Living The Letter

What does it mean to be a woman? And how about a Christian one at that?

An encyclopedic knowledge of traybakes? A scarlet wardrobe? A gentle and quiet spirit? A love of rom-coms? Or something else?

Starting last October, one woman began a fascinating experiment to consider just this.

Rachel Held Evans, a Christian feminist from Tennessee, decided to follow the Bible’s instructions for women. Well, nothing strange about that – right? But we’re not just talking about general principles.  We’re talking literal adherence. So, here’s an example: taking Proverbs 21 to heart (‘better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman’), when she found herself nagging, she didn’t just apologise. Instead she got a ladder  and sat on the roof.

Here’s what else ;

–  she stopped cutting her hair (1 Cor 11:15)

– called her husband ‘master’ and held up a sign at the entrance to Dayton city, reading ‘Dan is awesome’.  See Prov 31: 23 – (Dan’s her hubby)

– submitted to her husband’s choice of movies, and

– carried a cushion to sit on when she had her period (to make sure she didn’t make anything unclean).

I don’t agree with all that Evans writes, but I have some sympathy for her cause too.  It’s one thing to be told to live like a woman of faith, but quite another to know how one goes about it. Evans says she’d hated Proverbs 31 for years “because in the evangelical culture, it’s lifted up as sort of like the model for all women everywhere, and it talks about a woman who sews from morning till night and provides food for her family and clothing.” However, when Evans looked closer at the passage, she concluded that it was less of an expectation placed on women and more a way of praising what they have already achieved.

Evans began the project to question whether there is a single blueprint or model of how to be a woman. She concludes that, ‘there’s no single model in the Bible – as soon as you think you have found it a woman comes along and breaks it. ‘

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Living The Letter

  1. I think women are human also. This doesn’t mean that we are male (and thank God for that) It means we are made in the image of God. Made for His own glory. It would be funny to read about a male who tried to follow Proverbs chapters 1 through 30 and the rest of the LAW for a few months. Oh wait, we can, they were called pharisees right? I too have had a love/hate relationship with The P-31 Woman until I saw her for what she was (I think). Like the rest of Proverbs she was a lesson for young men that T & A is not all there is to a woman and picking the hottest babe around is not the way of WISDOM. For me, once she stopped being a TO DO list she became a friend. After 15 years marriage and six kids, I too am a little more practical than decorative! I love to point out to my husband that I have brought him good and not evil after all, and if he ever gets a little picky about all that “rising early” stuff I just point out that I don’t have servants! Really, we are all called to follow Christ. As submitted wives or servant leader husbands, the example is Him and leads to the cross.Our law is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Now that is a hard act to follow.

  2. Thanks Caroline – some great points. Especially with not seeing Prov 31 as a scary to-do list. Plus, I’m with you on the ‘practical rather than decorative’ side… although, thinking about it, I’m not very practical either! But I make an excellent omelette..

  3. My boyfriend proposed to me on Monday (yay). I said yes quicker than he could draw breath. And we were talking about readings for the wedding and he suggested prov 31. I laughed and said no, but as we discussed it he showed me a different view. He said that as a christian man he had spent years praying that he would find somebody like that woman of whom he would be worthy. Where I had seen submission and servitude he sees grace and strength. Where I had seen weakness he sees Godliness and a servant heart. I came away from that no longer despising her but admiring her, and think ing “wow ” if j thinks I am like her then he is a godly man and I am a lucky girl. Sorry if that sounds really vommy everybody.

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