Rachel Held Evans’ “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”

Rachel Held Evans describes herself as a “writer, skeptic, and person of faith.”  She’s a “thoroughly liberated beneficiary of the feminist movement, complete with a blossoming career, an egalitarian marriage, and a messy house.”

Rachel’s an up-and-coming figure in the emergent church world and has already published a book, “Evolving in Monkey Town,” about her spiritual journey of questions and an article in The Washington Post entitled “When Atheists and Baptists Agree” promoting the evolution theory, which caught the attention of Al Mohler.  Now she’s dedicated to living out “biblical womanhood” over the next year.

“In addition to sharing my own experiences, I’ll be interviewing modern-day women incorporating ancient practices into their own lives—a polygamist, a conservative Mennonite, an Orthodox Jew, a Quiverfull mom, a “stay-at-home daughter,” and more.”

This unique project began because Rachel wanted to have “better, more constructive, more authentic and creative conversations about the Bible.” I applaud her for coming up with something so creative, out of her comfort zone, and definitely out of her personal belief zone, but as I’ve read her blog and listened to her speak at Baylor’s Truett Seminary, there are some things that raise concern.

View of Scripture

During her lecture at Truett, Rachel said, “I can kinda see the appeal” in thinking that the Bible is a blueprint for how women are to live their lives. It would do away with tension and controversy but “we would all look the same.” She has “not found in the Bible a blueprint for how to be woman, how to be a wife, or how to be a person of faith.”

A blueprint shows what a building’s structure should look like but it doesn’t always give the details of things like interior design or landscaping. There are some things all Christians should do like, love one another, not lie or cheat, love the Lord and obey him,etc. But things like career choice, music preference, favorite hobby, and sense of humor are different for each person. God’s made us all unique and special, but our structure should be the same and it should come from God’s Word alone. It doesn’t come from man’s questions or experiences. It comes from God’s perfect words to us in Scripture. Rachel sees it a little differently. She says,

The Bible always has to be interpreted, and my interpretation is only as inerrant as I am.”

If the Bible was a list of do’s and don’ts then there would be no reason for us to communicate with the architect (God) or communicate with each other.”

God wants us to struggle with the Bible because He wants us to be drawn in to community with one another and with Him. Faith isn’t about being right; it’s about being a part of a community.”

We must be careful to examine these statements in accordance with the Word (1 Jn. 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). What does the Bible say about faith? Faith is shown as: Us believing in Christ, the Word, and obeying His commands even we don’t understand them fully (1Cor.2:4-6; 15:1-4;1 Tim.6:20-21).

If the Bible doesn’t show us how we’re to live our lives, if it isn’t God’s way of talking with us, teaching us, training us in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16-17), then what is it for? If we’re only going to interpret it incorrectly because we’re flawed humans, then why love it or follow it? Thankfully, the Lord knew we were errant when He inspired the Scriptures that’s why He gave Christians the Holy Spirit, who is able to help us tackle the tough issues and give us discernment (Jn. 14:26, 16:13; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 2:12-14).

There’s times of doubt and dislike,  but if we truly believe in God, if we’re truly followers of Christ, we need to be careful of our attitude towards God’s Holy Words.  He will reveal His truths to us through His Word (Ps. 25:14). It will never help us to trivialize or make a joke of Scripture, to try and prove it doesn’t work, or show that we’ve evolved past its old-fashioned practices. We must instead approach it with the utmost humility. When struggles arise with the Bible, go to God first. He’s got all the answers (2 Sam. 22:31, Ps. 18:30) and He’s there to help you through the problems (Ps. 19).

The Biblical Womahood Project

My other concern is the project for “biblical womanhood.” Some of her endeavors include calling her husband Master for a week because “there’s a passage in 1 Peter that says she called him Master.” 1 Peter 3:5, which is referring to Sarah’s submissive heart and her model as a holy woman to all Christian women. It does NOT say we should call our husbands lord or master. We’re to be submissive but not subordinate to our husbands.

To display “biblical modesty,” Rachel will dress in long skirts, grow her hair out, and wear no makeup or jewelry for what she calls “frump month.” This, however, is not biblical womanhood. We shouldn’t dress in a way that might encourage a guy’s eye to check us out (Matt. 5:28) but God doesn’t say we have to be covered from head to toe, wear no makeup, and be “frumpy.”  He does say that we shouldn’t make our main adornment to be things of material worth but of a gentle, quiet spirit and a submissive heart to the Lord (1 Pet. 3).

She took an interesting viewpoint on Prov. 21:9 and 25:24, which says what it’s like for a man to live with a quarrelsome wife. Rachel decided to act this out for a month by having a “jar of contention.” Every snarky comment meant time spent on her roof in penance.  However, the verse says nothing about the wife having to pay for her quarrelsome attitude by sitting on the roof, nor does God want Christians to pay penance for their sins. We can repent of our sins but we’ll never be able to pay for them. Our works are as filthy rags which is why Christ had to pay for our sins by dying on the Cross (Isa. 64:6)!

There’s also a to-do list for Rachel’s Proverbs 31 month. While I appreciate the cleverness, the interpretations completely miss the metaphors and can sometimes come off as mocking. Proverbs 31 isn’t meant to be a to-do list. It’s meant to show the heart and righteous attitude of a woman who’s seeking God’s glory and the good of those around her. It’s part of God’s desire for women’s lives. It’s God showing how much women are capable of when He’s at the forefront of our lives.

When we continually question the validity of His Word, we’ll continually doubt His plan for us. God cares for and values women. He’s even talked to women specifically through verses and passages about how to glorify Him. When we see God’s Word as His best for us, then we’ll see that biblical womanhood isn’t stifling, exhausting, or keeps us in bondage to men. True biblical womanhood, which follows all of God’s mandates, is freeing, beautiful, makes us stronger, and helps us become closer in communion with the Lord!

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Prov. 16:25

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Ps. 19:7

21 thoughts on “Rachel Held Evans’ “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”

  1. Thank you ladies for being a voice of truth in a world full of compromise! Thank you for creating awareness with grace, presenting scripture as support for your defense and allowing your “speech” to be seasoned with salt. What was once speaking truth has now evolved into passing judgement. The mantra for today’s emergent church should be “How much can I look like the world and still be called a Christian?” Rachel Held Evans is a dichotomy because she is fearful of the very thing she so boldly stands for: “Being yourself and not worrying about what others might think of you.” She is fearful to say one way or the other and therefore becomes a crowd-pleaser. Isn’t that the very thing that feminists are working so hard to get away from? Her mockery of biblical womanhood is WRONG or dare I say it (and “pass judgement”) – SIN! “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5:20).

  2. Hello!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my talk at Baylor University and for featuring my project here on your blog. I appreciate your perspective, and I really respect the depth with which you responded to many of my points. Thanks especially for including a link to the talk so that people can interact with my thoughts in context.

    I just wanted to be sure to let you know that as a fellow Christian I am committed to pursuing as constructive and civil a conversation as possible. It’s not my intention to belittle or mock the Bible (which I love and strive to follow!) nor to marginalize women who interpret the Bible differently than myself. Mostly I want to encourage women to show a little more grace to themselves and one another when it comes to the very difficult task of applying what the Bible says about women to their lives.

    Let me know if you have any ideas for how to better engage this topic. (For example, I think using the phrase “frump month” was a mistake. I would never want to imply that women who choose to wear long dresses and cover their heads are frumpy! Quite the contrary! I was just feeling insecure about the frizz fest occurring on my own head and I said the wrong thing.) Also be sure to let me know if you are interested in participating in some kind of structured dialog here or on my blog.

    I sincerely hope that this turns into a fruitful, God-glorifying interaction. I believe that it can because, as you said, we have the Holy Spirit as a guide. We probably have more in common than might first appear.

    Thanks for opening the door!

    Rachel Evans

    P.S. Just a quick clarification: I don’t typically identify myself with the emergent church, and my book “Evolving in Monkey Town” is not about evolution. (The book is a memoir, and only briefly mentions faith/science issues; Al Mohler was referring to an article I wrote for The Washington Post.) Not a big deal, but I thought you should know for future reference.

    • Hi Rachel!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and give a gracious comment on it! I’m honored that you would do this. I want to apologize for the miswording in the section about your book and your article in The Washington Post. My purpose was to refer to both your book and your article but now I see that my wording did not achieve this intention. I will definitely correct this mistake so you get the credit due for each of these accomplishments and so there isn’t any confusion on the topics of either one.

      We would love to engage in structured dialogue with you! It would be a great opportunity for us to hear more about your viewpoint and learn about how everything is going with your Biblical Womahood project. I’m sure it’s been quite a journey so far and we would love to hear about all the unique experiences you’ve had over the past few months. Thank you again for taking the time to respond and we look forward to the “dialogue door” that’s been opened through this.

      P.S. On a more girly note: Your hair didn’t look like a frizz frest on the Baylor video! You looked like you were doing a great job of keeping it cute, despite the frustrating growing out process. 🙂

      • Thanks, Diane! I hope we have the opportunity to continue this conversation.

        Feel free to shoot me an email via the contact page of my Web site if you want to try and arrange an interview or something: http://rachelheldevans.com/contact

        Also, I’d love to get you in on a “round-table discussion” on the blog sometime. (I pose the same question to a variety of people and share their responses in a series of posts.)

        Looking forward to staying in touch!

  3. I posted the first comment yesterday and in retrospect I have to apologize for the tone of condemnation that it appears to have taken on. As I read this morning I am humbled by Rachel’s response and although I still have points of disagreement, she has taken a respectful, gracious approach toward constructive dialogue. It is difficult when you write to determine how you will be perceived in what you say and unfortunately, most of what is said and written is not easily, if ever, erased. Thankfully, there is room for grace and forbearance…and the ability to say we were wrong.
    Thank you Rachel for your authenticity and respect for those who disagree.

    • Stephanie,

      This took a lot of guts and humility, and it really means a lot to me. Thank you so much for your graciousness in spite of differences.

      By the way, you are not alone. I OFTEN revisit comments I’ve left on blogs and immediately begin searching for an “edit” option! Lol! 🙂

      • Yes, gotta love the edit! Too bad it didn’t happen before the comment was posted! I’ll forever go down as the “hater” on this post – and rightfully so! Thank you again for being gracious…I guess it’s a good thing there isn’t a last name and email attached to the first comment. I usually never comment on blogs and now I know why – and to think I had just thanked them for “being gracious” in their speech!

  4. Hello all!
    I am a young woman who is also exploring the Biblical standards for being a “Godly” woman. And I thank all the ladies here for your leadership and example!

    I have to say though, I’m a bit confused by a couple things in this article.

    First being, “If the Bible doesn’t show us how we’re to live our lives, if it isn’t God’s way of talking with us, teaching us, training us in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16-17)” as you said above, then how can using Sarah as an example and learning from that be a mistake on Rachel’s part? Wouldn’t that be God “teaching us” through his Word?

    Another thing is how Rachel’s advice about going to a community first instead of God first is wrong. I could understand if it’s the order that is being disputed – God’s always first right? :p I’m just making sure it’s not the fact that going to a community is wrong. After all, isn’t that what I am seeking out from you all? Answers from wiser women in my “online” community?

    I also wanted to add that I, too, have taken Proverbs 31 as a “to-do” list. I think God’s Words in that passage have given me a completely different outlook on how to be a good wife. I have put many of those things into practice and I, as well as my husband, are exponentially happier because of it! 🙂

    And lastly… this article, though it has spurred me to ask some questions which is always a great thing, has just made me feel bad. I can understand that when we see or hear something we think isn’t quite up to par, we should call it out or question the reasoning behind it. I love writing and would love to share my experiences one day with people as you all are doing – but if women’s reactions to exploration of the Bible and effort to put it into practice look like this – I might want to rethink my dreams. You may have had different intentions with this, but it comes off as a ‘cat-fight’ over the Bible: just calling out the mistakes of others. I could see if she was teaching things just completely off-the-wall: but she’s only making an effort to learn – as I am.

    I’m asking for explanations and guidance with this comment, not condemning you or belittling your wisdom Ms. Montgomery. 🙂

  5. Wow, your tone comes across as extremely condescending. You took many of Rachel’s comments out of context.

    You should learn from Rachel’s tone and spirit. She truly does radiate the spirit of Christ in her dealings with others…believers and unbelievers.

  6. “He does say that we shouldn’t make our main adornment to be things of material worth but of a gentle, quiet spirit and a submissive heart to the Lord (1 Pet. 3).”

    I’ve listened to Rachel’s talk at Baylor, and have read this article, and both ladies make very interesting and (in my opinion) valid points. However, I do have a bit of an issue with something Ms. Montgomery wrote, mainly because I think it is a common problem with the traditional Evangelical view of women. She writes:

    “He does say that we shouldn’t make our main adornment to be things of material worth but of a gentle, quiet spirit and a submissive heart to the Lord (1 Pet. 3).”

    Don’t get me wrong, I get what she’s saying here, and initially I agree. The problem is, from my understanding of that verse, she is misquoting it. Peter does *not* say our “main adornment” should be things of material worth. He says we should *not* wear costly jewelry, braid our hair, etc. He is very specific. But most women I know in conservative Christian circles do wear the very things he prohibits.

    So often we cherry pick what we want to obey in the Bible, and vilify those who have not cherry picked our particular favorite verses.

    One last thought-the verses in the New Testament that address women being submissive to their husbands, not speaking in church, etc. are composed of letters written to specific churches. I’ve always wondered, did the other churches just “get the memo”?

    • Sorry, my sentence in the above paragraph should read: “Peter does *not* say our “main adornment” should not be things of material worth.

    • Hi Erika,

      I appreciate your input! Because of the brevity of my paragraph this issue, I wasn’t able to explain thoroughly 1 Peter 3:1-6 but instead summarize the point of the passage. Peter uses the word ‘adornment’ rather than ‘wear’ for a specific reason. Adornment means: something that adds attractiveness. In 1 Peter 3:3 he says,
      Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear.”
      He’s saying the things you add to make you attractive shouldn’t be the braiding of hair, jewelry, or clothes we wear. He’s not prohibiting the wearing of these things or otherwise we wouldn’t be able to wear clothes and would have to be naked all the time!

      But verse 4 says what women should add to make us beautiful in the Lord’s eyes: “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

      Peter is saying that your jewelry, hairstyle, and clothing should not distract from what really matters, your character qualities. When considering the passage as a whole, I chose the words “main adornment” because the main thing that makes us attractive and that people see shouldn’t be things of material worth but those things which are precious in God’s sight: a gentle and quiet spirit. I hope this clears up any confusion about Peter’s intention of the passage.

      • With all due respect Diane, and for your consideration Erika,

        The translation issues concerning 1 Peter 3:3 expressed in Diane’s response make me feel like the same hermeneutic and translational issues causing concern regarding Rachel Held Evans are insidiously at work here as well. In reality, I believe this is an excellent case study of how the evangelical world has fertilized the ground for growing feminist and emergent malcontents by remaining inconsistent, and as Ericka states, “cherry picking” what we obey, which is yet another subtle critique of the method in which Ms. Evans utilizes in her approach to her “womanhood” project.

        In 1 Peter 3:3 the word for adornment (Koine Greek) has nothing to do with the word wear. It actually is a tricky little word, because it is the word used elsewhere (and related directly to the same noun base) in the New Testament for world. But Peter’s usage here appeals to a much older version of the term, still related to the word for world, but meaning “order, or arrangement of.” This term can be fairly contrasted by what kosmos means in Greek when it is defined as the world, or created order, the order of the stars/universe, etc., and helps provide a contextual base for understanding how Peter may be using it here.

        Diane says,
        He’s saying the things you add to make you attractive shouldn’t be the braiding of hair, jewelry, or clothes we wear. He’s not prohibiting the wearing of these things or otherwise we wouldn’t be able to wear clothes and would have to be naked all the time!

        Here is another example of the inconsistency we find in response to the problems of evangelical Christianity and the forbidding/allowing adornment, gold, jewelry and what have you. For me, the mere dismissal of the textual evidence in favor of contemporary cultural privilege does more for the arguments Ms. Evans makes than it does for substantiating the point that her hermeneutics are in error.

        Following Diane’s hermeneutic results in saying “Peter must not be saying woman are forbidden from wearing gold or jewelry, because if he is then a reference to clothing creates a prohibition on wearing clothes at all.”

        I suppose this is an acceptable reading, if indeed it is only cursory, but examination is always warranted when something so demanding is being considered for the behavior of Christian women, and conduct in the churches. But, I would hope any serious student of the Bible would dig a little deeper than our contemporary preferences on such discomforting topics.

        The putting on of apparel or as the ESV renders it, the clothing you wear might be better understood as a prohibition of wearing costly garments rather than wearing clothing at all. This is an unfair contrast made by Diane, and I believe it is done by most who dismiss the prohibitions of the text in order to make it sound silly that anyone would expect a woman to adorn herself without using braids, gold, or such. But let’s not forget the construction of the sentence itself here (enduseos imation). The wearing of clothing actually says investing in garments.

        Now if Peter is saying, don’t adorn yourself with plaiting (costly), wearing of gold (costly), then what restricts us from following the thought and being consistent? Would not we then read, “putting on costly garments.”

        What Peter is saying is not the things you add to make you attractive should not be this….or that, he is saying they should not be.

        1 Peter 3:3 Whose outward arrangements/ornamentation not be braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on costly garments

        Then he says BUT …(allah a Greek word for Contrarily)… let your adorning be this….1 Peter 3:4, and gives the qualifications for what is considered a proper adornment.

        Diane says,
        Paul is saying that your jewelry, hairstyle, and clothing should not distract from what really matters, your character qualities. When considering the passage as a whole, I chose the words “main adornment” because the main thing that makes us attractive and that people see shouldn’t be things of material worth but those things which are precious in God’s sight: a gentle and quiet spirit. I hope this clears up any confusion about Paul’s intention of the passage.

        Diane, I think there might be another confusion from your post here as well. The text you are elaborating on is not authored by Paul, unless there is an authorial controversy I have not yet heard, and that is Paul really wrote Peter. But I think it was a harmless confusion, because Paul does write on this very same topic, in an eerily similar manner as well. Which I think shall disseminate itself appropriately here in this portion of the conversation. Paul, clarifies the ambiguity of Peter’s entry in the same fashion I believe the original languages illuminate. Therefore, rendering a scholarly knowledge of the Biblical language unnecessary and making the plain reading of God’s word accessible for all…

        Paul actually said,

        …likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works.
        (1Ti 2:9-10)

        Paul uses a slightly stronger negation of the costly attire, braided hair, and gold or pearls with the usage of but (me) making the contrast almost imperative in tone.

        I think the Biblical evidence stands on its own without the imposition of what we think, or feel, Peter or Paul are saying. They affirm each other on this specific topic quite well.
        I am not necessarily of the mind that this can be a blanket prohibition on wearing Lia Sophia or Bubble Gum machine jewelry, but does highlight some very specific types of adornment that a woman should not wear, gold, pearls, costly apparel, plaiting, and whatever else you can categorize in with the thought of ‘external adornment.’

        Both Peter and Paul confirm that the adornment of the woman is her testimony, and her works, a gentle and quiet spirit, for this is what is proper for a woman who professes godliness. I would understand this plainly as meaning outward adornment is not necessary to equate beauty for a woman. The world has created a standard measure of what beauty is, and sadly, it permeates and perverts the true measure of “Biblical Womanhood.” Which is the purpose of this entire conversation is it not?

        If we remain consistent this whole passage comes on the heels of Peter instructing wives regarding their method on winning an unbelieving/disobedient husband…

        Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
        (1Pe 3:1)

        By their conduct…their works…those things that are of an imperishable beauty…

        No woman of God need an outward adornment to make her beautiful, for to the true man of God, that woman’s beauty is blinding when he gazes upon the radiance that comes from the indwelling of the holy spirit in the woman who professes God.

        Biblical Womanhood is not defined by a regimented following of instruction to prove a point, nor is it a flippant dismissal of what the scripture actually says. It is in turn, a distinction from the womanhood that is communicated by the world via Seventeen magazine, or Feminist Pulpits. A woman whose heart is submitted to God will conform to the likeness of Christ, and if her opportunity to establish a testimony can be found in her works and her godliness, no jewelry or costly array need apply. Conformity to the world no longer becomes a concern, for Christ is King, and we cannot serve two masters.

      • Diane,
        Thanks for the clarification! That makes a lot more sense. 🙂

        Just for future consideration in this study of “biblical” womanhood (I don’t expect you to reply to this!), I’ve included below some questions/concerns that I know I’ve had regarding the traditional Evangelical view of women, and I think perhaps that I’m not alone in these concerns. I apologize in advance if parts of it do not make much sense–for times sake I have copied/pasted from a much longer essay on the subject of the view of women in religion:

        From my understanding, the Bible is believed to be inspired by God, not written by him. There are commands from God found throughout the Bible—those to the Israelite nation in the Old Testament, and those to the followers of Jesus in the New Testament. However, there are also letters from one follower to another found throughout the New Testament. These are accepted as part of the Bible, but they are in no way equal to the commands issued directly from God. They never claimed to be.

        In Christianity, some of the most degrading ideas about women have come from the letters of Paul (e.g. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and Ephesians 5:22-24) are both believed to be authored by him. Paul, the author, is a mere man who claimed to be a follower of Jesus, and his letters are addressed to specific churches—not the Church in general. These verses “made the cut” to be included in the Bible, so it is obvious that they remain in there for important reasons—but reasons that many patriarchal eyes seem to refuse to see. It must also be noted that often in Paul’s letters, he usually mentions when he is talking about a command from God, versus his own thoughts.

        The verse in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 has led to the rejection of women in ministry, politics, and established the authority of men in general. What I believe many like to ignore is that this verse is specifically referring to a worship service, not politics, and not marriage. The historical context is also ignored. It is believed that Paul wrote this letter and sent it to Ephesus, where his protégée Timothy was staying. In Ephesus, there was a popular cult established to honor the god Artemis. In that cult, the women ruled and the men were second-class citizens. What Paul is saying here suddenly makes a lot more sense. Paul was not degrading women further; he was trying to establish a level-playing field between men and women (Durham).

        Regarding the verses in Ephesians 5 about submission, many of those who embrace a Christian patriarchal view completely disregard the surrounding verses. The preceding verse instructs everyone—not just women—to submit to one another and to not put themselves first. The verse following the submission verses describes the job of men—to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. In the Christian tradition, Christ gave everything to the Church, to the point of giving his own life. Paul’s letters might describe men as the “head” in a marriage relationship, but it is not at all what men throughout history have insisted it be. If one really looks at the Biblical texts and compares these “headship” verses to them, the head leader is not the boss. The head leader is the servant of all.

        Durham, Bishop Of, and N. T. Wright. “Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis.” Proc. of Men, Women and the Church, St. John’s College, Durham. Print.

  7. I applaud the spirit of grace that has been set forth thus far and hope that this discussion continues in it.

    I think that one of the critical issues coming to a head here is the context of the Bible.

    In a lot of ways, the fact that we still read a 2,000 year old text, written to Mideastern honor-shame communal cultures, now translated through one or more languages into our individualistic-democratic culture, is completely nuts.

    So of course there will be points that chafe awkwardly, emotionally and mentally, as we try to sort through the original cultural context and how the Holy Spirit leads us to apply things today in our context. [I’m thinking Acts 15, and the growing pains of the church….the church perhaps is in another season of growing pains, no?]

    And I think one of the most excellent things about Rachel’s exploration of these topics is her willingness to say, I COULD BE WRONG ABOUT THIS, the things my culture has taught me to keep in translation, and the things my culture has taught me to ignore and throw out altogether. I COULD BE WRONG, and I’m willing to honestly dialogue because I really want to find out. Rachel’s trying to make a safe space to ask questions, and not be threatened if the answers aren’t what our culture has always said.

    More power to that, I say. And what’s lovely is that when the answer’s aren’t what we expect, well, let’s not get all defensive, but let’s have an actual conversation. Keep it up.

  8. Concerned: I would disagree with your well thought out interpretation based on the text and the history in those days. Scripture also interpreting scripture where Genesis 24:22 has Abraham’s daughters wearing gold bracelets and gold rings.

    It’s not the adornment that is the sin. God is no longer concerned about the outside as he is the inside. Diane gave a very accurate interpretation from what I read and study in scripture. In those days adornment was extravagant and even Mary, Christ’s mother was known to be a plaiter of women’s hair. In fact John Gill commentary says this:

    Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning Or that only and principally; let not that be solely or chiefly attended to, nor anxiously sought after, nor ever in order to allure and ensnare others, or to fill with pride and vanity; nor should it be indecent and luxurious, immodest and immoderate, and unsuitable to the age, character, and station of persons; otherwise clothing is both convenient and necessary; and a decent garb, neat and modest apparel, and what is suitable to the years, rank, and quality of persons, is very commendable: nor are we to suppose that the apostle forbids the use of what follows, but only when used in a luxurious and extravagant manner, and to feed pride and vanity, and encourage, lasciviousness and wantonness:

    Beauty or being beautiful through cosmetics, hair, clothes, jewlery, ect. is not the sin. Diane’s interpretation seems closer to the actual context of the passage.

  9. Erika,

    I am glad you prefaced your fictions about the canon of Scripture and the validity of all it contains as something coming from your own understanding – because, as such, it bears no relationship to the truth of the matter. All of the canon is God-breathed, all of it is authored by humans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – those bits you seem to think come “directly” from God and also those bits that come from that simply awful misogynist, St. Paul. Of course, certain Epistles were originally addressed to a single church or a single leader, but this is no great revelation to anyone – however, all were read widely in the Christian churches which is how they came to be recognized as part of the canon.

    You seem to think that the “rejection of women in ministry” comes from one single verse in I Timothy. That is wrong. Women are not rejected in ministry, never have been. The sacerdotal office (or in low church circles, the pastorate/eldership) are prohibited to women by Scripture itself (and that case runs from Genesis right on through to Revelation, not simply existing in one instance in Paul’s letters), the dominical practice, the following practice of the Apostles and the Church Fathers and has continued down to our present age. John Paul II was right, and with this Protestants can agree, when he said the Church simply does not have the authority to make women priests/pastors. We can’t simply make it so just by saying it is so. So women are not prohibited from ministry, only one particular office. To claim that women are rejected from ministry is to construe ministry so narrowly that it denigrates all the ministry that women have customarily been engaged in and places undue importance on one office and one particular form of ministry.

    As to your use of N. T. Wright’s talk to the feminist gathering in Durham a few years ago – well there, I consider the source and occasion.


  10. On last comment. When Mrs. Evans says above that, “I don’t typically identify myself with the emergent church” I suppose typical must be the operative word. However, less than two years ago she lamented the premature obituary of the “emergent conversation” by saying that, “But here’s the problem I have with declaring the “emerging conversation” over: Some of us are still talking.”

    So while she may not typically identify herself with the “soooo last year” Emerging church, she clearly embraces the ethos and the label.

    Her post is here:


  11. Rachel wrote: ” I think using the phrase “frump month” was a mistake. I would never want to imply that women who choose to wear long dresses and cover their heads are frumpy! Quite the contrary! I was just feeling insecure about the frizz fest occurring on my own head and I said the wrong thing.)”

    However, I know exactly what you mean. In the years that I believed I had to wear long loose fitting dresses, and wear a head covering, I had never felt more unattractive and “frumpy” or dowdy. Though it may be more a cultural thing than anything else. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I don’t actually have to do such in order to be acceptable to God.

    Erika wrote: ” Peter does *not* say our “main adornment” should be things of material worth. He says we should *not* wear costly jewelry, braid our hair, etc. He is very specific. But most women I know in conservative Christian circles do wear the very things he prohibits.”

    That is actually a misinterpretation of what Peter was saying. The subject was adornment , what makes one attractive, and what is godly emphasis and what isn’t. It wasn’t about the gold or the clothes otherwise the original Greek admonishes women to not wear clothes. Rather, instead of our emphasis being on what we put upon our bodies, let our emphasis be in adorning our persons that we present to the world with spiritual grace, an adornment of being a spiritual person of gentleness. It is entirely possible to not wear gold or costly clothes (or wear loose fitting long dresses and headcoverings) and still not be adorned with the gentle spirit that Peter was speaking of.

  12. It is true that the church does not have the authority to change God’s teaching, sola Scriptura was claimed by protestants in reaction to the Roman church’s claim that it could.

    And when one examines Scripture as a whole one finds both men and women in leadership, in both the OT and NT. It is a shame when some translations obscure this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s