Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review of Radical Womanhood

Below is a review post that I wrote for the CBMW blog. If you get a chance you should go buy the book! It will be worth your time and money!

We talk a lot here at CBMW about the effects of feminism in our lives and the lives of those around us. For many of us (myself included), life prior to the launch of Ms. Magazine is only a faint memory recounted by our mothers. For others the lasting legacy of Gloria Steinem is evident and saddening as you watch your daughters and granddaughters navigate through the muddy waters of our culture. Author and friend of CBMW, Carolyn McCulley, like all of us, was lost in those waters prior to conversion to Jesus Christ. Her recent book, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, is an answer to the questions she had when she was first introduced to biblical womanhood. As a product of the feminist influence in women's studies programs she wrestled through God's design for men and women. It is clear in this book that God has distinctly equipped and shaped her to evaluate our culture and point us to the Gospel.

It is in the preface where we first see Carolyn's heart and passion for writing this book. She describes an event where she was speaking to college-age Christian young women about the feminist movement. Though the names of women involved in the movement carried no weight with them, the legacy of their strivings did. After seeing the sea of raised hands when asked who was a child of divorced parents she says:

"At that point, I realized I was talking to a generation living with the fallout of seismic cultural change, but they didn't know what happened! (They also didn't know what was in the Bible-an alarming thought for a Christian event, though not entirely unexpected for so many new believers.) Seeing their need, I set aside my speaking notes and began to address them with passion. I explained to them what previous generations had done to change the definition of being a woman. I talked to them about all that they had inherited-both benefits and the detriments. I talked to them about what the Bible had to say on these matters. And then I challenged them to be different, to live as biblically savvy women in the modern world. When it was all over, many of them came forward to say this information was all brand-new to them. ‘Why hasn't anyone ever told us this before?' they asked."

And that is what this book seeks to do—to explain what has happened and to encourage us to know how to live with the fall-out. Each chapter takes the aspects of the feminist movement and shows how it applies to various spheres in our lives. She initially recounts the history of the feminist movement, introducing us to the names and faces of the various waves of feminism. This sets the stage for the rest of the book, which follows these women's ideology all the way to our homes and churches. It is impossible to escape their influence. And perhaps the most profound pieces of this book are the personal testimonies at the end of every chapter. We have heard for some time about the assault on motherhood—abortion and delayed pregnancies—at the hands of feminists, but the stories that follow "The Mommy Wars" chapter are a sobering reminder that the Prince of Darkness will stop at nothing to destroy God's design in creating us to be "mothers of the living" (Genesis 3:20).

There is no other way to talk about feminism without saying first and foremost that Jesus saves—from everything. Amidst all of the darkness and sorrow brought on by years of struggle and rebellion against God and his design, there is hope in every story. McCulley does not simply leave us to wallow in the cultural effects of feminism. Rather she points to the One who redeems us not only from feminism's lust for control, but all of our sins. I pray that many women will find this book to be an oasis of hope and answers in a confused culture, but more importantly find King Jesus who is revealed in every page. It is only by his reign in our lives that we are given the grace to renounce our sin and be radical women.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

True Woman Recap and Where I've Been

I know I have been out of commission for a long time, so if there are any readers still out there—I am so sorry that it has been forever since I have written. School got busy, as did work, and church, and pretty much all of life! I plan on working really hard in being more active here on this blog, and I have some ideas that will hopefully give me fuel to continue writing. But I wanted to share with you something that I had been anticipating for a long time.

On Saturday night I got back from the True Woman Conference. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Coming back from True Woman and processing through the weekend has left me with a lot to be thankful for. God was there. And it’s not that God is not in other places, but there is something profound about 6,200 women gathering to say that God’s glorious design for men and women is beautiful and good—and something to live for. I truly believe that God met many women at this conference, including myself. It was so encouraging to hear women like Mary Kassian and Susan Hunt, who have labored for the truth for years, say that God is raising up an army of women to speak to the next generation about biblical complementarity. For some women it was an affirming moment, years of praying for God to bring other women into the truth now finally realized. For some women it was the lifeline of hope that they needed in order to go back to their churches, families, and friends and labor for our Christ. For others it was an awakening to the beauty of who God created them to be as women. All of these experiences are good and God-ordained. For myself there is much to reflect on. Here are the highlights of my trip:

I am most grateful that my mom was able to be there with me. I cannot imagine going to this conference without her. She is a woman who never wanted to be anything but my mom, and without her example in my life I would not be here today. Motherhood is a high calling in Mom’s eyes—and I am so very thankful that she passed that on to me, even when I didn’t want to hear it. My mom loves Jesus and always wanted me to as well. It was a privilege to worship our Christ with her knowing that the moment was only a small foretaste of when we will both see Jesus face to face. To see her edified and strengthened to love Jesus more encouraged me, and made me love her more deeply.

Being reminded that I need to slow down. There were countless occasions where the women speaking challenged us to slow down and not get crowded with life. I am the queen of getting crowded with life. I am constantly being given more information on good and right things, but so often I do not stop to process and reflect on all that I am learning. Jesus easily gets pushed to the side in my quest to gain more knowledge about Jesus. I realized that if I cannot get a handle on this when I am single then it will only get worse if I get married someday.

Being reminded, once again, that biblical womanhood is all about Christ. We are only able to live biblically because of Christ’s obedience on our behalf. If I do not cling to that daily then all of my attempts at righteousness are in vain. Biblical womanhood exists to make much of Christ, and to point others to him. If that is not my chief goal then I have missed the mark. I need to realize this more.

Spending time with Susan Hunt at the CBMW booth. I have read her books and admired her for a while now, but meeting her made me love her work even more. She is every bit as godly, kind, humble, and encouraging as her books sound. I thank God for her.

At the end of the conference they had a group of women read the True Woman Manifesto. This, too, was an amazing experience. The True Woman website has all of the audio, the manifesto, and other resources from the conference. I would encourage you to go and check out their website.