I Would Not Give This Book To My Granddaughters

A new book this year for women by Cindy Koch is titled Woman: The Forgotten Story, published by NRP Books, an imprint of New Reformation Publications. According to their websites, either New Reformation Publications is a project of the 1517 Legacy Project or it’s the other way around. Either way, the back cover of the book directs customers to the 1517 Legacy Project website to purchase books.

The author says in an interview [Thinking Fellows podcast], “It is written to and for my daughters.” She says:

It started 15 years ago. … At the time we only had two little girls … and I thought, you know, my little girls need to hear this story. I got pretty much through it when they were little. … It came out to be a story that I don’t think women are hearing these days, about who they are, their identity, who they are created to be, and what kind of confidence they can have in being a woman. Instead they are hearing a story of “You have to do, you have to be a certain way.” We have to find a way to do it in the way of the Gospel, which means doing it in the way of freedom … not in the way of the Law.

The book starts in the beginning with Genesis, the creation of women, the fall into sin and what that means for women, and then moves into Proverbs. In the interview, the author says

The first nine chapters [of Proverbs] is like this epic story. There is this little piece [in Proverbs 7] where you have an observer watching this foolish boy wandering into the house of an adulterous, and what we can do is, looking at that story through the eyes of Christ, walking into this house of death as a foolish boy. We don’t actually get this story in Proverbs, but you just take the metaphor a few steps further, and what does that mean when Christ walks into this house of death. He brings forth a bride, a holy bride, which we would call the church.

Leaving aside the purpose of the book, the execution has problems. The implementation of the idea of the book could have been better. Consider the following excerpt that supposedly takes the metaphor of Proverbs 7 a few steps further, and before you proceed to read it, be warned. Afterwards, some of you might wish you had never read it.

She slips into the misty light at the corner of the street. Red stilettos kiss the pavement with her confident sexy stride. That silky black hair transforms the dull gray streetlight into sparkling stars, almost resembling a shiny crown. Tossing her head a bit to reveal her deeply plunging neckline, she takes a long heaving breath and calls out, “Over here, you.”

He hears her. He sees her. He walks directly to her crooked corner.

She slides right up to this young one under the street light. Her voice is as smooth as oil. She says hello using every bit of her tongue to enunciate the greeting. Her lips pout and puff with nasty little words of seduction. She pulls him a little closer, brushing her breasts up his chest as she continues to hypnotize him with sensual words. Gently, her finger slides across his collar bone, down one arm, to his hip. She catches his belt and smacks her body tightly against his.

Pressing her soft warm mouth on his, her kiss tastes like a deep rich chocolate. She slithers her tongue across his teeth and deep into his mouth. Both hands claw feverishly at his back as her body trembles with an intense craving. She draws back, her eyes stare directly into his. She leans forward biting his lip, and she leads him inside like a dog on a leash.

To my horror, he follows her into that dark little house. This cunning adulteress lies in wait for fresh young boys while her husband is away. She catches the unsuspecting with her tight dress and terrible lies. Even though I can’t see inside that house, I can only guess what she is doing. She is seducing him as she has no doubt done with all the other boys she has captured in the past. She is lying to him to satisfy her own twisted desires. Yet He walked through her front door like an ox to the slaughter, or like a bird right into a trap. When inside, she’ll rip off his shirt. She’ll tear at his pants with erotic rage. Thrusting him onto the bed, she will lock him in the shackles between her thighs. Whipped and scourged by the beating of her powerful hips, he will become part of her sexual fantasy.

Koch, Cindy. Woman: The Forgotten Story (Kindle Locations 470-485). NRP Books. Kindle Edition.

If 64 years of living serves as a guide, I can hear already some of the reactions to my gentle caution about this book. The reactions would fall into a few well-worn categories. One is the retorts of the world borrowed by some church people. Another is theological and churchy lingo.

It is likely to be said, you are being a prude. You are being a Victorian. You are being a Puritan. These are the tactics the world uses to shame Christians for their modesty. It is a shame-reversing tactic, where those who should be ashamed cast shame onto the mild.

It is likely to be said, you are being illiterate. You don’t seem to understand the literary form of the cautionary tale or some other literary device. The author of the book holds a BA in Biblical Studies and an MA in Exegetical Theology. She says she is taking the metaphor of Proverbs 7 a few steps further. I should be more educated, erudite, urbane, and sophisticated.

From the church, things likely to be said include, you don’t understand the simul. You don’t understand “sin boldly.” You are being a Pietist. You are being legalistic. You are forfeiting the Reformation. You are giving up the 1517 legacy.

But a degree in exegetics should enable a person to exegete this article. I have said, “The execution has problems. The implementation of the idea of the book could have been better.” I would not give this book to my granddaughters. I would look for something better.

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.


I Would Not Give This Book To My Granddaughters — 40 Comments

  1. This book is horrifying. It generates lust. Such a sneaky thing, totally ungodly and unbiblical. Thank you for the warning. The world is full of wickedness, and unbeknownst to most, it has struck deep into my family. It is everywhere, and permeates everywhere. Other than that, words fail me…

  2. I have heard such accusations of piety and how times have changed and the change or die diatribe over and over again over issues like books and music which are truly causing the church to erode. As a Christian I am appalled at such a book as this one. A little leaven spoils the whole loaf. I am sad to say that these days when someone claims Christianity my first thought is to run even in my own LCMS. I pray for another reformation within the church as a whole but especially in our church body.

  3. “Ladylike:Living Biblically” from CPH by Rebekah Curtis is an exceptional read on this topic.

  4. I agree, I wouldn’t give this book to anyone to read. If Christians should be given any book,give them the Bible. IMHO, most Christians suffer from a lack of knowledge of God’s word.

  5. What Proverbs says is plain enough without expanding on it. We know what a prostitute does.

    Dragging in a metaphor about the Church is nonsense comparative to what the Scholastics used to do and some still do.

    Proverbs is not Hosea.

  6. @Rev. Loren Zell #5

    Rev. Zell, I agree. We are becoming a Bible illiterate church because we are reading everything that “pertains” to the Word without becoming immersed in the Word. We dance around but do not put our toes in the waters. Bible studies are opinion fests with a few Bible verses thrown in here and there to back up the author’s premise on how to be a better… Books are being published by Lutheran publishers to compete for the ever increasing numbers of members who go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the local MethoBaptiCostal Christian bookstore to get their “theologically based” love stories. Putting Lutheran on the name does not make it okay. Young women, especially, are susceptible to the lure of these types of books. Thank you for this warning.

  7. This is a horrible review. What about the rest of the book? This is just bad argumentation to not read the rest of the book. One selection from the many? So, what I can’t read Augustine because of his stance on purgatory? Or I can’t read the Bondage of the Will because Luther becomes somewhat a proponent of double pre-destination – or any multitude of writings that we know spout a small amount of inconsistency or heresy? I don’t care who you are, make better arguments from the entirety please, especially since there are many more pages in the book than this one – it doesn’t matter who the author is or what the book is.

  8. What he quoted is PURE PORNOGRAPHY. It doesn’t BELONG in a book for Christians. Period. He doesn’t have to say anything more. Sorry.

  9. @Jonathan Holmes #8

    This is a horrible review.

    It is not a review.

    So, what I can’t read Augustine because of his stance on purgatory? Or I can’t read the Bondage of the Will because Luther becomes somewhat a proponent of double pre-destination – or any multitude of writings that we know spout a small amount of inconsistency or heresy?

    Never said that. Said I would not give it to my granddaughters.

    Why have such conniptions in favor of this stuff?

  10. With all do respect, just because you don’t have the title “review” in the heading it still becomes one – whether you intended it to or not – especially since you recommend to find something better at the end.

    I just want better arguments is all. If we don’t want to give it to our granddaughter simply because of the language used, what about such things as reading the Song of Solomon? Do we tell them not to read said book of the Bible? Is the analogy incorrect? Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, seems to use the language of whoring after other gods. This is the image she is using. Could she have picked a better Bible Passage? Maybe, but the proverb does seem to use this kind of language of a prostitute. Also, I never said if I was in favor or not. I just expect a better caliber of review from this site, as I do with any other review, printed or electronic. @T. R. Halvorson #11

  11. This is just word porn, plain and simple. Instead of this ridiculous trash, I highly recommend LadyLike by LCMS sisters Rebekah Curtis and Rose Adle. It’s published by CPH and you can also get it on Amazon.

  12. If you can’t see the difference between this book and portions of the Bible, I’d say you lack discernment. You have a problem. “Whoring after other gods” doesn’t begin to match this awful language.

  13. @Jonathan Holmes #10

    As for Song of Solomon, that kind of language is entirely appropriate between married people, and between Christ and the church. Next?

    He wrote what he wrote. You don’t like it. Deal with it.

  14. So, if the people described were married you wouldn’t have a problem with the image? An image is still an image.@Pat #14

  15. I have actually read the book! It is not my favorite writing style, but the author is trying to take the reader in to the horror of the disgusting world in which we live as sinners. This one small part of the book gets explicit because I believe that the author is trying to make a point that sin is the dirtiest of dirty things and as described int Proverbs, she wants to engross the reader in the filth of what a seductress really and honestly is like and that Christ gave himself for THIS. Here is a quote on this very part of scripture from Luther in The Freedom of the Christian. “Here we have this rich and divine bridegroom who is our Christ. He marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. That is us. Our sins cannot now destroy us, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And we have our righteousness in Christ, our husband. Everything he has we can boast of as our own.” I am disappointed that you don’t even refer to any other part of the book! If you’re going to post, “yes a review” of someone’s book you should talk about the good and the bad, not just the part YOU didn’t like. It was meant to make you feel uneasy. That was the point! You should then read how he is gloriously redeemed! Where’s your quote of that part of the book, because it gave me chills! The rest of the book is a wonderful esoteric story. People, be careful not to slander someone you don’t even know or speak ill of someone’s book unless you’ve read the whole thing and have an honest opinion on the matter. Shame on this review misleading so many people based on a few paragraphs. An this is by no means an exegetical book on Proverbs. If she meant to use those skills, it would probably be written in an exegetical book, not one such as this.

  16. @Joy2thewhirld #19

    There’s no shame on the good man’s post. There is objectively no shame on him, except that he reposted what we all have blushed to read. The shame comes from him even talking about the content itself.

    What I think he is asserting is that no one needs the grotesque. The grotesque doesn’t elucidate, doesn’t help, doesn’t reach people where they are, doesn’t lift up, doesn’t edify, doesn’t show any love no matter what the motive is in showing it. Song of Songs doesn’t speak in the grotesque.

    Our problem is that we enjoy the grotesque, not that people are disgusted by the grotesque.

    Our problem is that we defend the grotesque as if it can be used for good.

    And we need to revisit what is slander before everybody stops listening to the boy who cried wolf.

    I’m feel bad for the woman who poured her heart out into this book without having friends who advised her against thinking the grotesque was necessary or helpful or at all good.

    “And let me find good friends / For counsel and correction.”

  17. I can’t say or not, I haven’t read the book. But, we got to stop kidding ourselves that teenage girls haven’t actually seen this image on a commercial, tv show, or movie – nonetheless in writing – especially since we aren’t with them 24/7. I don’t mind my teenage daughter reading this, because I think the author is never saying that the image is good one. She’s showing the world for what it is: dark and disgusting. @T. R. Halvorson #18

  18. Reasoning:

    Kids are already familiar with salacious descriptions of adultery, both literary and visual.

    Therefore we can use salacious descriptions of adultery to teach people.

    The problem is that Proverbs 7 describes a salacious woman, but is not itself salacious. The excerpt in question is grotesque. If we don’t think it is, then we should backtrack quite a long way.

  19. Joy2thewhirld, You should have stopped halfway through your message. There was NO NEED to attack the writer of this opinion piece, nor to MISCHARACTERIZE what he intended to write. And that goes for all of you. He said he did NOT write a review. So stop calling him a liar and say that he did.

    As for kids being familiar with salacious description of adultery, don’t jump to that conclusion. Sure, some know. But not all. You are absolutely right about Proverbs 7. And that is the difference between it and this book.

  20. @Jonathan Holmes #16

    Yes, I have a problem with the language, whether about a married couple or not. Satisfied? Answer the question. Would you recommend this pornography to your congregation and the children in it? Where do we put a stop to exposing children to this garbage? It’s up to the parents to protect their children from what corrupts. That’s why God gave parents. And if children get exposed to that in school, pull them out and homeschool them. We did.

  21. Scio Te, I should point out that when we use salacious material to teach, we BLESS it. Some kids will reach that conclusion.

  22. Got to thinking about all this, and I think I should elaborate. I write book reviews for Amazon. And I have written reviews on books where I considered only a small part, because it was SO BAD it wasn’t worth anyone’s time. One such book was tall tales about our favorite modern Paul Bunyan: Chuck Norris. Many of the tales were highly sexual in nature, nasty stuff. I have never finished the book and probably never will. But I gave it one star, and I don’t think anyone should read it. It is simply despicable to trash a good man’s reputation with stuff like that.

    When I was in high school, the teacher assigned The Rainmaker to us, to read. I read a little ways into it, and discovered it was full of foul language. I complained. Fortunately, my mother stood up for me, and the teacher assigned me something else. Who SAYS a teenager wants to read such stuff? I didn’t. It’s one thing if a child is a willing participant, but when an authority figure suggests a child SHOULD read something like that, then it’s no longer voluntary, and many children, teenagers included, simply don’t want to wallow in this kind of stuff. It’s like trying to teach a child not to touch a hot stove, by forcing his hand on the burner when it’s hot, or placing a chocolate mousse in front of an obese person to teach him what not to eat.

    Totally absurd.

    And I think that fits quite well here. So stop jumping all over Pastor Halvorson for expressing his opinion on this book. It’s not appropriate.

  23. Scripture offers us a number of very very poignant passages that can be uncomfortable to read. Hosea for example, is very graphic in parts about the adultery of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel’s descriptions of the Israelites having to eat and cook with their feces is another example. Song of Solomon used to be considered so graphic that many parents did not allow their children to read it. That being said, from the passage that was quoted from the book, it seems the author goes well above and beyond the text provided in Proverbs almost for the sole purpose of being provocative. I think we should always be very careful about overextending scripture to make a point. Just from what I read, I probably would not recommend the book either.

  24. The Bible is as clear and explicit as what was necessary for God to give His message. There is no need to crudely embellish was was written. Even Song of Solomon was poetic, not crude. Sex is a good thing. It should not be made to be nasty.

    The author may have some good things in other parts of her book but this probably ruined the message. This may be a good lesson for all of us when trying to get across a message. Don’t let your language or an arrogant way of presenting your ideas or personal attacks get in the way of your message.

  25. To compare Song of Solomon to the smut quoted from Woman:the forgotten story is simply absurd. Song of Solomon is good poetry. It appropriately masks its language in picturesque figures. It’s a shame a pastor would defend the writing of this smut by appealing to that which is decidedly not smut. Another reason we need to return to classical education.

  26. @Elizabeth Peters #31

    To compare Song of Solomon to the smut quoted from Woman:the forgotten story is simply absurd.

    Agree! If the “1517 Legacy Project” is sponsoring such stuff I’m embarrassed for them.
    If that means the elca, sad. If it means us, sadder!!!

  27. The 1517 Legacy Project is a mixed group with the likes of Chad Bird. This group is going off the rails. Sad that there are LCMS pastors among this group. I think this book is typical of the type of stuff you will see from this group in the future. They want o be the “hipsters” of LCMS.

  28. @Dave Scumacher # 36
    I find it interesting that many of them are from Irvine. I agree with you that they consider themselves the LCMS Intelligentsia. I don’t associate the best and brightest LCMS theologians with the college in Irvine.

  29. @GaiusKurios #39

    At the risk of veering even more off-topic, could you elaborate as to why this is? Is it due solely to his involvement w/ 1517, his participation in the White Horse Inn program (a “missionary and tract society” radio show?), or something else of which I am unaware ( a distinct possibility)? Dr. R has been a man who I have consistently respected through the years, and I’m not sure he wears the “hipster” badge all that well. 🙂

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