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What Singer Shannon Harris, Ex-Wife of Joshua Harris, Hopes Evangelical Women Will Take From Her Memoir

Shannon told Publishers Weekly that the vision of a Christian wife she used to live by was that of a woman whose identity was totally based in her home, family and obedience to others. If a woman in this position “feels like she has another purpose in her life, she’s setting that aside because she believes that this is the noblest, or perhaps the only, expression of her womanhood,” Shannon said. “She’s been encouraged to be obedient to other people over obedience to her own soul.” 

Marriage is not known for being easy, but Shannon said that her marriage to Joshua Harris had “additional pressures.” “There was no room for us to fail or deviate from this ideal of perfection,” she said. “I couldn’t have yoga videos in the house. I couldn’t have a glass of wine on Valentine’s Day. One day I came home and my entire CD collection had been thrown in the trash, all of this because there was fear that somebody would think badly of us, that we’d be below the standard we were trying to be.”

“I see a lot of churches using slick verbiage and doctrine to take a woman’s own authority away from her. They also work hard to discredit her wisdom, shame her body, minimize her presence, and voice,” Shannon told ChurchLeaders. “If a woman’s community (church or otherwise) is doing any of these things or asking her to shrink back and become a smaller version of herself, then something is wrong. I want women, regardless of their faith, to live fully and authentically. I want women to be healthy and whole. Faith should enrich the human experience and make it better, not take away from it.

The singer has been outspoken on the harmful view of women she has seen promoted by evangelical Christianity—a community she has left, although she has said she still believes in God. In a September 2019 post, Shannon shared thoughts on what she called “The Missing Body,” that is, the way some Christian communities minimize the significance of the body and its feelings and signals. Examples she gave included teens being shamed for their sexual desires, postpartum women being shamed for wanting medication, and the perception that negative emotions are sinful.

When asked whether she retains any of the beliefs she had when still in evangelical Christianity, Shannon said, “Sure I do. I certainly still live by Christian values such as love for neighbor, kindness, and forgiveness. I believe I’m a created creature who is loved greatly and loves greatly.”

“But many of my beliefs have changed,” she continued. “I no longer buy into God-ordained hierarchy which gives privileged, white men power over others and keeps women contained in supportive roles. I no longer believe my identity and purpose as a woman is defined in relationship to a man or through marriage. To name just a few.

This article has been updated with comments from Shannon Harris.