Preaching Tool Question 3: Am I robustly engaging with Biblical texts and theological implications, seeking to close any gaps of potential misinterpretation or misunderstanding?

Understanding the issues

Wherever Jesus ministered, we see him intentionally elevating and advocating for women in stark contrast to the patriarchal society of the age. Our scriptures have been too often interpreted through a patriarchal lens and women have often borne the negative impact. As we work to correct this imbalance, we can sensitively handle difficult texts, halt the perpetuation of dismissive or denigrating stereotypes, seek to identify women in stories where they are otherwise unnoticed, correctly depict female characters, and ensure we align our messages more truly with Jesus’ example to us.

Possibilities to watch out for

Our pastor included the verse about turning the other cheek to your enemy and as a woman I shivered a little. My experience in women’s ministry taught me that some woman had just heard that to be a good Christian, she needs to tolerate her husband’s punches. I know that’s not what the pastor meant but it’s what can be heard.

For Example:

If I’m preaching on texts that …Have I considered …
Include violenceListening to those who have wrestled with the implications of these texts
Acknowledging problematic historical interpretations of these texts
Challenging the normalisation of violence and articulating its unacceptability today
Resisting the temptation to justify everything that happens within the biblical narrative
Contextualising the narrative within its culture and interpreting it in the light of the New Covenant in Jesus
Are shaped by patriarchal cultureWrestling with the impact of this culture on how the stories were shared
Noticing differences between what the text says and how it has sometimes been interpreted
Distinguishing between descriptions of what happened and its prescriptive theological teaching
Identifying and highlighting the voices of women within the text
Pointing to how Jesus inaugurates a Kingdom that reshapes a culture allowing women to fully participate
Are about marriageAcknowledging problematic and controversial interpretations of these texts
Holding the tension between honouring ideals and responding to reality
Acknowledging that God values marriage, but values people even more
Have women in themHighlighting the voices and stories of women in the biblical narrative, particularly where they have been overlooked
Avoiding problematic and stereotypical assumptions about a woman’s role or character (e.g. seductress/temptress/whore)
Listening to the voices and perspectives of women scholars and interpreters on these stories
Have no women in themInvestigating and highlighting where there might be “hidden” women in the text (e.g. family members, crowds, servants, unnamed speakers etc)
Imagining or telling the story from the perspective of an unnamed female observer
Ensuring applications are broadened to male and female listeners
Speak about humanityDeliberately considering the perspectives of women
Using gender inclusive and affirming language
Emphasising the core principle of equality and value of all people
Are about sin and forgivenessEnsuring broad definitions and examples of sin (e.g. more than personal morality; including relational implications)
Wrestling with the differences between remorse, repentance, and reconciliation, particularly where there are ongoing risks to physical or emotional safety
Acknowledging the complexities of processing forgiveness, particularly for people who have experienced trauma

Practical suggestions

Read women scholars & quote them

Use both female & male pronouns in hypothetical examples

Ask someone else to read your script

– specifically ask them to look for things you might have missed or that could be misconstrued

Open clear pathways of feedback

– make it easy for people to let you know when things have been negatively received

Check your ‘off-script’ communication

– in our impromptu or untested language we can often inadvertently communicate unhelpfully (by not completing a thought or sentence, or not fully considering the impact of our words).

Include the voices of women

– in preaching, testimonies, or sharing
– it is also important to include the voices of children in the life of your church

Further resources

Trigger warning: Domestic abuse and sexual assault


Incorporating topic of Financial Abuse into Sermon

Elliot Keane, Leadership and Mission Facilitator for Baptist Churches SA

Proverbs 31

Yvette Cherry, National Director Australian Baptist Women

"Creating Safer Environments Through Our Preaching – Ephesians 5:22-23"

Yvette Cherry, National Director Australian Baptist Women
Michael O’Neil, Dean of Campus – Morling College, Perth Vose Campus and Lecturer in Christian Thought and History
Karen Siggins, Interim Director of Ministries, Baptist Churches of Western Australia

“Creating Safer Environments through our Preaching – The Woman at the Well, 1 Corinthians 8, Matthew 5”

Yvette Cherry, National Director Australian Baptist Women
Megan Powell DuToit, Baptist Minister & Academic
Erin Martine Sessions, Baptist Accreditand & Academic

The Woman at the Well, 1 Corinthians 9 and Matthew 5

“Creating Safer Environments through our preaching: David and Bathsheba”

Rev. Dr. Melinda Cousins, Director of Ministries, Baptist Churches of South Australia
Kimberly Smith, Emerging Leaders Pastor Baptist Union Victoria
Yvette Cherry, National Director Australian Baptist Women

"David and Bathsheba - A Sermon"

Rev. Dr. Melinda Cousins, Director of Ministries, Baptist Churches of South Australia

Church-based resources 

  1. Safer: A resource to help Australian churches understand, identify, and respond to  domestic and family violence.  From Common Grace:
  2. Sydney Anglican Domestic Abuse and Good Practice Guidelines: 
  3. National Anglican Family Violence Project: work/family-violence/ 
  4. Anglicare and Youthworks: Before It Starts: Building healthy relationships, preventing abuse: 
  5. Uniting Church in Australia, Beyond Violence: A Resource on Domestic and Family Violence:
  6. Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay: A Catholic Response to Domestic Violence: 
  7. Salvation Army: Resources and information on domestic and family violence: 
  8. Lutheran Church of Australia: Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts: 
  9. Queensland Churches Together, Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project:
  10. House of Sarah: Projects to raise awareness of gender-based violence and provide support to people who suffer from gender-based violence.  Affiliated with the Anglican Parishes in  Fiji: