Not shockingly, I’ve been reading a book. Overall, it’s a great resource, but there’s one sentence that we should discuss. The author is noting what identifies her as a woman and how all women know they are women.
“Or that in us, was not the instinct to jump in front of a bullet for a man but to be the first warm face he saw once he fell to the ground.”
Now to be fair, this is actually in a paragraph that I disagree with as a whole. Her markers for being a woman are not true for all women everywhere; actually not one of the women in our small group identified with the whole list.
My point in writing about this is not to pick at the author. But this particular idea is actually unbiblical and we are still doing a lot of damage with the ways we talk about gender. This quote represents a Disney fairytale, a princess desiring to be rescued by a knight in shining armor. This is a woman waiting for a hero when women already have one (so do men). The hero of all stories is God, and we are called to act like that hero.
Women aren’t called to be warm faces. We are all, as believers, called to lay down our lives for one another (John 15:13, 1 John 3:16). Now do I think that these verses specifically mean jumping in front of bullets? No, I think they apply to how we live our entire lives. But they wouldn’t exclude dying for another either.
Passivity can’t be passed off as a womanly virtue. We are to be like Christ and surely no one would call Christ passive. Men aren’t called to action and women to just sit around and clap for them. Anytime we are prepared to say, “I’ll sit back and let someone else handle that” we should probably check ourselves.
Women are not sitting around waiting on men to rescue them. We are all active participants in God’s story. God is the hero; He is the rescue. Are there instances-when a woman is pregnant, for one example-when the man should take that front line? Of course, after all she’s already doing something that he can’t. This cannot be a gendered thing or a marker for manhood because then what are we telling smaller men? We should all have each other’s backs. We should all consider each other more important than ourselves. ‘My life for yours’ is an example that Christ set that we are all modeling.
Love means giving (John 3:16, Ephesians 5:2, 1 John 4:10-11) for another. This is how we know love.
The Bible is also full of women who were willing to take the risk upon themselves. The midwives in Egypt, for example, were putting their lives on the line in order to obey God. They considered the lives of all those children more important than their own. Moses’ mother Jochebed and his sister Miriam did the same. They choose to face the penalty of death for the physical life of another (Exodus 1-2).
Abigail’s husband Nabal snubbed David badly before his reign as king. In response, David and four hundred men were coming down to kill all of their house. Four hundred men bent on murder were coming toward her and Abigail went out to meet them and tell David what he was getting ready to do was a bad idea. Four hundred murderous men didn’t scare her off from her mission (1 Samuel 25).
Paul concluded his lengthy letter to the Romans with a chapter that mentions many people who served alongside him. In verse three, he greets Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquila who risked their necks for his life. Priscilla and her husband Aquila pop up many times in the story of Paul and here they are putting themselves on the line to protect Paul’s life. Down in verse 7, Paul mentions two well-known apostles , a man Adronicus and a woman Junia, who were both also prisoners. This woman Junia, an apostle, was in jail for spreading the gospel. Who knows what her end was. Paul himself, when he was persecuting the church, targeted men and women, putting them in prison for their commitment to Christ (Acts 8:1-3).
One of my goals in life is to cheerlead the people around me, men and women, as they follow Christ’s leading for their lives. I want to run alongside with my Bible in one hand and my pom-pom in the other. (In reality, if you see me with an actual pom-pom, I’m probably very ill. A sword would be more likely.) I am all for support and encouragement and cheering for one another. But we don’t need to sideline half the church from active service to a smiling section. The kingdom needs all God’s ambassadors.