Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
The Gospel-Centered Woman Points Readers to Their Ultimate Example—Christ
An interview with Wendy Alsup,
Author of The Gospel-Centered Woman
(Part 2 of 2)
The topic of women and the church puts
many people on high alert, ready to defend their views. But what is the Bible’s
view on women? What does God want a woman to be? Is the Proverbs 31 woman God’s
ideal? In The Gospel-Centered Woman:
Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel (January
2013/ISBN: 978-1451574821/$8.99), author Wendy Horger Alsupsets out to help readers understand what the Bible
truly says to and about women.
From the world’s perspective, what does the “perfect Christian woman” look
like? Is that ideal really Biblical?
In some circles, she may the
home-schooling, breast-feeding, stay-at-home mom. In others, she may be the woman volunteering
24/7 in a homeless shelter or some other type of full-time ministry. There are a variety of stereotypes, depending
on your cultural base. Many Christians
lift up the Proverbs 31 woman as the prototype for good, Christian women. If you look at the whole of Scripture, there
are a lot of different women in very different circumstances that shed positive
light on Biblical womanhood. Abigail,
Ruth, and Esther. Priscilla, Phoebe, and
Lydia. Some had husbands, some did not. Some had kids, some did not. Each had very
different stories and responsibilities in life.
But perfection (which means maturity when the Bible uses the term) in
Scripture for both men and women is Jesus.
He is the author and finisher of our faith. We were created, male and female, as image
bearers of God, and we all, male and female, are being conformed back to the
image of Christ.
We tend to think of most of the women in the Bible as wives and mothers, but
you point out that there are a number of women who were single or whose marital
status we do not know. Can you tell us about one or two that stand out to you?
Lois and Eunice stand out to me, single
or widowed—we really don’t know. Maybe
there was a husband/father, but he’s no where to be found in terms of raising
Timothy to love the Lord. Ruth also
stands out. She’s well known because of
her eventual marriage to Boaz, but the aspects of her character that we most
admire were forged when she was a widow with no prospects for marriage.
Many women believe Ruth is the example of what they should be. Why do you say
that she is actually not the example we should strive for?
There are many women in Scripture that
flesh out aspects of our one true example, Jesus Christ. I am inspired by Ruth’s unconditional
fidelity to Naomi and the way she boldly lays her own honor on the line to
bring honor back to her mother-in-law’s family.
But Scripture doesn’t teach that God planned before time to conform me
to the image of Ruth, but to the image of Jesus! Ruth and others are conduits to that end, and
I thank God for their examples. But they
are not the end themselves.
As women, we strive for the example given in Proverbs 31, but is that really
We need to receive the Proverbs 31 woman
as wisdom, not law. She’s an inspiring example,
but ultimately we were not created to be conformed to her image, but to
Jesus’. We often call her the Virtuous
Woman, but it’s probably more accurate to call her the Virtuous Wife (the
Hebrew word translated woman/wife can mean either). Given the context, calling her the Virtuous
Woman makes it sound like the only path to virtue for a woman is through
marriage and family. Yet we have many
examples in Scripture that set that notion on its head. Instead, I read the Proverbs 31 wife as an
inspiring example of what is possible in a woman’s heart who is at peace with
her God through the gospel and the subsequent possibilities in her home. Her example is beautiful and helpful when we
allow the Spirit to apply wisdom from that chapter to our lives in ways that
are actually wise for our homes and our families, as opposed to an unattainable
self-imposed standard that brings condemnation instead of hope and inspiration.
What does the gospel say to minister to the singles longing for the
relationship of husband and/or family?
The good news of Christ is that we have
hope that equips us to endure. That hope
is not that our circumstances will change.
But it is the confidence that when we finally sit with Jesus in heaven,
we will NOT be disappointed in how He directed our life. The story is written, and the end is
certain. And the final scene is each of
us in Him with a satisfied smile on our face in perfect relationship with our
eternal Husband, Jesus Christ.
In Genesis 2 it is written that woman was created to be a helper to man. What
did God mean by helper in that context?
We were created in
God’s image, and He is the first example of what He means by ezer, the Hebrew word for helper. Scripture goes on to use that term 16 more
times in the Old Testament with God Himself as the object of the verses. Ezer
is a strong word. God our help nurtures
His people by defending, protecting, and comforting them. He nurtures us from a position of
strength. It is incredibly inspiring to
study His example as ezer when trying to understand His plans for me as a
Our culture depicts the strong woman as the one who doesn’t need a man, but as
Christians we’re supposed to rely on Christ. Does that make us weak?
In my culture, strong women don’t need
men, and weak women follow loser men around like a whipped puppy. But I believe God sets up a beautiful 3rd
way—calling women to strong, inner peace so that they can stay engaged with the
man, comforting, supporting, and perhaps even defending and protecting at
times. That inner peace in Christ allows
us also to accept protection, support, and leadership from the men in our lives
without feeling threatened by it.
People often ask why bad things happen to good people, but really isn’t the
question that we should be asking how Christians will react to the
circumstances they are put into since everyone will have something bad happen?
We live in the already, but not yet Kingdom of God. We know Jesus is king. But Hebrews teaches us that even so, we do
not yet see everything subject to Him.
In all of our lives, we live in the tension between what God declares
good and right and the realities of life in a fallen world—including sickness,
sin, suffering, and death. So, yes, we
are all guaranteed some measure of suffering in life. And, often, that suffering feels
overwhelming. The Bible does not teach
that if we are good enough or make wise enough decisions that we won’t suffer. But God does promise to equip us with a
spiritual inheritance that sufficiently equips to face our suffering head
on. It’s why the Apostle Paul was able
to say that we are “perplexed but not driven to despair.” The Gospel-Centered
Woman takes a deeper look into exactly how God equips us to face the disconnect
between what God declares good and the reality of our suffering in life.
Grace is such a central part of the gospel, but we often get snagged up with
the concept. Shouldn’t it be easier to understand?
Grace is completely counterintuitive to
life in a fallen world. We think we
understand the word and maybe can even correctly cite the basic definition, but
it is so opposite our innate self that truly understanding and implementing it
is a lifelong struggle. That’s why even
3 full years after sitting at Jesus’ feet, His disciples seemed completely
unprepared for the crucifixion. Jesus
gave them repeated examples of the sacrificial and unconditional nature of
God’s love (the Prodigal Son, instructions on turning the other cheek, His
straightforward explanation of grace in Luke 6). Yet Peter still cuts off the soldier’s ear in
the garden when they come to arrest Jesus.
It wasn’t until the moment that Jesus said “Father, forgive them for
they don’t know what they do” as He hung on the cross that I think the
disciples finally started to grasp the true nature of gospel grace. It’s OK that we struggle to understand it
too. It’s only wrong to dismiss it as
something that isn’t relevant to you or as something that you have already
mastered, because I can pretty much guarantee none of us have mastered grace as
the Bible uses the word.