College was the first time I heard the phrase “biblical womanhood.” Being advertised in the hallways on my way to classes were Bible studies for men and women on what it meant to be a biblical man or a biblical woman. At the time, I was just beginning to say yes to the journey of seminary and the pursuit of pastoral ministry, so learning how to be a better, more biblical woman sounded like a great deal to me. Soon, I realized that there was a real tension on the campus surrounding the terms “biblical womanhood” and “biblical manhood” – a tension I had yet to experience but would soon recognize.
As the terms popularized and became mainstream Christian language, the resurgence of biblical womanhood has been tied to complementation roles within and outside the church. You can speak, but not too loudly. Lead, but not in certain arenas. Teach, but not teach everybody. Provide, but mostly provide hospitality. When you’re not exactly the quietest person in the room – and you know that you were made more for leadership than for hospitality – biblical womanhood can be the pointy end of a spear that reminds you that there are still places in the church (denominations and congregations) where your gifts aren’t welcomed or recognized.
It’s time to reclaim biblical womanhood.
Biblical womanhood is just as much Mary at the feet of Jesus as it is Martha preparing the home. It’s just as much Deborah leading the nation as it is Mary, mother of Jesus, raising her children. It’s just as much Esther resurging the faith as it is the woman at the well providing for her family in the midst of her own brokenness. It’s Priscilla the evangelist and Phoebe the deacon. It’s every woman in the Bible who has chosen to say “yes” to God’s plan, wherever it should lead.
Biblical womanhood is embracing the “fearfully and wonderfully made”-ness of you. The voice, the boldness, the gifts, and the leadership qualities that God has instilled in you “for such a time as this.” It’s recognizing your unique giftedness and your weaknesses. Biblical womanhood is not one-size-fits-all for submission, hospitality, and quietness – not when so many women in the Bible from beginning to end broke this mold.
The next time that the phrase “biblical womanhood” makes you feel out of place, remember that the Bible has women in all walks of life, in all seasons, at all ages, with all gifts. You, friend – chasing God in the midst of your sometimes messy, always bold life – are a biblical woman.