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It’s a sad fact, but true, that we must hear seven pieces of encouragement to drown out one cutting remark. That good words must work seven times harder than negative words. That we are seven times more likely to believe in our worthlessness than our worth.

Which is one of the reasons why, when reading books like Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I find myself choking up and laughing in relief all at the same time. It may seem odd that I am a person who needs the freedom so richly expressed by Rachel’s solid arguments and fanciful experiments.

I grew up knowing I should follow God’s call on my life – whatever that was, even though I was a girl. I was never told not to teach, or question, or study theology. I had male and female teachers in church. We read books about the male and female heroes of the faith.

Even in the strictly complimentarian Bible college I attended, there were professors who didn’t tow the “company line”. Male professors who took the questions and callings of their female students just as seriously as their male ones. Female professors who – while unable to formally teach a theology class – taught us about God and humanity, grace and redemption just the same in their communication, education, and science classes.

As far as bad experiences for women in the church go – I have had very few negative stories.

But then there’s that pesky 7-to-1 ratio.

And where there is one comment to the effect that a woman’s highest calling is motherhood, there must be seven reminders that just because I am not a mother doesn’t mean I’m not currently living out the world’s highest calling of following Christ.

Where there is one comment questioning the message only because SHE was the messenger, there must be seven reminders that God gives His message to whomever He decides and our only duty is to proclaim it, not change the hearers.

Where there is one warning that your failure to live up to a demure, beautiful, feminine ideal may mean your failure as a Godly woman, there must be seven reminders of God’s grace and His delight in His daughters.

If a woman has been pressed up to the false standard of biblical womanhood and critiqued for her failures in its harsh light, she must have grace and God’s loving, sure creativity pressed upon her blistered soul seven times.

In her first month of “biblical womanhood”, Held Evans explores the virtue of gentleness. During the month, she is ruthless with herself about any “contentious” speech – which means (among other things) gossip, complaint, and snarky remarks. She studies the story of Miriam’s criticism of Moses’ wife. Miriam was struck with a skin disease for her sin of loshon hara – “evil speech”.

Researching the Hebrew words loshon hara, Held Evans comes across a saying from the Talmud. That “loshon hara kills three people: the one who speaks it, the one who hears it, and the one about whom it is told”. Questioning the seeming hyperbolic use of “kill”, Held Evans considers the damage our words have done and can do to one another and concludes “violent language is appropriate” (10).

With a word we can kill one another. With a few more words, we can resuscitate one another.

The words in A Year of Biblical Womanhood are resuscitative.

***

And to three of you, I’ll be sending a copy of A Year of Biblical Womanhood! All the names of people who entered went on slips of paper and my dad (who didn’t know what he was doing!) picked out three names. The lucky winners are:

Maree, Suzanne, Leslie

Email me at sarahkatheenkidd (at) gmail (dot) com with your ebook related email address (if you want the digital copy) or your snail mail address (if you want a paperback).

Thanks for entering!

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