Women of the Bible | CBE International

You are here

Women of the Bible

Lauren Gross Blanco
I was a teenager when I first heard my male pastor preach about the woman “subject to bleeding,” as she is often called by various Bible translations. Her story wasn’t new to me, but I still remember my face growing hot and how I shifted nervously on the pew when my pastor announced that this woman had her period—he euphemistically called it her “womanly issues.” It was a sudden revelation to me to realize this story I had heard several times before was speaking about the unmentionable Aunt Flo. A person, in the Bible of all places, was “on the rag,” and I felt extremely awkward about that. Probably because my pastor was uncomfortable talking about it. Probably because my culture had conditioned me not to talk to men about my own “woman... Read more
Young Thecla sat in her dark jail cell with rats as her only company. She was startled when the jailer suddenly appeared with his burning torch and fumbled with the keys that hung from his belt. He unlocked her cell door and led her down several corridors with large cages containing lions, bulls, and other fearsome animals, which would eventually be released to kill their victims in the arena. When they finally turned the corner and arrived at the last passageway, the woman could see a bright light shining ahead. The sound of a roaring crowd grew louder as she and the guard stepped closer to a rusty iron gate at the end of the tunnel. As soon as the gate opened, she felt the guard push her outside into the arena. She winced as the glaring Roman sunlight burned her face. In Thecla’s... Read more
A few years ago, I was a workshop presenter at a popular women’s conference. The other presenters and I had gathered to pray at the beginning of the conference. We’d exchanged greetings, participated in a cute little ice breaker, and had a wonderful time of prayer. I was the only woman of color, but this wasn’t new for me. I’ve become accustomed to occupying spaces like these. During one of the general sessions, there was a panel discussion about women in ministry. I wasn’t a panelist and didn’t particularly care to be because I was exhausted from the breakout session I led. I’d just completed a workshop on racial reconciliation among clergywomen, and it was ninety minutes of really deep, honest, and rewarding dialogue. On the heels of that sessio... Read more
Meredith Flory
The same year my husband was in the process of enlisting in the military, I was studying the Bible with a group of women on Wednesday evenings. I don’t remember the exact study, but at one point we were to read a passage in the New Testament about heroes of the faith, probably Hebrews 11. This is a long list of people from the Old Testament who made an impact on history by their faith in an unseen God. We were to choose one person that we admired, felt inspired by, or related to and write about them. I say people, but truth be told, this is primarily a list of men. When a woman is included, the language is passive and is focused on her reproductive power (for example, Sarah “was enabled to bear children,” Heb. 11:11, NIV). While reading, I was drawn to this verse: By fai... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a nine-part series on difficult Bible passages titled “What to Say…” For egalitarians, the book of Judges clearly demonstrates God’s approval of women leaders. From Deborah to Jael, women lead the way in these passages. They demonstrate persistence and courage when others, including men, do not. Yet many who view women’s leadership as unbiblical dismiss the pattern of God-affirmed female authority in Judges. They attempt to dismiss Deborah and Jael as flukes or necessary concessions due to lack of available male leaders. But the text doesn’t support this erasure. In fact, the text depicts women in dynamic, authoritative roles. So, what should we say when someone dismisses women’s leadership in Judges?... Read more
In Matthew 26, Jesus visits the home of Simon the Leper. While he’s there, a woman enters and anoints him with expensive perfume. His disciples are indignant. They object to her actions and claim that the money spent on the perfume could have been used to help the poor. As I read the story, I almost expect Jesus to agree with the woman’s accusers. But Jesus has a way of defying our expectations. Instead of condemning the woman, he criticizes the disciples for their inability to perceive either the woman’s intentions or the spiritual significance of her actions. He tells the disciples, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). As I’ve spent time reflect... Read more
It wasn’t until 2017 that TIME Magazine honored women silence breakers as their “Person of the Year.” Truth be told, women have been breaking the silence on abuse and harassment for centuries. They have often been God’s hands of compassion and liberation, working to expose evil and topple systems of oppression. Reflecting on women’s history of silence breaking is a spiritual discipline that nurtures our souls and forges bold leadership across time and culture. And who better to contemplate than Esther, whose silence breaking opposed the powerful and prevented a genocide by standing with God and the vulnerable! Then and now, holy leadership is often the best resolution to wicked and unjust rulers and regimes. With every retelling of her story, a godly force is... Read more
Trigger warning: This article recounts Bible passages that contain graphic violence against women. Read with caution.   I’m a first year student in Divinity School with less money in my bank account than I’d like, so I work the occasional night shift at the college library. I return home at 4 am, traveling alone in the university’s taxi service. I’m on edge the whole time, keys and phone in hand and a potential escape route planned—just in case. History dictates that women don’t have the luxury to not do this type of mental preparation. We live with the real possibility of violence every day. And actually, that shared female experience shapes how I read and interpret the Bible, especially stories that include sexual violence. A professor in m... Read more
The second letter of John is addressed “to the elect lady and to her children.” But who is the “elect lady” of 2 John? Is she a mother with kids, or something more? A look at the apostle John’s use of the word “children” in 1 John can help us understand who the woman’s children are. Then, we can try to solve the mystery of who the woman is. We commonly recognize that the “children” of 1 John refer to Christian converts. The “fathers,” “young men,” and “dear children” in the second chapter may refer to literal ages, or to spiritual development. Regardless of their age, the apostle John considered himself a spiritual father to these “children.” The apostle Paul also used this language... Read more
Today, advocates and activists from around the US will gather at the For Such A Time As This Rally in Dallas, Texas. The rally—led by abuse advocates and faith leaders such as Ashley Easter, Gricel Medina, and Mary DeMuth—will lament and challenge the Southern Baptist Convention’s inadequate response to sexual abuse and poor treatment of women. Leaders are urging SBC leadership to: Honor and respect women in the church. Create an SBC clergy sex offender database. Train all pastors and seminaries on abuse and sexual assault. The gathering was certainly spurred by recent events surrounding SBC giant Paige Patterson. But for many Christian women and especially Southern Baptist women, it’s so much bigger than that. It’s a biblical response t... Read more

Pages