Throughout history many have grappled with the question of what it means to be a woman. From the 1950s stereotypical housewife, vacuuming in her dress and pearls, to the radical feminist fighting for abortion rights. It seems everyone has their own view of womanhood. Incidentally, a culture has been created where each person has the ability to define their own gender and sexual orientation.
(A)Typical Woman is a refreshing drink of water amidst a culture of gender confused chaos. Abigail Dodds has written both a biblically strong and beautiful portrait of womanhood as seen through the lens of God’s infallible Word. She wisely points out the danger in moving towards gender fluidity- both by removing protection and creating vulnerability for women and children. And at the same time, points us to find our womanhood rooted in the person and work of Christ. We must rightly understand our position in Christ for us to joyfully embrace our role as a Christian woman. Our hope in finding meaning, peace and identity is solely found in the gospel, knowing that all of our life is through, in, and for Christ (Col.1:16).
I especially appreciate the balanced view Abigail brings to the debate of womanhood. She warns us of finding our identity as women in stereotypical roles, portraits of what we think biblical womanhood should look like, such as being a wife or mother. Yet our roles as men and women share dominion as both coheirs and disciples of Christ. While many of our callings overlap such as household chores or hospitality or the great commission, we do these things as being fully Christian and fully woman. Instead of characterizing ourselves as human or woman, Abigail reminds us that “our womanhood is our humanity” (p.37). In (A)Typical Woman we’re encouraged to fully embrace the beauty of the diversity God created when he made man and woman. We’re to see the distinctives of womanhood not as an oppressive force, but a beautiful display of God’s complimentary design. The feminine virtues God created for us to reflect are first found in the Creator himself.
Abigail fleshes out her theology in chapters that push women to study the Bible in its entirety, not just the passages related to women. Gleaning knowledge from the whole Bible is what shapes us into Christian women. We’re encouraged to examine what our womanhood means through the way God has created our bodies- the womb that can provide a home for a developing child. And for the unmarried or those struggling with infertility- the opportunity to create a warm and loving environment even for those not given biological children. Our calling as Christian women pervades everything we do- whether married or single, biological or spiritual mothers. We’re challenged to evaluate submission in a new light. Are we living in fear of manmade rules- “only eat these foods, only use these cleaning products, exercise at least 4x/week”? Or are we making our choices by faith in a sovereign and good God? Abigail speaks with the depth of having tasted suffering in her own life, of not having things turn out the way we always hope. She wisely points out that “sometimes the glory God gets from our lack far exceeds what he gets from our fullness.”
(A)Typical Woman steers us to live a life fully surrendered to Christ. In all we do- mothering, working, discipling, gardening, teaching, cooking…our goal is not to be the status quo. Our chief end as Christian women is to live a radically counter-cultural life that seeks to pursue holiness, as we reflect God’s image to the world.
I’m looking forward to passing on this gem to my daughters.