Here is the progression I've witnessed.
1) A woman comes to Christ. To this point in her life she has found her identity in perhaps her fashion sense, her boyfriend, or if she's really got it together, her respectable career.
2) This woman is seeking to obey. She hears teaching about women's roles in the church and home. She wants to conform. It's hard to switch from finding your identity and self respect in how you look or your high paying job. But her new set of friends seem to really value marriage and raising children. Keeping your house, training your children, being a good cook. This woman now starts to value these things in place of the old things she used to look to for her identity.
The conclusion is that this woman has only transferred her old idolatry of her job, fashion sense, respect in her community, boyfriend, and so forth. Her new idolatry is her home, her husband, and her children. Her self worth depends on how neat her home, how tasteful and well presented her meals, how well behaved and Biblically informed her children. For many, they excel here. They find self worth in their accomplishments in the home. For many others, they only find self condemnation. I was in this second camp. I am messy and find it very hard to keep my house clean. Though I'm from a family of great cooks, I myself am not the best. And, though I feel much better about raising my boys right now than I did even 6 months ago, I have struggled watching my friends with children their same age who excel at things to which it hasn't even occurred to me to expose my boys.
Thankfully, God has worked long and hard to free me from finding my identity and self worth in either my job at the community college or my house keeping skills. He has been prying out of my grasp all those things I look to daily for self worth. Instead, He is replacing my quest for identity with the gift of Himself. In particular, it is my spiritual blessings in Christ as outlined in Ephesians 1 that have been a resting place for me in the life long battle to figure out why I should get up in the morning.
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
I am God's daughter, chosen by Him before time began to reflect the lavish beauty of His glorious grace. He has deposited in me the Holy Spirit as the seal that guarantees that God will fulfill every last thing He has promised to me and hold my inheritance securely for me for eternity. Then Paul concludes the chapter with the great prayer.
17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
This is the prayer that I must make my own. Father, open my eyes. Enlighten me to all you have done for me and called me to be. Help me understand the hope of my inheritance. Help me live in light of the incomparable power at work on my behalf. May my eternal inheritance alone be the filter through which I view all my successes and failures in life. I am just a steward of the gifts you give (and take away) in this life. The meaning of all of it is lost if I don't read it through the lense of my unshakeable inheritance in You.
Then, I can move from finding either self worth or self condemnation in my home keeping skills. Oddly enough, I usually feel much more equipped to do the things I need to do to keep my home functioning in God-honoring ways once I lose my grip on it in terms of self-identity. I have found that God is pretty jealous and quite willing to frustrate my attempts to find my worth in anything other than His finished work for me on the cross.
I hope you too will examine yourself. Complementarian idolatry is alive and vibrant in the church. And it is as evil as any other option.
Next week, I hope to offer some positive thoughts on reforming women's ministries.