We have three copies of The Resignation of Eve to give away! If you'd like to enter the draw to win a copy, please leave a comment below this post by midnight on 11 March. Tell us if the theme of this book resonates with you.
We hear a lot about the lack of men in the church, but does that mean church is a place where women are thriving? Jim Henderson’s book would suggest not. Resignation of Eve is the result of many, many conversations that Henderson has had with women in the US which have left him with the conviction that an epidemic of quiet, sad resignation is developing among Christian women who feel overworked and undervalued in the church. He asks the question, ‘what if Adam’s rib is no longer willing to be the church’s backbone?’
Henderson tells the stories of women who are resigned to what their church allows them to do; they’ve come to terms with the fact they can’t exercise all the gifts and abilities they are capable of contributing to their church community and have compromised to fit in.
He tells the stories of women who have resigned from their churches because of the restrictions placed on women in ministry. Not given the opportunities to lead, think, guide, and shape that they are capable of, they have chosen to walk away from the church.
And he tells the stories of women who have re-signed – who have found ways to stay connected with the church and use their gifts but who are aware of the limitations on them and who choose to work around that.
The book is a delight to read, full of great conversations and fascinating women, most of whom are determined to keep following Jesus in spite of the restraints that are put on them. Two things made an impression on me as I read this book.
Firstly, many of the women struggled to articulate well the biblical basis for their church’s attitude towards women in leadership whether it was complementarian, egalitarian or somewhere in between. Those who are well-grounded in their theology are those who have had opposition to their leadership and have had to do the work of understanding what the bible says. Henderson says, ‘women struggle, often in private, trying to determine whether their churches’ positions on women’s roles are genuinely God’s ideal or simply a reflection of dogmatic conditioning and cultural bias.’ I wish churches would be more open about their position on women in leadership and teach on it, so that we know where we stand.
Secondly, I was struck by the hypocrisy of many of the church leaders in the stories who will engage with women and let them do the work, as long as it appears that those women aren’t actually leading. They are happy to use women’s leadership gifts while simultaneously denying them the title of leader. Henderson says, ‘I’ve concluded that many pastors have got stuck in this dishonest dance. They depend upon women’s spiritual insights to help the church grow while reserving the right to refuse them access to the main stage.’
I’d be interested to know whether Henderson’s findings are replicated in the UK. I’ve had some heart-breaking conversations with women recently who have been clearly told by the churches they are in that they are not acceptable as they are, and they need to tone down their initiative and leadership to truly be godly women; I wonder how many others are hearing the same thing. I’d encourage you to listen to the stories in this book and to start similar conversations with women that you know. You can find out more about the book at resignationofeve.com
Jenny Baker is the director of the Sophia Network