I like what Elizabeth Elliot says in her book, ‘Let me be a woman’.
" It is a naive sort of feminism that insists that women prove their ability to do all things men do."
Let me start with the premise that I have grown up in a ‘female independence era’. You know the generation where we would constantly say as a group in primary school ‘what a man can do a woman can do better’? I am from that generation. My thought patterns were constructed around this notion and my opinions were based on them. And so, in the past year I have been going through a mental deconstruction of sorts. I have been unlearning the teachings of society about gender and learning about God’s take on manhood and womanhood. Society now has a new label for me, ‘Reformed feminist.’ I particularly liked John Piper’s and Elizabeth Elliot’s teachings on this. Womanhood is beautiful.
Being newly in a relationship, I am still getting used to the idea of a man (who is not family, at least for now) being so concerned about me. You know; wanting to get me home just to make sure I am safe, wanting to be on the side of oncoming vehicles even when we are crossing a two-lane road and him doing all these things without me thinking that he sees me as inferior or less capable to do them by myself. Femininity has its own limitations and so does masculinity. Being feminine or masculine is a gift bestowed upon us by the creator. It is a state we find ourselves in; we do not choose. Just as we do not choose the families we are born into or the siblings we find in these families.
In light of these realizations, I have been thinking about names. See, when a woman gets married, she gets a new name. In some sort of way, the woman loses her initial identity to accommodate the identity of the man she is now married to. In fact, a friend from Lesotho told me that for them, the lady loses both names entirely and takes up the names of the family she is married into.
Ideally, in a feminist nature, I would call this a shortcoming, unfair and uncalled for. However, in the wake of reading ‘The joy of Christian Manhood and womanhood’, I have come to appreciate my ‘shortcomings’ as a woman; the things that make me 'underprivileged'. And so, in the case of getting new names from a man, I realized that a man bears a great mantle, a mantle that demands that he protects his name, he upholds the value of his name and he takes responsibility for the name he carries. You see, the name does not just belong to himself, it probably belongs to a future or present wife, children and an entire generation. A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold- Proverbs 22:1.
Despite the fact that we as women are unable to give names, we have the exceptional privilege of getting new names; to create a new reputation, to be newly esteemed. This reminds me of the story of Ruth, and how Boaz was her Kinsman redeemer. She got a new name and a new identity. She was no longer a cursed Moabite. Ultimately, it reminds me of Christ and how we have a new name when we are found in Him; redeeming grace. It’s a beautiful thing to be a woman, the representation of Christ’s church and bride here on earth and it’s beautiful to have the opportunity to have a new name, a rebirth of some kind and with new names comes new responsibilities. For instance, if you were to get married into the president’s family today, then your name would change and everywhere you go, people will react in some way when you introduce yourself.
A name carries a lot of weight, a name needs to be taken care of and a name is not just a name, it is a part of you that gives you some form of identity. A name takes time to build and a short time to destroy; just like many things in life. It is my prayer that there will be men in this generation who will stand up for their names and that there will be redeemed women willing to take up these names.