One by one, women and girls are awakening to the fact that God’s vision for his daughters is bigger than they thought—much bigger than the narrow vision the church so often proclaims for us. I’ll never get over the thrill of hearing one more ezer has awakened to the fact that God’s hand is in her story and her whole life matters.
The most recent email came from a book club’s study of Lost Women of the Bible. The writer is single, gifted, and thriving in a successful career. The church’s message for women never included her. I know first-hand that lost feeling that comes when the “biblical” roadmap for women is out of reach. I also know first-hand the life-giving awakening—the discovery from the Bible itself—that God’s vision for his daughters is big enough for all of us and that he can be very creative in how he advances his purposes through his daughters. I’m grateful that Sarah gave her permission for me to share her email to encourage others.
When I was growing up, I lived in a strict, evangelical Christian culture that idealized women who followed the path of marriage and motherhood. Men had voices, women had their place. I liked football and politics and hated being powerless and voiceless; treated like some passive object in a world run by boys and men.
In February 2008, I was in my 20s, living in Chicago, and fuming(!), exasperated that the culture I grew up in had been ruling our country and imposing the same frameworks at the national policy level that had hurt and angered me so much.
I was working through my grievances, trying to articulate myself, but I was fighting from the outside. You dug in. You dug deep into the Bible and challenged the theology and treatment of women at a time when the patriarchy was at one of its highest heights in the US. You defended these women and lifted to the light the way that God honored and cared for them. I know what power can look like and I don’t imagine that many people in authority embraced these new, but well-founded, arguments. You had to have taken soooo much heat for it, but you stayed within the community and then advocated for women who also saw that they could to reframe their narrative as an ezer, a warrior, part of the Blessed Alliance, a chosen child of God, etc.
What’s more, you took on the task of calling out patriarchy but not engaging in “the war of the sexes” in a conventional way. You kept the focus on God and validating women, not any effort to degrade men, victimize women, or tip the scales so that women would replace men in power in some kind of vindication. Honestly, I’m sure you had enough trouble even with this more tempered approach!
You must have learned so much and come a long way since that book. I enjoyed your podcast, “Rethinking the Book of Ruth” with Paul Caminiti and Glenn Paauw, where you really drove home the truth that the Bible is not an American book and that understanding the patriarchy gives us truth and insight that is so much more incredible than if we just hold its words up to today’s standards.
I’m so glad I got to read your book. It was a heartening experience to see all the facts of these women’s stories being told, examined, and brought into the light. It challenged me (and somehow also read my thoughts and responded back as I read each chapter).
Thank you for taking that seriously brave step to speak up for women, especially in the climate that you did. I don’t know if I could do the same. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Thank you again so much for paving a way for so many of us.
In love and solidarity!
Correction: The podcast referenced above was “Rethinking the book of Ruth,” on the The Bible Reset Podcast with Paul Caminiti and Glenn Paauw—a ministry of the Institute for Bible Reading. They’re engaging people, young and old, (whole congregations, book clubs, and individuals) to read the Bible—and having a major impact. I’m honored to be on their Advisory Board.