'A Year of Biblical Womanhood' makes me want to become a better manBy Kurt Willems
I’ve followed Rachel Held Evans’ “Year of Biblical Womanhood” project since she announced it a couple of years back. By that time, we had already connected on the Web. Since then, I’ve followed with interest, reading several blog posts about her journey. Shortly after the “year” had come to completion, I led a workshop at a conference where Rachel gave a general session talk. She spoke masterfully of the problem of Biblicism (of the wooden-literal-ahistorical variety) interweaving images and stories from the previous 12 months of her life. All this to suffice that by the time I started reading the advanced copy of her book about the project I was sent, I knew the gist of the story.
With that said, when I jumped into the book, it was hard to put down. After finishing the final section of the book, I realized that what spoke to me in the freshest way is how A Year of Biblical Womanhood makes me want to become a better man.
Many others have already written excellent reviews about how this book liberates women to discover their own unique humanness, not based on specific cultural/historical gender roles, but as they come to know the God whom they image to the world. Much more could still be said about such themes, not to mention the humor and humility reflected throughout the book.
Clearly, others have cast stones of condemnation because of how a project like this exposes the blind spots in many conservative/fundamentalist schemes of interpretation, but I’m no longer interested in listening to voices that are more committed to their agenda than they are to the trajectory of the holy Scriptures. With these things in mind, I chose to read this book not as a blog reviewer, but as a friend of the author, a fan of the project, and a seeker hoping to find nuggets of truth to apply to my own life.
This is where the interactions of Dan and Rachel come in, or should I say: “Team Dan and Rachel.” I found myself wondering how I would adapt if it was my wife Lauren living “biblically” for the year.
In one way, having gourmet-style meals every night, getting to “command” my wife in various ways, having a sign displaying my greatness at the city gates, getting a “sex anytime” coupon, and having my wife call me “master,” all sound like fun ways to spend a year. My first temptation, if my wife were doing this project, would be to take advantage of her vulnerability. A year of “not having to try” around the house superficially sounds like a good time.
But, as I saw Dan’s own struggle come through the pages of this book (for instance, feeling completely awkward about being called “master”), I began to identify with his “character.” His journals became my journals. My focus quickly became how reading this book affected my disposition as a husband.*
One journal entry that stands out to me is from the chapter, “June: Submission:”
It’s like I have a trump card. I don’t know how I feel about it. For the last decade our relationship has been built on mutual understanding. If disagreements come up, we work through the issues on a level playing field. I’ve always felt respected by Rachel, so I’ve never felt the need to have a final, conversation-stopping, decision-making catchphrase. In many ways, our relationship is continuing as usual… but just knowing that I have in my possession a “you’d-have-to-if-I-said-so” trump card makes things seem a little out of balance. It’s kinda like having a hidden weapon in my possession that only Rachel and I know about. It may not change how other people view me, but I still know it’s there. Not sure how I feel about that. I can see why a person would feel powerful having it, but I’m not sure that makes is OK. I don’t generally walk around with a hidden weapon in real life; I just don’t feel that insecure (206).
At this moment, and many others, I found myself relating to Dan in a huge way. Lauren and I have always seen each other as partners in marriage — “Team Lauren and Kurt” so to speak. Neither of us is in charge. We make choices together, each submitting to the will of the other as appropriate. (So you don’t get a glamorized view of our relationship, part of the reason this arrangement works on a practical level is often our equally stubborn natures.)
Comment on the blog post 'A Year of Biblical Womanhood' makes me want to become a better man
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.