Podcast: Womanhood and the Bible (Abigail Dodds)

This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast collection.

What the Bible Says about Womanhood

On this episode of The Crossway Podcast, Abigail Dodds, creator of (A)Typical Girl: Free, Complete, and Known as in Christ takes a contemporary take a look at what the Bible really says about womanhood, discussing among the variations and similarities between women and men, reflecting on using the time period “complementarianism,” and inspiring us to point out kindness and style towards others when discussing these points.

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Full Transcript

01:24 – Welcome

Matt Tully
Abigail, thanks for becoming a member of us on The Crossway Podcast.

Abigail Dodds
Thanks for having me!

01:29 – Why a Ebook on Womanhood?

Matt Tully
So within the introduction to your e book, you notice that you simply by no means actually deliberate to put in writing a e book on womanhood. You really ask rhetorically, form of humorously, has ever a subject been so fixated on, so maligned, idolized, marginalized, criticized, and customarily made a large number of? And the reply you give is in fact, Sure. There are different troublesome subjects, however that is definitely one in all them. And also you’ve written a e book on womanhood. So what’s it that you’re hoping to contribute to the dialog?

Abigail Dodds
If I may put it into one phrase, I’m hoping to contribute Christ to the dialog round womanhood. I believe there have been a number of good and necessary issues mentioned, biblical issues mentioned, true issues mentioned about womanhood; however one factor that—at the very least in my publicity to what’s been written—I noticed as missing is grounding the concept of ladies in Christ. Not simply pointing ladies to Christ, however grounding their identification and even their creation as from and thru Christ. And in order that was actually what I hoped to contribute as a result of actually, that was the factor that had made womanhood lovely to me. It was the way in which I discovered my footing, as a girl, was to not simply behold Christ—although that’s of utmost significance—however to see myself as made by Christ and for Christ.

In order that was the primary motive. And the push, the impetus, the drive to put in writing it was the hope to provide ladies this hope and a basis that I knew would by no means fail them; somewhat than primarily pointing to a portrait of splendid womanhood that may generally sound prefer it’s indifferent from Christ.

03:24 – Dos and Don’ts of Womanhood

Matt Tully
It looks like a number of instances our conversations about manhood and womanhood, however particularly womanhood, they concentrate on the issues that girls aren’t allowed to do. You realize, it’s nearly like that that turns into the locus of the eye. What do you concentrate on that?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely, I might not be important of people that speak about that, as a result of it’s an actual situation, so to by no means speak about it doesn’t assist anybody. Principally, you aren’t being intellectually sincere in case you don’t ever point out these issues which might be clearly within the Scriptures. But when it’s all you speak about, you additionally aren’t being as true to the Scriptures as you could possibly be, as a result of the emphasis of the Scriptures is in fact Christ. It’s his particular person and work. So my aim was to not write the manifesto on these are the issues ladies can do and issues are the issues ladies can’t do and let’s parse out these specific texts to see if we are able to actually nail this down.

That wasn’t my aim in any respect. It was a lot extra easy than that. It was simply to say, What wouldn’t it imply if we actually began understanding ourselves as made by Christ and for Christ? Attempting to do one thing easier, actually.

04:45 – Grace-Crammed Dialogue amongst Christians

Matt Tully
Yeah, it looks like you’re saying we’re typically too fast to leap to What does a biblical man or a biblical girl do? What do they appear to be in our lives right now? And we don’t take the time to actually discover the query, what did God do when he made us? Laying that basis, such as you say, earlier than we get too involved with among the sensible outworkings of these items.

I wish to take a bit step again to the way in which that we’ve this dialog loads. That is clearly, as you write in your e book, a fraught situation, a fraught subject. However for Christians who do embrace the Bible as authoritative over their lives, as authoritative over this situation particularly, it looks like the query isn’t a lot Do I imagine that God has the appropriate to talk to those points? We’d say he does, however possibly the query is extra *What precisely is the Bible saying about these points? How ought to we interpret what it is saying after which apply it after we’ve discerned what it’s saying. Assuming you agree with that, what affect ought to which have on how we go about discussing this situation within the church with different Christians?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely it can make us much more gracious in the direction of each other if we assume that individuals do wish to honor God’s phrases within the Scripture. However I’ll make one caveat to that, and that’s that: I say this from private expertise, I’m not making an attempt to level my finger at individuals—however I do suppose we are able to completely imagine that the Bible is God’s Phrase. We are able to completely imagine that it’s authoritative and that we should undergo it. However we are able to imagine all these issues with out liking it. So we are able to imagine that sure, it’s my job as a spouse to undergo my husband; and but, I won’t like that. And so mainly what I’m doing at that time is I’m tolerating God. I’m tolerating his phrases as a result of I do know that I can’t change them. I do know that I’m a created particular person. I do know that he’s telling me what I am purported to do with my life. And but, I can’t say with a clear and pure coronary heart, This God, his manner is ideal, with a way of pleasure and gratitude that he did it this fashion. Not another manner. He did it this fashion. He made us female and male.

And so I do suppose there’s a dialog available, not round whether or not all of us agree the Bible is true and authoritative as a result of I believe we principally do in our circles; however on whether or not we are able to all say, with a cheerful coronary heart, This God, his manner is ideal. I do not simply tolerate what he tells me. I really like what he tells me. I really like what his directions are. And actually, I believe that is the place the rub is. If we are able to get there, I believe these different conversations will evaporate, all of them will get higher. All of them will likely be simpler and fewer fraught if we are able to love what he’s executed. As a result of I don’t typically suppose that the primary drawback is that we aren’t decoding issues the identical. Typically that could be a actual situation, like there’s some interpretive variations. However most frequently what I hear isn’t that. It is an angst over Nicely, I see that’s what he did. However I’m unsure that I can sense that it’s good.

08:22 – Taking God at His Phrase

Matt Tully
What do you suppose are among the the explanation why individuals would battle to imagine that what God has mentioned is finally good for us?

Abigail Dodds
Part of that’s completely not their fault at all times. Once more, I’m not seeking to level fingers at individuals and simply say, Hey, get in line. Begin loving what God mentioned. In the end we do want to do this, however I’ll say that there are occasions and locations and possibly some church cultures the place the appliance of a few of these ideas has been executed so poorly that there are ladies who legitimately really feel the harm of that. They legitimately really feel the strain round even what God says and the way it’s being utilized. They usually equate the appliance then with God’s phrases. Okay, in order that’s an actual factor.

However then there’s one other actual factor that occurs, and that’s that we girls additionally want to simply be allowed to do no matter we would like. And in order that’s only a human drawback that each human brings to the desk as a result of we’re sinners. And so when God does put a restrict on us not directly or one other, it’s completely human nature to kick towards that, particularly in a tradition when all the things is aggressive and all the things is oriented towards *I don’t simply do what I do. I do what I do in mild of what that particular person does. *

09:47 – Cultural Affect

Matt Tully
Yeah, I wish to come again to that class of ladies who’ve been harm, genuinely harm, by individuals who possibly declare to be representing what Scripture says about this subject, I wish to come again to that in a minute. However turning extra to conservative Christians, do you suppose there are methods that we’ve let tradition, possibly a previous period of American tradition, over-influence how we go about enthusiastic about gender and ladies particularly. Is that occuring on the opposite aspect as effectively in some methods?

Abigail Dodds
Sure. I do. Once you return and examine 1950s advertisements or literature, issues of that nature, it’s clearly not a Christian factor that is happening, per se. So we don’t wish to root our concepts about what it means to be a Christian girl in that. And that’s one of many issues that I needed to be actually clear about within the e book is that if the roots of our beliefs for Christian ladies might be traced to any secular splendid, any splendid that we discover—even when it’s Lizzy Bennet in Pleasure and Prejudice—all these completely different concepts we get in our head about what it would appear to be to simply kill it as a Christian girl, the fruit on our tree will likely be rotten if we begin to make these our beliefs. The one seed out of which a Christian girl can develop is the seed of Christ. And right here’s the gorgeous factor about that, is that that seed can develop in any tradition, in any individuals group in the complete world. And so it’s a lot extra far reaching, a lot extra profound, completely influential in each doable manner, so we don’t wish to accept these different beliefs that the world sells us.

11:26 – Complementarianism

Matt Tully
What do you concentrate on the time period complementarianism? Do you prefer it? Do you dislike it? Do you employ it? Or do you have got one thing else that you simply like to make use of when referring to what the Bible teaches about men and women’s relationships and roles?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely, the explanation that I might say I don’t like it’s as a result of it’s exhausting to say.

Matt Tully
It’s a mouthful.

Abigail Dodds
It’s a mouthful.

Matt Tully
And spell.

Abigail Dodds
May we choose a neater phrase? After all it isn’t good, and so we’re going to deliver a number of baggage with the time period as a result of it can have been misused. There could have been every kind of issues which might be exhausting about it, and but the women and men who labored to work on that time period and what they meant by it, I wish to honor. I wish to honor these women and men as a result of they did a really exhausting factor. And it was a wanted factor. And whether or not the time period will get dropped or not, godly ideas and knowledge from God’s Phrase won’t ever exit of fashion. I imply, it can by no means be in type with the world, however it can by no means, by no means run dry. And I believe that’s what their aim was. To assist us be godly Christian women and men in a manner that glorifies God. And so I might by no means dishonor that in any manner. I might say, Thanks. And, we’re messing it up. Sure. And the time period has been misused. Sure. And can it final ceaselessly? I don’t actually care, actually. I’m not sure to those phrases. There are two phrases that I gained’t let go of and that’s Christian and girl. These are the phrases God has given me and I’m gonna dangle onto these. I’ll combat tooth and nail to say that’s who I’m. And so you understand, biblical manhood and womanhood, complementarianism, it’s proper and good to try to outline what we imply and so I perceive why these phrases come about and I’ve full respect for the individuals who got here up with them and use them, however I’m not going to cry in the event that they disappear. However I’ll by no means ever, ever, ever let go of the phrases God has referred to as me to be, which is Christian and girl.

13:34 – Addressing Sexism and Chauvinism

Matt Tully
So possibly there’s somebody listening to us discuss proper now they usually have been harm by individuals who possibly claimed the time period complementarian or they declare to be talking on behalf of the Bible with regard to gender roles. Possibly the particular person listening has confronted overt sexism or chauvinism or possibly even abuse by the hands of somebody like this. And so, understandably, they is likely to be fairly hesitant to listen to you say that this can be a good factor. What would you say to that particular person?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely to begin with, I might say, “I’m sorry that has been your experience. The Lord sees what you have been through. He’s not ignorant of it and he can use that for the good of his church.” I don’t say that with triteness as a result of these are deep pains that individuals carry, however I’ll say this: in Christ we’ve been outfitted to not simply attempt to obtain this splendid. We’ve been outfitted to stroll by each circumstance, most of which won’t be what we hoped for. A lot of the circumstances of our life aren’t the issues that we count on to return. They’re not what we might have deliberate in our knowledge. They’re not in any manner the best option to go about our life. And that’s really the precise place the place God chooses to refine us, to form us, to do his deepest work in us.

And so within the ache of these circumstances that possibly this girl has walked by, I might say to begin with, don’t hand over on the church. Don’t hand over on the church. The church continues to be God’s greatest and solely plan for us. It’s the place the place his individuals reside and it’s possible you’ll have to discover a new church. So don’t hear me say, “Stick around for a church who’s teaching the Bible horribly and treating its members with contempt.” That’s not what I’m saying. I do suppose leaving a church is a reasonably large deal, so it must be executed with care and thought and legit causes, however don’t hand over on the church. Don’t hand over in your brothers. Your brothers in Christ are God’s grace to you and you’ve got possibly had some experiences with some males that weren’t God’s grace to you. You’ll have been sinned towards in important methods. And but I might say, don’t hand over in your brothers in Christ. These are your blood purchased brothers. They belong to him and in as a lot as doable hope in God that he’s at work in his individuals, generally very slowly. Acknowledge that God’s persons are not God himself. We’re purported to be his ambassadors and his representatives, however God really does love his daughters. And so don’t suppose that as a result of one in all his individuals acquired it mistaken that God acquired it mistaken. God by no means will get it mistaken. And he didn’t get it mistaken when he made you a girl. And he didn’t get it mistaken when he gave the boundaries and directions that he gave for ladies in his Phrase.

16:58 – Personhood vs. Womanhood

Matt Tully
In your e book you quote Elisabeth Elliot, who wrote, “I don’t want anyone treating me as a person rather than as a woman. Our sexual differences are the terms of our life and to obscure them in any way is to weaken the fabric of life itself.” Unpack that a bit bit. Why did you select to incorporate that within the e book?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely, to begin with, no one can say it like she will be able to, can they? She simply has this fashion of incisively saying the very factor that’s true. And I believe what she is saying there may be not that girls aren’t individuals, so that will be the mistaken option to take that quote. That in some way she’s saying, Nicely, ladies aren’t individuals. So I don’t need anybody treating me like an individual. What she’s actually saying is that there are not any generic individuals. There are women and men. That doesn’t imply it’s mistaken to name somebody an individual. She’s not making an attempt to be just like the speech police on all of us. However what she’s saying is, “Do not deal with me as a generic human once I’ve been made as a feminine. And to do this, to start out seeing individuals as a generic type of humanity regardless of their intercourse, is a class that doesn’t exist. And we shouldn’t act prefer it does exist. We should always deal with individuals as what they really are, which is female and male. And in order that’s why I believe she says it weakens the material of life itself.

18:24 – The Distinctiveness of Womanhood

Matt Tully
However couldn’t somebody listening say, I hear that, however the actuality is that the inverse is usually been true. Ladies have been handled merely as ladies and it’s been indifferent from what it means to be a person maybe, they usually’re handled nearly as a separate class altogether. How would you reply to that?

Abigail Dodds
Sure, so what I might say isn’t that they’ve been handled merely as a girl. I might say they’ve been handled merely because the distinctiveness of what it means to be a girl. There are issues that overlap about women and men, however these issues that overlap about women and men aren’t the class human. After which over right here the place issues don’t overlap, that is feminine. And over right here on the opposite aspect the place issues don’t overlap, that’s male. No. It’s simply female and male, they usually have issues about them that overlap. What we are inclined to do although is discuss in regards to the overlapping a part of these two realities because the human half. And that really degrades female and male in a big manner as a result of what it says is, “Oh, to be woman is to be this thing over here.” When it’s not. And we often don’t speak about males that manner, which is fascinating. So I perceive the impulse to make ladies be ok with themselves by saying, “You’re a human, not just a woman.” However do you see how that really degrades the total actuality of being a girl?

19:51 – Are Generalities Useful?

Matt Tully
So I believe that hits on an necessary a part of this dialog as a result of I believe so typically we do kind of assign qualities or attributes to males vs. ladies. And generally they’ll overlap, generally they don’t appear to overlap at the very least within the generalities. What do you concentrate on that? Will we have to be cautious about how we discuss in regards to the genders, to not make it look like, males are going to desire to doing issues open air, they’re form of outdoorsy, whereas ladies are usually extra indoorsy, and many others.?

Abigail Dodds
Proper. I don’t love all of the stereotypes, however definitely there are some which might be there for a motive. Stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere, and so I additionally don’t wish to be oversensitive to the stereotypes. You realize, the stereotype of ladies speaking extra. Nicely, typically possibly that’s true. I have never seemed on the numbers or any analysis on that. I do know that quite a lot of associates I’ve their husbands really will discuss greater than they do. And so I do know that it might typically be true, however that doesn’t make it a common truism. And so one factor to bear in mind as we mature as adults, is to not take each generality personally. We should always be capable of hear some generalities that don’t apply to us and say, “Oh, that one didn’t apply to me.”

21:09 – Husbands Serving to Wives to Flourish

Matt Tully
Talking to husbands proper now. How can we do a greater job loving and caring for our wives as ladies? What does it appear to be for a husband to assist his spouse flourish within the full manner that you’re laying out in your e book?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely I might first say I believe what Peter says, “to live with your wife in an understanding way.” Additionally Paul says that you simply’re to “treat your wife as though she were part of your own body.” You realize, you don’t despise your personal physique. These are some extremely humble methods of treating one other particular person. Peter additionally says that you simply’re supposed “to honor your wife as the weaker vessel.” So typically we hear “weaker vessel” and we predict, Nicely, that is degrading. And but Peter’s entire level was, No, that makes her worthy of honor. So we frequently don’t consider it that manner. So these are actually necessary.

I might say one main factor that husbands may do for his or her wives, and possibly even simply males on the whole for ladies, is to take heed to them. Simply be prepared to take heed to their ideas, their views, and take them critically. That may go such a good distance in constructing belief. And don’t do it simply because it’s like, “Okay, I’ll put in my five minutes of listening so I can move on.” However pay attention with an angle that claims, “Maybe my mind will be changed. Maybe there’s something in here for me that I didn’t see before.” That’s simply massively useful in how we relate to 1 one other and in serving to ladies take part within the lifetime of the physique. As a result of with out that willingness to pay attention really to the ladies round you, I believe ladies simply shut down. They gained’t attempt to communicate.

After which on the flip aspect of that possibly, can be for husbands in regard to their wives. I might say don’t be afraid of your spouse. That sounds odd, however there are a number of robust ladies on the market. Ladies which might be extraordinarily articulate, that don’t have any drawback ensuring that their husband listens to them and that their views get heard. And for that husband I might say, “Do your wife a service and love her enough to not be afraid of her.” So, when she’s saying one thing strongly that you simply simply would somewhat not have interaction with this as a result of, Whoa! She’s acquired a number of opinions about this and I haven’t thought this by. Don’t shut down. Interact. Be prepared to push again. Should you suppose that there’s one thing that she has mentioned that’s actually mistaken, not in keeping with the Scriptures, have the exhausting dialog. This isn’t solely your spouse, that is your sister in Christ. And so love her sufficient to have a tough dialog together with her, to shepherd her alongside. Be the form of man who can really try this. Be the form of man who is aware of God’s Phrase effectively sufficient to do this.

24:06 – Recommendation to Pastors

Matt Tully
What recommendation would you provide to pastors as conservative, Bible-believing Christians who affirm the variations within the genders, within the completely different roles that God has assigned to every gender, that non secular management within the church is a task given solely to males, what can pastors do to provide ladies a voice within the context of the native church and be sure that they’re listening to them and listening to their views and opinions and their insights into what God has mentioned?

Abigail Dodds
Nicely, one thing actually novel. I imply, you could possibly ask. You could possibly simply ask. You could possibly arrange a gathering. You could possibly have a household over for dinner and simply have a dialog. I believe that’s essentially the most . . . that’s the great thing about the native church is that we should not have to have formal committees to resolve how one can give ladies a voice. As a matter of reality, I believe that’s not essentially the most useful option to go about it. However what can be so beautiful and life giving and natural, for lack of a greater phrase, is why not eat dinner collectively and simply have a sturdy dialog within the security of somebody’s house, with the youngsters working round?

One factor too that I believe pastors may try this I believe can be an enormous present to ladies is to be actually sincere about what you suppose. Be actually sincere, even when it’s not going to earn you factors. After which see what occurs. See what the push again is, if there may be push again. Enable that for a non-public dialog, however personal conversations are the place these items need to occur, for my part. I don’t suppose the general public world is ready to have sufficient love that these conversations can transfer ahead in a very wholesome manner. We are able to discuss right here on this podcast and we can provide recommendation and recommendation is at all times actually useful and I hope individuals can take it to coronary heart, particularly if it’s good recommendation, however the work of it needs to be executed in relationships that really exist and in conversations that really occur. And I believe the native church is the place that has to occur. And don’t get too slowed down by what you see taking place extra publicly. Simply maintain your eyes on the ball the place you’re at and attempt to domesticate one thing small and wholesome.

26:25 – Civil Dialog

Matt Tully
Yeah, it looks like we are able to typically be so targeted on the bickering taking place on Twitter or between blogs or on podcasts like this. And nearly like that excuses us from the precise exhausting work of speaking to our neighbor or our spouse or somebody within the church and really working by actual points in that context.

Abigail Dodds
Proper. And that’s actually the place the affect of God’s kingdom comes, is in these nitty-gritty conversations and moments. As a result of that’s the place we are able to make errors after which nonetheless go to that particular person and say, “I’m sorry. You know, we were having that conversation. You invited me to share my opinion and I vented.” Not that venting is at all times . . . effectively, we don’t wish to give full vent to our wrath so I wish to watch out how I speak about this however, you will have mentioned some issues that will have been a authentic sin towards your brother or sister in that dialog as a result of these are private issues and we’re going to misspeak. We should always simply acknowledge that reality up entrance.

Matt Tully Yeah, that’s useful nearly to say that explicitly as we get right into a dialog like, “We might step on each others toes here. We need to have some grace here.”

Abigail Dodds
Proper. And so when you have got a dialog one of many actually necessary issues is to say, “There’s going to be a follow up.” Or, “Let’s meet again in a month.” As a result of then what occurs is you don’t need to cram all of it into one. As a result of somebody is likely to be coming with ten years of experiences that they’re making an attempt to type by. One dialog isn’t going to get you too far down the street. And in case you attempt to cram all of it in, you’ll find yourself very a lot misspeaking since you’ll be so making an attempt to power all of it. And so, simply figuring out that, Wow, that is my brother or sister in Christ and we go to the identical church, so this dialog can go on for the following ten or fifteen years. And we’re going to continue to learn and maintain strolling and I will apologize a number of instances and that’s not going to damage the connection. It’s really going to construct belief within the relationship.*

So typically we predict if we mess up, then the connection goes to be spoiled, or we’re by no means going to speak about it once more. When actually, if we’re Christian individuals, what that does is it offers us a possibility to let everybody depend on Christ. We’re all now going to go to him for grace. We’re going to go to him for forgiveness. And that’s the place we’re going to get the grace we have to forgive our brother or sister and now we’re going to maintain strolling collectively in a manner that’s edifying and the place we really know one another, which might be scary, however is sweet.

28:56 – Closing

Matt Tully
Nicely Abigail, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us right now on The Crossway Podcast and sharing knowledge from God’s Phrase and from your personal expertise, and serving to us to navigate these points. These fraught points. However they’re good, and there may be knowledge available from God’s Phrase as we discuss collectively.

Abigail Dodds
Thanks a lot for having me.


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