Over a month has passed since I wrote a negative review of a book on “feminine loveliness for mothers and daughters” that caused such a tempest in a teapot. It wasn’t the controversy itself that surprised me – I knew there would be some that agreed with me, and many that wouldn’t.
What surprised me was the un-lovely way in which they responded.
But be that as it may, I still can’t get the entire issue off my mind. Not because I regret the review. On the contrary, I stand behind every word. My husband, too, who “approves this message” whenever I write on something controversial. He actually had some stronger words that *giggle* would have really bunched up some lace.
And as an aside, if the straw-man argument from the author is really such an issue, it is an easy one to clear up, really. Because, patriocentricity, like anything else (legalism, Pharisaicalism, religious humanism, or any judgement that, yes, Scripturally we are called upon to make) is often “in the eye of the beholder.” And it is a word that means something. Patrio – father. Centricity – centered. Father-centered, another form of man-centered religiosity in which religion, relationships (human and spiritual), and activities are centered around the father. Readers can decide for themselves by reading pages 155-175 of the book and making up their own minds.
But, alas, that wasn’t the real issue of the book (notice it was only one word in my entire review. The 482 other words I wrote were spent expressing my real concern: the unbalance in the book’s portrayal of feminine virtue.
Out of 20 chapters:
- One each are for the introductory and concluding thoughts
- Four chapters deal with modesty and dress
- Four chapters deal with courtship, flirting, and guy/girl relationships
- Three chapters deal with contentment and biblical self-esteem issues
- Two chapters deal with sibling bickering and tongue issues
- One chapter is devoted to bathing and smelling nice
- Two chapters are morality tales
- One chapter relates to homemaking
It just seemed so unbalanced. As strong, virtuous women today – or any day in history! – we will be judged by so much more than how we dress (anyone recall what Miriam was wearing when she crossed the Red Sea?) or how we smell (had Mary taken a bath the day Gabriel appeared?) or *gasp!* whether we hold advanced degrees or work in or outside the home (ever heard of Lydia? or Priscilla?). Hebrews 11 holds a much different standard of faith, even for the women there- they “received strength” from God (vs 11), they hid spies ( the harlot! vs 31), they received their dead (vs 35) and are now part of the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our race of faith (12:1).
Now, lest I be mis-quoted again as saying modesty doesn’t matter, that is not the message at all. Modesty matters. There. I said it. BUT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO TEACH MY DAUGHTER! And what she wears, how she takes a bath, and how she thinks about boys (that’s easy. don’t.) should not take up the bulk of what I am teaching her feminine virtue is comprised of.
My husband says I need to write about what biblical womanhood really means now. Clearly, it is beyond the scope of this short post. Perhaps a series will come soon.
In the meantime my daughter, like her mother, has a lot of work to do. My prayer for her is not only that she learns that “favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”
I want to push her forward, farther, harder. To go deeper in her spiritual life, farther in her studies, more passionately after her husband, more long-suffering with her children, and more boldly with her God-given talents than she imagines.
Then, I pray God will
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.
– Proverbs 31: 31