It ain’t this.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who began resembling the Creature from the Black Lagoon over quarantine.
So few weeks ago, it impressed upon me I ought to start looking decent. Consequently, I’ve gotten into some feminine YouTubers like The Feminine Fancy and Mrs. Midwest (both of whom I recommend if you want to up your outer beauty game). I brought a ton of makeup I didn’t need and started wearing something that wasn’t leggings. Skirts/dresses are more comfortable than leggings anyway, don’t @ me.
But while listening to some of these feminine bloggers wax poetic about femininity and the woes of modern society, it made me wonder what exactly is Biblical femininity per the Bible?
Could it be that wearing skirts is inherently feminine and thus crucial to living a life of true Biblical womanhood?
But clothing is very cultural/societal – it changes with the times. Men far more stereotypically “masculine” than these dudes whining about the good old days on YouTube wore skirts and heels to battle. Like if fighting for your country is not peak masculinity, I don’t know what is. So true, Biblical femininity can’t be something that changes based on society’s whims. It has to be something inherent in the way God made us.
Furthermore, the notion of becoming more feminine (more like a female) by changing your outward appearance to fit society’s definition of femininity plays into the idea that gender is fluid, which folks like the Duggars or the Transformed Wife would certainly balk at.
But in fact a large number of fundamental Christians do let society/culture determine what is and isn’t feminine (and masculine) as opposed to the Bible. Everyone wore skirts and robes (and even heels) until not long ago, America’s Founding Fathers wore wigs and makeup, and what’s considered feminine (and even sexual) varies from culture to culture. Biologically, it makes more sense for men to wear skirts anyway (men are missing out on peak comfort). So it’s a bit disingenuous to preach certain clothes are inherently feminine or masculine, when you’re merely preaching your personal preferences (nothing wrong with those, just keep them to yourself. thx) or you’re preaching what society deems feminine and masculine, but not the Bible.
Not ignoring the verse in Deuteronomy that says men shouldn’t dress like women, and vice versa. However, looking at the overall context with which Deuteronomy was written as God telling the Israelites not to be like those other “heathens” and telling them not to do what the “heathens” do, not forbidding specific clothing (which everyone dressed alike back then anyway…). Though I do think it’s important to consider culture when talking about these things because the Bible was culturally relevant and context matters, therefore we as Christians should be culturally relevant. Culture doesn’t trump the Bible though, neither does tradition.
So once I ruled out clothes as being the marker of true Biblical femininity, I turned to personality traits. Surely things like gentleness, kindness, patience, and being nurturing are inherent to women?
No, not really. Being caring, gentle, nurturing, patient, loving ,and kind are traits Jesus says all Christians should display (Galatians 5: 22-23), and all Christians are to emulate Christ (Ephesians 5: 1-2)and “serve one another in love”. So then what is Biblical femininity if it’s not the way one dresses or acts?
Looking at actual women in the Bible is probably the best place to start. What does God say about women? What roles did He give them? What did He empower them to do?
In Exodus, Miriam is described as a prophet. Deborah was a judge, appointed by the Lord Himself as the highest ranking official in Israel, aka the president. Esther was basically Wonder Woman who saved her people, and the Proverbs 31 woman was a modern day boss babe, who took care of her family and brought her own field with her own money #baller. Rahab saved her entire fam.
Paul praised Phoebe, a deacon and called Priscilla his colleague, meaning they were both preaching and teaching the gospel to men and women. Paul also encouraged women to get educated by learning quietly from their husbands. He also said it’d be better if no one ever married (and Jesus also never married, so Biblical femininity can’t be tied to marriage and children either, because our highest calling as Christians, men and women, is to be like Christ and serve God not our families). Lydia opened a home church and brought salvation to her family. It’s mentioned Timothy learned the gospel from his grandma and mom. And Mary was chilling at the feet of Jesus while Martha was doing more housewife things. But Jesus didn’t tell Mary to go help Martha in the kitchen, he actually told Martha to chill out and praised Mary for choosing the more important thing (Luke 10: 38-42) .
In conclusion, trying to determine Biblically what is feminine is a moot point; wearing skirts, smiling, and baking bread does little to further the kingdom of God.
It’s asking the wrong question too. And more so, focusing on the wrong things (1 Peter 3: 3-4, 1 Samuel 16: 7). I doubt God cares if you wear jeans to church, so much as he cares if you are loving Him (obeying his law), and loving your neighbor and family. Yet we stay divided as Christians over things like this, that in the grand scheme of life doesn’t matter. We won’t be baking pastries in Heaven, but we will be surrounded by those we’ve brought to Christ. We won’t even be married in Heaven. And while some traits like gentleness may come a bit more easily to women, the marker of a true Christian is someone who displays the fruits of the spirit and is able to put down their natural, fleshly nature (Galatians 5:16. Romans 8:13). Gender isn’t an excuse to not exercise self-control, kindness, love, gentleness, joy, peace patience, and so on if you claim to be a Christian.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having certain convictions you personally want to follow (like not cutting your hair, not owning a tv, etc.) as long as it’s not harming anyone else, a sin, or is leading people away from Christ. And there’s nothing wrong with fitting into whatever your culture’s definition of femininity and masculinity is either in an effort to be “set apart” from the world.
But if you start preaching culture/traditions and personal preferences as the Word of God, and shaming everyone who doesn’t do things exactly the way you do them, you may want to spend a little bit more time at the feet of Jesus, examining your own motivations and humbling yourself. When you’re more focused on what your neighbor is wearing and doing than bringing your neighbor to Christ, you’ve completely lost the heart of the gospel and as such, the heart of God (2 Peter 3:9).