Vibrant Single Women in Scripture
Plenty of women in scripture left legacies that don’t revolve around marital or reproductive status. And yet the cult mentality around marriage and “traditional” roles within it persists within the church. How many sermons have you heard in praise of singleness as a blessing equal to marriage? My guess is if you’ve heard any, you can count them on one hand. Single women especially endure reinforced stigma and societal pressure both within and outside their faith communities. But where does the bible justify this? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Single women have led vibrant and powerful lives for God throughout history, and scripture takes special care memorializing their examples for our benefit. These diverse women of the bible, and many more, illustrate single lives masterfully lived and worthy of celebration.
Dorcas – Fashion Designing Philanthropist
Dorcas, a.k.a. Tabitha, was a powerhouse of quiet purpose. Products of her divine flair for fashion and extraordinary sewing skills decorated the runways of her hometown, Joppa. With no family of her own to care for, she adopted the widows and needy of her community, outfitting them with colorful garments stitched by her own loving hands. Deeply grieved by her death, Joppa’s citizens reached out to the apostle Peter and he, through the favor of God, raised her back to life (Acts 9: 36-43)! The miracle of Dorcas’ resurrection rippled throughout the ancient world and inspired many to believe in the Lord she served so faithfully through her countless acts of charity.
Lydia – Business Mogul
Lydia was a Fortune 500 CEO of her day. She had it all: a spacious home, servants, a thriving cloth-dying business in an exciting city, a spotless reputation, and sharp savvy to balance it all. And yet she knew none of it mattered without faith. When the apostle Paul visited town, Lydia headed up the line for baptism (Acts 16:12-15, 40). From then on, she offered her business and home to serve as an evangelism H.Q. Some of the earliest church members met in her dining room, and her property provided a safehouse for Paul and Silas during their missionary work (Philippians 1:1-10). For Lydia, faith and business weren’t mutually exclusive, but mutually beneficial. Her influence helped shape the church as we recognize it today.
Miriam – Social Justice Activist
Miriam’s feistiness, bravery, and stout convictions shone from the get-go. As a child she not only aided her mother in an act of subterfuge to save baby brother Moses from government-ordered execution, she walked right up to the tyrannical party’s princess and got her mom hired as Moses’ nanny (Exodus 2:1-10)! In a time of extreme cultural tension, Miriam’s faith in God’s deliverance of the Hebrews inspired her people to hope beyond their circumstances. Through Miriam, God moved his long-oppressed people to worship again (Exodus 15:20-21). She served as political and religious counselor to Moses and her other brother, High Priest Aaron, for many years. Though she eventually married, Miriam’s passion for justice coupled with willingness to follow through in action continued playing a crucial part in God’s plan for restoring the nation of Israel to its rightful place (Numbers 12:1-15).
Martha – Homemaker and Hospitality Expert
Were Martha alive today she’d be running a five-star bed and breakfast complete with gourmet pillow mints and name brand shampoo in the bathrooms. The social hub of Bethany Village revolved smack dab in the middle of Martha’s living room, so her pantry was always stocked and the guest rooms spick-and-span, ready to host anyone needing a moment’s refreshment (John 11:17-28). Jesus himself lauded Martha for her ministering to his heart by providing accommodation for his needs and those of his disciples (Luke 10:38-41). We find him returning to Martha’s house every chance he got, but it wasn’t for the fluffy white towels or continental breakfast. Martha’s hospitable spirit vitalized him most. She didn’t stop at opening her home to others; she opened her heart for them to experience the peace of God.
Anna – Prophetess
Widowed young after only seven years of marriage, Anna accepted a position as God’s personal assistant. For the next 84 years of her life, this tenderhearted woman took her post in the temple, receiving and delivering messages between the Father and his people. As God’s intimate confidant, she constantly prayed with thanksgiving for the needs of fellow worshippers around her and offered Israel hope as she foretold the coming of the awaited Messiah. After nearly a century of serving as God’s secretary, preparing the way for Jesus through prayer and a lifetime of worship, Anna finally received the memo she’d been waiting for: the Savior has arrived! As Mary and Joseph walked into the temple where she had devoted her life, Anna gazed into the face of baby Jesus, and her songs of praise echoed louder than ever before (Luke 2:36-38). Her spiritual leadership provided the downtrodden people of Israel hope and encouragement until Christ’s arrival.
Where would we as a Church be without the heritage of these vibrant and varied women? How would scripture, and by extension our faith, be different had they not lived their convictions boldly? Single women are as valuable now as they were in ancient days. They are no less for serving outside the context of marriage and nuclear family. Let’s celebrate the single women in our lives and empower them in leaving their own legacies of faith for generations to come.
How will you show thanks for the single women in your life this week?