So much has been written in recent days about Rachel Held Evans and her new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master. Positive and negative reviews, reviews of the reviews, blog posts, and articles have poured out of the evangelical blogosphere.
Yesterday Evans was interviewed on ABC’s The View about her book, where again, nothing particularly new was said, but I have some concerns about promoting a book like this in a media setting like The View.
You can watch the brief interview here.
Introducing Evans, Sherri Sheppard said: “For an entire year, our next guest lived by the strict laws the Bible has for women. Like referring to her husband as ‘master’ [and] making her own clothes.” This is not entirely true. Much of what Evans did during her year of “biblical womanhood” was not, in fact, abiding by biblical laws for women, as has already been discussed (here and here). Of course Evans explained that her purpose was to intentionally push the limits of what could be interpreted as “biblical womanhood” to show how difficult the concept is to define, and to push back against using “biblical” as an adjective. Although I don’t entirely agree with her approach, I understand what she was doing.
But through a brief interview on a morning talk show, Evans is basically presented as a woman making a brazen challenge to what the Bible actually says to Christian women. Despite stating her purpose and intention, of course the show hosts focus much more on the ridiculous things she did for a year, like wearing floor length dresses and not touching her husband during her period each month. They of course, did not discuss Christ’s fulfillment of Levitical law, or that the industrious, virtuous “Proverbs 31 woman” is simply not a command for every wife to sew her family’s clothing.
These are things I trust Evans knows, and were included in her experimental year to prove her point. But to the average viewer, the interview conveys and reinforces the prevalent idea that unadulterated biblical Christianity oppresses and subordinates women. It is disappointing to see this important topic sensationalized and treated in such a casual manner.