5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

What a controversial book! I enjoyed it. I think she is a very good writer. I think she grew from this experience, and her reflections are very good. I also like how she organized her quest by tackling a different aspect of "Biblical Womanhood" every month:

Gentleness

Domesticity
Obedience
Valor
Beauty
Modesty
Purity
Fertility
Submission
Justice
Silence
Grace

I feel like she matured through the process. She is a young woman that is still trying to find her way in the world, and I think some people have been too hard on her. Since I mentor women her age, I wasn't shocked by many of her thoughts and insights about submission and egalitarian marriage. I wasn't shocked that she knew very little about baking bread and domestic endeavors. I find her generation did not learn those kinds of things. I am so glad she learned to bake my favorite bread: Challah.


I was surprised she had never celebrated a Passover like it was some new invention that evangelicals rarely celebrate (see PHOTOS). I know evangelicals don't practice the Old Testament law, but there are so many things that point to Christ in it, it is a really important thing to experience at least once! It is really common in the churches here in the West to do so. 


She has some good thoughts, and I believe she is truly open to growing. I think because she grew up in the Bible Belt she thinks all Evangelical Christianity is inferior to her thoughts. I have never lived in the Bible Belt. So, what she was raised in is probably more stereotypical cultural Churchianity rather than biblical Christianity. I think her quest helped her to discover this. I wasn't raised in the church like her. So, I didn't relate to some of her more negative experiences.


This part of the introduction made me want to open up more dialogue with her though:



I was raised evangelical, which means I spent a good part of my life feeling sorry for the rest of humanity on account of its certain destiny in hell. This was not something my parents taught me directly, just something I picked up from preachers, Sunday school teachers, and Christian playmates along the way. After hearing time and again that “wide is the path that leads to destruction,” I just assumed that Buddhists went to hell for worshipping Buddha. 
(Evans, Rachel Held (2012-10-30). A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

Later she says "I . . . am no longer convinced that everyone different from me goes to hell" (p.xviii). 


Then why did Jesus die, Rachel? That is where I would love to sit down with her and talk through that summation. This statement alone almost made me put down the book, but I am glad that I did not. 


I feel like she grew more in love with God and His plan for her through the whole process, which is a good thing. She dug into Scripture, and that is a good thing too. I wish she had a face-to-face mentor through the process of writing the book and beyond. She would really benefit from it. 


I think she also grew to really appreciate her husband, Dan, who is the real star of the book. What a great guy! "Go team Dan and Rachel" was so heartwarming to read! It is similar to my marriage. So it made me smile. Here is what I wrote in a post of my comical application of Genesis 3:



It dawned on me that the whole POINT is that “it is better that my man (George) not be alone.” It is more about the two of us being together as a team, and our team is going to look different from another couple’s team because we have different personalities, gifts, talents, and abilities. My organized managing abilities compliment his more “free-flowing” creative nature. It is also more about me entering into his joy (and sorrows) too. It is about working as one in a team partnership. 

In many marriages, being a helpmate does involve the woman cooking and making coffee. At my mom’s memorial service, I shared that the legacy she left for me is the model of a “helpmate” and “partner" for my dad. My mom got up every morning of their twenty-nine years of marriage to make my dad breakfast (she was aghast when she discovered that I didn’t do the same)! For mom, it meant that she was the woman behind a “larger than life, life of the party” man, but she REVELED in that role. Being a “helpmate” doesn't look like that in my marriage, but I still learned by her example. It is all about being a helpmate suitable for my husband and not someone else's! (The entire post is HERE if you want to read my process of reflecting on Genesis 3 and the "helpmate" thing)


All that to say, I did not grown up in a culture where I was oppressed as a woman, and my marriage is more egalitarian like Rachel and Dan's because it works to have it that way. I do not feel any outside pressure to conform to a cultural interpretation of how I should be the Proverbs 31 woman (And Rachel got the "woman of valor" right from her Hebrew studies!).


She has some great points. I loved her quote by Carolyn Custis James:

A message that points to the marriage altar as the starting gate of God's calling for women leaves us with nothing to tell [unmarried women] except that God's purpose for them is not here and now, but somewhere down the road. (Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women, p. 103)
Her conclusion after James' quote is great:
As a Christian, my highest calling is not motherhood; my highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married, or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar (a TLC Reality Show mom of 19 children. http://www.duggarfamily.com/ ).

I heartily agree! I did not marry until I was 31 years old and lived a lot of life before I met my husband and would have been totally fulfilled as a single woman. Thankfully, I grew up in a community that valued single women. In fact, my mentors are two single, retired missionaries in their 80's!

I feel like she is very hard on John Piper in regards to Biblical manhood and womanhood. I wished she could have initiated a heart-to-heart talk with the man. Has she read Desiring God? Would she be so hard on him if she knew his heart and where he is coming from? Her slam on evangelicals was a bit heart-breaking to me. She comes across very judgmental of them and wished she had opened a door for dialogue with them instead of slamming it shut. Maybe I am wrong, but I think John Piper would have invited the dialogue. Therefore the slams made me sad. 


Not surprisingly, this young woman has gotten some push back for her thoughts:

"Given the state of the evangelical world, this book is the equivalent of carrying a torch through a forest that hasn’t seen rain in years.  The odds of a fire are somewhere in the neighborhood of one." (Matthew Lee Anderson ahttp://www.mereorthodoxy.com/controversy-and-interpretation-biblical-womanhood/)

 Before I read her book, my friend posted this link on his Facebook page, prefacing it by saying, "A good review of a bad book." Here is the link if you want to read it:

The Gospel Coalition Book Review


I agree with the above reviewer that we are not under the Law, therefore we do not have to follow Old Covenant restrictions for women like  being outside in a tent during menstruation!




Her reaction to the fire:
The overwhelming majority of readers seem to have understood that such exercises were meant to be hyperbolic and provocative, intended to bring some of the Bible’s most interesting word pictures to life, and to illustrate, Amelia Bedelia-style, the futility of a hyper-literal application of the text. 
I think I understand that too, Rachel.
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