I ended my last post on God’s redemptive alternative to stereotypical feminism with this paragraph.
The answer to the curse is not self-reliance. It’s God reliance. It’s not self-protection. It’s tucking ourselves under the wing of the Almighty. And it’s not staying engaged just to be run over. It’s standing strong in our identity in Christ and helping our husband using God’s example as our strong helper as our guide. The answer to the need presented in the curse of Genesis 3:16 and well articulated by feminist movement is to put on the image of God. It is enough that the servant be as her master. “Be like Christ” is the sum and substance to the answer of the curse for women.
Note that my entire conclusion seemed to leave out single women completely. I said I’d deal with that later if others were interested. MANY women were interested, and so I now add these thoughts. First, singleness is hard, especially for the faithful Christian woman who loves God and His Word. Here are a few earlier articles I wrote on this topic.
In terms of Genesis 3:16, the foundational truth that may in some way comfort and in other ways provoke is that the struggle articulated by the curse is nearly identical for single women as married. Your desire will be for your husband, even if that husband does not physically exist in your life.
I experienced that desire personally as much as a single woman as I did once I got married. I didn’t have an object for that desire – just something I created in my head. But the desire nonetheless dominated and defined my life prior to marriage in many unhealthy ways. I was addicted to romance novels and chick flicks. Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour BBC version), which is a GOOD thing, became a stumbling block for me. I was constrained by what this guy or that guy thought of me to the point it affected how I dressed, where I went, how I went, and with whom I went. It was a sinful idolatry – so controlled by a fear of being perceived negatively or hope of being perceived positively by some guy of my dreams that I wouldn’t or couldn’t give myself wholly to my convictions of what God had for me. Something as simple as kindness to a bullied classmate became an issue if I thought it would embarrass me with a guy in whom I was interested. I hope most single women don’t struggle with it as intensely as I did, but maybe you do.
However, I think that many who knew me during those years mostly did not have that impression of me. I still had character. I did reach out. And occasionally, I’d stubbornly do exactly what I thought God had for me without regard for others’ approval. But that unhealthy, out of proportion desire was still there – not the God-given desire reflected in perfection when He said that, sure enough, it’s not good to be alone, but the unhealthy desire that obsesses over a man and tempts us toward the very men we KNOW are going to be bad for us.
What is the answer for the single woman? Frankly, the same answer for the married woman—put on and be like Christ. Now, I do not diminish the difference in the experience of this desire if you are single verses married. I’ve written multiple times that a single woman should not feel guilt for the struggle with loneliness or longing. In many way, it IS harder to navigate this all as a single. Most women I know, married or single, well understand the longing and loneliness that comes with long term singleness. Christ in you does not mean you don’t long for relationship. In fact, for some women, the more they know and love Christ, the more they may long for godly relationship. And that longing is not unhealthy! It’s OK to mourn the loss, and it’s OK to long for more.
On the flip side, if you are in Christ, it’s not rocket science to figure out when it stops being healthy, God-given longing and when it becomes unhealthy obsession—an idolatrous longing. Not a longing submitted to Christ but a longing that in ways takes the place of Christ. If you wonder if you are there in your inner thought processes about men or your outward actions toward men, I believe prayer with God and study of His Word are key. Ask Him, read His Word, and listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to convict and encourage you. If asking Him seems weird and you’d rather go watch Pride and Prejudice or Emma (or read a romance novel), you have your answer.
I’ll end with the similar encouragement from the first article. The answer to the curse is not self-reliance. It’s God reliance. THAT’s the difference. Single woman, you have to be independent of people at some level, right? You may have community at church and family living near you. But ultimately, there’s no one to turn on the lights inside when you arrive home after dark. In every way that you can foster godly community, I encourage you to put off independence and be available for relationship. Yet, there’s no way around the need to endure some measure of physical, earthly independence. Just guard yourself from independence from God. Be the silly woman that neighbors think talks to herself when she walks in the house alone after dark. Except you know it’s not silly and that it’s God, not yourself, you’re talking to. Stand strong during the day in your identity in Christ, and tuck yourself at night under the wing of the Almighty. It’s the same answer for the curse, married or single. Whether you’re pouring our your longings for intimacy with your husband or pouring our your longings for a husband with whom to be intimate, Christ alone remains the one who can meet you in that longing and redirect it to the Source that will not run dry.