Modern feminism inhabits a paradigm that says that strength is masculine. They wouldn’t put it that way under torture, of course. But all virtues of character are masculine virtues… assertiveness, competition, drive-to-achieve, out-spokenness… those are what we should be. We should push hard and make our way in the world.
Those are lovely things. In men. And if you want to inhabit those virtues as a woman, I won’t stop you. Have fun.
But those virtues aren’t the only ones around – and they’re *Worldly* virtues. What are the Christian virtues? Well, we find them referred to as the fruits of the Spirit, in Galatians 5. Goodness, gentleness, self-control, joy, patience, meekness, humility, kindness.
Let’s talk about gentleness a bit. I am a gentle person. I prefer to be kind and polite to those around me. I enjoy it. I don’t care for conflict. Every few years this results in an explosion when someone in my circle thinks that this gentleness is the same thing as weakness, and that my polite tendency to give way when I can means that I don’t have boundaries. They push too hard, and find the wall – and kaboom! – they get mad. At me! And then usually they go away.
If gentleness was the same thing as weakness, our Lord, described as being as gentle and meek as a Lamb, would be weak. Jesus isn’t weak. And neither is gentleness. Gentleness is founded upon godliness, it’s rooted in God’s strength. In order to be gentle, you have to be strong. Hatred is weak. Hard people are often brittle.
By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded,Proverbs 25:15
And a soft tongue breaks the bone.
I like being soft. The World constantly tells me that in order to succeed, I have to harden myself. I fight against that belief system. First, I stand or fall according to God’s will. Second, what does ‘success’ mean? How do I rate it, and on what timeline?
I like being strong. The World tells me that feminine women are weak. I can read better in Proverbs 31… but 150 years of the Victorian ideal of the Angel in the Home pushes back on me.
The World is wrong. Old world, new world – they’re WRONG. My femininity is not reduced by my strength. My gentleness is not weakness. My softness does not mean that I lack boundaries. My humility does mean that I lack passion. My silence does not mean that I am stupid. And most of all – I do not have to fight this fight the way the World tells me I must fight it.
I must stand. But I am strong in the Lord. I must speak – because that’s what Titus 2 women do. But I must not measure my effectiveness. For that is of God. It was Charles Stanley who used to say, “Obey God, and leave everything else to Him”. That’s wisdom… and it takes both strength and gentleness to follow that advice.
I am lady. See me smile.