September 21, 2020

Fear of Women and Their Cute, Pink Books

The Beautiful Ache: Finding the God Who Satisfies When Life Does NotForty-five men authoring books solo or with others.

One female author.

Two books with female co-authors.

That’s the “gender” count from the new books page at a major conservative, reformed, Christian book source on the net.

Blind spot? Evidence that most of conservative evangelicalism is a movement by men, for men, described by men, expressed by men?

As I understand it, there is no issue of authority for most complementarians anywhere except in the church. In Driscoll’s church, which takes a back seat to no one on the “hairy chest” issues, Deacon Wendy Alsop is a high profile Bible teacher. No embarrassment. She could write a book or a blog…and we’d all be ok with reading it….right? No reason to avoid it? Right?

Ever do a gender count of a major Christian websites blogroll? Try mine. Or your favorite reformed hangout. Or yours.

What was the last book by a Christian woman, you, guys, read and benefited from? How many books from female writers have been part of your spiritual development?

Do we really believe that the Bible teaching of evangelical American men is as good as it gets?

Anyone want to admit that we tend to believe women aren’t all that smart in Biblical matters? That a book on the Christian life written by a woman FOR a woman is great, but would Knowing God or Blue Like Jazz have done all that much if they were written by women? Could PDL have been by Beth Moore, and still been what it was? Why is Nancy Pearcey such a rare bird?

I remember reading The God I Love by Joni a few years a book. Sensationally exceptional book….and when I started recommending it to people, I was slightly embarrassed to have admit I read and liked it. I got past that, but it was there.

I’m carrying around The Beautiful Ache by Leigh Mcleroy. Interviews and podcasts have convinced it is a great book full of things I will love.

So why haven’t I read it yet?

In addition to this post, you might want to look at this piece by Adam Ochuck and ask if Christian publishers are part of the problem women authors are “niche” and not mainstream?


  1. >What was the last book by a Christian woman, you, guys, read and benefited from?

    Real Sex, by Lauren Winner. Very good, very honest.

  2. I think Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, and Phyllis Tickle have all done a great job at speaking to both men and women, the problem being most reformed ( or those in conservative evangelicalism) folks would never pick up a book by liberal presbyterian women, and evangelical Episcopal women, or a moderate Anglican women.

  3. >Do we really believe that the Bible teaching of >evangelical American men is as good as it gets?

    Ahem, apparently so from the trends. My answer is no.

    I have to admit to flipping out over the Desiring God Blog. When I visited, all I saw while scrolling down were pictures of men. All men. Shouldn’t be surprised, really. And Ditto.

    As a Christian and a woman, I have had a very hard time accepting Calvinism as a system of theology. It seems to be an impregnable (pun?) rock of solid vox male.

    Where are the Magnificats? Where are the Hannahs, the Esthers, the Ruths, the Miriams?

    Thank you for addressing this apparent lack of publishing representation and otherwise. I can hardly remember the last non-pink or purple book woman-authored Christian book I read.

  4. Sadielouwho says

    I’m a Christian, female, blogger. I feel like men in my church are holding my blog at arm’s length, also.

  5. From a lurker:

    I’m an elder in a conservative (read “not mainline”) Presbyterian church. Here’s a quick (5 minutes looking at my bookshelf) listing of women authors that have contributed to my spiritual formation.

    Corrie TenBoom
    Elisabeth Elliot
    Marva Dawn
    Christina Rossetti
    Evelyn Underhill
    Emillie Griffin
    Teresa of Avila
    Jullian of Norwich
    Mother Teresa
    Lucy Shaw
    Madeleine L’Engle
    Annie Dillard
    Flannery O’Connor
    Helen Rosavere
    St. Brigid

    On second thought maybe, according to the “approved reading list” folks I’m not so conservative after all. Oh well, my gain, their loss.


  6. From the BHT…where I posted this as a response:

    We’re probably all going to be talking a lot about gender and leadership in the next year, so it’s a good subject.

    Conservative/reformed evangelical men need to come clean. For the most part, they don’t think women get it. They don’t think women are that smart in the things that really matter. They are really good at saying and doing patronizing stuff under the guise of “honoring gender differences.” The evangelical publishing biz is a very good place to note this.

    Years ago I read a wonderful book by Becky Pippert called Hope Has Its Reasons. When I finished it, I knew I had read a magnificent apologetic, but I was also not surprised to see the book become almost invisible.

    Like Beautiful Ache, Hope Has Its Reasons isn’t the kind of book men write. It’s….better. It’s more humane. It’s more aware of other human beings and what they feel. In fact, the emotional register- feelings, for those busy collecting stones- is an area where evangelical male writers tend to find little to say.

    Occasionally, female writers will get a male audience in evangelicalism. But it’s rare. Who reads Kay Arthur and Beth Moore? Not me. Nancy Pearcey and Lauren Winner write……more like men. ***duck***. Winner’s sexual frankness goes over well with guys, and Pearcey sounds like a better version of Francis Schaeffer.

    This breach is being repaired in some places (IVCF, RZIM, Navpress, etc.) But on the whole, evangelical men want to talk about dispensational arguments, not how they feel about loneliness. They want to appear to have a lot of answers. They don’t want to say they don’t know, and it’s a mystery. They believe that, by and large, devotional thinking is for women and serious theological thinking is for men.

    I know there are hundreds of exceptions and always have been. Thank God. One lurker sent me a CT piece on Victorian women who wrote commentaries on Genesis. The issue is the competence of women, their gifts- which are from God- and the prejudices of men and how those prejudices are being installed in the church with stereotype after stereotype. The contribution of millions of evangelical women are being defined by what men are comfortable with, not what the Gospel says. And what men are comfortable with is being in charge, having their flaws overlooked and called “leadership,” and saying they have all the answers to all the questions that matter.

  7. Aha, I thought of a non-pink book Christian author I like (sorry, not at home so I can’t browse my book shelf). Mother Basilea Schlink. She founded the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, a Lutheran monastic group in Germany after WWII. Her writings are for all audiences and are as weighty (dare I say it) as other contemporaries of her time. The “ladies”, as our family call them, carry on a vibrant ministry of publishing M. Basilea’s works and of intense prayer and praise.

  8. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve thought of using a gender neutral psedonym when making blog posts on my favorite blogs so that I might be taken more seriously. I definitly have seen that there are different interests between men and woman but both should be complimentary. There are serious woman and serious men just as there are flaky woman and there are flaky men. We might pick different serious topics to discuss or maybe we won’t. We also don’t all cry at the first sign of conflict. Some of us thrive on it.

    Thanks again for a great post. Good food for thought.

  9. Excellent post! May the tribe of Anne Lamott increase!

    IMO, a contributing factor of the cute-pink-book tea party is the Mars-and-Venus bandwagon so much of Evangelicism has piled aboard. Of course men and women have their differences, but Eldrege, Eggerich, and others have exaggerated them far beyond what evidence supports.

    We are first individuals–with a unique mix of male and female traits–before we ever begin to fit into their fairy-tale stereotypes of femininity and masculinity.

  10. Histrion (Jay H) says

    iMonk wrote, in the BHT: But on the whole, evangelical men want to talk about dispensational arguments, not how they feel about loneliness.

    I think this is pretty close to it. In fact, I think this is a reflection of a greater cultural issue, something outside Christianity of any stripe: in general, while women are just as capable of thinking logically as men are, men’s logic has an aggression factor to it.

    Again, in case it went unnoticed the first time I said it, I’m speaking in general: I think when a man gets into a verbal logical argument, he’s more likely than a woman to be on the attack — “Argument X shall defeat Improper Thought Y.”

    And while I’m not intimately familiar with the TR blogosphere — this is one of the few religious blogs I read at all — the impression I get is that that sort of logical aggression is not only welcome there, it’s considered necessary. Calvinism in general strikes me as an emotion-negative sort of reading of the faith: “Feel uncomfortable with the idea of a God who doesn’t love everyone? Wuss.”

  11. Jay H:

    Slam dunk on that last sentence. Bingo. Presto. 10 points and the prize rabbit.

  12. I want hardcore theology. If c.t. wrote a book, I’d probably buy it (1/2 jn).

    Re emotions, I read ‘yo ho ho, a papist’s life for me?’ and it was a bit like watching an action movie. I was squirming with anxiety for the first 3/4s and breathed an enormous sigh of relief at the end. I’d much rather you had given assurance at the outset that you had analyzed it all and rejected it. Instead of saying ‘I’m tired of Protestantism. I’m tired of every man with his Bible being a little Pope’, you could say ‘Although Protestantism has its share of inherent dangers, such as solo scriptura…’. I think that’s what makes some of the TRs uncomfortable with you as well. I’m not criticizing, btw, just documenting my irrational fear of emotion. I want certainty & assurance (about other people’s mental states).

  13. Histrion (Jay H) says

    CAndiron writes: I want certainty & assurance .

    In this world, you shall have affliction. 😉

    Or, to quote a different writer:

    Inigo Montoya: Who are you?
    Westley: No one of consequence.
    Inigo Montoya: I must know…
    Westley: Get used to disappointment.
    Inigo Montoya: ‘kay…

  14. What a great post and discussion–I hope I’m not too late to join the conversation. Last year I self-published my book about our 25 years of multi-ethnic, inner city church planting/pastoring/ in Baltimore. I felt moved to write A Thousand Resurrections because all the other books I’m aware of about multi-ethnic/urban churches and incarnational Christian community development were written by men (Perkins, Rice, Emerson, Ortiz, Lupton, etc.). Great books, BUT women’s voices were absent from the conversation. I was turned down by several Christian publishers because they feared my book wasn’t “marketable” enough.(Did they think only women interested in urban ministry would read it?) I’ve frequently faced the assumption that because the author is female, the book is only for women. Because of this, when I asked a local blogger (the insighful Jollyblogger) to review my book, I felt compelled to assure him that it wasn’t chick lit–meaning that it was neither light, fluffy, or directed solely to women. (He took that remark with good humor.)

    I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Capote” where at a party filled with NY literary types, a man approaches Harper Lee. “I hear you have a book coming out.” She nods. “A children’s book, right?” he says, “something about a bird?”
    Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

  15. I just found BHT a week or so ago and my immediate thought was, “Yeah but I bet they aren’t gonna discuss gender in the church.”

    Damn was I wrong!

    May I submit that a difference of ‘logic’ might, in reality, be a difference of priorities? That women are concerned about the inner workings of a heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ, while men in Western culture are more comfortable depating obscure academic points which have little to nothing to do with walking with Christ?

    (Ouch, I know.)

    That is to say, in our culture it’s not so easy to be spiritual David. (You cry and write poetry and dance around in your underwear lately? No? I didn’t think so… me either, actually, except the crying part.)

    Also, we tend to define masculinity as whatever femininity *isn’t*.

    All of that being said, as a woman interested in obscure intellectual questions, I’ve had a short lifetime of not fitting in at church. All the cigar smoking men look at me funny, and all the scrapbooking women look at me funny, and all I can do is sigh and think, “Jesus you might look at me funny, too, but at least I know you love me.”

    I hope to see some good discussion. I’ll be lurking. (Promise, not a threat. ^^)

  16. I think tring to get to the bottom of an issue or at least discussing it at all is good for all of us. Remember slavery, racism, and women rights were issues of the not so distant past. I would enought women to understand men more because they need to be aggressive sometimes, and women need to let out emotions. Maybe we both are guilty of not knowing enough about each other and what bothers us that feelings are hurt when they shouldn’t be, and men get the wrong impression perhaps.