LadyLike: 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 so—which 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.”
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?”
“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!