Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: Feminine Appeal

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

Carolyn Mahaney has seen the feminine virtues described in Titus 2 transform her life and the lives of countless other women, through years of experience as a mother of girls, a speaker, a pastor’s wife, and a mentor. In her book Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother, she takes the mentoring mandate of Titus 2:3-5 and devotes a chapter to each virtue listed in verses 4 and 5.

  • The Delight of Loving My Husband
  • The Blessings of Loving My Children
  • The Safety of Self-Control
  • The Pleasure of Purity
  • The Honor of Working at Home
  • The Rewards of Kindness
  • The Beauty of Submission

I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single chapter that wasn’t convicting to me. I thought I already loved my husband and children, but Mahaney showed me I still have much room to grow in this area. But even though she gives very straightforward, Biblical advice, the tone of the book was always warm, humble, and encouraging. She doesn’t just tell you what you’re doing wrong; she also gives very practical advice for how to improve. The most convicting chapter for me personally was hands-down the chapter on kindness. Here’s a sample of some of the very practical advice Mahaney gives in this chapter:

Daily we should bestow much more encouragement than correction or criticism. We should be on the lookout for praiseworthy actions that glorify God and point out these evidences of grace to our husbands and children. Specific encouragement of this kind will strengthen their souls and provoke them to godliness.

So why is all of this important? Mahaney cites a phrase from Titus 2:10 as our ultimate goal: so that we “may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” She explains it this way:

Our conduct has a direct influence on how people think about the gospel. The world doesn’t judge us by our theology; the world judges us by our behavior. People don’t necessarily want to know what we believe about the Bible. They want to see if what we believe makes a difference in our lives. Our actions either bring honor to God or misrepresent His truth.

As verse 10 says, we can “adorn” the gospel with our lives. To “adorn” means to put something beautiful or attractive on display – like placing a flawless gemstone in a setting that uniquely shows off its brilliance. The gospel is like the most valuable of jewels. … By cultivating the feminine qualities listed in Titus 2, we can present the gospel as attractive, impressive, and pleasing to a watching world.

Mahaney closes the book with a chapter called “Margaret’s Story,” which is a description of her example of a Titus 2 woman: her own mother. There are also Study and Discussion Questions for each chapter written by her daughter, Nicole Mahaney Whitacre. I looked through a few of these and they seem to be very well done. They are not your standard “regurgitate the information back to me so I can be sure you were paying attention” type questions. They are more discussion oriented and I think they would be very helpful in a mentoring relationship.

THE VERDICT: Highly recommended for any wife, mother, or single lady who might someday be a wife & mother. This is also a great resource for mentors to go through with their mentees.

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