Helping Our Daughters Realize Their Worth
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Authors Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher talk about the dignity and value of women. Hear how Fitzpatrick and Schumacher are raising their daughters and sons to embrace their gender and love the person God made them to be.
Bob: Years ago, people used to use the expression, “A woman’s place….” Elyse Fitzpatrick says the Bible says a woman’s place is a place of value, and honor, and dignity.
Elyse: You want to know what godly women are like?—then take a look at Miriam who, in some ways, rescued her brother Moses; take a look at Sarah; take a look at Hannah; take a look at Lydia; take a look at Phoebe—these are women that served God.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 8th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. As parents, are we raising our sons and daughters to understand what the Bible says about the dignity and value of women? We’re going to talk more about that today with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. This is such a confusing culture for moms and dads trying to raise the next generation. First of all, we’ve got massive gender confusion in our culture today. If you’re thinking, as a mom or as a dad, I want to raise my daughter to be a godly woman, the next thing is: “What does that even mean?”—because the culture will tell you all kinds of—“Why woman? Why not just godly person”; right?
I have empathy for the parents, who are in the midst of this. This is a challenge today.
Ann: It sure is; because we live in a culture that is confused, and they are growing up in that. I think our voices, as parents, are vital in the upraising—especially of our daughters.
Dave: Yes; and I know that I’ve actually said to my sons, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not a parent now!”—[Laughter]
Dave: —in a tongue-in-cheek way—but I am a grandparent. It is a different day. Again, when we were raising sons and daughters—and we just really raised sons—we were even, then, saying we were confused—
Dave: —“What’s a real man?” “What’s a real woman?” Yet, today, it’s a whole other ballgame.
Bob: We’re talking, this week, about the dignity and value of women which, at times in the Christian culture, has been minimized, both in churches and in homes. That’s what is addressed in the book that Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher have written called Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women. Eric and Elyse, welcome back.
Eric: Thanks. It’s good to be here.
Elyse: Thanks, Bob.
Dave: I’m glad they’re just—they’re just going to clear up all the confusion.
Bob: —confusion. [Laughter]
Eric: All of it.
Ann: Today is your day.
Dave: All is going to go away in the next 20 minutes.
Ann: Listeners are going to get everything they need today from you two.
Bob: Eric is a pastor from Iowa. Elyse is a grandmother, who lives in California. She’s an author and a speaker—has been with us regularly. The two of you collaborated on this book out of a passion to say to us all, “It’s time for us to think more biblically about women; because we’ve let the culture invade our thinking, as Christians, on this subject.”
Eric: Yes; I think what you—what you opened with was so right; we live in confusing times. We live in a culture that is often pushing one way to where there are absolutely no distinctions between men and women. Sometimes, particularly, in conservative churches, we are in a culture that is, maybe, pushing the opposite direction—that we over emphasize the distinctions, sometimes, in ways that, maybe, the Bible doesn’t say exist.
Bob: Let me give you an example of that. I’ve shared this before, but this just jumped out at me; it was one of those “Aha” moments in my life. My son had gone to a youth retreat. He came home from the youth retreat; and he said, “Guess what the speaker said.” I said, “Well, tell me what he said.” He said: “So, he was talking about guys and girls; and he said, ‘You know, guys and girls are different; I mean, guys like sports, and girls like to read.’”
Okay; so, my son, who was in the eighth grade at that point, wasn’t much into sports and loved to read. He’s going, “So what do I do with that, Dad?”
Bob: In fact, he coined a term. He’s a clever kid; he said, “I call these genderalities/genderalizations”; right?
Bob: Isn’t that a nice word?
Eric: I like it.
Ann: That’s really good.
Bob: But he said: “The Bible does make distinctions between men and women; but we can get into this idea/this cultural-shaped idea, where we say, ‘Women are like this; men are like that; and the Bible says so.’” The Bible never says anything like that.
Eric: That’s absolutely right; the Bible doesn’t say things like that.
I remember being in college, where we went on a—it was Campus Crusade [for Christ]®/our local chapter—and we went on a/we had men’s and women’s retreat in the same weekend and, then, came back together for a banquet or something in the evening. The men got to go repelling and rock climbing, and the women stenciled flower pots. [Laughter]
Bob: Ann is about to have a—
Dave: Are you serious?
Eric: I’m serious.
Dave: This is what they did.
Eric: This is what they did.
Dave: There are two women in our studio right now that are just—they are ready to hit something, I think. [Laughter]
Eric: That’s how the women were when they found out what we did; and so, the next year, we all went rock climbing together. Even—you know, we’ve been making the jokes about: “Pastors, don’t use all sports illustrations in your sermon”; but there are some women, who love sports, and they thrive on those illustrations; there are men, who don’t know anything about sports.
Eric: Those illustrations go right over their head.
So thinking carefully about: “What does the Bible actually say about what men should be like and women should be like?”—and separating that from our cultural distinctions that might be extra-biblical—can be a difficult task.
Bob: It is difficult. I’ve talked, for years, with people and said, “Okay; if we’re going to define femininity biblically and masculinity biblically, it gets really tricky.”
Eric: It does.
Bob: I’ve had these conversations with my kids. I say, “So guys should be courageous and strong”; and my daughters will say, “So women aren’t supposed to be courageous and strong?—a mom’s not supposed to be a courageous, strong mother?”; and I go, “Well, okay; that’s a good point.” [Laughter] We acknowledge there are distinctions; and then, as soon as we start to put words to it, we start to stutter and get confused about that.
So, Elyse, define femininity for me; will you? [Laughter] Can you explain to me so I can—
Elyse: Boy, thank you, Bob.
Bob: When we think about the value and dignity of a woman, as unique from men,—
Bob: —what are those biblical unique-nesses?
Elyse: Yes; well, let’s start off, first of all, by saying that the word, “femininity,” doesn’t even occur in the Bible.
Elyse: Masculinity also does not appear in the Bible.
Elyse: However we want to load those words, we have to always remember that they are going to be shaped by our context in Post-industrial Revolution—
Elyse: So, here, what it would like—let’s say is the woman stays home with the kids. If I’m in the Sudan or I’m in China, that Post-industrial Revolution America definition of femininity/what it means to be a godly woman doesn’t fly there.
What we have to do is—we have to step back and say: “Okay; what does the Bible say about me, as a woman? Should I be courageous? Should I stand for right values? Should I do these things in boldness?” Well, yes; of course, I should.
All you have to do is look at the women in the Bible. You want to know what godly women are like?—then take a look at Miriam who, in some ways, rescued her brother Moses; take a look at Sarah; take a look at Hannah; take a look at Lydia; take a look at Phoebe—these are women that served God.
What’s primary about me is not my gender; what’s primary about me is that God has called me into the Great Commission, and He has given me His Spirit. At the resurrection, who is it that is there? I mean, Mary Magdalene, of all people.
Elyse: I wouldn’t have picked her, but Jesus did; and she is the first one commissioned to tell of the resurrection.
What does it mean, then, to be a woman, who has been saved by grace? What it means is that I am commissioned with the Great Commission: to stand and speak, as appropriate, into my culture about what it means to be valued as someone God has created in His image—to speak truth and to model that.
Dave: And that sounds very similar to what you would tell a son.
Dave: So how is it different, or is it?
Elyse: The one thing that I would not do with women/with little girls is tell them that their value rests upon how they look—
Bob: Appearance; yes.
Elyse: —their appearance. For men to value/for dads to value their little girls. Instead of saying something like, “You look so cute today; I love your little dress,”—that—to say, “Honey, I noticed that you were sharing your toys today, and I love that character in you.”
Bob: We’ve had your daughter and your son on FamilyLife Today.
Elyse: Should I apologize? [Laughter]
Ann: We love them.
Dave: They were great.
Bob: You are a part of our Art of Parenting® video series; and your daughter, Jessica, is also a part of the Art of Parenting video series. We’re grateful for that; but you were raising Joel and Jessica in the same home. Did you emphasize different things with Joel than you emphasized with Jessica?
Elyse: I don’t think I did. I remember, one time, when Jessica was in the back of the car. She was crying because she said she thought she was ugly; I mean, I can remember—I think one of the few times I ever, probably, too few times that I ever really got on her case—and I said: “Do not ever say that to me again. You’re value/who you are doesn’t have anything to do with how you look; so I never want to hear that from you again.”
See, telling a woman that her value is in God’s eyes—what He has done for her, and how He has given her faith, and how she can serve Him—I don’t think besides that I did anything different in the way that I trained them.
Bob: Eric, you’ve got four boys and a girl. Are you and your wife trying to do anything differently to emphasize that: “This is how a girl should be,” and “This is how boys should be”?
Eric: I can’t think, in most of our parenting, that there’s a lot of difference except for, maybe, speaking about: “One day, if you get married/if that’s what the Lord calls you to: being a mom,”/“…being a dad,” / “…being a husband,”/”… being a wife….”
You know, as I think about just what Elyse was saying about femininity and masculinity—and “What do we/how do we think about that biblically?” I think about Paul writing the Thessalonians and saying, “You know how we were with you; we were tender like nursing mothers.” A pastor—one of the virtues he should cultivate is the tenderness of a nursing mother. You have Jesus saying, “How often I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her chicks.” Paul and Jesus are willing to say, as they illustrate their manliness in caring for people, using distinctly female roles; I think that’s interesting.
I want to ask the question: “Are there virtues that a male should be cultivating that a woman should not?—or that a woman should be cultivating that a man should not?” I can’t really think of any that: “This is only for men,” and “This is only for women.”
Bob: But Titus 2, when it differentiates, does have some differentiation about what older women should teach younger women/older men should teach younger men. We ought not to dismiss that as being gender inclusive and say, “Well, they’re just…”—no; there is purpose in those—
Bob: —gender differentiations.
Eric: And I notice that, when those gender differentiations come up, it’s often talking about—even there, Titus—about how they are in the home. I think that where we see these roles for men and women differentiated, it’s often in a covenant context, where you have a husband and a wife in a home or you have pastors and members in a local church.
Where I want to think carefully about is: outside of those contexts, how different should men and women look?
Bob: Let me ask you this, because my son called me not long after he’d gotten married. He said: “So, what do I do with this verse in 1 Peter 3 that says that women are weaker vessels? What does that mean?”
Eric: Yes; well, there are a few different interpretations. One of those is—it could be just recognizing that men have more natural body strength. You know there is a percentage more muscle that men are going to have than women; so they are naturally/physically weaker. It could also be culturally—in that cultural context—where women had fewer rights and advantages, that you should be gentle with them and not take advantage of what you have.
Dave: How did we get to a place in modern day—and it’s been a long time—where we see men are strong; women are soft. I’m not talking physically; I’m talking demeanor/everything: “Men, step up and be courageous”; “Women…that’s not feminine,”/”…that’s not female.” Yet, it is so far from the truth; but there are so many that believe that, and we say that. How did we get here?
Elyse: I think it’s a reaction—which we ought to be very, very careful when we build theologies around reactions to the culture; okay? It’s a reaction to the culture because, again, when I first got saved—1971—nobody was talking about gender; but in reaction to the culture, and particularly to third-wave feminism—in reaction to that, entire theologies have been developed. A lot of them are just responding to the culture rather than looking at what Scripture has to say. What we’re saying is: “Okay; what the culture is saying about gender out there—that’s all wrong—so we’re going to say something that we believe is different.”
I mean, I think that that is how we got there; but then, also, you have to remember, too, that from the very beginning, the enemy has hated women: “There will be enmity between your seed and her seed.” The woman has been hated from the beginning; and in some ways, it’s just easy to slide into that.
Bob: I’ve made the observation that men tend toward passivity. I’ve also made the observation that—and again, I’m not trying to be exclusive here; because women can be passive—but I’ve/I’ve just observed, with men, it seems more endemic than it is with women. Women tend to lean toward control—toward wanting to feel safe and feel like, “If I’m not in control of my circumstances, I’m unsafe.” I’m applying some of this back to Genesis 3: “Your desire will be for your husband.” Do you see that as a desire?—to want to be in control of her environment/her circumstances.
Eric: Actually, in the book, we argue/I argue that it’s not that—
Eric: —because of the way the poetry works there. What I see going on in the curses, as results of the fall, is the Lord affirms that they will have what is actually a natural and a good desire. Adam will eat the grain of the field, but there’s going to be resistance; so he’s going to eat by the sweat of his brow. I actually think—this is my interpretation, although there are different interpretations—but that the woman’s desire is a romantic desire: that she will still love and desire her husband; but that’s going to be met with resistance, in terms, of him having a harsh rule.
I think we see that borne out as Genesis 4 unfolds, where—Genesis 4 is remarkable because it begins—Eve has the first recorded words of faith in Scripture: “The Lord, with His help, I got this son,”—we see her faith.
You know, I mentioned earlier that the first song in Scripture is Adam celebrating the value of his wife.
Bob: “This is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.”
Eric: — “…bone of my bone”; yes.
You go on in Genesis 4, and the second song sung is by Lamech, who is the descendant of Cain. In poetic form, he calls his wives to him—notice that, now, he has two wives; he’s collecting these women—he brings them together. You might remember that scene, where he brags about—you know, he says, “This is what happened to Cain—sevenfold vengeance”; he says—“I’ve killed a young man for striking me. My vengeance will be seventy-fold.”
What’s interesting is he’s just called his wives to him to say, “I have violently reacted/lethally reacted to someone who hurt me; and I want you, my wives, to know this.” What’s going on there? There’s a man, who is saying, “You better not displease me, or it could cost you your life.”
Bob: “I’ll kill you.”
Eric: Yes, so he is abusing this authority to gain control of his situation.
You know, to get back to your question of: “What does it mean—what do you teach your sons about what it means to grow up to be a man?” I think what I would try to emphasize with my boys is being a man means taking the initiative to sacrifice to achieve unity with this woman. If there is anything that should shape our lives, then it should be a willingness to sacrifice for the good of other people.
Bob: Again, women are called to sacrifice as well—
Bob: —but where the Bible speaks specific gender language—when it says, “Husbands, do this…”/“Wives do this…”—we ought to note there is something different—
Eric: There is.
Bob: —going on there. When it says, “Older men teach this to younger men…” there is something gender different there; and we ought not just try to dismiss that and say, “Well, that’s for everybody”; right?
Ann: I want to just say to the women listeners, “You are worthy.”
Ann: Jesus has made us worthy, and He sees you; He loves you; He has a place for you; your voice does matter.
I think that we, as women/I think that we need to lift one another up and remind each other of that. So often, we can compete in a world of just there’s so much going on; but if we lock arms as women, too; and lift each other up; go the Word together; pray for one another, we’re world changers,—
Ann: —just as our brothers are.
Bob: Let me say to our listeners. We love when you do engage with us. Again, we talk about getting emails; we’d love to hear from you. We love when we’re stimulating thoughts, and you may disagree with some of the things you’ve heard this week. You may agree and want to write about those things; you can always do that. We are happy to pass on Eric and Elyse’s email addresses so you can go directly to them. [Laughter] I’m kidding.
Elyse: I don’t have one anymore; mine all goes to Eric. [Laughter]
Bob: Here is what I would hope our listeners would do before they send an email to us. Get a copy of the book, Worthy, and read it—prayerfully read it and then interact with it; because sometimes, in a conversation like this, you know—
Bob: —we blow past something. You guys have done a great job with nuanced thought and with clear prose. I hope a lot of our listeners will read this book. I’m so grateful you came to be a part of this conversation. Thank you.
Eric: Thanks for having us. It’s been wonderful.
Elyse: Thanks, Bob.
Bob: You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of the book, Worthy, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher; or you can call to order: our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. Once again, the website to order a copy of Eric and Elyse’s book, Worthy, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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David: If anything, I think God is opening our eyes to all the opportunities around us. I know my family has gotten to know our neighbors better than we ever have—
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We hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together with your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Dennis and Barbara Rainey are going to be back with us, along with Dave and Ann Wilson. We’re going to talk about what it looks like when a marriage goes vertical, so that will be fun to have the whole gang here; right? I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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