Friday, February 19, 2010

Comparative Book Review

As I try to whittle down the books on my “to read” shelf, I thought I would do a comparative review of two books that I have had for many years but have only recently read. They both cover the same topic (Christian women married to non-Christian men), but their treatments of the subject matter are very different.

For those readers who do not know me personally, I should explain that I have been married for over 20 years to a wonderful, non-Christian man and have been walking with the Lord for over 15 years. So I have a little bit of insight into this subject, at least from a personal perspective.

Of the two books, Michael Fanstone’s Unbelieving Husbands and the Wives Who Love Them offers a more surface treatment of the issue at hand. The overall tone of the book is depressing, focusing on how bad the problems in unequally-yoked marriages can be but offering very little Biblical advice. At times, I felt like the content bordered on psycho-babble. Fanstone also presents a very negative view of the church at times, going so far as to say that the church may make things harder for wives of unbelieving husbands. This certainly has NOT been my experience and I feel very sorry for the women who may shy away from seeking support in churches as a result of this kind of advice.

Verdict: Skip it

In contrast, Jo Berry’s Beloved Unbeliever goes deeper into the heart issues involved and offers practical and helpful Biblical advice. Although Berry explores the same problems as Fanstone does, the overall tone is more hopeful and encouraging. I appreciated that Berry stressed the Biblical responsibilities of the wife to love her husband and be a helper to him, regardless of whether he is a Christian or not. As I read through this book, I didn’t come across any information that I didn’t already know, but I think it would have been very helpful if I had read it 10 or 15 years ago. I would not hesitate to recommend it to any Christian woman married to a non-Christian man.

Verdict: Recommended for any Christian woman married to a non-Christian or for anyone ministering to women in this situation


Baroness Insomniac said...

I do get a bit put out with the idea that Christian women married to men who don't know the Lord YET must be in terrible suffering. While it is indeed difficult to contemplate the future of their souls should the Lord not be pleased to save them, we are in no wise released from what can be JOY rather than obligation to be a proper, loving wife to them. 1 Peter 3:1-2

I didn't know the Lord when I married my wonderful husband and while I grieve for his soul's condition and pray for him every day, I wouldn't trade him for anything. He is the love of my life, the most wonderful husband and my best friend. Thank you for the book reviews and for sharing, Jennifer. =) I think I'm going to order that latter book. xxx

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

I love how you took the time to compare the two books and recommend one! Great review!

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