For modern readers of the Bible, the law often does not feel like something that revives the soul. For many, the entire Bible can feel restricting, particularly around women's issues. Is the Bible good for women? Does it make us wise? Can it revive our souls? There are issues that are barriers to confidence in Scripture, particularly around women's issues. First, the Bible is a big, complicated book. It includes prophecies, laws, and history. Large sections teach how to worship God and other sections give wise advice for living.
It details the development of humanity from creation until the very last days that humans will live on earth as we know it. The Bible tells a long, winding story that crisscrosses itself again and again. It repeats themes through multiple books, it treats the same theme from multiple angles, and it teaches truths both systematically and allegorically. Many view it like a book on calculus from which they quickly turn away because they believe it is impossible to understand. Both new and seasoned Christians face the temptation to give up trying to understand Scripture or reconcile problem passages.
The second issue is this: when we read some subset of Bible truth about women, particularly troubling passages in the Law, without understanding the larger narrative of Scripture, what conclusion could we reach except that the Bible is, at times, bad for women? Passages like the account of the rape of Dinah in Genesis or the Law’s command in Deuteronomy 22 to stone a woman who is not a virgin at marriage can, taken out of the larger context of Jesus in Scripture, seem irreconcilable with a good God.
In our calculus book example, this is the same as flipping only to a complicated problem in the middle of the book without understanding how the previous chapters set up the problem or how the following chapters resolve it. We are tempted to slam the book shut, believing it impossible to understand or fearful of what we might learn if we do.
Understanding the Bible does not have to be this way. In our calculus example, the Bible does not give us problems that it does not also teach us how to solve. We have help to understand it. Who is this help? The psalmist prayed that God Himself would aid him in understanding Scripture: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18).
His prayer reveals that while we understand God through Scripture, we also understand Scripture through God. If we believe the psalmist, there is something wonderful to be seen when we stay engaged in the struggle to understand Scripture from beginning to end.