BW Reads: Understanding Ms. Understood

“Who does God say you are?”  asks Jen Hatmaker in Ms. Understood: Rebuilding the Feminine Equation.  As women, we must look to Scripture for purpose and meaning and Hatmaker attempts to answer this very question by exploring the women in the lineage of Christ –their lives, faith, and how God used them. Hatmaker highlights aspects of these women’s lives and identifies how God used them and graciously brought them in the line of Christ.

There are five women in the lineage of Christ that Hatmaker brings to the forefront, highlighting God’s work in their lives.

  • Tamar-While the author seems to cheer her on, she also acknowledges that Tamar did employ questionable methods.  According to Hatmaker, even though Tamar took charge of her own destiny, the Lord used her in the lineage of Christ.  The author concludes that God is the True Heroine of Tamar’s story.  God took a woman in her sinful state and allowed her to be used for His glory.
  • Rahab-God used a prostitute to save two Israelite spies, and in His mercy covered her with grace and brought her into the Israelite family.
  • Ruth– A Moabitess – a foreigner – God gave Ruth the honor of being the great-grandmother of the future King of Israel.
  • Bathsheba-In spite of Bathsheba’s adultery with King David, God still redeemed her life and included her in the line of Christ.
  • Mary-Exuding a quiet, humble, submissive spirit, Mary trusted that God would care for her.

As the author points out, it is through these women’s weaknesses and frailties that God was glorified, and that God can use anyone today.

However, there are some pitfalls to be aware of. Hatmaker seems to believe that men and women can equally fulfill one another’s roles.

She advocates for women preaching in churches, and gives an example of her preaching at a Baptist Church in Houston.  She also calls for mutual submission in contrast to Ephesians 5:22-33’s description of submission in marriage, saying, “The crazy idea of submission might seem archaic for this problem.  Even as I type the “S” word, I hear you sigh…Jesus introduced mutuality to unlock a prison cell.  Remember, He created them male and female and blessed them.  He blessed them both equally…There should be a holy respect between men and women.” (55)  If men and women can take on each other’s roles, women could be placed in authority over men in marriage relationships, and can cause some women to become defensive.

Hatmaker seems to believe that women have to continually defend themselves and their positions, but what about what Jesus has already done on the cross?  He has already defended our position.  We are to rest in Him because our honor has already been fought and paid for.  The fight is not with men, but against spiritual enemies.  Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Despite the book’s drawback, Hatmaker inspires women to take charge of their lives, but also to allow the Lord to work in their lives.

She gives an encouraging discussion on the identity of women, but falls short in correctly interpreting Scripture. Our sinful culture has written the feminine equation one way, and God has written it another. While our world may change, our identity in Christ never will.  Just like the women included in the lineage of Christ, our lives can be redeemed and transformed into a beautiful story of God’s redemption.