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Women of the Bible

When I reached the grand age of twenty-six, I felt like my life was over. Why? Because I hadn't gotten married yet. All my life, I had sat in churches filled with married people. We all knew that after you "graduated" from the high school youth group's "college and career" Sunday school class, you were supposed to jump right into adult classes, where everybody was married. The message was painfully clear: once you left school, you had a few years to establish yourself, and then you settled down and got married. It was always very clear that I couldn't truly be myself—the tomboy—if I wanted the "Great Matchmaker" to deliver my prince charming. My idol was Princess Leia--a strong leader blasting the Storm Troopers. I never related to t... Read more
I have always admired Deborah. She is a woman, but she embodies both “traditionally” male and female characteristics. She just doesn’t fit into stereotypical boxes of masculinity and femininity. Further, Deborah’s relationship with Barak is a beautiful picture of biblical equality that I deeply appreciate—as well as both leaders’ relationships with their communities. Deborah had a very important role in Israel. She was a judge and prophet for Israel at the end of a time of oppression at the hands of Jabin, King of Canaan. In studying her story further, I took note of all the characteristics displayed by Deborah, Barak, and Jael in the two chapters focused on Deborah: 1. "Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was a leader of Israel at... Read more
Earlier this month, Rachel Asproth wrote an excellent article entitled, “Women Who Want: A Reflection on the World Cup.” In it, she discussed another article that appeared recently in the Huffington Post by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. Below is a quote from the original article, “The Beauty in Watching Women Want”: “What moves me is the players' faces, and watching women want. It's not hard to find images of women in the public act of doing beyond what's been allotted by tired stereotypes. We see women legislating, creating, speaking, protesting—images that weren't available just a couple of generations ago. But we still don't often see women in the act of wanting. And we need to see this, because when you... Read more
This article is a part of the July blog series “Becoming New,” in light of CBE’s 2015 LA Conference, “Becoming New: Man and Woman Together In Christ.” Articles for this month will either introduce conference topics or feature stories of hope, faith, and personal transformation. We invite you to join us this month as we seek to become new together as a community. I am so excited to participate in CBE’s conference, “Becoming New: Man and Woman Together in Christ” on July 24-26 in Los Angeles. My first encounter with CBE dates back to the mid-1980s when Catherine Kroeger visited Fuller Theological Seminary frequently, igniting women seminarians, me among them, to dream about gender equality in the church. My conference workshop is based on my... Read more
When we think about the question of "women's roles" in the church today, we are pressed to ask how the Scriptures portray and define the roles that women may and ought to exercise in the church. For some interpreters, the question comes down to offices that women were authorized to hold, or to which they were "ordained." Thus, one asks: were women called and designated as "apostles" or "teachers" or "overseers" or other apparently somewhat official roles in the church? Backing up a bit, the question has often been asked, were women among the Twelve chosen by Jesus? If not, does this mean that they ought not to serve as "leaders" in the church? In other words, how one conceives of women's roles today often rests on how one... Read more
When I was a child, I wanted to be just like my father. He was a preacher, and I loved watching him share the Word of God with his flock. I especially loved it when he expounded on the original Greek and Hebrew in the biblical text. I thought the most wonderful thing in the world would be to attend seminary, learn these languages, and then share my insights with others like my father. Unfortunately, I faced one very large hurdle: women weren’t supposed to preach. I knew this because I heard my parents discussing it. One day in our house they were complaining about how our denomination was simply becoming too extreme. I distinctly recall hearing my mother say, “Why, I hear that in some of our churches they’re even allowing women preachers!” A couple of years later... Read more
We Stood and Wept It was late morning when my friend Drew received a call urging him to rush to the hospital where his 31-year old wife, Pam, and their 10-month old son, Mark, had been taken after a car accident. They'd been struck from behind by a dump truck while waiting at a four-way stop. By nothing short of a miracle, baby Mark survived the accident with minor bruises. Pam sustained severe injuries from the impact. Desperately praying for her to live, Drew took to wearing Pam's rings on his pinky finger. Tragically, within a day, Pam died. Holding his little Mark in his arms, Drew stood outside her room, and wept. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb and wept. We've all stood in the valley of death's shadow and wept. Later, Drew wrote this on his blog,... Read more
I grew up hearing the Bible stories surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. Of doubting Thomas, and the Emmaus road encounter. Of the final ascension. I remember the women—Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome—who discovered the empty tomb while delivering spices to Jesus’ grave (Mark 16:1-8). And the fact that Jesus first revealed himself to Mary, a woman, was constantly emphasized my wonderful mom. It showed that Jesus was different. And it meant something to our treatment of women in leadership. I remember those thoughts being ingrained in my head from the age of nine. I had years of Bible stories behind me at this point. But that wasn’t all—my family, along with a few others, had recently separated from our church over the issue that wo... Read more
The women of the Bible are beautiful. They flow throughout the Scriptures like a fragrance, leaving sweetly-scented trails of courage across the text. Thanks to my Jewish paternal lineage, I spent some years in a traditional synagogue studying the biblical narratives of brave women who worked, fought, and taught alongside their male counterparts. In the synagogue, the patriarchs and matriarchs--Abraham, Sarah, Deborah, Moses, and Miriam, were all presented in such a wonderful way. I discovered relationships of unity and understanding of purpose that have been forgotten. This is particularly evident in one set of matriarch and patriarch--Sarah and Abraham, the mama and papa of the Jewish people. Yet, when I finally encountered this couple in the hallways of Christianity, their relationsh... Read more
I had such a hard time finding myself in Scripture. I attended Christian schools where the resources for learning about the Bible were numerous. We played Bible memorization games and put on plays starring "Psalty the Songbook." We all possessed illustrated Bibles and every year, we received a Christian religion book intended to help us understand the Bible. Despite all of these tools, something was missing. It was not uncommon for most of our studies to revolve around men. We even referred to them as the giants of our faith--Abraham and David, Noah and Elijah, Paul and Peter. The number of men we could all learn something from seemed unending. But women embodied stories of disdain. I learned about Eve eating the fruit and bringing damnation to the world. I learned how Delilah... Read more

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