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Theology, not opinion, is key to femininity, speaker says

LONGWOOD, Fla. (BP)–Raising a feminine daughter is not a matter for popular opinion or a prescriptive or formulaic approach – it is a matter of theology, said Susan Hunt, consultant for the Presbyterian Church in America’s Women in the Church Ministry.

“Any discussion of femininity must be driven by God’s Word or it’s going to be paper thin and it simply will not last,” Hunt said in a “Raising Feminine Daughters” workshop during the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s “Different by Design” conference at First Baptist Church of Sweetwater in Longwood, Fla., Sept. 8.

Understanding a biblical approach to womanhood and ultimately living that design will equip girls to “be all that God will have them to be,” Hunt said.

“Raising feminine daughters is not going to be a matter of fluff,” she said. “It’s got to be substantive or they simply will not go the distance.”

Trying to fit all women into one box and trying to teach girls about being feminine apart from the rest of Scripture is a fragmented approach that can lead to distortion resulting in a list of rules about roles and behavior.

To avoid distortion and to look at things in balance, Hunt suggested what she calls “Six Big Things” to learn about living biblically and understanding biblical womanhood:

— First, the definition of being feminine is intrinsically woven into the creation design of women, and everything flows from a theology grounded in Scripture taught by one generation to the next.

Scriptural teaching about God as the reference point and authority for all of life is necessary in promoting a correct view of the creation design of women because a knowledge of being created in God’s image, both male and female, gives women the capacity to reflect certain characteristics of God’s image, Hunt said.

— Secondly, it is an understanding of the gospel that “empowers and compels” women to exercise the creation design, Hunt said. The understanding of the theology of womanhood is reliant then, not on a list of things not to do, but on an understanding of redemption by a sovereign God, Hunt said, noting that, in this teaching, women must remember to not to let their families become idols.

— Thirdly, women must live out the creation design within the covenant community of the church, Hunt said. This is where the creation design fits, she said, noting, “God’s perspective of a woman is not going to make sense in a fallen world.”

Like Ruth’s vow to Naomi, the vows made in church, in relation to the church family early on, will relate to future vows, like marriage, Hunt said.

— Fourth is the subject of headship and submission. Hunt said both are needed to fulfill the creation order. This starts as girls are taught to submit to the leader of the church, which will help to understand submission in marriage and will provide the context for the way “God has ordered life in the kingdom,” Hunt said.

— The fifth “big thing” is to remember the resources of prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and of the Bible. “Pray hedges of protection around our daughters,” Hunt urged, and “ask others in the covenant community to surround them with prayer.”

— Sixth is to not be “naive.” Being aware of cultural influences and warning daughters about them will keep them from buying into the culture, Hunt said.

“Our daughters will be like pillars, carved to a palace … a pillar that gives support and connects,” Hunt said. “Again, the healthy design makes no sense in an environment of independence and individualism. It only makes sense within the structure of the covenant community.”

    About the Author

  • Joni B. Hannigan