love and war and a giveaway

i had never read anything by john or stasi eldredge before, but i admit to harboring a few suspicions based on things i'd heard.  john's wild at heart is a sort of manual for christian masculinity, and stasi wrote a primer for women called captivating.

i'm wary of prescriptive statements about gender identity, especially if cloaked in religious language, because they often don't mesh with my understanding of scripture.  narrowly defined gender roles presented as The Biblical Way can be hurtful, inaccurate, and unnecessarily limiting.

of course, holding opinions about something you've never read is unfair (and pretty lame), so when i was offered the opportunity to review the eldredges' new marriage book, i was interested.

john and stasi co-wrote love and war:  finding the marriage you've dreamed of, and i have to say, it was better than i thought it might be.

they argue that marriage is a love story, and the setting is war, specifically spiritual war.  in the bible, marriage is often presented as an earthly picture of the unconditional, sacrificial love that Christ has for the Church.  the eldredges put it this way:
God created marriage as a living, breathing portrait laid out before the eyes of the world so that they might see the story of the ages.  A love story, set in the midst of desperate times.  It is a story of redemption, a story of healing; it is a story of love.  God gives us marriage to illustrate his heart toward us.  It is the deepest and most mythic reality of the world--that love is true, that God pursues us.
the eldredges offer a lot of godly wisdom.  because of the spiritual significance God puts on marriage, it is especially vulnerable to spiritual attack.  God can use marriage to transform us into the people he's created us to be.  changing destructive habits and patterns within ourselves and our marriages is not impossible, especially with prayer.

all in all, i found it to be a practical and helpful book.  they humbly and openly share some of the struggles in their own marriage and some of the ways they've experienced God at work in their life together.  it's challenging and encouraging without being preachy.

of course, not ever single part sat well with me.  as i understand it (again, not having read other titles), the eldredges have a thesis that men have a need to "rescue a beauty" and women have a longing to offer their beauty and have it appreciated.  or something like that.  i hope that they're talking about beauty in the Larger Sense, but i don't really get it, and it kind of creeps me out.  the authors seem to emphasize beauty as the valuable thing women bring to a relationship [men offer strength], which is insulting, shallow, and pretty hard to defend biblically.  by "beauty" they apparently also mean inner beauty, but it's such a loaded word that they'd have done better to express themselves with another--especially for readers who have not read their other work.

in the book, stasi admits to struggling with her weight and says
Packing on the weight sent a message to John that was clear and strong:  You are not worth being beautiful for.

then, there is this little goodie, from john:
When I got home, I fixed the leaking kitchen sink--a triumph that makes a man feel mighty fine.  (I tried to help Stasi relate, "Imagine you just lost five pounds today.)
i think i threw up a little in my mouth just typing that out.

yes, several passages and lines fired up the feminist in me, but if you are willing to overlook them (and perhaps they wouldn't bother you), love and war does contain wisdom about growing a marriage that honors God.  i'd call it a worthwhile read, all things considered.

want to read it for yourself?  i'm giving away my copy.  just leave a comment by noon on february 14 and make sure i have a way to get in touch.  (U.S. addresses only.)

i received a copy of this book but was not otherwise compensated for this review.


TAMI said...

I have your same reservations, but would like reading the book anyhow! Also, there's a giveaway over at my blog for a pair of hand-knit fingerless gloves, so be sure to add your "color wish" to the comments. We share Feb. 14th as the winning date!

lauren debo said...

hmm. i read "captivating" when i was in high school, or maybe it was as a freshman in college. and well me sharing those same feminist roots as you suz, i def. shuttered at some parts (especially the chapter i believe that was entitled "enticing adam"), but also other parts were insightful.

this book sounds interesting. however, i nearly died laughing when you quoted that part about john's "manly" sink fixing, and the whole weight gaining stuff really made me sick to my stomach. that's awful.

Mel said...

Loved your review. And I agree with the other comments - the weight comments also made me shudder. Definietly not a blueprint for how I want my marriage to be!

The Hamons said...

Yeah, I have the same knee-jerk reactions to Christian things that spread like wildfire, particularly books -formulate my opinion without actually reading. But I now feel vindicated in regard to these books since you read them and verified our initial thouhts... So thanks for saving me the read...! ;) (I literally laughed out loud at work at your "I think I threw up a little bit in mouth" comment!)

suzannah | the smitten word said...

i feel like should say that gender stuff played a very minor role in this book. though distracting at times, it was not their main focus at all.

even though some of their remarks turned me off, i did get some important things out of it. jim and i have been praying together every night since i read it--so put that in the win column:)

Melissa Stuff said...

I would be interested in reading this myself just to figure out what I think about it.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, this could be an interesting read.
miamichickens at yahoo dot com

Amanda said...

I enjoyed reading your review. I would like to read this book now. It's always interesting to see thnigs from someone else's point-of-view.

Heavenly Savings said...

Thank you SO much for letting me have a chance to win this book! Thanks!!

TAMI said...

Wanted to let you know that your package arrived today! Thank you, again, for your sweet generosity.
~ Tami

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