Year of Biblical Womanhood
I wasn’t going to read this book, at least not right away – but that was before Kathy Keller and Mary Kassian reviewed it. How could I know if their reviews were honest. So, yes I have read it, and enjoyed it.
First, to complain about the hermeneutic in the book seems a little strained. There isn’t a lot of that, and it appears very late in the book. And yes, I felt a little uncomfortable at first when Rachel settled in to a Martha Stewart cookbook early on. But the story grew on me. And when Rachel failed to sew a dress, I groaned inwardly. This was my life, my upbringing, to bake bread, to make jam, to can peaches. I also sewed all my own clothes, and most of those of my children, from the age of 12 to 32. So, at first, I felt a little uncomfortable with some pages of the book. I thought to myself, perhaps she doesn’t know how much time some of us invested in sewing all our clothes, in baking our own bread.
However, Rachel’s engagement with the project quickly grew on me. I was fascinated with the other women she interacted with and I saw her personal growth as she went to Bolivia, as she read Kristof and WuDunn. I was particularly touched at the scene where she mourned for Jephthah’s daughter. I was impressed with the way she wove together contemporary expressions of biblical womanhood, stories of lesser known women in the Bible, and the real lives of Amish, Jewish, Bolivian women and second wives.
In short, there could be many valid several reasons why Keller and Kassian wrote the kind of reviews they did. The obvious one is that they are both complementation, and not egalitarian, as Rachel is. Although they disagree with the “hermeneutic,” I think the real reason is that they see this book as having enormous influence in demonstrating that a Christian couple can be happy in an egalitarian marriage. It’s really about “Team Dan and Rachel.”
If you could be a full partner in a marriage, and be loved by your spouse, why would you want the experience of Kathy Keller,
My first encounter with the ideas of [male] headship and [female] submission,’ she writes, ‘was both intellectually and morally traumatic.’ Yet Keller came to adopt the view that men and women have different roles in marriage and ministry, and that fulfilling such roles pleases God and leads to greater personal fulfillment.
I think what Rachel demonstrates is that one can have great personal fulfillment without the trauma. I am not sure that trauma ought to be an essential part of a Christian marriage. I experienced a lot of trauma, and I don’t believe that it pleased God in the tiniest way. Nor did it fulfill me in any way.
So, in my view, it is not the hermeneutic, but the sense of purpose, commitment and personal fulfillment which exudes from Rachel Held Evans,that makes this an important book for complementarians to rebutt.