Goodness in the modern-day woman

By Paul Coughlin

In his new book, “No More Christian Nice Girl”, Paul Coughlin defines what real goodness can mean for a woman. He begins by contrasting it with the definition of goodness in man.

Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary gives an inspiring definition of goodness in man.

“Goodness in man is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following  of all moral good.”

Tweak that definition for modern-day women:  Goodness is active.  Goodness deliberately chooses to do the right thing and firmly resists what is wrong.  Merely avoiding bad things doesn’t make women good.

Goodness can mean sometimes making choices that offend and anger other people. Goodness can mean setting yourself apart for service to God.

Contrast that authentic goodness with false niceness like focusing outward appearances.  The focus becomes what they don’t do—swear, use bad manners, smoke, get drunk, show cleavage, etc.—and these avoided behaviors are sanctified and held up as the pinnacle of what God wants from women.  Meanwhile, what they do for God—attending church, teaching Sunday school, or tithing—can become a performance designed to impress others or to earn God’s love.  Women begin to sound a lot like the Pharisees, focusing on the outward while ignoring the condition of their inward hearts.

Christian women need to find a balance between passivity and aggressiveness.  Did your mother ever remind you to “stop slumping over and sit up straight?”  This book’s message is similar.

According to one human behavior specialist with twenty years of experience administering personality tests to thousands of Christians, about 85% of church-goers he has tested have more “passive” than “active” personality types, as compared to 62% of the general population.  When passive they can resentful doormats in relationships and rarely take meaningful chances in life, severely limiting their spiritual growth.

Real goodness authorizes you to be both stronger and gentler than you may have ever thought possible or allowable.  Sometimes, it takes a lot of backbone to be tender.  As was the case with Jesus, he was often surrounded by self-righteous, rigid religious people, yet stood out as a rare combination of firm, godly truth expressed freely and authentically.  And he was able to be so good because he was both tender and firm, compassionate and courageous.  Women tend to think that these traits cancel each other out when, in reality, they complement each other, like a delicious meal that is both sweet and savory.

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