Women and Taboos: Leaning In, and Getting Frank About Faith, Sexuality and the Bible

In this age of third-wave feminism, many Americans may not realize that Christian women continue to struggle with what many would deem outdated gendered notions. This includes things such as a woman’s calling being second to her husband’s, women as unwitting temptresses who therefore must hide their bodies, and that women may not lead (or sometimes even speak) in church. Both external and internal pressures and fears have historically kept women silent on these matters.

In the recently released Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, edited by Erin S. Lane and Enuma C. Okoro, 40 women under 40 were provided a much-needed pulpit from which to break the silence. These 40 women addressed head-on many of the taboos remaining at the intersection of faith and gender, and how they are stepping out of historical oppression to make real change within the church.

You can read the rest of the review at Sojourners by clicking here.

women of faith talking t_cover_final_front

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2 thoughts on “Women and Taboos: Leaning In, and Getting Frank About Faith, Sexuality and the Bible

  1. Hi, Jamie,
    I posted this at Sojourners.
    Not having read this book, I cannot comment on the authors’ standards, but from the reviewer’s standpoint, whose values are Christian and can be studied on her blog, I strongly affirm this call to recognize women as independent souls before God who are commissioned no less than men to lead in the mission of the Body of Christ. Churches that become sidetracked by Paul’s admonition for keeping order in the new congregations developing in the early church (he affirmed the old Jewish order that silenced women, not the new order Jesus intended that liberated women) overlook the lists of people he commended that include many women who were building the new church. They overlook the powerful role of Mary in forming the thinking of Jesus: yes, forming. They fail to notice the significance of the particular women singled out for recognition in the genealogy of Jesus presented by Matthew at the beginning of the first Gospel all of whom were exceptional and who did not conform to the traditional role for Hebrew women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, but who were part of God’s long-range plan to bring Jesus into the world. They ignore the Old Testament examples of strong women and the way they wielded their strengths, which include Esther’s sexual gorgeousness that she used along with prayer for influence and Naomi and Ruth’s conniving boldness that culminated in bedding Ruth at the feet of Boaz. If you read the version of the scriptures that reports on the warrior Judith, her sword arm is a power most men would not like to contend with. God gave those women traits and abilities and they used them to full advantage. God gave them success; their stories are included in scripture to nail the idea of God’s breadth of approbation into our consciousness. Did I mention Rahab? The Bible does! The issue is not “equality” with men; some women have no equals. In fact, the uniqueness of God’s creation in every man and woman should be subordinated to democratic political concepts of “equality.” Jesus was not “equal” and was put to death for being exceptional. Some churches similarly try to crush people’s exceptional abilities partly out of ignorance: they lack spiritual discernment, and partly out of ungodly pride: they feel threatened. What God wants is freedom for His women to become the individuals they can become under the power of the Holy Spirit. That God-guided outcome contributes to the character of the Church of Christ, which will become stronger as godly men rise to the challenges of the strong women in it. Churches that fail to recognize this mighty work of God in these days will crumble into uselessness.

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    • I can always count on you for such supportive and insightful comments! Thank you. 🙂 There were 40 contributors to Talking Taboo, so, as one might expect, I can’t say I either agreed theologically or related emotionally to each contributor. That said, each and every one of the 40 contributors is following the path of bringing greater love and justice to our world and our churches. That is something I can agree with and relate to very much. It would be problematic to get bogged down in the particulars of where agreement and disagreement are; my hope is that the loud message (growing louder!) of equality and justice is heard, recognized, and acted on by the church as a whole.

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