How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women. . . . Have we forgotten that it is our glory to die in their place? —Greg Morse
Some evangelical leaders are alarmed at the thought of a female hero. Every time Hollywood releases another blockbuster movie featuring a female superhero—Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, or a bold protagonist from Disney’s animated collection of heroic princesses—naysayers come out of the woodwork to warn us that these movie heroines are a negative influence on women and girls. (See Morse’s “Behold Your Queen.”)
In the opinions of some, the notion of a female fighting battles (especially on behalf of men instead of counting on men to protect her) violates God’s design for his daughters.
Instead, the truly alarming fact is that in the real world it is both foolish and fanciful to imagine that, when danger threatens, some man will step in and save us.
Recently, I listened as a father protested the mindset that his young daughters don’t need strong female role models and the false assumption that God won’t call them to fight tough battles, perhaps even for their brothers. His little girls are growing up in a world where #MeToo and #ChurchToo abuses happen—when daddy or husband or brothers aren’t around 24/7 and where sadly even the church can’t be counted on to be a safe place.
If we socialize little girls to depend on others coming to their rescue, instead of to be strong and courageous, we are putting them at risk.
Besides, female courage and valor aren’t Hollywood inventions. That kind of language describes women in the Bible. After all, God didn’t create his daughters to be dependents or spectators. He commissioned us alongside our brothers to be active kingdom agents. We bear his image. He empowered us at creation to represent him and to do his work in the world. This high calling comes with monumental responsibility. The creator commissioned his daughters and his sons to rule and subdue. That’s an explicit call to look after things in his world, to promote flourishing, to participate in Jesus’ rescue effort, and to battle for goodness and justice.
The Origins of Female Heroes
We don’t need Captain Marvel or Superwoman to empower us. The Bible has already empowered us by giving us a strong line-up of bold, heroic female role models. Some of these heroes were very young teenagers.
These women courageously answered God’s call, often risking their lives to engage the battle for his kingdom. Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, the Marys of Nazareth, Magdela, and Bethany, and Priscilla are just the short list of women who refused to shrink back. And the men in their stories are not emasculated by their actions. They are beneficiaries.
These bold female stories provide rich fodder for the kind of 21stcentury conditioning little girls and grown up women need for the struggles we face in our own stories and on behalf of others.
We are working hard to restore these courageous, yet all-too-often minimized, female stories to the limelight where they belong. And the good news is that now this courageous message is reaching little girls who face battles of their own to fight.
The Battles Little Girls Must Fight
I’ve just returned from Seattle Children’s Hospital where my 4-year-old granddaughter Arden bravely faced two major surgeries (over 12 hours total) for a severe case of hip dysplasia. To be sure, she was surrounded and supported by those who love her and who would trade places with her in a heartbeat. My daughter was by her side during some of the toughest moments.
Yet each time there was a point when Arden proceeded to the O.R. all alone or faced dimensions of the aftermath that no one could spare her. The road ahead for Arden won’t be easy. She faces over 2 months in a Spica cast, the inability to walk or do anything for herself, and weeks of physical therapy and wearing a brace to get back on her feet again.
Even at the tender age of four there are fierce and frightening battles to fight. If we fail to teach her to be strong and courageous, we do her an enormous disservice.
Already Arden is responding valiantly in ways that astonish me and would put most adults to shame. She’s my “Unexpected Hero”!
Recovering Rahab’s Story for Little Ezers
So the urgency of getting out the powerful truth about these biblical women’s stories could not be more serious. We need to affirm and embolden the youngest and the oldest among us. No one gets a pass. God’s call rests on all of his daughters.
The 4th volume in the powerful Called and Courageous Girls book series is the story of Rahab, An Unexpected Hero. These books are reaching young girls ages 4-7. Rahab is one of my favorite biblical heroes!
Storytellers Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard, along with gifted illustrator Eric Elwell, have done a masterful job of bringing Rahab’s story and the stories of Miriam, Priscilla, and Deborah to light for this promising young audience.
This newest book corrects the typical mischaracterization of Rahab. Instead of being defined by regret and shame, Rahab emerges as a true hero. She alone in all Jericho dared to embrace Israel’s God and risk her life to protect the Israelite spies.
I wish I’d had these books when I was in that age bracket. I guarantee I would have looked at my own life differently instead of holding back. Even more, I wish I could have read these stories to my own daughter when she was that age. The good news is even mothers who grew up unaware that the Bible contains such empowering female stories can get the message by reading these stories to their children. It’s never too late.