More than a womb-man to me…  ♫
You, dear sister, are definitely far more than a “womb-man” to YHWH! That is YOU are more than a man with a womb. Women who cannot or have not had children for any number of reasons can take great comfort in the fact that a woman’s identity is not found in her uterus, but in her unique relationship to the Father and His purpose for her life. A woman can serve YHWH in a vast number of ways that do not involve physical child birth and/or child rearing. And even more importantly, she can find great fulfillment, joy, and happiness as she follows the Master in the Way He leads.
I happen to know several women that are childless. Some of these women are unmarried or widowed. Others have been married for many years, but the King has sovereignly kept their womb closed. One of these women happens to be a very close friend of mine. Therefore, I am sensitive to the plot of these precious daughters of the King. Too often our goodhearted counsel has the opposite effect of what we intend. We haven’t walked in their shoes. We may sympathize with their pain, but we are clueless as to how to express true empathy for this GREAT loss they suffer on a daily basis.
Thus, what we think is encouragement, actually becomes a stumbling block to their healing and/or only a reminder of their lack. Since all women are “built” or wired by the same Creator to be feminine, we all share some innate qualities. Though we are each unique individuals with distinctive personalities, strengths, and gifts; we are, at our core, each still a neqevah (female) that is compelled to surround and protect boundaries that promote growth and maturity. The womb of the woman is an amazing picture of this spiritual reality. And in a perfect world, it is one that every woman would get to experience both physically and spiritually. But we live in a broken world. Things aren’t perfect. Yet, we can learn how to better encourage and minister to these women — and it’s probably not in the way you think.
Some well-meaning teachers bring condemnation upon the heads of these dear sisters without even realizing it by promoting extremist family views that may never be a possibility for this minority. Often these views are out of balance. There is a not a one size fits all rule or commandment for family size, though scripture can be twisted and proof texted to say such.
Women that are unmarried or that have a barren womb are left feeling less than a womb-man to be sure. What is a great blessing to most women in the congregation is a great trial and test for others. The older the woman becomes, the more final the test must feel. And that feeling is often a sense of failure. Failed as a womb-man. Can you even imagine the pain? Even those seasoned and mature in YHWH feel this pain no less. The scab is picked from the wound every time another teacher insists that a woman only finds true fulfillment in birthing physical babies! Again, hear the word failure. Oh my heart cries out for you! And it’s not so much that you’re childless; it’s in the way we have treated you. It’s in our promotion of a narrow-minded view of womanhood that has left you feeling less than a womb-man.
The good news is that these marginalized women are not left in the cold by our great Elohim (even if we inadvertently have). There is more to woman than the physical womb! Thankfully, YHWH is not a “black and white” extremist, nor is He oblivious to the multi-faceted dynamics involved in family, singleness, children, and lack thereof. In fact, there is quite a bit of “grey” area in matters of doctrine, theology, and halachah. Why else do you think it was so vital that Israel institute judges? Matters of faith and doctrine require righteous judgment. There is not a one size fits all answer to every situation or family.
Therefore, when “absolutes” are drawn like lines in the sand, we can be sure that there is a Sith nearby. Perhaps this is why we find Yeshua literally drawing on the ground when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Him. It wasn’t Yeshua that stood on an absolute or rigid commandment; the accusers were the ones pointing to the black and white Law. Yeshua exercised righteous judgment and extended mercy to the woman all while still maintaining or upholding the Spirit of the Torah. We are too often like the scribes and Pharisees, demanding our idea of adherence. Our zeal leaves a wake of bruised and battered bodies —– causalities of our “truth”—- and we never bat an eyelid.
I don’t think the Bee Gees’ had my sentiments in mind with their song More Than a Woman, but as I am writing this post, the tune keeps ringing in my ears. There is a lot faulty etymology out there about the English word “woman”. It has been said that a woman is simply a man —- with a womb. In other words, some well-meaning teachers (falsely) believe that “woman” is a compound of the English words “womb” and “man”. However, even a quick study of the etymology of “woman” will prove this idea to be false. Though being a womb-man appears to be harmless and perhaps even edifying, this concept has and can cause a great deal of damage to the many marginalized daughters of the Most High.
Many people cite Webster’s 1828 dictionary to perpetuate the “womb-man” teaching. Here is Webster’s full entry:
WOMAN, n. plu. women. [a compound of womb and man.]
1. The female of the human race, grown to adult years.
And the rib, which the Lord god had taken from the man, made he a woman. Gen 2.
Women are soft, mild, pitiful, and flexible.
We see every day women perish with infamy, by having been too willing to set their beauty to show.
I have observed among all nations that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings, inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest.
2. A female attendant or servant.
WOMAN, v.t To make pliant.
While I highly respect (and frequently use) Mr. Webster’s work, it doesn’t make him infallible. I haven’t been able to find any other reference source that even hints to the evidence needed to support Mr. Webster’s suggestion that the English word woman is “a compound of womb and man”. Moreover, no other language ancient and modern (that I can find) shares this leap of faith in the etymology of their word for woman. Therefore, I’m left to conclude that Mr. Webster “assumed” this idea was true just as many other well-meaning people have done in the past and present. (And many of them have done so by blindly accepting Webster’s speculation as truth —- a vicious cycle.)
Where does the English word for “woman” actually originate? Here is Etymology Online’s entry for woman:
(n.) late Old English wimman (plural wimmen), literally “woman-man,” alteration of wifman (plural wifmen), a compound of wif “woman” (see wife) + man “human being” (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Cf. Dutch vrouwmens “wife,” literally “woman-man.”
The formation is peculiar to English and Dutch. Replaced older Old English wif and quean as the word for “female human being.” The pronunciation of the singular altered in Middle English by the rounding influence of -w-; the plural retains the original vowel. Meaning “wife,” now largely restricted to U.S. dialectal use, is attested from mid-15c. Women’s liberation is attested from 1966; women’s rights are from 1840, with an isolated example in 1630s.
The real etymology of woman has nothing to do with possessing a womb. The counterpart to the Old English “wif” (woman) is “wer” (man). Thus, a male was a “wer” as we still see used in words such as “werewolf”, a man-wolf. None of these old uses are derived from the fact that a female has a womb and male does not.
Please don’t misunderstand my intent in this post. There are some very fascinating truths about femininity and the womb. I am in no way dismissing the importance and significance of the “birthing” nature of women. In fact, I will probably write about the womb at a later date. However, faulty etymology, teachings, and foundations must be removed if we desire to walk in complete freedom and restoration. This is necessary even for those ideas that appear to be harmless and/or helpful. I felt that this issue was vital enough to point out for one reason. We tragically forget that it is the “little” foxes that spoil the vine.
Women have suffered so much throughout the ages. Sadly, our suffering has always been predicated on faulty assumptions, beliefs, opinions, and paradigms. Therefore, I feel it is absolutely crucial that we don’t veer to the left or right as far as we can help it as we seek restoration.
Song of Songs 2:15 “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”
I strongly believe that the vineyards of women are truly in blossom. While great truths are being restored to women that are bringing healing, unity, and renewal, there have been and always will be (this side of Kingdom come) little foxes that can and will bring great devastation to our garden in spite of our most diligent efforts.
A woman of faith is not solely defined by her physical womb or her children. We must be sensitive to this truth for the sake of our sisters that have closed wombs (or no husband). As I was pondering this delicate issue, I believe the Father revealed to me the heart of the problem and why this uncomfortable reality must be addressed with great compassion.
Consider the mercy and loving-kindness that the Torah extends to marginalized people.
“The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (Dt. 14:29)
“Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. (Dt. 16:10-11)
We are reminded in numerous places NOT to forget the people that do not fit into the ideal “mold” of family. Likewise, those that are poor, different (by status, race, or circumstance) or who have been or are imprisoned are NOT to be forgotten.
How might we forget these souls that are precious to the Father? By forgetting to include them in COMMUNITY. We may be inadvertently doing this by treating them differently because they are unlike our “preconceived” notions of normal. Examples include race, sex, age, weight, health, wealth or lack, marital status, child status, looks, dress, their past, education level, or even their maturity level.
Answer for yourself: How does YHWH look upon these souls He created? Are they made any less glorious than you? Are they not also one made in the image of Elohim? If they are defective in your eyes, does that give you the right to reject them? What if they don’t meet your idea of normal or ideal?
The truth is that we mistreat and ostracize “strangers” all the time. This is a tragedy even if these people are lost pagans. (What a horrible witness!) But even worse, we do this with those seeking and returning to the King and His Torah. Sometimes we miss an opportunity because we are so preoccupied with our own issues and cliques. But more often, we are actually afraid of them. We fear they are going to taint us, our children, and our assemblies. Perhaps we’ve been hurt in the past by a so-called stranger. Perhaps we have encountered wolves along the way. Does our “bad” experience give us a right to shun new-comers or those that don’t fit our ideal mold (and probably never will)?
I’ve heard Dr. Hollisa Alewine say on numerous occasions that ungodly fear is to fear man or circumstances, and anything that we fear — we make holy (set apart)! Read that again. Anything we fear, we make holy. YHWH alone is to be feared (revered) and set apart as holy unto us; therefore, our fear of man and circumstances is irrational and reveals our lack of trust in Him. I hope you let that sink in for moment. I am constantly reminding myself of this truth, because fear loves to pop-up and take you by surprise. We must exercise our faith (trust) like a muscle. Sadly, we often give our strength to the enemy instead.
My focus in this post is marginalized women, but I hope that you will also apply these concepts to all marginalized people. Please consider other passages from the Bible that speak to these issues.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:26-27)
If you forget to bring in a stack of harvested grain, don’t go back in the field to get it. Leave it for the poor, including foreigners, orphans, and widows, and the LORD will make you successful in everything you do. (Dt. 24:19)
Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him: When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death. (Luke 14:12-14)
Oneness versus Singleness
Nothing about the woman BUILT from the side of Adam is male or masculine. In fact, the woman or female is truly the OPPOSITE of maleness. She is feminine. Therefore, there are far more differences between men and women than the physical womb. Dr. John Garr, in his Feminine and Free Series, goes into great detail exploring these differences. Men and women are different (by divine design) physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These differences are how and why the two sexes complement one another. His strengths are her weaknesses and vice versa. For example, women and men often have opposing dispositions, preferences, and purposes. All these differences, ironically, are what make a marriage work. When these variances merge, the couple becomes a picture of the unified Elohim and suitable to display His image in creation.
Each of the sexes exhibit key facets of the image of the One Elohim. Both are equally expressive of the nature of God. One side of this glorious coin can never properly bear the image of the Creator. It truly does, “take two”! The Creator made the one Adam into two distinct yet complimentary beings (male and female) so that they could come back into unity and oneness through marriage.
BUT (on the other hand)!
An unmarried woman is never considered a “sinner” or to be living a life of disobedience if she never marries. While marriage is the great symbol of Messiah and the Assembly, that in no way mandates that every single person on the planet live out this metaphor in the natural. The institution of marriage is the foundation for families and faith; but, we cannot take an “absolute” approach and apply it to every situation. Paul recognizes this truth even though it encompasses a small minority. Hebrew thought is concerned about even the fringes of the camp. YHWH really does care about the one sheep that strays away or that gets left behind. He has provision and purpose for each of us.
Thus, an unmarried and childless woman (or a widow), can and will find great fulfillment if she so chooses. Shaul (Paul) was of the opinion that a woman that had chosen this path would be more blessed/happy (Greek: makarios) than their married counterparts for living in this manner. Sadly, we often only hear one side of this issue from the pulpit. My hope is to lift these women up. They are not black sheep. They are not lost sheep. And they certainly aren’t poor, pitiful, or cursed. In fact, many assemblies and ministries wouldn’t function half as well as they do without the diligence of single childless women and/or married childless women. They are usually a strong bulwark to the whole body! Her service builds strong walls of protection and strength in any ministry she puts her hands to do. We are fools to overlook the line of defense she can provide our assemblies. And we are even greater fools to shun, reject, or pity these power houses of faith.
What sort of role, function, or ministry can these women engage in? Dr. John Garr, in his book Feminine by Design, devotes an entire chapter to the nurturing aspects of women. Dr. Garr believes that “at the very core of every woman’s being…is the nature of nurture.” Nurture is defined as that which nourishes, promotes growth, educates, trains, raises, develops, offers protection, and encourages.
I want to give you a living example of a single childless woman that I know. This woman has come to the aid of my family numerous times. Her support emotionally, physically, and spiritually has been unmatched by anyone else. She is truly an eshet chayil. She has provided food, prayers, and most importantly TIME. She has tirelessly been at our side when tragedies have struck. The time she devotes is unsurpassed for several reasons. One, she obviously has more time than those with a husband and children. Without these responsibilities, she is able to offer far more than the average person. Second, she has a heart to serve the body in this way, for we are not the only family she ministers to or the only one she has sacrificed her time to help. Third, she is a woman and not a man!
That last reason needs some explanation. While single men can be effective ministers, they just aren’t “built” with the same nurturing qualities that a woman naturally possesses. This isn’t a fault on the part of men; it’s simply a difference by divine design. My point is to recognize this strength inherently given to women. Thus, a single childless woman will be unparalleled in the service and ministry given to her by the Creator in areas that require emotional, physical, and spiritual sustenance to those hurting. In this way, she is a “mother” to Israel —- spreading her comforting wings around those that need consoling, edification, healing, or “help” in general. We need to be recognizing these powerhouses in our assemblies. For while they may give all of themselves to us, I wonder how much we offer them in return in the way of edification and validation.
A woman, married or not and childless or not, will be a nurturer in her sphere of influence. The traits of a nurturer are very similar (not surprisingly) to an ezer kenegdo and an eshet chayil. As we discovered in my 7 part series on the Biblical Role of Women, a woman’s desire to function in her purpose is unrelenting. We must be willing to allow these treasures of Elohim to function in the work and service He has for them regardless of their marital or child status. They may have a mighty message to teach us in their lifestyle and service that we may miss if we sidestep their value due to their life circumstance not matching our own.
Singleness can display a powerful facet of the Creator just as Oneness in marriage does. We don’t often like to look at this truth. Catholic priests, monks, and nuns may be the image conjured when we think of abstinence or singleness. While there may be some merit to the Catholic view, I believe it is a twisted version of the Creator’s ideal purpose for these precious souls. In a sense, singleness is truly a higher way of life, because it is also a great sacrifice. This is true whether a person finds themselves in this lifestyle by choice or circumstance. Most, I assume, are there by divine sovereignty, not choice.
Thus, there is great pain and testing for these dear ones as they serve the body. It’s not that they cannot find great joy and fulfillment in their service, but that at their core they are just as human as you and I. They have physical and emotional needs that must be met by faith and not a physical spouse. Perhaps this constant exercise (of their faith) is why so many become living examples of The Comforter and is why their strength in nurturing often borderlines the angelic. For they know better than most how desperately we need these necessities because they struggle daily in the natural in this area.
This is true (though from a different perspective) for married childless women. As women, we are the ones that “birth” or give life in this world. Though men provide the “seed”, we give it the environment, nourishment, and care to see it through to fruition. This is true of far more than physical seed and children. Why do you think women are such fantastic organizers, decorators, and planners? We can often take an idea, subject, or theme and “flesh it out”. Women with children will devote a great deal of this energy into the rearing of her children. (And rightfully so!) But, childless women have these same abilities. Why not give her the opportunity to “flesh-out” all those projects, ministries, and missions that have been left undone? Don’t miss out on the great blessings these women can offer your assemblies.
We must learn to celebrate the diversity within the body of Messiah. The Master seeks out the sick and the lost. He embraced and ministered to the hurting, broken, and sinful. He wasn’t afraid of those that didn’t meet the status quo of the majority’s view of “ideal”. He certainly didn’t fear that the immature, broken, or “different” ones coming into the Kingdom would taint the children. He expressed tenderness, comfort, and mercy to the marginalized people —- all feminine attributes. He came like a mother hen to gather his chicks in comfort and protection. The protection he most offered was from the current rigid religious leaders, not Satan. We must be careful to not duplicate the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees in these issues. We must be willing to offer help to the helpless, love to the unloved, and mercy to the sinner.
Women were created in this image of Elohim. We are the ones that will bring the balance to the masculine in these areas. Both are needed, but the scale is certainly tipped too far toward the hard masculine in the Hebraic Roots/Messianic movement today. If we can humbly seek out the restoration of women, we just might see an explosion of power, creativity, and growth in our assemblies and in our impact on the world. I pray that the Father will give us creative ways to reach out, serve, protect, love, and support these precious daughters of the Most High.
I encourage you to do a concordance search on barren wombs. This search will reveal a powerful truth. Many great deliverers in Scripture came forth from a “once” barren womb. Israel was even born from multiple barren wombs. We cannot overlook the fact that this a physical picture of the spiritual. What appears to be fruitless in our eyes may be the perfect womb (place of growth) that will give birth to the return of the greatest deliverer, Messiah Yeshua!
 This, of course, is a play on the lyrics to the Bee Gee’s song More Than a Woman.
 I am in no way insinuating that there is not great, even miraculous, power in the womb of a woman. However, as women, we are far more than just a womb. The context of this post is to bring freedom to the daughters of the Most High that have never had or may have physical children.
 This is a reference to the newer Star Wars Trilogy when Obi Won Kenobi tells Anakin Skywalker that, “Only Siths deal in absolutes”. A sith is a dark lord. There is wisdom to be gleaned from this fictional discourse if you have ears to hear. J We never see the Master, Yeshua, acting with the force of rigid cold law. He always found the balance between black hard judgment and white loving mercy. A lack of mercy, compassion, and long suffering indicates a heart that is hard and narrow minded. Such a one is not ruled by the Creative Holy Spirit of Elohim, but of a fearful self-serving spirit of wickedness. The difference is literally life and death. What had provoked this memorable statement by Obi Won was Anakin’s statement that, “If you’re not with me, then you are my enemy”. Anakin’s vision was narrow. He was turning to the dark side (as he later becomes the infamous Darth Vader). It was either his way or the highway. Sadly, we are often like Anakin with our pet doctrines, traditions, convictions, and biblical interpretations. We can only see “our” way; and since we are often steeped in western (Greek) mindsets, we assume everyone else must be wrong. A Hebraic lens however would be more akin to Obi Won’s response. Rigid viewpoints usually lead to the dark lamp and death. They are cold and merciless; there is no room for growth or creativity. There is no, “on the other hand”. I’ll stick with Obi Won and the Jedi on this one! Absolutes and the pursuit of absolute certainty leads you into the dark cave of the sith lord. There is something to be said of divine “tension” and truth resting in the middle of two extremes. You can watch the short exchange between Obi Won Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgpytjlW5wU
 Dr. John Garr explores this faulty etymology in his book, Feminine by Design, p. 14-15
 By the way, I am completely and utterly aware of my own short comings and finiteness. Therefore, if you see something I don’t or a correction that needs to be made —- PLEASE, by all means bring it to my attention. I promise to explore it thoroughly and prayerfully.
 See my posts on women as “boundary setters” and “protectors of boundaries”. A single and/or childless woman usually has the opportunity to become a builder of the whole body, not just her family. They can meet needs that other women cannot (depending on the season of life they may be in).
 This is why we need to be building these women up; not tearing them down (even unintentionally). She will be a strong fortress or she will be block of stumbling. We each have two inclinations! By surrounding these women with our love, appreciation, and encouragement we prepare them to be that strong wall of support. Shunning them or making them feel “un-included” because they don’t share the experience of a husband and/or children may drive them to bitterness. (Think of Naomi) For many this life style wasn’t a choice; it was simply their lot. How the body handles these hidden “treasures” will dictate growth or lack thereof.
 Men are more suited and more comfortable (generally) offering themselves or their time in other ways. They often offer their physical strength or support in matters of life, faith, and ministry. For example, in Bible studies/teachings/discipleship or in physical helps such as carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, etc. Like females, they have their own set of gifts and strengths. Some are more comfortable standing and ministering to the body, others offer physical talents. All are equally important and needed by the body.
 The mothers of Israel, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel, were all at one time barren.