One of the things I’ve wanted to do is offer some commentary on what Christian women are being taught. Having been exposed to Wild At Heart, I found it natural to investigate the book written by John Eldredge and his wife Stasi as a counterpart to that book: Captivating.
The book fits with an adjective that I find more proper to women today, and especially Christian women: Repulsive. In almost every woman, we have their feral natures running the show. Books like this do nothing to stem the tide of women rebelling against God. This book has nothing about the fallen state women are under. This book has nothing about the sin they exhibit or the typical pride of Eve, proving it very feminist. It addresses nothing about women being more the wife of Job than the Proverbs 31 wife. This book especially has nothing about the distinctive masculine walk that Jesus calls each of us to – the one of discipleship. This book, rather, fills unregenerate female hearts to Satan’s delight. There are so many passages that I could use in this book, but I will focus on just a few.
The whole theme of the book stems on the concept of self-esteem. It creates a certain pride and arrogance in women. The whole book is planted in feminist doctrine, as the notes I took regarding modern feminism in the church illustrates:
She also sought to redefine the principal sins of men and women. She asserted that to men, the principal sin is pride and grace is sacrificial love. In women, she asserted the exact opposite, that a woman’s principal sin is too much sacrificial love and not enough pride in themselves (or lack of self-esteem). (10)
The whole goal is setting up women in their pride – in their lost state. She does too much, she’s all about service, her true nature is being forced into hiding by the actual requirements of God. The one that requires her to walk in true discipleship to the Lord. The one that requires her to put her self aside in service. The one that actually requires her to honor her familial authority figures – her father and her husband. All of this keeps her from being “captivating”.
How do we recover essential femininity without falling into stereotypes, or worse, ushering in more pressure and shame upon our readers? That is the last thing a woman needs. And yet, there is an essence that God has given to every woman. We share something deep and true, down in our hearts. So we venture into this exploration of femininity by way of the heart.
. . .
God has set within you a femininity that is powerful and tender, fierce and alluring. No doubt it has been misunderstood. Surely it has been assaulted. But it is there, your true heart, and it is worth recovering. You are captivating. (1)
Of course, given the literal feral state of the modern woman, shame and pressure are the exact things they need. But focusing on self-esteem, lifting up the self instead of lifting up God keeps women everywhere from being what they were called to be before God. Instead, Satan whispers in their ears that they’re missing out – look at all of what God is keeping from them because their hearts desires aren’t fulfilled. That the flesh can’t rule them when they’re ruled by the Spirit. Even the Spirit peeks out though:
I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it–something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on your deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone. (2)
Shame, when it comes from conviction is a good thing. Instead of seeking why this is, for example kowtowing to the world and the opinions of others instead of seeking to please the Lord’s will, shame itself becomes the bad thing. Instead of recognizing the brokenness that a woman should have where the Lord should reign, she does everything to build herself up and ignore her sin. She makes herself valuable in her identity as woman.
Think about it: God created you as a woman. “God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Whatever it means to bear God’s image, you do so as a woman. Female. That’s how and where you bear his image. Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities–as a reflection of God’s own heart. You are a woman to your soul, to the very core of your being. And so the journey to discover what God meant when he created woman in his image–when he created you as his woman–that journey begins with your heart. Another way of saying this is that the journey begins with desire. The desires that God has placed into our hearts are clues as to who we really are and the role that we are meant to play. Many of us have come to despise our desires or at least try to bury them. They have become a source of pain or shame. We are embarrassed of them. But we don’t need to be. The desires of our heart bear a great glory because, as we will detail further in the next chapter, they are precisely where we bear the image of God. We long for certain things because he does! (3)
Instead of it becoming about what God desires in her life, it becomes about her desires.
Her desires are made into what God desires.
In other words, her desire becomes entitlement, because in her view those desires are wrapped up into her entire identity as woman. She is Queen. She is the Princess. She is Beauty. She is God (dess). There is nothing new about this, so the only thing teachers are doing is accentuating the fleshly motives that are already there in woman.
We are reminded of Pascal’s metaphor, that our unmet longings and unrequited desires are in fact “the miseries of a dethroned monarch.” Mankind is like a king or queen in exile, and we cannot be happy until we have recovered our true state. What would you expect the Queen of a kingdom and the Beauty of the realm to feel when she wakes to find herself a laundress in a foreign land? A woman’s struggle with her sense of worth points to something glorious she was designed to be. The great emptiness we feel points the great place we were created for. It’s true. All those legends and fairy tales of the undiscovered Princess and the Beauty hidden as a maid are more accurate than we thought. There’s a reason little girls resonate with them so. (4)
In this way, the narratives of traditional feminism rear their ugly head. Instead of that “great emptiness” pointing to the need to submit to God in humility, it becomes a need to affirm her delusions, and become what it is she feels in her heart. Not to be a captivating woman of God, but to be a repulsive despicable despot over all that is around her. Not to be a humble inviting woman, but to be a prideful arrogant beast. But she is justified. She is Woman. She is the crown of creation.
Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation? . . . Not an afterthought. Not a nice addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God’s final touch, his piece de resistance. She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find some place with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves, “The whole vast world was incomplete without me. Creation reached its finishing touch in me.” (5)
She’s the best thing of all on earth, above the earth, and under the earth. She is Woman. She is Beauty. She is Queen. Hear her roar, as Satan cackles with delight.
“You are a Princess, you are called to rule, you are called to reign, and you are commanded to operate in it!”
– Nicole Crank
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(1) Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge p X. (2) ibid p 6-7 (3) ibid p 8. (4) ibid p 22-23. (5) ibid p 26.