Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The (Real) Feminine Mystique (for Women)

Books to help you revel in your femininity. (This post will grow as I add books over time. Check back often.)

Before I proceed, it should be noted that although the audience for these books is women, that does not mean that men wouldn't gain insight from reading them. I encourage each gender to "read up" on the other to get a better understanding of the opposite gender's struggles and strengths.

"Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman" by Dr. Myles Monroe brings us all the way back to the Genesis creation account to explore how God originally designed "female", why God designed her that way, and what that means for gender interactions within our marriages and our churches. Be forewarned - this is challenging material. Dr. Monroe makes a strong, scripturally based argument which undoubtably will be considered "traditional" (in it's negative connotation) and therefore dismissed by many before they read the full text. My recommendation is that one reserve judgement until they have finished the book. (See also the companion book to this in the Manly Men list)

"The New Eve: Choosing God's Best For Your Life and Receiving God's Blessing" by Robert Lewis with Jeremy Howard. Dr. Lewis has shown thousands of men the way to "authentic manhood" through his Men's Fraternity program. Now, he takes a look at womanhood using the same stringent biblical approach. With wit and insight, he shows women the "bold moves" they need to make to become a 21st century Eve.

"The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture" by Mary A. Kassian. With this updated edition to her best selling "The Feminist Gospel", Mary Kassian follows feminism both inside and outside of the church from antiquity right into the 21st century. Where does feminism, either secular or biblical, jive with a scriptural portrait of femininity? This and other relevant issues are discussed with clarity backed up by extensive research.


For full disclosure, I should note that there are two general issues around which I disagree with the solutions proposed by almost all authors I have read. Those issues are confrontation (with bullies, primarily) and the priority of female attractiveness in relationships.

Specifically, I do not agree with the proactive, violent, thrashing out approach most authors support as the "manly" response to bullying, physical threats, and protection of the weak. I truly believe that such an approach returns evil for evil and violates the "turn the other cheek" directive of Christ. That does not mean that I don't think men should exhert their power physically in those situations if required. But my personal approach is always a defensive and negotiative one, not an offensive one.

And although I agree with most authors in the reality that physical attractiveness is a priority for men, I don't believe that it has to be or that such a priority is godly. As such, I bristle at any suggestion that maintaining attractiveness is some kind of requirement for a woman to be godly or that there is any justification for men to discard their women because they don't maintain some standard of beauty. Scripture makes it clear not only that beauty does not last forever (Proverbs 31:30) but that we are to adore and be captivated (to turn an Eldredge phrase) by our wives at all times, regardless of the natural degradation that time, gravity, and physiology inflict on their bodies (Proverbs 5:19)

I just had to add that lest one think that I agree with absolutely everything every author writes. But by and large, these are really excellent books and these few quibbles do not prevent me from recommending them highly.

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