I love reading on the topic of Biblical Womanhood because it's so nuanced. However, the articles I read seem to always paint a picture of a Biblical Woman in relation to a man. Don't get me wrong, a biblical view of marriage is necessary. But, God made us SEPARATE from man. We're not their conjoined twins (unless you are, in fact, a conjoined twin). We love to talk about gender roles, complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, and a "Proverbs 31 wife." But we can also talk about the way Jesus sees women in light of their own personal narrative.
For example, there is a group called "The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." By just the name alone, they don't sound too harmless. But their mission statement starts with
"The mission of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is to set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women..."
This grinds my gears a little. Instead of contrasting relationships between men and women, why not look at each like a whole person in light of who they are in Jesus, not who they are compared to the other.
This list is not to discount any views on women's relationships with men, but rather to add on to them. A Biblical Woman loves her husband, but she loves her Savior more.
Let's look at 4 women in the Bible who, in my opinion, are totally rad. Who are they, and why do they represent the essence of a Biblical Woman today?
1. A Biblical Woman Knows Her Redeemer.
If you've read the Bible and seen the name Rahab, you will also find a label next to her name most of the time. Rahab the Harlot. Or Rahab the Prostitute. But, I'd like to throw in the name "Rahab the Redeemed".
Rahab, by trade, was a prostitute in Jericho that was approached by two of Joshua's spies. Her mission was to hide the spies so they could scope out the land that was to be conquered eventually. She tells the spies that she knows the works that the Lord has done, and she expresses her faith that God is the God of heaven and is Lord. She protected the spies that were working on behalf of God's people. In return her and her family's life was spared.
She displayed her faith by hanging the scarlet cord outside of her window, confident that this faith in the Lord would save her life. It saved her life, but it also preserved her legacy. She joined the Israelites, the people of God, into the promised land. And she eventually birthed a baby boy named Boaz, which secured her part in the geneology of Jesus, our Redeemer.
A Biblical Woman knows her redeemer is not enveloped in flesh and blood, but in Jesus the Messiah. She knows him, and more importantly, abides in Him.
2. A Biblical Woman Advocates for the Oppressed (if she is not).
Esther is basically known as the winner of the Old Testament version of The Bachelor. She was so pretty, and that's all the King saw at first. She instantly became the wife to the most powerful person in the land. Later on in the story, her people are in trouble. The fate of the Jewish people really lies in her hands. She had been hiding her Jewish heritage for fear of serious repercussions. When her people were in trouble, Esther could have been quiet. She could have enjoyed her lavish life as Queen of Persia. But, she was burdened for her people. Her people were being unfairly threatened by the King's right hand man. She risked her life by entering the King's presence without being summoned in order to advocate for her people. In the end, the Jewish people were saved and justice prevailed!
I have a lot of privilege in my life. I'm a white, middle class, college-educated, product of southern suburban America. I was not abused in any way. I have been encouraged to follow my dreams by everyone in my family. I am super grateful for the life I've been allowed to live. But, not everyone has been so lucky. I'm not in a position where I need anyone to advocate for me to have a better life. So, It's my responsibility (and honor) to step into that role. Isaiah's vision from God for the purification of Jerusalem includes this:
"Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow's cause." - Isaiah 1:17
Obviously I had to add the parentheses. If you are reading this, and you are part of a marginalized or oppressed people group, take heart. There are women willing to fight for you. There are Biblical Women who love you and are fighting the good fight. The only advice I can give you from someone not experiencing your burdens is to keep a soft heart open to love and help. Please, I beg of you, don't lose hope.
3. A Biblical Woman is a Fearless Evangelist.
We don't get this woman's name, but we do know a lot about her. We know that because she was a woman, she was a second-class citizen. We know that since she was Samaritan, she was considered a second-class race. We know because she went to get water at the hottest part of the day, she was a social outcast. We find out later on that she had been married five different times. Jesus defied all of the cultural, social, and legal norms by approaching this woman and revealing Himself as the "living water" and telling her everything about her life.
Then this woman did the (at the time) unimaginable. She left her water jar, the very reason she was at the well, and ran to town to tell others what happened. She ignored her social status, or lack thereof, and approached the people of the town to tell them that the Messiah had come. This is someone who could have been shunned for this action, but God blessed her obedience, and kick started conversions in Samaria!
I cannot truthfully say I am always a fearless evangelist. Sometimes that fear of rejection or possibly not knowing an answer keeps me from taking advantage of the opportunities God puts in front of me. But, God has given us the help of the Holy Spirit. It was literally sent to be a HELPER and we shove it aside like expired food, not taking advantage of it's power and strength. One of my favorite Harry Potter quotes is from the great philosopher himself, Albus Dumbledore:
""It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
We have all the ability in the world to be great commissioners of the gospel. We've been equipped with the Holy Spirit, but we have to choose to utilize that ability.
4. A Biblical Woman Lets NO ONE, But Jesus, Define Her.
Mary Magdalene is, hands down, my favorite woman in the Bible. She is faithful, devoted, and obedient. She's only mentioned fourteen different times in the New Testament, but we learn the core characteristics of this woman just from those few instances.
- She had 7 demons casted from her. (Luke 8:2)
- She traveled with Jesus, and supported his ministry financially. (Luke 8:3)
- She accompanied "the other Mary" in being the last people at Jesus' tomb after he was buried. (Matthew 27:61)
- She was in a group of women who were first to the tomb on the third day. (John 20:1)
- She was the first to see the resurrected Jesus. (John 20:16)
Notice what I didn't mention. Mary Magdalene is most talked about as a prostitute, but there is absolutely no evidence of this. Pope Gregory in the 6th century decided that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were the same person, and that the perfume she wiped Jesus's feet with was used for her sensual endeavors. Ever since then, she was marked as a harlot.
I honestly don't know how Mary would react to this centuries-long rumor. But, what I do know, is the "receipts" I have of Mary's life show that Jesus defined her entire life. She is my inspiration for what it means to make Jesus my "all in all." Mary knows her Jesus. And Jesus knew Mary. No matter what anyone assumes about her, no one can take away her true relationship with her Savior.