by Susan McLeod-Harrison
Barclay Press, 2008.
Paperback, 210 pages.
Reviewed by Tara J. Hannah
Sexism in the church got you down? Never fear, Susan McLeod-Harrison is Saving Women From The Church. Along with her devilish title, McLeod-Harrison takes a few avenues to explain How Jesus Mends A Divide, hitting the “woman question” in church head-on from a variety of perspectives. I so wish I had been given this book when I was a young woman and wife being told by church leadership that my place in life was beneath anyone in the church with a pelvic appendage. McLeod-Harrison addresses the alienation, inferiority, rejection, and regulated submission women experience in church. She even goes into specific issues, such as co-ministering, being called to singleness, deifying motherhood, and when your children are not welcome (in the name of God, of course).
McLeod-Harrison uses credible exegesis from the Gospels to create a potpourri of fresh takes for the woman sitting in a pew. The book is easy to read for any level of biblical literacy. Her chapters create and address typical “if” scenarios women experience in fundamental church environments. Each sentiment is spot on—if women are deep down honest with their conservative church experience—which makes the book easy to pick up or reference for a specific issue.
She includes scenarios such as:
- “If you’ve ever felt alone in your grief and pain”
- “If you don’t have the emotional energy to ‘succeed’ in ministry”
- “If, as a single woman, your gifts have been rejected or overlooked”
- “If the church has resisted your call to minister”
Many more situations are addressed through two stories illustrating a hurtful issue women face in church. Each of these scenarios is followed by an elaborate semi-fictitious version of a gospel story depicting how Jesus treated the suffering woman. McLeod-Harrison follows up with a commentary, questions for reflection, and a meditative exercise. At times, the way she lays out her stories of modern churchwomen seems a little too made-up. I was a member of a fundamental Christian Church for nearly two decades and experienced much of what she described but never experienced them all in one setting, which made her portrayals at bit corny. But for the sake of authorial accommodation, it’s reasonable to let her off the hook.
As a Christian woman without formal theological training who has spent the last several years of my life trying to save my Christian faith from the damage of sexism as god’s will imposed upon me by the church, McLeod-Harrison offers sound reasoning for women to remain Christian. She appears not only sensitive to the dehumanizing experiences many women experience in the church but also understands the reactions women may have in being awakened by the truth she shares. Though practical remedies are shared, I was disappointed none of them involved the EEWC.
This is a great book for anyone exploring the “woman issue” in church. It’s credible, relatable, and an easy read. The cover of her book has the back of a posh bobbed woman staring at an old school white country church that looks like one near where my grandparents were buried in Iowa. The sky is dark and about to storm, symbolic of the internal culture war that is so destructive within many of our churches. McLeod-Harrison is a beacon in the storm for women who don’t fit into the impossible expectations women in the church are held to.
© 2017 by Christian Feminism Today