Awhile back, I was watching an interview with Pharrell. Known for his musical genius, he was in the news again with the launch of his album GIRL. I have not heard the album, so I can’t speak to its content. But his comments about the album struck me more than anything else. When asked why he felt the need to do an entire album devoted solely to women, he remarked that he loves women. Women are valuable. Women are great. And the fact that women face so much inequality in the world, he felt it was the least he could do. I get that. I was tracking with him there. But he went on.
He talked about pay inequity and limits on their ability to choose what they want to do with their own bodies. He even put his crusade for women in the same category as gay and lesbian rights. He essentially said that in 2014 America, we have no right to tell people how they should live or who they should love, and women get the worst of it in his opinion.
As I listened to his rant about equality and freedom, I kept thinking that he spoke with such authority. No one else can be his authority, or your authority, but even in his cry for independence he was speaking as one with authority. I was struck by how we really are doing what is right in our own eyes in 2014 America. No one has the right to tell us how to live. No one has the right to say anything is absolutely true. Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth.
And that is why I won’t stop talking about biblical womanhood. Why, you say? What does Pharrell have to do with biblical womanhood? Because as long as the culture feeds us an image of women that is contrary to God’s word, I will keep talking about biblical womanhood. As long as little boys and girls grow up thinking that it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, I will keep talking about biblical womanhood. As long as women (young and old) continue to believe that sex and flaunting their bodies is what makes them valuable and attractive, I will keep talking about biblical womanhood. As long as we continue to think that equality as image bearers means sameness of roles, I will keep talking about biblical womanhood.
Because at the end of the day it’s not about biblical womanhood at all. It is about the authority of God’s word. Do we believe it to be true? Do we believe God has really spoken and we can take him at his word? Or do we need a new interpretation or a new vision for a new day? We can’t move on from God’s word. We can’t graduate to something more compelling or culturally relevant. I have heard it said that women need theology, not more teaching on gender roles. I get that. I really do. Women need theology, that is absolutely certain. And more of it. But understanding how God wants us to live in this broken, sin-cursed world is theology in practice. It’s the theological legs to a body and head filled with knowledge. Biblical womanhood is theology in practice.
It really isn’t a new notion to ask the question, “Who has the authority to tell us how to live?” We’ve been asking it since our first parents believed those very words breathed out by the enemy. The cultural questioning of authority is really a questioning of God’s authority, asking if God can really be trusted.
So I will not pack up and go home on the biblical womanhood front. I know a lot of good friends who aren’t willing to do so either. We are here for the long haul. It’s not because I like a good fight. It’s not because I want to enter into endless debates about the meaning of headship. I really don’t. It is precisely because the world around us is telling a story about womanhood that is contrary to God’s word. And we know a better way forward. Every day we encounter women who are broken and battered by a world that is telling them lies about what it means to be a woman, and we know the Great Physician, who not only can heal them of their sins, but also show them why they were created in the first place. Every day we hear lies about God’s image and his rightful authority over his creation, and we know the truth. These aren’t silly arguments that evangelicals like to get into. They are eternal matters that tell a story about our creator, God.
Pharrell is right. Women are good for society. But it is precisely because they bear the image of the One who created them that they bring value to this world. Women have value because they image Another. They point to God and his glory displayed in his creation. And that, my friends, is why womanhood matters.