Commentary

Political Leadership, Women, & the Bible

Late on a Tuesday afternoon in November 2020, 16 new pro-life women were elected to Congress. Despite the predictions for a “blue wave,” eight of these women flipped their seats from Democrat to Republican—a historic number. For many restless voters, this inspired an ember of hope. For the over 600,000 children aborted every year, their silent screams for justice are finally being heard. 

Despite Scripture being labeled by some as anti-woman, misogynistic, and negatively patriarchal, Biblical history resonates with support for women leaders. This leadership is not solely relegated to the private sphere, but to the public sphere as well. In political crises, women have led with dignity, strength, and winsomeness. They enact major change in the world, whether found within the Scriptures or within our own nation. Our voices are not only desired by our fellow citizens but are equally precious in the eyes of God—a far worthier reason to defend women in politics than a simple appeal to equality. 

How does God use women within the public sphere? As people who long to serve Him, how does He insist we act? Biblical support for female leadership, as with all leadership, is contingent upon an unwavering loyalty to Biblical principles. When we attribute these principles to the very character of God, His divine simplicity reveals that He is justice, truth, goodness, mercy, vengeance, and holiness—all of which are held equally in tandem with one another. The entirety of His nature informs us of Truth. The stories of these godly women demonstrate that our God recognizes how costly it is to cling to the ultimate Truth revealed in His word, especially in a broken world. 

God uses these four Biblical women to further His kingdom and radically declare that, by His Son’s redeeming death, women are chosen, loved, and worthy. Our earthly identities are nailed to the cross of Christ—our calling to honor Him in all we do illustrates our gratitude to The Savior. In the truest sense, women are ordinary—yet, in Christ, we are called to be extraordinary ambassadors for His Kingdom. Women can pursue a political vocation by radiating the Gospel.

Shiphrah & Puah: A Lesson in Civil Disobedience  

As head midwives to the enslaved Hebrews, Shiphrah and Puah were tasked with ensuring the safe deliveries of hundreds of babies. The Hebrews performed brutal manual labor by building bricks, hauling mud and straw for buildings, and transporting heavy materials, all for the development of Egypt. They were a strong people and had built up the endurance to withstand long, hot days of work. 

Fearing that their strength would cause a revolt against him, Pharaoh ordered Shiphrah and Puah to kill all the Hebrew baby boys. Despite the risk of execution for their disobedience, these brave women defied his tyrannical government with a lie: 

“The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families” 

In protecting innocent human life from destruction, these women resisted the temptation to bow to an unjust civil authority. Because they were faithful to God rather than man, Shiphrah and Puah were blessed by Him—not only spiritually, as promised elsewhere in Scripture (Eph. 1:3), but also on earth with families of their own.  

Rahab: Righteousness within Deception 

Righteousness and deception are held in tandem within the story of Rahab. She opened her home to the two Hebrew spies sent to inspect the military strength of Jericho, and in so doing, she deceived the soldiers sent to kill them. Because of her practice and affirmation of faith (“the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath”), her family was spared from the destruction of Jericho and assimilated into the nation of Israel (Joshua 6).

She serves as a remarkable example of God’s redemption. Rahab was not part of Israel and thus not part of the covenant that God gave to His people Israel—a Gentile. She was also guilty of the sin of prostitution, which was condemned by the Israelites. Her witness had multiple impacts, but the most crucial being her identity as a predecessor of Jesus Christ. As one of the two women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1), her transition from being a woman ostracized from the people of God to one included as part of Christ’s ancestry cannot be understated. She is again listed as one of two women in the Hebrews 11 great catalog of faith—furthering God’s embrace of women as equal participants in the faith. 

Esther: Diplomacy for His Glory 

The book of Esther serves as a reminder that even without the direct mention of God, He still remains sovereign in everyday life. Although expressly warned of intermarriage with pagans, Esther (under the instruction of her uncle Mordecai) was told to not disclose “her kindred or her people” as Israelites and became the next queen to King Ahasuerus of Persia. While her fidelity towards Israel’s commandments does not match that of other Biblical characters (Daniel 3), she courageously used her position as queen to prevent the genocide of her people from the persuasion of Haman to the king.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’”

Even amidst fear, Esther used the position she was given to negotiate with her husband the king and saved the Jewish people. Her use of diplomacy in the public sphere reveals a method of living out the dichotomy of being both a citizen of earth and heaven. Esther’s story shows that fidelity to God in our ordinary lives glorifies Him because every moment has the potential to display His power. 

All four of these women are a testament to God’s goodness in seeing both men and women as His adopted children. As we seek to embrace our identity as women, we can remember that God Himself used women to show the inclusion of every person, tribe, and tongue as part of His kingdom. He has restored a rebellious people to Himself—and those people include women. However, it is important to note that it is not in femaleness that our worth is found. We should not seek to reduce women’s contributions to their gender; it is a degradation to our ability for intellect, poise, and charisma. Women are valuable because Christ declares us valuable—the same as every other group. Our vocational calling in the public sphere naturally flows from our creation and calling to be servants of Christ.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not proport to reflect the opinions or views of the Gordon Review, editorial staff, or its members.

Categories: Commentary

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