Aimee Byrd, author, speaker, and former co-host on Mortification of Spin, has written a provocative book, Recovering From Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: How the Church Needs to Rediscover Her purpose. Over the next few weeks, I will be interacting with her writing, but I share my initial impression in this first post.
In general, she writes well and uses gripping illustrations. One of the major illustrations she uses is from a novel The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins. Before reading Aimee Byrd’s book, I had never heard of this novel. Admittedly, I rarely read novels and relied on Cliff Notes to get through high school English, so it was no surprise that I had never heard of it. This short story, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, describes a woman who struggles with postpartum depression and is prescribed “rest therapy” by her doctor. In essence, she is driven to further depression, feeling controlled by her husband and circumstances as she is isolated in a room with yellow wallpaper. The narrator becomes convinced that a woman trapped insider the pattern of the wallpaper. The book ends terrifyingly. The wife has torn out the wallpaper and proclaimed herself free. The Yellow Wallpaper is a motif that Aimee uses throughout the book. Each chapter of the book has a peel and reveal section.
The purpose of the book, Aimee Byrd states in her own words, “seeks to provide an alternative to all the resources marketed on biblical womanhood and biblical manhood today, focusing on the reciprocity of the male and female voices in Scripture, the covenantal aspect to Bible reading and interpretations, and bearing the fruit of that in our church life.” The primary ministry in her crosshairs is the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This is a parachurch organization that has a wide-reaching influence on the evangelical church. They were the authors of both the Davers Statement and the Nashville Statement. Despite disagreements with some of her conclusions, which we will get to in a later post, the book does a good job encouraging the church not to pawn off its discipleship role to parachurch organizations.
This book has generated many online controversies, which I will steer away from, but I will engage with her observations, exhortations, and conclusions.