If you’re like me you read the title of this book and thought, “Great, another book exposing how “unbiblical” I am by revealing what a true biblical woman should look like.” I have three words to say to this assumption:
You. Are. Wrong.
At least my assumptions going into this book were wrong. I tend to shy away from books that I assume will bring about guilt, condemnation, and a blatant exposure of my weaknesses as a Christian woman, however, after reading and hearing about this book from many different outlets I decided to give it a try. The result?
Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
Here is a short review of a book that I think every woman should read in 2013.
Main Idea: Rachel Held Evans takes a look at whether or not there is a single prescription for being a biblical woman. She tackles one virtue each month for an entire year living as closely to the way that virtue is displayed in the Bible as possible. This includes calling her husband, “Master” for a short time, remaining silent in church, growing out her hair, and learning to make her own clothes. Not only did she discover a lot about herself, but she made some fascinating discoveries about what biblical womanhood is and isn’t along the way, which she shares in her book.
My Favorites: Too many things to highlight for me, so I will name a few things that changed my thinking beginning with the idea that some have about being a homemaker (aka stay-at-home Mom or SAHM). Rachel points out that many on the conservative side of biblically womanhood have placed such high value on homemaking they have “elevated the vocation of homemaking above all others” (pg. 30) leaving working mothers feeling the guilt of not fulfilling their “true calling” as a woman. She sums it up with this, “If God is the God of all pots and pans, then He is also the God of all shovels and computers and paints and assembly lines and executive offices and classrooms.” (pg. 30) There seems to be this battle between working mom’s and SAHM’s that personally I find ridiculous. Why not instead of making a list of differences encourage each other, help each other, and support each other as one, unified mom-front (which by the way I believe would be unstoppable!).
Another aspect of this book that truly grabbed my attention was her exploration into the Jewish culture. Obviously any look at truly biblical life would include this culture due to the fact that the entire Old Testament is the story of Israel’s relationship with God. Rachel dove into this culture and practiced some customs that were hilarious, yet sacred at the same time. The intentional way that Jews live out their lives is fascinating to me. Everything they do is for a reason and has a spiritual significance. I love the idea of intentional living and reading her experience challenged me to live more intentionally in my relationships and in all that I do.
One last favorite I pulled from this book was her illumination of Proverbs 31, a familiar passage for any Christian woman. “Eshet chayil” in Hebrew translates “valorous woman” and most scholars believe that this is the best description of the woman that the writer (King Solomon’s mother) was writing about here. (pg. 76) Personally, I have always viewed Proverbs 31 as a checklist of things that I need to do in order to be the best woman I can be, however in the original text the only thing that is commanded is towards men in verse 31. Other than that this is a poem and in Rachel’s opinion (after much study) it is an “ode to women” (pg. 76) a blessing over them rather than a prescribed way of living. She learned that in the Jewish culture, eshet chayil (valorous woman) is used commonly as an encouragement and blessing over women who have lived out Scripture. Instead of the women memorizing Proverbs 31, it is the men who memorize it and sing it over their wives, usually at a Sabbath meal. (pg. 87) Did you get that? The MEN are blessing the women! (Can I get an AMEN!)
Ok I’m done. I’ll let you read it for yourself to get the rest of the story. Like I said, this book really opened my eyes to what womanhood means in a biblical context and took off some self-appointed roles I thought I had to wear as a Christian wife, mom, and woman.
You can buy the book here: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Or check your local library to check it out.