I’m sure you have all heard something about how toy companies are excluding Rey, the female lead character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in their product lines. One would think that things like this wouldn’t happen in 2016, but here we are.
This whole ordeal has left me thinking about all of the Biblical heroines who are similarly left out of Sunday sermons and Bible studies.
I worked at an all girls Christian camp this past summer as a cabin leader. This meant that me (and my co-cabin leader) got to hang out with a new group of 9-12 year old girls each week for basically the whole summer. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with the girls, but there was one thing I couldn’t help but notice. The majority of these girls, most of whom had grown up in church, knew the stories of Moses, Noah, and David, but not of Abigail, Anna, and Hannah. Once I realized that these girls weren’t being taught about the strong women in the Bible, I decided that I would read them a Bible story with a lead female character each night.
These girls hadn’t heard about Abigail or Hannah not because they were young, but because the stories weren’t being taught in church.
It’s no surprise that churches who promote male headship are at a loss to find anything worth sharing in the Biblical stories of strong female leaders.
Ask any complementarian about Judge Deborah and they’ll tell you that, “she was an exception, God only used her because a man wasn’t available … she wasn’t His first option.” They downplay her heroic deeds and bold attitude because it doesn’t fit with their uncompromising list of gender roles.
Ask about Abigail and they’ll say, “she wasn’t leading.” Ask about the Samaritan Woman and they’ll say, “she wasn’t preaching, she was evangelizing” (because there is a big difference, right?) Ask about Queen Esther and they’ll change the subject.
When was the last time you heard a sermon preached on the book of Esther or the story of Abigail? Personally, in my 20 years, I have never heard a sermon preached on either.
Just like girls need characters like Rey to look up to, they need to know the stories of strong women leaders in the Bible. Otherwise, they’ll begin to think the Bible was only written for men.