Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 05/29/2010 by Leslie Wiggins.
Recommended. A call to Christian women to live wisely, not relative to other women, but resolutely biblically.
Upon reading the title of Mary Kassian's new book Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, my first thought was of the Joe Francis franchise, Girls Gone Wild. Perhaps you are familiar with the late night commercials: barely legal girls baring breasts, engaging in sexual activity in front of a camera to earn one of his t-shirts.
The temptation to think that only those girls fall under the "wild" category is certainly present. My second thought was that as long as I dress appropriately, speak sweetly, and mind my Southern graces, then I have no need to be concerned about becoming a wild woman. And, since I'm still in my early thirties, neither am I in danger of becoming a "cougar." Oh, yes, it is quite easy to distance myself, look down my nose, tsk-tsk, and "what-a-shame" them. Kassian, however, is quick to remind me that
Although external appearance and sexual behavior certainly play a part in determining if a particular woman has or hasn't gone wild, the Bible teaches that there's a whole lot more involved than that. What's more, it teaches that Girl-Gone-Wild behavior isn’t restricted to young single women. A woman can be a Girl-Gone-Wild at any stage of life...There is a measure of Girl-Gone-Wildness in all of us. (10-11)
Like our mother Eve before us, we are easily deceived by our hearts, our eyes, and our "wisdom." Rather than relying on God's Word for direction, we rely on ourselves to make good and right decisions. In the end, we suffer the painful consequences of our sin and stupidity. We suffer for a lack of biblical wisdom. We suffer because our hearts are not consumed by Jesus Christ.
How do you know if you're a girl-gone-wild or a girl-gone-wise? Consider a laundry detergent commercial: you can't really tell which old shirt is bright blue until you see it beside one that’s never been worn. "Comparison magnif[ies] the difference," writes Kassian. Scripture offers us many points of comparison when we consider the differences between a wise woman and a wild woman. Kassian focuses on twenty.
- Heart: What Holds First Place in Her Affections
- Counsel: Where She Gets Her Instruction
- Approach: Who Directs Her Love Story
- Attitude: Her Prevailing Disposition
- Habits: Her Priorities and Routines
- Focus: What Commands Her Attention
- Appearance: How She Adorns Herself
- Body language: Her Nonverbal Behavior
- Roles: Her Pattern of Interaction
- Sexual conduct: Her Sexual Behavior
- Boundaries: Her Hedges and Precautions
- Authenticity: Her Public Versus Private Persona
- Neediness: Whom She Depends on to Fulfill Her Longings
- Possessions: How She Handles Her Money and Resources
- Entitlement: Her Insistence on Gratification
- Reliability: Her Faithfulness to Commitments
- Speech: Her Speech Habits
- Influence: Her Impact on Others and Their Impact on Her
- Sustainability: Her Ability to Nurture and Sustain a Relationship
- Teachability: Her Willingness to Be Corrected and Instructed
The foundation text is the Proverbs 7 parable of the adulterous woman. But Kassian also brings in scripture from across the Old and New Testaments. She explains contexts and meanings before teaching how the truth can be applied to the lives of women living in 2010. In each chapter, Kassian demonstrates an understanding of the whole counsel of God's word and the ability to discern and apply truth. The first point of contrast is a perfect example of what I mean.
When writing about a woman's heart, Kassian begins with Proverbs 5:5-6, "Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it." Kassian goes on to make the connection between a woman's feet and the inclinations of her heart.
The idiom 'swept off her feet' indicates that there is a strong connection between a girl's heart and her feet. That connection is the first point of contrast between a Girl-Gone-Wild and a Girl-Gone-Wise. A wise woman gives the Lord Jesus Christ first place in her heart. Her feet follow the inclination of her heart, so she makes cautious, wise, godly decisions about her relationships with men.
She then contrasts that with the feet and heart of a wild woman:
A wild woman, on the other hand, does not have Christ at the center of her affections...Her relationship to Christ is peripheral, shoved off to the side somewhere.
But, as Kassian points out, the contrast is never that simple. She points the reader to Proverbs 7 to show that even the wild woman has been to worship that day; the wild woman behaves one way at church to impress others, but in an altogether different way when she thinks no one at church is looking.
It's important to remember that although her steps wander, the Wild Thing of Proverbs is a very religious woman who moves in religious circles. Nowadays, you might find her at a youth group, on the worship team, in a Bible study, on a mission trip, or teaching Sunday school. She could be the leader of the women's ministry in your church. Or the speaker at your next women's retreat. She could be me. She could be you. On the surface, the Wild Thing does a lot of things right...She lives a religious life, but does not love Jesus wholeheartedly.
Kassian continues in the same way for 19 more chapters: contrasting the wild woman and the wise woman, all the while holding up the mirror of God's word to the self-described wise woman so she can see just how wild her heart will become apart from the grace of God.
Many chapters were difficult for me to read. Were it not for repeated reminders of God's grace demonstrated in the gospel, I would not have enjoyed reading nearly as much. Along with conviction came gospel comfort. After all, we aren't going to gain wisdom apart from a relationship with Jesus.
Speaking of Jesus, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I appreciate Kassian's handling of the gospel. I read a lot of books targeted for Christian women. Many, if not most of them, will include a token mention of the gospel: a page and a half (if that) ABC explanation followed by "Pray this short prayer and you’re in the family of God." Blech! I counted two separate times in which Kassian explains the gospel, not as "by the way, here's what Jesus did for you," but within the context of the chapter. She begins with the holiness of God and ends with repentance and faith. Yes, she actually describes repentance. She even differentiates justification and sanctification. Folks, I just don't see much of that in books written by women for women, and I appreciate it when I do.
Whether you are a teenager, in your twenties, thirties, forties or seventies, I am confident you will be challenged and convicted as you are made to consider whether your heart reflects the characteristics of a Wild Thing or a Wise Thing. Girls Gone Wise will help you grow in spiritual discernment, encourage you to reject the world's pattern for women and embrace God's perfect plan, and, finally, Kassian's desire is that you become "more biblically savvy and godly in the way you think and conduct yourself in your relationships with men." Moreover, I am confident that at many points you will exult in the goodness, mercy and grace of our God who delights to transform wild hearts into wise ones.