Thinking Positively About Womanhood
About the Guest
Who is teaching your teen what it means to be a woman? Reflecting on biblical womanhood, author Susan Hunt encourages women to think positively about their God-given identity as life-givers and image bearers of the Lord, rather than listening to the culture. Susan calls upon older women to mentor the younger women in their lives and asks them to reflect on the legacy that they'll leave someday.
Susan HuntSusan Hunt is a mother and grandmother, a pastor’s wife, and the former Director of Women’s Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America. Holding a degree in Christian education from Columbia Theological Seminary, she is coauthor of Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.
Who is teaching your teen what it means to be a woman?
Thinking Positively About Womanhood
Bob: Who is instructing your daughter in what it means to be a woman? Here is Susan Hunt.
Susan: What we have to realize is the world’s message is being delivered to them visually and verbally, 24/7. We can’t just walk up and have this conversation, “Let me start talking to you about your legacy of womanhood.” The discipling process is both relational as well as content. We have to have both.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 8th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine. What can older women do with their daughters or with younger women in their church or in their community to help them get the message of what it means to be a woman? That is what we are going to talk about today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You have spent a big chunk of time, over the last decade—
Dennis: Yes, longer than I ever intended to spend writing a book to men.
Bob: This has been kind of a birthing process for you—a burden of your heart to really come around guys and encourage them to be the men God has called them to be. I was thinking about that kind of life message in you and thinking about our guest today. She is kind of the female counterpart. She has had the same burden on her heart, but aimed for women.
Dennis: I am looking at what Susan Hunt has written here. Bob, one, two, three, four, five, I mean, she has been a whole lot more prolific.
Susan, welcome back to FamilyLife Today. It has been a long time since you have joined us.
Susan: It has been a long time, and it is so good to see you both.
Dennis: It is good to have you back. Susan, for a number of years, was the director for the Presbyterian Church in America’s “Women in the Church” ministry. Today, you are a consultant. You are a writer, obviously, and a speaker. You have three adult children, 12 grandchildren, and you are married to a pastor—
Susan: I am.
Dennis: Pastor Gene. How long have you guys been married?
Susan: Forty-eight years.
Dennis: So you have just a little bit to share—
Susan: Just a little—
Dennis: with women. Tell us how you got the burden here for young ladies and helping moms. Let me just set this up for our listeners today. If you are a dad listening in, or a grandfather, this would be something very important for you to listen to just in terms of having a sense of where you want to see your granddaughters go and how you can assist their mother and father in helping to rear the next generation.
Of course, moms and grandmothers are really going to benefit from this because this is really who you have targeted for this series of workbooks that are really mentoring guides.
Susan: As far as the material itself, it is geared toward women; but it is so necessary for husbands and grandfathers to understand biblical womanhood because our sons need to understand, “What kind of woman do we look for? What are the qualities in a woman that we should be concerned about and that we should be preparing to lead?”
Bob: Well, in fact, it is interesting when you look at Proverbs 31. It is imparted definition for women of what womanhood ought to look like; but it was written to a young boy to say, “This is what you ought to be looking for. This is the description of who you should be seeking out.”
Susan: Absolutely. When I teach Proverbs 31, I used to begin with verse 10; and then I thought, “There is something wrong with this.” So, I looked at it again and realized Proverbs 31 is really about biblical manhood and womanhood. Her instructions to her son are just—it just nails biblical manhood; but then she says, “Now, you cannot be what God called you to be—you cannot be that man of justice and of mercy without a godly woman.”
Bob: Without a compliment there for you.
Susan: I think it is a beautiful picture of Complementarianism.
Dennis: You begin your workbook with Psalm 144, verse 12. It says, “Our daughters will be like pillars” (and I find this a really interesting play on words) “carved to adorn a palace.” You say there is a word, “pillar,” there that is really important that we catch the meaning of.
Susan: Right. It is not the same Hebrew word that is used to refer to Lot’s wife who became a pillar of salt. That word means “to be stopped and trapped.” I think we can think of that in terms of many women are stopped and trapped in immaturity—self-centered immaturity.
But the word in Psalm 144 is a word that means a supportive pillar. It is a connecting pillar—the kind of pillar that holds up buildings; and often, they are not seen. But if they weaken, the entire structure is in jeopardy.
The word, “carve,” is equally important because carving is not a one-time event. It is a process. It is a tender and tedious process. I really think this has reference to discipleship—as the Lord is carving us, but also, as we as disciplers, are carving these young women and helping them to become those pillars of support in the home and in the church.
Bob: Susan, the young woman today who would hear you talk about this supportive beam that is unseen, and who would go, “Now, wait. That doesn’t seem fair. Why do I have to be the unseen support and guys get to be seen—everybody looks at them and I’m supposed to be this hidden-away pillar. I’d like a little recognition and attention for the role I play.”
Susan: I understand that; but I think once we really understand the biblical perspective of this, it takes on a whole new meaning. The unseen-ness of it becomes a thing of real beauty.
We have to go back to Genesis. Actually, the word for pillar is a word that is similar to the word, “helper,” when God says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The two words are very similar, both have reference to support; but when we look at the word in Genesis, we see that it is a word that is often used to refer to God as our helper. Immediately, we see a different kind of perspective on it. As we understand how God is our helper, we begin to see that this is a very strong word and it is a very relational word—a very nurturing word—which is exactly how God designed us as women.
Dennis: Susan, you created a series of workbooks, journals, mentoring guides to help moms really address this carving process with their pre-teen and teen. Where did you get the burden for this and, really, the idea?
Susan: I had written several books on biblical womanhood. Then, as our grandchildren began to be teenagers, I began to think more about that particular age group. I have always been burdened about one generation telling the next generation the glories of the Lord; but I began to think more intentionally about telling our young women the glories of our creation design and redemptive calling.
Then, I was speaking at a conference on biblical womanhood; and afterwards, a young college woman was obviously troubled as she asked me a question. She said, “How can I possibly think biblically about my womanhood when I am constantly being told that, “Independence is power; to determine my own destiny and pursue my own dreams”? I just gasped. I thought, she is being swallowed up by a secular feminist culture.
My answer to her may sound simplistic, but I think it is biblical. I said, “Go to your church. Go to the women’s ministry in your church and ask godly women to speak the truth of womanhood into your life as a counterpoint to what you are hearing from the world.” This is what Titus 2 tells us to do. Older women are to be training younger women.
Dennis: Susan, I am going to stop you there.
Dennis: I am going to stop you because I wish younger women could do just what you said—could go to the older women in their church and say, “Point me in the right direction. You are a godly woman.” Now, I want to make a bold statement. “There are a lot of older women in the church who have been swallowed up by the same barrage of messages. They have bought into the same feminist lie—to seek your own spot; to be powerful by being a woman who roars.”
Susan: Exactly. I trembled as I gave her that answer, but it is the biblical answer. I trembled because Number 1—that question. I wondered, “Is her church equipping the women to do that?” Then, right on the heels of it, was the second reason that I just trembled. That is, “How did one of our covenant daughters get to college without knowing the answer to her own question?”
I could not shake that. I could not shake it. A passion was birthed. I thought, “We have to do something. We have to give the tools to parents and to churches to equip them to tell the next generation how to think biblically about their womanhood.”
Bob: As you gave that advice to her, I thought to myself, “Okay. Let’s say she is going to follow it. She is going to go back to her church. She is going to look for godly older women who can help equip her; and like you said, Dennis, there are a lot of women, older women, who have been influenced by the culture as well. But if she was to look for women who have joy, who have contentment, who have peace in their heart, who can smile at trouble, she would find women who have embraced biblical womanhood.
If she looks at women and sees women who are frustrated, discontented, whose spirits are troubled, they will be the women who have bought the lie. That is where I think this is so critical.
If a young woman says, “Well, what I really want in life is achievement and success. I don’t want any limitations on what I can or should be.” She may find there is a restlessness in her own soul. That comes with a price; but if she finds, “I want to be who God wants me to be,” there is peace, there is joy, and there is contentment. There may be times of frustration, but there is a blessing that comes with that that is unshakeable.
Dennis: You know, the world does not need another reflection of itself. Unfortunately, too often in the Christian community, instead of going back to the Book, as you have, Susan, and reflecting the truth of Scripture about—for that matter, men or women—we have reflected back to the world this feminism that has said, “Seek your own rights. Seek your own positions. Seek your own power.” As a result, we have lost our saltiness in the culture.
What you are doing here—I really agree with this. It really is what Bob is talking about, as well. You are equipping moms to do the work of carving, of discipling their daughters at home, where it was intended to occur in the first place.
Bob: Well, not just moms but mentors. You are calling on all of the older women in the church to see all the younger women in the church as their “daughters” and to make this kind of investment. Right?
Susan: Oh, yes. Whether we are actually the ones doing the discipling, we should be investing in them relationally. We should be praying for those who are the disciples. One of the young women on your staff picked me up last night at the airport—just a beautiful young woman. She began telling me how she is mentoring a group of girls. She said, “But I feel like I need a mentor.”
I told her, “That is the picture I have in my mind.” I see many of these very young women, who are the ones who are actually discipling the girls in our churches; but these young women feel like they need to be discipled. That is one of the things I tried to do in the leader’s guide for this material—is to disciple many of those young women who are discipling our teen girls—and to just put my arms around them and nurture them; and that by the end of the process, they will feel like they had grown spiritually.
Dennis: What I hear you saying is that as a young woman is taking a teenager through this, whether it be her mother or just a woman who is discipling a teenager, as she goes through it, she is being mentored by you in the leader’s guide you have put together. Right?
Susan: That is my prayer. I have prayed that will happen. I invest more in the leader’s guide than I do in the student piece.
Dennis: You wrap all of your content in one of your leader guides around the theme of legacy. Now, Bob and I have done a number of series here on FamilyLife Today about legacy. The tendency, I think, is to think that legacy tends to be a male term—just for men to leave a legacy; but women leave a legacy, as well. Don’t they?
Susan: Oh, absolutely! Actually, whether we want to or not.
We do leave a legacy. The terminology that we see—going back, again, to Genesis—after the fall into sin, then God gives that first revelation about the Covenant of Grace, of the Gospel of Grace, when He pronounces the curse upon Satan. Imbedded in that is the first promise of the Savior.
It is so interesting to look at that and to see Adam’s response to that Gospel message. The first thing we see is that Adam named his wife. The fact that Adam named means that he had been restored to his creation function as head. Naming is an indicator of headship; but the interesting thing is, “What did he name her?”
He named her Eve, which means life-giver. Eve had been restored. The woman who had become a life-taker, because of the Gospel, was restored to her ability to be a life-giver. There we have the legacy. Women are either life-givers—and that is not just biological—we are redeemed to be life-givers in every season of life, every relationship, every circumstance. In fact, we are life-givers or life-takers. The legacy we are going to give is the legacy of a life-giver or a life-taker.
Bob: You know, it is interesting when we talk about that word, “legacy.” Oftentimes, younger people will think, “That is something I need to think about when I get older.” We don’t stop to think about leaving a legacy until, I don’t know, you are a grandfather or you are sending your kids off to college—something like that. You are talking to teenage girls about their legacy—
Susan: Yes, because they are building it now. They are building it right now. So, what we have tried to do is to give the tools to gradually begin to look and see, “What does Scripture say about this topic?” and to put it all in the context of the Gospel.
One thing we have to be careful about is, “We must not just give them a behavioral code—a checklist: ‘Do this, this, and this; and you are the godly woman.’”
Dennis: Right. I agree.
Susan: We have to go to the heart. We have got to pray the Gospel to their hearts.
Dennis: I really like what you are saying, Susan, because you are talking about an older woman—and, again, it could be someone in their 20s—stepping into a young lady’s life and saying, “Let me introduce you to Christ and to His forgiveness, how you walk with Him, and how you get to know Him.”
I know this young lady who picked you up at the airport. This is the way she thinks. She is thinking, “Multi-generational impact.” She is thinking about, “How I can disciple young ladies with the Bible and with the truth about Jesus Christ and His grace and forgiveness.” She is thinking about that all the time.
Bob: We should say, “She is a single woman on a mission.” She is not involved with her own daughters because she doesn’t have her own daughters; but she is pouring into the lives of the Covenant daughters, as you described them, in her local church and in her community.
Dennis: That is where I was going with it, Bob. She doesn’t have any children herself. I think some single women who listen to our broadcast—because I have talked to some of them—they wonder, “What does God have in mind for me as a single woman? I am not married; it is the desire of my heart.”
You know what, He may be placing some young ladies in your life—you may not be an aunt to—but relationally, you can be a Titus 2 woman in that young lady’s life.
Bob: In fact, I am thinking, “You’ve got 12 grandchildren. Right?”
Bob: How many are granddaughters?
Susan: Six and six.
Bob: I would guess, in addition to your six biological granddaughters, you have dozens, maybe hundreds, and with these books, maybe thousands of spiritual granddaughters that you poured your life into. We could stop here and you could tell us about relationships you have with young women that are like granddaughter relationships—where you have invested. Right?
Susan: Oh, yes. Just a word to grandmothers out there: I am 72 years old. I am absolutely stunned with how our college-aged granddaughters’ friends want to come to our house and just hang out. It is just amazing to me that they want to be with an old woman; but they do! It is so exciting.
I think that these young—our teenage girls and our young college women—their relationships with their mothers are hugely important, but their mothers need other women coming around—they need other voices speaking into the lives of those girls. Many times I can say things to our granddaughters that their mothers can’t right now say. The girls just don’t hear them. It is so wonderful to me to see how these young women want to be mentored by someone that they feel has lived life for a while.
Bob: The woman who would say, “I just don’t feel like I have the experience,” or “I don’t feel like—I wouldn’t know where to start.” You show them exactly where to start in these mentor guides and these discipleship guides. This is ready-made for a woman who has that desire in her heart.
We have copies of the Becoming a True Woman While I Still Have a Curfew student guide and the leader’s material, along with some of your other resources. Go to our website: FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on the curriculum that Susan has produced.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask about the Becoming a True Woman curriculum. We can answer any questions you have or make arrangements to have these resources sent to you. I’ll just also point out on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, we have other resources that are available—some articles that would be great for you to read, as well.
If you have an iPhone®, there is an iPhone app for FamilyLife Today. There is information on our website on how you can download that app and start listening to FamilyLife Today on your iPhone, if you would like. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information.
Now, I know many of our listeners are aware of the fact that here, during the month of August, we are hoping to hear from those of you who have been listeners for a long time but have never gotten in touch with us. Maybe you have thought, “You know, we ought to make a donation there sometime;” and you have just never done that. Well, during the month of August, we hope that at least 2,000 of you will do that.
We are hoping to hear from 2,000 brand-new FamilyLife Today listeners; and maybe you are not a brand-new listener, but you have just never contacted us before. If you get in touch with us this month and make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, we would like to send you as a thank-you gift a set of four CDs that feature messages from a recent Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, where Dennis Rainey and I both spoke. These are the core messages that we present at the Weekend to Remember.
The CD sampler is our way of saying, “Thank you,” for your support of FamilyLife Today. If you make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, just type the word “SAMPLER” in the key code box and we will know to send you those CDs; or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can request the CD sampler from the Weekend to Remember when you make a donation to help support the ministry.
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If you make that donation online and you would like to receive the certificate for the Weekend to Remember, type the word “HUNDRED” into the key code box on the online donation form; or when you call 1-800-FLTODAY, just ask for your Weekend to Remember marriage getaway certificate. Again, that is for first-time donors to FamilyLife Today and for those who are able to give at least $100 in support of this ministry.
We appreciate your financial support. If you want to keep track on how we are doing toward that goal of 2,000 first-time donors, you will find that information online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
We hope you can join us back here tomorrow. Susan Hunt is going to be here again, and we are going to continue talking about what moms and grandmothers can do to help shape the hearts and minds of young women in the direction of godly womanhood. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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