The Bible often gets a bad rap for being anti-women. The accusation must be made by those who haven’t spent a lot of time in the Scripture.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, it is high time we celebrate some of the remarkable women of the Bible.
Recently, American Bible Society looked at which women in the Bible were the most searched on the organization’s Bible Search tool. The top five most popular women of 2013 were Eve, Mary, Martha, Sarah, and Rebekah. The five women’s life stories have something to say to women throughout the ages.
EVE: 2013’s most-searched woman, Eve is best known for giving in to temptation and then convincing Adam to do the same. But Eve, like all of us, was more than her sin. Her resilience is a model for every woman who has faced adversity -- even if it is of our own making.
MARY: The mother of Jesus, is a model of faith as she says “yes” to God’s call even though doing so could bring unmerited shame. In a day when a charge of promiscuity could get a young woman stoned, Mary responded with faith and obedience to the news that God had selected her to bear a child who would be the Son of God.
MARTHA: Perhaps best known as worker-bee sister of Mary of Bethany, Martha demonstrated tremendous faith when she exclaimed to Jesus that their brother Lazarus would not have died had He been present. Even in death, Martha believed that Jesus still had the power to miraculously work in the situation. Every woman who has faced a trial beyond her own power can learn from Martha’s example of faith.
SARAH: The wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, left a legacy of both faith and fear. She initially believed God’s call on Abraham and His promise to make a great nation through their line. But when the fulfillment of that promise did not come to pass on Sarah’s timetable, she sought to fulfill her desire for a child through her maidservant Hagar. Her impatience with God caused tremendous trouble for herself and her family. Her actions are a cautionary tale for those inclined to rush ahead of God’s perfect plan.
REBEKAH: Finally, Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and mother of twins Esau and Jacob, is an example of a woman with an abundance of moxie.
Sometimes this boldness served her well—as when she willingly left her home country to follow God’s call to marry Isaac. But sometimes this boldness got her into trouble—as when she deceived and manipulated her husband to bless her younger son over her older son.
Rebekah’s life demonstrates the need to regulate assertiveness so that it is a blessing rather than a curse in one’s life.
What I love most about these five women and so many other women in the Bible is that they are truly relatable. They are imperfect beings who try and fail and try again to live a life that pleases God.
Their examples are as relevant to women in 2014 as they would have been in 1014. They are blissfully—and sometimes tragically—human. And God’s faithfulness to them speaks volumes to women today if we will only have ears to listen.
So on this International Women’s Day, consider taking a fresh look at some of the Bible’s heroines. You might be surprised at how much their examples have to teach us today.
Geoffrey Morin is the executive vice president and chief communications officer at American Bible Society, where he oversees all communications channels including marketing, advertising, brand deployment and media relations. Prior to his work at American Bible Society, Morin worked in advertising, marketing and church redevelopment. Morin holds a B.A. from Duke University and a M.Div. from Yale University.