I’m reading through A Year of Biblical Womanhood this week, and will be dialoguing with the book in this space. I hope that you will join me and engage with it honestly.
I’m up e-a-r-l-y this morning. [And I'm using punctuation in an ironic, Emily Dickinson-esque throwback, not in a thirteen-year-old-girl-with-hearts-dotting her i's kind of way.] It wasn’t on purpose exactly, the early wake-time, but I’m glad that I am here, writing to you. You see, Rachel too began waking up early when she started seeking to understand Biblical Womanhood. (I’m calling her Rachel now, even though we aren’t exactly friends or anything. After reading the first little bit of her book last night, I feel like we are starting to know each other.)
At this point I’m still struggling a bit to pin-point a genre here, bit I’m leaning toward a diary with religious undertones. There has been a lot of online “discussion” about whether her book is satirical or tongue-in-cheek or literal hermeneutical instructions [or heretical bible attacking], but so far I’m not really seeing these things. I mean, I am still only on page 21. There could be plenty of blasphemy in Chapter 2. Certainly, there are pieces of satire, personal stories, self-deprecation and football references woven into the fabric, pushing the story forward. But, for at least the Introduction and the First Chapter, the book is just a story — a story about the experience of a woman grappling with the difficulties of her faith, with the difficulties of being “the thing that they all talk about.” A self-reflective, often jolly, honest re-telling of an experience.
Did you know, dear reader, that Christians often struggle with doctrine, with theology, with the concept of inerrancy, with ethics and interpretation and truth? Did you know that, even when we know Jesus so assuredly, sometimes the things said by others about us [insert: me] can separate us from the church itself? Did you know that in every conservative evangelical community there is a little girl who is taught to grow up to be a great Deacon’s wife or — if she is so very blessed — a great Pastor’s wife who wonders: is this all God made me for? And if it is, but my heart and my brain and my body crave more, maybe this isn’t the religion for me?
Well, if you didn’t know it, now you do. Reading Rachel’s book, so far, is like having a conversation with a stranger who ends up being quite like you. And according to a few reviews I’ve read, this probably means that I am “already sympathetic to her undermining of the truthfulness and sufficiency and relevance of the Bible, . . . already suspicious of Christianity, and . . . already prone to deny that God has designed a special and beautiful role for women in marriage.” But I say: No. You are missing the point. There are thousands of women just like me who desperately want to fall back in love with the Church, with their faith — to come out of isolation and join a community of believers again — and if Rachel can still love the Church and desperately seek after truth, [even after the harsh reviews of her beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,] maybe there is hope for the rest of us.