“We talked of plans for a house someday in the eastern jungle. When would it be? Jim could not tell me. We had no wedding date set. He was committed to building houses for two other missionary families. This made me feel resentful. Did it always have to be others first? I could not say this aloud – for disciples the answer was obvious.” p173
Once again Jim places g-d above his relationship with Elisabeth. And Elisabeth accepts this as the best thing for them. It clearly bothers her but she pushes her emotions down because this is g-d’s will. I do also find it troubling that Elisabeth often accepts Jim’s decisions as being g-d’s will.
Apparently Jim also proposed to Elisabeth with a stipulation. She was to lean Quichua before they could marry. And Elisabeth quickly moves to learn the language within Ecuador. The more I read about their relationship the more I realize how toxic it was.
After learning the language, she quickly moves on to their marriage which gets a very short mention. And the only comment she makes on their sexual relations on their wedding night, “It was unspeakably worth the wait.”
I hate to insert too much of my own opinion into this book review. But it certainly feels like this should have been discussed a bit more. Just saying “it’s worth it” leaves out a lot. At least in my own personal experience my first sexual encounter was far from “unspeakably worth” it. We were nervous and it definitely wasn’t “mind blowing sex” that Elisabeth implies. Your first sexual encounter is probably going to be awkward and involve a lot of trial and error. It’s certainly a stretch to just leave it at “worth the wait.”
She really doesn’t address her life after this point. My cynical side needs to point out something about their marriage. Shortly after their marriage Jim is killed as part of a missions outreach. They are only married from October 8, 1953 to January 8, 1956. That is less than three years. They forced themselves apart as part of what they perceived as g-d’s will for over five years. For g-d to turn around and reward Jim and Elisabeth with a short lived marriage, and Jim with a martyrs death
I know this isn’t addressed or spoken of in the book I just find it hard to move past that point without saying anything. And it seems odd that she totally neglects further mention of their marriage after this point. Though I gather that she felt like this book was more to address dating / courtship.
This Chapter talks of “staying in love” and how to maintain that in a marriage relationship.
“About this business of falling out of love. Everybody does it you know. Sometimes before they get married but always afterwards. Modern folks simply bug out of the marriage then, if they feel no obligation to keep vows – vows made foolishly, they believe. There is something to be said for making an adult choice and sticking with it.” p177
She states that mutual love for g-d is the glue that holds a couple together.
“But if you’re looking for some kind of feeling that will be consistent day in and out, forget it. The kind of love that sustains a marriage is God given, but it is also a daily choice. For the rest of your life. Never forget that.” p178
She also pulls this mentality over to how relationships work. In this same way she states that love for g-d is what enables men to restrain their passions.
“When an unmarried man feels passionate, his love for God (and the object of his passion) restrains him.” p178
She moves on to how this applies to marriage. With each partner restraining their “passions” out of love for the other person when the other person’s “passions” may not be “aroused.” So I will give her credit that she at least seems to be against marital rape. But her initial quote regarding a man’s passions, and how it is only g-d that holds him back distracts completely from that.
Ah the wonderful topic of submission *sarcasm.* I knew it would come up in regards to marriage eventually. The context for this quote is her discussing submission and love in the Christian marriage. The general principle is that the man is to be loving towards his wife, and the wife is to show her husband submission.
“It is not the wife’s job to demand that her husband lover her as Christ loved the Church. Her job is to submit in such a way (that is, gladly, voluntarily, wholeheartedly) as to make it easier for him to love her that way.” p179
Elisabeth references 1 Peter chapter 3 in regards to this quote.
1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”
1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
The theme of submission also continues in this quote below. The author discusses a woman who initially was unwilling to move at her husbands bidding to a new town. She then has a dream of what may be her future one day.
“It sounds so paltry, but I considered trading joy for a shadow. I couldn’t believe how great the temptation to trade security for God’s will. In a very revealing conversation with Gene [her husband], in which he said, “I can no longer battle you on this issue. I will write the letter refusing the job,” I saw clearly the ghost of the future. If I persisted in insisting that my will be done, I was taking away God’s and Gene’s authority in my life – killing the joy and love that are the dearest things in my life.” p180
She gives no thought to what the woman may want in this story, or why she may have issues with leaving her town behind. And even worse she conflates g-d’s will and desires with her husbands desires and will. So the only way for her to find joy is to follow her husband without question.
In this chapter she offers g-d’s forgiveness towards those that have already “blown it.” However, she does this as pretty much a concluding salvation message. Saying that g-d offers forgiveness through his son and how salvation washes away our sin. No words of hope are offered to the Christian who has “messed up.”
“What we were, and what we are in Christ, are sharply distinct. Stop living for yourself, start living for Christ.” p183
Very little hope or encouragement is offered here. Just a message that you were lost or a sinner before this, and now you need to fully devote your life to g-d. I see very little mercy here. It may sound like an overall encouraging chapter initially, but the more you read it the more hopeless it seems. Especially for anyone who has “blown it” after their conversion to Christianity.
I wanted to give my opinion on some of the overall themes of the book. Themes of the book seemed to be separation from the world, suffering for g-d, and full surrender of your life to g-d. Forgive the alliteration it was not intentional.
On the topic of separation from the world, Elisabeth often mentions the things that Christians are not allowed to do. Including things like sexual abstinence and “biblical gender rolls.” Anytime she discusses them she talked about the opposing view in a dismissive way. Her way is the best and every Christian must follow her way. Anyone who disagrees is simply wrong. It’s a distracting and childish way to make your point.
In regard to suffering for g-d, the author mentions several times where she and Jim decided to withdraw from their relationship in order to follow g-d’s will. She often repeats this theme in the book. How “x” or “y” are ways that Christians be willing to suffer for g-d. She includes sexual abstinence as an example of this suffering at one point. While I don’t discount her suffering, I will point out that she and Jim chose these things for themselves. They chose to have multiple periods of separation. They chose to wait to have physical contact and sex until after they married.
Service to g-d was also a major theme in the book. Anything you could even plan or dream for your life is to be given over to g-d. You are created to serve him, and Christians are to give their lives over to g-d. This includes their love life according to the author.
I still stand by my previous comment that it seems that in reality that Elisabeth was merely allowing Jim to make all the decisions in their relationship. Because any time it was decided that g-d will for Elisabeth was decided, it was told to her through Jim. From the outside this just seems like a way for Jim to manipulate Elisabeth.
Well this is it. We made it through the entire book. As I work on projects like this in the future, I will have to find a way to streamline this. As this project stretched out over eight parts.
I am glad that I worked through the book. In many ways it was eye opening to see and read some of the ideas I was taught about relationships. I hope this series can help another person process through some of the pain and hurtful ideologies spread by this book.