I’ve been doing some research on the top selling young women’s Christian books to see what information is being pumped into our brains. Obviously I was suspicious.
I read Capitivating when I was eighteen years old, while living in one of the best towns England has to offer while attending Bible College. I walked away from that book officially in love with my high school sweetheart who was back in California getting his degree in business at one of California’s best schools. I don’t blame the book, but surely it had a profound effect. And in retrospect, I’ve always wondered – how did a book spur me to fall in love?
I had to find out. So some nearly six years later I pulled out my copy (which has somehow made it across the country with me because of a heartfelt inscription a dear friend wrote inside the cover) from my grandfather’s WWII trunk that charmingly holds my only belongings.
Stasi and John Eldredge do a great job at some things in this book:
1. Articulating the relationship between men and women. The way we compliment and the way we wound one another.
2. You can tell that the two have spent much time with both sexes, counseling people through understanding their stories but primarily their wounds and the need for healing over these wounds. People like this are very helpful.
3. They also give romantic dreamers, like myself something to read, something to relate to.
4. They can find God in anything – nature, a mediocre movie. And according to the word – “Word” in John 1:1 which in Greek is “logos” that can better be defined as “communicating,” so I too, believe you can find God in anything.
For instance, the other day I was sitting on my roof, reading a book, writing thoughts, on the northeast side of Chicago just being so hip, so unique, you know, and a butterfly came by and landed on my foot. It sat there for a couple minutes and I thought – little butterfly, what are you doing sitting on my foot when you could be doing much better things like hanging out with other butterflies or sniffing beautiful flowers? And then I thought – God? Are you trying to tell me I’m this little butterfly? Should I be doing better things with my life? Am I just sitting on a foot?
See I can go there. I get it.
But, it’s quotes like these in the book that make me ponder the book’s original effect on me as well as its message:
Let’s go back for a moment to the movies that you love. Think of one of the most romantic scenes you can remember, scenes that made you sigh. Jack with Rose on the bow of the Titanic, his arms around her waist, their first kiss… Now, put yourself in the scene as the Beauty, and Jesus as the Lover.
No! I don’t want to make out with Jesus. Jesus is not my boyfriend.
But what really gets me worked up, what makes me question this book and others like it, is less of what it’s saying and more of what it is missing.
What little eighteen year old Jessica needed that Fall semester in York, England was less of me, less sneaky lines like this “he is making me more me,” sandwiched between two biblically acceptable sentences, less follow your heart business (Jeremiah 17:9-10) , less making out with Jesus on the bow of a ship, less how to’s on “captivating” men (which makes me feel more insufficient than empowered and wishing it be appropriate to throw the book across the room) and simply just more of Jesus, more of the Gospel.
Don’t get me wrong. Books like this will always point you to Jesus; I just wish they’d start with Jesus. And to start with Jesus means sacrificing ourselves as the main character.
Girls need the Gospel, not another how to on coping with our emotions and dreams. That’s helpful but that’s secondary.