1. Where on earth did you get this idea?
For the past few years I’ve been hearing a lot about gender roles as evangelicals debate the place of women in the home, church, and society. (See Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Christians for Biblical Equality) While many hail “biblical womanhood” as the ideal, few seem to agree on exactly what it means, so women like me receive mixed messages about how to honor God with our decisions. I was thinking about this in the shower one morning, when I got a crazy idea. What if I tried it all? What if took the notion of biblical womanhood literally to show how we all pick and choose when it comes to applying the Bible?
2. You do realize that A.J. Jacobs has already done this, right?
I absolutely loved The Year of Living Biblically and have always wanted to see a woman’s take on a similar experiment. I think my project is especially relevant because "biblical womanhood" is such a hot topic in evangelical circles and such a real presence in the lives of many women of faith. I thought it would be interesting to use a format like Jacobs' to comment on the contemporary "biblical womanhood" phenomenon in a fresh way.
3. What is your position regarding the nature of the Bible?
As a Christian, I believe that the Bible represents a sacred collection of poems, stories, accounts, and letters that are inspired by God and shared by his people. As an honest reader, I confess that there are times when the Bible touches me, times when the Bible troubles me, and times when the Bible confounds me. As an interpreter, I acknowledge that my understanding of the Bible’s meaning is fallible. My purpose in embarking on this project is not to belittle or make fun of the Bible, nor is it to glorify its patriarchal elements. I just want to creatively investigate our interpretation and application of the Bible in order to start a conversation. (To learn more, check out "Better Conversations About Biblical Womanhood.")
4. What is your position on gender roles?
I’m a thoroughly liberated beneficiary of the feminist movement, complete with a blossoming career, an egalitarian marriage, and a messy house. I strongly support women at all levels of leadership in the church, and am suspicious of anyone who would claim that the Bible presents just one “right way” to be woman. One of my goals in taking on a year of biblical womanhood is to encourage Christian women to cut themselves and one another some slack because none of us are practicing biblical womanhood 100%! We’re all selective!
5. Commandment #3 has to do with mothering. Are you planning to have a baby as part of the project?
While Dan and I are open to having children at some point, we are not planning to have them as part of an experiment. That’s a bit too…Kardashian…for our tastes. I did, however, care for a baby-think-it-over for three days in May.
6. So far, what has been the hardest part of the experiment?
The aforementioned baby-think-it-over was a real challenge. The month in which I turned Proverbs 31 into a to-do list nearly triggered a nervous breakdown. It was awkward explaining to people that the reason I was carrying around a stadium cushion was because I was on my period and considered “unclean,” and going a year without a haircut has been bad for everyone.
7. So far, what has been the best part of the experiment?
In striving to nurture a gentle and quiet spirit, I’ve learned a lot about contemplative prayer, which is something I would like to continue to practice after the project is over. I also had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the work World Vision is doing in Bolivia, which has inspired me to live more generously. Come to find out, I’m a pretty good cook, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Ahava—an Orthodox Jew from Israel who has helped me through niddah, Passover, and Rosh Hashana.
8. What about women who have been abused in the name of "biblical womanhood"? Should you be making light of this?
Throughout the experiment I've encountered heartbreaking stories from women who have been abused in the name of "submission"...not to mention several troubling passages of Scripture that are difficult for me to swallow as a woman. (See the book of Judges, for example.) So in addition to the more lighthearted misadventures of the book (and they will be many!) I intend to explore the darker side of biblical womanhood. I have interviewed women who have been in situations where religious abuse robbed them of their voice and will. And I will explore some of those troubling biblical passages that should lead any compassionate reader to shake her head. This is an incredibly important part of the book to me, for it highlights just how difficult and complex this issue can be.
9. What does your husband think of the project?
At the halfway point, Dan and I made a video commenting on the project.