31-year-old Rachel Held Evans has spent an entire year trying to follow of the Bible’s instructions for menstruating women, from “submitting” to their husbands to removing themselves from the community. Now she’s launching a book on her religious experiment, called “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”.
The Tennessee-based evangelical blogger set out to obey the Bible’s strict rules for women on their period, from Leviticus Chapters 15 to 18. In case you didn’t know, the Holy Book sets a strict set of rules for women, some explicit, others implied, and Evans tried to obey most of them as precisely as possible. During the 12-month-long experience, she stayed home from church, made her own clothes, abstained from sex and even touching her husband, let her hair grow, slept in a tent once a month, and even carried a seat cushion with her wherever she went to avoid sitting on chairs outside her home. It might sound funny, even kooky, but through her experiment Rachel tries to make a serious point: all Christians choose to respect those parts of the Bible that suit them.
Ironically, her biggest critics throughout the whole Biblical project have been conservatives who should’ve been most sympathetic to her idea. “It goes to show at some level there’s a fear of exposing what it means to follow the Bible literally,” the writer told Slate Magazine. But despite criticism she went through with her experiment and managed to complete her self-set 12-month challenge. Now she’s preparing to launch a book on it, but she’s faced with other hurdles. LifeWay, one of the largest Christian bookstore chains in America, has chosen not to carry “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” because of its use of the word “vagina”. She was ready to remove the word after her editor suggested not doing so would seriously affect sales, but online petitions by her blog readers to leave it in made her change her mind and just face the consequences. “Writers adjust our content to fit this very sanitized, very strict conservative mold, which means we’re not producing the best writing or the best books we can produce. Everyone bends over backward to meet these demands”, Rachel said.
Due to come out on October 30, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” is taking on powerful theological questions like gender equality and the future of the Christian Church, so it’s definitely a title to watch out for.