What if eve resigned?
When I saw this book, I was immediately intrigued.
Initially, I remembered Jim Henderson from his website Off the Map, and wondered why in the world he was writing this book. Perhaps you’ve heard of him because of his famous ebay purchase. While this isn’t a part of the focus he’s known for, I think it makes a lot of sense for him to write this book.
A Book of Stories
Resignation of Eve is a book that tries to bring people together from both sides of the “gender role in the church” debate. In this book Henderson is more interested in sharing stories than diving into theological reasons why one is right and the other is wrong. He is upfront about his bias (he thinks Scripture frees women to fully use their giftings and talents in every area of the church and society), but he’s not overbearing about it. His main reason for writing this book is to make people aware of an alarming movement- young women are leaving the church, most of the time quietly, because they can’t find a way to use their gifts in the body. Many of these women are highly motivated, incredibly gifted, and leading or teaching in other areas of society (business, school, parachurch organizations), but are realizing that if they don’t work well with children and youth, there is not much left for them. What about the woman who is great at looking at systems and finding areas of strength/weakness? What about the woman who is incredibly gifted at developing leaders? What about a woman who has a gift of shepherding?
Resigned To, Resigned From, or Re-signed?
Henderson writes the stories of women who have reacted to this issue in different ways. There are some women who realize they have these gifts, but are happy not to use them because “women aren’t allowed” to do what they are gifted at. Many of this group have found creative ways to make a niche for themselves in other ways that is in-bounds with the traditional gender roles. Another group of women have found it too difficult and have left the church or the faith. A portion of these women still go to church gathering on Sundays, mostly for their husband or children, but have checked out emotionally and mentally. Perhaps they do still have a vibrant faith, but have chosen to distance themselves emotionally because they don’t see another option. A third group cares a lot, but can’t bring themselves to leave. These are the women who “realize that life is a series of trade-offs….[they] are realists and even optimists. They are willing to nudge the ball of change down the field. They’re not world changers, but they’re contributers.”
This book is filled with stories of questions, disillusionment, confusion, hope, and hurt. I love that the stories were honest and exposed the thoughts and feelings of women on all sides of this issue. Henderson highlighted the tension that surrounds this issue for women, despite which side of the fence they fall. For women who are gifted in leadership, administration, or teaching, being a part of the body in a meaningful way isn’t easy. No man has to ever wonder, “Is it appropriate for me to offer to [insert role]“? Women do. Women with these giftings are constantly approaching situations with caution, and many end up silently disappointed, unsure of what God created them to do if not what they are good at.
Throughout the book, Henderson plays around with the question- what would happen if women just didn’t show up one week in the church activities? What would happen? I think that although it’s a significant question for Henderson, I didn’t find it all that interesting. This question weakened the book a little- it would have been better just left out.
Start some conversation.
While Henderson leans towards one side throughout the book, I think this a great book for both women and men. For women, this book may be a great tool in helping them to explore some of their own silence or tension. For men, perhaps they’ve never thought about or heard from women concerning this issue as it relates to personal stories. Even if the reader doesn’t agree with Henderson’s leaning, I think one would find it an indispensable resource to help get started in understanding the tension that does exist in the church body of which they are a part.
Whether you are a complementarian, egalitarian, or somewhere in between, this is a book that will get you thinking about the women in your life or church. Grab this book, gather a few friends, and read through it together. This is a book to surely start some conversations.
And here’s a discussion guide to help you along.
Much thanks to Tyndale for providing a free copy of this book for review and for encouraging me to give an honest review.