Are any of your spiritual heroes women?

In Changing The Story I voiced my conviction that, "heroes are an important element of any story and in talking about alternative stories I think we need to give serious consideration to invoking alternative heroes and alternative ways of looking at established heroes."

Well to extend this conversation further and draw out some of it's implications I'll also say this, if we are serious about respecting women in the faith, we need significantly more focus on the women of faith.

With that in mind I thought I'd draw attention to this affirmation I came across. The original author is unknown but I think it serves as a worthy starting point:

Like Women of the Bible

Like Deborah, I will serve the Lord in power and speak His word without fear.

Like Esther, I will intercede for God’s people before the throne.

Like Abigail, I will humble myself to wash the feet of the servants of the Lord.

Like Sarah, I will respect my spouse and his ministry to the Lord.

Like Hannah, I will dedicate my children to the Lord.

Like Priscilla, I will explain the way of God more perfectly to those who are seeking.

Like the Shunamite widow, I will trust God in the day of adversity.

Like Lydia, I will be a worshiper of God and open my home to His ministers.

Like Tabitha (Dorcas), I will always do good and help the poor.

Like Joanna, I will use my wealth to support the ministry of Jesus.

Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, I will hear the word of God to me and answer, “Be it unto me as you have said”.

Like Mary, the sister of Martha, I will know the voice of Jesus and hear his words.

Like Mary, the mother of Mark, I will make my home a haven for the followers of Jesus.

Like Mary, the Magdalene, I will keep at the feet of Jesus and love him unto death.

Now. Should these women be heroes only for women? Should they only be focussed on in womens studies where men dare not tread? Or should not us guys recognise that here we have some forgotten heroes of Christian spirituality that we would be wise to emulate. We ask women to emulate the male heroes of the Bible, shouldn't we men be equally prepared to emulate these heroic women?

8 thoughts on “Heroic Women

  1. The Bible is full of stories like these displaying God gifting and using women in His story and plan. Jesus and Paul acknowledged this and affirmed them in the ministry of the disciples and the small new church.
    Somewhere, somehow, the greater church body, particularly the leaders, forgot that God uses and gifts women and children, as well as men.
    As we seek to know the heart of God and serve Him and worship Him more purely, we do, as Matt said, need to learn from all those who minister under the giftedness and blessing of God and allow them the space and community to do so in their pursuit of pure service and worship to God.
    🙂 Jen


  2. What about the great and completely real heroines of Christian mysticism. The Illuminated saints such as Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen–to name four.
    And even in our own time the truly remarkable Bernadette Roberts


  3. Gender is such a massive issue with us.
    There has been such a big draw to Mary Magdeline being Jesus’ mate, principally to counter patriarchy and affirm women’s role.
    What I find interesting is that the gay movement has not picked up on this, and continued with the pattern.
    It is Biblically more plausible that Jesus was not celibate or ‘attached’ to a woman, but that He was gay. John was His ‘beloved.’ I believe John was the only Apostle not to be put to death, but was boiled in oil and survived! That’s heroism of a different gender orientation. But neither straight men nor women would have an easy time thinking of Jesus being gay. Better He was celibate?
    The mind swirls with the implications. In a way, it seems the most plausible. Everything Jesus did was to confuse, so that we would have to figure it out. Since there is no such thing in ‘heaven’ as gender, that little gender bender would be another wrench thrown in our works of trying to still figure out Jesus on our terms. I know it threw me for a loop when it dawned on me. But then I’ll entertain God’s hand in the Holocaust, which ain’t ‘normal’ either. Just part of breaking out of ‘the box.’


  4. “What I find interesting is that the gay movement has not picked up on this, and continued with the pattern.”
    They have. Back in my uni days the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (yes, that’s religion in Sydney for you) put out a brochure that ‘outed’ David and Jonathan, whom, it was claimed, were involved in a homosexual relationship. Jesus Seminar scholar John Dominic Crossan also claimed the reference to a guy running away naked at the arrest of Jesus was an oblique reference to homosexual mystery rites practiced by Jesus and his followers. Personally I think there is more than a little academic masturbation going on here. Te he.


  5. John. Thanks for bringing these women up. The focus of my post was our more foundational stories but yes it is worth noting heroic women in the broader scope of Christian history as well.


  6. Matt, I would argue that the Illuminated saints (male or female) of the Christian Tradition, both East & West are/were the leading edge practitioners and exemplars of the tradition.
    In effect they demonstrated bodily and altogether what it was/is to incarnate “christ”. To one degree or another they were quite literally transfigured.
    That is why saints are/were venerated within both of those traditions.


  7. LOL, Matt, I long ago realized everything has been written about Jesus, somewhere. Christianity is like a sponge, absorbing every consideration in its path.
    Actually, the gay Jesus comment was more in the vein of the gay rights movement. They are under attack by the homophobic parts of the Church, but they don’t ‘counter-attack.’ The main reason is, of course, political. They want to be accepted as normal, middle class people, and challenging the Church on such a level doesn’t soothe the savage heterosexual beast. Let alone confronting the strange male-only culture of some Church hierarchies.
    It is interesting, however, how the gay issue diverts the serious attention that is needed on the ‘masculine.’ The gay issue is trying to normalize what is considered unnatural for the male. But the real issue is what our culture is hiding about the masculine by focusing on the feminine and the gay exceptions. We are still trying to fit the feminine (ask any working mother) into the masculine framework to let them feel ‘whole’ (in society as a whole), just as the gay community wants to be ‘accepted’ as well. The hidden masculine assumptions actually thrive on these distractions. Homophobes should thank gays from keeping serious attention put on heterosexual patriarchy, just as feminism used patriarchal critical skills to gain legitimacy in a male world, thus compromising itself.
    Masculinity-without-wisdom still runs rampant. Civilization is a masculine invention of hierarchical thinking. The latest ‘ism’ is environmentalism, which sustains humans’ dominance through conceptual thinking, instead of incorporating the deeper wisdom of all life.
    Jesus still remains a political instrument to battle patriarchy, civilized thinking, to level the hierarchy that we are enculturated into. The battle of mind vs. spirit in and outside of the Church. We are all still playing the same game, instead of stepping out of it, and getting a chuckle with the rest of Creation. Civilization uses objective thinking. The language of Spirit is poetry. As the old saying goes, objective language is the language of humor, both in heaven and on earth. When are we going to get the joke?
    Can we really see the ‘monster’ that we have built? And if we did, would we have the courage to let it go?


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