Discovering the Beauty of Womanhood

God’s good design for womanhood remains even when culture tries to erase it.

by Laura Perry Smalts on April 2, 2024

For a long time, I didn’t see the beauty of womanhood or value God’s design for us as women. I even sought to erase it in my own life. I know that, for some women, being a woman is a painful reality and something we struggle to value or celebrate. Many women feel, as I once did, that womanhood is a curse. Today’s culture has created so much confusion around womanhood that sometimes we fail to appreciate the beauty of God’s design for women and men.

For almost nine years, between the ages of 25 and 33, I lived as a transgender man, even undertaking medical procedures to make myself more “masculine.” I hated the very thought of myself as a woman. I believed that I had no worth or value as a woman and that my only path to significance was in eradicating the existence of womanhood in me and becoming a man. I associated all my pain with womanhood.

When I found my identity in Christ, I was freed to live the life he designed me to live.

But Jesus did not leave me in my pit of darkness and deception. He pursued me and delivered me. He called me to leave the false masculine identity behind and embrace who he created me to be. He helped me understand that I could not claim to love him yet reject his creation. At first, I thought I was being condemned—that God was saying he would not accept me as transgender. But I believe he was instead telling me, “Let me tell you who you are.” Colossians 3:10 tells us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” When I found my identity in Christ, I was freed to live the life he designed me to live.

As I left the transgender identity and lifestyle behind, the Lord took me on a journey of discovering his design for womanhood. As I began to forgive my mom and the girls who had hurt me in childhood and the men who had abused me and as I began to repent of my own sin and forgive myself, the Lord began to bring healing. Romans 12:2 describes being “transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Little by little, I began to feel free of the deception, and I allowed Laura to come out of hiding. It was safe now to be a woman because I was secure in Jesus.

Over time I became curious and began asking the Lord questions such as, “What does it mean to be male or female?” or “Why do you care if I identify as male or female?” I could not have grasped then how important to God his design of male and female truly is. I am certain I still have only scratched the surface, but God has fostered in me a deep love and admiration for his binary design of sex as taught in Scripture.

Male and Female in God’s Image

Male and female each represent different aspects of God’s image, and we display his glory in different ways. Although I had already studied this for several years, this truth became a much greater reality to me when the Lord brought me a husband and we were married in 2022. I did not understand then why it seemed that suddenly I understood male and female in a way I never had before. Only a few months into marriage, the stark contrast between male and female design was so strikingly obvious that the idea I had ever lived as transgender now seemed ludicrous.

It was a study of our very origin that brought this phenomenon into the light. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Notice that God said it is not good for the man to be alone. Man needs a helper. Yet this is far deeper than a man just needing a roommate or a teammate.

If Adam simply needed a companion or a helper, God could have created one sex to be complete within itself. Science has discovered asexual organisms that reproduce by various means without a sexual partner, including some spores, echinoderms, fungi, and more.1 Some proponents of gender fluidity and a non-dimorphic design of sex argue that such organisms are proof of sexual diversity and that male and female are not truly necessary for reproduction.

However, I think these organisms are, in a way, proof of the opposite. God provided evidence that he did not need to create male and female as two distinct sexes in order to help humans replicate. That implies intentionality behind the design that is beyond mere function. This does not discount the functional part of our design. Indeed, God’s first command to human beings was to “be fruitful and multiply.”2 He intended us to fulfill his command to multiply ourselves by the means with which he created our bodies to do so.

But if that design was not necessary for reproduction, then why go to great lengths to design us male or female? God did not solely give us differing genitalia; nearly every organ and system in our bodies has distinct sexed differences. Scientists have discovered over 6,500 genes that are expressed differently in males and females.3 God clearly had a great purpose in his binary design of male and female that stretches far beyond reproduction.

The Good Image Marred

In Genesis 2:18 mentioned above, God said it is not good for man to be alone. In Genesis 1, we see that God called all of his creation good, and his creation of human beings he called very good. But if God created it to be very good, why don’t we always experience it that way now?

Ever since Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, creation has not been “very good” because it is marred by sin and death. The entire redemptive history of the Bible tells the story of God’s rescue plan for his image bearers who trust in him through the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ, which will be consummated at his second coming. However, the creation continues to function well in many ways despite the curse causing decay for thousands of years, which is a testament both to the good design of God’s creation that remains and to God’s mercy.

God’s creation is still good not only because it functions well; it is good because it displays his goodness and glory.

God’s creation is still good not only because it functions well; it is good because it displays his goodness and glory. It tells us who he is. So what about God’s creation of male and female displays his goodness? Paul gives us a clue in Ephesians 5:21–33. He says that marriage represents Christ and his bride.

Male and Female in Marriage

I did not grasp this truth until I came into union with my husband. I realized that sexual union inside a marriage covenant blessed by God is the complete opposite of sex outside of marriage. Sex outside of marriage doesn’t engender the deep complexity and complementarity of a lifelong, committed relationship of oneness. You see the goodness that is intended to be there but is clearly missing and unattainable. But inside of a good Christian marriage, God knits the two souls together and the two become one flesh.

This is what God meant in Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) when he said, “I will make a helper comparable to him.” The Hebrew word translated as “comparable,” or in other translations “suitable for,” is neged, which means “in front of, in sight of, [or] opposite to.”4 I was baffled when I first discovered this meaning. I began asking the Lord, “I understand ‘opposite of.’ But what does it mean that we are a helper in front of him and in the sight of him?”

Over the past couple of years, God began to answer my question. Men are called to exemplify Christ in the home with authority, his leadership, his protection, and his sacrificial and undying love (Ephesians 5:25). Women are called to submit to their own husband as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:22), and Proverbs 31:12 adds to do him “good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Bodies and Brains

Our bodies show differences in God’s good design to suit us for tasks as husband/wife and father/mother. Generally, men have a taller height (on average across all cultures),5 broader shoulders,6 denser bones,7 stronger muscles,8 larger hands,9 stronger grip,10 longer feet,11 and more strength. His hearing is designed to detect more subtle auditory changes in the environment and is more able to quickly and accurately locate the source of a sound.12 His muscles are made up of a different composition of fibers that enable him to spring into action and give him explosive power.13 His body is built to detect a threat, focus in on it, and spring into action to protect his family or country.

A woman’s body has been designed to produce, nurture, and foster life. While that means physically conceiving, bearing, and raising children, it is not solely that. Of course, not all women can bear children, and none can throughout her entire life, but we can still represent the nurturing aspect of God and display that beauty through our relationships with others.

A woman’s brain is wired to connect.14,15 We have better left-right brain communication.16 In general, women are more attuned to how things are related and connected and are more nurturing.

His brain is more compartmentalized and able to focus on a particular thought or task and tune out superfluous information.17

God made women and men in complementary ways. The distinction in male and female brain function can give us a tiny insight into the magnitude of the mind of God. He is able to see everyone all at once, to be aware of all of the needs of the entire world, and yet he is able to focus on us as individuals.

When we come together as male and female, either in marriage or in the body of Christ, we display the glory of the character of God. Although we fall short as sinful human beings, it is important to embrace this to the best of our ability. If men lack the confidence to lead, they don’t exemplify God’s power and care for his people. If they don’t love sacrificially, they, unlike God, make their power and strength something to be feared rather than revered, respected, and trusted.

If we as women are tough and abrasive, attempt to take authority over our husbands, and push away relationships, we distort the image of God that he displays in us. We mar that picture and seem harsh and distant and send the world a false message that says, “I know better than God. He isn’t protecting me, and he isn’t capable of leading me, so I will do it myself. His plan doesn’t work for me. I will determine my own way.”

From Personal Experience

Embracing male and female design is not oppressive or confining.

Embracing male and female design is not oppressive or confining. It is not demeaning for a woman to submit to her own husband and allow him to lead. Before my husband, Perry, and I were married, God gave me a powerful insight into this truth. He was driving us to another town one day and as we talked, I expounded my beliefs on biblical womanhood and how I wanted to submit to him and allow him to lead when we were married in the future. I glanced over at him. He had tears welling in his eyes. I was stunned; Perry does not cry. “What?” I asked in shock.

“You would do that?” he asked, a tone of disbelief and yet hope in his voice.

“Well, yes, I believe that’s what the Bible teaches,” I replied. I continued, “Now you know that means I am trusting you to lead me. You have a greater responsibility. You will answer to God for how you lead us.” I will never forget his response. He sat up straighter, puffed out his chest, and said with a renewed confidence, “Yes, I’m willing to do that!”

Our relationship was never the same after that conversation. He began to pursue me and love me more radically. He began to lead me spiritually. He made greater efforts to protect me. I understood a profound truth about my femaleness. I was enabled to fill him with courage, to encourage him that he is able to be the man that God created him to be. When we as wives trust our husbands to lead us and we submit to their authority, we are ultimately displaying trust in God’s authority and leadership.


  1. Britannica, “Asexual Reproduction,” accessed March 13, 2024,
  2. Genesis 1:28.
  3. Weizmann Institute of Science, “Study Identifies 6,500 Genes that Are Expressed Differently Between Men and Women,” Neuroscience News, May 4, 2017,
  4. Bible Hub “5048. Neged,” accessed March 13, 2024,
  5. Yuksel Yurttas, “The Average Height of Men and Women Worldwide,” Dr. Yuksel Yurttas, December 26, 2022,
  6. Amanda Jacobson, Gregory J. Gilot, Matthew A. Hamilton, Alexander Greene, Pierre-Henri Flurin, Thomas W. Wright, Joseph D. Zuckerman, Christopher P. Roche, “Glenohumeral Anatomic Study: A Comparison of Male and Female Shoulders with Similar Average Age and BMI,” Bulletin of the Hospital Joint Diseases 73, Supplement 1 (December 2015): S68–78,
  7. Jeri W. Nieves, Carmelo Formica, Jamie Ruffing, Marsha Zion, Patricia Garrett, Robert Lindsay, Felicia Cosman, “Males Have Larger Skeletal Size and Bone Mass than Females, Despite Comparable Body Size,” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 20, no. 3 (December 2009): 529–535,
  8. A. E. J. Miller, J. D. MacDougall, M. A. Tarnopolsky, and D. G. Sale, “Gender Differences in Strength and Muscle Fiber Characteristics,” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 66, no. 3 (March 1993): 254–262,
  9. Scott Frothingham, “What’s the Average Hand Size for Men, Women, and Children?” Healthline, August 7, 2019,
  10. Erin Peterson, Will Murray, and Jean M. Hiebert, “Effect of Gender and Exercise Type on Relative Hand Grip Strength,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24 (January 2010):
  11. Daniel M. T. Fessler, Kevin J. Haley, and Roshni D. Lal, “Sexual Dimorphism in Foot Length Proportionate to Stature,” Annals of Human Biology 32, no. 1 (January–February 2005): 44–59,
  12. Dennis McFadden, “Sex Differences in the Auditory System,” Developmental Neuropsychology 14, no. 2–3 (1998): 261–298,
  13. Fair Play for Women, “Biological Sex Differences: Bones and Muscles,” Biological Sex, Fair Play for Women, July 7, 2017,
  14. Fair Play for Women, “Biological Sex Differences.”
  15. Ask the Scientists, “25 Fun Facts About What Makes Men and Women Different,” accessed March 13, 2024,
  16. Ask the Scientists, “What Makes Men and Women Different.”
  17. Bruce Goldman, “Two Minds: The Cognitive Differences Between Men and Women,” Neurobiology, Stanford Medicine Magazine, May 22, 2017,


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