That said, there are a few other places Evans raises good points. She spends a considerable amount of time addressing the idea that women should only work in the home. "If God is the God of all pots and pans," Evans postulates, "then He is also the God of all shovels and computers and paints and assembly lines and executive offices and classrooms. Peace and joy belong not to the woman who finds the right vocation, but to the woman who finds God in any vocation, who looks for the divine in every corner" (p. 30). I could not agree more; Christianity’s misunderstandings of vocation run much deeper than women's roles at home, and I’m grateful for Evans’ discussion of this topic.

Evans also has a lot to say about social justice. The oppression of women around the world is too important to overlook. Quoting Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, Evans laments, "It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century" (235). Facts like this should rile the Church into action instead of arguments about whether or not a woman can lead a Sunday School class.

Unfortunately, the book ends on a confusing note. After spending most of her time lamenting over how we pick and choose what we follow in the Bible, Evans seems to give up and fall into the same pattern:

"It’s not a matter of whether to pick or choose, but how to pick and choose. We are all selective. We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we reading with the prejudices of love or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed?" (296)

I did not understand this statement to be a true solution to the problem of interpreting scripture. What does "prejudices of love" mean? This idea seemed vague, and Evans never really clarified.

I wanted to love A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Like Rachel Held Evans, I am a young married woman. Like her, I'm in no rush to have kids and sometimes feel that makes me less of a Christian woman (why is that?). Like her, I struggle over passages of Scripture that seem to cast women in a subordinate role, struggle over what exactly "submission" means, and struggle with the mixed messages the Church sends about what is and isn’t appropriate for a woman to do with her time and talent. Like Evans, I want to have honest dialogue about these things. But amid the many valid points and good questions in this book, I also found confusing textual interpretations and a conclusion that I wish had more clarity.

I still think you should read it, but don't let it be the only book you read about biblical womanhood. I found myself reaching for my Bible, asking "Is that what it really says/means?" every time Rachel Held Evans challenged me.

Kelly Givens is a Contributing Editor to Crosswalk.com. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and enjoys reading, writing and spending time in the great outdoors

Publication date: November 9, 2012