Our society tells us women can have it all – career, marriage, family. The authors think that is a myth. If you try to have it all, someone is going to suffer, your husband, your children, or yourself.
The authors believe that the Bible is the model for life. They have written this book to show that the Bible can be your compass, to show you the way “to get God's best...and you will discover clear action steps you need to be able to get there.” (30)
Women are encouraged to live by their biblical callings: core callings (purposes of God shared by every human being), feminine callings (gifts unique to women), and personal callings (individual, unique gifts and callings). The core callings, the authors argue, come from Gen. 1:28 and 2:24, revolving around marriage. Leaving and cleaving is what it's all about for a woman.
It was here that the authors and I parted company. First of all, Gen. 2:24 speaks to the man. It explains why the man leaves his parents and joins his wife. It says nothing about the woman doing so.
It gets worse.
I found the section on a woman fulfilling her husbands sexual needs way overdone. The authors note that a survey result listed favorite leisure activities: for men, sex. For women, first was reading. Sex was way down the list, next to sewing. (160) The authors say, “What fulfills a husband the most? It's his wife's satisfaction that satisfies him the most. When your husband knows he has performed in a way that succeeds with you and gives you pleasure, life could not be better.” (162)
Really? Life could not be better? Worshiping his Savior, leading someone to Christ, helping a suffering human, cuddling his child...none of that is more fulfilling that sexually pleasing his wife? Not only does this leave one's relationship with God out of the physical aspect of the marriage relationship, but it places tremendous pressure upon the wife to “perform.” I mean, if the wife's pleasure trumps any experience the husband has with God, wow – what a responsibility that woman has!
But there is more. “...[N]othing builds a man up more than seeing his wife or girlfriend support him in public.” (167) Nothing? Not hearing God's voice of approval? Not knowing he was used by God in a crucial situation? Again – that is shocking! Are these men the authors describe even Christians?
The authors say, “...the most important gift any of us will ever receive from God to steward is children.” (179) Really? I was thinking perhaps salvation would have been the greatest gift God has given each of us to steward!
As an unmarried woman, I find the emphasis on marriage, sexual fulfillment, and children as God's core callings for women very shallow. The authors ignore the possibility that God may be calling a single woman to a life of devotion to God and ministry to His people. They suggest the single time in a woman's life is all about finding the right man. Singleness is a temporary “season. (Pp. 108, 163) While the single years allow “plenty of time to focus on your spiritual life,” the single woman needs to live out her Core Calling to be “'fruitful and multiply” by investing in the lives of young people.” “The single years are also the time to investigate and understand men in a very purposeful way – not just so you'll be 'ready for marriage' but so you'll understand what men look for and need to begin with.” (All from p. 111)
The authors gloss over Paul's admonition to stay single if at all possible as this allows one to concentrate on the higher calling (than marriage) of ministry to God Himself. (Read 1 Cor. 7:29-40 to get Paul's take on marriage. For example, “...a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit.” “I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” TLB I could go on, but I think you get what Paul is saying. It is definitely not that marriage of a woman's highest calling!)
A recent book by Ravi Zacharias (Has Christianity Failed You?) puts marriage in its proper perspective. He notes, “This amazing gift to experience sexual love is built-in only as a transitory expression.” (92) He is realistic about marriage because of the Fall of man. “But the price of rejecting God's law is that marriage is no longer the beautiful thing it had been intended to be.” (96) And with respect to the relationship of marriage and worship of God, Zacharias says, “If marital consummation is an act of worship, and if the ultimate seduction is false worship, I would dare suggest that those who are longing for a relationship of touch and intimacy – that lesser act of worship which is marriage – seek the greater form of worship until the day they can legitimately participate in sexual love.” (97)
We live in a culture that is very sexually oriented. Shouldn't Christians be different? I live in a navy community where spouses leaves for six to eight months at a time. If “life could not be better” for a man than when he sees he has sexually pleased his wife (162), how would the author's suggest the men on a six month military cruise life their lives in a fulfilling way? And what about Exodus 19:15 where, as preparation for meeting God, the people were to abstain from sex for three days? That should certainly put the place of sex with respect to the worship of God in perspective.
I just cannot recommend this book. The authors emphasize in some places that we readers should concentrate on what has eternal value. Yet the majority of their book deals with marriage and sex, both of which will not be experienced in heaven (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35) and therefor have no “eternal” value.
All that being said, I received two copies of this book from the publisher, B & H Publishing Group, for the purpose of this review. I am more than happy to give them away, one each to the first two who request them by commenting on this blog.
There is also a contest to enter: