Mind a little mid-morning theology? I just finished A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. Wowzers. Here’s the best cut of the meat:
The Bible isn’t an answer book. It isn’t a self-help manual. It isn’t a flat, perspicuous list of rules and regulations that we can interpret objectively and apply unilaterally to our lives.
The Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, poetry and proverbs, philosophy and prophecies, written and assembled over thousands of years in cultures and contexts very different from our own, that tells the complex, ever-unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity.
When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word (like manhood, womanhood, politics, economics, marriage, and even equality), we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t fit our tastes. In an attempt to simplify, we try to force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone, to turn a complicated and at times troubling holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.
So after twelve months of “biblical womanhood,” I’d arrived at the rather unconventional conclusion that there is no such thing. The Bible does not present us with a single model for womanhood, and the notion that it contains some sort of one-size-fits-all formula for how to be a woman of faith is a myth.
I have a million other things I should be doing right now (tending to my sick nine year old, getting my six year old started on his handwriting lesson, wrapping up a freelance assignment, finally eating my breakfast, taking out the dog), but I just wanted to share this with someone who may need to hear it. This was an excellent book. Like her previous one, it was as if the author read my mind and transcribed all of my thoughts and questions much more eloquently and intellectually than I ever could. Throughout my entire Christian experience, until now, there has been a canonical insistence that I be a “Proverbs 31 Woman,” whatever the heck that meant. To be free from the “one-size-fits-all” mindset is really quite wonderful. (Cue Mel Gibson in Braveheart, “Freeeeeeedoooooom!”)
Carry on with your Monday, readers, and I’ll go carry on with mine.