Set-Apart Femininity: God’s Sacred Intent for Every Young Woman is unlike the average book at your local Christian book store. As the title implies, it is most definitely set apart from the rest. It is not a book about being a happy, fulfilled, Christian woman-at least not in the terms we normally think of happiness and fulfillment. In fact, the furthest thing from other Christian self-help books, this is a book about denying self.
Set-Apart Femininity is not a book that makes the reader comfortable. But the message rings true when compared to God’s Word.
Unlike Leslie Ludy’s first book for girls, Authentic Beauty-which, while I wholeheartedly agreed with its premise, I felt gave too many graphic examples of impurity in a book about purity-Set-Apart Femininity goes straight to the heart of the message.
Leslie’s question is this: “Is Jesus Christ merely a part of your life? Or is He your entire life?“ (pg. 96). Using unforgettable stories of women like Sabina Wurmbrand, Leslie shows clearly how far our typical Christian lives are from being set apart for Him. The chapter on decorum is filled with questions to help you evaluate how you spend your time, who and what really has a claim on your life.
The book is worth buying just for the chapter on the design of beauty. Leslie cuts straight to the heart of today’s popular message for Christian women on self-worth and beauty, showing it for the self-centered ugliness it is. Yes, she agrees, our feminine desire is to be found beautiful, to be that princess we always dreamed of:
“But the solution presented, all too often, does not flow from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it keeps self alive. It convinces us that we can look inward and find worth, beauty, and value within ourselves. It keeps the focus on us; on our feelings, our attributes, and our beauty…
“It is not our unique beauty that must shine for this world to see. It is not our own beauty that we must discover and embrace-it is His… The secret to becoming the beautiful…princess…is forgetting all about self and becoming completely consumed with only one thing-Jesus Christ.” (pg. 45, 47)
And then there’s the chapter on prayer-on cultivating a real, vibrant, every-moment relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Leslie makes a clear case that “our problem is not that we expect too much of God, but that we expect far too little of Him” (pg. 128). Rather convicting when coupled with Leslie’s description of the abundant hope and life we can and should have in Him: “Not day to day surviving, but day to day thriving” (pg. 127).
Of course, the book wouldn’t be written by a Ludy without some great stuff on romance and guy-girl relationships. Like about how our generation doesn’t need lower expectations of marriage, but higher ones. (And I can only say amen to that! Watch for my review of The First 90 Days of Marriage, which is the Ludy’s entire book about that very subject.) But Leslie brings our thoughts of ardor and mystique back to the center of where they should be with this:
“If you ever catch yourself ‘putting off’ happiness until you finally get married or thinking that when you finally meet your spouse all of your dreams will be fulfilled, that’s a sign that Christ hasn’t fully captured your heart. If Jesus Christ isn’t enough right now, then He won’t be enough after marriage either. And you’ll always be seeking fulfillment from the wrong things-setting your marriage up for disillusionment and tension.” (pg. 185)
If you really read it, Set-Apart Femininity can challenge to the core the way you live your life. It doesn’t take a very long look around to see that we need Christians to live up to their name now, more than ever. As another favorite author of mine, Josh Harris, always used to say: “This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.”
The only way to be a part of the counter culture is to be set apart. The only way to be truly feminine is to be set apart. The only way to be a radiant princess, a daughter of the King, a child of God is to be set apart.
P.S. Congratulations to Leslie and her husband on the Father’s Day arrival of their newest little girl…another one to be set apart for Him!