My friend and Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans has a book coming out at the end of the month called A Year of Biblical Womanhood about the time she spent trying to be the type of woman the Bible commands her to be.
Of all the passages in the book, this one is causing the most controversy:
I signed my first abstinence pledge when I was just fifteen. I’d been invited by some friends to a fall youth rally at the First Baptist Church, and in the fellowship hall one night, the youth leader passed around neon blue and pink postcards that included a form letter to God promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. We had only a few minutes to add our signatures, and all my friends were signing theirs, so I used the back of my metal chair to scribble my name across the dotted line before marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and to my vagina onto a giant corkboard for all to see. The youth leader said he planned to hang the corkboard in the hallway outside the sanctuary so that parents could marvel at the seventy-five abstinence pledges he’d collected that night. It was a pretty cheap way to treat both our bodies and God, come to think of it.
Because that passage includes an innocuous use of the word “vagina,” Rachel had to fight her publishers to keep the word in there. She eventually won that fight.
But now LifeWay Christian Resources — one of the largest distributors of Christian books — will not be selling her book in their stores because of the same “problem.”
I’m disappointed, of course, and not just because I’ll take a hit in sales. While Lifeway certainly has every right to choose its own inventory, I think the notion that Christians should dance carefully around reality, that we should speak in euphemisms and only tell comfortable, sanitized stories, is a destructive one that has profoundly affected the evangelical culture as a whole.
I have a copy of the book in front of me and the idea that it’s controversial at all is ludicrous. This is PG material (sorry, Rachel!). But LifeWay is so scared of what it might do, they’re not selling it. It turns out all those stereotypes you have about conservative Christians are true after all.
(Mind you, they’re still selling it online… because, you know, money. But they’re avoiding the physical copies. I guess they’ll make your hands burn or something.)
It’s not the first idiotic decision LifeWay has made. They thought the movie The Blind Side was too offensive. They stopped selling a Bible aimed at people with breast cancer because a portion of the money went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation which gives a small portion of their funding to Planned Parenthood… They even added warning stickers to books written by slightly-more-liberal Christians.
Meanwhile, LifeWay has no problem selling various versions of the Bible, a book filled with rape and violence and genocide. Hell, they’ll sell Bibles for children. But mention a part of a woman’s anatomy and they get all fussy about it.
Dianna Anderson also points out the kicker: While LifeWay won’t sell Rachel’s book…
… Lifeway still carries Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage, which contains explicit references to anal and oral sex.
A Christian group that’s hypocritical?! Unbelievable…