Our 22-year-old son recently graduated college, entered full-time work, found a place to live, and got engaged! It’s been a time of celebration and reflection on God’s amazing grace. Though I feel sad at our son permanently leaving home, I am reminded in Genesis 2: 24 that this is good, and right.
God’s design is that men and women fit together not just physically but spiritually and relationally. Both sexes uniquely display different aspects of God’s glory. This is explicitly seen when a man and woman marry and portray Christ and the Church.
Men need godly, masculine role models to help them grow in maturity. But women also have a significant role to play. God’s purpose for women is to adorn the gospel by their femininity. One of the ways we do this is by esteeming godly masculinity.
Feminine Women Esteem God First
True esteem for men will grow out of a heart disposed toward God and not selfish ambition. The heart and mind work in tandem to effect change in the way we think, speak and act.
A feminine woman does not need a man to complete her because Christ does. He is her Bridegroom above all others. With confidence in Christ she does not need to grasp at equality or compete with men.
Like Sarah, her hope is not ultimately in a man but in God (1 Peter 3: 5). In Proverbs 31, we see that a biblical woman’s greatest characteristic is her fear of God; which means she knows His Word. And it is her pleasure and satisfaction to conscientiously work out her womanhood in obedience to that Word.
Feminine Women Esteem God’s Design
A woman who esteems God will also esteem his design for manhood and womanhood.
John Piper says: “At the heart of mature 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.”
Here are some women who demonstrate their femininity by esteeming masculinity:
(i) Abigail is an example of feminine wisdom and humility. Her bold yet non-directive persuasion saved her family from death, and David from the burden of bloodshed (1 Samuel 25).
Abigail demonstrates how esteem for appropriate masculine authority draws out better leadership in a man.
(ii) Sarah displays what a respectful attitude towards a husband looks like (Genesis 18:12 and 1 Peter 3:6). She was alone in her tent when she referred to Abraham as ‘lord’. Sarah wasn’t just outwardly obedient to her husband but reverenced him from her heart.
Some wives can say and do the right things but inside they chafe against their husband’s leadership, but when a wife esteems God’s design in marriage, she will esteem her husband from the inside out. Such a woman looks to cultivate inner beauty over outward adornment. Her disposition is to esteem and be a helper to her husband. A wife can cultivate respect for her husband by being prayerfully thankful to God for giving her a spiritual leader.
(iii) Esteeming men is not about boosting their egos but about honoring God. In fear of the Lord, Esther exercised humility and discretion in speech with Mordecai and the king (Esther 2). In her differing relationships with men she exhibited remarkable self-control.
Esther is a reminder that we ought to choose our words carefully according to the situation and relationship (Eph. 4: 29): we will esteem a father in different ways to a husband, son, brother, or co-worker. A woman like Esther listens well and doesn’t constantly interrupt the conversation. Her counsel is winsome and non-directive. Her gentle words build men up.
(iv) In extraordinary times God uses extra-ordinary means and Deborah is a case in point. She respected Barak’s role as God’s chosen leader and used her influence to encourage him to trust God, and assume his responsibilities (Judges 4: 4- 5:12).
A woman like Deborah, who esteems God’s design for manhood, can draw out appropriate masculine leadership in the home, or even the workplace where a woman might have a position of authority over men. Biblical femininity can soften even the hardest of hearts (1 Peter 3: 1-2).
Feminine Women Esteem Masculine Men
Finally, feminine women should esteem and encourage masculine manhood.
Here’s John Piper on what this looks like: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”
A true man is a man of the Word and prayer. A man like this is worthy of trust. He has a plan and will commit to doing the hard thing. He will be the one assuming responsibility for those in his care, especially women. Competency isn’t the issue, manly character is. A masculine man generally initiates but shows sensitivity to your preferences. He is not prone to self-pity, or self-centeredness but embraces sacrificial leadership, caring for the spiritual and physical welfare of others. He is also a man who submits well to his church elders. This shows humility: good leaders can be led.
A man who is consumed with God and his purposes is a masculine man, and will win a feminine woman’s esteem.
Masculinity and femininity has been redeemed in Christ. So at the heart of biblical femininity is the desire for the glory of the gospel to be seen in his design for women, but also men. Complementarity means that women should not compete with men, but rejoice in the beauty of masculinity instead. Therefore, women who esteem God also esteem His design and will gladly esteem godly men.
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