to the church; but, they gave and then lied, presumably for some sort of honor. Sapphira's choice to identify primarily as a woman who prizes wealth, and as a woman who valued her relationship with a man over her relationship with God, was a serious issue. Her choice was so abhorrent to God that both husband and wife were struck dead (Acts 16:6-4). This sobering story filled the church with fear.


If any fear could be called healthy, it is this sort of fear. This fear reminds us that we are not really the captains of our souls, nor are we the masters of our fate. We are mere creations. When we prize our identity above God - we are but deluded creations on a dangerous path that, according to scripture, leads to death. Yet, when we lose our identity in self to find our identity in Christ, we obtain life.


In the Gospel, and in Jesus, we discover a new identity. We find a new kind of freedom, a recovered truth, and redemption for our weary hearts - we find a message that rings true at last. For the woman who is a disciple of Christ, the choice to be a disciple is outworked in many distinct and individual ways. We can unashamedly cultivate beauty by devoting ourselves to loving husbands, children, and other young women (Titus 2). We can pursue education with the goal of learning to speak, and write, and work in ways that glorify God and serve the people around us. We can spend and invest our money in ways that honor God and not just ourselves. We can use our influence to point others to the one who loves each of us individually, and shows Himself as the master of every person's destiny - Jesus Christ.


God Made Us Women for This Time & This Culture


So, let's consider afresh what narratives, what strategies, and what ideas we value. If we value the cultural narrative of individualism, and place great importance on "you do you" or "being yourself" above God's simple and beautiful plan for us - then we are in danger of choosing a false Gospel. As women who are loved by Christ, it is and should be our absolute joy to identify first with Christ; and secondly, as women who are image-bearers, helpers, wives, mothers, sisters, and friends. We need no longer compare ourselves to each other, because out identities are completely secure in Christ. We can serve both the women, and the men around us with fresh joy, knowing that we do not need to make a choice about who we are, or how we feel about it, or what kind of strength we might have. We can devote ourselves to the Lord in our singleness. We can cheer on our husbands as married women. We can delight in our sons and daughters as mothers. We can serve elderly parents with renewed vigor. We can persevere in the midst of difficulties at work, at home, at school, and in our communities with God-given strength. We can disciple, and serve, and love the women around us, and the men around us, in ways that reflect the patience, the grace, and the forgiveness of Christ. We can invest whole-heartedly in our churches. And we can rest. Because we know that the choice of being male or female was already made for us, by a loving God who has offered us a new identity and a new destiny - the promise of eternal life (a new home in heaven), through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.


1 Peter 2:9 English Standard Version (ESV): But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
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