Fear, God, and Womanhood: Janni Ortlund Provides Wise Counsel for Women

I found this quotation relating to fears that play upon women from a recent interview with a prominent teacher of women very insightful.  From the CBMW blog:

“Jani Ortlund is a mother, pastor’s wife and former school teacher. She is also the author of Fearlessly Feminine: Boldly Living God’s Plan for Womanhood. Gender Blog recently sat down and interviewed her on issues of femininity and biblical womanhood. Her husband, Ray Ortlund, Jr., is a noted pastor and author. The Ortlunds live in Nashville, where Ray serves as pastor of Immanuel Church.

GB: How does fear play into living out womanhood for a single woman?

Ortlund: It’s really strange. We fear being single and we fear being married. We fear infertility and then we fear child birth. We fear having a baby, but then fear them growing older into teenage years. Then we fear widowhood and then we fear living forever with this man. We fear financial insecurity, but we fear going out into the marketplace and earning money. Our lives are full of fear and I really think it eats at the core of our relationship to God. We find it almost threatening to our femininity to trust God. Think of Eve. The very first conversation there in the Garden of Eden where Satan sits on her shoulder and says, “Did God really say?” and he calls all of God’s words into question and that’s where our fears start: “Did God really say?” I can tell you that I trust in God, that He is sovereign, that He is all-powerful, but when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, if my last thought is, “How am I going to pay that bill tomorrow?” then I am not really trusting Him at the heart level. It’s just a head-knowledge. That’s why the subtitle of my book is “Boldly embracing God’s Plan for Us.” It’s more than just head knowledge. That fear starts in the heart, where we are wondering, Will I be protected? Will I be cared for? Can I make it? Is it worth it? What does it mean to be a woman? Can I truly take Scripture at face value and look at these real words, words like sin, redemption, submit, respect, obey, all of those words, can I look them square in the face and ask, “How do they apply to me as a woman?” and can I embrace that? Or do I say, “No, it’s too scary.” Fear is a huge thing in the lives of women, because as women, we are often in vulnerable positions. It’s the man who is to be the leader, even in the area of dating for younger women. We want to be called on the phone, we want to be asked out, we want to be pursued. In marriage, we want our husband to lead us. We don’t want to take the leadership and have him stay at home and have him fix the meals and we go out to be the big earner. Generally speaking, we don’t want to and I don’t think the Bible holds that up as a worthy model. So, in a way, we have to wait and be patient. It’s in that waiting and patience for godly male leadership—for us to affirm and receive and nurture—it’s in that waiting that we get kind of scared.”

One might add that certain sectors of the culture teach wives to fear husbands in marriage, namely, that they will become lordly and abusive.  This can and does happen, sadly, but in many cases Christian women are driven to fear their husbands without cause.  Most husbands do have to learn the delicate balance of headship and gentleness, and that can take some time and tears to figure out.  Yet most Christian men don’t desire at their core to squash their wives or dominate them.  Many of us, in fact, struggle with the opposite tendency and fail to lead our wives with appropriate strength and courage.

A great answer from a great interview.

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