I received my advanced reader’s copy of Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood in the mail yesterday. I began reading it this morning and I have an excerpt to share (from p. xvi):
“Now, we evangelicals have a nasty habit of throwing the word biblical around like it’s Martin Luther’s middle name. We especially like to stick it in front of other loaded words, like economics, sexuality, politics, and marriage to create the impression that God has definitive opinions about such things, opinions that just so happen to correspond with our own. Despite insistent claims that we don’t ‘pick and choose’ what parts of the Bible we take seriously, using the word biblical prescriptively like this almost always evokes selectivity.”
Last night I had a conversation with a family who comes from a tradition that tells women that they cannot wear pants, jewelry, makeup, and so forth and so on because they have a proof text that supports their views. I tried to emphasize that the Bible is not a rule book full of universal principles for the “good life,” but a narrative of the people of God that must be interpreted, examined, discusses, and read cautiously. Other traditions may not have these strict rules, but they have their favorite texts, those that reinforce their worldview. They may not dislike their wife’s make up (in fact, it may cause them a lot of aesthetic pleasure), but they don’t want their wife to have an authoritative voice in the world. As I said, this isn’t about the Bible. It is about our wants and desires, our need for power and control, and the Bible happens to be a useful weapon to conquer others, so we use it.
Biblical can be an exciting word, but often it is a dangerous, abusive word meant to baptize our preset ideology.