These days, “biblical womanhood” is a buzzword, usually weighed down with less-than-positive connotations. It’s come to be associated with the subjugation of women and the lack of women leadership in faith communities. It’s something I’ve been pondering since Women’s History Month came to a close this year.

In the summer of 2017, I had a blog post go viral: “Wonder Woman Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Portrayal of Biblical Womanhood, and Here’s Why.” The article was a review of one of the biggest films that year, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot. I often wonder if I could have gotten away with that title today. 

Soon after I published the post, Christian thinkers I admire like Jefferson Bethke and Liquid Church Pastor Tim Lucas came behind me in support of what I wrote. And I have to admit, it felt pretty darn good. Hundreds of women flocked to the comments to tell me I put to words how they felt as they watched the film, or that they were ready to dismiss the movie altogether until they came across my article. 

Unfortunately, harsh critics came out of the woodwork too. My comments section was a cesspool of misogynistic remarks defended by out-of-context Bible verses. Several blog posts and YouTube videos directly rebutted mine, explaining how I read unwarranted biblical meaning into shallow pop culture or how I was purposefully leading people astray by promoting a heroine inspired by Greek mythology.

Three principles about womanhood

The attention garnered by the article—for good or ill—reflected the fact that I had struck a chord. It proved there’s an audience out there thirsty for God’s truth, especially regarding what exactly it means to be a woman. With that, I submit to you these three principles about womanhood I gleaned from Wonder Woman.

1. God views women as strong warriors, not sidekicks or afterthoughts.

The creator of the Wonder Woman comic, William Marston, once wrote: “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. … The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

Exactly what did Marston mean by “beautiful”? That’s up for debate. The point is that Marston believes in the complex and multifaceted nature of women, a characteristic that should be highlighted more than it usually is by our culture. Wonder Woman is not your typical one-dimensional action heroine. Yes, she spins mid-air, dives off cliffs, and slashes enemies as efficiently as any other superhero. No, she isn’t thoughtlessly murdering people in her leather lingerie and stilettos. 

Wonder Woman is the first superhero to be fully equipped in combat skill, yet purely motivated by love and not vengeance (or some other version of a complicated, bitter backstory).

God views women as strong warriors, not sidekicks or afterthoughts.

I will never forget a talk my colleague, Suzy Silk, gave in which she highlighted how military language was consistently used in key biblical passages describing women. 

In Genesis 2:18 (NIV), God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The Hebrew words used for “helper suitable” are “ezer kenegdo.” The word “ezer” is a military term used 21 times in the Old Testament—twice to describe Eve and three times to describe Israel in her alliances with other nations. The remaining 16 times the word appears in the Old Testament, God uses the word to describe himself. 

Did you catch that? God names Eve “ezer,” and then He consistently applies the same name to Himself. God is the aid, the strong help in desperate situations, and we women were created to follow suit.

The same theme is picked up in Proverbs 31, which describes a noble woman. This passage is the only time in the Old Testament in which the Hebrew word “chayil” is translated “noble” because it refers to a woman. Every other time the word appears, it has to do with soldiers and is closer to the word “valiant.” David’s mighty men? They were “men of valor.” 

As Silk points out, however, military language permeates Proverbs 31: “The word for the ‘buying’ means ‘she hunts out prey and she brings it back.’ It’s a hunting term. And when it says that ‘she puts on clothes,’ it’s actually, ‘she girds her loins with strength.’ There’s so much military language in that passage.”


2. Our emotional vulnerability is our strength, not our weakness.

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has said, “The greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is, yet none of that negates any of her power.”

As a woman in general, and an artist in particular, I am very much in touch with my emotions. It helps me put myself in others’ shoes and be sensitive to those around me. But there are times I can get carried away by my emotions and feel hurt or disappointment more deeply than, say, my husband, Moses, would. And it’s not uncommon that I will start to resent my emotions altogether.

There are several moments in the film in which Diana is hopeful and emotional to the point of being naive. But Wonder Woman’s compassion is arguably her greatest superpower. She genuinely loves people and enjoys life. She is an optimist, and her supreme values are hope and love, despite the evil she witnesses. This tenderness is definitely a quality lacking in most Marvel and DC comics counterparts (except maybe Captain America).

In The Privilege of Being a Woman, Christian philosopher Alice von Hildebrand writes, “Tears are the proper response to brutality, injustice, cruelty, blasphemy, hatred. Christ wept when he saw Jerusalem, and when he came to Lazarus’s tomb.” 

If Jesus is our example of what it means to be fully human and fully pleasing to God, there is no shame in our sensitivity if even Jesus wept.

As von Hildebrand writes, women are called to “purify [our] God-given sensitivity and to direct it into the proper channels. [We] should fight against maudlin tears and pray for holy tears—tears of love, of gratitude, of contrition.”

Diana is never paralyzed by her emotions, nor does she resent them. Instead, she uses them as a catalyst to take action and defend the weak and innocent. What a reminder for me that my sensitivity enables me to glean more insight about the human condition, enabling me to become a better writer. Not to mention, without my emotions, I wouldn’t be able to empathize as easily with others, nor could I pray on behalf of others as deeply and specifically as I currently do.

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3. When we stand firm in our God-given identity, we can change the world.

As soon as Diana leaves her utopian home of Themyscira, she collides with the hard-hitting reality of the bleakness of the real world, especially World War I. Her idealism seems out of place here, and everywhere she goes, she hears “No.” 

No, you’re not ready. No, you cannot enter the war room. No, you can’t fight Ares. No, you can’t carry your sword on the street.

During the turning point, she once again hears “no.” Far from dimming the light in her eyes, this final “no” only succeeds in kindling a fire. Her mission becomes her own, no longer bound by others’ limitations or expectations. She can be exactly who she was created to be.

I am so guilty of letting others dictate who I will be, instead of listening to the one opinion that matters: God’s. To make matters worse, all the voices competing for my attention contradict each other. 

As a first-generation Filipino immigrant, I’m told to follow my career and take advantage of all the opportunities here in America. (“But don’t forget to do all the housework.”) As a woman steeped in traditional American Christian culture, I need to be my husband’s helpmate and have a Pinterest-worthy menu plan and home decor. (And, “Remember, being a mom is your highest calling.”)

These are all well-intentioned notions, but when I am pulled in different directions by others’ expectations or even my own self-imposed pressure, how do I know the “right” way to live my life? 

I love how Tampa-based Christian hip-hop artist KB put it in his song “No Chains.” 

That’s liberal that’s conservative / That’s charismatic and reformed too / My wife happy and Jesus love me ain’t nothing left to conform to…

Sometimes, I need a similar reminder of the freedom available to me as a woman. When I’m tempted to lean into the artificial labels placed on me by others and myself, I try to remind myself of these things:

  1. God has called me to use my writing and speaking gifts and passion for God’s Word to make plain biblical truths, especially to fellow women. 
  2. God has called me to be a loving wife to my husband, Moses, and an all-there mom to my kids.
  3. Everything else is pretty much optional.

The women God created us to be

As I continue to mentor women in my full-time ministry gig with FamilyLife in New York City, reach an audience through my online platforms, and raise my three young daughters, I have a passion to help them sort out all the competing voices dictating to women what we should and shouldn’t be. Because women are so multifaceted and every season of life looks different, none of us will ever fit a mold. And that’s OK. Life is full of difficult, but God-ordained, interruptions. The only thing we can do is to be sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to discern what we are called to do moment by moment.

Author Ruth Haley Barton puts it this way in her book Invitation to Retreat. She discusses the importance for each believer to have a “rule of life”—patterns of attitudes, practices, and behaviors we commit to with the purpose of keeping us open to the transforming presence of Christ. To that end, she encourages her readers to ask themselves this question: How do I want to live so I can be the person God created me to be and knows me to be—which is, in the end, who I want to be?

What Actress Gal Gadot says about her character can be true for all of us women: “She can be sensitive and the greatest warrior ever. And strong and confused. She can be all of the above in a beautiful way.”

Copyright © 2024 by Marilette Sanchez. All rights reserved.

Marilette Sanchez is a New Yorker passionate about finding the connections between God, relationships, and pop culture. She is wife to Moses, a homeschooling mom to five young children, and a full-time missionary with FamilyLife. She believes there is more to the Christian life than hypocrisy and more to pop culture than shallow art. College sweethearts and NYC natives, she and her husband, Moses, are FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® speakers known for their transparency and their ability to inject their love of hip hop and pop culture into their discussions of love, sex and marriage. She has recently co-founded an online apparel company to raise awareness for mental health issues in the church and communities of color. Follow her parenting and homeschooling journey on Instagram at @bigcitybigfamily and her musings on womanhood and pop culture at