Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Five "Fierce" Women of Scripture

Not to steal Tyra's line or anything but there are some women in scripture who full fit this description. In the latest edition of Books & Culture: A Christian Review, William Griffin discusses five intertestamental beauties (a quick side note here - I'm more than happy to discuss the validity or lack thereof for intertestamental works in another post, for the sake of this one I'm taking them as valid) in scripture who exemplify some often neglected characteristics of the Christian woman: Susanna, Judith, Sophia, Vashti and Esther.

(OK, another note - Esther isn't strictly intertestamental and neither is Susanna - at least I think - so I'm not sure why he includes them or excludes my personal favorite "fierce" lady, Jael - again, I'm willing to overlook this for the sake of dealing with some lesser known but fascinating stories.)

According to Griffin, these woman all posses five common traits:

1) They were smart.

Sophia was the personification of wisdom. Susanna was educated in Mosaic law at her father's request. Judith developed a plan to save her village when the village elders were so freaked out at the threat of capture they wanted to surrender. This is definite proof that education both formal and informal (those ever elusive street smarts) is invaluable to Christian women (OK, and men too). God can use you no matter what but he's able to use you in more ways and for greater purposes when there's something inside your head that he can work with.

2) They were all courageous.

Esther risked her life to save her people. Judith hacked off the Persian king's head and walked out of the Persian camp with it in her basket. Susanna refused to bow to the pressure of some lecherous old men to either sleep with them or be branded a harlot and instead stood up for herself in court. Now I'm not advocating skydiving, crocodile wrestling or other crazy feats to prove you are courageous but having the internal fortitude to stand-up for what you believe is right in the face of people who may not agree is one of the most courageous things any person/Christian can do.

3) They were all beautiful.

OK, I'm going to stop and take umbrage with his point here. I don't think their beauty had anything to do with their character. Sorry. Did their beauty perhaps influence their situations. Sure. Did it make them more important than poor, homely, Leah? No. Never forget, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all to God we're all beautiful.

4) They were snazzy dressers.

You might think I'm crazy but I can see where this one is credible. Whether we like it or not, our appearance to the rest of the world matters. It doesn't mean we have to be unholy but it does mean that we shouldn't look like those ladies from that compound in Texas. Face it. When you look like that people are going to think that you are a) Amish or b) out of date with the rest of the world. And it's really hard to convince anyone that you are relevant or to have any influence with anyone when you look like you've been living under a rock for the past 40 years.

5) They prayerful and observant.

Ding, ding, ding. I think we've finally hit upon the reason these women were so fierce. Susanna prayed to God to save her during her trial and God sent her Daniel as a lawyer. Esther prayed that she would find favor with the king and God answered her prayer. Judith saw a way to stop the Persian invasion and God granted her the wisdom and the strength to carry out the plan.

So what do you think? Do you know any Christian women who meet the Dr. Griffin's criteria for "fierce" women of God? Care to share them with us?

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