The judge Deborah is described as a prophet, a wife and the leader of Israel. Her husband is mentioned once before the writer of Judges explains the way God used her to defeat the King of Canaan. She led an entire country. She led men into battle. In her song, she sang,
“Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel.
This badass woman rose up to defend God’s people. She led her people – which included her husband – to victory. And her story is memorialized in the scriptures.
Yet, some men have thankfully explained the true nature of marriage and woman’s place. These men have taught us that marriage is godly only when the man rules over the woman. I guess God meant for Deborah’s husband, Lappidoth, to lead the Israelites and for Deborah to stay at home.
Rebekah conspired with her youngest son to deceive her husband. She went against her husband’s wishes so that Jacob would get Esau’s blessing. Her deception allowed for God’s covenant to be fulfilled, but it also meant that she disobeyed her husband.
Surely, God meant to have Rebekah submit to her husband and not help Jacob . Because to be a Godly wife means to submit to your husband, even if God tells you otherwise.
When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, she told the story of his resurrection. She was the first person to preach the gospel, teaching the male apostles about the resurrection.
But now, thanks to men who know better than Mark, we know that the bible says women can’t teach. Jesus made a mistake in appearing to Mary Magdalene first. Surely, he meant to appear to Peter first.
Mary, the mother of John (the writer of Mark) led a prayer meeting while Peter was in jail. When she heard Peter knocking at the door, the servant girl, Rhonda, was the one who had faith to believe in the miracle of his release, telling the people that it was Peter at the door. It was Mary’s faith that led the people to pray. God used Rhonda to communicate the miracle of Peter's release.
But if women can’t lead, then that must mean that Luke got it wrong. He must have meant to write that it was Mary's husband who led them in prayer and that a servant boy, John, answered the door.
Paul went and spoke with a group of businesswomen outside of Philippi. One of the women, Lydia, was a merchant of purple cloth. After hearing the gospel, she responded by leading her whole family to be baptized. But if the Billy Graham rule is to be followed, did Paul sin by meeting with the women? Was it a sin to stay in Lydia's house? Should it have been a man in her family that led her and her whole household to be baptized? Surely, we got the pronouns wrong.
At the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, Paul praises Junia, a fellow apostle. He claims that she is outstanding among the apostles, elevating her and her ministry. But wait, women can’t teach. So did he mean to call her an apostle? Surely, he meant to write that she was a helpmate.
Clearly, Eve was not meant to be labeled as ezer – a word defined as strength, or a rescuer – if women are meant to be ruled over in marriage. The author of Genesis should have called Eve, a wonderful homemaker.
Clearly, the biblical way to define a woman’s role is to pull verses out of context – 1 Timothy 12, Ephesians 5:22 – and to ignore the many stories that elevate women as teachers, leaders, and apostles. I suppose to understand scripture fully, we must ignore the stories of Eve, Abigail, Dinah, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Rahab Tabatha, Mary, Elizabeth, Phoebe, Priscilla, and the many more whose stories fill the bible.
Because when we use our wisdom to ignore large chunks of the bible to reinforce our cultural stereotype of marriage, then, and only then, can we fully understand marriage and the definition of a godly marriage.
Or maybe, God would prefer we dare to let scripture define marriage and a woman's role. Maybe, just maybe, a biblical woman is defined as a woman who follows Jesus. And we let how she chooses to follow Jesus be as diverse as God made women.