But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:4
Possessing the attributes of being a woman. Soft; tender and delicate. Destitute of manly qualities. Are these characteristics that you desire for your life? Femininity begins on the inside and is manifest on the outside.
Last week I discussed modesty and touched on its relation to femininity. Femininity is often defined as womanliness or having a lack of male traits, but I say it is much more. Men were created in the image of God, and so were we. God had an intent for us when we were created and that was to compliment the man, to be His partner. Although a partner, we were not made to be like him, but in many ways, we are opposites. A woman has what is needed to make a man more than he would be without her.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Genesis 2:18
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. Genesis 2:20
The world is bombarded with lies about the roles of men and women. It is more important than ever to retain clear statements about our own lives. I am a woman and I will be as womanly as possible. That is how God created me. It really is a choice, you know, but it is a decision with great benefits, including pleasure. God’s will for His creation was goodness.
What is the decision? It begins with deciding to accept God’s plan for my life. I am a woman. We learn as we study Scripture, that part of our design was to help and love our husbands. A man that has not had his thinking skewed by too much of the world will prefer a woman that embraces femininity.
Please do not read into what I am saying. The reason I aspire to femininity is because I am woman. Femininity is quite natural to me. Understanding God’s Word has only strengthened and refined my desire to be as womanly as possible. I believe the Bible has shown me the way too.
For the sake of brevity I am focusing more on surface femininity because this is what the world sees and what the world sees is important. Consider what is said about first impressions.
Femininity has to do with how we present ourselves. All women are not feminine. Every woman that puts a dress on is not feminine. Not every woman wants to be feminine and those are problems I won’t deeply address today, for they begin in the heart.
Consider this story of the woman in Proverbs 7:
For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. Proverbs 7:6-18
She was likely dressed in women’s clothing, probably to the extreme. I may picture her in a loose-fitting broomstick-style skirt and a loose fitting top, accidentally falling from her shoulders. I imagine her dripping in colorful jewels. The Bible said she wore the attire of a harlot. As the story continues, we learn that this is exactly what she was. She is flirtatious with all the men I imagine, but she set her sight on one young and foolish man.
She appears to be all woman and she is physically a woman. She is not feminine. She looks like a harlot and is indeed, by her behaviour, exactly that. She is a harlot. She chose dress that would project her as readily available.
At one time, the term harlot could be used to apply to a woman or a man. In neither instance is it complimentary. The behavior for either is the same. One that is lewd, a prostitute, a hoiden, or a person of loose moral character. The Bible would include those that forsake the true God to worship idols. This is not in conflict with what we think of as a harlot. This is someone that is neither true, nor faithful.
Simply put: A lady is not defined by lace, flowing clothing or ruffles. Femininity begins with recognising who God created us to be, agreeing with and embracing His guidelines. We have many women in Scripture whose examples we can follow.
A feminine woman has a meek and quiet spirit. Think of a loud mouth woman, no matter how feminine she appears to be. Convince anyone she is feminine. You cannot. Femininity has to do with some level of quiet grace.
“Quiet grace” brings me to the Proverbs 31 woman. I often use her as an example, because we are all familiar with her. She is an example of a believer, and femininity. She is neither inferior nor weak.
What traits does she posses that envelop femininity?
- She is dedicated to her husband.
- She knows how to work and provide for her family.
- She accepts her responsibilities to her home.
- She wears silk and purple.
- She is strong, kind and humble.
- She is wise and kind.
This list does not pull every truth out about her femininity, but it describes a woman that dresses in a womanly fashion, but her beauty is far deeper.
This woman, capable and accomplished has not forsaken her home. Loving our homes increases our femininity.
Society is in great rebellion today about dress. The Bible allows great liberty in our dress but clearly tells us not to wear clothing having to do with men. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5. I am not going to delve deeply into specifics of dress, but I will briefly address dresses.
Dresses are widely considered attire for women and this has been accepted for centuries. I understand all the arguments. One of them: I do not consider men in kilts to be effeminate. It is cultural and does not – to me – portray womanliness in any way. Men wearing women’s skirts to make a generally political or social point is not masculine, but rebellious and we know what God says about rebellion.
I do wear dresses or skirts exclusively. I began wearing dresses exclusively to please my husband who preferred them and at some point I became accustomed to them. Lest you doubt, in his defense, that he did not lay judgement upon women that did wear slacks. I am comfortable in dresses and have no thoughts to begin wearing slacks again now that I am single. In my opinion, a dress or skirt is more feminine than trousers.
There are instances where a pair of trousers would be far better than a dress a woman has chosen relative to last week’s essay about modesty.
I am not – in any way – rebuking women that wear trousers. My own mother wore slacks most of the time and I can tell you, you would never look at her and think she purchased her clothing in the men’s department. My mother was feminine. She had a mini wardrobe of beautiful lacy and embroidered white blouses that were part of her signature style. She often accessorised with a brooch or flower. My mother was feminine.
Femininity is not based exclusively upon a particular type of dress. As previously discussed, the seducer woman in Proverbs was not feminine. The Bible tells the main reasons that she lacked true femininity. She was loud and stubborn. She hung out on street corners. She was not a keeper of her home. She tempted and seduced a foolish young man. She was an aggressor and an adulterer. Femininity entails being a lady and this was a woman, but surely no lady.
You do not have to wear ruffles and frills to be feminine. You see, it is an attitude of the heart. As for dress, we have options galore. We live in a time and country like never before. Today most countries are international, and surely America is. We can choose and find any manner of clothing. We can make wise choices.
Nearly every culture has modest and lovely options for women that want to appear feminine. If a woman has issues with her dress, I would not recommend advising her, unless she asks for help. Please don’t doubt the power of the Holy Spirit of God to advise and prompt where you cannot.
I knew of a church many years ago where all the women wore dresses to church. A lady, a new Christian, began attending this church. She was treated well and embraced by the women of the church. One day she went to one of the women and asked why all the women wore dresses. She said that she would like to begin wearing dresses too, but that she had none, had never had one. This prompted a impromptu shopping trip; the rest is history! We tend to become like those we spend time with and with those we admire.
Whom do you admire? If you are like me, you admire a great number of women for different reasons. Some wear dresses and others do not. I once knew a woman that was very womanly in her dress. She was known to chastise other women that did not wear dresses. I did not think of this lady as feminine despite her ladylike dresses. I always associated her with the depiction of a cup that is lovely on the outside and dirty on the inside. So far as I know, she never drew a woman into Biblical femininity. Love would have cleaned up that teacup real well. We all have known someone like that; I want to make sure I never become that woman. I may have “arrived” in some areas, but in others and probably in the area of femininity I am lacking. We are not perfect, but we can do better today than we did yesterday.
Fashion is fun and a great way to express our creative selves. Think about the image you want to portray, what colors and fabrics you like. What styles are most flattering on your figure? What do you have that every time you wear it, you get loads of compliments? My experience has been that it is rarely something new or expensive; it is something that is colourful, something that lays nicely. Color is important. Choice is wonderful!
When I was single and traveled a great deal, my wardrobe was black, taupe and ivory. Everything matched and I did not need to carry as much. I also liked the look. Interesting thing: One of the first things my husband communicated to me about my dress was that he did not like black, at least not as much black as I had. Fast forward 20 years to another observation: Several of the men that worked with my husband commented how beautiful the women of India were in all their bright colors. These were often poor women and their clothing not costly, but they wore lots of color. The beauty of these women was enhanced by their choice of colourful garments. Think about the colorful world God created for us. He loves color!
Clothing nor femininity was meant to be complicated. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30. In this life, God is not going to drop your garments upon you. He gave us choice! You will have to make choices about color, style and volume. It does matter how you choose. Make a good impression on the outside so it does not conflict with who you are on the inside, God’s child.
In closing, a verse and a final thought: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Everything we do is to bring glory to God. Every choice we make. I fall short, but I do better today than I once did. Why is bringing glory to God so important? Why should it be part of our life’s mission? We want to see the world come to Christ, that they do not perish in their sin, separated from God and all hope for all eternity. This verse reminds me that every choice I make, everything I do, including my dress, should be done with God in mind. When God is glorified or lifted up, we are drawing people to Him.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32
Our voices can be used to project femininity, or not. My voice projects well, but I have made an effort to speak more softly when possible. I do not always succeed. Apparently I made some progress. After speaking to one ladies group, the pastor’s wife came to me and told me that my voice sounded like chocolate. How can that be an insult? I never forgot her compliment.
Recently I learned something else that challenged me. Older women (and men) frequently develop an “old sound” to their voices. The article claimed that this phemonon was because they are not using their voices. Their voices are not getting exercised. Did you ever think you would be told to talk more? Did you know that singing is an excellent way to exercise your voice and throat in order to maintain a more youthful voice? Who knew? I did not. An added benefit is that music is a stress reliever and that is a better exercise than walking around the house talking to yourself. Right?