One of the biggest questions facing the church today is the role of women. Where do we fit? What is our role? What purpose has God given us?
In her book, ‘Eve in Exile’, Rebekah Merkle sets out to answer such questions and provide insight into the Christian perspective on feminism.
Throughout most of 2018, our women’s group, Sisters Act, studied this book together.
Rebekah Merkle uses the first section of the book to take us on an exciting historical journey through feminism. Beginning in the Enlightenment, in the 18th century, she then takes us through to the ‘First Wave’ of feminism during the women’s suffrage movement, and then on to the ‘Second Wave’ in the time of ‘free love’ in the 1960s.
I particularly noticed that the common factor linking each movement was a time of cultural unrest and Merkle digs deeper into this. This forms a vital part of the book, because, to understand the ‘Third Wave’ of feminism that is happening today, we must understand how and why it came about.
She uses the succeeding chapters to answer the big question of why our ‘obviously natural, creational, biological role’ has become a pitiful excuse for a human.
Reading the book really enlightened me in understanding what God's purpose for women is. Merkle outlines this in four ways: Subdue, Fill, Help and Glorify. She explains what each of these means and how we can ‘live out this design’.
We do this in the more obvious ways of having children and helping our husbands, yet we are also called to work, whether that be in paid-employment or as a homemaker. It's important to understand that filling the earth isn’t just about having children, but also about being fruitful, since we are commanded to ‘fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord’. We also show who God is though hospitality and the way we present our homes. I love how she says that our role is ‘to make holiness beautiful’.
A great example she uses is of Christmas, ‘We women are the ones who make it taste like something. We make it smell good.’
I’m sure we can all relate to this in different ways from our own traditions. The book makes us recognise the challenge women have of putting flesh to the truths of the bible so that from a very young age those truths are rooted in us and stay in us well into our old age.
Overall, ‘Eve in Exile’ is an eye-opening call to arms, for women to see the amazing purpose God has for us, in this current third wave of feminism. For any woman, in any situation, who is confused about the role of women at church or in the home, or who is feeling the pressure of what our culture dictates about our roles, I would recommend that they read this book.