Friday, January 26, 2018

The Restoration of Femininity


"...we women could instead use our position as homemakers to create homes that are utterly compelling. Where the love and the delight and the joy and the gratitude for all of God's blessings are translated into how a table is set, how the walls are painted, how the rooms invite you to come in and enjoy them. Where everything about it preaches a sermon on the goodness of God and the joy He takes in the smallest details." 
~ Rebekah Merkle, Eve in Exile p.164

My sister gave me the book Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle for this past Christmas. I hadn't heard of this book before and was anxious to read it! Merkle is the daughter of Doug & Nancy Wilson. She's also a wife and mama of five! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it easy to read!

First, I want to share a couple problems I had with the book....just small things though that shouldn't stop you from reading this book! It is definitely worth the read. At the same time...I want to be totally honest!

One thing I found a bit confusing when reading her little biography on the back of the book was that after promoting the home and homemaking ~ while rightly demolishing liberal feminism all through her book ~ it goes on to seemingly proudly declare her dabblings in different occupations (and how they have been featured in this magazine or that) ~ which seemingly goes against everything she wrote in the book. It sounds like a bit of pride in the workforce with, tagged onto the end "...by far her proudest accomplishment is her crew of five.....teenage children, and her favorite role is that of wife to her.....husband Ben Merkle." I guess I feel like it sounds a bit hypocritical to tout our roles at home and then seem to brag about her "outside the home" accomplishments....? I don't know...maybe I am just being too sensitive on that front...? (If you happen to have read ~ or do read ~ this book...I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!!)

The only other issue I had with this book was her section called "Pretendyville" which focuses on how many women like to keep femininity alive by basically just picking an era of the past that we like and trying to live how we *think* it was then (a glorified version of the real thing she says). Here is a quote from her book about it:

"This particular approach can take many forms. It could show itself in organizing balls where the girls wear gloves and handmade dresses inspired by Pride and Prejudice. It could take the form of grocery shopping while wearing seamed stockings and hair in victory rolls. It might involve moving out into the country and learning to milk cows. It could become an obsession with colonial penmanship or an attempt to bring "thee" and "thou" back into vogue..." 

She also talks about teenage girls who only wore ankle length skirts and grew their hair to their waists...how she has actually seen it! (well of course she has! And to me...there is nothing wrong with it!) Although I see what she is trying to explain here is the escapist mentality of it all....I also don't begrudge women (as long as their husbands are ok with it) striving to be more feminine by wearing dresses and skirts...whether they be from Regency England era, the "plucky pioneer look" or like Scarlet O'Hara (although I have never actually watched that movie! haha!). Those are some of the ways Merkle says women can have an escapist way of dressing...and she *is* right that the ways women choose to do this is about the surrounding aesthetics and not based on biblical principals in culture. However, truly, there is nothing wrong with dressing in a way you see as lovely and feminine and modest....as long as it doesn't cause you to look down on others nor for you to think legalistically that it has anything whatsoever to do with your salvation. A Christian woman who dresses in ankle length skirts is not "more saved" than one who wears jeans and a sweater. 

So basically....I don't see anything wrong with "pretendyville" today. I think if women want to pretend it is (in their version) the 1800's or the 1950's and they are caring for their home and husband and children biblically...then by golly...stick with it! Even though Merkle says, "I think they know its escapist. It's just more comfortable to create a pretend world, cozily tucked away from the scariness of the real world - the one that contains an awful lot of sin and ugliness...." I don't see anything wrong with striving to live simply, cozily, separated from the world. No, we shouldn't run away from the world but we definitely shouldn't act like it. Granted, those who wear long skirts and long hair can have a greater sin-filled heart than one who wears pants and shoulder length hair. Dressing (and acting) from a different era doesn't make us any more holy....but it also isn't necessarily *bad* either. 

So those were the two "problems" I had when reading this book. The seeming bragging of her accomplishments as a teacher, clothing designer etc....and then the way (I felt) she cut at people who strive to express their femininity from their interpretation of the past. I'm sorry I spent so much time explaining....I just wanted to get my point across (and wasn't sure how to do it). I was talking with my sister on the phone the other day...telling her how I wanted to review this book on my blog but didn't quite know how to accurately put into words the few problems I had with it. She encouraged me to try my best...so I did! :o) 

The true *meat* of this book is fantastic though! Truly....it is quite the encouragement to us women! (All quotes below are from Merkle's book I linked to at the beginning of this post!)

"Those who try to save their lives will lose it. Those who grab at "fulfillment" will never realize it. But those who are willing to lay that down, to put other ahead of themselves, to sacrifice themselves - those are the women who will truly find fulfillment." (p.33)

Merkle explains the roots of liberal feminism and exposes what it all really is....how it has adversely affected women and the terrible abortion industry that followed. I just want to share some different quotes from her book that you may find admonishing and encouraging! 

"Christ was equal with God, but willingly humbled Himself. He offered Himself up in submission to God the Father, but not because He was inferior....Women need to stop being so offended about being asked to submit to an equal. Christ did not consider it robbery to humble himself and submit to an equal, and neither should we, because when we picture that submission we are picturing the most potent form of glory there is...When a woman submits, when she lays herself down, when she, like Christ, offers herself up to the death of humility, in submission to someone who is an equal, that is the field in which glory grows." (p. 120 & 121 & 123)

"...if we have a family, the work we do for that household is the most important work we could possibly be doing - and everything else needs to take a back seat."(p. 137)

Aren't those quotes so good!? They are so full of biblical truth that I could hear myself agreeing with her words as I read them! She encourages women to *truly* fulfill their role....which is *not* a demeaning one! We were put on this earth for a reason...ultimately to glorify the Lord! And to do that...we must live out the role He made for us! He made us as helpers for our husbands! He made us to care for our homes....to bear and train up children. We glorify Him as we live out our roles as homemaker, wife and mother to the BEST of our ability. Don't just slide through life getting things done just because they must be. Do them to the glory of God! Work hard! It's good to be tired at the end of the day....and at the end of the week! That is why the Lord blessed us with the Sabbath! A day of rest from all our toil! Work done well to the glory of God is good work indeed! :o) 


"No Christian should ever really be asking, 'How can I fulfill myself?' - the question should always be pointed outward. Who can I bless? How can I use my gifts to build up those around me? How can I embrace my femininity in such a way that I shine the light of the gospel into a lost and sinful world? How can I be truly excellent in the opportunities that God has placed in front of me?" (p. 144-145)

My answers to the quote above are that I need to build up my husband and children. I need to live out my role as a wife, mother and homemaker in a way of excellency where I shine the light of Christ to others....fulfilling my role to the best of my ability and letting the world see my joy in that (not that I am "superwife" or "supermom" but that I am a simple woman who honors the Lord by doing my absolute best to care for my husband, children and home in a way that truly glorifies Him)! 

Finally...this quote to end this post and review. Despite the couple things I mentioned at the beginning of this post...I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it! :) 

"As soon as women start demanding "equality" at the top of their lungs they kill the glory, because the essence of glory is dependent on difference...We have to be willing to embrace the fact that women are different from men. We are called to different things than the men, we've been created to do different tasks than the men, we've been gifted differently than the men - and if we embrace that truth we will find ourselves able to sing in harmony, able to glorify." (p. 192-193)




8 comments:

  1. Well put Katy. There was a blog I had visited and she refers to herself as a " street evangelist" for women's equality in the church and home. She wants to singlehandedly " dethrone male headship". I was totally appalled by her writings. It scares me that there are women like her brainwashing women in the church.
    Unforturnately I think she's been brainwashed by feminists out there. Anyway, Katy thank you for the book recommendation. I wonder if our public library has it.

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    1. That *is* scary Regina! It is really sad! Thank you for your comment! :)

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  2. Hmmm...not sure if I'll read this one or not. Maybe I will if it comes my way.
    Blessings,
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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    1. It really is worth a read Laura, if you get a chance! :)

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  3. Hi, Katy! Just wanted to say I always enjoy reading your posts. They are a terrific encouragement to me. Your perspective is seems more conservative than my own - I was raised by quite liberal, humanist parents, and became didn't become saved until my thirties. It is only fairly recently that I've seen the many serious problems with feminism. (Most of my family proudly declares themselves "feminist". I can see why: not EVERYTHING feminism accomplished was negative (IMHO), but the negative balance far outweighs the positive, and the basis for it is not biblical.) I wanted to learn more about your perspective (as I try to more clearly discern my own): Do you think God calls ALL women to be wives and mothers? Why (what scriptures)? If not, what IS the role for a woman who may be called to be single? I'm thinking of Paul here, where he states that if you must marry, do so, but it is better if you do not. So if one is not married (women in particular) - what might that "look like" in terms of serving and glorifying the Lord? What role has God called single women to?

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    1. Hello Lisa! :) It's wonderful to "meet" you! Thank you for your comment! I am so glad you are a child of the One True God! It's always wonderful to meet another sister in Christ!

      I do not believe ALL women are called to be wives and mothers....although I do believe more are than not (as we were created for man...to help him). In 1 Tim. 5 Paul instructs the younger widows to marry, have children and keep their homes....I would say this shows that typically it is good for women to marry and be a *helper* that God created them to be.

      And while not trying to skimp on writing here....I am not sure I can fully explain everything well enough in the time I Have at the moment. (Plus, I, of course, don't have all the answers perfectly! haha!) But I can direct you to a blog of a lady with similar views to mine on it all! She has tons of posts on everything you can dream of on these topics! It is the Transformed Wife blog (link in my blog link list to the right or up at the top of my left sidebar under Lori Alexander). She has taken thoughtful time to consider and biblically answer these many questions! :)

      I will say though that a single woman serving the Lord, with no need for focusing on her children and husband has an abundance of time to live out her live solely in obedience and service to the Lord. Ministering to the needs of others and living a life of selflessness...with Christ as her Head. A wife and mother focuses her life on service and selflessness first to her husband and then her children....and then to her church family and the world in need of the gospel. :)

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  4. Hello, Katy,

    Thank you for this honest review of Eve in Exile. I just downloaded to the Kindle and will be reading it before too much longer. Your blog post has whet my appetite to read...especially the quote you shared from pages 120-123. Thank you also for stopping by my blog. :)

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  5. Yes, yes, yes, Katy, You are so right in the paragraph you wrote:

    "So basically....I don't see anything wrong with "pretendyville" today. I think if women want to pretend it is (in their version) the 1800's or the 1950's and they are caring for their home and husband and children biblically...then by golly...stick with it! Even though Merkle says, "I think they know its escapist. It's just more comfortable to create a pretend world, cozily tucked away from the scariness of the real world - the one that contains an awful lot of sin and ugliness...." I don't see anything wrong with striving to live simply, cozily, separated from the world."

    We are often forced to retreat to a "safer sapce" in the corrupt world in which we live where everything has changed so rapidly from the good and moral. I was born in 1950. Halleluiah! I know I can't go back to that time, and I know it was not a perfect time, but it makes me feel happier that I still hold those values and am not swayed by everything that comes into fashion or fad in this century.

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I am always so grateful to read your comments! I thank you for the time you took to visit and share your thoughts with me. :o)
May you enter as a stranger and leave as a friend!
Warmly, Katy