This is the speech I delivered to the Trinitas Christian School Class of 2010 at their commencement Thursday night in Pensacola, Florida.
Good evening, Mr. Trotter, board of trustees, faculty, parents, grandparents, students of the Trinitas graduating class of 2010, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be your commencement speaker tonight. It is an honor to address this graduating class of eleven young women. Thank you, Mr. Trotter, and thank you, senior class, for inviting me to be here. It has been a pleasure to get to know some of you, and Doug and I have enjoyed your gracious hospitality.
I’d like to speak to you young ladies tonight about your future (now that’s a novel idea for a commencement address, don’t you think?) but, more to the point, the kind of women you want to be in that future.
You live in a time when women of all ages are hungry for purpose and direction in their lives. And it’s not just the young women who are flailing about trying to find their bearings. Even Christian women can be confused. The lies of the feminist story have had more than a whole generation in which to ripen and bear fruit, and it turns out, it is a bitter and barren fruit.
Middle-aged women who opted for the career instead of the home twenty years ago are now asking themselves what they have done with their lives; they feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Even those with lucrative careers are finding that they’ve missed something that money can’t buy, and they are not even sure what it is. If you have any doubt about this, wander through a bookstore and take a look at the titles of the books about women, and you will see that women are searching.
The barrenness of the birth-control pill and guilt of abortion and the tenuous status of live-in girlfriend don’t add up to a recipe for long-term happiness and fulfillment. Many women are panicking, feeling that they have lost their opportunity for a home and missed their reproductive window for having children. They feel cheated, and they don’t know what they are looking for. And the world, with their story about liberation and reproductive rights, cannot answer their questions.
Today everything is pretty much up for grabs. We really only have two cultural problems–but those are significant. First, we don’t know what our men are supposed to be doing, and secondly we don’t know what to do with our women. Other than that, everything’s fine. And because the church has become more and more enfeebled and compromised with feminism over the past generation, in many cases, it is not in a position to answer these questions either. Someone needs to talk about the men, but that is not my task tonight. I am going to speak to you about the women.
This is one of those moments in history, like many other moments in the past, when we need godly and dangerous women. And the hopeful surprise is that I believe many Christian schools like Trinitas are helping parents train up just this kind of woman.
Women are by nature dangerous. They will either be dangerous in a destructive way or dangerous in a constructive way. Our mother Eve was dangerous, but unfortunately, she was a threat to her husband instead of to the serpent. A harlot is a dangerous woman, but obviously, in the wrong direction. Christian women who just go along unknowingly are actually a liability and not an asset to the Christian cause. There really is no neutral ground. So I’m going to be talking to you tonight about the need for dangerous women in our day who see through the serpent’s cheap talk, who are not deceived by the lies the other team tells, and who are actively engaged in building a Christian culture. This is where your education comes in. You graduates have been given a healthy start to your education. Don’t let it stop here. Education is not an end but a means of equipping you to be and do all God is calling you to do. The being part must come before the doing. You want to be a godly and dangerous woman so that you can do the work of changing and rebuilding our culture. It is very important to keep these things in the right order. A good and godly education is a tool to be used wisely. Keep it sharp.
Graduates: Don’t let this be the end of your education, but continue to pursue wisdom. In a minute I will be talking about the role of women in the home, and I don’t want you to think for a minute that an education is unnecessary or superfluous for such things. Far from it. Your education is your preparation for life.
What is a dangerous woman? Is she a member of the NRA? Does she know karate? No. That is not the kind of woman I am talking about. Let me lay out a few of the characteristics of the godly dangerous woman.
1. First of all, she knows who she is. She is not having a life-long identity crisis. She knows who her people are, and she is loyal to her people. This, in itself, is a tremendous blessing. A woman who knows who she is can be free from herself to be herself. She can change the subject and think about others. She is not cowering and fearful, trying to find herself, because Christ has found her. She knows where she belongs.
Today, many young people are rootless and unconnected. They never sit down to dinner with a family around an actual table. Many don’t really have a family at all; they are isolated and disconnected.Their lives are more connected to and they are more loyal to a mythical heart-throb vampire than they are to their own parents and grandparents. This is a tragedy.
But the kind of woman I am talking about is loyal to her people because she knows which side she is on, and she does not wear the enemy’s uniform. She identifies herself among God’s people. She stands with her family, her church community, and her school community. And because she knows who she is, you cannot take her where she doesn’t want to go.
This kind of loyalty is a powerful protection that keeps her from getting swept up into unwise friendships, foolish relationships, or led into stupid behavior. She knows that she is a character in a story, and she wants to be the good, wise character, not the foolish one. We live in a culture that has been demolished, and much reconstruction is required. That is the building project that Trinitas is part of. And women who understand the project and have a view toward the final result are a tremendous asset to have on the construction crew. And the last thing we need right now are more people standing around in the wreckage, fishing out some keepsakes.
Graduates: Be loyal to your people. Never forget who you are and what side you are on.
2. Second, a godly dangerous woman knows what she is called to do. Women typically underestimate the scope and the significance of what they have been created to do on this earth. The truth is, God created woman to have a profound impact on the culture around them.
I have mentioned the construction project. God says in Proverbs that a wise woman builds her house and a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. This building is what women are called to do. Woman is created to beautify and glorify and remake. She beautifies and glorifies all God gives her, and the results are amazing. Call it the woman’s touch.
You know what I mean. We’ve all seen the old stock Western film where the old dirty bachelor cowboy gets a mail-order bride, and the new bride looks around at the wreck and ruin of his forlorn cabin, rolls up her sleeves, and changes everything. She remakes him and she remakes that cabin. (This may not be a popular stock scene anymore in this politically correct era, but the idea of the woman remaking the world is still as true today as it was in the beginning.)
Consider, for example, a house. It is just four walls until a woman moves in and transfigures it, beautifies it, glorifies it, and makes it into something new: a home. What is a kitchen but just a room full of shiny surfaces until a woman glorifies it with pies and mashed potatoes and loads of dirty dishes and singing. A woman receives her husband’s love, and God mysteriously glorifies it within her, and a baby is born. Woman is the glory of the man. She is his crown.
This is God’s creation design for women: they do this mysterious thing of remaking people and homes and cultures. Men want to be made new; homes are begging to be humanized; our culture is crying out for help. A woman’s touch is a powerful thing, and this is what homemaking is all about. This gift of remaking does not originate in the woman herself: God puts it there, and she reflects, manifests, and returns the glory to Him.
A godly dangerous woman understands that God has given her the tools to do this. She knows who she is and she understands what God has designed her to do. She is not distracted away from this truth. It is what enables her to be a productive asset to the community. She is indispensable. Women have this gift, married or not. They exert a tremendous influence on their community, whether that community is a home, a church, or a school. They are either constructing or tearing down.
Graduates: Be builders. Each of you, be the kind of woman who never forgets what she is called to do. Take the things God has given you and glorify them. Get your hands busy beautifying the world. You can begin now. You don’t have to wait.
3. Third, a godly dangerous woman understands that she is the root of this tree called humanity. God has created the human race this way. The woman is not the tree, but she nourishes it, and she grounds it because that is what God has equipped her to do. And the more she does this, the more dangerous she becomes. She has this strange power to extend herself, bestowing and adorning the world with a fruitful radiance.
Feminism has successfully drummed its story for women into our culture’s psyche. It is a bad story about women, a story in which the women play their assigned parts, detached, independent, unconnected, and autonomous. And millions of women have bought the story and tell it over and over again to themselves and their daughters. But the story makes no sense, and the devastating effects of it are easy to see.
If the root obviously cannot be disconnected from the tree, and do its own thing. Not only is the whole tree affected, but the root crumbles. The feminist story has gotten old. Many of the old guard are even starting to defect. The story that women should be disconnected and autonomous has taken its toll. You might as well put the root in the driveway or in the sky. What good is it there? Even a child can see the nonsense of such a thing.
Our military has even adopted this foolish feminist fairy tale. So now the root is in the submarine. What a silly story this is. Would someone please interrupt this story and talk sense to these people? Put the root in the ground! That is where it belongs. That is where it will grow. That is where it is dangerous! When it isn’t in the ground, it is weak, foolish, helpless and worthless. Nature itself teaches us these things. The feminist story is destructive, not constructive. It keeps telling women to keep the roots OUT of the ground.
The soil for the root is the Christian home. This is the domain and the dominion of the godly dangerous woman. G.K. Chesterton described the home as “a sphere of vast importance and supreme spiritual significance; and to talk of being confined to it is like talking of being chained to a throne.” The home is the kingdom where the woman has inestimable influence and power; this is where she can be dangerous to the serpent, where she bruises the serpent’s head by self-sacrifice and obedient love.
The home is where the root grows, where it does its work of nourishing, establishing, and glorifying the world. Women not only nourish and sustain the tree, they provide stability in unstable times, they anchor a culture to the ground. And if ever a culture was in need of stability and nourishment, our American culture is now. Quoting Chesterton again: “Despite efforts to find one, there is no alternative to the family.”
The home is where the action is. The home is the center of operations for the woman from which she extends herself, where she finds her fulfillment and purpose. This is the vantage point from which she can see future generations of faithfulness rising up. This is the Christian story about dangerous women.
Graduates: Let your roots grow deep. Love the true story and hate the bad. And be able to tell them apart.
4. Fourth, a godly dangerous woman believes and loves God’s covenant promises which He has made to His people. She is thinking long-term. Even when she is just about to graduate from high school, she has an eye toward when she will be a great-grandma to a hundred or more great-grandchildren. And she is loyal to them already. Think about this! This is why your parents want to stay in the neighborhood and not settle down on the other side of the world (though they may be hesitant to say so).
My children attended Logos School from kindergarten through twelfth grade. This is the school their father helped start for them. Now I have nine grandchildren there. Now I can see with my eyes what I could only imagine back when my children were little, and I had no idea wonderful it would be. It is hard to see ahead like this, but it is very important to think this way.
This is why a godly dangerous woman can stand up for what she knows is true. This is why she won’t be swayed by a stupid guy who tries to get her to do stupid things. Her calling is too important to squander on a man who doesn’t get it. What would her descendents think? She wants to raise up sons who will be leaders and daughters who will be pillars, equipped to raise up the next generation. This is why she is not interested in weak men. She is looking for strength and courage, not a man with wobbly knees.
If you doubt the tremendous impact that women have on our culture, here’s a thought experiment for you. What would happen to our culture if women all across our country had God’s promises in view and said something like this to their boyfriends: “Are you kidding? You must be crazy if you think I will move in with you without a wedding first.” Can you imagine the upheaval and dislocation? Suddenly marriage would be much on men’s minds, and not just on the women’s minds, and there would no doubt be a diamond shortage. Because women have believed the serpent’s lies, marriage is in a sore state, and this has an obvious affect on the heart of our culture.
God’s blessings flow downstream, and a godly dangerous woman understands that her behavior now will have consequences in generations to come, and this is a very big deal. My husband has taught this for years. When fathers are living with “secret sins,” they are in essence giving their sons covenantal permission to sin in the same way. When women are living sinfully, whether by being anxious and worrisome or in some other sinful way, they are giving their daughters and granddaughters covenantal permission to live the same way. A godly dangerous woman is not simply thinking of the present; she is thinking of the next fifty years, and she wants to live in a way that will bless her descendents and not scramble them. This kind of woman is rare. Her price is far above rubies.
She sees the long-term blessings that result from seemingly mundane decisions and tasks. She doesn’t mind; she can afford to be patient. God works over generations, and He takes His time. She can interpret the times in light of God’s unfailing love and providence. She sees His hand in all that comes to pass. Like the godly women of old, she sees that she is standing in a long line of God’s covenant faithfulness. He always blesses obedience, and He never forsakes His people.
Graduates: Love God’s promises. They are for you and your descendents. Live in light of them! Be this kind of woman.
5. Finally, a godly dangerous woman is not threatened by the unbelief in the culture around her. She is at war with it! She does not give way to fear. She knows who wins. She does not keep her head down when she enters into a secular job or a secular university. She knows who she is and what she is about, and she is not afraid of everyone else finding out. In fact, she is eager for everyone to find out, and this takes backbone. And this, it turns out, is actually threatening to everyone else! A dangerous woman assumes the center. This requires courage and faith. A virtuous woman is a courageous woman.
She laughs at the days to come. She sees through the lies in the serpent’s story clear as can be; she is not deceived. She is uncooperative with his agenda. He lied to our first mother, and she stumbled and her husband with her. But God has promised that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. And that is what the promised Messiah did.
So there is no need for a woman to go wobbly because she might lose friends or lose her job or fail the class. God’s purposes and plans are much too big to be squandered on such petty threats. She has too much to do, and time is short. She understands the final outcome: we win, they lose. A dangerous, godly woman is a threat to the other team because she is building, and refuses to tear down. A godly home is a dangerous weapon and a strong defense. It is both an offensive and defensive weapon.
Women of the graduating class, I urge you to be dangerous women. You have the tools to get to work on the next thing. After all, you have received a good and godly education. The world is in great need, and women like you need to roll up their sleeves and get to work, preparing to raise the next generation to play their part, transforming the culture one home at a time. You know who you are, who your people are, and what needs to be done. So get to work.
As you begin your life after high school, keep these things in your mind. The future is coming. What kind of woman are you going to be in it?
In closing, thank you again Mr. Trotter and the board. And congratulations, graduates!