I was at a church meeting this week, and a man – let’s call him “Norman” – was retelling the story of the time the Angel of the Lord visited Samson’s parents with the news that they would have a special son (Judges 13). I was amazed that throughout his entire narrative, Norman did not once mention Samson’s mother.
The Angel, Samson’s father and Samson’s mother, are the main characters in the Bible narrative; yet the mother was completely overlooked by well-meaning but short-sighted Norman. Norman, like many men, reads and teaches Scripture from a masculinist perspective; and like most men, Norman is unaware of his bias. (Norman actually believes himself to have affirmative and supportive views about women in ministry.)
Samson’s father is named in Judges 13, his mother is not. It was not unusual for women to be nameless in narratives written during Patriarchal times. Yet, while the Bible narratives were mostly written within a Patriarchal frame of reference, reflecting the culture of the time, no Old Testament writer minimises the roles of the women mentioned in the national and spiritual history of Israel – women such as Deborah and Huldah. Rather, it is the (mostly male) theologians and Bible commentators who seem to overlook or ignore the women in the Bible. Likewise, the unnamed mother of Samson had become invisible and insignificant to Norman.
I tend to have a feminist bias when reading the Bible. I am overly conscious of the many women mentioned in the Old and New Testaments, the named and the unnamed. I am especially interested in the women in the New Testament letters who made valuable contributions to the early church. Many of these women were ministers, some even church leaders. Yet these women also are overlooked, or their ministries downplayed, by people reading the Bible with a masculinist bias. It seems that many theologians and church leaders make restrictive rules about women’s roles in the ministry without fairly recognising and considering these female Early Church ministers and leaders.
It bothers me that we continue to have discussions and debates about women’s roles in the Church as though women are in a separate and distinct category and class from men. Much of the Church’s attitudes towards women are a legacy from the time when most people, including Christian theologians, assumed that women were intellectually and morally inferior, as well as more spiritually gullible than men. Discrimination and debate is perpetuated, however, by the common misconception that the two New Testament injunctions for silence from women, written to two troubled churches, were intended as universal and timeless.
I am glad God does not have a masculinist bias against women.
I am glad God does not view women as inferior or unsuitable for significant ministry. Indeed, he has trusted and used many women in his service.
I am glad for the stories and examples of ministering women in the Bible. (Let’s not overlook them.)
I am glad God has poured his Holy Spirit out on Christian women and men so that both may prophesy and minister (Acts 2:17-18).
I am glad the Holy Spirit endows his ministry gifts without apparent regard for gender (1 Cor. 12:4-12).
I am glad that men and women are “one” in Christ (Gal 3:26-38). Not only are we one, an important part of the “glad tidings” of the Gospel is that redeemed, New Covenant men and women are equal.
My hope is that the church, as a whole, will move beyond the centuries of blue-lensed Biblical interpretations and masculinist teachings and embrace this “good news”.
 The Bible says that the Angel of the Lord initially visited Samson’s mother, not his father, twice. And the Angel safely entrusted the special instructions on rearing the child to the mother, not, initially, to the father.
 God tolerated Patriarchy in the past, and he still does; however 0ld fashioned Patriarchy (and the newer idea of Hierachical Complementarianism) is not God’s ideal.
 More about Deborah, Huldah and Samson’s mother here.
 I do realise that there are many male Bible scholars and Bible teachers who are very supportive and affirming of women in leadership ministries. Conversely, I am also aware of women who are very much against other women being church leaders.
 Women being ruled by men is one of the affects of the Fall (Gen 3:16). It is because of the Fall that we have patriarchy and thus many more men in minstry than women, especially in the Old Testament. But Jesus came to overturn the affects of the Fall.
 I have written about 1 Timothy 2:12-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. See below.
The Portrayal of Women in the Bible and Biblical Inspiration
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
The ‘Shame’ of the Unnamed Women of the Old Testament
New Testament Women Church Leaders
Galatians 3:28 – Our Identity in Christ and in the Church
1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
The ESV Bible’s Men-only Club
Prominent Biblical Scholars on Women in Ministry