What does the Bible say about Biblical Womanhood?
The concept of “biblical womanhood” has gotten a “bad rap” outside and even inside the church. Actual biblical womanhood, however, is beautiful and provides a context for a bounty of good. Actual biblical womanhood is like a fortress that allows for flourishing.
Masculinity, femininity, and gender roles have sometimes been overly and legalistically defined. People have said in the past that men should drive the family vehicle and women should wash the dishes, but the Bible doesn’t say that.
Instead, the Bible calls husbands and elders/pastors to sacrificial leadership. It calls wives to submit to their husbands, and the church body—males and females—to submit to the church’s loving leadership (Heb. 13:17). That’s what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t specifically spell out what that should look like and never says submit to abuse.
However, the Bible does, over and over again, show the worth of women. This is in great contrast
to the culture of its time. Rebecca McLaughlin has pointed out that “According to many ancient philosophies, men were more important than women. But the Bible tells a different story. God made humans—’male and female’—’in his own image’ (Genesis 1:26–28). Men and women are equally important. But they are also importantly different” (The Secular Creed).
The Bible shows the worth and defends the worth of women over and over in its pages. There are some 202 women listed in the Bible. This is significant, for example, because the Quran lists just one and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita lists none.
The Bible shows women in high roles of leadership, compliments them, greets them, and considers them fellow workers in the gospel. Jesus spoke to and cared for the outcast Samaritan woman at the well. Even Jesus’ disciples were surprised. “They marveled that He was talking to a woman” (John 4:27). Yet He was. Jesus loved and cared for women.
Of course He loved women. He created them. And He created women as part of His good design to image Himself through humanity. The world has fallen into faulty design, but Jesus always demonstrated His good, intended design.
So, part of understanding biblical womanhood is understanding that the Bible is emphatic that women have worth. Women are precious and made in the image of God. Women do not have less worth than men. Sadly, this has not always been understood or agreed with.
Within the Trinity, there is unity and diversity. God is three persons in one God, yet each member of the Trinity has different roles. God the Father sent Jesus the Son, and Jesus sent the Spirit as the comforter and counselor to be with us and help us. Therefore, within the Trinity, we see different roles but different roles do not communicate different worth.
Women are not one ounce less important than men because they are called to be helpers (Gen. 2:18). In the Bible, God Himself is described as a helper (Ps. 54:4; 118:7). Women are certainly not less important because they were created to be helpers.
It’s also important that we do not push unbiblical stereotypes, partly because stereotypes are often just based on the changing cultural climate and not on the objective truth of Scripture. Consider, for example, that pink has not always been considered a “girly” color; or consider that men in the 14th century were the first to wear “yoga pants” (i.e., tights that were sometimes even quite colorful).
By this, I’m not saying that we should disrespect societal norms. Scripture is our standard, not societal norms. So, for example, the stereotype that men aren’t supposed to cry is wrong. Jesus Himself cried. What about dancing and poetry? Are dancing and poetry more feminine than masculine? King David who killed wild beasts, slew a giant, and was one of the most elite soldiers that ever walked the earth also danced and composed poetry. Just because someone is different from society’s stereotypes does not mean that person is wrong or weird. God, not the ever- changing culture, should be our guide.
Therefore, nowhere is it written in Scripture that men must drive the vehicle, and women must do the dishes. Scripture gives us transcendent truths—truths that are true for all times and all places. Truths such as males and females are created different in order to together reflect the glory and goodness of God. The specifics of how these truths are to be lived out today are to be applied in love and biblical Spirit-led wisdom.
My Favorite Quote on Biblical Womanhood
“Because we are made in [God’s] likeness, it is our destiny to rule and reign like He does. But unlike kings and queens of the ancient world who ruled from lavish palaces, our God is a King who works. He is a King who rolls up His sleeves and gets down in the dust beside us. He is a King who makes Himself a servant and labors on our behalf… So being an heir to this kind of King means we are no fairytale princesses spending our days in ideal luxury. We are queens ruling creation under His authority. The very work we do, whether it is tallying numbers in columns of red or black or scrubbing red and black crayon off of newly painted walls, is an expression of God’s royal nature in us” (Hannan Anderson, Made for More).
Suggested Resources on Biblical Womanhood
- Andreas J. Kostenberger, God’s Design for Man and Woman
- Andreas J. Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation
- Claire Smith, God’s Good Design
- Hannah Anderson, Made for More
*Photo by ELEVATE