Editor's note: These are the first in a series of articles that introduce the themes and issues raised in a new AFA documentary titled In His Image: Delighting in God’s Plan for Gender and Sexuality. Through expert interviews and victims’ gripping stories filmmakers at American Family Studios seek to bring biblical clarity to the sexual confusion that is corrupting the institutions of American life. The film is scheduled for release in the spring of 2020.
Below AFAJ staff writer Anne Reed interviews author Mary Kassian who appears in the film. Then Reed reflects on Kassian’s new book The Right Kind of Strong.
November 2019 – “I have a lot of skills not stereotypically a woman’s skills. I’m really good at building and construction, and I can wire up a house or build something with all my power saws and power tools. And yet, I’m still a woman.”
— Mary Kassian
Mary Kassian grew up in Canada with five brothers. She was a tomboy and says she kicked against the qualities considered to be natural or characteristic of a woman. But as she grew in her Christian walk, she grew more comfortable with the messages in Scripture about womanhood.
Years ago, when feminism was at its peak, Kassian noticed a running theme among her female peers at University of Alberta, Canada. They seemed to be sincerely interested in knowing what the Bible said to women … about women.
As Kassian sought the answers for herself, she was set on an unexpected path. The subject of biblical womanhood has become her life’s passion.
“It’s probably not a topic I would have chosen,” Kassian told American Family Studios. “But it is a real area of questioning for women in this day and age.”
Kassian has become a popular conference speaker, taught women’s studies and feminist theology at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and authored or coauthored an array of books and Bible studies. Among them are the True Woman series, Girls Gone Wise, and How to be the Right Kind of Strong.
Christ reflected in gender
“We cannot overlook that God created us differently,” said Kassian. “Genesis is fascinating in its presentation of two distinct stories, the creation of male and female.
“Woman is created in the garden from the side of man. It is a beautiful picture of the redemption that happened when Christ died on the cross. He was pierced in the side, and because of his death and resurrection, the church was born. God created the church, the bride, for Christ.”
Likewise, the woman was created for the man. Man brings strength to the table. A woman can exhibit beauty in strength as well, but she brings a softness and responsiveness that differs from him. And though a man also exercises gentleness, the emphasis is different. He is created with a strength purposed to protect, provide, and lead with love.
In addition to the marital union, fidelity in singleness can reflect the image of Christ and the church. Kassian’s heart was captured by the message of God’s relentless love and purpose in uniquely creating male and female.
“As I embraced it more, I began to experience more freedom and more joy and more wholeness,” Kassian explained. “I began to say, ‘I understand it.’ And then I began to say, ‘I delight in it.’
“The more I submit my heart to God, the more I become the woman God wants me to be” – power tools and all!
The Right Kind of Strong: Surprising Simple Habits of a
Spiritually Strong Woman is available online and at
retail bookstores. More info: marykassian.com
By Anne Reed
I’ve always been drawn to stories of female fortitude and resilience. Throw in some humorous quirkiness, supernatural strength, and inventiveness (and a few loyal pets), and you’ve got yourself a perfectly irresistible story in my book (pun intended).
The Pippi Longstocking book series was my favorite as a child. I couldn’t get enough of the red haired, freckle faced, supercharged cutie. Though her clothes were tattered and her dwelling meager, surviving without parental care, she lived an exciting little life in my seven-year-old head.
No doubt, she was a unique soul, full of spunk and conviction. And she was remarkably strong! She carried her horse over her head with one hand like it was nothing. Pippi was Pippi. She was not bound by the expectations of anyone around her.
Then there was the award-winning children’s novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, based on the true story of a young Native American girl stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast. In order to survive, Karana hunted, made spears, and built canoes. She even tamed a few birds, an otter, and the leader of a vicious dog pack that took her brother’s life.
Hope for women
I related to these storybook characters. As a young girl who had experienced abandonment and loss, their ability to overcome adversity with grace, strength, and humor gave me hope. But today, it is another book – God’s Word – that unveils the beauty of a woman who clothes herself with strength and dignity.
And now I’ve discovered…
In The Right Kind of Strong, author Mary Kassian specifies seven surprisingly simple – and biblical – habits of a spiritually strong woman.
“Our heavenly Father wants all his girls to be strong,” she writes.
Really, can this be true? Aren’t women supposed to be meek and mild? Can the words strong and godly really fit together?
“Godly habits are what will turn us into strong godly women,” Kassian explains. “The Bible tells us that it starts with believing in Jesus Christ. When we do that, we are filled with His strength. The Holy Spirit makes us strong in the Lord.”
Of course, key to spiritual health are habits of prayer, Scripture reading and memorization, and spending time in fellowship with other believers. Within that context, we find instruction specifically for women.
Wrong reveals right
Kassian draws from the Apostle Paul’s warnings in 2 Timothy 3. He warns believers in Ephesus to stay away from “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (vv. 2-5).
He went on to say that such people would “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (vv. 6-7).
While Paul’s statement could be perceived as disparaging toward women, “his point was that they ought not to have been weak,” Kassian writes.
Accordingly, she breaks vv. 6-7 into seven “strength-sapping habits that diminished the Christian women in Ephesus,” then flips each on its head.
“Every bad habit has a good counterpart,” she says.
Kassian’s thorough study and communication of both biblical and current cultural context makes The Right Kind of Strong a refreshing rallying cry for Christian women to be all that God wants them to be.
▶ Living Stones Ministries
(focus on LGBT issues)
▶ First Stone Ministries
(resources for pastors, churches)