What does Shannon Harris think now?

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on October 2, 2023.

We first met her nearly two decades ago as a neatly wrapped character named Shannon Hendrickson in a bestselling “Boy Meets Girl” book written by her ex-husband about his theology of courtship after kissing dating goodbye.

The character we were told about had led “an empty life lived for herself — a life ruled by sin” in pursuit of “the ladder of stardom.” We were told she was “careless, even reckless,” filled with “pride and independence,” and that despite putting on an “act” of “confident rejection,” eventually repented of her “sinful and self-centered life.”

Years later, we listened as she sang, “Alas and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

In the “Thanks” section of his book, Shannon Harris’s ex-husband Josh wrote: “To C.J. Mahaney. Your vision and confidence in the importance of this book have sustained me many times during the past year. Your influence has touched every part of it.”

Then to Shannon, Josh wrote: “Darling, only God knows the ways you sacrificed for this book. Thank you for your humility and your willingness to be a trophy of God’s grace.”

So according to Josh’s own words at the time, Josh’s bestselling book Boy Meets Girl was a C.J. Mahaney controlled depiction of Shannon Harris being a trophy.

Eighteen years later, we might wonder what Shannon’s perspective was.

‘What is she thinking about?’

Boy Meets Girl opens with Josh relaying a scene where Shannon exits the church at the end of a workday, sits in her navy blue Honda Accord, and begins crying.

Josh writes: “What is she thinking about? I wondered,” as he looked down at her from behind his upper church window.

Wonder no more. Last month, Shannon Harris let us know what she was thinking about by releasing a book of her own — The Woman They Wanted: Shattering the Illusion of the Good Christian Wife.

Shannon recounts how her experience in the conservative evangelical charismatic Calvinist group Sovereign Grace Ministries that was led by C.J. Mahaney whittled her down to their theological gender role trophy, and how she began to heal her way toward being herself again.

“The ‘biblical woman’ was not a real woman, she was a picture, a projection, a product!”

“As I began to find my own identity again, I remembered. Being myself isn’t nearly as exhausting as being somebody I am not,” Shannon writes. “The ‘biblical woman’ was not a real woman, she was a picture, a projection, a product! A man-made product, literally. An ideal to achieve. You can order whole books on Amazon and become her too. But she wasn’t me and she wasn’t tons of women. She was the woman they wanted. That’s all. The woman they wanted. It was like wearing an outfit, though women might all wear her a little differently. Some women slung her over their shoulder, wearing just enough to pass approval. Some threw her down and left. Some women, like me, got completely lost in her. I could wear this woman, but that didn’t mean I was this woman. These men had no clue who I really was on the inside.”

Who is Shannon Harris on the inside?

In the month since her book’s release, conservative evangelicals have responded to Shannon’s inner healing in a variety of ways. Some have lamented the way she was treated by the church and have called on people to hurt with her. But most have either ignored Shannon’s book or have complained she has “rejected Christ” and therefore must have “never truly been born again.” To them, what’s sad about Shannon’s story isn’t that they made her feel like a worm, but that she needs to feel like a worm again.

But the inner wild of Shannon Harris is not their story to control or ignore. It’s her story to reveal however little or much she desires to share.

In an interview with Baptist News Global, Shannon discusses how the reaction to her book has gone, as well as how she’s continuing to heal.

In your book, you say: “Will they listen to my story? It is unlikely.” Then you share a number of responses you’re expecting to hear. Now that the book has been released, have they listened to your story? Are there any unexpected ways that you feel heard?

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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