A real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God’s greater reward.*

Biblical Womanhood

Does Scripture provide for women a pattern for envisioning biblical womanhood like that provided by comparing Adam and Jesus? If Jesus is the second Adam, can we find any woman present in the Bible as a sort of second Eve – as a good role model to offset the bad? Yes – Mary.

Just as Eve was in the middle of the high drama opening the Old Testament, Mary, a young virgin from Nazareth, stood in the spotlight in the powerful events opening the New Testament. Eve’s foolish choices were used to introduce sin and death into the world. Conversely, we can see how Mary’s courageous choices played a central role in helping to bring forgiveness and life back to the world.

Mary characterized exemplary virtue and bold, extraordinary faith. She actually lived the life the first Eve abandoned. But even more important for our purposes, Mary’s life, when contrasted with Eve’s, helps us put together a biblical definition of authentic womanhood. Looking at these two women, three significant issues stand out that serve as building blocks for constructing a vision of authentic womanhood.

First, both Mary and Eve were offered the chance to accept or reject God’s Word. God had told Adam that no one could eat the fruit of this one tree that would give human beings supernatural knowledge. Yet Eve then listened to the serpent when he questioned what God had said to Adam. And Eve responded by choosing to believe the deceiver rather than embracing God’s callings and the goodness already enjoyed from Him. Mary, however, was a different story. She was confronted with an almost unbelievable situation that – from a worldly perspective – might have seemed to ruin her life. God had made her pregnant before marriage! But He gave her His promise that this pregnancy of bearing the Son of God would make her life special too. It was an awkward, overwhelming situation. After this encounter Mary could have easily panicked and submitted to an abortion (readily available in that era) or to a secret divorce; she could have fled, leaving God’s calling far behind. But Mary instead showed remarkable faith. She stood her ground and chose to embrace God’s calling on her life. Eve foolishly shunned God’s word, but Mary embraced it.

Next we see the actions that flowed from each woman’s belief. In Eve’s case it can be summarized in two words: she ate (Gen. 3: 6). In this one act of willful disobedience, Eve abandoned not only God but also the Core Callings He had set forth to bless her life: to be a partner and helpmate to Adam, to nurture the next generation, and to be a kingdom builder. She abandoned those real, vibrant callings for the alluring mirage of grander things. Conversely, Mary’s wise choice of trusting God’s Word led to a completely different set of actions. She didn’t strike out on her own or seek to end her pregnancy. In fact, she did just the opposite. In spite of the fear she undoubtedly felt at times, she drew closer to God, cherished her pregnancy, carried through with her marriage to Joseph, and courageously embraced God’s astounding calling to raise His son!

Finally, we look at each woman’s expectations. Both Mary and Eve expected good to come from their beliefs and actions. Eve obviously envisioned even greater personal fulfillments and adventures than God’s callings could provide. Her imagination, no doubt, ran wild. What new freedoms will being like God give me? How  much greater will I be? How much happier? It was the life she’d been missing, though before that fateful moment she likely hadn’t though anything was missing. But now, caught up in the serpent’s words, it all sounded too good to pass up. So Eve went for the life she believed could offer her more than God had given. And indeed she found more – more pain, sorrow, and regret than she knew existed.