Woman Spends a Year Living According to the Bible

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.

Photo: tntech.edu

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.


Feedback (3 Comments)

  • J Paul Sank Posted on October 17, 2012

    How does this have anything to do with Christianity? Ms Evans was following the *Hebrew* Bible, so her experiment may have something valid to say about *Judaism*. *Christians* follow the *New* Testament, which includes guidance as to which Jewish laws are or are not still in force.
    At the risk of speaking imprecisely, my understanding of the NT is that the cross of Christ frees believers from the Old Testament minutiae of Temple ceremony and ritual cleansings. We Christians are accused of picking and choosing, but no, we are to go to the New Testament to discern which of the old laws are still in force and which have been fulfilled and are no longer binding. Speaking crudely, the ceremonial and ritual stuff was fulfilled in Christ, while the ethics remain, e.g., circumcision is no longer required, but homosexual acts and bestiality are still abominable. E.g., we don’t practice animal sacrifice anymore, because the sacrifice of God’s own Son fulfilled it, so now our sacrifices are spiritual, not bloody.
    I read someone referring to Ms Evans as “an evangelical blogger”, but given this evidence of Ms Evans having a shallow knowledge of Scripture, I don’t see where she would be entitled to be called that. Failing to understand such a basic distinction, she doesn’t even seem to merit the label “Christian” except perhaps in a superficial liberal sense.
    I would suggest a re-write of the book in order to relate her experiment to the religion, Judaism, to which it is actually relevant.

  • Derek Shaheen Posted on October 20, 2012

    J Paul, it doesn’t really matter which religion she is basing this on. The concept is the same no matter the religion. You tell me you don’t pick and choose? Right there, any argument you had is out the window.

  • Rob Turak Posted on October 22, 2012

    I agree with J Paul. Christ fulfilled many of the obligations of the Old Testament, so they are not necessary any longer. The article specifies “but through her experiment Rachel tries to make a serious point: all CHRISTIANS choose to respect those parts of the Bible that suit them” (emphasis mine). Not sure what Derek is talking about when he says it doesn’t matter which religion she is basing this on…