“Core Femininity”

The following comes from Part 1 in a Q&A with Jani Ortlund on the Gender Blog over at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.    Jani wrote Fearlessly Feminine: Boldly Living God’s Plan for Womanhood.

GB: How would you define femininity?

Ortlund: Femininity and masculinity lie at the very core of humanity. God created us male and female, so if I don’t understand the difference, it is very hard for me to embrace my own uniqueness. John Piper really helps me with this. He says this: At the heart of true femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships. I take those three words—affirming, receiving and nurturing—as the core of femininity. I affirm those around me. I receive leadership willingly, lovingly, joyfully. I receive others into my sphere, into my home and then I nurture them. From conception all the way through life, we as women are to be nurturers. So that to me is at the core of femininity. Beyond that, throughout all of Scripture, God paints for us a picture of what a woman looks like. From Eve all the way through the book of Revelation, we see women and he says, “This is the kind of woman I honor and lift up and this is the kind of woman I discipline”‘ I want to be on the honoring side, so I look to Scripture for that.

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Do comments like, ” I receive leadership willingly, lovingly, joyfully” imply that women are somehow excluded from leadership on the basis of their gender?  E.g., a female leader is “unfeminine”?  Isn’t “receiving leadership” as described above something all Christian should do, male and female?  What does Ortlund do with women who have the spiritual gift of leadership (see Ephesians 4:11-13)?  Or is this gift exclusive to men?  One view on this question that’s popular in some Christian circles is that female “leadership” is limited to other women and children.  Is that view biblical, cultural, traditional, or something else?

What do you think about Piper’s observation: “At the heart of true femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men…”?  How about “I give and receive leadership willingly, lovingly, joyfully”?

Does Piper’s view imply that women are somehow incapable of leadership in the sense that it has to be “received” and “nurtured from worthy men”?  If this is the case, who are “worthy men,” and what’s the criteria for that designation?  How do men undertake this “nurturing,” endeavor, which was just defined by this author as a “womanly” trait?  (Quite the logical pretzel here, eh?)  Isn’t this view of “femininity” defined by masculinity?  Is that model problematic?

“From conception all the way through life, we as women are to be nurturers. So that to me is at the core of femininity.”

An accurate statement?  A biblically sound model?  Is “nurturing” at the “core” of your femininity?  What do you think?

There’s more.  Check out the CBMW Gender Blog .

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We continue our exploration into biblical woman/wife/mother soon with Wisdom Revisited.  Stay tuned!

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