When you were reborn in Christ, what were you reborn as? The obvious answer is a Christian. This is the most beautiful truth in the world! But more specifically, were you reborn as a new you, as a woman? Or in becoming a Christian do you now transcend your sex and body?
It is not incidental that God made women as women, and remade us in Christ as women, not men or androgynous humans. Our womanly bodies are now Christian womanly bodies, designed and assigned by God himself. And they have something to tell us about our calling and mission in life — just as Eve’s body, different from Adam’s, had something important to say about her calling, distinct from her husband’s.
Look at Your Body
The whisper of ancient Gnosticism and modern hubris would counsel us to ignore our bodies and look inward to discover our calling. Granted, self-knowledge of our inner person is an aspect of how we discern what we’re made for. Yet, if we want to have a settled and lasting sense of what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives, we’ll need something more fixed and unchanging than our internal selves. We need Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and we need to observe the bodies he’s given us, created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16–17).
Why are hammers heavy and flat on one side? Why do books fit so nicely in your hand? Why is a piano bench just the right height and piano keys sized for fingers? Why do hoses stretch long and attach to spigots? And why are women soft and tender — with breasts and arms and curved hips and feet and legs and a mind and uterus and monthly cycle?
Is it all just a fluke? What does it matter?
Your Body and Your Calling
Perhaps you think I’m minimizing your personhood, reducing women to the sum of their parts, implying that women are no more than a baby incubator — or worse, no more than their sexuality.
But hear me out, women are certainly more than their sexuality. We are more than our bodies, more than a uterus or arms and legs, more than our minds even, but we are not less than those things. We are not less than the bodies God has given us. Bodies matter. And these bodies will take us to our dying day or until he comes again — and then they will be made new and endure forever. So God thinks highly of our bodies. He’s not shelving the idea.
“We are not less than the bodies God has given us. Bodies matter.”
The devastating way our society treats the calling of women’s bodies is to cleverly uncover them and use them for power and money. How many daughters and sisters and mothers and friends believe their bodies to be valuable only as they are objectified or viewed with lust? Or only as they earn capital for them under the false banner of empowerment?
On the other hand, our society has shamelessly rejected modesty and purposeful functionality as practical enslavement. Instead of using a hammer to hammer, we polish and paint it and hang it on the wall to stare at. Instead of making music with a piano, we refuse to have it tuned and super glue the keys in place so they can’t strike a chord — but boy do they look like they could make music, were someone ever to try them out.
How much more is this the case in twenty-first-century America? With plastic surgery and an inordinate emphasis on appearance, our bodies have become something like a mausoleum that we dare not spend or use for any purposes other than the ones we decide will benefit us. So while a woman may be quite happy to test her body’s limits at the gym so that she looks cute and young in a new outfit, she wouldn’t dream of testing its limits in hard labor of any kind for a purpose with no personal benefit, solely for the sake of another.
God Gave Women Wombs
God gave women wombs so that babies could grow in them. Does every woman’s womb grow a baby? No, and there is no lessening of womanhood in that. But that doesn’t mean we miss God’s calling in his larger design. Wombs to grow humanity — that’s his mindboggling plan. It was God’s idea to give wombs to women, just as he decided to give us arms to lift things.
And knowing that God gave arms for lifting and wombs for babies impacts our calling. If God designed our bodies to be a home to a tiny person for nine months, then that understanding will help us to make sense of the instructions in Titus 2:4 and 1 Timothy 5:14 to work and manage the home. Why? Because he actually made our bodies a home, and making a home for others is an extension of that.
I’m not saying that we all must be having as many babies as we can, or that our arms should be lifting in perpetuity, or that our legs should never stop walking. I’m simply pointing to God’s design and asking the question, Why did he make us like this?
Are we willing to accept the answer inherent in God’s design and inerrant in his word?
Called and Broken
The truth, of course, about God’s clear design doesn’t leave us without complex pains and questions. What about women who have had mastectomies or hysterectomies, or have had a leg amputated, or are blind, or in any way have a body that doesn’t function properly?
We begin by acknowledging that’s all of us at some level. Not all of us are missing parts, but all of us have a level of body dysfunction. That’s what sin does: it corrupts the creation. And that doesn’t make us any less a woman, or our bodies any less relevant, or our calling any less important. A woman who cannot make a home inside her body for children can still make a home for them outside of it. She can make a place of safety and warmth for others, whether they’re her children or not.
“Sometimes the glory God gets from our lack far exceeds what he gets from our fullness.”
Our youngest son is disabled. He has a body and mind that “don’t work the way they’re supposed to” — though we believe his body and mind work precisely the way God intends. So what does it mean for our son to live a full life as an embodied soul, whose body has something to say about his calling? It means that while his calling will remain the same — the call to live as a Christian man, God willing — how it works out will be different because he’ll be in his particular body, not someone else’s.
We Sing Together
Likewise, God has given Christian women whose bodies have a womb, but can’t carry a baby, a harmonious outworking of the calling of a Christian woman. As women, we’re all singing the same song, with the same goal, with our varied parts, some on melody, some on harmony and descant, and some sounding the minor note. And while the song is beautiful, it is heartbreakingly so.
The painful ache for those who long to have the part of bearing children is agonizing. It is a grief worth grieving. It does not make you lesser as a woman; you are loved and oh how we need you. Your body is not irrelevant, nor is your womb. It still points to something; it is still valuable and made by God, and it still has a role to play.
Sometimes the glory God gets from our lack far exceeds what he gets from our fullness. Our wombs are God’s design and calling, but empty wombs still point to greater realities — not despite the sorrow that comes with them, but with the sorrow as part of the pointer.