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The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood, Part 1

It is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of his Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood.

My aim in this message is to clarify from God’s Word the ultimate meaning of true womanhood, and to motivate you, by God’s grace, to embrace it as your highest calling. What I will say is foundational to the “True Woman Manifesto,” which I regard as a faithful, clear, true, and wise document.

The Opposite of a Wimpy Woman

I would like to begin by stating one huge assumption that I bring to this task tonight. I mention it partly because it may give you an emotional sense of what I hope you become because of this conference. And I mention it partly because it explains why I minister the way I do and why this message sounds the way it does.

My assumption is that wimpy theology makes wimpy women. And I don’t like wimpy women. I didn’t marry a wimpy woman. And with Noël, I am trying to raise my daughter Talitha, who turns thirteen on Saturday, not to be a wimpy woman.

Marie Durant

The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant Amazon. The opposite of a wimpy woman is fourteen-year-old Marie Durant, a French Christian in the seventeenth century who was arrested for being a Protestant and told she could be released if she said one phrase, “I abjure.” Instead, she wrote on the wall of her cell, “Resist,” and stayed there thirty-eight years until she died, doing just that (Karl Olsson, Passion, [New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1963], 116-117).

Gladys and Esther Staines

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Gladys Staines, who in 1999, after serving with her husband Graham in India for three decades, learned that he and their two sons, Phillip, ten, and Timothy, six, had been set on fire and burned alive by the very people they had served for thirty-four years. She said, “I have only one message for the people of India. I’m not bitter. Neither am I angry. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ’s love.”

The opposite of a wimpy woman is her thirteen-year-old daughter Esther (rightly named!) who said when asked how she felt about her father’s murder, “I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him.”

Krista and Vicki

The opposite of a wimpy woman are Krista and Vicki who between them have had over sixty-five surgeries because of so-called birth defects, Apert Syndrome, and Hypertelorism, and who testify today through huge challenges:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.

Even though my life has been difficult, I know that God loves me and created me just the way I am. He has taught me to persevere and to trust Him more than anything.

Joni Eareckson Tada

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Joni Eareckson Tada who has spent the last forty-one years in a wheelchair, and prays:

Oh, thank you, thank you for this wheel chair! By tasting hell in this life, I’ve been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy (Christianity Today, January, 2004, 50).


The opposite of a wimpy woman is Suzie, who lost her husband four years ago at age fifty-nine, found breast cancer three months later, then lost her mom. She writes:

Now I see that I have been crying for the wrong kind of help. I now see, that my worst suffering is my sin—my sin of self-centeredness and self-pity. . . . I know that with his grace, His loving kindness, and his merciful help, my thoughts can be reformed and my life conformed to be more like his Son.

Wimpy Theology Makes Wimpy Women

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. That’s my assumption that I bring to this evening. Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness and man-centeredness. Wimpy theology doesn’t have the granite foundation of God’s sovereignty or the solid steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all things.

The Ultimate Purpose for the Universe

So I turn to my to my main point, the ultimate meaning of true womanhood, and start by stating this great God-centered purpose of all things: God’s ultimate purpose for the universe and for all of history and for your life is to display the glory of Christ in its highest expression, namely, in his dying to make a rebellious people his everlasting and supremely happy bride. To say it another way, God’s ultimate purpose in creating the world and choosing to let it become the sin-wracked world that it is, is so that the greatness of the glory of Christ could be put on display at Calvary where he bought his rebellious bride at the cost of his life.

I base this statement of God’s ultimate purpose on several texts. For example, Revelation 13:8 where John refers to God’s writing names “before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” So in God’s mind Christ was already slain before the creation of the world. This was his plan from the beginning. Why?

Because in being slain “to make a wretch his treasure”—to make a rebel his bride—the glory of his grace would shine most brightly, and that was his ultimate purpose according to Ephesians 1:4-6, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ . . . to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

So, what is the ultimate meaning of true womanhood? Find out in “The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood, Part 2.”

by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

john-piper-2John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books. More than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org.

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