The stories of mothers and daughters in the Bible hold special significance for Shannon Bream.
“We all have had the seasons of waiting, of longing, of having to be patient, not understanding what God is doing,” Bream, host of “Fox News @ Night,” says.
Reading and studying the stories of the women in the Bible give us “the advantage of looking back over time in history and seeing how [God] was working,” Bream says.
In her new book, “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak: Lessons on Faith from Nine Biblical Families,” Bream explains how women in the Bible persevered against great odds and found hope in the Lord that does not disappoint.
She joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to discuss how the stories of the women in the Bible have affected her personally, and how we can all find courage in the pages of Scripture.
Bream’s book is available for preorder now and releases March 29.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my honor to welcome to the show the host of “Fox News @ Night” and the author of the forthcoming book “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak,” Shannon Bream. Shannon, thank you so much for being here.
Shannon Bream: It is my privilege. Thank you so much for having me.
Allen: Well, your book, “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak,” this is your third [book] and your second in [a biblical] series. Last year, you wrote another wonderful book called “The Women of the Bible Speak: The Wisdom of 16 Women and Their Lessons for Today.” So what is it about the women of the Bible that made you say, “You know what? I want to write a book about these ladies, and not just one book, but two”?
Bream: You know what? Honestly, Fox came to me with this idea and they said, “We think this is kind of an untapped place to have these conversations about women who are already in the Bible, but maybe their stories aren’t as well known, or we don’t know everything we could about them.” I said, “I would love to get involved with this project.”
I don’t think any of us could have foreseen last year, “The Women of the Bible Speak,” how it just connected with people, and I’ve had people literally all over the world say to me they’ve studied it alone or with family or in a women’s Bible study group. I’ve had men say they read it, and they’ve shared it with their daughters and their wives. So there was something about it that just really resonated with people.
I think we know these stories are there, if you’ve grown up studying the Bible or in church, you know these women’s stories are there. They’re amazing on their own. God obviously included them for a reason, but there’s something about bringing them out into the light, kind of featuring them and letting people learn about these women in a way they may not have before that I think is just a beautiful thing. We’re not adding to these stories. We’re just making sure you know they’re there.
Allen: Yeah. Oh, I love that. Well, I think you’re right. We can become so accustomed to hearing the stories that sometimes we need to hear it in a fresh way and get a little bit more depth and a little more history and context behind it.
For those listening, you can actually go ahead and preorder the book right now, it’s available on Amazon, “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak: Lessons on Faith From Nine Biblical Families.”
So in this book, Shannon, you tell stories of these mothers and of these daughters and really their stories of how the Lord leads them through incredible trials in their life. How have these women affected you personally? How have their stories impacted your own life?
Bream: Well, the thing is with these stories, just like with the last book, they very much translate to 2022. I mean, we all have had the seasons of waiting, of longing, of having to be patient, not understanding what God is doing.
When we look at these women’s stories, we now have the advantage of looking back over time in history and seeing how he was working, how all of these things ended up coming together in a way that he land and that he had purpose in them.
So for me, it’s been a reminder in both of these books that God has a weaving together that may not make sense to us in the moment when we’re walking through these valleys or even the mountaintops, but there is purpose in all of it and he’s working it for the greater good.
So in this second series in this book, we really look at the relationships between a number of women in the Bible, and we do have a traditional mother-daughter relationship, but others that were sort of families that came together, whether it was through adoption or marriage or spiritual motherhood and daughterhood. Because not all of us are going to be moms, not all of us are going to have daughters, but we can be mentors and spiritual guides and encouragers to each other, and we see that through a number of the stories we included in this book, too.
Allen: I really do think it’s so unique that so many of the stories in the Bible … you’re right, it’s not the traditional family. These are families that come together through adoption and through various marriages. But we see this tight-knit, really family dynamic that takes place and is so wonderfully modeled throughout the Scriptures. As you were doing research for the book, what are some of the stories that surprised you or that stuck out to you or you thought, “Oh, wow. I’ve heard this before, but I’m seeing it in a new way”?
Bream: I got to say one of the most surprising ones that we include, one of the mothers in the book is Bathsheba. Because if you’re like me and you grew up in church, what you know about her is that she and David had this illicit affair, she had a baby.
While she was pregnant, he tries to trick her husband into thinking that it was his because he was off in battle, he brings him home. Uriah, the husband, will not go sleep with his wife because he says, “No, my men are fighting on the fields.”
So everything that David has planned to try to cover up his big mistakes and sin falls apart, so he ends up then plotting the murder of Uriah and Bathsheba’s kind of caught in this whole thing as the woman who David had this affection or this lust for her. He saw her, and in the Bible we’re told she was basically called to the palace and that was it.
So we don’t know what happened there, but I always was under the impression as a younger person reading about this in the Bible that she had done something wrong, that she somehow was a temptress and she knew that David would somehow see her as she was bathing herself.
When you dig into the story, that’s just not true. The fact is they had this relationship, there was definitely a power differential here. When you think about David being the king and your husband is off at battle, could you have said no to an invitation to the palace? We don’t really know how this developed between them.
So I got a much different perspective in really digging in and studying her story. But one of the things I think people forget, too, is that she then is the mother of Solomon, King Solomon, who is described as the wisest man who had ever lived.
God said to him, “Solomon, I’ll give you anything. What do you ask?” Instead of asking for riches or for fame or fortune or power, he said wisdom, and God said, “You know what? I’m going to bless you with that and with all those other things, because you didn’t ask for them.”
So Bathsheba raised this man who ended up being the wisest person to ever be recorded in the Bible and maybe in history. So there’s so many other dimensions and so much more to her story that it was a real privilege to kind of dig into it and say, “Gosh, if you’ve only heard that one version of what happened at the beginning, Bathsheba is somebody you really don’t know then.”
Allen: Yeah. Yeah. The depth is there. It’s amazing. Did you grow up hearing these stories?
Bream: I did. I mean, I grew up in church and so I think about back in my day when I was a little kid in church in the ’70s and ’80s, we had little flannelgraphs where they’d have the little felt boards, and they had little cutout characters of Jesus and David and Goliath and whoever it was, and you put them up on the little board and learn their stories.
So, I mean, I’d heard these stories my whole life, and yes, I’d heard about Esther and Naomi and Ruth and Mary, the mother of Jesus. But the more that you dig into these, they become much less one or two dimensional.
These women lived lives that were very complex, just like ours today. They had family squabbles, they had infertility, they had great triumphs. They were military leaders. They were all kinds of things about these women.
So again, it’s not that we’re reinventing the wheel. We’re just saying, “Hey, look, these stories are tucked in here, and if you’ve never had a chance to really consider them and be inspired as a woman, here you go.”
Allen: So for you work, obviously, in a fast-paced environment, you work in news, there’s always something happening, there’s always something going on. So how do you take the lessons from these books that you’ve written from the Bible, these biblical principles, and actually carry them into your daily life, into the workplace, into Fox with you?
Bream: Yeah. Every one of these stories reminds me of the bigger picture. We are talking about current events and reporting on critical issues of the day, and that’s all very important and we have a very important responsibility to be accurate and honest and truthful and clear in everything that we do. So I definitely get the professional application, but looking at these women reminds me of the bigger picture that God is working through all kinds of circumstances, ours personally and the bigger world, the greater world as well.
One of the verses I pray a lot over is that I work unto God and not unto man, that I’m called to a higher standard, not just to do what I call myself to do as a professional, but also as a believer in somebody who’s representing Christ in the workplace to say, “I want people to believe and know that I have integrity. I am flawed. I am a sinner saved by grace.” I am always upfront about that.
But the fact is that I’m called to an even greater level in the way that I treat other people with great respect. When God summed up the law, Jesus summed it up, he said, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and spirit, but also love your neighbor as yourself,” which is not a throwaway line.
I mean, it means whatever you think is good enough for you and what you choose for yourself, the way you want to be treated or how you would spend your resources or anything else, you got to look on your neighbors, which is everyone, in that same way. Treat them with kindness, respect, somebody made in the image of God.
So I think all those things come into the workplace with me, and these women remind me of all of those eternal truths. Not just the day-to-day stuff, but the deeper and the longer-term view.
Allen: Well, I love how honest you are in the book. You don’t sugarcoat things. You’re very upfront about the challenges that we all face in life every day, the challenges that you face.
I want to read a little bit of a portion from your intro. You write, “So much of what we read in the Scriptures magnifies this same lesson over and over again. The journey is part of the process. What looks like a delay in getting to the good stuff is an inescapable, necessary leg of the trip.”
So Shannon, how through this book and through your own journey with the Lord have you kind of learned that, have you learned that, OK, the journey is necessary and it’s actually good, even when it feels really hard?
Bream: Yeah. I mean, the truth is that the maturity that I’ve achieved as a Christian, and I got a long way to go, but what I’ve accomplished and grown in so far has come through the toughest things in my life.
I got fired for my first TV job and spent forever looking for the next one, and then there are times when you’re in those jobs that you’re like, “Am I spinning my wheels? Am I learning anything? Am I ever going to progress professionally?” Personally, I’ve been through chronic illness and pain and I’ve been through seasons of just waiting and asking for healing, looking for hope.
I’ve seen so many friends walk through these really difficult things, but the truth is I know that for me, it’s the closest I’ve been to God. It’s the most I’ve grown and my faith and my trust and my understanding of them.
Because you can study all kinds of things and they’re very reassuring, but until you have to lean on God’s promises and count on them being true, and Him being there and living up to everything He’s told us, you learn them and experience them in a different way. So those periods of waiting, of wondering, of pain, they all have purpose. I’m convinced of that. Not that any of us would choose them, but they’re not wasted.
Allen: Yeah. So well said. They are not wasted, even when you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, I don’t want this one. I want to give this one back to you, God. You can keep this.”
Bream: “Can we fast forward this one?”
Allen: Yes, absolutely. One of the elements that I love of this book in particular is how you have connected the value of family and faith and how the two really go hand-in-hand, which I think is an interesting perspective and maybe something that we don’t talk about too much. Talk a little bit about that, about how this book really makes that important connection that faith and family share together.
Bream: We see that so much in this story of Naomi and Ruth, where there’s been a death and there’s a mother-in-law left with two daughters-in-law who still were young, all three of them widowed. But the two daughters-in-law could have had the opportunity to build a new family, to start over fresh, and instead one of them decides to go along back with her mother-in-law, to her home country.
So she leaves not only her own family and everything that she knows, but there’s that famous passage that’s so often read in marriage ceremonies where she says, “Where you go, I will go. Your God will be my God,” and that is not a small thing.
In culture back then, clearly leaving the gods or the beliefs of your country, your family, your home of where you came from to say, “I’m embracing your God, your family, your culture, your people,” it was a huge sacrifice to make and a huge thing to do.
So then they’re bound in faith, but they’re bound by these other bonds of having been mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. I feel like so much of that is a picture, too, of how we’re grafted into the family through Christ, the family of God who says, “To everyone who would believe, I came to save all of you. It’s not just a select view. I’m saying that you can be grafted into this family, too.”
We have the idea of adoption there in the Bible as well. I share how, for me, that’s such a personal thing because my mother is adopted. We don’t know much, if anything, about her family beyond her, but I’m so grateful for my grandparents who took her in and raised her and gave her a life of joy and safety and protection and love.
The young mother who, from what little we know about her circumstances, she was a teenager and how frightened she must have been to be in that situation, but she chose to give life to my mom. Obviously I’m grateful for that and it flows down through my life and my relationships, but that’s what God does for us, too.
When we see these families come together in the Bible, he’s showing us we can become heirs and adopted in to the most beautiful, wonderful acceptance we could ever find and it doesn’t have to just be through those traditional relationships.
Allen: Yeah. Oh, that’s beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing some of your story. That’s wonderful. So what is your ultimate hope for this book, for “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak”? How do you want people to use this book and approach using it?
Bream: I hope, ultimately, it draws people closer to God. That is the goal, that they will see his mercy and his kindness. I think sometimes people … and I had a relative say not long ago, “I don’t think God could forgive me or love me or accept all the things I’ve done in my life.” And I think, “Well, that’s every one of us.”
From the minute we wake up in the morning, we need to be getting ourselves right. We’ve all done something that has made us less than perfect and none of us is perfect. So we all need hope and redemption, but I hope that people will see that Christ came here not to condemn, but to save. He had great compassion on the women that he interacted with.
We talk about that in the last book and this one, too, that he wasn’t somebody who came down with bolts of lightning and condemning people to hell. I mean, he came to say, “I’m here to save you, to give you a better way, to give you hope.”
So I hope that people will pick up this book, whether they’ve studied these women and they know the Bible inside and out, I think those still find out new things and new insights. I always love to hear theirs and their reaction to the stories, too.
If you don’t know much about God, but you’re seeking and you want to know how he feels about women and our value and our place, you will see that he has great love and unending mercy and great respect and esteem for women. He includes their stories all through the Bible at a time when in society women weren’t vaulted and weren’t leaders in the traditional sense, but to God they were, and he sees them that way. I hope people will understand that’s how he views them as women today, too.
Allen: Yeah. I think it’s incredible when you read the Bible and you begin to realize, “Wow, so much of the disruption that Christ caused was elevating women and giving women a voice and saying, ‘No, let’s give them a seat at the table.'”
Bream: So true.
Allen: Obviously, it was very controversial at that time in history.
Bream: Right. It was. I mean, it’s so accepted now that we think in our churches that women are full-fledged, completely engaged members and teachers and guides and spiritual mentors and all those things. But yeah, Jesus, in his time, that wasn’t the tradition. Women didn’t sit and learn under rabbis like they did with him.
You remember the story of Martha and Mary, where Mary had chosen to sit at his feet and learn with the other men and people had come into their home and Jesus said, “She’s chosen the better thing.” I mean, he wanted women to be fully engaged in learning about God and participating in ministry. It was something, like you said, that was not traditional.
He was a disruptor in a lot of ways, going to the outcast of society, tax collectors and prostitutes and the women caught in adultery, the women at the well. He didn’t go there to judge them. He went there to accept and redeem them. So, yeah, he was definitely one of the original revolutionaries, if you want to think of it that way.
Allen: Indeed he was. Absolutely. Well, you can get your copy, you can preorder right now your copy of “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak” on Amazon. It will be out on March 29.
And Shannon, before we let you go, we have one question that we love to ask all of our guests on this show—we get such different responses—and that is, do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes or no? Why or why not? People have so many different ways that they define that, but what about for you?
Bream: I do think it depends on how you define the word itself and I think for some people it has very positive, some people very negative connotation. I would just say this, for me, I think women are equals in every sense of the word when it comes to professional, personal, religious experience. I think that God has made us equal with men. There’s nothing that ever suggests that we’re anything less than that.
So for me, I know that he sees me as a human being created in his image, men and women alike. So I think I take great value in that because the world is going to chip away at you and remind you of what you’ve done wrong and where you have fallen short and where you may not measure up. But God says, in his eyes, men and women are created equal. We’re in his image. He’s given us all a unique purpose and a path to live out, and that’s where I find my identity.
Allen: Thank you so much. Shannon Bream, host of “Fox News @ Night” and author of the forthcoming book, “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak.” Shannon, thank you so much.
Bream: Thank you for having me.
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