The passage that most encourages me in my understanding of biblical womanhood is Philippians 2:1–11.
I love the picture of Christ’s humility. Though fully God, he chose to humble himself and come to earth as a servant and lay down his life for an ungrateful people who didn’t even recognize his Lordship. This passage brings to life what it looks like for me—my husband’s equal in every way—to submit to him in our marriage, lay down my life for my family, and serve my son day in and day out, even though he is incapable of seeing the full scope of my sacrifice.
When we think of womanhood passages, Philippians 2:1–11 rarely if ever comes to mind. 1 Peter 3:1–6, Titus 2:4–5 and Ephesians 5:22–27 are the subject of countless books about what it means to be a woman of God. And let’s not forget the big dog: Proverbs 31, the picture of the woman of God.
THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN
“The Proverbs 31 Woman” is such a well-known biblical example that my best friend and I have a playful hashtag dedicated to walking in her footsteps. Whenever she meal plans for the week, #P31. When I crush a load of laundry, #P31. It’s my husband’s favorite thing to hear us shouting it, football huddle style. And by “favorite thing,” I mean that he thinks it’s annoying and wishes we would stop.
The shadow that the Proverbs 31 woman has cast over the concept of biblical womanhood is so looming that it often blinds us from seeing any other passage in Scripture.
We view biblical manhood completely different. If you want to discover what a man of God should be doing, you won’t be taken to flagship verses about his place in the family; you’ll be told that he needs to be an imitator of Christ, which is entirely accurate. But while men are told to be imitators of Christ, women are told to be imitators of Mrs. P31…which is kind of like imitating Christ by proxy, right?
THE GENESIS 3:15 WOMAN
It’s true that the passages mentioned offer us a unique picture of what it means to be a woman of God. But they don’t offer the only pictures that matter. All Scripture is profitable for all believers (1 Timothy 3:16). Men don’t get to reap the benefit of searching 98 percent of the Scriptures while women wait quietly to be called upon in the other 2 percent. It’s about all of us. It’s our story.
And just in case we’re not inclined to believe that, in Genesis 3:15, when God promises the Savior of the world, he puts Eve right in the middle of the story. Pay attention ladies: You have a bigger part to play than that of a domestic goddess; you have always been a pivotal part of this story.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES
“I believe a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and a mother.”
I remember hearing those words as a single and feeling the knife twist in my gut.
If those words were true, then I could not achieve the illusive title of a biblical woman until I had a husband and children. Until that day, I was half of a woman.
The notion that single women do not have full access to growth in Christ is ridiculous. But it’s perpetrated by waving the flag of these verses and limiting the scope of biblical womanhood to their words. Once we let down the fence and look at the purpose for all believers, it’s easy to see that single women play a pivotal part in the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 7).
I get it. There are specific roles that women are to occupy in the church and in the home. But those roles do not preclude us from obeying and understanding every inch of God’s word; all they change is the context in which we do.
REAL BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD
The Proverbs 31 woman has got it going on.
But she’s couched in a book of wisdom; she’s an ideal. And yes, she is inspirational, but she is not the only picture in God’s word that matters for believers of the feminine persuasion. All Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, gives us information about what it means to obey Christ and live a life set apart for him, regardless of the gender-specific nature of each passage.
This article originally appeared here.