*This post contains an affiliate link that helps support the maintenance of this blog. Should you decide to purchase this book through this link, I get a few pennies that help pay for the cost of hosting this site. Thank you so much!
*I received a free copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for my honest opinion of it.
Let me get this out of the way right now… the title of the book, “Is The Bible Good for Women?” is not the greatest. In my pre-reading state, it irked me because the question left me suspicious of where the book would take me in addition to the motive and point of the author. However, once I got into the book, I had a better grasp of the reason WHY the book was titled in such a way. I’m still not a fan of it but after having read the book, I understand the reason for it now.
Whew! Now that the title issue is out of the way, here are my thoughts on the meat of the book.
Alsup takes her readers through a systematic process of dissecting the myriad of issues surrounding women and the Bible. Perhaps, you are wondering what issues exist? Well, to name a few: the whole submission thing and it’s misinterpretation and misapplication over years (centuries?) of church history; the whole women should not teach men thing; the horrible treatment, at times, of women in the OT (rape, stoning, etc.) juxtaposed against tender stories of women; and then, feminism’s values and beliefs, in general, which seemingly, from the outside looking in, opposes the Bible.
Wendy Alsup readily admits that this book begins the conversation and in no way addresses all of the issues that women may have with the Bible, yet, her attempt here is a noble one that, I believe, gets the ball rolling.
Alsup starts at the very beginning in Genesis, looking at the role of a woman and the Hebrew words used to impart her role and tasks. In a very methodical way, we are then encouraged to lay a foundation of 1) letting the Bible teach the Bible and 2) and taking the whole of scripture into context when looking at specific passages. I believe these instructions are wise when approaching any scripture, particularly, the hot-buttoned topical ones. If it seems like there is a contradiction within the Bible, that then causes for us to investigate why. Is it the interpretation and application of scripture or some other reason? Until we pause and figure out the confusion, the Bible will not be a trusted source for us.
Further, Alsup asks her readers to consider how we define “good”, for our definition may not align with God’s definition. She says, “Is the Bible good for women? If good for women is limited to earthly self-actualization then the good we seek is not consistent with the good the Bible offers.”
After we’ve laid a foundation by walking through the OT, investigating our definitions and our values that we’ve adopted from culture, the last 50+ pages dive into six “difficult” passages that women and men struggle with how best to interpret and apply. The sticky six that have been abused, stir up confusion and have been misapplied and misinterpreted are:
*Women teaching with authority
*Women speaking in church
*Women saved through childbearing
*Women wearing head coverings
*Women being subject to husbands
*Women living with disobedient husbands
When we look, in cultural and scriptural context, of each of these Bible verses that speak to a woman’s role in the church and in their household, we see a different perspective than what most of us have been taught. This part of the book, for me, was eye-opening and confirming as there was both freedom and confirmation in looking at these scriptures through a different lens. This isn’t some radical attempt to subvert the Bible or to squeeze the ideology of feminism into the church. However, this takes an honest, unencumbered look at the role of women, God’s view of women and does the Bible hold to any feminist thoughts? Basically, does God value women, because if left to some churches and some men who have grossly misrepresented the Bible, a large segment of creation is left disenchanted.
Wendy Alsup has done a great job of tackling a very touchy, very emotionally charged topic with great care and thoroughness. I appreciate her careful laying of theological foundations for those who may not already have the knowledge of or a tainted view of God and his views on women. I absolutely love Alsup’s repeated pointing to scripture that affirms women as image bearers of God. We must first remember this. We were not merely created as an afterthought or to come behind a man to clean and help. While Alsup readily acknowledges that the two genders have different roles, at times, we both share in the image bearer role equally.
As I look back over those sticky six, I have grappled with some of them as I’ve struggled with how and where I fit in and I am amazed that some women in the Church have been taught that God sees their greatest value as bearing children! Say what?!? When taking scripture as a whole, this belief is just not supported and Alsup does a good job of addressing why. The last two chapters, “Is Instruction for Men Good for Women?” and “Is God Good for Women?” do a good job of delineating gender differences and the danger of unrestrained authority. She goes on to point out the Biblical vision of leadership through the lessons Peter learned over his lifetime. Alsup also does a great job of noting God’s feminist take on his creation and the differences between feminism as we know it and the justice for women the Bible models.
This book is a quick read at a mere 199 pages but is deep and would (should?) make you pause a bit or two as you process the verses against any man-made theology you may have adopted along the way. My only complaint is that there is a lot of repetition, making the writing itself a bit choppy but that is easily overlooked if you look beyond it and stick with the issue at hand. I definitely recommend this book to all Christian women, men and even church leadership. So much bad theology has seeped into our thoughts and thus, how our churches function that it would do all of us good to pause and examine our personally held beliefs in light of what scripture has to say. God loves women.. not for what we can give, how we can help, how subservient we can be or whom we birth (or if we birth at all) but because we, too, were made in His image and we hold within us His Spirit, equally sharing in the inheritance of His kingdom.
Is The Bible Good For Women? by Wendy Alsup is now available at all major retailers.*