book response: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Evans (2012)

I cannot think of a better way for someone to argue a different way of viewing things than through narrative prose. I wish I had the skill and the stories that Rachel Held Evans does to explain my thoughts. Not that Evans thoughts on the full humanity of women, even in the church, is that revolutionary in modern culture, but it is in conservative and fundamentalist culture. A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an excellent introduction to the unnecessarily hot topic of egalitarianism in the church. But even if you are a guy who is egalitarian, or thinks he is, or is recovering from growing up a complementarian, Evans still manages to reveal blind spots.

I really don't understand why some complementarian sisters are so bothered by this book. This is Evans' story. She put herself in crazy situations, which some women whom she met and interviewed, practiced faithfully, and learned a great deal about Jesus, the church, and the Bible. Her husband, Dan, is included in the story, including some of his journal entries through the year. I'm glad Dan's voice is present. This book might be the best unintentional marriage book put out in 2012 by the Christian publishing industry. I recommend this for all Christian couples, especially for those in conservative and fundamentalist cultures. Evans gets very pointed when it comes to church beauty expectations, based on A.D. 100 expectations, and over zealous bible teaching.
Both husbands and wives bear the sweet responsibility of seeking beauty in one another at all stages of life. No one gets off the hook because the other is wearing sweatpants or going bald or carrying a child or battling cancer. Any pastor who claims the Bible says otherwise is lying. End of story. p.106
Yeah, there are some notorious pastors who focus on that in America. Evans calls b.s. on that. It's ironic that a 30 year old woman can make this correct observation, but men in spiritual authority, older than her seem to miss that. Perhaps they are spiritualizing their own issues from the pulpit.

The amount of dehumanizing doctrine that Evans finds and displays for her readers is revolting. Her wisdom in response to this garbage is like pearls set on piles of dog doo doos. It's an indication of the Christian subculture that she has to say things like this, but I'm glad she does.
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. p. 180
The anti-woman garbage has been happening for centuries. In his letter to the Romans, Paul extols this person named Junia, as outstanding among the apostles. Romans 16:7. This woman's recognition among the apostles was not an issue in the early church, as Evans shows with a quote from the great church leader of the 4th century John Chrysostom.
The fourth-century bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, said of Junia, “To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles—just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! . . . Indeed how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.” p. 248
This did become an issue as male superiority became important to the institutional church, so, suddenly, the copyists started adding a masculine -s to her name. The name Junias is like a unicorn among Latin names in the first century. Shaking my head. There are plenty of modern examples Evans shares of this sort of buttressing to protect masculine leadership roles. She quotes plenty from the council of biblical manhood and womanhood. They really made me wince. The Bible does not give the data, these complementarians insist on. Women in the Bible, as today, do many different things, and have many different, yet important roles in the world. Evans' conclusion is brilliant.
Far too many church leaders have glossed over these stories and attempted to define womanhood by a list of rigid roles. But roles are not fixed. They are not static. Roles come and go; they shift and they change. They are relative to our culture and subject to changing circumstances. It’s not our roles that define us, but our character. p. 295
Yeah, that's an "Amen" line right there. Jesus tells us the primary command of God's for society is the Golden Rule, to treat others as we want to be treated. It's that rule that ended African slavery in the West in the 1800's. Perhaps it can end the segregation of women in our churches in the 21st century.
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