Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A book review

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ." --Titus 2:3

I had intended to write a post that included a quote from one of my favourite books on mothers raising daughters. But when I checked the copyright info, I found that, unless I wrote to the publisher, I could only quote from the book if I was doing so as part of a review. Well, why not write a review, then? I really like the book. My oldest daughter and I read through it, and it became a turning point in our relationship, drawing us closer together. I loaned it to one of my best friends, and she said she wanted to buy a copy for each of her daughters.

The book is entitled Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters by Stacy McDonald. There are 19 chapters, each ending with a list of questions that really make you think. The questions often include Scripture references to look up and examine. The subject material is pointed, and often made me cringe as I examined myself in the light of God's word.

Sarah and I used this book in Sunday school, when she was the only student in my class. It is designed for mothers and daughters to read through together. (It could also work well in any older-woman-teaching-teenager situation, especially if the teenager does not have a godly mother of her own.) I gave Sarah her own copy, and we read the chapters separately during the week. Then on Sunday morning we read through the questions together, taking turns reading the Scriptures aloud. My daughter is a rather private person, and it used to be like pulling hen's teeth to draw her out. As we worked our way through this book, however, she began to open up to me more. I got to know her a whole lot better, and I think she might say the same about me.

Sarah had been resenting the fact that she is a girl. She heard lists of do's and don'ts that restrict a woman, lists that were often unnecessary, unbiblical, and that represented distorted ideas about the role of women in the home and in the church. One of the blessings that came from reading this book is that it helped her to accept her femininity as a gift from God. A whole new world was opened up to her as she began to look at all she can do and be for God.

So what was the quote I referred to earlier, and why did I think it important with regards to being "in behaviour as becometh holiness"? Raising Maidens of Virtue was written to help mothers raise godly daughters in a very ungodly society. Mrs. McDonald addresses a problem that is sadly all too common in the average western church today. In the chapter "Tinkling Feet" she describes "Mandy," a fictional teen who represents the average teen girl of today. How is the average Christian girl going to be a godly influence on "Mandy," when there is no real difference between the two girls? Mrs. McDonald writes:

The problem is that we have mimicked the world for so long--copying their fashions, borrowing their educational and social philosophies, conforming to their dating format, and adopting their dialect--that we do not even realize we have lost our Christian identity. We've been wearing the costume and speaking the language of the world for so long that we don't even recognize ourselves anymore. . . .

If we Christian women do not show Mandy what biblical beauty, femininity, and modesty look like, how is she to know? But then again, how are we to know? Who is going to show us? We ourselves have forgotten.

If we visit most any church youth group, we will see young ladies who speak, walk, dress, talk, and flirt exactly like the daughters of the heathen. This has happened as a result of our conformity to the world--and the Church doesn't even realize it. Instead, Christians must be conformed to the image of Christ, and it is imperative that our uniqueness be evident to the world. . . .

It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We tend to imitate those of whom we think highly--those we decide we would like to be like. So if we imitate the world, what are we communicating?

What, indeed?


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