By Michael Johnson

It wasn’t until I became the father of a daughter that I really began to give serious thought to what God wants her to become as a woman, and what our role as parents is in training her to that end.  As parents we are to bring our children up in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”[1]  That is a great overarching command, but what are God’s specific instructions for what a young woman should be?  What is God’s vision of a mature woman?  And what kind of role model does God desire for them to emulate?  These are especially important questions in our media driven culture that has its own idea of what a woman should be.

For example, on March 23rd a new movie will be released based on the novel by Suzanne Collins called, “The Hunger Games.”  In this dystopian future, North America as we know it has become the nation of Panem, a dictatorship run by “the Capitol.”  Every year the Capitol forces the twelve districts of Panem to choose one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in what is known as the Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games is a reality TV show where the contestants engage in a gladiatorial-like fight to the death.  The heroine is Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place when she is drafted by the lottery.

Over the last several months I have noticed the buzz for this movie growing on Facebook.  Young girls are genuinely thrilled about this movie and anxiously anticipate its release.  Of course this is just the latest movie portraying the “warrior-woman” as the heroine who fights as bravely as any man.  While there may be several good lessons involving self-sacrifice, courage, and the like, the question must be asked, “Is this the right role model for young girls?”  The American Heritage Dictionary defines a role model as: “an individual who serves as a model in a particular behavioral role for another individual to emulate.”[2]  So, does God want young girls to emulate the role of the “warrior-woman” as portrayed by Hollywood?  To answer this question; as Christians, we must turn to God’s Word.  What does the Bible say about role models for young women?

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5

Scripture gives a direct command to older women to act as role models for younger women.  Young women are to look to older women, not their peers. This runs counter to our culture that idolizes youth.  Older women are to be reverent in the way that they behave and to teach what is good in order to train up the younger women.  This is God’s two-fold strategy for training young women.  Modeling and teaching by godly older women.  We might express it this way: “Do as I say AND as I do!”  Older women must teach what is good and model it with reverent behavior themselves.

And what is the focus of good training for young women?  They are to be taught (by word and deed) what it means to love their husbands and children.  They are to learn to be self-controlled in speech and behavior.  They are to be taught not merely to keep themselves pure for marriage, but also to dress and behave modestly.  They are to learn all the duties associated with taking care of a home.  They are to be taught to be kind and submissive, respectful of their husbands.  They are to be taught to adorn themselves with “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).

We could also look to Proverbs 31:10-31 for a model of a godly woman.  Women are to be trustworthy helpmates who are hard working, nurturing, hospitable, dignified in character, wise and gracious in speech, looking to the affairs of the home, and above all God-fearing.  It is not the outward appearance that God cares about, but the inward beauty of the woman’s character.  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” Proverbs 31:30.  These are the things that God wants taught and modeled for young women.  Despite these clear words in Scripture, they have become matters of extreme controversy in many churches today.  Why?  Unfortunately, it is because much of the church is using the culture’s standard of mature womanhood, rather than God’s.

God created men and women equally, and with different roles.[3]  These roles are summed up well by “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”  In the creation order, God has established the role of males as the “leader, provider and self-sacrificial protector” (Gen 2:18-22; 1 Cor 11:8-9; Eph 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7) and the role of females as “that of help and nurture (Gen 2:18) and life-giving (Gen 3:20) under male leadership and protection.”[4] So with regards to our question, has God given directives when it comes to the role of warrior?  Yes.  God’s pattern is that “men, not women, bear responsibility to serve in combat if war is necessary.”[5]  What about Deborah?  Isn’t she an example of the “warrior-woman?”  No, examples like these are contrary to God’s design and “caused by a failure of male leadership that is worthy of shame.”[6] In fact, Deborah herself was dismayed and appalled that the men of her day were not taking their proper roles as the warrior-defenders of God’s people.[7]

So, does God want young girls to emulate the role of the “warrior-woman” as portrayed by Hollywood?  The answer from Scripture is no.  However, the Hunger Games merely serves as an example of a more fundamental issue.  Namely, whose standard of mature womanhood will we use to train our young girls?  The culture suggests that women can and should be able to do anything and everything that a man does.  But is this true according to the Bible?  This feminist philosophy has led our nation to allow women on the front lines of battle.  Yet this runs counter to God’s word for the role of women.  Whose standard will we follow?  Divine or human?

God has commanded us to bring our children up in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  However, he doesn’t leave us to guess what that means.  He has given us a clear mandate for godly womanhood.  So, who are the real heroines for our young girls to emulate? The women who boldly live counter-culturally – even counter church culture – by teaching and modeling God’s standard of mature womanhood.  This takes great courage!  They are the godly mothers, grandmothers, and godly older women that young girls can imitate and who take time to instruct them in godliness, in true womanhood.  They are godly women who teach and model what it means to be “a woman who fears the LORD.”  As a woman; when thinking of the young girls in your life, ask yourself this question:  “Whose standard will I teach and model for them?”  Young girls desperately need these real heroines; they need true role models!

***

 Michael Johnson is husband to Sarah and father of Avi. He is a church planter, pharmacist, and serves as a ministry partner with Visionary Family Ministries.


[1] Ephesians 6:4

[2] The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, ed. Margery S. Berube, et. al. (Boston, MA; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1985), 1068.

[3] Gen 1:27

[4] “Women in Combat: A Resolution Form CBMW” http://www.cbmw.org/Resources/Articles/Women-in-Combat This resolution originally appeared in Volume 2 No. 2 (March 1997) of The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It was adopted by CBMW on November 23, 1996.

[5] Ibid. citing (Gen. 14:14; Num. 31:3,21,49; Deut. 20:5-9,13-14; Josh. 1:14-18; 6:3,7,9; 8:3; 10:7; 1 Sam. 16:18; 18:5; 2 Sam. 11:1; 17:8; 23:8-39; Ps. 45:3-5; Song of Sol. 3:7-8; Isa. 42:13).

[6] Ibid. citing (Jud.4:9-10).

[7] Judges 4:4-10

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