It is high noon; ladies tea time. I’m the invited guest speaker at the local ladies’ Bible luncheon, and the clock is ticking toward my introduction. Beads of sweat are forming and pooling inside my clothing. A flush rises across my cheeks as anxiety tries to overtake me. I wait nervously aside the President of the Ladies’ Bible Covenant Group, silently and desperately praying.
White tablecloths are ironed and laid strategically across enough tables to seat our entire congregation; the setting is instead our local Country Club. Prim wait staff attends to the final preparations as the all-female guest list begins to arrive: floral table arrangements are checked and misted, water glasses are filled to the rim, the volume of the music is adjusted. Ladies are seated, with the most socially influential and wealthiest at the head table.
A well-known town surgeon’s wife speaks of the difficulty of finding a sitter for this event for her two small children; she’s had to ask her husband to babysit! What a challenge it was to get him to sacrifice his golf game for her and the children. All the other women are aghast. This had better be worth it, they mutter to one another. Who is speaking, anyway? We didn’t get any word of the keynote speaker in the invitation; but the book she is speaking on sure was a winner with Oprah. This ought to be a blessing.
Waldorf Chicken Salad accompanied with Minted Fresh Fruit Medley is served and consumed by chatting women. Dishes are whisked away, and hot coffee and tea are served. The smells of comfort and fellowship and home waft through the atmosphere, yet I feel as far from home and fellowship as I possibly could.
Little does the President know that I have failed her assignment. I have failed to complete the “required reading” of the latest approved ladies’ ministry publication – a book by a well-known Christian wife and minister – which was to be the topic of my speech at the Covenant Group luncheon today. As I stand there listening to the sheer volume of voices chatting, waiting to hear what I have to say about the work of their revered Christian author, I wonder if I shouldn’t just tell the President that I did not read the ridiculous book. I wonder if I have the courage to tell her why I didn’t read the book: because it is false teaching, and dangerous to the women’s souls who would read it and take it into their minds. It becomes impossible; I am paralyzed with fear of the repercussions. I am a man-pleaser instead of a God pleaser; shame begins to creep over me.
The President confidently strides toward the gilded podium for my introduction. Applause erupts from the audience as I quietly step across the platform and toward the podium. The hot gaze of a thousand eyes falls upon me as they wait for my words. I silently cry out to my heavenly Father for courage one last time before I open my mouth – He has promised to fill my mouth with words, hasn’t He? I inhale deeply as the blinding stage lights illuminate my countenance.
I do not open the book by the well-known Christian wife and minister. Instead, I slowly open the pages of my worn, black pocket Bible…
Suddenly, my infant daughter cries out beside me and my smart phone alarm clock resounds with the bridge from How Great is Our God. My husband turns on the soft nightlight. I try to catch my breath.
It has all been a dream.
Often when I have dreams like this, I write them down so they are easily remembered. This is the first time I’m writing this one down, because it remains so vivid in my mind. If there is anything I can say about it, ladies, it is this: read your own Bible. Read your own Bible before you read any other woman’s “ministry” publication(s). I had a dear friend once who was a Titus II mentor to me, back in South Texas. She was wife to a youth minister and mother to one infant at the time, and I often babysat for her. Her husband had a rule: she could buy a new bible once she read through her old one from cover to cover, and he didn’t mean in a “One Year Bible for Women” format! He wanted her to actually k-n-o-w what it is that she just read.
At the risk of sounding highly offensive to other women, I will say that we women are very easily swayed by ear-tickling doctrines, especially if they are presented in pretty pink packages, sold as “empowering for balancing your busy life” and “helpful to your personal relationship with Jesus”, and written by other women who are also be wives and mothers. Just because a book says “Approved Godly Ministries” on the front does NOT mean that it is aligned entirely with scripture!
My best advice is to show the books, authoresses and ministries you are considering purchasing or reading to your husband. It’s not that he has “better and more finely tuned” discernment spiritually speaking – it’s that he can likely see through the baloney the “minister” is trying to push, which is not biblical advice for women, if it does exist. For instance, let’s look at Lysa Terkeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and author of fourteen books.
Mrs. Terkeurst is married and a mother, and has some serious sin in her past, of which she has repented. (Dont’ we all?) She claims to be intent upon teaching women how to:
- Increase the creative romance with your husband.
- Embolden your husband to confidently overcome challenges.
- Build a deeper level of life-long trust in your relationship.
- Understand how God empowers and protects your marriage.
She even shares a seemingly beautiful “blessing” to be spoken over married couples. Let’s take a look at that blessing, though:
Now you’ve seen it in its entirety, but I want to focus on a particular portion of the blessing. The two paragraphs where Mrs. Terkeurst speaks to husbands, and then to wives:
Bless this husband, ______. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be his wife’s boast and pride, and may he so live that his wife may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.
Bless this wife, ______. Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that her husband may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of his heart.
Sounds good, yes? Really? She blesses the husband as provider and protector. A God-given role, no doubt. Also biblical as steward of the family (though I think steward may be a bit weak – shouldn’t she use Leader? A woman can also be a “steward” of the family). She mentions his masculine strength, but then she all but negates it by making his strength all about HER!
On to the wife: Tenderness is good, as well as understanding and faith. Inner beauty is nice (didn’t Mary mention something about inner beauty recently?), as is faith in God. Eternal youth will please any husband. But here’s what clinched it for me: may she live so that HE is pleased to reverence HER (in the shrine of his heart).
Could you please show me where the Bible says that HE is commanded to reverence HER? Seems Mrs. Terkeurst has the order of scripture reversed here. No other mention is made of submission or respect of one’s husband, but “romance” is mentioned often in her writings and speaking materials. Going to “marriage conferences” (no doubt those sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries) is on her list for making marriage work. Oh, and reading marriage books together (hers, I’m sure).
He gets to be “provider/protector/pressured ‘steward'” and she gets to be REVERENCED by her husband!
No, thank you.
Now, there is balance to be had here; I am not saying that we must not ever read anything other than The Holy Bible. I am not even a King James Only girl! However, please, ladies: use wisdom and discernment and pray before you pile up “Christian” literature to “help” you and your marriage. It has been my experience that some of these things actually do more harm than good, by entertaining Christian feminist thoughts and by twisting scripture to benefit wives. I know women whose bookshelves are literally LINED with anything approved by Focus on the Family, or Proverbs 31, or Moody Bible Publishing…all of it laden with egalitarian marriage models and errant doctrine.
Additionally, do you really want your marriage advice and your Titus II mentorship coming from a woman who has over forty paid speaking engagements per year, is busy writing books all the time and traveling for her “high calling” and HER “ministry” (yes, she calls it HER ministry), or do you want your Titus II mentorship coming from a wife and mother who is truly walking IN her high calling as wife and mother: a woman who is in the trenches, day in and day out, with her husband and her children, serving their needs above her own (or those of HER ministry?)