Excerpts of A Year of Biblical Womanhood By Ruth Graham
An evangelical blogger is spending 12 months following the Bible's instructions for women
Rachel Held Evans is writing a book about the Bible's rules for women Before Easter this year, Rachel Held Evans camped out for the weekend in a purple tent she had set up in her Tennessee yard. For nine days after this adventure, she abstained from sex and even from touching her husband. She stayed home from church, and toted around a stadium seat cushion to avoid sitting directly on chairs outside her home. Evans' goal was to obey the Bible's commandments for menstruating women in Leviticus Chapters 15 to 18, a passage that takes a lot of shalls and shall nots to make a simple point: Women on their periods are untouchable.
Her Easter weekend in the tent was part of a project called "A Year of Biblical Womanhood," in which she is following all the Bible's instructions for women as precisely as possible for 12 months.
The secular Jewish writer A.J. Jacobs attempted a similar feat with his 2007 best-seller The Year of Living Biblically. (Slate's own David Plotz, another secular Jewish writer, wrote a book about the experience.)
The Bible includes hundreds of rules for women, both explicit and implied, Old Testament and New. Women should dress modestly (1 Peter), submit to their husbands (Ephesians), and remove themselves from their communities while menstruating (Leviticus). The project is often funny—growing her hair out all year, as suggested in 1 Corinthians, has clearly been driving Evans crazy—but it has a point: All Christians pick and choose the parts of the Bible that suit them. The believers who emphasize the verse in which Paul says, "Women should remain silent in the churches," tend to dismiss the verse just a few chapters away in which he writes that "every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head" as culturally specific. As Evans points out, it's "Biblical" for a man to take multiple wives, or for a father to sell his daughter to pay off debts.
Though she doesn't like the word feminist because the term is so loaded within her community, she's a staunch egalitarian in a world in which there's an ongoing debate over whether husbands are the masters of their wives.