Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 07/23/2010 by Leslie Wiggins.
Recommended. A somewhat controversial book about the lies that often dominate women's lives.
The ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss places her in a position to counsel thousands of women. Women who claim to be Christians yet admit they are in bondage. She writes, "Our culture is experiencing an epidemic of 'soul-sickness' - not just among women 'out there' in the world, but among those of us in the church." She contends that the "vast majority" of Christian women are in bondage to food, the fear of man, and guilt, to name a few things. In Lies Women Believe, DeMoss' goal is to speak the truth to women, even if it means many will not like the message. After reading this book, I can assure you that many will "not like" her message.
The foundation of all this bondage and struggle is deception. DeMoss believes that Christian women have been duped into believing Satan's lies. To help women confront his lies, DeMoss has identified the most prevalent strongholds of sin and categorized them according to a set of lies relate to that sin. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific "family" of lies, lies women believe about:
DeMoss discusses approximately five specific lies in each category. Believing and acting on any of these lies can lead to all manner of sins, bad decisions, and painful consequences, of which DeMoss has a storehouse of examples that come from the testimonies of women who have written to her ministry.
Each chapter follows the same pattern: DeMoss explains the lie and offers proof (either through testimony or research statistics) that the lie is believed by many women and causes damage in their lives, which is followed by select scriptures to refute the lie, which is sprinkled with biblical encouragement and admonishments from DeMoss to repent and believe the truth. She places an emphasis on believing the gospel of God's grace shown to us in Jesus Christ.
While there is much good offered in this book, there are a few recurring aspects/themes that bothered me. DeMoss tends toward legalism, over-simplification, and one-size-fits-all solutions.
First, one cannot write about lies women believe without repeatedly mentioning the fact that a woman was the first to believe a lie. Yes, Eve believed the serpent and she did eat of the fruit of that infamous tree. And, yes, she gave some to her husband and he did eat, too. But does that mean it is necessarily true that Satan seeks to use a woman every time he wants to bring a man down? The repeated reminders that the terrible state the world is in is all my gender's fault and the warning that if I'm not careful Satan is going to use me (because of my susceptibility to deceit) to destroy every man within my sphere of influence were a bit much.
Second, some of DeMoss' solutions are too simplistic. For instance, in the chapter regarding the lies women believe about priorities, DeMoss writes, "Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry." That may be true in some instances, but it certainly isn't true in every case. This line of reasoning could cause women to question their involvement in activities and duties based solely on whether or not participation causes frustration (i.e., This kid is driving me crazy, therefore, God never intended for me to be a mother. If that’s you, then turn directly to the chapter about children.).
Third, there are hints of legalism. Perhaps the most glaring example is her encouragement to wives, when faced with an extremely passive husband, to refuse employment because it would not be the submissive thing to do.
At times, I have asked women who are frustrated by the inactivity of their husbands, 'What would happen if you didn’t jump in to handle the situation?' You think you have to go to work because he won’t get a job? If he gets hungry, he will probably work! You feel you have to take charge of the finances because he is irresponsible with money? He may go bankrupt. But that may be exactly what it takes for God to get his attention and change his character. You must be willing to let him fail – believing that ultimately, your security is not in your husband but in a sovereign God who is not going to fail you.
I think her words in this instance take God's command for wives to submit to their husbands too far and skew the definition of faith. There is a way for a woman to be gainfully employed and not emasculate her husband. There is a way that taking action can be a demonstration of faith. It is all a matter of the heart, but DeMoss does not emphasize this truth.
Fourth, in the chapter regarding lies women believe about children it appears that DeMoss believes that her family of origin ought to be the pattern for the rest of us to follow if we want our children to grow up to love God and serve Him. Her mother is our example when it comes to family planning (all birth control is of the devil), and both of her parents are our example when it comes to wisdom (insulate your children from all worldly influences). It's not that I disagree with what she has written; it is the implication that to do anything else would be eternally detrimental that bothers me.
Please do not allow those points to prevent you from benefiting from the rest of the book. I agreed with much more of the book than I disagreed. And there are a few elements that make this book an excellent resource. First, each chapter begins with a diary entry written from the perspective of Eve following the terrible events in and subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Simply put, it's a bit of creative writing that readers will either love or hate. Having only considered the Fall from God's (and my own) perspective, it interested and prompted me to consider Eve's feelings and emotions before and after the Fall.
Another unique feature can be found at the end of each chapter. "Countering Lies with the Truth" offers, in list form, that chapter's lies, the truth, and scripture references attacking each lie. Then, DeMoss invites the reader to "Make It Personal" by answering questions and reading scriptures that will move the reader's thoughts through the process of agreeing with God, accepting responsibility, affirming the truth, acting on the truth, and asking God to help her walk in the Truth. DeMoss pulls everything together in the end with "The Truth that Sets Us Free," a clarification of 22 life-changing truths mentioned in the previous nine chapters. Finally, there is a 13-page list of resources for further study or assistance.
It may not be Nancy DeMoss' best, but I’d still recommend it for your personal use or next women’s book study.