Some women find themselves attracted to conversations about all things cultural, political, and philosophical, while others find themselves deeply intimidated by these subjects. Unfortunately, I have noticed that both the culturally curious and the culturally intimidated women in the evangelical church often refrain from entering these conversations for fear of sounding insubordinate or uneducated. I do not believe this to be the fault of our brothers, but the sin of silence and apathy instead.
Particularly on issues like racial reconciliation, cultural engagement, a pro-life ethic, and femininity, the voice of evangelical women is needed to complete a part of the conversation otherwise lacking.
Why Should Evangelical Women Speak Up?
Nature & Nurture
In his book, 7 Women, Eric Metaxas writes brief biographies of seven women whose lives were, and are still, influential not because they were the first to do or achieve something a man already had, but distinctively because they were women. Metaxas’ words are my own sentiments on the feminine abilities to be uniquely influential:
“[T]he stories of these great women show us that men and women are not interchangeable. There are things men can and should do that women cannot, and there are things that women can and should do that men cannot… Indeed we are specifically created as complements to each other, as different halves of a whole, and that whole reflects the glory of God… So when men cease to be such or when women deny their uniqueness, they make that complementarity impossible, and the whole, as it were, suffers.”
Now, you may not be fond of all the women Metaxas chose for the book, but the point remains that women, when operating within their unique femininity, bring an element of influence to the table that only a woman can.
Sisters, we must recognize that leaving our brothers to entertain and maintain these conversations is a disservice to them, ourselves, and the culture around us. Not only that, we deny the abilities the Lord has created unique to the woman but necessary for human flourishing.
Many people are inclined to think that a woman’s sense of nurturing is designed only for motherhood. But when that innate sense of nurturing is brought to tense, and at times volatile conversations it can warm cold hearts and quell untamed fires.
Yet this same sense of nurture can make women the fiercest contenders standing against injustice, defending the defenseless, and protecting the least of these. Nurturing is part of our nature, and the struggles we face in our churches and in our culture can certainly benefit from the gospel-believing woman’s capacity for tenderness and fierceness.
Part of the Politics
August 18th of this year will mark the 96th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women in the U.S. the right to vote. And once again, us women find ourselves at the center of much political discussion in this election year.
Unfortunately for a while now, but never so starkly, women’s rights and progress have become the adversary to the rights of unborn babies as though only one could have rights and not the other. As Christians, we know that the rights of women and the rights of the unborn child are not a competition, but our enemy has drawn clear battle lines between the two in our culture.
Even so, there is still a waging war on femininity itself, which has also taken stage in American politics. The temptation to believe women are no different from men is the subtle seduction of a shrewd enemy whose desire is to lure God’s most loved created beings into the trap of rejecting the beauty of diversity in this most beloved creation.
This is not, however, any new tactic or new offense on the distinctions between man and woman. Hannah More was a woman who stood boldly for the abolition of the British slave trade, advocated for the education of women and the poor, sought to bear Christian witness in a morally corrupt culture, and promoted the goodness of God’s creative distinctions between men and women.
In her biography of Hannah More, Fierce Convictions, Karen Swallow Prior quotes More saying:
“‘[I]s it not better to succeed as women, than to fail as men? … to be good originals, rather than bad imitators?’”
In politics and in culture, Hannah More understood that bearing Christian witness would at times look similarly and at other times differently from her male counterparts, but that she was not any less responsible to bear these convictions. In fact, she embraced the opportunities to do so in ways her male counterparts could not.
Likewise, in our own culture Christian women have a responsibility to bear Christian witness and testify to the truths that no, the rights of women do not compete with the rights of unborn babies, and no, equality with men does not mean being just like men. We too can embrace the opportunities to speak in a way that is distinct from our brothers, unique to us as women, and true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, for any woman who finds herself remaining silent out of fear of being insubordinate or sounding uneducated, know that your silence does not bear witness to the gospel in light of these difficult issues. In these conversations on race, abortion, womanhood, and culture our Christian brothers and our culture need to hear the voice of evangelical women, and we need to offer it.
Counter to culture, I believe the very things that make us great homemakers, caregivers, and mothers are the very things that make us great leaders, influencers, and thinkers; these very things make us great women, great, gospel-believing women. This is why we cannot be silent.
Laura Thigpen holds a B.A. in English and Sociology from the University of Mobile. She works as a Preschool Teacher and as a Personal Assistant at SEBTS. Currently adoptive parents-to-be, Laura and her husband live in Raleigh, North Carolina.