Rachel Held Evans is presented as one of the leading feminist Evangelical voices of marital egalitarianism. To use a worn out but apt phrase, she is their darling. Personally, I could care less who may be the darling of what group because this is not really about egalitarianism or darlings per se, though in being a darling of a group one can and often does become a sacred cow (no pun here of course), which results in blind devotion by adoring worshipers. Rather, this is about you, the egalitarian, and your being exploited by Evans with her latest stunt, namely the claim she spent a year living as a “biblical woman”.
Understand clearly, I am not here to try and argue whether egalitarianism, complimentarianism, governmentalism or some other form of marital doctrine is right or wrong. I am here in principle about people being exploited, about being used. And my egalitarian friend, just as other Christian groups get used by book publishers and Christian personalities, you are now the target of Rachel Held Evans and her publisher. She wants your money and has a book to sell you, regardless of its theological value.
If you are going to be Egalitarian, Rachel Held Evans Is Not Who You Want to Follow – Let Me Explain
Within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist world of Christianity there have always been those who began with what seemed to be with modest attention, thus gaining a hearing from others but who, somewhere along the way after gaining the power, prestige and followers which accompanies a rise in one’s profile, seemed to switch to a person who is willing to do and say things that at one time you would have never imagined them doing. Not that they are horrible things, necessarily (sometimes they are, though) but that they are oriented around attention seeking. Instead of getting attention for soundness they compromise what was assumed to be a certain degree of decorum, seriousness and consistency.
I will give you one example, Al Mohler. Al Mohler is a very competent Bible teacher. I do not believe that is in question. And he has risen to a position of leadership within Evangelicalism, some might say conservative Evangelicalism (I believe he would). But strangely, along the way, Al Mohler’s words and actions quit lining up on some important issues.
His association with and promotion of charismaticist CJ Mahaney is one of the most bizarre dis-affirmations of critical elements of historic Baptist doctrine Mohler claims to represent that I have seen by someone who, on the one hand claims conservatism in his Evangelicalism and has aggressively taught the importance of sound hermeneutics while on the other hand is constantly praising and transferring trust and confidence to Mahaney who is anything but one who has sought to preserve historic Baptist doctrine or sound hermeneutics. CJ Mahaney is the antithesis of both sound doctrine and sound ministerial ethics. A child can see this.
So because Al Mohler is a competent Teacher and can articulate some Bible doctrine well, do I simply look the other way with his CJ Mahaney justifications and practice? No, not at all. This is part of Al Mohler. I cannot allow myself to simply take the good parts of Al Mohler and ignore the bad parts of his ministry and go happily on my way. What integrity to I have? What self-respect do I have? I am only deluding myself. In fact, it calls into question, in a rather significant way, his integrity, gifted Teacher or not.
I could spend quite a bit of time with example after example within Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism to drive home the point. But I do not want to write, at length, with examples because I want to get to the subject at hand, Rachel Held Evans and her exploitation of those who hold her in esteem.
A Woman’s Year of Living Biblically
First let me say to those of you who have already made up your mind that what Rachel Held Evans does is fine and that you are simply going to ignore any criticism, I encourage you to stop reading now because you are wasting your time. But for the women and men who might agree with egalitarianism but have a degree of self-respect, you might want to consider what I am about to say. You are being used.
Evans’ book claims to be one of spending a year living Biblically as a woman. Now, it does not take very long for anyone to find out that this is not what Evans did at all. What she did do, however, is pull off a gimmick to sell you a book which appeals to your egalitarianism by creating many straw man arguments.
Here are a couple of examples of the gimmick based exploitation by Evans:
1. Slate magazine, last year, wrote about this and reported:
“Before Easter this year, Rachel Held Evans camped out for the weekend in a purple tent she had set up in her
yard. For nine days after this adventure, she abstained from sex and even from touching her husband. She stayed home from church, and toted around a stadium seat cushion to avoid sitting directly on chairs outside her home. Evans' goal was to obey the Bible's commandments for menstruating women in Leviticus Chapters 15 to 18, a passage that takes a lot of shalls and shall nots to make a simple point: Women on their periods are untouchable.” Tennessee
While the article admits that even fundamentalists do not hold to this requirement, one must ask, then what is the reason for this stunt by Evans? How is this informative? How does it help the believer with regard to understanding the doctrine of marriage? It doesn’t, but it does sell books.
Evans accounts in her book that she referred to her husband as Master. Does anyone, anywhere, find any credible or even half-way credible Bible Teacher, even of the most conservative kind, teaching wives to call their husband “master”? Right, if it exists it exists as a known aberration rejected even by Fundamentalists (not that Fundamentalists necessarily deserve the "even by" reference by default, rather it is to make a point to Evangelical readers). Again, what is the point?
The point is to sell you a book by appealing to your feminist outrage that one of your sisters had to go through this and that many women did actually go through this in the past. But is anyone requiring this, now? No. It isn’t an actual argument, it is a straw man. It pretends that calling your husband “master” is an issue (I won’t go into the fact that Evans failed to do her homework on the word, itself, but that isn’t important because it would have undermined her disingenuous use of the word to make a non-existent point).
Egalitarian Men and Women Who do Attempt to Live Biblically Ought to be Disgusted
Remember, this is not about arguing the case of marital doctrines, rather about pointing out exploitation. I am not so dumb as to believe that if someone disagrees with me on the doctrine of marriage that I should view them as default non-biblical in the rest of their lives. There are many egalitarians who seek to live by Biblical standards, earnestly. And in much of their lives you would see nothing remarkably different than that of a complimentarian, governmentalist and so on who differ in marital doctrine.
Rachel Held Evans thinks of her readers and potential book buyers, in my opinion, as fools, as stupid and so uninformed that they believe stunts like Evans’ somehow will inform them and have a point. Not that the book does not have a few points but the worthy points Evans makes could be summed up in one or two paragraphs which is basically that we ought to give consideration to context.
However, informing you isn’t her objective, separating you from your money is, with bigger-than-life stunts. She is a showman, now, of the first order. You are her subjects and she believes that you are willing to swallow anything all because she is the darling of egalitarianism.
You really should have more self-respect. There are Bible Teachers and Theologians who both sympathize with and aggressively take the egalitarian view without lowering themselves, but more importantly without seeking to lower their students and readers (you), with gimmicks and exploitation to sell books, to whom your ears ought to be given. She has made herself a clown with this effort and you will only join yourself in a brigade of fools in believing this book is worth your investment. Be egalitarian if you will but before you become like conservatives following Joel Osteen or Rick Warren with their gimmicks, in buying into this nonsense, just understand you are about to become the very thing you do not like.