By Mildred Russell
This Fall, a major international meeting is taking place in Beijing, the United Nations World Conference on Women. Women from all over the world will be discussing important issues, including the status of women, their roles, equality, and abuse against women. An important point that will probably not be discussed at the meetings is the fact that wherever the Gospel goes, the status of women is elevated. That is because of the importance Jesus places on women as equal heirs of His kingdom. Throughout the Bible are examples of how God entrusted His gifts, callings, and His love to women. The following article, originally written for American Christian women, is important reading for Chinese women as well.
– Wang Jiapu
In the early 1800s, the French historian Alexis de Toqueville ventured to the United States to learn what made America a great nation. He noted in his memoirs that Europeans were attempting to give men and women equal rights and equal responsibilities, which resulted, in his opinion, in weak men and disorderly women. He then made this comment about American women:
As for myself, I do not hesitate [to point out] that although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: to the superiority of their women.“1
This was observed during a time when women could not yet vote, or have any public voice in political matters; and yet these women, who were known only as homemakers, were named as the reason for America’s growing strength and prosperity. They were considered to be superior to the “liberated” women of Europe.
After looking at history, we can conclude that even though the women of that time possessed few social freedoms, they possessed a spiritual freedom that was the source of their strength. In the young years of the country, America’s women knew that being a wife and a mother was a stewardship from God. The home was seen as the place where leaders were made. A love of liberty and virtue was instilled in the children, until they emerged from the home as self-governing citizens who conducted their business and led their lives according to biblical principle.
De Toqueville also noted in his recorded observations that America’s churches were strong and were the source of America’s goodness. Strong homes had produced strong churches, which in turn produced a strong nation. American needs to return to this pattern, but it will only come about when women … once again … become that source of strength and virtue.
God has planned for man and woman to rule the earth together. In Genesis 1:28, God first commissioned Adam and Eve to have a family, and then to rule the earth. According to Webster, rule means “to govern or to manage.” The Christian family has a charge from God to take dominion in society.
We as women must not lose sight of our charge. Regardless of the day-to-day tasks that confront you, always be faithful to maintain your communion with the Lord so that you may see God’s overall vision and purpose for your life and your children’s lives.
If you are a mother, you must refuse to be swallowed up by the details of raising a family. You must have a fresh word from the Lord every day. Do not try to pattern your home life after what you think is the “ideal” family. Ideals are born in the mind; they are our concept of how things should be. You may have an ideal of a “perfect husband” or the “perfect home” – but this idealism will never inspire action. It can only bring you frustration and resentment. Instead, you must have a vision from God: a vision will inspire obedience, and produce the fruit of the Spirit2 and the will of God.
A biblical home should be a place where its members are growing in grace and in the knowledge of God while they reach out to the world. It is not meant to be an isolated unit doing its own thing or serving its own purpose. A family is not a family for its own sake. It is meant to be a city on a hill, shedding the light of the Gospel abroad.
Francis and Edith Schaeffer3 are good examples of a man and a woman who understood God’s plan for the family in the context of His overall plan for the world. As single believers, they were devoted to Christ and desired to bring others to Him. As a married couple, they served the Lord together, and always sacrificed to obey His will. When their children were born, they became a part of their vision and ministry. All of their children are now serving the Lord with their own families.
The family of Francis and Edith Schaeffer has truly reached the nations with the Gospel. Their family has taught thousands how to govern their own lives and to be effective in ministering the Gospel to others. And all of this was done from the home. May every family have a similar testimony!
The condition of the United States today is a reflection of the state of America’s homes – and we need not elaborate on the obvious fact that America’s homes are in trouble. It is time for Christian women to raise up a standard of excellence. We should be leading the way in changing our society.
If de Toqueville were to pay America another visit in this hour, what would be his observations? No doubt he would comment on the lamentable condition of America’s schools, the lack of morality and integrity in America’s leaders. But would he not also lay much of the responsibility for this sad state of affairs at the feet of America’s women?
Let us not be found unfaithful with our stewardship. May every woman in this day – whether single or married, in the working world or in the home – become the strength of her nation once again.
1 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, original published in 1840, (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1945), Vol. II, pp. 211-214.
2 The “fruit of the Spirit” refers to the results of living a Jesus-centered life. The fruit, as listed in the Bible in Galatians 5:22, are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
3 Francis and Edith Schaeffer are the authors of numerous books.
From The Forerunner, August 1987, P.O. Box 1799, Gainesville, FL 32602. Reprinted with permission.
“From all that I had read of history and government of human life and manners, I had drawn this conclusion, that the manners of women were the most infallible barometer, to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue of a nation.”
- John Quincy Adams, second president of the United States