Feminine Faith in a Feminist World
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team
I first learned of Carolyn McCulley when I picked up her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Since its publication, McCulley has been a featured guest on several radio programs and a speaker at women’s conferences. I have come to appreciate her ministry to women more and more via her blog, Solo Femininity. After reading her second book, Radical Womanhood, I am convinced God has orchestrated her life and granted her profound wisdom on the topic of biblical femininity for this specific time in history.
McCulley’s story will resonate with most Christian women in America. Sensitive to the sexism she encountered as a youngster, McCulley eagerly embraced feminism during her college years. She writes, “As a journalism major, I needed some topic to specialize in, a cause to champion. I found mine in feminism. I made it my life’s mission then to splash the cause of feminism across magazines and airwaves wherever I worked.” In her thirtieth year, however, McCulley realized that feminism had not provided the happiness it promised, but rather all she had was “androgynous ‘dress for success’ fashion, a hyper-perception of sexual harassment and discrimination on the job, and a caricature of masculine sexuality as a model of freedom for both sexes. Aggression at work and on dinner dates was the legacy of my education.”
But her dilemma’s answer came in a way she never expected. While on vacation to visit family in South Africa, McCulley heard the gospel.
All my previous feminist philosophies resulted in merely kicking at the darkness, expecting it would bleed daylight. But Scripture says that it is by God’s light that we see light (Psalm 36:9). The light of God’s Word showed me truth. What I thought was right and true didn’t hold up to Scripture. Human observation and psychology could only point out the problem … but offered no credible solution to the tension between the sexes…I learned that Scripture tells us that other people are not the real problem.
Back in the U.S., McCulley joined a church. She will never forget the initial culture shock she experienced as she became acquainted with the Christian women in her church:
I had an entirely new worldview to process and evaluate: people were actually reading the Bible! And believing it! They talked about relationships and roles so differently from anything I had ever heard before.
Her memories from her early days and months as a Christian helped motivate McCulley to write this book. She explains that she wishes she had had a book like Radical Womanhood when she was in her early thirties:
I wrote this book for…the woman who needed to understand why much of what she had been taught in college and read in the media led to a dead end, and why the Bible inspired joy and peace.
During her travels and speaking engagements, McCulley has found that young women are suffering from their ignorance of feminism: its history, the major players in the movement, how it changed American culture, how it redefined what it means to be a woman. She has also learned that women suffer from not knowing what the Bible says about being a woman made in the image of God. Therefore, in Radical Womanhood, McCulley offers a detailed history of feminism, an examination of how feminism has changed the culture of America, and an evaluation of how feminism’s claims stands up to the truth of Scripture.
A history of feminism may sound boring to some. A history of feminism against Scripture’s critique of it may sound even more dull. On the contrary, Radical Womanhood is quite a page-turner. Beginning with Abigail Adams’ letters to her husband John Adams, McCulley brilliantly explains how one wave of feminism fed the next, from suffrage to socialist ideas regarding sex and birth control to the fallout we call “sexting.” Two chapters particularly interesting to me center on feminism’s impact on the home and motherhood. Each chapter is followed by the personal story of a woman who turned away from feminism and embraced the gospel and God’s design for women. It is far from boring!
A few years ago, I sat with the women in my family for an afternoon. As I visited with my aunts, my grandmother, and my mother, we talked about life, marriage, and divorce. I took the opportunity to ask questions about what growing up was like for them. It did not take long before our conversation turned to the drastic differences between our generations. I saw my aunt’s eyes fill with tears as she said, “At the time, we thought we were right, but we were so wrong. If I had known that this [referring to our culture] is where feminism was going….I just don’t believe we would ever have wished this on ourselves.” But, as McCulley explains, there were some women who would be very pleased with our “progress:” the removal of sexual taboos, young girls “free” to experience sexual intercourse with numerous partners without repercussion (thanks to the widespread use of birth control), abortion on demand without parental consent, the prescription-free availability of Plan B for girls as young as 17, and all these with federal government’s support. Women and girls are reaping what previous generations have sown. But it is not too late to turn the tide for the sake of future generations.
McCulley reiterates Paul’s letter to Titus, “Let the older instruct the younger.” Our churches are filled with women who have had their minds renewed by the power of God’s Word and who are equipped to teach younger women how to live a life of biblical womanhood and how to avoid the deceitful lure of feminism. Now that the definition of radical has changed, isn’t it wonderful that women once involved in radical feminism now have an opportunity to be radical for the Lord? A radical woman of today embraces God’s perfect design, protects infants and children, appreciates the leadership of men, is chaste and modest, and lives a feminine faith for the glory of Jesus. Read this book and let McCulley’s words energize and encourage you to be (and teach others to be) a radical woman.