Christian Romance Novels

One of the chief intentions of Visionary Daughters is that it would provide opportunities for the older women to teach the younger women, in the spirit of Titus 2. Here is a sterling and timely admonition from a married woman.

Christian Romance Novels and the Dangers Therein

By Anonymous

I decided to write about this topic because I, like millions of Christian women, love to read; but did not know enough in the past to practice discernment about what I read.

I grew up in a worldly home and attended church for social reasons (Christmas, Easter) and an occasional showing because it was the proper thing to do. My parents did instill in me a love for reading, but did not direct me on those books I should read, and those that should be left alone. So, I immersed myself in a lot of worthless trash while developing a decent vocabulary.

After coming to know Christ as my Savior, I knew that what I was reading should change, though I still loved and wanted to read. I began to read romance novels written by some popular Christian authors and thought this was alright since these women were Christians, right?

After a few years of reading these novels, I found that my marriage was not as strong or as holy as it should be because I would begin fantasize so often after reading these novels. Nothing graphic, mind you, but things like:

“Why doesn’t my husband look like that?”
“Why doesn’t my husband act like that man?”
“Why doesn’t my husband say those things?”
“Why doesn’t my husband take me to these kinds of places?”
And the list goes on.

I finally realized that Christian romance novels can be the same as the soap operas and romance novels of the world, just sprinkled liberally with scripture verses in attempt to justify the content. In fact, I will boldly say that they are the same as the soap operas and romance novels of the world, just liberally sprinkled with scripture in attempt to justify the content. Though usually not rife with explicit sex, these books will give enough fodder for the mind to wonder and wander off the course of purity and holiness (Philippians 4:8).

For single women this is dangerous. This train of thought will lead to unrealistic expectations for a spouse. For married women this is dangerous. Thoughts will cease from praising our husbands as who they are and who God made them, to -Why aren’t they more like? Why can’t he be like? Why isn’t he like? – and we find ourselves wallowing in a pool of discontent and contempt for our men instead of thankfulness and gratitude for the mate God has given us.

We must test all things, cling to what is good, abhor what is evil. (1Thess 5:21-22)

It is evil to fill our minds with such things as turn our hearts and minds away from the Lord and His will for our lives as godly women. His will is for us is to love our husbands and help them to be the men God desires them to be. We cannot love our husbands or properly prepare for the spouse He would give us when we fill our minds with unrealistic stories which breed discontent, and sometimes lust for what God has not intended for us. We cannot do our future spouse good and not evil when we develop unrealistic expectations based on the world’s view of romance and relationships.

I have stopped reading Christian romance novels and begun to study my Bible and godly literature about how to be a godly wife and mother. My marriage has improved greatly. I have a realistic view of my dear husband and clear direction from God’s word on how I should affirm, encourage, and love him as the man God has given me. I love my husband more today than when we were first married and I am thankful to the Lord for His grace in turning me away from reading novels which pollute the mind and heart.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Books I have recently read and recommend:

The Holy Bible

Homemaking by J.R. Miller

Emotional Purity by Heather Arnel Paulsen

So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl (I do not agree with all things here, but it has some good advice in its pages)

Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald ( I am studying this with my daughter and learning at the same time!)


Men O’ War

Men O' War

For those of you who have asked about what kinds of things Anna and I do while at home, click here to see a short film our brothers and we put together as a teaching tool for the 2006 Christian Film Academy. If you’re interested in seeing how this short film was made, be sure to check out our oldest brother Isaac’s blog,

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and the Christian Film Academy demonstrated that when a family is unified, it can be a powerhouse of creativity and ingenuity. When they find their exhilaration in dominion projects for equipping the saints, they will never lack for “fun” and stimulating things to do.

Botkin Projects

A Tribute to a Great Woman

On Anna Sofia’s 21st birthday, she read aloud this tribute to our mother, a true dominion woman:

I would like to take this opportunity to call to your attention the ones that really deserve the credit for my 21 years of life. I had very little hand in it, I can assure you.

First, My Heavenly Father, Who is the author of my existence and my future – my Sustainer and the Giver of Eternal Life.

And My earthly father, my God-ordained authority and protector.

And the woman that I call “blessed.” A woman who lost her life for His sake and found it, who made her husband great, and was subordinate to him in everything, though inferior to him in nothing.

My mother was God’s instrument to teach me what it meant to be a virtuous woman. Partly through her verbal instruction, but mostly through the silent example of her actions and deeds. Most of all, through the way she executed her duty to complement and complete my father. She is his perfect match and the secret to his greatness. She delights him with her company and conversation, sustains him with her strength, stimulates and sharpens him with her wisdom and intelligence, emboldens him with her praise, bolsters him with her cheerfulness, comforts him with her love, and heartens him with her courage.

Maybe the most significant way that she contributed to his success was by instilling his vision into his children. The things she chose for us to study, the things she taught us were important, the projects she encouraged us to pursue, were all in perfect harmony with his objective for our family.

She is uniquely suited to be the teacher of his children because the qualities that our father wants his family to be known for – dominion focus, ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurialism, love of learning, a pioneer spirit – are all qualities that our mother models in every thing that she does.

The most important things I learned come from observing her two greatest strengths. First of all, her Humility.

I see her humility in her willingness to be overshadowed by Dad. She prefers to bask in his shadow than to chase after the fame and adulation that could so easily and rightly be hers. I’ve never known a woman who cared about personal glory less, or who deserved it more. She will be remembered with more respect than her contemporaries, who fought with religious zeal for recognition and prestige, and now have no one to rise up and call them “blessed.”

The other strength I would mention is her Courage.

Like a true pioneer, Mother was never affected by the fact that she was often standing alone, being “the only one” faithful in an entire country, and doing things no one else was doing. She never even considered the wave of disapproval that came from all sides for her decision to follow Scripture instead of modern culture.

At the altar, Mother promised to go wherever our father went, and to gratefully share in whatever Providence had in store for him, sometimes respect and appreciation, sometimes persecution and rejection, sometimes a high station, sometimes a low one. It’s her calm and unquenchable energy, her willingness to forego comfort and stability, her ability to adapt gracefully to any situation, that allows my father’s heart to safely trust in her. When a man’s heart can safely trust in his wife, it allows him to be a visionary, an entrepreneur, who can live boldly and dare to do great things.

He knew, as I did, that whenever times were the toughest, that’s when Mother is the strongest. That’s why, seven years ago, Dad was not nervous about asking her to leave her country that she loved, to follow him to the ends of the earth.

Last but not least, I appreciate her courage to go through painful labor to bring me into the world. The fact that I’m here to stand before you now is a testimony to that courage. It’s that courage that I especially would like to honor today.

Botkin Life

A Never-Ending Testimony

How My Heart Was Turned To My Father, Family and Home
By Genevieve Smith

I was raised to be independent and career oriented. My schooling included a strong academic program, which left no time for learning domestic skills. You wouldn’t think it now to look at me. I’m 24 and am living at home. I help my father in his ministry and assist my mother at home. But it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand. And it was even less time ago that I was working a highly paid legal executive job for a prominent solicitor [lawyer]. The Lord has done quite a work in my life since this time. He has turned my heart to my father, my family and my home.

My story starts a number of years ago when I traveled with my brother to the USA for a lengthy stay. The same day we left New Zealand, the solicitor I was working for sold his practice to study for the ministry. If I’d wondered before, I had no doubt now that I wouldn’t be able to pick my job back up on returning to New Zealand. So began a long period of praying for direction from the Lord and seeking His will for my life. A number of things happened during this time which changed the course of my life.

Firstly, my eyes were opened to some of the sinful practices I’d fallen into at home. I had developed ways of relating to my parents, which were not honouring or respectful to them, and I realized that in many ways I had not been a good example to my younger siblings. This realization of my sin had me stunned for some time since I’d always aspired to be like my father and had always counted the members of my family as my best friends. Nevertheless, it is true that I needed to repent of many wrong actions towards my family.

Secondly, I heard four separate speakers in the space of a short time give a vision for family ministries. In particular, one speaker, Doug Phillips, on his tape entitled, “What’s a Girl To Do?,” revealed the beauty of family ministries by explaining that girls, prior to marriage, could practice for being a helpmate to their husbands by assisting their fathers in their ministries. I was taken by the representation of family unity and strength he described. And it struck me, “My father has a ministry. I could work for him.”

Thirdly, I came across and read some amazing books: The Way Home by Mary Pride; Domestic Tranquility by Carolyn E Graglia; How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macauley; Mother by Kathleen Norris and Home-Making by J R Miller.

Each of these things led to a change of heart and priorities. Though I was raised to be independent, my desire grew strong to be under the roof and protection of my father, to submit to his day-to-day direction and guidance of my life and to work to make his life and ministry a success. And though I had been raised to be career oriented, my desire to work outside of my home dwindled. I became cautious of becoming an employer’s helper and instead wanted to become my father’s helper and prepare for marriage. My relationships with my family became all important, as did my desire to learn how to be a Godly and skillful wife, mother and homemaker.

On a long-distance phone call home to my parents from the USA, I broached the idea of working for my father. They were delighted at the prospect. This delighted me, and I could hardly wait until my trip in the USA was over – but I had another whole year before I was scheduled to go home! It became apparent fairly soon that while my father could give me lots of work to do, his ministry did not have the finances to support another worker. Surprisingly, to me, this did not bother me at all.

I have now been home for quite some time. I have been able to be of help to my father and have thoroughly enjoyed our walks to the post office each morning. My mother has appreciated my help around the house, and I’ve benefited immensely from being able to assist her. She recently had her hip replaced and will have her other hip replaced shortly. Since I’m at home, I was able to take over the managing of the house and also care for her while she was bedridden for several months. I’ve delighted in being able to build friendships with my siblings and have marveled as the Lord has brought another little wee child into our lives – a little sister we take care of and hope to be able to adopt one day. My mother has assigned me to take care of all the budgeting, buying and cooking, and I’ve loved learning these new skills and experimenting with cooking styles and recipes to come up with mouth-watering meals to please my family. I have noticed that my hardness, brusqueness and impatience, which was built into my life as a result of having to protect myself, has given way, as I’ve put myself under the protection of my father, to a newly forming softness, warmth and love.

In the eyes of the world, I’m wasting my life as my old legal cronies take every opportunity to tell me. I’m not earning any money and am not pursuing independence or a career the way I “should be.” But I reject the ways of the world. The Lord has shown me His ways. He has turned my heart towards my father, my family and my home and in following His leading I have come to recognize that I’m taking part in a much more important work with far more lasting consequences and a much higher priority than anything I was doing or pursuing before. God be praised.


Thanks For So Much More

One of the most exhilarating rewards of having published a book is receiving letters of encouragement and thanks, and testimonies of hearts turned toward home and family. Below is one of the letters we’ve received lately.

Dear Anna Sofia and Elizabeth,

I am a fifteen-year-old girl from _____, and I have your book “So Much More.” I have read it, and I enjoyed every minute of it! It helped my vision as a daughter and a sister of five (and soon to be six!), and it taught me so much.

All my life my mother has taught me and my sisters to be keepers of the home for God’s glory. I was always fine with the idea until I turned twelve and started to get my own opinions. I slowly began to stray from my mother’s and father’s vision for me and my sisters. I began to pursue my own ideas. I was plain sick of staying at home, tending the house, caring for the children, and doing school work. Every day it became more and more burdensome for me. Every day was more of a drudge then the day before. At last, I purposed in my heart that I would never be a homemaker when I had my own children. I was set on working outside the home just like a “normal” person. (Which was the way I put it then, even though now I know I meant “worldly”) I grieved my parents greatly as I became defiant of what they told me. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. I was looking to the world for my peace and happiness. I was straying from my parents, just like the prodigal son.

Then, about nine months or so into twelve years of age, I was gloriously saved. Christ turned my life around. The change was dramatic, and I was no longer the same rebellious brat that I used to be. I desired to please my parents in every aspect, henceforth pleasing my Father in Heaven. The vision that my mother had put before me suddenly burst forth in a new light. The ways of the world around me no longer appealed to me, and I was set on refusing them.
When I read your book “So Much More,” it restored my vision even more. I was so touched and convicted as I read about building up my dad (Something I never really thought about before), and helping him in every way possible to be a stronger man for God. (Also with that would come a respect for my Mom, and my trying to build her up in every way possible.)

I can truly say that now I am happier than I ever was trying to find peace in the world. God’s plan is always the best plan, and it will always bring peace and joy. I have found that the fleshly ways of the world may appeal to man’s sinful nature, but to turn to them will only result in emptiness and anguish. I have no qualms about keeping the house, tending to the children, and cleaning up after all the messes that the day brings. All of this is to my Savior’s glory.

Thank you so much for your book, “So Much More.” It has helped me in many ways. It has restored my vision, given me many good ideas, and helped me better see the light in all I have been taught.

Rejoicing in my Savior,

Miss C.


Feminine Zeal

A lack of burning enthusiasm in the hearts of young women for their role is a sad thing. The number of women who are turning their hearts to their fathers, families and homes is exciting. And yet many of these girls lack zeal as they do their duty. Some are apologetic and timid about dressing femininely and modestly, because “public opinion is so strong.” Some look on sadly and a bit martyrishly as their friends go off to “do exciting things,” while they themselves remain with their families. Some feel they are missing out on excitement because they have chosen God’s design for womanhood over the glitzy allure of feminism or the crushing tyranny of social expectations.

Genevieve Smith, our beloved buddy and a role model in Godly gusto, has discovered in her journey from feminism to femininity that zeal is vital.

Feminine Zeal

By Genevieve Smith

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines zeal primarily in Biblical terms: “denoting ardent feeling (taking the form of love, wrath, ‘jealousy’ or righteous indignation).” It also defines it as “Ardour in the pursuit of an end or in favour of a person or cause; active enthusiasm.”

Have you seen a zealous person before? Someone who emanated zeal? Wasn’t it electrifying? Didn’t you just want to follow along behind? Didn’t you just hope that some of their enthusiasm would rub off onto you? Didn’t you want to be around them? Didn’t you want to be just like them?

And yet have you witnessed misdirected zeal? The type of zeal that takes a person and others down the wrong track? Which makes mountains out of molehills? Which detracts from life’s goal and purpose? This sort of zeal is pointless and dangerous.

Zeal/enthusiasm/ardour are all very attractive to us when we observe them in others. If we are zealous or enthusiastic, we soon learn that we can use our passions to influence others mightily. Our influence could be in something small, such as a decision over whether to drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi, or it could be in something bigger, such as a decision to purchase a Holden or a Ford. And it could even be over the direction of a person’s life, ambitions, and purpose.

As Christians, our purpose in life is to apply our zeal towards bringing glory to God and (this is pretty exciting to me) enjoying Him forever! We are to be actively enthusiastic in the pursuit of obeying God in order to bring Him glory. Wow!

If we could be zealous about obeying God, what would that mean? It’d mean we’d enjoy obeying God. We’d like it. We’d love it. We’d want to do it always. We’d be visionary about it. It would give us purpose. We’d never want to stop obeying Him! We would be enthusiastic it about it. We’d want to tell everyone else around us, “Hey, y’all, this is the way to go!” We would be like bright lights burning on a hill. Our zeal would attract others.

Of course, our responsibility as Christians is to ensure that our zeal is not misapplied and that we are actually being obedient to God in our enthusiasm.

Whether we are being obedient should be easy for us to determine. Rather than relying on extra revelation from God to help us figure out what God wants us to do, we should be guided by His Word as revealed in Scripture.

This is where our subject of zeal becomes real exciting for us girls (guys too, but I’m writing for us girls)! God tells us what He wants us to do (how we can be obedient) in Scripture. He tells us for what reason(s) He has created us. He tells us what our purpose is. He tells us what we need to learn and know. He tells us what our duties are. He has been, in fact, perfectly merciful and kind to us girls in spelling out in Scripture exactly what He wants us to do, for we can be hopelessly befuddled at times.

Mind you, it is not surprising that we would be hopelessly befuddled at times, or that we would misdirect our zeal more often than not, since it is the stated ambition of our enemy, the devil, to turn us girls from God and cause us to disobey His commandments.

And to what is it that God wants us to direct our zeal, as women?

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” ~ Genesis 2:18

God wants us to be zealous about helping our future husbands (and in the absence of husbands, our fathers).

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” ~ Genesis 1:26-28

Here God elaborates on how we are to help our husbands. He wants us to be enthusiastic about having children. He wants us to love and to be jealous of the children that He gives to us. And He wants us to have an ardent enthusiasm for working alongside our husbands in raising our children and in assisting them as they seek to fulfil the mandate to take dominion.

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 22:5

God wants us to be zealous about being women, about being feminine. He wants us to embrace the role He has for us as women and glory in it!

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things–that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” ~ Titus 2:3-5

This could be the passage that makes me the most enthusiastic about where God wants us to direct our zeal! He wants us to love our husbands. If it does not excite you that the Lord wants us to love our husbands, I don’t know what will! The Lord wants us to have zeal in loving our children! Wow. He wants us to be zealous in being discreet! He wants us to have zeal for chastity! He wants us to be zealous for our purity. He wants us to be zealous in being homemakers! He wants us to have zeal for cooking and cleaning and keeping house! He wants us to have zeal in being good and in obeying our husbands!

This passage is not just for the married women. Unmarried women can be zealous in learning how to love husbands and children. Unmarried women can have great zeal in learning to be discreet and chaste and pure and good. In fact, there is nothing quite like an unmarried girl pursuing and learning these things to give hope back to a community and to warm the hearts of older folks. And God has given unmarried women fathers so that they can learn to love and be obedient to their future husbands by learning to love and be obedient to their fathers. And He has given them siblings so that they can learn to love their future children by learning to love their siblings.

In the face of how the devil has convinced our culture to believe things contrary to each of these passages, can we be zealous for the things of God? Can we do this girls? Can we bring glory to God by obeying Him in the things He wants us to be obedient in? Can we be feminine with glorious zeal? Can we learn how to be chaste and how to pursue purity with zealous abandon?

Of all the things in life we could have zeal for-–money, friendships, makeup, jewelery, cars, music, clothing, entertainment, books, politics or whatever-–I pray that we can all develop a zeal for obeying God in the things, in the role, and through the duties He has for us.

May He give us all such a zeal!

Genevieve Smith is the eldest daughter of Craig and Barbara Smith. Her Dad is the National Director of the Home Education Foundation in New Zealand. She enjoys assisting him in his ministry as well as working with her Mum in their home and playing with her younger siblings.


What About Mom?

Why did So Much More focus on fathers, not mothers?

A few people have noted, with some concern, that our book placed a great emphasis on the father-daughter relationship, without much mention of mothers. They are worried that So Much More was off-balance in this regard. If by “off-balance,” they mean we talked more about fathers than mothers, they are absolutely right. If when they say “off-balance,” they think we believe fathers are important and mothers aren’t, they missed the point of the book.

One theme subtly directing the whole book is that mothers who mother according to biblical patterns are of inestimable value and incomprehensible influence. Our goal in writing this book was to equip the young woman to become this kind of wife and mother.

The Bible places stress on the importance of both parents, commanding children to honor and obey both father and mother (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:1).So Much More‘s emphasis on the father doesn’t preclude the importance of the mother, any more than the existence of a book on mathematics proves the author thinks biology is less important. Obviously, to have a balanced, thorough understanding, we need books on both.

Our intention was to focus, in this book, on fathers and daughters, based on a need we were personally seeing in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. This need was a serious lack of teaching about the role a father should play in his daughter’s life. We thought that need was screaming to be addressed for a number of reasons. Here is one of them, quoted verbatim from So Much More.

In this generation, girls are facing a lot of problems. In fact, this year young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago. Some of these are novel problems invented by modern times. We know more than we wish to know about the problems troubling young women, because ever since we were little girls young women have been coming to our home to get a taste of functional family life and pour out their troubled hearts.

They are facing all kinds of complications, conundrums, cynicism and confusion over where they’re headed in life. They struggle with a proper idea of femininity and masculinity, a healthy view of authority and submission, a sense of direction and priority, the concept of protection and security, and an elementary understanding of what it means to be daughters of God.

We’ve found that these girls all have one more thing in common: they are missing a functional, confiding, loving relationship with their fathers.

Oh sure, they have happy, casual buddy relationships with their dads, but this is not a substitute for a strong, biblical relationship that edifies, inspires and strengthens both the father and the daughter.

Is their missing relationship with their fathers the root of all their other problems? No, not the only root. But we believe, after years of studying both God’s Word and modern times, that the forgotten principles of fatherly protection and daughterly honor are the missing dynamic girls need in leading fruitful, stable, happy lives which will give honor to God. We do not believe that the father-daughter relationship is somehow more important or special than the mother-daughter relationship, or the father-son relationship, nor do we mean to breath into this relationship a kind of super-special, mystical quality never seen in the Bible. But we do believe the father-daughter relationship is one of those being more ignored and abused this generation than others, with distastrous and heartbreaking repercussions. Girls are hurting from the absence of strong, biblical relationships with their fathers, and repairing these should be a priority for the young women of our generation. (Chapter 2, pp 15,16)

In other words, one of the reasons we chose this angle was because the father-daughter relationship was being neglected. As we were researching what teaching is available to daughters, we were delighted that girls have access to such resources as Stacy McDonald’s wonderful Raising Maidens of Virtue, as well as one of our childhood favorites, Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andreola, and numerous others which by no means ignore the father but place special focus on the relationship between the mother and the daughter. Anna and I have talked about writing a book about mothers and daughters someday. Maybe we will wait until, if the Lord wills, we are mothers ourselves. Maybe we will leave it to women who are better writers and can explain themselves without causing confusion.

But fathers are more than “the missing part of the puzzle.” There are other reasons we think teaching about the father-daughter relationship is particularly important.

#2. Because if girls don’t have good relationships with their fathers, there will be vitally important things they fail to learn about their Heavenly Father and their future husbands. Here is another excert from So Much More:

The fact that God describes himself as a Father to us shows that the position of earthly father is like an earthly reflection of God. To understand God’s nature as our “Father,” we need to understand what a father is for and how we are supposed to relate to our fathers. This is why it’s so important to God that we show our fathers love, honor and obedience. … The virtues we learn by being good daughters to our fathers on earth help us in being good daughters to the King, and prepare us for this life and the life to come. Being protected by our fathers teaches us how to be protected, loved, and cherished, and the responsibilities that go with this blessing — how to be faithful, how to be trusting and how to have a yielded heart. Learning how to relate this way to our earthly fathers will teach us to relate this way to our Heavenly Father.

#3. Because, notwithstanding its teaching on the importance of mothers, the Bible places special emphasis on fathers as the heads of their households. The theme of Scripture is patriarchal, not matriarchal. The father is given special responsibility for the rest of his family. It seemed logical, in a book primarily about familial relationships, to point readers chiefly to the headship of their fathers.

#4. Because the state of relationships with fathers can determine the quality of all other familial relationships. As the head of the family, his strong connection with everyone else is the root of family unity and harmony.

It’s not just daughters who are suffering from solid relationships with their fathers.
When a father doesn’t have his daughter’s heart, her respect, her support and her help, he is weakened. And when the head of the family is weakened, the whole family is weakened. This generation in particular is marked by weak familial relationships, we believe because of a lack of recognition of the father’s headship. The poorness of his relationship with his wife, his sons and his daughters, we think, is the root of the rest of the relationship problems. As young women striving to “teach the [even] younger women,” we can’t exhort sons to strengthen their relationships with their fathers, or wives to submit to their husbands. But we can, and will, encourage girls to fight with all their might against the inherently anti-Christian, marxist stereotype of “dopey dad,” and build their fathers up to be greater men.

#5. Because, thanks to the homeschooling movement, most homeschooled children have pretty strong relationships with their mothers. Homeschooling started out as primarily a mothers’ movement, and though many fathers approved the decision to homeschool, often they gave most the responsibility of raising and educating the children to the mother. Hence, a strong bond between children and mothers, but a weak one between children and fathers. What should give us great cause to rejoice is that in this generation, we are finally seeing fathers turn their hearts to their children, and the homeschooling movement is becoming the biblically balanced movement it should be.

#6. Because disconnection between fathers and children is an interestingly serious greivance to God, and invokes peculiarly severe judgment. In the very last verse of the Old Testament, we read of the mission of John the Baptist. “”…And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6) Bad relationships with fathers (note: not mothers!) incur national judgment!

We read of John’s mission again in Luke 1:16,17: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This is amazing! “Turn[ing] the hearts of the fathers to the children” is compared with turning the disobedient to righteousness, and prepares the people for the Lord!

This was our mission in writing So Much More — to turn the hearts of the daughters to their fathers. From the start, that was the goal of the project and the main theme of the book.

By the way, So Much More was nearly named “The Forgotten Dynamics of the Father-Daughter Relationship,” or something similar. But everyone whose opinion we asked immediately responded, “Oh, but your book is about so much more!” Which is a rather broad topic… but we took the hint and adopted the title.

Though we tried to pack in as much information as we could, So Much More needs more. It is by no means complete, and even though many people have kindly called it “comprehensive,” it really isn’t. Every day we think of more that should have gone into it. Does anybody want to volunteer to write Even More?

Family Relationships

What’s a Single Woman to Do?

Here is an excellent article by our friend Jennie Chancey.

“Thus goes everyone to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry, ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!'”
~ Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (Act II, scene i.)

Today’s single Christian woman is often made to feel that she should be just like Beatrice, sitting quietly in her corner and waiting for “Mr. Right.” I know; I used to be in that corner. An “old maid” at 23, I watched dozens of friends get married and start families and felt sometimes like a second-class citizen among all the blushing brides. I had been brought up on the principles of courtship and maidenly virtues and really wondered if there was a role open to me in the Church and in society as a single woman. After all, the Bible clearly tells us that “The woman was made for the man” (I Cor. 11:9) and is intended to be his helper (Gen. 2:18). Throughout the Bible, the woman’s orientation is geared toward the men in her life, whether a father, a respected elder, a husband or a protective brother.

I bounced back and forth between contentment as a single woman and frustration with my desire to be a wife and mother. I finally told my parents that I’d decided not to marry at all, since, apparently, no good men were forthcoming, and I was tired of just waiting around, crying “Heigh-ho for a husband” (not aloud, grant you!). My parents had always encouraged me to be content in whatever state the Lord put me, but they had also spent years equipping me to be a capable wife and mother. I could cook, keep house, sew, decorate, paint and organize to beat the band. I loved children and babysat all I could. But I still felt like my life was in “limbo” compared to my married friends. Little did I realize how many single friends felt they were in the same boat.

“Singles Enter Here”

There are thousands of single women of all ages in the Church today who feel like they are stuffed into odd corners or categorized into “support groups” for other singles. Unfortunately, this only adds to the feeling that there is no role for the single woman other than that of waiting for The Man to come along. Granted, marriage is “honourable in all” (Heb. 13:4) and definitely a calling for which God will equip the majority of us, but there must be something better to do than twiddling one’s thumbs before marriage. What if Mr. Right doesn’t come along for twenty years? Or forty?

Fortunately, there are some folks out there these days who are starting to rethink the single woman’s role and find inspiration in the very passages usually held apart for married ladies. One such person is Jennifer Lamp, whose book, His Chosen Bride (available from GraceWorks), takes the Proverbs 31 woman as a role model for the single lady, applying each verse beautifully and aptly. Lamp points out that single women are united to their Heavenly Bridegroom and should consider Proverbs 31 in that light. Seen this way, the passage offers great scope for the single woman, showing her that her services are needed in her own family, in the Church and in society. As St. Paul writes, “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (I Cor. 7:34). This doesn’t mean that married people cannot focus on God’s work, but their orientation is going to be different because of the many duties they have toward their spouses, children and in-laws. The single woman is “free” in this sense to concentrate on many families and give of her time more liberally than the married woman often can.

The “Ministry” Mindset

Naturally, when we talk about the single woman’s “ministry,” thoughts of grand missionary trips overseas pop into mind. While mission work is definitely important, the Bible shows that the woman’s “mission” is primarily oriented toward others in her own immediate community and radiates from the home. Think of Dorcas, who sewed garments for the poor (Acts 9:36-40) and Lydia, who invited the entire church to meet in her home (Acts 16:14,15). Unfortunately, our culture worships high-profile, “glamorous” jobs and looks askance at anything that might be construed “mundane,” “demeaning” or “lowly.” But this thinking is contrary to what Scripture clearly teaches us. Jesus said over and over again that “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26b,27). And His example was so clear as He washed His disciples’ feet, touched lepers and reached out to the lowest social strata all around Him. The Lord of the Universe washing feet! And we think that the only “real” ministries in the Church are teaching, traveling to foreign lands and converting massive numbers of people to Christ. I think it’s time to reconsider that notion.

Most of the time, single women are urged to go out and get a regular job, since there is obviously “nothing else” for them to do. This could not be more false! When I used to read the Proverbs 31 woman passage with my mother, I’d ask, “Mom, where does she get all those ‘maidens’ to help her out?” Today we have thousands of “maidens” who are at a loss for what they can do as a ministry. Ladies, here is one that is crying out to be filled! I’ve known large families who have unmarried women come and live with them for weeks, months or even a year at a time to help out with homemaking, cooking, daily organization and more. Freed up from such tasks, stay-at-home moms are better able to concentrate on their primary ministry to their husbands, children and younger women. And what a training opportunity for the women who live with them! Hands-on, daily work in the home among likeminded people is ideal. I only wish I had thought of doing this when I was a teenager. The young women who have performed this ministry tell me it has blessed them and enriched them in ways they could never have imagined. Today, stay-at-home moms are made to feel guilty if they cannot “do it all,” but you’ll find that the Proverbs 31 woman was great at delegating tasks. To whom will the Proverbs 31 women of today delegate tasks if all the single women are running away from home-based ministry to seek “more worthy” occupations? I wish I had asked myself that question ten years ago.

Scripture also holds midwives in very high esteem (Ex. 1:17-20) and shows what a wonderful ministry they have to the women around them. Many women are gifted in this area and called to medical ministry. It is my personal belief that women are best suited to serve as birth attendants and to take care of “women’s health” issues. I know of one godly elderly woman who was not called to marry and has served a small rural community as a nurse practicioner for over fifty years. She is a gentle, kind and wise lady who truly loves the women and children she serves. Her outreach to the poor has been especially helpful where she lives, and she has shown the love of Christ to countless people. Nursing is something toward which women are often naturally oriented. Keeping order and cleanliness in the sickroom is an honored “profession” that goes back hundreds upon hundreds of years. I know of several young women who have apprenticed with midwives or served as birth attendants in the home and in the hospital, bringing comfort to women and skill to the tasks at hand. Helping to usher life into the world or to care for women’s health needs is something that will always be necessary. A woman who has a specific gift for or interest in medicine may certainly want to consider this avenue of ministry.

Yet another important “job” often overlooked is the command to “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Ex. 20:12). The single woman has a very unique opportunity to make this commandment especially beautiful for her parents. One thing I loved doing while I was at home was working with my father as his research assistant (he was a historian and author). I was able to help him build his own business while sharpening skills that he desired to teach me (thorough research, writing, editing and more). The daughter at home has a fantastic opportunity to honor her father by supporting what he does. If she cannot offer that support directly, she can do it by showing him respect for his job as breadwinner and teaching younger siblings to respect and honor their father as well. The same is true when it comes to honoring mothers. Learning alongside her mother, the single daughter can (and should) eventually take tasks completely off her mother’s hands (as should other siblings). My mother trained her children to do the laundry by the time they could stand on a stepstool and reach the knobs on the machine. She taught all of us to vacuum, mop and dust at an early age. By the time I was eight and my brother was six, Mom really didn’t have to do laundry or much of the housework any longer. She was able to focus her time on teaching us at home and creating fun projects for interested little minds. Single women have a great opportunity to bless their own families in this way, and this ministry is every bit as important as preaching to crowds of people. In fact, it is what makes preaching possible. Christianity lived beautifully is what makes the message appealing and draws the crowds. When the family is going in ten different directions and each member isn’t oriented toward the others, the world sees chaos and disorder. It doesn’t make for much of a message.

Questions Single Women Can Ask Themselves

As the single woman looks around for ways she can minister to her family and to the Body of Christ, she should keep several things in mind. First of all, “Is what I am doing honoring the Lord, specifically in the way He wishes women to honor Him?” The best way to ascertain this is to make a thorough study of the women of the Bible and see how God used their femininity for His glory. The unique role of the woman isn’t less important than the man’s, but it is different. Next, “Is this work going to call for me to do things that should really be done by a man?” We honor men when we step aside and let them do the jobs for which they are best suited. Our egalitarian culture would have us believe that men and women can do the exact same jobs equally. Plain old common sense, backed by good research, shows that this just isn’t true. Women firefighters struggle to lift hoses and ladders or pull dead weights from burning buildings while men (with their God-given upper body strength), can undertake these tasks with apparent ease. This kind of work is not safe for the women involved or for the people who need the help of able firemen. Our post-modern culture wants to emasculate men and masculinize women. Go against this folly by undertaking a ministry that is distinctly feminine. Finally, “How can I use my time as a single woman to the greatest advantage for God’s kingdom?” The answers to this question are many. For starters, the single woman has more time for reading and study. A broad liberal arts education and in-depth Bible study should be available to every woman. A good education, based upon a Christian worldview, builds a woman in her God-given calling and makes her even more effective. That doesn’t mean you need to go off to college, either. I did, but I wouldn’t repeat it. Four years away from home and real ministry is a waste of time and money if you can read, find godly mentors and follow a regular course of study on your own. There’s no excuse for stupidity in our day of 24-hour internet access and live tutors available around the globe on any topic. I’ve learned more and read more since I graduated from college than I ever learned there. And I’ve been able to go deeply into areas of study which were only touched upon in my major classes. A good education is one that builds the mind without building the ego. Besides study, the single woman has time to teach young girls (perhaps mentoring a few if she has special skills or talents). She can run a home business as well, concentrating on an area of talent or specialization. Many times, a friend will say, “You’d really be good at…”. Why not see if that talent might be one the Lord could use to bless others? There are single women running a variety of excellent home-based businesses, including sewing for others, cooking and delivering entire meals to customers, baking pastries and/or decorating cakes, arranging flowers, coordinating weddings, running weekly “mother’s day out” programs, hostessing fancy teas for ladies’ groups, catering, writing, editing, designing websites and more. The opportunities are boundless when you really start looking!

Some women reading this might be older widows who are now wondering what they are supposed to do. When life has been oriented around the husband’s calling for many years, it can be hard to feel out a new direction. St. Paul clearly teaches that the older women are to “train the younger women …” (Titus 2:4). One cry I hear constantly from young women around me is, “Where are the godly older women who should be teaching us?” Sometimes they are busy with their own families, but often we find that they are sitting quietly, feeling unneeded in Christ’s Body. How many churches shuffle their “seniors” into classes for the “old folks” and segregate them from the young people they should be mentoring? Sadly, the majority of churches do this. While older ladies and gentlemen should have ample opportunities to fellowship with one another, they certainly shouldn’t be placed where they are unable to train those who are coming up after them. What a fountain of wisdom we have within the Church if we’d only tap into it! Older single women (even those who have never been married) have much to offer us. They are often the best ones to teach us contentment and patience.

There are ample opportunities for ministry for single women of every age and station in the Church, the family and society. While the vast majority of us will go on to marriage and families of our own, there are some who will not and who are called to remain single for life (I Cor. 7:7-10). Even if she is preparing and hoping for marriage, the single woman should not feel that she needs to be watching and waiting for Mr. Right while the world goes by. The principles of courtship are excellent and do prepare women for godly unions, but they should not cause us to lose our focus on what God would have us do today. Josh Harris makes this point beautifully in many of his talks and in his books. The whole point of rethinking our approach to male-female relationships is to get us to focus on something other than male-female relationships — namely, to focus upon the Lord’s unique calling for singlehood. Look around you. There are needy people right there within your own families, in your church and among friends and strangers. What can you do as a single woman to glorify God and serve Him right now? How can you honor and obey your Heavenly Bridegroom and bring “him good, not harm, all the days of [your] life?” (Prov. 31:12). Instead of crying “Heigh-ho for a husband,” consider crying out to your Heavenly Husband, Who knows your needs and has wonderful work for you to accomplish!

Coram Deo,
Mrs. M. L. Chancey

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