What Real Women Look Like
Sisters Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird explain why they don't allow the culture to define who they are, but look to the Scriptures to help them fulfill their roles as nurturers, helpers, and life-givers.
About the Guest
Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird explain why they don’t allow the culture to define who they are, but look to the Scriptures to help them fulfill their roles as nurturers, helpers, and life-givers.
What Real Women Look Like
Bob: Why did God make some people men and some people women? Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark believe there is a lot of confusion around that question in our culture today.
Kristen: God could have created whatever He wanted—like God pulled out this blank chalkboard—and what did He do? He created one man and one woman. He created a male and a female. That was God’s good and beautiful design. So, when we get back to the Garden, we realize: “Wow! It’s intentional. God created the male and the female to reflect different parts of His beautiful image.” And when we embrace His design for our womanhood, we are reflecting parts of God’s character and nature that we can only do as women.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I’m Bob Lepine. Now, think about it for a minute—if you had to define femininity according to the Bible, what would you say?
We’ll explore that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You and I, both, heard a friend of ours—just recently—make a very provocative statement. I thought this was very interesting. We were listening together to our friend, Crawford Loritts. He made the statement that identity is something—I’m paraphrasing here—but he said, “Identity is something that comes from outside of us, not from inside of us,”—that our identity is imprinted on us rather than something that is intuited from inside of us. I had to kind of pull back and just chew on that for a little bit and understand what he was talking about.
Dennis: So, what do you think about it?
Bob: Well, I think—
Dennis: Because I would say that there is an imprint by God—
Dennis: —and then our family that I think helps shape our identity.
Bob: I think you’re right. I think there are a lot of things that help shape our identity; but at the core, we are who God made us to be.
Dennis: And if you look at the first book in the Bible, He basically made to sexes, male and female. I think it’s all been downhill since then. Man has been redefining, ill-defining, creating chaos around the sexes since the beginning of time.
We have a couple of ladies with us in the studio who are going to set it straight. I mean, they have come all the way—[Laughter]
Bob: They’ll resolve the whole issue! [Laughter]
Dennis: —all the way from San Antonio, Texas.
Bob: I love this.
Dennis: Bob has been telling them where to eat in their home community.
Bob: One of my favorite places to go eat is San Antonio.
Dennis: Well, go ahead and tell our listeners—you’re probably going to get a free burger out of this.
Bob: About every block there is a good place to eat—but I told you guys—burgers / Chris Madrid’s. And of course, we like the Alamo Café when we want cheese dip. I mean, it may not be the best Mexican food in downtown; but it’s a pretty dependable opportunity. And even Taco Cabana is good with me; okay?
Kristen: There you go! Eat ‘em up!
Dennis: He got three in there! [Laughter] He’s trying to eat there for a week.
Well, Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird join us on FamilyLife Today. Kristen, Bethany, welcome to the broadcast.
Bethany: Thank you.
Kristen: Thank you so much for having us!
Dennis: You guys have written a book around a ministry that you started together. You two are sisters.
Kristen: We are.
Dennis: Pardon me for saying, “guy,” there; but you two are sisters, and you’ve started a ministry called GirlDefined.
Kristen: That’s right.
Dennis: Kristen, you’ve been married to Zack since 2011. Bethany, you are single.
Bethany: Yes; you can put my picture on the website, though. I’m looking for professional opportunities. [Laughter]
Dennis: We’ll do that. But I just want to know—where did the burden for going after such a hot, controversial issue as femininity? Why? Why you two? Why now?
Kristen: Well, we grew up in a family with eight kids—five girls and three boys. We’re the two oldest—so we have three younger sisters. As we grew up, we were just surrounded by girl stuff, and girlfriends, and just that whole world; and we had a lot of Christian friends.
We were, in fact, in a really conservative community down in the South, where everyone is a Christian and all of our friends claimed to be Christians—and go to church, and youth group, and all that good stuff.
But as we got older, time will really tell who the Christians are and who is going to stick it out. As we entered our twenties / our mid-twenties, we started—something shocking happened. Out of all of our conservative friends—which we ran in a circle of probably about 30 Christian girls—acquaintances/friends we had on sports teams. Now, looking back and kind of seeing where everybody is, via Facebook® and other outlets, we can really only count on one hand the Christian girls who are still claiming to be Christians, who are still walking with the Lord / who are passionate about His design for womanhood.
As we saw this happening—as we saw some of our acquaintances and friends just really abandon the faith and abandon God’s design, all together—our hearts were burdened for our generation, specifically, and the next generation because we saw happening, firsthand, that girls don’t understand what it means to be a woman, defined by God.
That burdened us; and we wanted to be a voice, by God’s grace, to say, “Hey, God’s ways are so much better.” So, that’s actually—that’s the passion / that’s where it came from. Ultimately, that’s what drove us to launch GirlDefined Ministries.
Dennis: It does seem like the stream is being poisoned today. Do you think a good bit of that is happening on the college campus?
Kristen: Oh, for sure.
Bethany: Yes; absolutely. Knowing our friends and knowing the girls that we were acquainted with, college was one of the biggest places where they went wrong—just that constant influence being there, day in / day out—the dorm rooms—you know, just that influence was almost too much for them. They just didn’t come out on the other side.
Kristen: What Bethany is referring to is—we had friends—some who did go to college and some who didn’t—but sadly, the results were actually the same, to be honest. From the friends who went to the college campuses and who came out on the other side kind of abandoning the faith versus the ones who didn’t—the statistics in our own circle of friends, actually, proved to be about the same.
Bob: I’ll tell you what’s interesting—because you started off by saying, “We grew up with a family of eight, five of us were girls. So, we were surrounded by girl things.” When you said that, I thought, “There are listeners, right now, who hear you say that, and they just got a little—they got a little ruffled that you said, ‘girl things,’ because who is to say—
Bob: —“that pink is for girls,—
Bob: —“that blue is for boys, and that trucks are for little boys to play with, and dolls are for little girls to play with?” They would say, “You’ve fallen into cultural norms around gender, and we’re actually being liberated from those cultural norms.” So, what’s your argument back to them?
Bethany: I would say there is, for sure, in a culture, there are—yes, girls wear pink / boys wear blue—that is, for sure, something that is put on us by the culture. But when we get to the heart—when we get past the trucks / when we get past the pink and the blue, and we look at the natural inclinations of a young boy and a young girl—
—you stick them side by side and you look at how a young boy acts and interacts with toys / with other people versus a girl—you see so clearly that God had a purpose in creating the male and the female, even at a young age.
You know, our younger siblings—
Bethany: —kids that we babysit / that we nanny, even today—our niece—you see a difference. We have to stop and say, “Even at a young age, when they are two and three years old, they are behaving differently.” Girls are naturally nurturers. They’re naturally picking up the baby dolls and wanting to nurture and play mommy. The boys are naturally destroying things—and wanting to destroy everything in the room and knock it over. That’s happening without anyone even telling them, at that age, “This is how you need to behave.”
Dennis: There really does seem to have been, over the past three or four decades, an attack on the maleness and femaleness that God created men and women with. As a result, I think it’s increasingly more difficult for young people—in junior high, high school, going away to college, to service, to their own places of work—
—to be able to find what is biblically normative.
Bob: Well, you mentioned junior high. I don’t know if you ladies are aware of this, but we created a resource designed for a mom and a daughter or a dad and a son to go off for a weekend and to talk about your identity.
Bethany: Oh, yes.
Bob: Every 14-year-old is trying to figure out: “Who am I? What am I good at? What does it mean? How do I get people to like me? What does it mean that God made me with the gifts and talents He made me with?” We wanted moms and dads to be able to engage with their kids around those questions.
What we are learning is that one of the questions that junior high kids are starting to ask is: “So, I know I’m a girl, but what does that mean that I’m a girl?” and “What does that mean in terms of—am I supposed to like boys now?” or now, “Maybe not.”
Bob: We wanted to have something where parents can have a conversation with their kids around these issues—
Kristen: That’s so good.
Bob: —and help steer them in a direction to think biblically on this subject.
Dennis: —and to establish a plumb line, Bob. I mean, truth—truth does give us a mirror that is the heart of God to us of who we ought to be. And when the Bible starts with them being “created male and female”—the first question we ask when a baby is born is, “What is it?” Well, now, it’s not only “What is it?” but “What does that mean that you are a girl?” / “What does that mean that you’re a guy?”
So, I just ask you girls, “How would you answer if you had a daughter, who was starting out in junior high / maybe, starting to go to high school or to college—how would you answer, ‘What does it mean to be a girl and not a boy?’”
Bethany: Kristen and I—we actually start our book, Girl Defined, telling a story about a time that we went onto a college campus to find out what the average girl and guy thought the purpose of being a girl was. We asked a question, “What do you think the purpose of being a girl is?” And literally, they just looked back at us with—like they had no idea.
That’s one of the reasons we wrote the book, because it is kind of hard to understand what it means to be a girl and what the distinct purposes are. We’ve kind of broken it down to three areas—God has created us, as girls, to be nurturers, to be helpers, to be life-producers. No matter what season of life we are in, we can apply those to our lives. We would really break those down with a young—you know, a teenage girl—and help her to understand God’s specific purpose for her femininity and how to set goals and work hard toward embracing that and really living that out.
Bob: Give me those three again—nurturer?
Bethany: She helps others; she produces life; and she nurtures relationships.
Bob: And that’s true whether you are a single woman or a married woman.
Bethany: Yes, because I’m single, and God created women to be helpers. And although I don’t have a husband, specifically, to help, I have my family—I have my dad / I have people in my church that I can help and really pull out that quality.
She produces life—obviously, I’m not having children; but I can produce spiritual children.
I think there are so many women who do that well who don’t have children. Then, she nurtures relationships. That’s something that’s so inborn to us, as women. You know, we go in packs. We, on average, speak more words—I don’t know about Bob—[Laughter]—but on average, we speak more words than men—
Dennis: Well said, Bethany. [Laughter]
Bob: This is my job. This is what I do for a living; okay?
Kristen: He’s right up there with the women.
Bethany: —in general—so; yes.
Dennis: Even as you started saying all that, though, Bethany, there are some women who had the hair on the back of their necks stand up—and they go: “Wait a second! This sounds demeaning. I want to be a woman who has power. I want to have liberty. I don’t want to be typecast into a mold that forces me to be something when I’ve got more gifts than just in some narrow category.” How would you answer the woman?—because, to me, that’s what the culture is selling—
Bethany: For sure.
Dennis: —women today / young women today.
Kristen: Yes; that is such a great question. We can understand that; because there have been times in our lives where we were not fully 100 percent onboard with God’s design.
I would say—going back to Genesis is—obviously, we’ve got to go back to the beginning; because a woman coming from that perspective—she has a skewed view of God’s design for the man and the woman to begin with. Because if she’s questioning God’s design for her life, as a woman, and questioning whether it’s good or not, then, she probably doesn’t understand the purpose for her design as a woman.
So, we take girls back to Genesis and say:
“Hey, in the Garden, in Genesis 2, God had a blank slate.” And when we speak—we bring out a chalk board—we say: “Look at this chalk board. It’s totally blank. God could have created whatever He wanted; but God pulled out this blank chalk board, and what did He do? What did He create? He created one man and one woman. He created a male and a female on purpose. That was God’s good and beautiful design. So, when we get back to the Garden, we realize: ‘Wow! It was intentional. God created the male and the female to reflect different parts of His beautiful image. When we embrace His design for our womanhood, we are reflecting parts of God’s character and nature that we can only do as women.’”
The second thing we would jump to is the three pillars of counterfeit femininity. So many women have bought into the lies—which we break these down in our book—the three pillars—which so much of that is rooted in the feminist movement and then this idea that, in order to be equal with men, we need to be the same as men; because equality means sameness. In our book, we break it down; and we say: “No, no, no, no. God created us to be purposely different but equally valuable.”
Bob: What are those three pillars?—
Bob: —because I’m sitting here, trying to figure that out.
Kristen: Yes; so, we have liberation, independence, and sexual freedom. For us, in our stage / in our season of life—what we have experienced, what we have observed, and what we’ve seen in the next generation—those are probably the three biggest lies of our modern culture that are pushed on us, as women, and said, “In order to be a powerful, strong woman, you need to embrace liberation in all areas of life—in gender roles / in marriage.
“You need to be totally liberated from anything that the Bible has to say, and you need to embrace a new way of thinking,”—so, liberated from God’s design for gender roles.
Dennis: Okay; now, wait before you move onto the next one. [Laughter]
Dennis: I want to go to your marriage—you’ve been married five years.
Kristen: Oh, I have; yes!
Dennis: You’ve been tempted to be liberated.
Kristen: Oh, sure! Zack is listening, going, “Yes; she has!” [Laughter]
Bob: You didn’t even have to finish the question—she was already saying, “Yes.”
Dennis: Yes. So, unpack how you’ve desired to not be into the form that God placed male and female / husband and wife. And by the way, we’re not talking about demeaning another person.
Dennis: We’re talking about fulfilling the design that God has for you; and by the way, there are so many abuses on the male side—
Bethany: Oh, yes.
Dennis: —that don’t make this easy. Men are either horribly passive or they are overly domineering, and dictatorial, and abusive of women. I’m not saying any of that has anything to do with how God made them, as men; but I do know the culture is screaming at you, young ladies, trying to get you to conform—
Dennis: —to what the world wants you to be and do—and that’s an egalitarian marriage.
Bob: So, how have you wanted to be liberated from Zack?
Kristen: Early on in my marriage—and I share a story in the book—just times where I did not want to allow Zack to be the leader. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to dominate. I wanted to be liberated. I wouldn’t have said that—you know, I was a Christian girl / I am a Christian woman. I would have preached all of the truths that are found in the Bible; but in my heart, I wasn’t fully embracing those. I wasn’t living those out; because I was buying into the lie that, in order to be equal with Zack, I needed to do the same things as him / I needed to have the same role. If he’s the leader, that means he’s more valuable. So, I need to be the leader so I can have equal value.
Dennis: Give us an illustration, practically.
Kristen: Okay; well, there is—sure; sure!
Dennis: Come on, take us there.
Kristen: There was a time when we were talking budgets; right? Zack—he’s a financial advisor—I am the furthest thing from that. [Laughter] He advises me, and I run the opposite direction. So, we were having a budget conversation first year of marriage—
—probably six months into marriage. Zack set a budget—he said: “Here’s your spending money. Here’s what you can have,” and it was a generous amount. I thought: “Score! I’m going to go shopping. Woo-hoo! I love this marriage thing. This whole budget thing—I’ve got it!”
But about a month later, he had to reevaluate. He realized, “Oh, I gave her way too much spending money.” He came to me and said: “Babe, I’m really sorry. Our budget—we’re going to have to scale back a little bit. This isn’t sustainable. In order for us to have a budget that’s going to work, you can only have this much. Is that going to work for you?”—it was way less. We had a huge argument; and I said: “That’s impossible! I can’t live on that much spending money!” I challenged his leadership: “Show me the numbers! Show me why this isn’t going to work!”
That was the first time I remember, early in my marriage, really pushing against his leadership and wanting to kind of dominate him. I wanted to redo the budget. I wanted to be the one to say, “I can have this much spending money, because that’s what I think is best.”
Bob: Okay; some people hear you share that story and they are thinking, “What Kristen would tell a young woman to do is: ‘When your husband says, “Hey, babe, you’ve got to cut back. We need to live within our means,” she’s supposed to just smile and say:
“Whatever you say, dear. If that’s what you think.”’” Is that what a godly woman does?
Kristen: I would say I did not do that. For sure, I did the opposite—I exploded / I challenged his leadership. I would say a healthy balance—having a conversation is a healthy thing—and I could have approached that totally differently. I could have gracefully and lovingly—as we all should be, male and female—said: “Hey, okay. Show me why. I’d love to see that. I don’t understand.” Ask a few questions; and then, in a gracious, loving way, have a conversation.
And then, in the end, if he says: “I know we don’t agree; but I really, as leader of our family, I’m trying to love our family. I’m trying to lead you well. This is what I think is going to be best.” Then, at that point, I think it would be a godly response for me to say: “Okay; I may not agree. I don’t fully understand, but I trust you; and we’re going to go with that.”
Dennis: So, what I hear you saying, Kristen—you’re not going to be a doormat.
Dennis: I can’t imagine you being a doormat. [Laughter]
Kristen: Now, why do you say that?!
Dennis: Just a little intuition on my part. [Laughter]
But here is the thing—men, real men, don’t want a doormat.
Kristen: They don’t!
Dennis: They want a partner in life, and that’s going to mean you’re going to disagree.
Dennis: It’ is okay to disagree, and you know what? It’s okay to disagree vehemently.
Kristen: Robustly—I like that word! [Laughter]
Dennis: And if you overstep it, you apologize. So, what I want to know is—when you said—you used the word, “explode,”—[Laughter]
Dennis: —when you exploded, what did Zack do?
Kristen: He’s actually very calm in nature. He’s very loving and gracious. I would say he responded a lot better to my explosion than I would have if the roles had been reversed. He, of course, got a little bit more heated than normal; but he’s a very steady guy. He just said, “Okay; let’s talk it through,”—he always wants to talk it through. I’m more of a “Let me clam up, and then I’ll talk about it,” personality.
After I exploded—I got all of my anger out—then, I kind of simmered down after a few hours—I was mad at him / I didn’t want to talk to him.
I did not agree / I didn’t understand—I didn’t even want to hear him.
Dennis: But you didn’t sweep it under the rug, and he didn’t let you.
Kristen: Right; no, he will pursue it until we get the issue resolved; and I will, too, eventually. We just approach it differently.
Dennis: You know, I’m glad you used that illustration; because at the Weekend to Remember®, this is how we coach young couples and older couples, alike, in how to handle conflict constructively.
Bob: You and Zack have been to one of—
Kristen: Yes! We did. I think it was our second year of marriage that we went to one. It was really great.
Bob: And Bethany, you’re hoping to go to one very soon.
Bethany: Yes; I’m hoping a listener will—yes. [Laughter]
Dennis: Her picture is on the website.
Bethany: Look up the website! [Laughter]
Dennis: But the point is—you are going to get your cues about who you are going to become—as a male and a female, as a husband and as a wife, as a mom and a dad—from something.
Dennis: Is it going to be from the culture, or is it going to be from the Scriptures?
Bob: We tried to do the same thing with marriage at the Weekend to Remember that you ladies are trying to do with the issue of femininity in your book, Girl Defined; and that is say:
“Alright; let’s not look at what the culture is saying works. Let’s look at what the Bible says is true, and that’s where you get your marching orders from.”
Dennis: And if you are single or married, Girl Defined would be a great book to get and, maybe, go through with some of your girlfriends and allow for some disagreement; but at the same time, go: “Okay; what does the Bible have to say about this? Let’s let the truth of Scripture be telling us who we are and how we are to relate to each other rather than taking the world’s mirror and building our lives from that.”
Bob: I was thinking that a mother and a daughter, after they go off together on a Passport2Identity™ weekend—they could go through Girl Defined as a great follow-up to their time together. And ladies, this is what we put Passport2Identity together for— because we know that 14- and 15-year-old young women need help from their mom, need guidance to understand what God’s design for womanhood is all about.
And so, a weekend getaway, where a mom and a 14- or a 15-, even a 16-year-old daughter can get away and talk about: “God gave you a specific identity. Part of that is the fact that you are a young woman. Part of it is the gifting He’s given you / the personality He’s given you.” There is lots to talk about as you are off together.
But this is a time when young teens start turning to their peers to give them answers to these questions. We wanted there to be a resource for moms and dads to continue to have a significant voice into helping shape the identity of your son and your daughter. And we’ve got this both for girls and for boys—a separate kit for moms and daughters and a different kit for dads and sons to get off on one of these Passport2Identity weekends.
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, for more information about Passport2Identity and for information about the book that Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird have written, called Girl Defined. You can order these resources from us, online, or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. So, again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com—the toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, one of the things we are committed to, here at FamilyLife, is providing moms and dads with helpful resources—like Passport2Identity, Passport2Purity®, other resources that we’ve developed over the years—things that can help parents have important conversations with their children around a variety of issues. Our goal, here at FamilyLife, is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We want to see every home become a godly home.
And we’re grateful that some of you, who are regular listeners, partner with us in this endeavor. Some of you are regular, monthly Legacy Partners—you give a gift on a monthly basis to help defray some of the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program, and we’re grateful for that.
And we’re grateful for those of you who will, from time to time, make a donation to help cover the difference between what’s given by our Legacy Partners and what’s needed so that FamilyLife Today can be heard—on more than a thousand radio stations across the country, online, through our FamilyLife app, via our podcasts. There is such a variety of ways that people are connecting with us, but all of that is made possible because of your support of this ministry.
If you’re a long-time listener, could we ask you to join with other listeners and become a Legacy Partner today? It’s easy to do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “DONATE,” to find out more; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to become a Legacy Partner.
When you get in touch with us, either to make a first Legacy Partner gift or a one-time donation, we’d love to send you, as a thank-you gift, Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Moments with You. It’s a daily devotional, and it’s our thank-you gift when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. And we appreciate your partnership with us.
Tomorrow, we’re going to continue our conversation about “What is God’s design for masculinity and femininity?” with Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark. Hope you can tune back in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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