I’m reading an excellent book written by Carolyn Custis James called Lost Women of the Bible.
Here is the book description from the Amazon page~
~”You know the women of the Bible, but you don’t know them like this… It’s easy for Christian women—young and old—to get lost between the opportunities and demands of the present and the biblical teachings of the past. They live in a confusing world, caught in the crossfire between church and culture. Although home and family still remain central, more women than ever, by choice or by necessity, are blending home, career, and ministry. They need strong biblical role models to help them meet these challenges. Building on solid scholarship and a determination to wrestle honestly with perplexing questions, author Carolyn Custis James sheds new light on ancient stories that brings the women of the Bible into the twenty-first century. This fresh look at the women in the Bible unearths surprising new insights and a powerful message that will leave readers feeling challenged, encouraged, and deeply valued. Rediscover and be inspired by: * Eve * Sarah * Hagar * Tamar * Hannah * Esther * Mary * and others”
Each chapter of the book is devoted to one Bible woman. I’m going to write a summary of each chapter as I read, my purpose being to enlighten, encourage, and challenge us women to look deeper at what it means to be a “biblical woman”. I hope to get a better understanding of the women of the Bible, whom I rarely hear about in sermons or in books written for Christian women.
In the introduction, James explains why she wrote the book. To summarize, she grew up in a Christian home, a pastor’s daughter who attended church regularly. James assumed, that as a Christian woman, she would become a wife and mom; this is what Christian women did, so she didn’t expect it to be different for her. She would graduate high school, go to college, and find a husband. But when she graduated college with no engagement ring, and a decade passed with Carolyn finding herself still single and childless, she began questioning her idea of what it means to be a Christian woman. When she did eventually marry, she was surprised to find that her new husband didn’t want her to be submissive; he wanted a partner, a person with whom he could discuss ideas and make decisions.
James says as Christian women,
“we face a conundrum. When we look at what the church is saying about women in contrast to the message coming to us from contemporary culture and from circumstances we can’t control, it seems that either we are out of step or the Bible is. Given the vast opportunities, demands, and realities we face, not to mention our differing gifts and personalities, the Bible’s message for women seems wooden and limiting. The pattern for women handed down to us in the church simply doesn’t fit all sizes and shapes that women come in these days.”
I can relate to this in my own life and in witnessing the lives of other Christian women. When my marriage didn’t turn out the way I thought it would(it turned out better!), when motherhood wasn’t as natural to me as I thought it would be, and when I realized that I absolutely HATE cleaning and organizing(homemaker fail!), I thought, what’s wrong with me? I questioned my purpose as a woman. I read books, read the Bible and prayed. I then realized it isn’t me; it’s the limited options I was presented with concerning what it means to be a Christian woman. I have also seen Christian women’s personalities and gifts crushed in the role of homemaking, motherhood, and submission, as it is a limiting role they don’t fit into well. The gifts of women are sometimes put to better use outside of the home and motherhood role, they just don’t know it because it hasn’t been presented as an option.
Custis says of women in the Bible,
“Looking closer, I began to see many women who, like me, didn’t fit neatly into the traditional paradigm. Strong women like Tamar, Rahab, Deborah, Jael, Priscilla, and Junia have always posed problems for interpreters because biblical writers clearly admired these women and held them up as outstanding examples of godliness even though their conduct broke with accepted convention. They were daring, took the initiative, and courageously exercised leadership, even in their interactions with men.”
I find this statement comforting and intriguing. Christian womanhood(or biblical womanhood) is more than being a wife and mother(both wonderful things), and it’s more than being a submissive helper. I’m excited to find out about Bible women who were “daring, took the initiative, and courageously exercised leadership”. I believe the Church needs more women like this, who aren’t held back by a limited view of what it means to be a Christian woman.
The first chapter of the book delves into the life of Eve. That will be the subject of the next post in this series, Lost Women of the Bible.