I have been reading my friend Rachel Held Evans‘ new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (and I’m enjoying the heck out of it, I might add), and I’m thinking about the origin of all the Bible has to say about “womanhood.” Regardless of how many (or how few) cultural barnacles have been attached, the Bible’s concerns for womanhood ultimately spring from the inner nature of the Triune God, that feisty group of misfits many of us have come to know as Papa, Jesus & Sarayu. Whatever it means to be Homo Sapiens with more ovaries than testicles, it springs from who God is, how the persons of the Trinity relate to one another. We are, after all, created male and female in their image, after their likeness (Genesis 1.26-27). So as I read through this book, I can’t help thinking about how God is doing at living up to the Bible’s standard of how to be a good woman. And also wondering if a “standard” is really what the Bible is trying to give us….
Rachel boiled down her study of Biblical Womanhood into 12 virtues, and then practiced each one in some specific biblical practices for one month of the year. So I’m going to look at her monthly “To Do List” to see how God stacks up [And just in case you don’t already know me enough to understand this, I am doing this somewhat (though not entirely) tongue-in-cheek]:
Year of Biblical Womanhood, Month #1: GENTLENESS. To do this month:
- Cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit, even during football games. I think God does fine here, except for the “during football games” part. I mean, come on. And except for when God is speaking through like Jeremiah or something. And whenever there’s livestock in the Temple.
- Kick the gossip habit. I don’t want to call God a gossip, but how much of the Bible is God telling us about crap other people have done? Granted, but I think gossip is at least partly defined by a malicious intent, so I think God is doing pretty good there.
- Take an etiquette lesson (Prov 11.22). Has God ever been polite? Gracious, certainly, but etiquette conscious? I like Rachel’s quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “It’s not about doing everything right. It’s about putting other people ahead of yourself.” If that’s etiquette, then God is surely at the head of her class.
- Practice contemplative prayer (Ps 131). If anybody knows how to practice the presence of God, it’s Papa, Jesus & Sarayu.
- Make a ‘swearing jar’ for behaviors that mimic the ‘contentious woman’ of Proverbs. OK, so this is the Bible’s [polite?] way of calling a woman a “psycho bitch.” Surely God is not bitchy, but never shies away from telling you what’s what. If being “contentious” means being assertive and brutally honest, then yeah, God is a total bitch (biblically speaking). But I suspect “being contentious” means something bad, so I’m pretty sure God doesn’t do whatever that is.
- Doing penance on the rooftop for acts of contention (Prov 21.9). God is omnipresent, so yes, God’s on the roof.
Stay tuned for Month #2: DOMESTICITY!
I am ShackBibleGuy, and I approved this message. I did get a nifty pre-release copy of this book for free, but I am not being compensated in any way for talking about Rachel’s book. Apparently, biblical womanhood does not include the virtue of “Giving money to obscure bloggers.”