When I first saw the book Lies Young Women Believe And The Truth That Sets Them Free, my heart sank: I thought someone had out-scooped us, writing about the lies Christian cultures tell young women about who they are supposed to be—and about the message of grace and love and freedom that I believe exists in the gospel narrative. I relaxed a bit when I saw the book’s publisher was Moody, a notoriously conservative juggernaut that has some kind of association with Moody Bible Institute, the first name in evangelical Bible education. Still, I needed to buy the book to be sure (and on sale! I’m still striving to be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman).
I haven’t read the entire book, but even after wading through the first chapter, I’m pretty sure Kendra and I won’t have to see this as a competitor book. Called “The Deceiver,” the first chapter promises to let us know where lies come from. The writers, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh, give us a somewhat unbelievable scenario about a teenager who developed a romantic relationship with her “church-going father,” who offered her crystal meth, saying that “God wants us to be happy,” When the teen starts reading the Bible, out loud, the father gets angry, saying “I am god,” hoping to sway his daughter to the evil dark side.
Okay, so I suppose it could happen.
But here, of course, is the biblical parallel: in Genesis, Eve also took some crystal meth, in the form of an apple, from someone who wanted to be god. Eve listened to the serpent, to the serpent’s lies, and was easily deceived. She, in turn, was able to deceive her husband.
In other words Eve, that Bitch, has made us all into deceivers, and brought down all of humanity by making her husband Sin. (Really, though, isn’t it Adam’s fault? After all, as man, he should have been smart enough not to submit to Eve’s wily suggestion that he smoke some meth or eat an apple or do whatever it is that Eve made Adam do.)
Kendra can probably write volumes about the ways this interpretation of Genesis has been problematic for women (and has here): how understanding Genesis this way makes Eve the fall-guy—or fall-woman—for all the bad stuff in the world. In this interpretation, Eve becomes an emblem for all womankind, showing that women are more prone to temptation, that they are easily wooed by Satan’s emotional appeals, and that they are more capable of leading others to sin. But I’ll let Kendra speak to the specifics of the Bible, returning instead to how Eve’s story plays out in Lies Young Women Believe.
Young women reading the book will discover that, first of all, “Satan targets women with his lies.” We may not understand exactly why Satan wants to go after women but, the authors write, “the facts are the facts.” They are willing to acknowledge that “it may feel like a bad rap” for women to be targeted, but argue that women will just have to live with them facts, because “there was something in the way Eve was created that made her more vulnerable to deception.”
Yup: there were have it. Women are more inclined to be deceived, and to deceive. No wonder so many Christians remain opposed to having women in leadership. Would you want a lying, deceiving temptress tickling your ears from the pulpit? Of course not! Better to keep those deceivers quietly at home, cooking soup (or meth), lest they set about to destroy the world, as Eve did.
So now we know. According to this book, young women believe lies because they are more inclined to do so.If we disregard their bogus premise for a moment—and, I admit, doing so is difficult—it is possible to see that some of the lies the authors address are important ones, touching on issues of self and identity that dogged me as a teenager, and still sometimes affect me as a grown woman. For example, the authors talk about the lie that “Beautiful girls are worth more” and that “I have to perform to be loved and accepted.” These are lies I still have a hard time shaking as an adult, and I often find myself envying women who are thinner and more attractive than I am or who have nicer clothes and better hair. I’ve also been plagued by the sense that my performance is what defines me and makes me loved, and so I spend a lot of time doing things I really don’t want to do, hoping that I’ll be noticed, accepted, loved.
I buy all that, and know these lies affect not only me, but my friends, my colleagues, my students. What I don’t buy is that these lies are necessarily exclusive only to young girls—or even to females who are easily deceived by Satan. But, I suppose, being the pliable woman I am, I’ve been lied to about that as well, and that this really is an issue shared by the daughters of Eve. The book tells me so, and the facts are the facts.
Coming up: Once I drag myself through the rest of the book, I’ll let you all know the other ways women have ruined the world by their deceptions: you know, because they are overly emotional and cry and stuff.