Monday, September 12, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Let Me Be A Woman

A couple Fridays ago, I mentioned I was reading this book and hoping to get a recap up soon. Well, here it is, though it's coming to you a bit later than I originally intended. Nevermind all that though, let's just get to it.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote Let Me Be A Woman to her daughter Valerie during Valerie's engagement. The book is made up of 49 letters or notes to Valerie and the notes begin with the very creation of woman and then move through the different stages a woman's life may go though such as singleness, marriage, motherhood, and widowhood. And since Elisabeth Elliot herself has lived through all of these stages, she is uniquely qualified to write about them. Mrs. Elliot breaks down what it means to be a woman from a Biblical worldview.

In fact, the first words you come across when you open this book are, "In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her."

Now, you can probably imagine how controversial a book like this might be. I mean, when you're saying things like...
"The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird--up, away from the world, into the sky, into freedom--so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling--wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God."
"Because [submission] is the thing asked of her by her Creator, it is the thing which assures her of fulfillment."
"And it is the will of God that woman be subordinate to man in marriage. Marriage is used in the Old Testament to express the relation between God and His covenant people and in the New Testament between Christ and the Church. No effort to keep up with the times, to conform to modern social movements or personality cults authorizes us to invert this order. Tremendous heavenly truths are set forth in a wife's subjection to her husband, and the use of this metaphor in the Bible cannot be accidental." 
...people tend to bristle. We don't like to be reminded of our limitations. We don't like hearing that God asks us to be submissive--subordinate even--in marriage. And we certainly don't want to hear that God created woman for man. Surely we've progressed in our thinking, right? We've come a long way since Elisabeth Elliot wrote this, and we've thrown off the repression and inhibitions we've been burdened with for centuries.

The thing is, Elisabeth Elliot wrote and published this book 40 years ago in 1976 at the height of the strong feminist movement that swept the country during the 70s and 80s. It was just as controversial then as it is now. There is nothing new under the sun. But the fact of the matter is: the Bible is always true. What God has to say about womanhood is always right. He created woman, and He made the rules about what it means to be a woman. Those rules haven't changed, and if you're a Christian with a right view of God, those rules are actually incredibly liberating, stabilizing, and comforting. You can fulfill your feminine role in this world with confidence, self-esteem, and grace. And that's what this book is all about.
"We are not required to somehow 'overcome' our sexuality. We affirm it. We rejoice in it. We seek to be faithful to it as we seek to use it as a gift of God. Unfaithfulness to one's sex is unfaithfulness to everybody, for a woman must be a woman both in her relationship to men and to other women....This faithfulness that I speak of is our answer to the call of God."
"...God has set no traps for us. Quite the contrary. He has summoned us to the only true and full freedom. The woman who defines her liberation as doing what she wants, or not doing what she doesn't want, is, in the first place, evading responsibility. Evasion of responsibility is the mark of immaturity. The Women's Liberation Movement is characterized, it appears, by this very immaturity. While telling themselves that they've come a long way, that they are actually coming of age, they have retreated to a partial humanity, one which refuses to acknowledge the vast significance of the sexual differentiation."
All throughout this book, Mrs. Elliot deals with the themes of self-discipline, accepting limitations, and taking responsibility. Only when we do these things can we experience true freedom and joy. It's the way God made us, and praise Him for it. I truly am thankful for God's design of the sexes, and the more I understand His design, the more joyful I am in my femininity. The war on sexuality that is so rampant in our culture baffles me, and when I look around me, I see a lot of confused, unhappy, bitterly stubborn people who are missing out on the peace and joy God has to offer. It's really heartbreaking.

Obviously, men also have a distinctive Biblical role set forth in Scripture (and it's no easier than a woman's!), but since this book is to women about womanhood, that's what the bulk of it deals with. I really don't understand why women want so badly to assume masculine roles.
"To subject femininity to the criteria of masculinity is as foolish as it would be to judge meat by the standards of potatoes. Meat would fail every test. For women to assume an ersatz masculinity means that they will always lose."
Anyway, brass tacks: I fully agree with everything Elisabeth Elliot says in this book, and I 100% recommend it to any woman in any walk of life. I think it's vital to saturate our minds with truth, even (or maybe especially) when that truth is counter-cultural and goes against everything the world is preaching so loudly at us. Maybe that makes me outdated, old-fashioned, narrow-minded, and repressed, but I don't think so.
"We are called to be women. The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman."
What do you think? Have you read this book? How does the gender war in America make you feel? I know this is a pretty touchy subject, but let's talk about it in the comments. 


  1. This is a challenging post for me to read. I believe the church is being infiltrated by the world's view. Humility and submission are foreign concepts, just like true repentance and confession. Coincidence? I think not. Our society is so focused on the wants of the individual that everything else has been lost as a result. What works for you is true for you, and I can't argue with that because tolerance.

    1. Yeah, even when I was reading this book, some of my knee-jerk responses to certain things I read were defensive, but when I thought about it, I agreed with what she was saying because what she was saying was the truth from God's Word. It just goes to show you how much the world influences our thinking if we're not diligent about filling our minds with truth. And the truth offends. I really appreciated this book.

    2. 2 Corinthians 10:5
      That's all I can think of when reading your comment.

  2. I would love to borrow this one! 😘

  3. Ersatz = serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial. Had to look that one up.
    Love this post and this book!

    1. Not sure who left this comment, but I had to look "ersatz" up, too! :) Thanks for reading!