Disciplines of a Godly Woman
Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team
"In the beginning Eve rebelled against God, rejecting His will regarding the forbidden tree and then encouraged her husband to follow her lead. When Adam joined her, failing to lead his wife in godliness, they overturned the good order of creation," says Barbara Hughes in her book Disciplines of a Godly Woman. She believes God’s good order for His creation still works. Using personal anecdotes, biblical truth, and thought-provoking questions, Hughes challenges women to seek renewed minds and, by God’s grace, become women of the gospel.
According to Hughes, in order to live as a gospel woman, one must first submit to the gospel. Only then can she properly submit in the other areas of her life. Contrary to popular belief, submission is not made up by men to keep women under their thumbs. Hughes unpacks the biblical reasons for a woman’s submission very well. She does not gloss over any portion of scripture. While many popular authors prefer to soften Eve’s role, Hughes calls it a rejection of authority and sin of unbelief. Eve wanted to be the boss and she did not trust God. Hughes explains that Eve’s refusal and self-exaltation is precisely why we must embrace submission today if we are to work with God for the salvation of our families and neighbors.
This book is divided into four main divisions (soul, character, relationships, and ministry) with three or four detailed chapters in each. She begins with a warning against legalism and an encouragement to work with God’s grace in order to become godly. She writes, "True discipline is a far cry from legalism-thank God! The difference lies in motivation: Legalism is self-centered; discipline is God-centered…The disciplined heart says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please Him.’" The book breaks down as follows:
Discipline of the Gospel
Discipline of Submission
Discipline of Prayer
Discipline of Worship
Discipline of Mind
Discipline of Contentment
Discipline of Propriety
Discipline of Perseverance
Discipline of the Church
Discipline of Singleness
Discipline of Marriage
Discipline of Nurturing
Discipline of Good Deeds
Discipline of Witness
Discipline of Giving
Each chapter’s central theme is submitting to God for the sake of the gospel.
In the final chapter, Grace of Discipline, Hughes reiterates the necessity of God’s grace if we are to discipline our lives according to His word. She also gives some helpful advice about how one might go about becoming godly. One interesting suggestion is to make a list of which areas you think need the most improvement, then ask your husband what he thinks, and compare lists. Then, employ the assistance of an accountability partner for prayer and encouragement. Hughes insists that women must be patient and only tackle one area at a time.
I enjoy a book with a plethora of lists, notes, helps, and references. Hughes includes a hefty reference section in the back of her book. It covers hymns and praise psalms for your devotional time, M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings, a list of over 100 books (fiction, non-fiction, and biography) every woman should read, a section entitled "What I Do with the Hard Things in My Life," scriptures and opportunities for good deeds, the testimony of James and Deby Fellowes, and, finally, a section entitled "Domestic Gospel Women."
Disciplines of a Godly Woman, written by a married woman, is heavy on familial illustrations. While Hughes’ desire is to write for women in general, most of the stories involve married women and children, and I wonder if a single woman might become frustrated with seeing how particular illustrations apply directly to her life. Her chapter on singleness (nine pages, including the questions at the end) is one of the shortest in the book.
As Christians, the gospel is our foundation for life. As individual women, the gospel informs how we live each day in submission to God. Hughes beautifully interlocks the gospel and submission so that women can easily see the need for submission for the furtherance of the gospel.
Having spent my formative years learning and living under the influence of feminist propaganda, to have a renewed mind regarding femininity and proper roles for women proves to be a challenge. I am not the only born-again Gen-Xer to struggle with God’s "good order." The church has not proven very helpful. Most Christian women are woefully inept to explain what the scriptures really say regarding women. In our current feminist atmosphere, young female teachers, whether out of fear or ignorance, mishandle scriptures concerning women. All the while, the older generations who could teach the younger generations the truth, are squeezed out of church. The wisdom of God flowing through Barbara Hughes in Disciplines of a Godly Woman is much needed in this generation.