A Woman's Place
by Donna Morton
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BAN “Little Women”?!
I was appalled when, several years ago, a feminist group wanted to do just that to Louisa May Alcott’s treasured classic. The book, they said, diminished young women, played-up the “weaker sex” mentality and failed to empower girls to sculpt their dreams.
Clearly, the advocates of this book barbeque had never taken the time to read Little Women. Had they savored its pages, they would have known that its heroine, Jo March, was about as wimpy as a category four hurricane.
This spirited, tomboyish teen left her father’s home and moved to New York to become a journalist. She helped establish a school and joined her mother and sisters to weather illness, death, the Civil War, and genteel poverty. Heaven help the girl—she even dared to cut off her long tresses of hair.
If Ms. Alcott was attempting to tell young women what “their place” in this world is, well…
You go, girl!
There’s another book that people are quick to condemn, calling it an archaic work that seeks to “keep women in their place”, locked in an eternal state of second-class citizenship.
Its opponents claim that The Old Testament especially rates a woman’s value just a hair above that of a farm animal. They imply that if a man had to choose between the life of his wife or his sturdiest ox, it could— quite possibly—come down to a crapshoot.
Well, once again, critics want to bonfire a book they—obviously—have never taken the time to read.
Let’s study some of our Biblical sisters and determine just how suppressed these faith-filled gals really were.
Deborah and Jael—These two should’ve been draped in bronze stars for the roles they played in delivering the Israelites from Canaanite oppression. Deborah—prophetess, judge and military leader of the Israelites—rode into battle and helped defeat the Canaanite army. When its general ran for his life, he met up with Jael, a woman who showed him there was more than one use for a tent peg. Her bravery is immortalized in Judges 5:24-27.
Esther. Today, she’d be a frequent guest on Fox News. Blessed with the coveted combo of beauty and brains, this young Jewess led her people through political conspiracy, her actions preventing the Jews from being massacred in a plot to annihilate them. Esther got her own book in the Bible.
Now, call me crazy, but these don’t sound like suppressed women.
They sound more like…Super Women. Women whose faith in a Sovereign God was rewarded with triumph and exhortation.
According to the Bible, career women are nothing new. Already mentioned, Deborah was a judge and a military leader. Like her, Miriam, Huldah and Anna were also prophetess’, completely trusted by God to declare His word. Ruth and Naomi sold real estate, Sheerah founded two cities and Abishag was a nurse. Phoebe and Pricilla played key roles in ministry, Zeruiah built a great warrior dynasty and Lydia was a clothing designer. The daughters of Zelophehad petitioned for equality and were rewarded by God. And let’s not forget the many Biblical women who excelled in the most influential profession of all—motherhood.
What does this tell us? It tells us that God had women utilizing their gifts, talents and brain power long before feminists had them burning their bras.
God worked through women who radiated faith, strength, honesty and grace, women whose inspiration carries over to today. Among others, Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth showed us that all things are possible with God. Leah is a comfort, teaching that God rains blessings even when the world is stingy with favoritism. Eunice, Timothy’s mother, is a great model for raising children to know and serve the Lord. And Mary Magdalene, freed from seven demons, is a testament to the breathtaking beauty of …Amazing Grace. It’s through such women that we can gather hope, that we can know there are solutions to our life situations if we seek God’s will.
So…the Bible’s author—a chauvinist?
I think LIBERATOR better describes Him.
And in no greater way did He demonstrate this than by sending His son into the world. Because of Jesus, the chasm that separates humankind from God can be bridged, allowing for a personal, one-on-one relationship with the creator of the universe and everything beyond.
Talk about liberation! God never offered it more than He did through Jesus!
Jesus, who called men His brothers and gave women equal billing when he called them His sisters.
Jesus, who values women so much that he commanded men to love their wives the way He loved the church.
Jesus, who inspired the writing, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to that promise.” Galatians 3: 26-29.
Clearly, Jesus was “woman-friendly”. He counted Martha and her sister Mary among His dearest friends. He welcomed women to travel with His ministry. Luke 8: 2-3 speaks of them—Mary Magdalene, Susanna, Joanna and “many others.”
The New Testament tells of women approaching Jesus for healing, to ask questions about the faith, to offer hospitality when he was weary from His travels. We must conclude, then, that Jesus’ demeanor was approachable, that women knew they would not be admonished, ordered to pick up their scrub brushes and get back in their places.
When Jesus was resurrected, He could have first shown Himself to anyone of his choosing—his disciples, Pontius Pilate or the most arrogant of the soliders who carried out His crucifixion.
Instead, the first person to see the risen Lord was Mary Magdalene.
That’s right, a woman was the first to say, “I have seen the Lord!” That’s a huge deal considering that her Lord was Jesus Christ—whose birth, life, death and resurrection fulfilled over 300 prophecies; whose own prophecies are being fulfilled today, right before our eyes; whose life and teachings have had more influence and brought more positive change than anyone else in history; whose story and promises have been the subject of more writing, music and art than anyone else to live; whose many works and miracles have never been matched.
Hmmmm…looks to me like God has worked through women at some of the most incredible moments in history. Looks to me like God has always come through for women.
Sure, Biblical times saw its share of discrimination, suppression and persecution of women—just as we see it today. That, however, is not a God-thing. It’s a human-thing. God has never been the one who had “issues” with women, though critics of His word say otherwise.
I think the critics have “issues” with God, and that should disturb those who are seeking a God who recognizes a woman’s worth.
For those searching, know that the God you desire is here. He always has been, ready to touch every facet of your life and celebrate you as the diamond that you are.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
And if the Bible is attempting to show women what “their place” in this world is, well…
You go, God!
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Enjoyable piece. I do have some suggestions however. 1. Lose all the CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation marks! They are distracting! 2. Also, omit quotation marks (i.e. “weaker sex”) for parts/fragments of a sentence. I just learned this myself not too long ago and it really improves "the look: of your writing. EXCUSE ME? You go, girl! 3. These sentences add nothing--they only weaken your piece with needless words, and omit as many of these as you can. I find I use "just" and "that" much too much. 4. Watch for adverbs (most of which end in -ly). They are most often unnecessary really. 5. I personally do not care for this analogy: "...about as wimpy as a category four hurricane." It is not creative. How about something as mild as something wild or something in the wild. Sorry I do not provide you with any examples, I don't want you to think I am trying to rewrite your piece. I suggest adding a little whimsy by using rhyme, though I am not saying you have to rhyme. I am just a poetess at heart. 6. Spell out as many words as you can instead of using contractions. They're okay in dialogue because that's how people talk, but they haven't any place in a scholarly article. 7. Heaven help the girl--take this out. 8. Use of the word crapshoot--use another word, for obvious reasons. 9. combo--use combination instead. 10. Omit cliches (i.e. call me crazy) 11. prophetess’--should be prophetesses (plural form of prophetess--you used the possessive form). 12. Avoid beginning sentences with "and" or prepositions (i.e. And in no greater way...) 13. Clearly, Jesus was “woman-friendly”.--you need not convince me, the facts you present speak for themselves. You are telling, not showing. 14. Hmmmm…--no sound effects please. 15. diamond--ruby is much better because God says a virtuous woman is worth more than many of them. 16. You go, God!--I really think you should get rid of this and rework the last two paragraphs, combine them into one, and make a strong conclusion reaffirming what you have already written. By the way, I am sure you do not know this, but the term Jewess (in reference to Esther), is the same term Adolf Hitler used to refer to Jewish women (I know the word is used in the Bible twice, but I just thought you would like to know). Young Jewish woman would be MUCH better! Now, I just want to say that I did enjoy your article, it was very informative and it has even changed the way I think how God thought about women (I had thought He had still been holding a grudge against all women for Eve being the first one to eat the apple!). I can tell you did your homework, so I can take your piece seriously. I think you could even expand this article to show how feminism actually degrades women. Sarah
Terrific piece! Just the right mixture of humor and seriousness. It's amazing how people (including many church people) misconstrue or misrepresent the biblical portrait of women.