For the last few months, I've been attempting to discover how women fit in the 21st century church, specifically where I fit in. I haven't had any light-bulb moments yet, and have some books in my reading pile on the subject, but a couple of months ago a friend lent me a book that was, well, different from what I might normally choose to read.
A Year of Biblical Woman: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master," by Rachel Held Evans is not what you would call a traditional book on the role of women in the church and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much.
Evans is a young woman who found herself wondering what the Bible said about the role of women. She decided to read it with that in mind to see what she would discover. Her plan was to pick one topic to explore every month for a year and try living out that ideal in the 21st century.
The topics she focused on were gentleness, domesticity, obedience, valor, beauty, modesty, purity, fertility, submission, justice, silence, and grace. Each month, Evans chose to learn skills, practice character qualities, or educate herself (particularly during justice month) in that month's topic. How she does that is what makes the book so funny and so real. No high-flying theological theorist, no idealized Proverbs 31 woman, Evans is Everywoman.
You must read the book to discover why she slept in a tent on the lawn for a few nights, carried a seat cushion with her, grew out her hair, and made a dress as one of her very first ever sewing projects. All of this in the pursuit of discovering what it means to be a Biblical woman.
Whether or not you agree with her methods, convictions, theology, or conclusions, you will laugh (and sometimes cry) your way through the book. I don't have the courage, creativity, or stamina to try a similar experiment, but reading Evan's book gave me yet another perspective on women in the Christian church, Christianity, and the Bible.
And that Proverbs 31 woman who is called a virtuous woman? Well in Hebrew it actually means valor. I've never felt I could live up to that virtuous woman, but I think I could be a woman of valor.