LadyLike: A Book Every Man Should Read

LadyLike BannerLadyLike: Living Biblically is an outstanding collection of forty-four short essays which provide an unapologetically biblical perspective on matters significant to life in family, church, and society today. Sisters Rebekah Curtis and Rose Adle write in a style that is engaging, easy to read, and very much to the point, and they do not shy away from taking on the controversial issues.

This book benefits from having been written by women, as they are able to be critical of “female small-mindedness” (their term) without having to worry (much) about charges of misogyny. When men extol the virtues of patriarchy, it can be seen as self-serving (and sadly, this has often been the case). This cannot be true, however, when women recognize and affirm the value of God’s design.

Biblical values are attacked on almost every front, and many Christians have found themselves getting carried away by the current of popular culture. LadyLike is a scathing indictment of such wayward attitudes and provides the Christian alternative. Maybe you’re on the fence about women’s ordination or have a feeling something’s off about the expectations that are put on women today, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. This book does a great job of laying out not only what Scripture teaches about these things, but why the biblical teaching is a more excellent way.

I enjoyed the sharpness of the book’s rhetoric, but I suspect that’s because I didn’t need convincing. It’s fun to watch someone, as President Harrison put it, “gleefully butcher sacred cultural cows”, unless they happen to be yours. While the book has its tender moments, to be sure, its sardonicism puts it at risk of alienating the very audience it aims to persuade. I would have liked to taste just a teaspoon more honey and a drop less vinegar, especially since the theology here is rock-solid and deserves a wide hearing.

The essays in LadyLike are grouped into four categories dealing with 1) social concerns (e.g., feminism, gender roles, women in combat, abortion), 2) questions surrounding vocation (virginity, marriage, motherhood, infertility), 3) theological issues (misogyny in Scripture, women’s ordination), and 4) living the Christian life (God’s plan for your life, sex, and selfies). Other topics are addressed within these categories, but this should give you the general idea.

I would especially encourage the men out there to read LadyLike. This book may have a pink cover, but what’s inside is not just for women. Men need to be just as informed as women on these topics, if not more sowhich is something the authors understand well. The dangers of male quietism is highlighted in the essay, “Peace and/or Quiet”:

Most men give the appearance of embracing feminist ideals “for the same reason they yield to any idea of female origin: to end the badgering, or more charitably, to make the women they love happy. Badgers, though, are hardy folk, and mistreatment is the charge that never runs out. So men keep trying to care by pretending to agree with things… It’s this kind of insanity, dreamed up by insatiable women and enabled by lazy men, that will eventually have us all back in grubby fish-hovels.”

Authors

The authors showing a little sisterly love

Luther considered it important for every Christian to know something about the vocational responsibilities of every calling, whether or not you happen to be called to it. He didn’t design separate editions of the Table of Duties for pastors, civic leaders, parents, etc. (but take note, publishers: that would have been a great marketing ploy). As any congregation in the call process knows, it is worthwhile for the laity to know what to look for in a pastor. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine a family, church, or government functioning well when roles aren’t clearly defined and nobody knows who’s supposed to be doing what.

Here are a few samples from the book to whet your appetite. From the essay Products of Our Time:

Recently [the world’s] great ideas have included banning certain words on the rationale that women are so vulnerable as to be crippled by adjectives, and allowing children to decide whether they are boys or girls regardless of biological evidence. This is how we are also able to see that the changeless Word of God is the one trustworthy standard by which we can live. The world can’t keep up with the relentless progression of its own bad ideas.

Can you say, “Bruce Jenner”? Or how about this gem from Brains for Women:

None of the titles that go with those jobs—Wife, Mom, Daughter, Friend—are as impressive as Operatic Soprano or Chancellor or Chemist of Major Historical Significance. But each of them stands for at least one person who has a real, time-consuming claim on us. God gave those people to us; they are gifts, and a persona is worth a lot more than being awesome at hula-hooping (even Hula Hooping for Christ)… More often than not that service means boring, if not exactly brainless, stuff.

The essay Submission: Impossible includes a fictional dialogue to illustrate the irrationality of rejecting male headship on principle:

“Has a doctor ever told you to eat less sodium or get a flu shot? Has a teacher ever told you to sign a form? Has a boss ever told you to get to work by 8 a.m.? Has the government ever posted a speed limit sign or demanded a percentage of your income? Has a website ever told you to start using coconut oil, like, yesterday?”

“Of course.”

“In all of those cases, you probably did what you were told without too much foot dragging or whining. You probably didn’t feel disrespected or devalued.”

“Well, yes, but that’s different. Those people are in positions of authority and those rules are for my good and the good of others.”

“Right. That’s exactly what I’m getting at. God established authority for our own good. He has done so in the Church and in society, and also in families. How much more, when the husband you chose, makes a recommendation or determination should you expect that it would be for your good?… And yet, you were all huffy about submitting to the person you love most and to whom you have voluntarily bound yourself on that basis.”

The essay Calling includes this bit of helpful practical wisdom on duty and against greed:

Vocation is not our license to do whatever we want with our lives in Jesus’ name. It cannot be a front for pursuing drams. Vocation does not mean “what I do from 8-4:30” or “the job, salary, and props I’ll deserve after finishing this degree” or even “stewardship of my gifts.” It means doing what needs to be done, which means simply that breadwinners should win bread. They should keep in mind the danger of gathering more than they need, unless they want their greed reported by a pantry packed with moldy manna. Those who are able to win bread by means of their favored talents can thank God for His benevolence. They can either take comfort or derive humility from knowing that the way they win bread is not a matter of vocation (if it were, leaving a job would be an abdication of one’s calling). And all people can use their gifts, talents, and interests avocationally for the glory of God and the good of His people.

In the essay, Deborah v. She-Ra; Exception v. Rule, the authors declare war on sending women into combat:

In the unfortunate face of male abdication, God used a backward approach to get the job done. This is how the Lord often operates… If Deborah is a biblical argument for women in combat, the book of Judges would also fill militaries with physically unqualified people like Edud, pencilnecks like Gideon, degenerates like Jephthah, and bullies like Samson: not exactly the noble lineup we like to see in our nation’s heroes. Deborah’s victory was not hers. Neither was it a victory for womankind or feminism or egalitarianism. The victory was the Lord’s who is so mighty He can use weak vessels to His great glory.

In What Would Lydia Do?, the problem of selfish ambition masquerading as Christian stewardship is exposed:

Christians count all but loss that we Christ may obtain (LSB, 536)—including, if need be, our pet causes, our worldly “opportunities”, our personal interests, and our comforts. We would like to overlook the difficulty of daily repentance and death to our sins in the interest of progressing to a more advanced spirituality. Somehow spiritual advancement always amounts to our getting to spend more time on the things we like, and calling it stewardship or service. This shows how seriously we underestimate the power of sin. Our flesh believes that we’ll be really serving God when we’re finally getting to do exactly what we want.

And then there’s the issue of women’s ordination. From Hey Mister Pastor Man:

The church has always been full of men who are not pastors and are totally fine with not having been given that calling. The way for each of us to please God and serve our neighbor is to faithfully perform the work He has given us, and pastoral ministry is simply not work He has given women to do. That so many women refuse to gracefully accept the order God has made for His people is far greater evidence of female small-mindedness than willing submission to His Word would be. It’s like being mad that today is someone’s else’s birthday, or hating a pretty girl for her thin ankles. Were the case taken before Solomon, advocates of women’s ordination would have him abolish the pastoral office altogether rather than give it over to its true mother, the Church.

The dangers of enthusiasm, especially when it comes to discovering God’s “hidden plan” for our lives, are highlighted in this final excerpt from What is God Trying to Tell You?:

Christian freedom means that our no wrong answer decisions truly have no wrong answer. God is not dropping sneaky clues that we’d better pick up on if we want to avoid lifelong disaster. Which line of work to pursue, whether to sell one car, which set of grandkids to relocate near, whether to try to adopt right now—these are all questions to be approached with thought and prayer, but not with the expectation that there’s a lightning bolt with our name on it if we choose the six instead of the half dozen (or, for that matter, the rock rather than the hard place).

Taking ownership of our decisions also protects us against putting our human short-sightedness on God’s account. Did God really want me to enroll in the graduate program I had to quit three months later when Grammie got sick? What was going on when the convertible the Almighty intended for me go T-boned? And how do I turn down a meet-up request from a guy who is convinced God led him to my eHarmony profile? When we make decisions, it’s too easy to spin what I want or what feels right to me or even what I feel like I have to do into God’s will for my life.

All in all, LadyLike is an excellent book with a very important and timely message. Order your copy today!


Comments

LadyLike: A Book Every Man Should Read — 43 Comments

  1. Thanks for pointing out this book. Lots of women and men would benefit from the articles.

  2. Having read this book, I cannot recommend it nearly so warmly. Its positions are not well supported either directly from the Scriptures or from dogmatic theology. Most of what the authors claim is biblical is are in fact very historically specific and class-bound gender ideals that flourished only circa 1850s-1950s as a result of the industrial revolution and the related development of modern companionate marriage. While their opinions may be a biblical perspective on womanhood, they are not the biblical perspective on womanhood. Of course, my thoughts here are purely my own.

  3. @Bethany Kilcrease #2

    Dear Bethany,

    Could you elaborate on the gender ideals of the 1850s-1950s and how these differ from the biblical ideals? Especially when it comes to women working there seems to be some misunderstanding nowadays of ancient practices, where women were part of the economy, making money for the house, even while staying home for the most part. It’s hard to draw parallels from that to our modern day, and this is due, I think to the Industrial Revolution.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  4. Elizabeth,

    Hi, if you really want my thoughts, for what they’re worth, feel free to email me via Facebook.

  5. I probably shouldn’t comment since I haven’t read the book and I don’t plan on buying it. However, I find it interesting that Pastor Anderson used the word sardonic to describe the tone of ‘Lady Like’. I have listened to the episodes of Issues,etc. when Rev. Wilken interviewed the sisters. I detected an angry or bitter tone during the interviews. This is unfortunate. I’m glad Bethany wrote about her impressions of the book.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  6. @Bethany Kilcrease #4

    Ms. Kilcrease,
    Is that really fair? You mention that you have read the book, give some very general/vague rationale as to why you wouldn’t recommend it and when asked to elaborate, punt to the privacy of facebook?

    I think it better to state exactly what the issues you have with the book are or not comment at all. Seems more charitable to me.

  7. Pastor Ball,

    I am sorry that you find me less than charitable. Actually, in this case I thought that not mentioning specifics was more charitable to the authors. But, although I promised myself I would not get into an endless BJS debate, I will come back later and post some specific quotations. I will be interested to get your opinion here after I post some.
    All the best,
    Bethany

  8. Ok, so here are the specifics promised. And, note, there are many good things about the book, but I was asked for the specifics that concerned me. But, first, a few general issues I take with the book. First, I stand by my earlier statement that that most of what the authors claims is the biblical role of women is, in fact, very historically specific and class-bound gender ideals from roughly the 1850s-1950s. For example, the authors simply assume that a biblical woman’s role involves primarily housework, of which cleaning toilets seems to be a special obsession. Men work outside the home and women work inside of it. However, this position is never actually argued for; it is just assumed. Obviously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this gendered division of labor, but the authors make this the ideal with any other gendered division of labor falling short. What worries me about this is that the authors are making laws where God does not. In fact, this division of labor didn’t even really exist prior to around 1800. Luther’s three estates are church, home, and state. There’s no separate “economy” because in Luther’s day the economy was included in the “home” estate since he lived prior to the separation and gendering of the public and private spheres.

  9. Second general comment: the authors never define “feminism” except in a very broad way. It just exists as a boogeyman to blame for all our social ills (well, that and the related sexual revolution). However, feminism is a varied movement / ideology. It’s really not enough to say you’re opposed to feminism in general. Which one? First wave? Second wave? Third? Personally, I’m a first-wave liberal feminist because I think women should be allowed to vote in civil elections in America. I think some good things came out of second wave (equal work, equal pay), but many not-so-good things. Again, the authors should be more specific.

  10. Third and final general comment: I apologize if this is too personal, but the tone of the book strikes me as angry, bitter, and resentful. It comes across like the authors hate being women! Here is the general take away from the book in terms of tone: Being a women means endless thankless drudgery like cleaning pee off of toilets (which is made even more odious by the fact that we have brains to know it is gross) and childbearing, which only produces more endless work. But that’s just how it is because in God’s order men are above women like women are above animals. Our lives of submission suck, but it’s God’s plan, so we just need to grin and bear it and keep our eyes on the heavenly prize above. Besides, all those working women probably have it worse anyways. Now, they write many things here and there that would contradict this general feeling, but I challenge anyone to read the book and not feel like that’s the big take away.

  11. At last, the specifics! Obviously, I”ll just give a few. Unfortunately, I only have the Kindle version, so I’ll just have to cite chapter titles. In the first chapter, they note that God’s order of creation is “God > man > woman > animals” (Out of Order, para. 2). They then cite 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23. I’m not convinced that those verses exactly back up what they claim, but, leaving that aside, I think there’s an ontological problem with the order laid out. Surely, the authors are not claiming that women are less than men in the same way that animals are less than women? And yet, that is clearly what the portion quoted above says.

  12. Chapter 2 is called “The Pie-Eating Contest.” Basically, the idea is that women who try to work outside the home (you know, “earn[ing] flashy degrees”) and have a family are like gluttons shoving way too much pie down their throats and then getting a tummy ache. The moral is that women should realize (contra feminism) that they can’t have it all and just accept their God-given role of childbearing and homemaking. On an Issues Etc. interview, one of the authors (I can get the exact name and time mark and date if you want) said their response to any woman who resented or disagreed with their arguments was to ask herself if she was ever tired and exhausted. If you complain about being tired, you’re eating too much of the pie. Note, this is only a paraphrase of the interview. I fully admit, I’m tired all the time! However, I suspect that this is more due to trying to do too much of whatever you have at hand and trying to do it perfectly rather than a certain percentage of the pie being homework vs. outside-the-home work. I’d be willing to bet that the authors themselves sometimes complain about being tired and exhausted – even Curtis, who is solely a homemaker (Adle teaches deaconess classes for CTS).

  13. Chapter 3 is entitled “Products of Our Time.” Here, the authors imply that folks only accept women holding public office because they’ve been indoctrinated by schools (themselves probably bastions of feminism) (para. 3). Does that mean that ideally women shouldn’t hold public office because of the order of creation discussed in chapter 1? Later they write that “Feminism has not made women’s lives better, easier, or safer. At best it has made them differently difficult” (para. 7) Well, which feminism? I don’t care to make it, but I think one could make an argument as a Christian that aspects feminism in fact has made women’s lives better. Further down in the same paragraph they write: “Even suffrage looks troubling silly from certain angles. The female vote goes largely toward asking the government to please provide what a man traditionally gave a woman, in the days when the wide exercise of Christian norms results in men actually sticking around.” Now, I think that a Christian can oppose women’s suffrage, but I don’t think such a position is somehow biblically superior to supporting women’s suffrage. Granted, the authors don’t outright say that they oppose women’s suffrage, but the implication (in ideal circumstances undoubtedly) is there. Also, is that really a charitable way to characterize why women vote the way they do? I believe it is not.

  14. Chapter 4 is the infamous “Brains for Women!” chapter. Now, I think I get what the author is trying to do here, but it just comes off badly. I’m going to quote at length. Notice that the assumption is that it is a woman’s job to clean off toilets, not a man’s job. But why is that the case? The author never makes an argument; she just assumes it. Here we go: “Why does God give women brains? It’s a question you may have found occasion to ask at some point in your life, especially if you share a bathroom with members of the male species. If I’m doomed to clean other people’s pee off toilets forever, why do I have to know exactly how disgusting it is? If I quit, would we all die of filth? If I don’t, will I kill everybody? Not to get personal, but [if you think this way] you are a pragmatist. You value things for their practical application, including yourself [note, I think the author is misusing the word “pragmatist here”]…. Your aptitudes are who God has made you in addition to being tools He has given you t use. Their application is not more valuable than the testimony your unique existence gives to His creative power. So first of all, you are smart, skilled, and virtuous because you are a work of God, not because He needed a sculptor, an engineer, or a teacher down here to straighten things out…. Let’s get messier, though. To a certain extent, people see through pragmatism’s weaker arguments; for example, most women are willing to trade their unstretchmarked stomachs to have children. But to completely give up the protections pragmatism offers our pride is difficult. If I’m this smart, don’t I deserve an advanced degree? Or, more cunningly, Isn’t it bad stewardship for me not cultivate and make use of my talents?…. Our first order of business in dealing with this question is to remember that there is an office in the Church that allows both men and women to make full use of their publicly relevant talents: celibacy. The person who never marries remains free of the constraints that come with marriage and family, which will likely mean a vastly diminished amount of toilet cleaning…. Celibacy should be seriously considered by any woman who can’t see herself dealing with the contention that naturally arises when a male and a female try to get along for a lifetime…. This is what the devil would have for all of our loved ones. He wants us to think it is better for us to ‘use our brains’ or even ‘serve the Church’ than wipe down the toilets of those no-good jerks we live with, not to mention whatever other nasty things they need done…. Why does God give women brains? Because He gives all people brains for His glory and the good of His people, starting with the stinky-footed one watching YouTube on the couch, or the old one who camps in what used to be your dining room, or the little ones asleep down the hall, or the local mob of his infuriating elect who have never noticed that you keep the candelabras polished.” OK, there’s a lot to say here. Please, read the whole chapter if possible. Let me just point out that they seem to be saying (I welcome corrections) that God wants women in the house serving their families by doing housework, unless of course you are celibate. Your brains are for use in the home; not outside of it. This raises many questions for me. What do the authors really mean by this? I apologize if this is over the line, but Adle teaching deaconess courses for CTS while having four kids (according to Issues Etc.). Does that mean she’s bucking God’s will by using some brain energy outside the home when she should be using it all to serve her closer neighbors inside the home? Granted, she teaches online, so maybe that could still be inside the home, but given the reach of the internet today, does the public/private sphere distinction for work even still hold? Moreover, if it is the case that the God-pleasing way to use your brain by working outside the home is to be celibate, then why does the LCMS have deaconess programs? Should we limit those to only consecrated virgins? I’m being serious in these questions, because it seems to me that this is the implication of this argument.

  15. I won’t go further with specifics except for three more cases that I found especially interesting. As noted by Pastor Andersen, the authors argue in chapter “Peace and/or Quiet” that the only reason men support “feminism” (again, not precisely defined) is because “Hassle a guy about something long enough and, like that parabolic judge, he will probably do what is being endlessly asked of him, just to get some quiet. Complicating a man’s desire for quiet, however, is his competing desire for personal access to a women [I think they mean sex].” So, if I read this right, the reason men support feminism is because women keep nagging them about it. Now, men could just run away from women to get some peace and quiet from the nagging, but they can’t because they want sex. So, in order to get both sex and peace and quiet, men just give in and support feminism. Frankly, I don’t think this is a very charitable view of either women (nags!) or men (spineless sex fiends!). I’ll get back to the other two points later.

  16. @Bethany #9

    Thanks Bethany for putting into words what I heard during the interviews on Issues,Etc. The resentfulness came across very strong on the radio. It’s too bad that their editor at CPH didn’t try to change the tone of the book before it was published.

  17. Wow. Just wow.

    I have both read the book and listened to the interviews on Issues, Etc., and I neither heard nor read resentment or anger in either. I honestly don’t know where that is coming from. I encourage everyone to listen to the interviews on Issues, read the LadyLike blog http://ladylikings.blogspot.com/, and consider other reviews before making an assessment about whether this book might be worth their time. Several of the commenters here are completely missing the point (and a lot of the fun and humor) of the book.

  18. OK, after an interlude of womanly housework, the other two specifics that really stood out for me later in the book. This is from a chapter in the second part called “To My Friend Who Has No Babies Today.” This is the only “signed” chapter and was written by Curtis. It seems to derive from an earlier blog post, as did the “Brains” chapter. I actually had to read this one a couple times because the first time it seemed so shocking that I thought I couldn’t be reading it correctly. I don’t think I was, but it still doesn’t come across well. An editor could have maybe clarified the author’s intentions. The chapter is in the form of a letter to a nameless “Lady” friend who is infertile (“barren”). Curtis begins by saying that she feels sorry for her friend who is probably caused pain by seeing the enviably large Curtis family. I think that in what comes next, Curtis is trying to empathize with how her infertile friend must feel; the friend desperately wants to have children and then sees unwed mothers giving birth to children they may not even want. She writes: “When I [Curtis] see all the world’s human trash with its ill-bread and empirically worthless children, I seethe to think of the pearls cast before them while your [the friend’s] clean neck and graceful wrists and industrious fingers are bare. When another teenager turns up pregnant, I want to rage at God for what I can only see as unimaginable injustice and just plain poor planning. I want to make it right. I want to distribute the world’s children sensibly by my own self-righteous fiat. I want YOU, you smart, talented, dutiful, faithful Christian person, to be a mother of nations. NOT THEM” (para. 2). Prior to this section, Curtis acknowledges that this thinking is sinful, but it single, quick read might not get that. Also, I’ve got to say, I find the vitriol here a little scary. In today’s climate of legal abortion, it does no one any good to go on about “empirically worthless children.” Also, I’m very glad that Curtis does not get to distribute the world’s children, because I rather doubt I’d have a clean enough neck to get any. Later in the chapter, Curtis writes, “I thank you for the witness you are to the inherent value of femininity, no matter what the quantifiable yield of that femininity” (para. 3). Something about seeing children as a “quantifiable yield of femininity” just creeps me out. I have absolutely no doubt that Curtis intends this letter to a hypothetical infertile friend to be helpful, and maybe it would be. She is certainly to be commended for empathy. But I think this chapter needed a friendly editor to clarify some things and soften some of the language for public consumption.

  19. The final specific that I found especially interesting comes in a chapter entitled “The Sixth Commandment: Not Just For Men!” The thing that concerns me the most about this book is that it sets up laws for women where we have no clear word from God. Although there are some good Gospels parts, the book is mostly law-driven, and, in fact, driven by what are probably imaginary laws. I regard the idea that women must spend all day doing non-paid house work while men must work outside the home to be setting up a law where we have no clear word. I’m open to hearing an argument though. Anyhow, setting up all these new laws will probably result in driving a lot of women to despair. Look, let’s just leave aside for now whether God’s ideal for women involves pee scrubbing all day or not. Regardless, given our objective economic situation in a late-capitalist economy many families need two incomes to stay afloat. This is not always (usually?) about greed and consumerism. What will all those women who have to work outside the home for money to keep the house heated and children fed hear when they read this? That the official LCMS position on biblical womanhood – and remember, the book as the LCMS imprimatur by virtue of being published by CPH with an endorsement from President Harrison – renders them perpetual sinful outsiders. That the LCMS is not a place for women who don’t fit a very narrow slice of female life in contemporary America. There is Gospel in the book, but not enough to overcome getting clobbered by the law full force. And, here’s the kicker, I don’t even think this is a real law. Where’s the Christian freedom in these matters? That was a tangent. Here’s the specific: in this chapter they discuss ways women violate the sixth commandment. Here are two ways women violate the commandment (sin) according to the authors: “You scorn your husband’s martial appetite [I think they mean sex again]…. You are too tired or too headachy or unwilling-for-some-other-dodgy-reason to satisfy your husband’s marital appetite.” Now, if you’re tired and have a headache and don’t feel like sex but decide to have sex anyway to please your husband, great! Good for you. That’s probably a kind thing to do. But is it really a sin to say “no” to sex because you’re tired or for some other dodgy reason? This example illustrates the problem I have with the whole book. There’s nothing wrong with not denying your husband’s “marital appetite.” Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with the view of gender roles laid out by the authors. In that these positions are not anti-biblical, they are certainly biblical views of womanhood. But, what I believe it wrong is constraining Christian freedom by saying or implying that to do otherwise is sin. So, as I said before, this is a book on biblical womanhood, but I don’t think it can be the book on biblical womanhood. The fact that some are promoting the book as though it is and this is the approved LCMS position is troubling to me.

  20. Oh, last thing. I think the comment from “Equal Time” – and it sounds like with a moniker like that, our interlocutor has fallen prey to the siren song of feminism [kidding, obviously] – is on to something in that I don’t think (based on differentiating between the two authors on Issues Etc) that Curtis’s sense of humor comes off very well in print. I actually have the exact same problem. See above and how I had to explicitly say I was kidding. What would have helped is some more hands-on editing. Also, I apologize if I have been less than charitable.

  21. i listened to the Issues, Etc. broadcast and then purchased the book. I am not sure what I was hoping for, but I did find myself disappointed. I am a homeschool mom, so maybe I was looking for encouragement. I don’t know. Anyway, I found the book to be very law driven which surprised me. I think that was my greatest disappointment.

    I didn’t think the essays came off bitter, and I enjoyed their interview on Issues, Etc. I think the book could be encouraging for some. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. Nothing of what they said is new to me. I think the book could encourage young women who feel less than for choosing a life of motherhood. The disdain for the non-working woman is real. Even our husbands are fed a steady diet of “you could have it all if your wife worked”. So in that aspect, I think the book shows how feminism has changed the family, and is a good reminder that what the world says is not what God says.

    Overall, I just wish the book had a more Lutheran feel to it.

  22. Bethany-
    Thanks for taking the time to put your review and concerns here. You’ve made me more eager to read the book when it arrives.

  23. Thanks Bethany. I don’t have Facebook, so I’m glad I got to read your comments here.

  24. UPDATE:
    I had the chance to listen to Part 3 of Issues,Etc., the continuing interview with the sisters who wrote ‘Lady Like’. Yesterday’s interview came across much better in terms of tone. There was kindness in their voices besides several snippets of the Gospel as well. I don’t know whether their attitude changed because of the criticism on BJS, but Rev. Wilken did mention that they had received some criticism for the chapter on the sixth commandment. I guess the bottom line is Curtis and Adle want to sell the book and that’s probably best done by a touch more honey and less vinegar as Pastor Andersen said.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  25. Bethany,

    Thank you for your comments. I’d like to respond to a few of the points you’ve raised. You write:

    “Obviously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this gendered division of labor, but the authors make this the ideal with any other gendered division of labor falling short. What worries me about this is that the authors are making laws where God does not. In fact, this division of labor didn’t even really exist prior to around 1800. Luther’s three estates are church, home, and state. There’s no separate “economy” because in Luther’s day the economy was included in the “home” estate since he lived prior to the separation and gendering of the public and private spheres.”

    And again, later you write:
    “I regard the idea that women must spend all day doing non-paid house work while men must work outside the home to be setting up a law where we have no clear word.”

    This is a recurring theme in your critique. I don’t recall them making any laws where God does not; they simply assume the gendered division of labor they present will be the norm. I think that’s a fair assumption. I’m sure they would wholeheartedly support keeping the economic and household estate together if possible, which would allow both parents to be more intimately involved in the day to day lives of their children. However, if these two estates must be separated, it remains that someone has to attend to the children. If you consider the God-given strengths and aptitudes of men and women, I think the assumption the authors make (that it will be mom) is a fair one.

    If you listen to their interview with Katie Schuermann, they repeatedly make the point they are dealing with the norm, and there are always exceptions. I’m not sure if they included a preface explaining this (as I read a draft).

    What alternative norm would you propose? The only other options are for men to stay at home while the women work, or for both parents to work, leaving someone else spend a significant amount of time raising their children during a very formative time of life. There may be circumstances where either of these options become necessary, but I would hardly consider them ideal. Best case scenario, both dad and mom work from home. If that’s not possible, dad goes off to work while mom attends to the children. This is in keeping with God’s order of creation; dad staying at home reverses it, and both working results in a situation where both parents are called away from their children for significant amounts of time.

    Moving on, you write:
    “The authors never define “feminism” except in a very broad way. It just exists
    as a boogeyman to blame for all our social ills”

    That’s a fair criticism. Next:

    “I apologize if this is too personal, but the tone of the book strikes me as angry, bitter, and resentful. It comes across like the authors hate being women! At last, the specifics! Obviously, I”ll just give a few. Unfortunately, I only have the Kindle version, so I’ll just have to cite chapter titles. In the first chapter, they note that God’s order of creation is “God > man > woman > animals” (Out of Order, para. 2). They then cite 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23. I’m not convinced that those verses exactly back up what they claim, but, leaving that aside, I think there’s an ontological problem with the order laid out. Surely, the authors are not claiming that women are less than men in the same way that animals are less than women? And yet, that is clearly what the portion quoted above says.”

    You’re right that the quoted portion could give that impression, but that’s only if you cherry-pick the quote out of context. If you read on, the authors make it absolutely clear that they are not suggesting an ontological subordination of woman to man. To even suggest this is a gross mischaracterization of the book. As they write:

    “Genesis 1 and 2 details the order: God > man > woman > animals. This is described in the New Testament, too. 1 Corinthians 11:3 explains ―I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.‖ This fuller description of the order is: Father > Son > man > woman. Ephesians 5:23 speaks the same way: ―For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. This is the good arrangement designed by God. Even the Trinity has an ordering. It does not mean that the Son is somehow less God than the Father is, nor is woman less human than man, but there is order. God is a God of order, not of confusion. Order is good. Patriarchy is the earthly arrangement God ordained. Adam is created first and given charge. Eve is to help him. They are to subdue and rule the earth.”

    Note especially: “It does not mean that the Son is somehow less God than the Father is, nor is woman less human than man, but there is order.” No ontological subordination here. Not even a hint.

    Later, you write:

    “Let me just point out that they seem to be saying (I welcome corrections) that God wants women in the house serving their families by doing housework, unless of course you are celibate. Your brains are for use in the home; not outside of it.”

    It sounds to me like you’re wanting to impose an either/or where the authors do not. Granted, the authors say the stay-at-home mom’s brains will be used primarily in the home (see below for the quote), but nowhere do they say that’s the case exclusively. As the authors write:

    “What about the married? Their calling to love their neighbors as themselves requires them to understand clearly who their neighbors are. The word itself contains the answer. Our neighbors are those who are nigh, which means near, to us. No one is nearer to us than the people in our own households. We are their servants before we are any other person’s.”

    The key statement here is, “we are their servants before we are any other person’s”, which emphasizes priority of service, not exclusivity. As to the question of virginity, it’s true: if you don’t want the additional responsibilities that come with marriage and would prefer to make full use of your brains and talents, don’t marry. I think the authors lay that out well:

    “Our first order of business in dealing with this question is to remember that there is an office in the church which allows both men and women to make full use of their publicly relevant talents: virginity. The person who never marries remains free of the constraints which come with marriage and family, which will likely mean a vastly diminished amount of toilet cleaning. Everything is a trade-off, and freedom is the counterbalance to companionship when the benefits of celibacy and marriage are contrasted. This paragraph is pretty short for the size of the decision it describes, but that’s kind of the point. Not getting married bypasses a world of complications and challenges to piety. Celibacy should be seriously considered by any woman who can’t see herself dealing with the contention that naturally arises when a male and a female try to get along for a lifetime. There, you’ve been warned.”

    Ironically, your critique itself came off as bitter as anything I read in the book (your apology in comment #20 suggests you are aware of this). I agree, as I noted in my review, that the book could have used a bit more honey and less vinegar. However, you wrote at least four separate posts (comments #10, 15, 18, and 20), in which you raised the same basic complaint about the book’s tone or lack of charity. Personally, I think you exaggerate the degree to which the rhetoric is problematic and dwell on this while overlooking the book’s many excellent qualities. I know you said you weren’t going to address “the many good things about the book” because you weren’t asked about them, so I’m asking: what did you find helpful about the book? If you really think, as I do, that the book had many good points, I hope you put as much thought and effort into your response, lest you give an overwhelmingly negative impression of a book that doesn’t deserve it.

  26. Pastor Anderson writes…

    “This fuller description of the order is: Father > Son > man > woman.”

    The problem with this order is that it places the man between the woman and Christ.

    The historic LCMS understanding of I Cor 11:3 was that the text establishes a four tier headship structure, God-Christ-man-woman. (See the 1985 CTCR report “Women in the Church.”) The 2009 CTCR report, “The Creator’s Tapestry” recognizes why the three relationships mentioned in I Cor 11: 3 cannot be re-scrambled to use the text to claim Paul was writing about a structure where man is between Christ and the woman.

    Editors or the doctrinal review process ought to have caught this error.

    Marie Meyer

  27. @Marie Meyer #26

    Thanks for pointing this out Marie. I’ve read and re-read this post and never saw the significance of using the ‘greater than’ mathematical sign vs. the ‘dash’ until today. All this on the Feast of the Holy Trinity! The Athanasian Creed, sentence 24 – ‘And in this Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another;’ page 320 LSB.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  28. Pastor Anderson writes…

    “In the first chapter, they note that God’s order of creation is “God > man > woman > animals” (Out of Order, para. 2).

    Note that the CTCR states man is superordinated to woman, Christ is superordinated to man and God is superordinated to Christ. Paul’s use of “Christ” in I Cor 11 is a rather clear reference to Christ according to His nature as the Son of God and the Son of Man. In any event, even if Paul was referring to Christ only according to his human nature, the headship structure God-Christ-man-woman places the man between God – Christ and woman.

    Marie Meyer

  29. @Pastor Eric Andersen #28

    Pastor Andersen,
    Yes, you are correct and that is said in sentence 31 of the Athanasian Creed, LSB page 320. Could you please address what Marie Meyer is discussing in #26 and #29. I guess I’m confused.

    In Christ
    Diane

  30. Bethany, I hate to break it to you, but many homeworking women are not doing ‘non-paid’ housework all day. Talk about a stereotype!

    They may also be tending to children, tending to husband, tending to neighbor, tending to their minds, tending to the arts, tending to gardens, etc.

    Not all homemakers scrub toilets all day and then sit around waiting for them to get dirty again so they will have something to do.

    Homemaking actually allows much freedom to women. Tremendous freedom, really, to be the queen of her day, ordering her tasks as she likes. She can delve into all sorts of interesting intellectual work, creative work and manual work. It’s a very well-rounded life for the self-motivated thinking woman.

  31. @Diane #30

    Diane,

    Marie is trying to force that equation (Father > Son > Man > Woman) into the order of salvation, which is not what the authors meant by it. She has commented about how that equation puts man between Christ and woman. If that’s what that equation did, it would indeed be false. As St. Paul writes, there is no male or female in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); we are all equally in terms of our ontology, worth, salvation, etc. In terms of the order of salvation, man and woman are entirely equal. Baptism has a leveling effect; rich, poor, young, old, male, female, etc.

    However, differences and inequalities exist between man and woman when it comes to the order of creation. We are equal (ontologically, in terms of our value/worth/being), but different (despite what the LGBT community would tell you). Man and woman are not equal or interchangeable with respect to the order of creation. Man is the head of woman as Christ is head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23; cf. also 1 Cor 11:3). Eve was created by God to be Adam’s “helper” (Genesis 2:18). This term, “helper” is not derogatory or demeaning; it is used of God Himself in Psalm 118:7. Christ Himself was made lower than the angels (Heb 2:7), which accords with the above referenced section of the Athanasian Creed. The authors themselves say, “This is the good arrangement designed by God. Even the Trinity has an ordering. It does not mean that the Son is somehow less God than the Father is, nor is woman less human than man, but there is order. God is a God of order, not of confusion. Order is good. Patriarchy is the earthly arrangement God ordained. Adam is created first and given charge. Eve is to help him. They are to subdue and rule the earth,” (14).

    If you read the book, it’s clear that the authors are intending that equation to be understood as belonging to the order of creation, not the order of salvation (thus, they are not “putting man between Christ and woman”). The authors make this explicit by citing Genesis 1 and 2 (which deal with creation, not salvation), and 1 Cor 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23 in the very same paragraph they give this equation (p. 14).
    But I’ll go a step further. There is a sense in which Christ has put man between Himself and woman. So that we may obtain saving faith, Christ has instituted the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments (Augsburg Confession, article V). Christ’s saving gifts come via the Office of the Holy Ministry. He uses men to speak “in His stead and by His command.” The words He spoke to His apostles apply to pastors today: “He who hears you, hears me,” (Luke 10:16). Faith comes by hearing preaching and His Word (Romans 10:17), and there is no preaching apart from the Holy Office He’s entrusted to men. In other words, Christ comes to no one—man or woman—apart from the Gospel and Sacraments, which He has entrusted to men (1 Cor 4:1).

  32. Pr. Anderson writes…
    “But I’ll go a step further. There is a sense in which Christ has put man between Himself and woman. So that we may obtain saving faith, Christ has instituted the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments (Augsburg Confession, article V). Christ’s saving gifts come via the Office of the Holy Ministry. He uses men to speak “in His stead and by His command.” The words He spoke to His apostles apply to pastors today: “He who hears you, hears me,” (Luke 10:16). Faith comes by hearing preaching and His Word (Romans 10:17), and there is no preaching apart from the Holy Office He’s entrusted to men. In other words, Christ comes to no one—man or woman—apart from the Gospel and Sacraments, which He has entrusted to men (1 Cor 4:1).”

    According to the above woman is dependent upon man to obtain saving faith. Thus, we have gone from man being placed between God the Creator to man being placed between God the Redeemer and the woman.

    How much further from a theocentric understanding of woman’s nature and purpose do we have to go before recognizing the spiritual danger of misusing Scripture to in any way place man between woman and God?

    I have ordered “Lady Like, Living Biblically.” Dr.Bethany Kilcrease’s comments suggest it is not a clearly defined Lutheran perspective on woman. My initial thought is that Scripture directs women to “Christ Like” living. A Lutheran understanding of women living Biblically is that that the life they now live is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the life of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
    Marie Meyer

  33. In the last sentence, Pastor Andersen does note that both men and women obtain saving faith through the ministry of the Gospel and Sacraments, an office entrusted to men called by God. The pastor acts “in the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is an ambassador, a representative of Christ to the congregation of men and women.

  34. @Elizabeth #31

    They may also be tending to children, tending to husband, tending to neighbor, tending to their minds, tending to the arts, tending to gardens, etc.

    “Been there, done that” for 32 years. Didn’t find that any of your “tending” jobs paid in $$, (the only thing the world respects).
    However, when the children all had their graduate degrees, I got [via desertion/freedom (your choice)], opportunity for my own graduate degree and have supported myself for 20+ years.

    Celibacy, even late in life, has its advantages! 🙂
    But cooking your own meals, doing your own laundry, (cleaning your own bathroom!), etc. come with it; those needs don’t disappear.

    [The single Pastor, presumed to be able to live on air “because he isn’t supporting wife and children” has to do those things, too, as well as iron his own clerical collars.
    Any married man who thinks the single Pastor “has it easier” is devaluing the contributions of his own wife!]

    It’s been an interesting discussion (with one exception, perhaps); I might even read the book. 😉

  35. Helen…

    Care to mention the exception.

    BTW, regarding the “tending” jobs: “Been there, done that” for 52 years. In my experience the “tending” jobs and the many opportunities for volunteer service in the church are highly valued by family, congregation and the world.

    In our particular situation, my husband was the breadwinner. My “job” was to manage the household and stay within the bounds of his salary. Since the chore assigned him as a boy was to clean the bathroom, he has continued to assume responsibility to clean the bathrooms. Long story short, we’ve both enjoyed a working relationship that allowed him to devote long hours to his pastoral ministry.

    How a husband and wife work out the best division of labor for their family is hardly a Biblical mandate. Our daughters and daughter-in-law, together with their husbands, determined that returning to their respective careers, nurse, teacher, social worker, when the children were in school would be beneficial. The daughter who is single pours her energy into her 4th grade class and various service activities in her congregation.

    Marie Meyer

  36. @Carol Hack Broome #38

    You’re missing the point. Somebody is going to spend a significant amount of time with the children during the day in their most formative years. That task will likely fall to one of the parents, or they’re going to have to do some outsourcing. You don’t need a bible verse to tell you which one’s more ideal.

  37. @Carol Hack Broome #40

    What, specifically, is being presented as a biblical norm that isn’t? That sounds just like something Bethany wrote above.

    Bethany: “I regard the idea that women must spend all day doing non-paid house work while men must work outside the home to be setting up a law where we have no clear word.”

    Me: “This is a recurring theme in your critique. I don’t recall them making any laws where God does not; they simply assume the gendered division of labor they present will be the norm. I think that’s a fair assumption.”

    Patriarchy is the biblical norm for male-female relations; it is in keeping with the order of creation. Beyond that, there is freedom in how this is implemented.

  38. @Pastor Eric Andersen #41

    Patriarchy is the biblical norm for male-female relations; it is in keeping with the order of creation. Beyond that, there is freedom in how this is implemented.

    Having a husband who assumes primary responsibility is nice. Whether a given man does this depends a lot on how his parents raised him. There is indeed “freedom in how this is implemented”. [E.g., see Pr. Meyer’s “home chores”.]

    In special situations, a man may be “head of the house” while also being primarily responsible for the housekeeping/child care. Luther talked about fathers changing their baby’s diapers. [I’m not sure whether this is before marriage theory, or after marriage fact.] 🙂

  39. @Bethany #11

    Color me confused, but “order” and “ordering” do not necessarily imply an “ontological problem,” unless, of course, one is interpreting 1 Cor. 11:3 in a way that suggests that the God the Son is ontologically different than God the Father (that is, of a different “essence” or “substance”), which, of course, is heresy.

    No, no, God the Father is “above” the God the Son, although of the same same essence or substance (i.e., divinity), just as a husband is “above” his wife, although of the same essence or substance (i.e., human nature).

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