I have always had an eye for beautiful things. I love a beautiful nature scene, pretty pictures, flowers, delicate antiques, baroque frames, etc. When I think of how God made women, I think that he made us to be things of beauty, too. We are different from men, as much as modern society tells us we are not. We are softer, rounder, curvier, more delicate. Our bodies are made with graceful lines and curves meant to nurture children. We are just as much works of beauty and art as a beautiful sunset, or a rose garden. (I’m becoming quite poetic, don’t you think?).
What we need to be careful of is taking our beauty to an extreme which is vain, vulgar, overtly sexual, or distracting from our personalities. I struggled much in the past with being vain and dressing too sexually. I cringe when I think about some of the clothing items I used to wear on a regular basis. My goal then was to be sexually appealing to men.
Now, however, my goal is to be feminine. To embrace that God made me differently from men and that is a wonderful thing. It is ok to spend some time on my appearance, so long as I spend more time on my inward appearance (spending time in prayer, worship, Bible reading, memorizing verses, or serving others).
One thing I have encountered even with Christian women is a reluctance to be feminine. Society glorifies femininity in the sexual form, but makes femininity in the pretty form to be something childlike and naïve.
I was at a conference recently for my work and a coworker from our New York office made some jibes at my clothing. She said I look “so Midwestern”, and that I look so “country”. I dress modestly and always wear skirts, but I do enjoy fashion and try to be fashionable in my modest choices. But the mere fact that I was wearing a skirt that went below my knees and that my clothes weren’t tight or revealing made me seem childlike to her.
I heard through the grapevine that another coworker from our Los Angeles office called me “naïve”. Really? Me? Naïve? My immediate response was indignity. I thought “I’ve traveled the world, speak 5 languages, have been through more difficulty than you could imagine, and I’ve sinned like you couldn’t believe.” But isn’t that just such a worldly point of view? I should be proud that others perceive me as naïve. In a world were sin and corruption are celebrated, I should be proud that I give off a spirit of purity and naivety. I should be proud that God has not only forgiven me of all my past sins, but has made me appear to be pure before others. I should be celebrating that others perceive my innocence, not indignant that they can’t see how sinful I am.
The world sees naivety as a sign of being simple or unwise. But we see in the book of Proverbs over and over that being wise is very important. (See Proverbs 14:15, Proverbs 27:12, Proverbs 7:7). But the Bible sees being wise (not naïve) as making sound decisions and avoiding the dangers of sin. The world sees this the opposite way. They see being naïve as being ignorant of sin, rather than avoiding it.
This world thinks that to be feminine without being sexual is to be naïve and therefore undesirable. But you know what? That is exactly the kind of women God calls us to be! God made men and women to reflect different aspects of His character to the world. We are to reflect differently than men are, and we need to give ourselves permission to do so.
There was a time when I never even owned a skirt because I perceived them as reflecting a weak spirit. I saw them as too “soft”. I still know women in my church who perceive skirts and femininity as too “soft”. Some women feel that they will look stupid if they wear feminine clothing, simply because they have always perceived themselves as tomboys or “capable” women. I spoke recently with a young woman at my church who felt that way. She has always enjoyed carpentry and is very handy. She never enjoyed playing with dolls as a child. To this day she said she feels “stupid” when she dresses femininely because she doesn’t feel it is “her”.
Her feeling that being feminine is not “her” is a reflection of the worldly idea that dressing femininely makes her appear naïve, weak, incapable, and childlike. Not all women are the same. Some of us are better with a hammer and nails than with babies. Some of us are amazing in the kitchen and others cannot scramble an egg without burning it. Whatever your personality, however, you are still a woman, and you are still supposed to display a feminine spirit to the world. God created women to be beautiful, nurturing, and feminine. It is ok for you to buck how society expects you to dress and act, and instead do what God MADE you to do. It’s ok for you to appear to be feminine, naïve, and innocent, because those are qualities Christ instructed us to have. Christ called all of us to have child-like faith, and that faith should be reflected in our lives. It is only the world that labels those things as bad.
I had to make a conscious decision in the last year to allow myself to be feminine without appearing sexual. It is sad that we have to fight society’s hold on us and give ourselves permission to be who God created us to be, but we do! I urge you to give yourself permission to be feminine. To take pride in your femininity, but not to use it as a sexual weapon. To enjoy the feminine feel of a skirt swirling around your ankles. To endeavor to be graceful in body and spirit. To ignore the cruel comments and instead acknowledge the fact that men look at you as a thing of beauty, like a rose or a sunset, and not as a thing of sex. To take joy in the fact that God made you to be a woman.
I encourage all of you to read a wonderful 8-week biblestudy I just finished on the topic of femininity in the Bible.
The study talks in a very overarching way about the Biblical concept of femininity. It also talks about the history and ideology behind the feminist movement and how we as Christian women should respond. I promise you won’t be disappointed with this study.