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Lies Women Believe review


“Lies Women Believe” review: 243-281

Y’all should celebrate at the end of this post because we did it! We finished the Lies Women Believe review– this is the last week. Speaking of which, if you have any ideas for which book I should do next, I’m open to hearing them. Next week will be a break of sorts, since I’ll be reviewing Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle, which I’m excited about sharing with you.

But, let’s get this over with, shall we?

The last section of the book– “Walking in the Truth”– is divided into two chapters. The first one, “Countering Lies with the Truth,” explicates the process that Christian women are supposed to use when they encounter one of Satan’s lies, something that Nancy has not explicitly spelled out for us yet. Unfortunately, this process isn’t even remotely innocuous. It’s poison.

We have seen that the progression toward bondage begins when we listen to Satan’s lies … Once we permit Satan’s lies to gain an entrance into our our minds, the progressions continues as we dwell on those lies. If we do not immediately reject deceptive ways of thinking, but allow ourselves to entertain them in our minds, we will begin to believe them. (244)

What this does is make it impossible for women to evaluate what they’re being told by Nancy and other conservative Christians. If they’re exposed to a new idea– an idea they haven’t heard in full before, say like a biblically-based argument in favor of marriage equality– they are required to immediately reject it before they could even begin to give a new idea the engagement and attention it might deserve. Nancy is point-blank telling us that a knee-jerk dismissal is the only possible reaction to anything they’ve been told is wrong, and if they don’t, they will believe it.

That last bit is especially pernicious. It is possible to fully hear out an argument, fully investigate it, and still conclude that you don’t agree with its premises or conclusions. But conservative Christians can’t risk anyone going through a process of listening and engaging, because much of that culture is based on smoke and mirrors that won’t stand up to honest examination.

For the length of this book, Nancy has never really explained what she thinks “The Truth” is– she just sort of assumes that we get it, and it is likely that many of her readers don’t need to be told what it is, since “The Truth” is this nebulous and yet somehow self-evident idea that everyone just intuitively gets.

However, this chapter makes it clear what Nancy means by it: the Truth is Bible verses taken out of context and layered with conservative evangelical interpretations that function as adages for Christians. When she says we’re supposed to counter Satan’s lies with “The Truth,” she means we’re supposed to quote Bible verses to ourselves (246-47). However, like many other evangelicals, she’s incapable of admitting that it’s not that simple, that these verses come loaded with the way conservative Christians have been applying them (sometimes extraordinarily badly) for the last fifty years. Because, of course, they hold to the “plain meaning of Scripture” and deny that, in fact, no such thing exists.

Nancy rounds out this chapter with a personal story on how she herself overcome a series of “lies,” and how she used the Truth to eventually forgive a person who had wronged her.

I knew I could not wait until I felt like forgiving– that I had to choose to obey God, and that my emotions would follow sooner or later. There on my knees, with my emotions still battling, I finally waved the white flag of surrender. (249)

Reading this, it suddenly hit me why I’ve had a problem with conservative Christian definitions of “forgiveness,” and it’s because this model of forgiveness is just gaslight yourself into ignoring your feelings that a particular person is unsafe. That’s what it takes to “restore relationships” in many Christian circles: someone does something wrong to you, they “seek forgiveness,” and you are obligated to let it go and continue exposing yourself to someone with a demonstrated willingness to hurt you regardless of what your instincts say.

The last chapter is a rehash of all the things Nancy’s already said, so I won’t go over them again. The “Resources” section recommends the now-defunct Exodus International, the book A Full Quiver, child-rearing books that advocate abuse like Shepherding a Child’s Heart, and offers no resources for sexual abuse victims that are widely recommended by professionals (not even The Wounded Heart).

Final conclusion on Lies Women Believe: it teaches concepts that can and does result in murdered women, recommends resources that advocate child abuse, and expressly forbids women from seeking other avenues of help. Every copy should be burned and Moody should issue an apology for ever publishing it.


“Lies Women Believe” review: 193-214

I didn’t think it would be possible to be happy about writing another segment of my Lies Women Believe review, but it is 100x better than dealing with being hacked. I’m pretty sure we’re all good for now, and I am crossing my fingers that never happens again.

This week is Nancy’s chapter on emotions, and part of me just wants to refer you to the How to Win Over Depression review, because it covers a lot of the same ground. But, she throws in her own twists, so let’s tackle them.

The first problem is the gender segregation:

More than anything else, it is probably our female emotional makeup that sometime causes men to throw up their hands and say, “I give up. I just can’t figure you out!” And, in a sense, who can blame them? (194)

She’s been talking about the range of emotions women feel and how we’re shifting through emotional states constantly and how men don’t do that and those poor babies just look at how confused we make them. Two problems: men are not unfeeling robots, and this framing is sexist.

I looked at her list of emotions– confused, ecstatic, angry, frustrated, sad, confident, happy, lonely, and depressed– and thought back over this weekend with my partner. Over three days he was confused, ecstatic, angry, frustrated, confident, and happy (we did maintenance on our cars and watched Michigan crush Brigham Young 31 to nothing). One could argue that my emotional state over this weekend was actually milder and more stable than his (I wasn’t the one working on the cars, and while I know every word of “Victors Valiant,” I’m not a lifelong Michigan fan).

Second, because women are seen as being “more in tune with our emotions,” we’re required by society to do two things: provide emotional labor on demand, and be the “responsible” party in a relationship. Seen an ad recently that caters to just how lazy and incompetent men are at household tasks? It’s the same idea happening here: because men just don’t understand emotions they rely on women to carry the weight. Sure, it might paint men in a slightly negative light (I would argue in this case it doesn’t), but the end result is that women end up doing more of the work– relational or not.


Ok, on the surface, I agree with Nancy. Just because I feel someone might be lying to me doesn’t automatically mean that they are. However, this entire section is a problem because it reinforces one of the biggest problems I’ve had in my life: not trusting my gut.

I’ve read sections from The Gift of Fear, and the bits I’ve read were illuminating. De Becker argues that we should trust our intuition, that it’s telling us something important that our conscious mind may not be able to communicate to us fully. Looking back over the beginnings of my abusive relationship, there were several red flags that made me feel uncomfortable that I ignored because I totally agreed with Nancy: just because I felt something didn’t make it true.

Maybe not, but our feelings are almost definitely worth paying attention to, and are enough of a reason to further investigate an issue, or start a conversation. Our feelings are telling us something, and we can’t just skip on by them with this notion that feelings aren’t grounded in reality (195).


This entire section gets one big NOPE from me. She opens up with a series of hypothetical situations, including this:

You may not be able to help feeling apprehensive about an upcoming medical exam, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop worrying and fretting about the outcome. (197)

Uhm, no, no I can’t. That is the literal definition of anxiety. My anxiety is not usually severe enough to make me want to go through the process of figuring out which medication I need at what dosage, especially not in this strapped-for-competent-doctors area, but I have been diagnosed with anxiety. Sometimes, it gets really bad, like when I first figured out I had a wheat sensitivity. There were a few weeks when I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I was allergic to everything now and I would never be able to eat again and I was going to literally starve. I knew those thoughts are the kind known as “intrusive” and that they weren’t real, weren’t based in reality, were contradicted by every shred of evidence, but it didn’t stop me from having a panic attack every time I tried to eat something for two weeks.

The next two pages are ripped-completely-out-of-context verses used as platitudes. God said you’ll never be alone so feeling lonely is a lie (198)! The Bible says “don’t worry!” so there’s no situation that could ever happen to anyone worthy of feeling anxious about it (199)!



She means menstruation and “PMS.” Quick note about PMS: I can’t tell you the number of times my totally legitimate frustration has been written up to “PMS.” Donald Trump did it recently when he said a journalist had “blood coming out of her … wherever.” PMS- as it’s commonly understood in my culture– is largely an urban myth. It doesn’t mean PMS isn’t real, or that the shifts in our hormone balances have no possible effect on mood, but that “PMS” can be used as a weapon to de-legitimize the female experience. We don’t have a real reason to be upset, we’re just bleeding out our vajajays.

But is that where Nancy goes with this? Of course not. She confuses emotions and moods with impulse control (200). Granted, nuerotypical people can have mild impulse control problems, such as things that belong in the realm of bad habits. It’s common for people to chew our nails, pick at scabs, that sort of thing. But then there’s a whole ‘nother plane of impulse control disorders (like trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull out one’s hair. If you’re not familiar with impulse control disorders, this YouTube channel is an excellent place to start).

So while I don’t use my hormones (which with PCOS are even more “out of whack” than for many women) or my pain as an excuse or a means to justify something like me being irritable and snappish, I do have to have grace for myself. No, I shouldn’t bite Handsome’s head off. But that doesn’t mean I need to make myself feel like shit if I do.


For most of this, see the How to Win Over Depression review because she just basically recycles everything LaHaye says. If you needed proof that LaHaye’s mode of thinking is endemic to evangelical culture, here it is.

Nancy does the same thing Tim does: she finds “reasons” for depression completely outside the realm of medical knowledge, like so:

What we do know is that in many cases, physiological symptoms connected with depression are the fruit of issues that are rooted in the realm of the soul and spirit– issues such as ingratitude, unresolved conflict, irresponsibility, guilt, bitterness, unforgiveness, unbelief, claiming of rights, anger, and self-centerdness. (205)

Right here she’s worse than Tim. Seriously– claiming of rights makes one depressed? I’m banging my head into a wall over this, because this is absolutely ridiculous! But it gets worse. A few paragraphs later she calls depression a “temper tantrum.”

Arg gablarg.

The last thing that frustrated me about this section is here:

In the last several decades, we have developed a mind-set that only “professionals” are qualified to help people who are plagued with various emotional or mental disorders. Even many pastors have been made to feel incompetent to deal with these issues and therefore routinely refer to troubled counselees to “the experts.” (210)

Nancy has just amply proven exactly why this “mind-set” is necessary. She just called depression a temper tantrum and talked about impulse control for two pages without ever once addressing the reality of things like trich. She thinks it’s possible for people like me to just “place our hope in God” to stop a panic attack in its tracks. And, hearkening back to her chapter on marriage, she thinks that battered women need to “revere” their husbands (read: not divorce them) or risk losing any chance of being “protected by God” (which gah you’d think if God was in the protecting-battered-women business they’d oh I dunno protect battered women).

For the rest of this, I high recommend these pieces:

Denying the Body of Christ Puts Abuse Survivors at Risk” by RL Stollar
Ministering to Adult Sexual Offenders” (pdf) by Victor Veith, Director Emeritus of the National Child Protection Training Center

Aside: I’ve started a food blog, focusing on oral-allergy-syndrome-friendly recipes, called Cussing Culinaire. I’m having a lot of fun with it.



“Lies Women Believe” review: 115-134

I hope all my American readers had a happy Labor Day– mine was spent reading Robert Jordan’s Winter’s Heart from the Wheel of Time series instead of reading for the Lies Women Believe review. I appreciated putting it off by a few days. Thankfully, this chapter was short.


I think this might be the only time Nancy and I come closest to actually agreeing on something, although the why behind it is, of course, drastically different. Here’s the crux of the section:

There is virtually never time in a twenty-four-hour day for me to do everything that is one everyone else’s “to do” list for me. There is seldom time to do everything on my own “to do” list. I cannot meet with every person who wants an appointment, call every person who wants to talk, counsel every person who has a need … It’s just not physically possible.

What a relief to know I don’t have to do all those things! (119)

Nancy goes on to explain that there is time in every day for us to do what God wants us to do, and we should prioritize the things God wants, not what we want or what other people want. This is where we differ– I agree with the premise that there’s more often more things to be done than I can accomplish in a day, especially on days like today when I’m having neck spasms so severe I’m having difficulty standing upright. I wanted to run errands and bake bread, but instead I spent most of today on muscle relaxers and heating pads. Not being able to do those things is totally fine, and I’ve learned to let them slide without guilt.

The problem I have with this section is that Nancy says “just do the things God wants you to do, and you’ll be fine!” without ever explaining how exactly we’re supposed to figure that out. I grew up having a problem with this, really– people were obsessed with “discovering God’s will for your life,” but it seemed mighty convenient how often “God’s will” perfectly aligned with “thing I feel passionately about” or “thing that will make me look good” or “thing that will make me powerful.”

I think, in general, that God’s will includes things like “drawing all peoples to themself” and “redeeming the world,” but when it comes down to the brass tacks of do I clean my apartment today or research my book, it seems a little ridiculous to expect God to have an opinion.

Realistically, I think we all order our priorities according to what we value and our ethics. I believe tackling this book is important, so it’s what I’m doing instead of laundry right now, and if I don’t have the energy to do laundry later tonight I’m ok with that. I believe that trying to do the will of God every day is important, but that’s summed up for me in love your neighbor as yourself, and I just try to operate by that principle.


I hope those of you who had a different experience than me can chime in, because, honestly, I never understood all the fuss around “quiet times” or “devotions.” I read my Bible and prayed pretty consistently through my teen and early college years, but when my schedule filled up with 8a-6p classes, I stopped doing that regularly and never noticed the difference. I tried picking it up again a few times over the years, usually out of guilt, but it didn’t contribute meaningfully to my day so I’ve never gotten back into the habit.

Nancy tries to argue that people will be ineffectual and frustrated without this, but that just seems really Christian-centric to me, and easily disproved. Billions of people don’t read the Bible and pray to the Christian deity every day, and they seem to be doing just fine, while many Christians do have dedicated time for this and don’t seem to fit Nancy’s definition of success– they’ve been depressed, burnt out, worried, stressed, and all the rest of the things she says that devotions will prevent.


The way she’s phrased this is extremely frustrating because it’s misleading. If she actually meant what those words say we might actually agree on this. I and many feminists believe that motherhood (and fatherhood! stay-at-home-dads are a reality!) can be just as fulfilling as a career– especially if a woman does not feel particularly fulfilled by her realistic career options. We might be troubled by societal patterns and the way stigmas contribute to women leaving the paid workforce, but most of the feminists I’m aware of fight for things like maternity leave and subsidized daycare in order to balance the demands on mothers. However, that’s not what Nancy actually means. Instead, she asserts that the “lie women believe” is that “a career outside the home is an option.”

Some feminists have denigrated those who choose stay-at-home-motherhood, or have written manifestos on why all women have an obligation to be in the paid workforce, but in my experience, those positions tend to be outliers.

However, those outliers are not who Nancy addresses; instead, she misrepresents feminist arguments about the unpaid labor involved in housework and childrearing by saying that feminists have “devalued homemaking to something less than that of a serf” (125). The reality that it’s mostly women who do the housework and childrearing and that this is essentially a form of slave labor–in that it’s culturally coerced and uncompensated–isn’t a statement about its ineffable value. In fact, most feminists have fought to equalize the distribution of household and childrearing tasks by forcing our culture to recognize how important these things are– so important, in fact, that they’re not beneath men doing them, too.

She spends a lot of time saying that it’s impossible for women to “have it all” in the sense of having a career and still shouldering all the demands of homemaking and mothering– and she’s right. The solution, however, isn’t to force all women out of the paid workforce, but to elevate these things to more than just “women’s work.” Men should leave work to take care of sick children just as often as women. Men should take off to get their kids to soccer games. Men should stay up half the night with the colicky baby. Men should learn to cook. Men should shoulder an even share of housework.

It is impossible for women to “have it all” as long as the definition for “having it all” is “be successful at work while still being maintaining a Norman Rockwell version of housewifery.”

She makes a few other frustrating comments, things like saying feminism has pushed our elderly into old folk’s homes without even bothering to acknowledge the extending life spans that make it impossibly difficult for those without medical training to monitor their care; or blaming the rise of the two-income household completely on feminism instead of being honest about the rising income disparities that are forcing middle-class families to take on more labor to maintain a middle-class position, but those are so wrong they’re not even worth the attention.

In short, once again it seems impossible for conservative evangelicals to attack feminism without being misleading, deceptive, and ignorant.


“Lies Women Believe” review: 63-90

Fair warning: today’s post is a little long. Because of that, I’ve decided to break today’s review up into the same sections that Nancy divides this chapter– “Lies Women Believe About Themselves”.

Eve’s Diary

These diary entries are supposed to reflect in some way the similarities between this fictional Eve and modern women, especially concerning the “lies we believe,” so I wondered if Nancy was ever going to address one particular statement Eve makes in this entry:

I don’t know if [Adam will] ever trust me again. In a way, I can’t blame him. I’ve really wrecked his life. I feel so stupid. Adam just doesn’t understand the effect that Serpent had on me. (63)

But nope … she never does. This idea that Eve, and by extension pretty much any woman, is capable of wrecking a man’s life with the smallest of decisions, is a fairly common one in evangelicalism, and it has always infuriated me, even when I was a fundamentalist. Adam was standing right there (Gen. 3:6 says “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her“); according to the story, Eve might have made the initial decision, but Adam made it right along with her after hearing the exact same speech.

Men are adults. They are capable of making their own decisions. They’re not mindless, unthinking automatons that can be nudged into the path of a wrecking ball with the barest hint from their wives. However, it’s not exactly unusual for men to do horrendous things and then for women to be blamed for them– see any time a rape victim opens her mouth, ever.

“I’m not worth anything”

This is one of those times when I agree with Nancy about the existence of a lie, but completely disagree with the reasons for it and how to go about solving it. In the case of this one– feeling worthless– Nancy does what most conservative Christians seem to do and flip cause and effect. The clearest example of this is when she gives us this “testimony”:

For the longest time I thought I was not worth anything. Even after I was saved, I thought I was equal to pond scum. This threw me into depression. (67)

A lot of the stories in this section have the same thread woven through them, with feelings of worthlessness being connected to depression, but the way these women and Nancy frame it, the depression is caused by feeling worthless, which is caused by letting yourself believe a lie. To illustrate the “letting yourself believe a lie” point, she chose the story of a six year old girl who was told she “should never have been born.” This six year old failed to “counter the lie with the Truth,” and this allowed her to grow up believing she was worthless, according to Nancy, who seems unable to grasp simple concepts like children are impressionable.

Also, this happened:

For example, a playmate may accurately observe to a six-year-old girl, “You’re fat!” That little girl will one day find herself in bondage if she grows up drawing conclusions based on that comment. (66)

If you’re getting the feeling that Nancy is not a very kind person, I agree.

“I need to learn to love myself”

This section is extremely unoriginal– just more of the evangelical nonsense about how we all really love ourselves because our default state is selfish, self-motivated, and self-interested. Therefore, according to them, worrying about “self-esteem” is absolutely pointless and wrong-headed. What bothers me the most about this section is here:

To the contrary, Jesus taught that it is in losing our lives that we find our lives. The message of self-love puts people on a lonely, one-way path to misery. …

If I didn’t “love myself,” I would ignore the [toothache]. But when someone else has a toothache, it is easy to be indifferent to his need–that’s his problem. We naturally love ourselves; we do not naturally love others. (70)

I call bullshit. First, because self-esteem and empathy are not mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible to experience both at the same time, and just because I am confident and think of myself as valuable does not mean that I’m rendered incapable of caring about other people.

Also, I strongly disagree with the idea that we do not “naturally” love others. Empathy, compassion, kindness– these are almost universal concepts, they cross many cultural lines. How we act on these things may differ according to time and place, but many people have studied the existence of things like altruism from the earliest days of mankind. Caring for each other is in our blood.

I think she’s also twisted Matthew 16’s “whoever will lose his life shall find it” beyond recognition, completely ripped it out of context and obliterated any significant meaning; she’s reduced Jesus’ teaching that following him will require sacrifice to don’t worry about having self-esteem you’ve got enough of that already.

“I can’t help the way I am”

To a certain extent, I can kinda sorta agree with this one, but not in the way Nancy frames it. Some rely on excuses to justify their behavior, and I don’t think that’s acceptable. I’m sure we’ve all done this, probably repeatedly, and it can be a very convenient– and depending on situation– a very damaging lie. For example, the excuses of “boys will be boys” or “I’m a man, I’m visual, I can’t help but stare at you” are imbecilically wrong.

However, Nancy takes it too far when she chooses some supposed “excuses” people tell themselves:

I’m so exhausted, I just can’t function.
My parents never affirmed me, and I’ve never been able to feel loved.
I had an abusive childhood; I’ve never been able to trust people.
My ex-husband constantly put me down [read: verbal abuse]; he destroyed my self-esteem. (72)

There are others, but these were the worst offenders. I’d like to point out that many of these statements are not descriptions of a person’s identity, or “who they are,” but are means of expressing emotions, states of mind, and responses to situations and relationships.

I grew up with the line “excuses are just lies wrapped up in pretty paper,” usually handed to me, ultimatum-style, when I was trying to explain my rationalization for something I’d done, or offer a reason for why I hadn’t done something. It took me years to undo this programming and realize that our experiences are a part of who we become, that different situations and contexts place limitations on us.

I’m an introvert that grew up in a family of extroverts. To many people in my family, desperately needing to just get away and have some peace and quiet for a bit means something is wrong– I’m upset or something, and it’s a problem they have to solve in order to get me to rejoin The Activity. Needless to say, this was not conducive to me enjoying family visits.

My introvertedness doesn’t automatically excuse my behavior with my family if I get snippy or grumpy, but it is a limitation I need to accept about myself in order to function well and maintain my emotional equilibrium. I cannot help that I’m an introvert, and that part of my identity requires certain actions from me at times.

“I have my rights”

You can imagine how I feel about this section. I started chanting burn it. Burn it with fire as I read.

The modern-day feminist movement was birthed and has been sustained by persuading women to march and clamor for “rights”: the right to vote, the right to be free from the shackles of housework [read: unpaid labor]; the right to equal employment opportunities; the right to equal wages, the right to control our own bodies … the right to be free from every other form of “male domination.” (74)

The only thing you need to know about this section is that Nancy has put women’s suffrage in scare quotes, calls the Civil Rights Movement “turmoil and rebellion” (74) and then compares women wanting to be paid the same as men and black people demanding their right to vote to Jonah. As in, “His insistence on his rights caused him to be emotionally unstable, isolated, and estranged from God” (75).

“Physical beauty matters more than inner beauty”

Like with Stasi Elredge’s Captivating, it is supremely ironic to me that with one side of her mouth Nancy condemsn feminism wholesale and then goes on to say that beauty standards are ridiculous. Guess who’s fighting for women to be appreciated based on our worth as human beings, to place more emphasis on our character. Oh right. Feminists.

And, like every other evangelical I’ve ever heard on the subject, Nancy can’t help but go back on her point:

There is a growing aversion in our culture to neatness, orderliness, and attractiveness in dress and physical appearance.  I sometimes find myself wanting to say to Christian women: “Do you know who you are? God made you a woman. Accept His gift. Don’t be afraid to be feminine and to add physical and spiritual loveliness to the setting where He has placed you …

We as Christians should seek to reflect the beauty, order, excellence, and grace of God through both our outward and inward person. (80)

C’mon, Nancy. Either physical attractiveness matters or it doesn’t. Also, your opinion that our culture has a “growing aversion” to anything you consider “attractive” is based on nothing more than you acquired your fashion sense when women wore hose and you haven’t gotten used to a world without shoulderpads.

The last lie, about “unfulfilled longings” is a bunch of unintelligible nonsense. No, we’re not going to get every single last thing we want all of the time, but nobody but the most greedy and supercilious of billionaires actually thinks that’s possible.

Anyway, I apologize for the length, but this chapter was more than frustrating and I just wanted to get it done with after putting it off on Monday. So far, each progressive chapter has gotten worse. I hope that pattern doesn’t hold.