When readers finish his new book, “Great Women of the Bible,” Dr. Theron Williams, pastor of Mount Carmel Church of Indianapolis, hopes they have a better understanding of the power Black women have held in religion.
“Women played a major role in the development of Biblical religion and in our church, and also the Black community as a whole,” Williams said.
The book explores the lives of Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Eve and Queen Esther, among others. Williams said many of their experiences — such as the exploitation of Vashti in the Book of Esther — mirror issues that women, particularly Black women, face today.
“Vashti was facing sexual exploitation from her husband, and she refused to give in,” Williams said. “As a result, she’s banished from the kingdom and never heard from again in the Bible. She refused to be objectified, and in our culture, that reality, that sexual exploitation, still exists. … I hope women identify with her and how she handled it.”
Despite recognizing societal issues regarding women going back to Biblical times, Williams said churches and religious circles are becoming more aware of past transgressions and welcoming toward women, especially when it comes to leadership positions.
But outside of leadership positions, some women feel churches still have a long way to go to modernize their view on women.
Yvonne King has left two churches — which she declined to name — due to feeling she wasn’t “passive” enough to be welcomed.
“I love Jesus and I love being a wife and mother,” King said. “But I have opinions. My husband doesn’t control our house; we’re a team and that wasn’t popular in the churches we were going to. I don’t want my daughter to think she has to be good and quiet to be good with the Lord.”
Throughout his research Williams was inspired by the plight of women, historically, and in the modern day.
“Women are often overlooked and downplayed by our culture,” Williams said. “They were de-emphasized in the Bible, but they played a pivotal role in religion and their contributions should have been highlighted.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.