A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Genres: Memoir, Christianity, Nonfiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment–a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year.
Pursuing a different virtue each month, Evans learns the hard way that her quest for biblical womanhood requires more than a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). It means growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.
See what happens when a thoroughly modern woman starts referring to her husband as “master” and “praises him at the city gate” with a homemade sign. Learn the insights she receives from an ongoing correspondence with an Orthodox Jewish woman, and find out what she discovers from her exchanges with a polygamist wife. Join her as she wrestles with difficult passages of scripture that portray misogyny and violence against women.
Part memoir, part Biblical study, A Year of Biblical Womanhood was funny, informative, touching, and thoughtful.
Very well researched, Rachel Held Evans spends most of the book dispelling common misconceptions of what the Bible says of about women, yet choosing to live through those misconceptions anyway. She discovers that far from oppressing women, the Bible empowers them. There is no single lifestyle that a woman is called to lead, and most outright commands given to women in the New Testament are given to men as well. Instead she finds that our call as women is the same as the call of men: to love God, love each other, and to best our best selves we can be. Yet, Evans found peace and comfort in many of the things she discovered women aren’t required to do, and learned to love doing them anyway.
I learned a lot reading this book. I learned not to worry about what others think of me or my lifestyle. Not to feel like a terrible wife when I ask my husband to do the dishes. That the gender roles we’ve adopted in our home aren’t requirements, that we chose them because we each prefer our job, and I don’t need to feel guilty when I need help with mine. But I also learned that I am not doing what Jesus has called us to do. I am not helping those in need the way that I could or should. In secluding myself from the world for my own comfort I do a great dis-service to the men, women, and children living in poverty around the world (and in my hometown). Evans encourages readers to be a “woman of valor”, to do everything you do to the glory of God. I could definitely improve in this area. And after reading about her struggles and knowing that I’m not alone in not always knowing where to begin, I feel empowered to try despite my fears and anxieties.
I want to end with one of my favorite passages from the book.
“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. Peace and joy belong not to the woman who find the right vocation, but to the woman who finds God in any vocation, who looks for the divine around every corner.”