What an interesting experiment. Rachel tried to live what the Bible says, in the Old Testament and the New, should be the behavior of women. Rather than try it all the whole year, she concentrated on an aspect each month.
For example, the worked on her character one month: cultivating a gentle spirit, kick the gossip habit, practice contemplative prayer. Another month she concentrated on cooking and cleaning. Another month was obedience: calling her husband “Master,” interviewing a polygamist. She tried to be the Proverbs 31 woman. She found out what the Bible said about beauty. One month she concentrated on dressing modestly and wore a head covering. She observed the Levitical purity laws. She investigated biblical submission. She pursued justice. She practiced silence.
She steps on toes for sure. She comments on the role for women that is promoted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. For example, a woman could write a book used in a Christian college or seminary but could not teach in a Christian college or seminary. (254)
She notes that she has heard more sermons than she can count on 1 Timothy 2:11 (a woman should learn in quietness and full submission) but never heard one on 1 Timothy 2:8 (men everywhere are to pray, lifting holy hands). (261)
And the result of it all? There were some things she'd be happy to ditch, like calling her husband “Master.” But she had learned a lot over the year, some of which had changed her life. She thought she'd be sick of the Bible. She writes, “But somewhere between the rooftop and the red tent, I'd learned to love the Bible again – for what it is, not what I want it to be.” (294)
Her unconventional conclusion is that there is no such thing as a single model for biblical womanhood. “Among women praised in Scripture are warriors, widows, slaves, sister wives, apostles, teachers, concubines, queens, foreigners, prostitutes, prophets, mothers, and martyrs.” (295) There is no universal biblical ideal to which women should conform.
I learned a great deal from reading her book. It is certainly worth reading. It would be fun, I think, to read it in a woman's study. There is much women would find in it for discussion.
Rachel Held Evans is the author of one previous book, is an award-winning author and a popular blogger. Find out more about her at http://rachelheldevans.com.
Thomas Nelson, 321 pages.