- Book: Women of the Bible Speak Out
- Author: Marlo Schalesky
- Genre: Religion/Christian Living/Women’s Interests
- Release Date: June 2, 2020
With the recent headlines about gender-based abuse, power, harassment, and assault, it seems as if everyone is searching for answers. Marlo Schalesky provides a biblical response to the tough questions raised by these issues. She explores the stories of twenty women in Scripture, including Eve, Sarah, and Bathsheba—women who were betrayed, abused, endangered, blamed, and shamed. As she leads us in studying the biblical text, she draws our eye to God’s responses to these women and their situations:
Eve: The Way It Was Supposed to Be
Lot’s Daughters & A Levite’s Concubine: Abused
Two Tamars: Rejected
Mary & Martha: Oppressed
A Samaritan Woman: Shamed
A Sinful Woman: Scorned
A Woman Caught in Adultery: Blamed
Women at the Tomb: Disbelieved
She points out a way to healing, wholeness, and freedom. In the midst of today’s #MeToo conversations, this book will give new voice to the remarkable women of Scripture—and new hope to many, many women today.
Those who have been abused or otherwise ill-used will see stories of women healed by Jesus in Women of the Bible Speak Out. God cares about you too!
Eve: Witness to Brokenness
Marlo looks to Eve to learn about the source of brokenness in life. She imagines Eve’s dismay at Adam’s betrayal as he “blames” her for his choosing to eat the apple. Was she hurt by what Adam said to God? Maybe. Adam was telling the truth about his reason for not eating the fruit.
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Jesus quotes Adam (Gen 2:24) in verse seven of Mark chapter ten, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife”. Jesus explains, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” This suggests Adam chose to keep his marriage vows with Eve. Since God clearly teaches consequences ahead of time, we can intuit Adam knew Eve would be sent from the garden because of her actions. I think Adam’s answer is also a reference to his marriage commitment to Eve.
I agree with the author. I don’t believe, either, that the Lord created enmity between men and women. But, I disagree when she implies brokenness between men and women originated in this excerpt. I know God heals the brokenness in each of our marriages through His Son’s atonement.
If only we could see our parents, Adam and Eve, I believe we would recognize our Heavenly Father gave us a good chance for success. We can hope for happiness in marriage as we see Adam honor his pledge with Eve. As the author says, God’s plan was, and still is, beautiful.
Marlo Shalesky’s message is: all brokenness and shame may be healed through Jesus.
Lot’s Daughters and a Levite’s Concubine: Abused
There are three stories in this chapter. One is not the abuse it seems on the surface of a woman but really two women against a man who is their father. The tragedy of the teen girl who was repeatedly raped is horrifying. It crushed her spirit and she ended up taking her life. I cried. No one should be abused!
Abuse is a tragic reality. Keeping the memory of victims of abuse in mind can help us work to prevent future tragedies. But we should not allow ourselves to get lost in victimhood. Hate would canker our lives.
Lot lived in Sodom with his wife, her story is not covered in this book, and daughters. Lot was portrayed here as “cast out” of Sodom by the Lord because of his wickedness. It seems like he offered his daughters to be “used” by the evil men of Sodom but that doesn’t fit with the rest of the account in the scriptures.
To understand Lot’s story, I suggest we look at the previous chapter, Genesis 18, where Lot’s uncle, Abraham, begs the Lord to spare Sodom. The Lord agrees to not destroy the city if ten righteous people can be found there. He sends angels to Sodom. They come to Lot’s house and, at the end of chapter 19, warn him to flee from Sodom before it is destroyed. Lot expresses his gratitude for the Lord’s mercy and pleads that a nearby place is saved so he can dwell in it. Then the Lord, in verse 21, responds that He has accepted Lot and will spare this town.
In this case, God spared the only righteous man, and his daughters, in the whole city. Lot chose to obey the Lord. He was not ‘cast out’ of Sodom.
So, this understanding, of Lot’s reputation of leading a righteous life, can aid us in evaluating the out of character statement he seemingly makes in verse eight. Whenever I read something in the Bible that is inconsistent with the rest of God’s commandments, I check the translation. In this case, the Joseph Smith Translation clears up the misstatement.
Joseph Smith Translation
And Lot said, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes;
JST, Genesis 19:13
Lot did not offer his daughters to these men but refused to allow them to be abused. Even when they threatened him with bodily harm, he did not budge. I hope you realize God never condones abuse.
Marlo says the Levite gave his concubine to the men of the city Gilbeah to be abused in the story of the Levite and the concubine but I thought it was the owner of the home where they were staying. In the King James version of the Bible, it appears that it is the old man, the master of the house. Judges 19:23 specifically adds ‘the master of the house’. The man mentioned in verse twenty-five is probably the master too. The Levite seemed devastated when he discovered his concubine dead because of her torture. This story shows the devastating effects of sexual sin with one of the results that a whole tribe is nearly destroyed.
Many, many women and children are abused. I wish this wasn’t so. Yet, I feel, sometimes these abuses color how we see men. My experiences change how I perceive people’s words and actions. I am working on healing emotionally. Jesus teaches me how to be at peace and whole once again. That breathtaking gift is what Christ encourages us to strive for in our lives.
God cares deeply about every act of abuse that is suffered by his people. Daughters, concubines, women, you, and me. And even when he seems slow to act, he will never just let it go.
Jesus didn’t just pay for our sins if we repent, He also felt our anguish so that He would know how to heal us. He soothes our troubled hearts in our sincere prayers and scripture study. Come to Christ!
This was my favorite chapter. Abigail’s courage in taking food to David and the mercy she shows for her foolish husband, by begging for his life, leaves me in awe. This humane act is especially amazing when you consider that Nabal very likely treated Abigail harshly as the author suggests. I had not thought much about how he treated her privately.
Marlo shares her empowering view of what biblical submission in marriage really means. It is not submitting to harsh treatment and foolish decisions. It is not scolding or trying to force our husbands to be more godly. It includes praying for our husbands and personally studying the scriptures daily. She points out we need personal boundaries with a spouse who doesn’t keep the Lord’s commandments.
Mary and Martha: Oppressed
The author felt guilty for not wanting to teach the toddlers at her church once a month. I sympathize with both the author, anything seems arduous when I’m exhausted, and with the pastor’s wife, as I’ve been told how hard it is to find someone willing to keep an eye on the youngest people. If nobody is available to teach them, there won’t be a nursery. (Is this a use of fear tactics?)
Both of them were so focused on their situation they couldn’t see each other’s needs or intentions. The pastor’s wife probably didn’t realize Marlo would feel guilty. It is all too easy for us to fall into using fear-based tactics to get people to cooperate. For example, “If you don’t get your room cleaned…”. Add your own ending.
I’ve been called to teach in the nursery multiple times. It is tiring when there are a lot of toddlers. Yet, teaching and caring for this group was most fulfilling when I taught my children too. I didn’t feel far away from Jesus. I surmise He was there with the little ones as well as with the adults. I am thankful for the sweet friends who taught my toddler in their nursery class.
I agree we are quick to judge and sometimes treat other women harshly. Maybe that is the case when we haven’t accepted ourselves or seen our own worth in God’s eyes. It’s easy to perceive other people’s ill-treatment but it’s harder to see when we misjudge or exploit someone else.
I was mildly bothered by her portrayal of Mary and Martha. They do not seem maltreated to me.
Jesus doesn’t place us in a diminished role. The women in the Bible often had to conform to society’s expectations not in choosing to be themselves as the Lord allows since it pleases His daughters. Consider the vast array of responsibilities given to Deborah, the unnamed woman in the Old Testament, Elisabeth, and Anna most of whom are mentioned in this book. Jesus ministered to those He knew during His earthly ministry with gentleness, respect, trust, and compassion.
Let’s appreciate our divine responsibilities. They support us in being happy! Let’s value our part in the significant aspect Jesus regards it.
Marlo shares her assumption about our duty in regards to other people. I don’t agree that Heavenly Father only wants us to watch out for ourselves. He asks us to follow His son Jesus Christ but wants us to help others just as Jesus did.
Jesus never calls us to meet the expectations of others.
Perhaps we should accept ourselves as part of the community of Jesus Christ. He needs us to care for each other.
I served in my church in various wonderful volunteer opportunities. Each situation gives me a chance to trust Jesus will help me gain the skills I need. I acquire more than just new talents, I also make new friends and have fun! We can protect our lives by keeping gratitude in our hearts. Let’s covenant to serve like God’s son.
God has a plan for everyone. Resurrection is a gift to all from our Savior, Jesus Christ. His plan is to help us make the most of our natural abilities in this life. This is to bring us happiness! He invites us to receive eternal life, dwell joyfully with God forever (heaven), by accepting Jesus Christ’s atonement. He paid the price for our sins but we must choose to repent and obey His commandments.
The Bible tells the parable of a merchant who discovered a pearl of great price. He sold everything he had to buy this pearl. The pearl is like the Kingdom of Heaven. If we interest ourselves in following God’s son, Jesus, we can have this great pearl. We must involve ourselves in His work and choose to become like Jesus Christ.
I plan to have more confidence in being guided by the impressions I gain that flow from Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. Let’s strive to honor Christ.
A Samaritan Woman: Shamed
I loved Marlo’s observation of Jesus’s attitude toward the Samaritan woman at the well. It reminds me of the way He spoke to an adulterous woman. He spoke the truth in love. He knew the truth would set these women free. In these stories, Jesus shows He is the good shepherd. His love is all consuming as He not only seeks out those who are lost, He loves to forgive them when they repent.
We may not believe the same interpretation of scriptures but we can still listen. I like that Marlo reminds us of our worth in God’s eyes. God heals and justifies. He is there if we follow Him.
The hyperlinks in the ebook copy of Women of the Bible Speak Out to the scripture stories is a great feature. This made it easier to study while reading this book.
As Marlo reminds us, Jesus appeared to Mary before His disciples after He was risen. He loves you and will help you in your needs.
I received a free advanced reader copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.
About the Author
Marlo Schalesky is the founder and president of Wonder Wood Ranch, a California charitable organization that brings hope through horses to hurting kids. She’s had over one thousand articles published in various Christian magazines, is a regular columnist for Power for Living, and is an award-winning author of twelve books. Schalesky has a master’s in theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband and six children in a log home on California’s central coast.
More from Marlo
1) Why did you write this book?
When I was first asked to consider writing a book about women in the Bible who experienced abuse, oppression, gender-based bias and discrimination, sexualization, and more, I didn’t know how their stories would intersect with mine and the experiences of women today. I thought I would find only horror, but beyond that I found a surprising hope; a God who is always seeking to redeem, to heal, and to make right where mankind has broken and betrayed.
This book is for others like me, for women who have been hurt, whose wounds sometimes seem too deep to heal. I wrote it for those who know that while justice is necessary, it is not enough. We need to see God. We need Him to see us. We need an experience with the God of Scripture whose fierce love is the only thing that can heal those hurts that lie deep within.
2) What do you hope your readers will take away from reading your book?
I hope they experience a renewed hope. And a deeper understanding of the God who loves them. I want readers to know that God sees them, and He sees what they’ve suffered, and He does not look away. He does not make excuses.
After reading Women of the Bible Speak Out, I hope readers will see that instead of winking at the repression of women, the Bible exposes it. And the Bible reveals a God who not only shares in our suffering but seeks to redeem it.
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 9
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 10
Spoken from the Heart, June 10
For the Love of Literature, June 11
deb’s Book Review, June 11
Emily Yager, June 12
Older & Smarter, June 12
Book of Ruth Ann, June 13
A Reader’s Brain, June 14
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 15
Rebecca Tews, June 15
Texas Book-aholic, June 16
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 16
Godly Book Reviews, June 17
Writing from the Heart Land, June 17
Inklings and notions, June 18
Holly Jo Morris, June 18
For Him and My Family, June 19
Lighthouse Academy Blog, June 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)
Just the Write Escape, June 20
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 21
Hallie Reads, June 21
Splashes of Joy, June 22
Artistic Nobody, June 22 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
To celebrate her tour, Marlo is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book plus a $10 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click this link to enter.