Recently I was accused of being a Doug Wilson follower. Now I am not entirely sure what that means, but I have read precisely zero of his books. On the other hand, I have read more than five books written by some of his children, and it has been delightful. Totally recommend. They kill it. Most recently I was blessed to receive of copy of Eve in Exile: And the Restoration of Feminity by Rebekah Merkle for my reviewing pleasure and it was just that: a total pleasure. This book is an excellent treatise on both society’s and current cultural christianity’s view on women gone wrong—and how we should fix it.
First, Rebekah attacks the problem of the divide that Christian women display today in regards to what our pushback to our current culture should look like. We have those who want to live in “Pretendyville” (as she calls it):
“Many women are disgusted by what they see around them in our culture, and they wish that they lived in an earlier time where gender roles were clearly defined and femininity wasn’t despised in the way it is today. They see the earlier societal respect for gender differences as much more creational and biblical, and they feel that if we could only recapture some of what our culture apparently used to possess, then we’d be back on the right path again.” (p. 19)
I love this. I’ve never understood the attempt to recreate the Jane Austen lifestyle, as if the recapturing of their aesthetics would change us culturally. The problem is first within, not without. The answer to our current cultural problem cannot be found in tightening up our collective corset. The fainting kept woman of the 17 or 1800’s was never the apex of “womanhood”. That said, Rebekah spends much more time in the book helping us shed the ingrained and currently pervasive idea that the stay-at-home mom is a similarly useless and kept woman of today. Not just that, women who give up “careers” are often treated as uneducated psychopaths who knows nothing of true fulfillment. Our current culture revolts at the idea of a woman at home, serving her husband and children—so much so, that even Christian women display this attitude in subtle ways.
Rebekah takes us on a delightful historical trip through the very roots of the feminist movement and although I fancied myself a tad knowledgeable on the subject, she turned me upside the head in this section. Are you unsure what the relationship is between Prohibition, Margaret Sanger, and the current LGBT movement is today? Great. This book is for you. I would use words like “clear” and “concise” but that’s boring. She makes this history lesson fun. To truly understand feminism today, it’s not enough to know what the first, second, and third wave feminists did and are still doing—we must understand how it is all connected and applies to us now.
The second half of the book is really the meat and bones, if you will, because Rebekah seeks to answer what in the world women were created for.
The intent of the designer matters. And we women, as God’s creatures, are designed by him to fulfill a particular role. How many women are out there living frustrated, impossible lives because they’re trying to be a can opener when God actually made them to be a knife? (p.98)
And if God designed women for a specific purpose, if there are fixed limits on the feminine nature, then surely it would follow that when we are living in accordance with those limits and purpose we will be in our sweet spot. That’s where we’ll shine. Where we’ll excel. And where we will find the most fulfillment. If your hackles are already going up at that, then it’s probably because you’re afraid that in the end, what God designed you for is unexciting, unfulfilling, demeaning, and generally dull. (p.99)
What follows is a glowing, invigorating expose on what we can know God’s role is for women based on Scripture. Honestly, girlfriend smashes right into the idea that women aren’t meant for hard work, reorients the clear Biblical picture of what it means to be a “helper”, and goes through what it means to be women who subdue, fill, help, and glorify. You should see all the tabs and highlights and circles I left in this last section of the book. I could barely flip through it to choose a great quote to leave you with. And so, I won’t.
Are you a single woman feeling downtrodden, wondering what on Earth God would have you do when you don’t have a husband to honor or children to raise? Are you a married woman feeling stuck in the cycle of her days, wondering when you’re going to get to actually get to do something? Are you confused about the role of women at home? At church? At work? Are you discouraged by what our culture (Christian and otherwise) says you can or cannot do? Read this book. I laughed. I cried. I highlighted. I wanted to high-five someone several times while reading this (my toddler was the closest someone and she was totally confused).
Tips for reading this book:
- Put your reading list aside, and read this one, now.
- Don’t skip the footnotes. They are hysterical.
- When your preconceived notions of femininity are totaled, don’t get fussy. That’ll make you a feminist.
- Bring a highlighter.
- You might wanna become post-mill. Lie down until the feeling passes.
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