It's Not About Biblical Womanhood
I am writing a book.
As this news has spread, I’ve been asked more than once:
“So, it’s about biblical womanhood, right?”
Given the topic of this (recently quiet) column, the question makes perfect sense. It also makes sense if you know enough of my life’s trivia to recall that my very first book was, indeed, about biblical womanhood. Though penned at nineteen and filled with the kind of wince-worthy passages one might expect from a sheltered homeschooler, that first title (now out of print, by a stroke of God’s kindness) gives a little insight into a topic that is near and dear to my heart: womanhood.
So where in the world did a book about race and identity come from?
I Want To Learn More
I’ve read enough books about biblical womanhood.
I don’t say that to discourage anyone from writing about the topic, or to turn my nose up at any fresh takes you might be hankering to offer. I’ll probably read each and every one of them. But as a girl who thumbed through countless volumes from the genre during her teen years, I’m a bit winded.
And perhaps a bit jaded.
I’ve been incredibly encouraged by numerous books geared toward women and about women, and I hope to see that continue in the future. But I’ve also seen countless examples of our concept of “biblical womanhood” codified as another law that women of God must follow, despite it being divorced from a holistic picture of what it means to be a human being created in God’s image.
There is a fresh perspective to be had. There is transcendent truth to be preached. But before I jump into an entire book on the topic of womanhood (if, indeed, I ever do), I want to ensure that I keep from doing so as a kind of antivenom for all of the poison I’ve seen perpetrated under that banner.
Part of growing up means maturing beyond our previously limited understandings of certain things. I believe I’ve done that in regards to what it means to be a woman of God. But growing up also means learning to respond to immature or misguided beliefs with more than impulsivity. We have to learn how to offer nuance and perspective that is free of bitterness (thanks, therapy). I don’t want to write the opposite of my first book. I want to write one I believe to be a testament to what God’s Word says about womanhood. I simply don't feel like I am at a place to do that without being reactionary right now. I'm still learning what it looks like to live free of bitterness.
I Want To Write This
More than anything else, I’m writing this book because I really, really want to.
When I talked to my husband about rebranding my website a few months ago, he asked, “Who are you? What do you write about? How does it all fit together?”
My first book promoted stay-at-home daughterhood as the perfect feeder for idyllic stay-at-home-motherhood. (Hush, you don’t get to make fun of me until you hand over your diary entries from college.) And, Lord willing, my second book will compile a collection of letters to my sons and to the church about ethnicity, identity, and culture. In so many ways, these projects couldn’t be any more different.
But the answer to my husband’s questions rolled off of my tongue in a way that rarely happens for this introspective writer. “I write about identity,” I told him. “About what makes us who we are.”
The Womanhood Of It All
Of course, the Sunday school response to the topic of identity is true. The Lord makes us who we are. He is the cornerstone of our identity.
And (not but) the Lord crafts us in unique ways, knowing they will intersect as we grow into the likeness of his Son. He made Paul a Jewish man. He made Ruth a Moabite woman. He made Cyrus a Persian king. And each of their ethnic identities and sexes played a part in how they interacted with his plan for his people.
If Paul had not been a Pharisee; if Ruth had not been an alien woman who found herself on a threshing floor; if Cyrus had not been a Persian king, the story of Scripture would have played out so differently.
My sons are taking part in that story as young black American men and I, their mother, have some thoughts about that. I don’t plan to share them as a seasoned Titus 2 woman giving advice on how to parent, but as a young Christian woman sharing a snapshot of this moment in identity formation, one with a sweet toddler who calls me Mama, and a babe in utero currently practicing his breakdancing skills.
So, that’s what my book is about. And that’s why my book is about what it’s about. I hope to share more with you as the project progresses and I’m so grateful for you taking the time to read more about it here.
My deadline looms near my early-2019 due date, but I’ll try my best to keep this column going, trusting that you will charge my lapses not to a lack of writing, but to writing that I’m pouring into this new venture.
I’ll still be writing about womanhood here and other aspects of identity, as I always have. I’m just so grateful to have you along for the ride, my friends. It’s going to be an adventure.