Bigger Than the Box
We can easily begin thinking this way when it comes to the biblical understanding of sexuality. This weekend I went to a small conference in Burtonsville, MD. Some of the women in our presbytery have been communicating about supporting one another in the women’s ministries in our churches. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to hear Susan Hunt speak about biblical womanhood--generation to generation.
Susan Hunt is a 73-year-old woman who gets it.
The focus of the first evening was “equipping women to think biblically and live covenantally.” Susan opened sharing an experience she had of a college-aged woman approaching her with a question. She asked how a woman her age can possibly understand biblical womanhood when the surrounding culture is bombarding her with opposing messages about her design. Susan pointed out to us that there is a lot we can learn from this question. 80% of our younger generation is leaving the church once they reach college age. This young woman should have already been equipped with a solid understanding of biblical womanhood. But she wasn’t. Here were the two questions proposed to us: “Are we leaving our children vulnerable to the world’s approach to sexuality, marriage, and life itself? Are we failing to give the truth to the next generation?” I pictured my own daughters at this age. It was convicting.
Susan explained that our churches may be very good at teaching solid doctrine. We may have expositional sermons and in-depth Bible studies. But if we are not teaching our men and women about the biblical design of their maleness and femaleness, the world most certainly has an indoctrination for them. Are we leaving ourselves vulnerable? Maybe some of the younger generation is ill-equipped because their parents don’t have a biblical understanding of their own sexual design.
But here’s the part where 73-year-old Susan Hunt “gets it.” Before getting into the principles of biblical womanhood, she issued a warning to us. Another thing that happens when our biblical understanding is weak is that we get reductionistic. With intentions to counteract the world’s messages and be biblical women, we can condense biblical womanhood into a set of rules, legalistic moralism. Susan warned us that womanhood is particularly susceptible to a reductionistic/simplistic approach. She encouraged us that biblical womanhood is much bigger than the box. At this point I was ready to give her a standing ovation right there in the introduction. I was so thankful to have a woman of Susan's wisdom and experience give us this kind of wisdom.
Her teaching backed up her words. I will give you one succulent bite from Susan’s meaty plate. Ephesians chapter 1 provides insight of God’s work before the beginning of time. In reading, we get an understanding of the Trinity. Take a look at what’s happening in these three excerpts and notice how the first half shows a function, and the second half reveals the purpose:
vv. 3-6: The Father chose us in Christ…to the praise of his glorious grace.
vv. 7-12: Christ redeemed us through his blood…that we might be to the praise of his glory.
Vv. 13-14: The Holy Spirit seals, applies and guarantees our redemption…to the praise of his glory.
Did you notice something? The three Persons of the Trinity have different functions, but the same purpose. Quoting Michael Horton from his book God of Promise, Susan taught us that , “God’s very existence is covenantal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in unceasing devotion to each other, reaching outward beyond the Godhead to create a community of creatures serving as a giant analogy of the Godhead’s relationship. Created in the image of the Triune God, we are by nature outgoing, interdependent relationship establishers, finding ourselves in the other and not just in ourselves…”
Yes, women and men are equal—equal in value. But Susan emphasized the fact that equality does not equal sameness. If we try to reduce our design to sameness in function, we are diminishing our ability to reflect the glory of God. And if our approach is to reduce our design to a skirt length or job restrictions, we are limiting our design by putting it in a box that God did not create.
Susan Hunt understands that our design in sexuality is much bigger than the box. She continued to teach us about the beauty of our calling with bold, passionate conviction because she knew it is the glory of God that is at stake. Susan equipped us with the principles behind our design, and then challenged us to be handing this down in our churches. It wasn’t just about my understanding, or even my ability to teach my 13 and 11-year-old. I left with even more resolve to be a part of equipping our covenant daughters while they are in the care of our church. So did the women from the various churches and denominations that attended.
We may think that we have great new things to say about the biblical design of male and female. But 73-year-old Susan Hunt rocked my face off.