Is there a prototype for Christian women that should be identified and copied? Often, in Christian circles, it is that women of God are expected to be this unknown Christian woman. Except, no one can really pin down what that looks like or who she is. Should we? While there is counsel in the bible about our adornment, could there be a deeper understanding of why that was given? I use that example, because, often it boils down to colors of makeup, style of clothing, status of relationships by outward appearance, and where one lives. Yet, none of these are why the bible was written and the bible is supposed to be our manuscript.
Fortunately, there are many women we can emulate from God’s word. Some are named because of their roles assigned, such as Sarah, Rebekah and Leah. All three are notable Hebrew women whose lives benefit all of us. Yet, Christ died for us individually. He knows our individual makeup and circumstances. Because of this, it is possible to appear perfect to God, while we are quite human and frail to others.
The Peril of a Cookie Cutter Version
The need to have cookie-cutter lives or the right image has come to represent a problem that can result in the shipwreck of one’s faith. Much like the Stepford Wives movie suggests, it is built on a misunderstanding or underappreciation of how we are individually loved by God and accepted by him. Consider 1 Corinthians 23,24. It emphasizes our individual relationship with God rather than a desire to be enslaved by past circumstances or individuals. Besides the shipwreck of faith that can happen, we can become so focused on the external that we completely deny God’s grace altogether.
For many, church attendance is about appearing to conform to a role and prescribed outward behavior. Yet, none of us were made to abandon ourselves and put on a uniformed way of life. It is up to us to ask ourselves, how can I express my Christian faith given my temperament, interests, or present circumstances? It is up to Christian onlookers to realize that our sister is given the freedom to worship in a manner consistent with her conscience and relationship with God. Otherwise, we suffer the loss of talent, role of function, and warmth of relationship that may have been intended for us to enjoy.
Freedom and Individuality
Looking up the definition of the word, prototype, is a good argument in favor of God’s actual purpose for describing aspects and sharing the life story of the women mentioned in His word. We can think of them as women of grace. Not identical prototypes. In fact, it seems that no two were the same and some came from outside of the nation of Israel. As Hebrews 11:1 says, they were taken in by God because of their faith and the actions demonstrated by that faith. Perhaps that is the more important aspect to God. We’re talking about women like Lydia, Rahab and Ruth.
God further stated that he sees the individual. There are numerous verses which speak to Him having knowledge of some at the time of conception (David was one of those individuals). There are verses that tell us that individuals are as individually known as the stars and that our circumstances are remembered and appreciated. For so long, this individuality has been ignored. Perhaps, that single Christian mother was also chosen by God?
While there are Christian personality characteristics, God knows it might be expressed in very diverse ways. Consider that we, as women, are compared to jewels, at Proverbs 31:10, and found more valuable. Yet, different jewels are named. According to circumstance, age, experience, talent, and spirit, we are all valuable to the body of Christ and should not lose what we have been entrusted with for the favorable judgement by others. Consider two of Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha. Both loved by him and God. Yet on one occasion, their personalities were shown to contrast with each other.
Warning against one: Jezebel
It is interesting that Christ did warn the Christian congregation about one type of woman we should not imitate. Giving her the name of a former foreign queen to Israel, Jesus said her behavior should not be tolerated. We strive to hate what God hates and love what he loves. We do not strive to make an idol of ourselves or others.
So then, who or what is the ideal Christian woman? There does not seem to be a one size fits all image of the Christian woman in the scriptures. In fact, it is not solely an outward image at all. Rather, it is a life journey that we may encounter at a particular stage in someone’s life. We judge not if we do not want to be judged. Though many qualities are listed in God’s word for our benefit, it is the holy spirit that will help us produce the desired fruit. It is that fruit, namely love, that identifies us as Christians. Remembering that we are unified by love and belief in Jesus Christ gives us a little breathing room to be ourselves and benefit each other.