An Interview with Esther Chen on The Beloved

Today's piece comes from the lovely Esther Chen of, where she collects and displays "beautiful images about Christianity and Christian life". Her interview focuses on The Beloved, why she is her favourite woman of the Bible and the lessons that Esther learned from her, particularly regarding traditional gender roles and expectations. May the words of her testimony bless you as you read on. 

Who is your favourite woman of the Bible and why? What would you say that modern women can learn from her?

My favourite book of the Bible is Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), and I have always really admired the woman in that book. A lot of people accuse the Bible of not letting women speak. However, The Beloved (or Shulamite woman) speaks first, last, and the most. In addition, she has no problem pursuing the man she loves as well as expressing her own sexual desires (e.g. Song of Solomon 1:2-4; 1:16 and 3:2-4). There is so much talk about how the Church deals with sex and desire, both in and outside of marriage, and I feel that this woman reminds us that sex is a way to intimacy and, in the right context, can be beautiful.

I don’t know what other modern women can learn from her. But I know that before I studied this book, I thought that Christian girls should be the ones pursued, and that expressing my own wants—not even sexual desires, but wants of any kind—for a relationship is somehow "mannish". But while she obeys her brothers and abides by their counsel, the woman in Song of Songs still speaks up for herself and is confident in her definition of womanhood and beauty. 

Please finish the sentence: I am a Christian woman who is….

I am a Christian woman who is intelligent, well-educated and open-minded. 

Please finish the sentence: I am a Christian woman who is not…

I am a Christian woman who is not better than you. 

Any final words of encouragement?

I have done everything wrong. I have fallen so hard and strayed for so long. Even today, I still don’t have everything figured out. Far from it. I have so many doubts and so many fears. So if you feel like you’ve done nothing right and don’t deserve anything, I’m right there with you. 


Related: Lessons from the Adulterous Woman on Grace