The Intentional Woman

with Mary Kassian | February 22, 2011

Have you considered how your clothing and actions affects those around you? Author Mary Kassian contrasts the alluring behavior and dress of the wild woman found in Proverbs to the intentional behavior and modest clothing of a woman who wants to please the Lord.

Have you considered how your clothing and actions affects those around you? Author Mary Kassian contrasts the alluring behavior and dress of the wild woman found in Proverbs to the intentional behavior and modest clothing of a woman who wants to please the Lord.

The Intentional Woman

With Mary Kassian
|
February 22, 2011
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  Ladies, are you ever guilty of scheming?  Mary Kassian says there is a difference being wily and being wise.

Mary Kassian:  I love that word “wily” because it reminds me of Wily Coyote, you know, who always came up with a new scheme to get the bird.  It’s the same way that girls today always come up with a new scheme to get the guys.  And girls’ magazines nowadays, women’s magazines, actually give women instruction on how to kind of give those “come get me” signals, step-by-step instructions on how to be wild, really, is what the instructions are for.

Bob:  This is FamilyLifeToday for Tuesday, February 22nd.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  If you’ve ever thought that getting a relationship to go in the direction you want it to go may require a little scheming, then stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  You know why I liked this book right from the start, don’t you?

Dennis:  Of course.  The song that Mary Kassian quotes at the beginning, and I knew as soon as I saw it.  I thought , “We’re probably going to begin the broadcast with Bob pulling out the guitar.  You pick up a book and go all the way back to . . .

Bob:  1966.  The Troggs.  Wild thing.  You make my heart sing.

Dennis:  I told you you’d do it.

Bob:  When you see the Troggs side by side with Ephesians chapter 5, I’m going, “This is a book for me, right here, if you got that working.”  I love it.

Dennis:  I was actually thinking of the picture of the Troggs standing there.  I was thinking, “They’re singing about a wild thing, when they looked pretty weird.”

Bob:  They did.  Ephesians 5, though, says “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise, or wild, but as wise.”  So it kind of fits the context here, doesn’t it?

Dennis:  It does.  And we have the author of the book Girls Gone Wise, Mary Kassian, joining us again on FamilyLife Today.  Mary, welcome back.

Mary:  Thanks.  Good to be with you.

Dennis:  Mary is from Canada.  She is a long-time friend.  She’s been married since 1982, has three sons, speaks all over Canada and the United States, and really around the world, and has taught at seminary – actually a number of seminaries across North America.  This book, as I was reading it, Mary, I was thinking there are a lot of topics that need to be addressed today, but this one is a must. 

I was at a mall the other day, and I was not prepared – I’m sorry, I know I’m getting older.  My kids are now adults and I was not prepared for the lack of clothing by not one or two, but just a whole number of young ladies at the mall.  When I got back with Barbara I said, “If they weren’t prostitutes, I don’t know what they were.”  They might as well have had a sign hung around their neck saying “I’m for sale.  Buy me.”

Mary:  Well, that’s one of the marks of a wild woman.  In Proverbs chapter 7 there are several characteristics of wildness that we see in women.  And that’s one of them, that she dresses like a prostitute.  She’s not a prostitute, she is not that, and yet she dresses herself to advertise that really she wants to attract men with her body.

Dennis:  And she doesn’t end up there by happenstance.  She actually ends up there on purpose.  You quote in the book Proverbs 5, talking about how a young lady like this, or a woman like this who is older, is actually being intentional about what they’re doing.

Mary:  Well, I think that they are not being intentional about walking in the way of God, which is what Proverbs 5 says.  It says that “Her ways wander.  She does not ponder the path of life.”  So she’s not thinking about the ways of God.  Her ways wander and she does not know it. 

So I think there is a need to be intentional nowadays, and particularly nowadays for young women to be intentional about figuring out how they ought to live as a Christian woman, and how God would have them conduct themselves.

Bob:  And you know, you talk about being at the mall and seeing how these women were dressed.  I’ve had conversations with young women, and we’ve talked about dress, and they’ll look at me and go, “Oh, come on.  You think what I’m wearing might be immodest?  Have you been on the streets lately?”  They’ll say it’s just your old-fashioned . . . .  This is just a different age.  It’s a different . . .”

Dennis:  I’m a fuddy-duddy.

Bob:  That’s right.  They’ll say, “This is no big deal.  I mean, I’m not being provocative at all dressing this way, compared to the women who are all around me in the . . .”

Dennis:  Well, you can always find somebody to compare yourself with to feel good about yourself.

Bob:  I know.  I had a daughter who went to college in New York, and we’d have these conversations.  She said, “Dad, go walk down the street with your eyes open in New York and then come back and tell me whether I’m dressing provocatively or not.”  And so, there’s this whole issue of cultural standard, and women going, “I’m not being provocative if I’m dressing this way.”

Mary:  Well, I think that there is an issue of cultural standard, and you certainly do need to be aware of that.  However, I do think that there is this wildness, and where you cross the line is when you dress in a way that you use your body, you expose the private parts of yourself in order to attract attention and in order to try and snag a guy. 

And that’s the thing with the wild thing of Proverbs chapter 7, where she was intentional.  She wasn’t intentional about walking in the ways of the Lord; she was intentional about using what she had to try and get a guy, and to try and get a guy to give her the kind of attention that she wanted.

Bob:  Let’s be honest.  When we dress, I mean, even on a given day, we dress with the desire to make some kind of a statement.  I mean, you were coming down here to be on FamilyLife Today.  You packed your suitcase, and you thought before you came, “What should I wear so that I will give the right appearance,” right?

Mary:  Yes.  Appearance is an important question for a woman to consider, and I think that more important than just, “Oh, how do I put myself together?  How do I look beautiful but stay away from appearing seductive,” I think that it’s very important for a woman to understand the purpose of clothing and why we wear clothes in the first place. 

Scripture teaches us that we wear clothing, we cover our nakedness, to bear witness and testimony to the way that Jesus Christ covers our shame and covers our need for a Savior; that he covers us.  He covers our sin, and that’s why we are covered with clothes.  It goes back to the story of Genesis.  So talking about that –

But then you do deal with real practical questions of what does that mean when I’m standing in a dressing room and trying on that skirt, and if that skirt is too short or too tight.  And it is very important.  You know what, I’m glad that you had those conversations with your daughter, because I think it’s really important that fathers are looking at their daughters and saying, “Listen, sweetheart. You’re not walking out the door like that because – because --”

Dennis:  Yes, right. 

Mary:  “You’re not because I’m your dad and I know . . .”

Dennis:  Been there.  Done that.

Mary:  Been there. Done that.  Right?

Dennis:  Exactly.  But here’s the deal, and Barbara and I felt the tension back in the 90s when we were raising teenage young ladies.  Today it’s even worse.  The pressure on these young ladies who are not fully adult, so they’re not totally mature.  Their hearts from a full awareness of who Jesus Christ is and what he expects of them – they’re in process, these young ladies.  Our daughters were, at the time.  But they’re going to school and they’re feeling odd, they’re feeling weird.  And the clothing today is getting tighter and less of it. 

I turned to Barbara the other day in another conversation; I said, “I didn’t think they could figure out new ways to accentuate a woman’s body,” but the fashion industry is clever.  They’re incredible.  They’re enticing young ladies to buy this clothing.  How does a mom or a dad have a conversation with their daughter around this issue so that the dress truly reflects where their hearts ought to be?

Mary:  Well, I think you need to start young.  I think the key is to start at a very young age teaching her that she needs to dress in a way that is appropriate, that is feminine, and yet that is in a way that sends the right message.  You know, this whole issue of being wild and of wildness and of women dressing and being very sexual – it really ties into the matter of the feminist movement. 

Way back to the 1960s, we were taught in culture that women needed to grab power and to be powerful and to claim the right for themselves to define what their lives were all about.  At that time, there was a real rebellion against feminine dress or even sexual dress.  There was a big rebellion against the Miss America Pageant, saying “Oh, well that sexualizes women and that puts women as sex objects.  Men are doing that, and so we’re going to rebel against that.” 

But that whole thought of claiming power and that it’s good for women to have power kind of lingered on, and in this new generation goes, “Well, sex is power.  My sexuality is powerful, and therefore I’m going to use my body as a powerful weapon to be alluring to guys and to exert power over them that way.”  And so there’s been this real interesting twist of girls going wild and seeing it as a form of power and a form of their personal empowerment and liberation.

Bob:  So is a girl who has gone wild, is that somebody who is sexually aggressive, or can you be a wild girl without being sexually aggressive?

Mary:  I think that there’s wildness in each one of us.  When you think of wildness, really it goes back to the Garden of Eden, the first girl gone wild, which was Eve.  Really to me, wildness is just a woman who relies on her own instincts and her own wisdom for knowing how to live, rather than relying on who God says she is, and relying on how God says she ought to live.  So wildness is really when we turn away from our Creator and we just rely on ourselves.  That is really the mark of many women today, and many women in the church too.  Wisdom is when we turn back to the Lord and figure out how he says we ought to live.

Dennis:  One of the things you say is that you can tell a lot about a woman in terms of how she relates to the man in her life.  I’m assuming you’re saying that of a woman who is married as well as the single women, how they relate to men.  Explain what you mean by that.

Mary:  Well, I believe that the Lord has created us women and created us with a womanly disposition.  If you observe relationships,  if you observe the way that a woman treats the men in her life, if she’s respectful, if she honors them and respects them, if she interacts with them in a womanly way, in a way that really is responsive and in a way that is not the loud, defiant, controlling, manipulative type way, you’ll know that she’s equipped with a lot of skills that will really help her in a marriage relationship and will really help her to make a marriage work.  So you can tell a lot by a woman in just the way that she interacts.

I know that with my daughter-in-law, Jacqueline, I could tell a lot about her when I watched the way that she interacted with her dad and with her brother, and then the way she interacted just with her male friends, and then the way she interacted with my son.  You could tell a lot about her character and about whether or not she had committed herself to following God’s way.

Dennis:  You know, I couldn’t agree more.  Earlier we talked about Proverbs 7.  That’s a woman who realized how powerful she was sexually, and she used her looks -- I’m talking about her appearance – but also the twinkle in her eye, the twisting of the beads, her speech.  So it’s more than just dress.  It’s her behavior, her attitude, what she projects.  As we train young women today to know how to truly be Christ followers, moms and dads have got to be intentional about letting them know when their behavior is sending the wrong signal.

Mary:  That’s right.

Dennis:  Because I don’t think these young ladies always understand it.  If they did, you’d have to say “Well, then why are you dressing that way?”

Bob:  And you list some questions in the book that I think are just helpful, practical questions in this area.  Does what I’m wearing fit with who I am as a child of God?  Does it fit with Christ likeness?  Does it fit and flatter my body?  And you’d say that’s appropriate, for it to fit right and flatter your body, right?

Mary:  Yes.

Bob:  Does it fit and flatter my femininity?  Does it fit my age and my stage of life?

Dennis:  Wait a second.  I’m still back at the one where you said you think it is appropriate?

Mary:  It is appropriate for a woman to dress in a womanly fashion that is flattering her as a woman, but not to use her body in a way that is seductive, not to use it as – you know where you’re hanging out the “I’m available” type sign.

Dennis:  So it’s okay to allow your femininity to – I hate to use the word “be on display.”

Bob:  Right.  But to dress in a way that says “I’m a woman.”

Dennis:  Yeah.

Bob:  There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

Mary:  That’s a very good thing.  God wants his daughters to look like his daughters, and to be different than his sons.  So dressing in a way that honors Christ is dressing in a feminine manner and in an attractive manner, but not in a sexually seductive manner.

Bob:  I think somebody reads “Does it fit and flatter my body?” and the first thing they think of is “Oh, that means ‘Does it put my sexuality on display?’”  And that’s not what you’re talking about there, is it?

Mary:  Not at all, no.

Bob:  Does this fit my age and stage of life?  Does this fit my wardrobe?  Does it fit my budget?  Does it fit my needs?  Does it fit the occasion?  Does it fit the place I intend to wear it?  I mean, just good practical questions to go, “You know, I’m going to wear something today.  I ought to think about that and think, ‘Does this honor the Lord and does it fit what I’m doing?’”

Mary:  Yes.

Dennis:  You also have an entire chapter dedicated to the other part we were just talking about earlier – body language or non-verbal behavior.  You quote a couple of passages:  Proverbs 6:25 – I’ve already even talked about this.  “She captures him with her eyelashes.”

Mary:  Well, any girl could tell you, any woman could tell you that there’s “the look,” right?  There’s the “come get me” look that girls grow into.  It’s really interesting.  Brent and I were watching – or my daughter-in-law and I were watching just a little bit of a television show that just happened to be on as we were waiting for him to plug in a move, and it was one of those shows where they had these very young beauty pageants, you know, five years old.  The mom was teaching the daughter how to walk seductively and how to give that seductive look. 

But what was really interesting was when my husband Brent walked into the room and he caught a glimpse of this, and he was angry.  It was like this righteous anger came up in him, and he said, “How dare they do that to those little girls?  Don’t they know what message that is sending?”

Dennis:  Oh, yeah.

Mary:  Yes.  And there are different passages in Scripture where body language of women is addressed.  One of the reasons that the Lord was upset and brought judgment on the nation of Israel at one point in time was because the women were walking around with mincing steps and wiggling hips and they were all about the way that they looked and seduction.  They were not honoring God with their womanhood; they were just all about getting the guy and putting themselves on display in a very sexual way. 

And that was the wild thing of Proverbs chapter 7.  She did that.  She put herself on display, just the way she dressed, her body language, and she was also intent on capturing a guy, just with her behavior.  It says that she was wily, and so she was manipulative, she was intent on being the one who made the relationship work her way and to get the guy.

I love that word, “wily,” because it reminds me of Wily Coyote, who always came up with a new scheme to get the bird.

Dennis:  Uh huh.

Mary:  And it’s the same way that girls today always come up with a new scheme to get the guys.  And girls’ magazines nowadays, women’s magazines, actually give women instruction on how to have the right body language, how to send those messages, how to kind of give those “come get me” signals, how to talk, step-by-step instruction on how to be wild, really, is what the instructions are for.

Dennis:  And so, if you had a daughter, and again, you had three sons, but if you were coaching a mom right now who has a daughter who perhaps she’s just a little too charming in the wrong sense of the word, you know?  Her charm is, as it speaks of in the Scriptures, deadly.  What would you coach that mom to do?

Mary:  Well, I would actually challenge the mom and the dad, because I think that having a dad speak into your life is really important and really effective.  Tell that girl what kinds of messages are being sent with her behavior, and with her dress.  I think that sometimes girls are just naïve to it, and unaware of it.  Perhaps they just follow the lead of culture and they really don’t know how it affects the guys, so they need to hear that.  They need to hear how their behavior, how the way they dress, their body language, the way that they position themselves and move really does affect men, and why it is problematic for them to be presenting themselves in that fashion.

Bob:  Well, I want to turn it in the other direction, though.  Let’s say we’re talking right now to a 23-year-old single woman and she’s going, “Okay, I don’t want to give off that ‘come get me’ look, but I would like to know how to give off the ‘I’d like to talk to you and get to know you’ look.”  So what’s the difference between ‘come get me’ and ‘I might be interested?’

Mary:  Well, most girls know the difference in terms of their body language, when they’re just smiling to be friendly and when it’s the toss-the-hair-over-the-shoulder, seductive, capturing-him-with-the-eyelashes, come-get-me look.  So one is entirely appropriate and the other crosses the line into wild behavior that God would not have for his daughters.

Dennis:  And so, Mary, would you coach a 23-year-old young lady to flirt?

Mary:  I don’t think that I would ever coach a 23-year-old lady how to flirt.  I think that I would give her instruction on how to be friendly, how to engage in a good conversation, how to just be approachable, and how to develop her personality and her communication skills.

Dennis:  So you have a distinction between being friendly and flirting.  What is that?

Mary:  Well, the distinction is when you are flirting you are sending messages, you are hinting at impropriety.  You are hinting that you want to have the kind of attention that isn’t appropriate for you to have at that point in your relationship. 

So a 23-year-old woman who is single, I would not encourage her to flirt.  But now I’m going to say something pretty radical – or maybe not:  If that 23-year-old woman was married, I would tell her, “You ought to learn how to flirt with your husband.  You ought to send those messages where you are inviting sexual contact.”

The reason flirting is inappropriate is because you are hinting at, or inviting, or sending the message that you are wanting the kind of connection that is inappropriate for a single person to have, whereas it’s appropriate when you’re married because you have made a covenant commitment.  That kind of sexual invitation towards your husband is quite appropriate.

Dennis:  I just want to thank you for saying that so Bob and I didn’t have to say that.

(laughter)

Dennis:  That was a great piece of advice.  There are a lot of men who turned the radio up a little bit.  In fact they’re going to call their wives and say, “You need to go online . . .

Bob:  You have to listen to FamilyLife Today.

Mary:  Mary Kassian says that if you’re married you need to learn how to flirt.

Dennis:  No. No, no, no.  If they’re a wise man, they will not quote you.  No, they will not.  They’ll send them to the broadcast at FamilyLifeToday.com, and listen to the broadcast “all the way to the end, sweetheart.  All the way . . .”

Bob:  “You need to hear the whole show.”

Dennis:  “The whole show.”

Bob:  And if they want, they can go online and make a donation to FamilyLife Today, and we’ll send them the CDs.  How’s that?  And you can give the CDs to your wife.  Say, “Here, I got these from FamilyLife and thought they would be good for both of us to listen to.”  Because along with the CD of not just this program but our entire conversation this week with Mary, we’re also including a CD that has a conversation with Carolyn McCulley on her book, Radical Womanhood.  So it’s a great opportunity for you to give a gift to your wife. 

Make a donation to FamilyLife and we’ll send you the CDs and you can pass them along to your wife.  Or ladies, you can order them for yourselves.  Again, that’s if you make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today this week. 

Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and, if you want the CDs, type the word ”WISE” in the key code box on the online donation form, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and just ask for the CDs of the program that you are listening to, and we’ll get that sent out to you as well.  Thanks for helping to support the ministry.  We are listener supported and depend on those donations.

Let me also encourage you to get a copy of the book that Mary has written called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.  You can request that when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call 1-800-FLTODAY and order it by phone.  Again, the book is available online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call toll-free 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”

Now we’re going to continue talking about what wise womanhood looks like on tomorrow’s program.  Mary Kassian is going to be back with us; hope you can be back as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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