We believe that every woman has been created in the image of God and is infinitely valued by and significant to Him (Gen 1:27; Ps 139:13-16; Isa 43:6-7; Matt 19:4-9; Eph 5:31-33).
What are women worth? When you value something, you protect it. God values women. And God wants women to be protected.
Whenever the question of the value of women comes up, it reminds me of a story in the Old Testament. Actually, it’s a story that most of us would prefer to ignore: the harrowing account of the Unnamed Concubine. When I first read Judges 19 in high school, I was indignant and angry. I was sickened to hear of the atrocity of her abandonment to abuse and stunned at the depravity that could regard this defenseless creature as a dispensable commodity.
When we talk about how the Bible regards women, we’re burying our heads in the sand if we don’t come to terms with this passage.
This “text of terror,” as feminist theologian Phyllis Trible called it, serves as a diagnosis of our world today. Through this horrific story, we actually see the degree to which God sees women as sacred in His sight. There’s a common theme throughout the book of Judges that has incredible significance for us.
The extent of Israel’s disobedience toward God could be measured by the extent of their mistreatment of women.
Towards the beginning of the book, the writer of Judges describes women in greater detail, like Deborah and Jael (ch. 4-5). But gradually, women’s identities become less and less defined and more and more in harm’s way (like the woman in ch. 9). Instead of being named, they are anonymous. Instead of being quoted, they are silent. By the time we hear about the Unnamed Concubine in chapter 19, Israel had so morally declined that they were just like the surrounding pagan nations. The writer is telling something about the nation’s spiritual state – when they turned away from the Lord, they devalued humanity.
The Unnamed Concubine’s abuse was so repugnant to God, that He included it as a measure of how depraved Israel had become. She was no longer even seen as a person; she was regarded as a product. The atrocity of the discarded woman of Judges 19 is a charge against a nation that turns its back on God. In Whispering the Word: Hearing Women’s Stories in the Old Testament, author Jacqueline E. Lapsley said it this way: “The state and treatment of women in Judges indexes the health of Israel’s social and religious life in the same book.”
To the extent that a culture rejects and rebels against the only true God, its women will be unvalued and unprotected.
Do we not see this truth in the world today? The millions of women and girls who are trafficked each year. The more than 200 girls in Nigeria who were abducted last month. The woman “honor killed” by her family outside a courthouse in Pakistan or Mihriam Ibrahim being sentenced to death in Sudan for marrying a Christian. Or what about less overtly oppressive expressions? What about the ways women objectify themselves and call it empowerment? The acceptance of no-strings-attached hook ups. The sexually charged lyrics alluding to domestic abuse in Beyonce’s Drunk in Love. And…one word…twerking. Where women haven’t been physically enslaved, they’ve become slaves to the idea that their power is measured by their sexuality. In both cases, women are not seen as persons; they’re regarded as products.
What are women worth to God? . . . . Ultimately, He considers women as worth the life of His Son to redeem them (Is. 43:1-4, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pt 3:18).He values women. And He wants them to be protected. When we see, hear, or even endure the wrongs and autrocities against women in this world, He never forgets their worth. There is coming a day when every injustice against every woman will be answered in perfect measure by a justice-keeping God. He sees every violation of the women and girls that are so precious to Him. No matter how women are devalued, denigrated, or discarded in this sinful world, nothing can lessen the immeasurable worth that they have in the heart of God. He values women. He values us. He values you.
More to Consider:
– What are some ways it has become common to devalue women?
– It’s easy to become influenced by our surrounding culture. Have you bought into the belief that dominant sexuality equals power, that self-objectification is female empowerment?
– How does the value of every woman affect your concern for and involvement in issues of social justice?
– Think about the phrase When you value something, you protect it. How does that inform your understanding of God’s intent for women in His Word?