Eyelashes and Morals

BB-BeaIt doesn’t take much life experience to know that, given a choice, a young man will choose a young woman with a beautiful face and gorgeous figure over an average woman with weak eyes. Even biblical patriarchs were susceptible to an attractive external. “Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel” (Genesis 29:16–18a). He picked the pretty girl. And in a time before Maybelline, she was probably born with it. She didn’t beat Leah at the win-the-man game because she was better at application and had contacts. God made Rachel more beautiful than her sister, and it won her the love of the husband. Continue reading

Mentoring 101

1024px-Pieter_de_Hooch_-_At_the_Linen_Closet“Mentoring is so American,” a friend from another country told me. We were talking about older women mentoring younger women, and she had a different take on it than most people around me. “Where I’m from, people would never do it. They just take part in the life of the church and try to be faithful in their personal lives.” What she meant was that the early 21st century American version of mentoring—more of a Evangelical, programmatic Titus 2 system—was something unique to this culture. And she is probably right: the one-on-one coffee dates, note taking, and arranged, lay shepherding isn’t exactly something that has a timeless or universal feel. Not that this “American” version of mentoring is wrong, it’s just a cultural expression of Protestant America trying to help the older women teach the younger women. Continue reading

Open Letter to a Woman With an Adulterous Husband

1024px-Briefoeffner_mit_kuvert_und_hand_fcmThe following blog post is an anonymous guest contribution; the author wants to come alongside and comfort women who find themselves in this very painful circumstance.

I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s unfaithfulness to you. From my experience there is nothing more deflating, demoralizing and hurtful more than this type of rejection. I could say, “I know how you feel,” but the circumstances and situation from affair to affair are all different. So I can’t say with all confidence that I know exactly how you feel. The truth is, only God knows this type of rejection. Continue reading

What A Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

120px-Shadow_me There’s been a lot of talk about beauty around here lately. One friend has even labeled the ongoing conversation TBD—The Beauty Discussion. We’ve dragged Augustine, Reformers, Puritans, philosophers, and the Mahaneys into the discussion to help us and our daughters think about women and beauty as Christians. Here are five points:

Physical beauty is as real as spiritual beauty. Our culture tells women that physical beauty is all that matters. Some Christians react to this by saying that spiritual beauty is the only real beauty. But that’s not true; God created real, physical beauty, and in this world we see lots of it, including in other people. Something purely physical can be beautiful (a flower, sunset, and Taylor Swift’s hair), and we can be thankful for it. There is a tension between physical and spiritual beauty as we strive to maintain body and cultivate soul, but one is not less real than the other, though one is less valuable than the other. Continue reading

It Matters Whom You Marry, Book Version

it-matters-whom-you-marry When we posted the article, “It Matters Whom You Marry,” a couple years ago, we were amazed to see it reach millions of readers all over the world. It was reblogged dozens of times and translated into several languages (Portuguese, Hungarian, Bosnian, and others). On Monday, Christian Focus Publications will release the book version in the U. S.: Your Future Other Half: It Matters Whom You Marry. Here is a taste from the introduction: Continue reading

Authenticity, Honesty, and the Stay-At-Home-Mother

clean-up At the Gospel Coalition, Brett McCracken takes on authenticity as an evangelical substitute for holiness. He asks, “by focusing on brokenness as proof of our ‘realness’ and ‘authenticity,’ have evangelicals turned ‘being screwed up’ into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness?” Yup. And perhaps few are as guilty as us wives and mothers.

The mommy wars have made great advances in battling the false fronts of picture-perfect blog posts, where dinners always look fabulous, children are always beautifully dressed, and husbands always come home with roses. But we’ve replaced those filtered versions of our lives with other versions: Continue reading

Dove Ads, Ambrose, and Christian Women

160px-Grace_Kelly_-_High_SocietyThe social experiment that Dove released last week is fascinating. It has a clear message: “You are more beautiful than you think”.

Apparently, it’s not new for women to think that they are ugly. Hence the early invention of make-up, which has been around at least since the ancient Egyptians started the eyeliner trend about 4,000 years ago. Ambrose of Milan, writing in the fourth century, commented:

“[Women] erase that painting [of God] by smearing on their complexion a color of material whiteness or by applying an artificial rouge. The result is a work not of beauty, but of ugliness; not of simplicity, but of deceit. It is a temporal creation, a prey to perspiration or rain. It is a snare and a deception which displeases the person you aim to please, for he realizes that all this is an alien thing and not your own. This is also displeasing to your Creator, who sees His own work obliterated. Continue reading

Minding Our Own Reproductive Business

9 monthsA couple weeks ago I talked with some young mothers about inappropriate questions that they have had to answer. I’ve had the same questions, and though answering them has not caused me any grief, they easily could have. Questions like, “Are you pregnant?” “Do you guys have a hard time getting pregnant?” “How many kids do you want?” “Is this one a surprise?” “Why don’t you guys have (more) kids?” These questions are different than learning how to think through an issue like family planning by asking someone for their thoughts. Genuine learning questions are in a separate category.

But inquiring into very personal matters out of curiosity, a desire to know, an inability to make conversation on other topics, or as a misapplied expression of care, is a bad idea. Such questions, and any like them, are ones that only very close family and friends should ask, and even then with caution, forethought, and not in the church foyer. If you are not a very close family member or friend, it’s a good idea to stay away from this topic. Why? Because: Continue reading