The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone?
I know what we’d see. A half-empty sanctuary, a miniscule choir, perhaps one nursery worker, and almost no elementary age Sunday School teachers.
It’d be ugly.
In his book, Henderson proposes that women are leaving the church—not all at once, but over time. They are choosing to invest their gifts and talents in other arenas that don’t restrict their leadership or teaching.
The book divides the women he interviewed into three categories: those resigned to the way the church restricts women, those who resigned from church altogether to serve elsewhere, and those who re-signed into church involvement by finding or founding new churches and opportunities. It’s a catchy structure, but obviously it implies from the beginning that women may trick themselves to being happy in church (or resign themselves to it), but none of them are truly comfortable there.
The book is interesting, challenging, and thought-provoking. Of that, there’s no question. He asks many difficult questions and only hints at potential answers for more egalitarian churches.
He highlights some discrepancies in the thinking and practices of many churches that say everyone can minister, but then encourage anyone who is female to find a husband and serve in the nursery or hospitality committees.
But there are some discrepancies in his book, too. Like the fact that he hired George Barna’s organization to survey women about their access to church leadership. Barna’s survey suggested overwhelmingly that women are content and happy and in agreement with their church’s teaching about women in leadership.
Since that doesn’t agree with Henderson’s opinion, he argues that qualitative data is more important than quantitative and focuses on the interviews he conducted one-on-one with women.
It’s also of concern to me that while he clearly questions the Scriptural interpretation of others, he doesn’t ever clearly explain his own interpretation of Scripture. It’s as if there’s a bias, but he won’t clearly define or defend it.
Some of these women also complained about the church restricting their roles as leaders, but at least one of these women described similar struggles in an all-women’s Bible Study. The woman being interviewed blatantly challenged and rebelled against any authority structure whatsoever and then was hurt when she lost access to leadership.
Also, it’s hard to say whether the statistics he cites showing a downward trend in women’s church attendance take into account how people are leaving the church regardless of gender. If he studied men or teens, wouldn’t those statistics show a downward trend, as well. So, is this “epidemic” really about gender at all? Maybe it is. But I can’t say that with certainty when I’m missing other sides of the story.
Overall, it’s a book of questions and maybe starting discussions, perhaps even fueling arguments. It’s not a book with answers.
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The publisher didn’t just send me a free copy of this book to review. I also have a certificate here for a free copy of this book to giveaway on the blog! If you’re interested in this giveaway, just post a comment here on whether you think women are unfairly limited in ministry. I’ll choose a winner March 1st!