[Today’s guest post is from Nadine Bent-Russell.]
About 8 years ago I heard a man preach about God’s plan for women and how we are all equal. He humbly spoke about the fact that some women are abused by their husbands who are pastors. I felt healing going through my body as I sat in my seat hearing such transparent truth. Even before that transformational day, I was fortunate to be in a church during my 20s that ordained women much to the chagrin of the convention of which our church was a part.
The man I heard was Lee Grady, the Director of The Mordecai Project. Through him I learned much more about women in the Bible and God’s intention for women, and men for that matter. I was introduced to Christian Biblical Egalitarians International, The Junia Project and many other resources who have studied and published works about Biblical Equality.
All my life I have always known inside myself that we are equal, all of us, in all categories. I read about our equality in the word and drew these conclusions myself, but I never heard it expressly come from any pulpit until then. I never believed that any of us were supposed to be treated like second class citizens. As an example, even though slavery was in the Bible, I didn’t believe that God intended for us to experience bondage and inequality no matter our station in life. Not until I became an adult did I begin to hear of women being ordained or leading anything besides kitchen and children related duties in church.
Ain’t I a Woman?
I have heard many great sermons. Despite that, the first place I felt affirmed as the woman I am outside of my family, was in Women’s Studies courses I took many years ago, and not in the church. When I became an adult I kept running into people who seemed to relegate women to being accessories, sexual objects or somehow second class to men. It was even more disheartening to hear the jokes and ways women were represented by men and some women when preaching. On the rare occasions where women were the topic of a sermon it wasn’t the most empowering reflection for me. These experiences left me thinking, “ain’t I a woman?”
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated Mary’s obedience in receiving the news of mothering the Savior, especially at such a young age and unmarried at the time. What really impressed me was David facing and defeating Goliath, Moses facing off with Pharaoh and the many heroic acts of men. The most heroic thing I was used to hearing was about Esther getting King Xerxes to spare the Jewish people exposing Haman’s plot.
Let Us Accomplish Every Good Work
Then I ran across this blog. Tim’s posts and blog entries struck the perfect pitch for me and I was fueled to continue. Then I read his post Godly Women Teaching Godly Men is Godly (and Biblical). When considering this topic a few ideas that had been with me came rushing back and I posted on Facebook about them:
- I posted this dusty bible with the words “Read Me” written on it with the caption: “I wonder if people read their bibles themselves instead of being spoon fed like little birds, would the world transform faster?”
- Then I shared an infographic that reads: “Everybody is busy empowering women. Who is preparing men for these empowered women?”
- The last and most important that flowed out with these was:
“I wonder if we accepted the true equality between men and women that God intended, would men read stories about women in the Bible like Proverbs 31, and take some lessons from those lives like women do from the lives of men?
This is another way that the tradition of belief that women cannot teach men hinders all of us. These stories are not just for women.
It would be amazing to hear a male pastor teach a lesson about Esther applicable to all of us and not just women.
As Tim commented on my Facebook post, “…If all scripture is useful for teaching, etc., then men are to learn from Proverbs 31, the life of Esther, and so on, as much as women.” This is a reference to 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.” (emphasis added).
This passage starts with the word “All” and ends with “so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work”. Brothers, I know, you may find yourself in the same place as I was before I met Lee Grady since we are all taught similarly. You may only know about a handful of biblical women. Have you considered the stories of the women in the Bible as instructive to you as the stories about men are to all of us? If we all want to be fully equipped for every good work, let us be edified by all scripture, not missing the lessons available in the lives of women.
Brothers, I invite you to discover and to be inspired by the stories of women in the Bible as you are by the stories about men.
My prayer is that more people will pick up books like Fearless Daughters of the Bible by Lee Grady and discover some action packed and heroic stories of women in the Bible. I pray that if you preach, that you will unapologetically teach about the lives of these women just like you do men. Then the warrior women in your congregation will have the opportunity to see themselves beyond kitchen and children duties and be like Martha’s sister, choosing “the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Nadine Bent-Russell is technical project manager who loves people as much as technology . She periodically blogs on Defying Gravity Talk. Has a degree in Political Science/Public Service and is a graduate of a school of ministry. Travels to many parts of the world and has had many experiences that she is writing about in a forthcoming memoir.