When I read Rachel’s to-do list, I knew it would be an interesting chapter.
To Do This Month:
- Call Dan Master (1 Peter 3:1-6)
- Interview a Polygamist (Genesis 30; Exodus 21:10)
- Hold a ceremony in honor of the victims of misogyny (Judges 11:37-40)
This is the fourth blog post in a series reviewing Rachel Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. (Here are the other three blogs, if you want to have a look: Three-Thousand-Year-Old Inferiority Complex, Girl Gone Mild, and Martha Stewart Theology.)
Rachel gives a laundry list of the horrors of biblical womanhood in ancient Israel. I won’t rename them all, just the one that makes me cringe worse than all the others:
Thankfully, Rachel reminds readers to embrace the discomfort in scripture instead of quickly explaining it away. There’s a reason why your conscience screams, “That completely screwed up! What the hell!?!” The story of how Jesus responded to stupid, immoral, dehumanizing Old Testament law should speak volumes to anyone who intends to use the Old Testament as a means to justify hateful or hurtful behavior. Rachel includes this story in her chapter on obedience.
Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him.
He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
Rachel’s interview with a polygamist was rather uneventful for me. I think that I’ll stick with one husband, and if he wants to keep me around, well then, he’d better stick with just one wife. As for others? That’s between them and God. The woman Rachel interviewed made “Biblical” polygamy sound completely normal and pointed out that with the way families are so mixed and unconventional these days, their polygamist marriage didn’t really attract that much attention. Moving right along…
Rachel held the ceremony in honor of the victims of misogyny with her unique friend, Kristine. They basically went through scripture reading stories of women who were murdered in a culture and time period in which they were powerless to defend themselves. lighting a candle for each, and ending with the words of Christ, “As you have done unto the least of these, so you have done to me.” This portion of the chapter literally moved me to tears. Having just completed two UCF literature courses loaded with brutality (slavery and feminism), I felt overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to join them in their intentional time of grief. It is important that we, the human race, don’t forget the terrible mistakes of our past. I wonder if anyone I know would be open to the idea.
The chapter comes to a close with a thoughtful look at Mary from Catholic and Protestant perspectives. I personally believe that Mary was an ordinary young woman, who God chose, not for her merit, but because it’s God’s prerogative to choose as He pleases. It’s so easy to remember the glory of being chosen by God and forget the terrible consequences that accompany such a calling. Mary became an insult to her family and community for becoming pregnant before marriage. Mary had to endure any mother’s worst nightmare, seeing her son suffer an agonizing death, powerless to do anything to save Him. She deserves a special place of honor in the minds of believers, regardless of religious perspective. But so do so many other women throughout history.