Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Authentic Beauty: the shaping of a set-apart young woman, by Leslie Ludy

I "randomly" picked up a copy of this book at our local used book store. I had read When God Writes Your Love Story by the Ludys some years ago and was familiar with Leslie's writing style and approach to life. In this particular book, Authentic Beauty, she takes a step backwards before marriage to the single young woman's heart and questions what true purity means.

For me, this was one of those books that I feel divided by. Ludy's approach to purity is more strict in nature to the one I prefer. She's very heartfelt serious and committed to her walk with the Lord and for that I admire her and sympathize with the things she is trying to communicate to us. Her background is very different from mine in that she attended public high school. From the stories that she shared about her experiences there -- I am SO THANKFUL (cannot stress that enough) that I was home schooled. She relates to the reader various encounters she had with her teenage peers who were utterly lacking in any type of sexual moral standard. I realize that the point of her book was to point out the dramatic difference between the world's approach to purity and God's approach to purity but, quite frankly, I think she was a bit too graphic in relating conversations that she was exposed to/involved with sometimes. If her point was to make me squirm and feel uncomfortable with their teenage behavior, well, then it worked! I spent the whole book inwardly thanking my parents for sparing me the quite disgusting lifestyle lived out by these American teens.

Having never been to public high school I cannot vouch for the fact that the majority of teenagers in America spend their time in school flitting from relationship to relationship and destroying their hearts and lives in the process. I can only say this: About two years ago I had business at a local public high school. I had to walk through the campus to get to the main school office. On the way there I overheard two separate groups of teenagers discussing sex and relationships and I witnessed boys pressing into girls in the hallway. Myself included. It made me mad. I wanted to wave my wedding ring in their faces and tell them to show a little respect (and I wanted to say a few other things too). I was very far from being remotely amused. So IF it is save to assume that this is behavior typical of public highschoolers -- (then I would first ask Christian parents why they would subject their offspring to the temptations?) -- then I'd say Ludy has a message that needs hearing by a larger audience than I was previously aware of.

Her reaction to her exposure to such overt bad moral behavior was, for lack of a better term, to 'take to the extreme.' In order for her to recover from this lifestyle, she withdrew from public school (to home school), cut off certain friendships, got rid of certain clothes and music, etc. She cleaned out because that's what she felt that God wanted her to do. I would say that she did exactly what she needed to do and that there are people in this world, Christian teens specifically, that would do very well if they decided on the same course of action.

My concern of her message is in the fact that she really picked up on the Elizabeth Elliot & Amy Carmichael way of thinking which would demand a more strict approach in relationships between guys and girls. Those two almost put so much emphasis on relationship distractions and how such distractions are "evil" or "bad" (my words, not theirs) that I tend to avoid their teachings myself. I think its too strict. I don't mind them taking the "distance approach" for themselves but I don't think it should be an automatic requirement for everyone. There is such a thing as Christian Liberty and even in saying that I don't mean to swing too far to the other side which would allow people to do, individually, whatever they please. There SHOULD be boundaries to guarding one's heart. But where is that boundary?

I think Ludy gives us a very good picture of where she drew her boundaries in order to keep her heart pure. She gives helpful suggestions and truths that really are above consideration and should be automatically adopted as one's own. She points to the verse in Proverbs 31 that says that the wife does her husband good "ALL the days of her life." (31:12) I caught onto that verse back at around age 18 and started immediately applying it.

So here's where I agree with Ludy very strongly . . .

We need to pay attention to Proverbs 31:12. I see so many people walking around with boyfriends and girlfriends stupidly giving their hearts away left and right. How many times have you heart the term "broken heart" from even one of your friends, if not half a dozen? Girls, in particular, have a tendency to lay it all out very quickly. Somehow we seem to think that if we spill it all out, the guy will be ready to sweep us up and take us in. We haven't even given him time to consider before we're secretly (or not) planning the wedding! Instead of making sure the guy is serious in his intention and design for the relationship, we're ready to "reel him in" by sharing our soul. Then we fight tooth and nail (or cry ferociously) in hopes that we can "keep" what was never ours to begin with. What frequently happens is that the guy has NO such intention to marry -- the girl has just delusioned herself into a mindset that he really, really loves her. Really. Then, so often, she discovers that is not the case. But too late. She already gave her heart away. His fault or hers? I'm going to say hers, quite frequently. At least most of the time. Girls are just so eager for romance. (Which is why, btw, I take such issue with the works of Lori Wick, Janette Oake, and Karen Kingsbury in particular. I think they do Christian females a GREAT disservice on the whole. Fluff and nonsense!)

Ludy challenges females today to stop seeking and pining after their earthly prince but instead, pay more attention to their heavenly Prince. He will not fail you, break your heart or let you down. He is faithful, sincere and true to the very end. There is no disappointment in Him. That is a fact, whether you believe it or not.

I think there needs to be a return to safely guarded hearts. Now, I don't know specifically where any of my blog readers are, relationally, with the opposite sex. So I'm saying this as one who has a firm belief on the topic and who isn't afraid to back it up and has no intention of backing down: If the guy in your life has not put a ring on your finger within 6 to 9 months, the chances of him ever doing so are slim to none. Unless he is out on the mission field -- you are being used. Your heart and your emotions are being worked at to provide him a few "warm fuzzies" or physical favors. There would have to be a VERY good reason for him not to be committing himself fully and completely to you. (And btw -- I mean something along the lines of "God told him to." And then I would ask yourself why, exactly, God told him not to commit and I might end the relationship anyway based on that alone.) If he hasn't, and you've reached this 9 month milestone . . . there is nothing that you could possibly do to benefit yourself or your relationship with your God (providing you are a Christian) more than to shut this guy down and quit giving him your time of day. Whatever time you ARE giving him is a waste. And he is being extraordinarily selfish in asking anything more of you. Yes, guys, that's right: Selfish.

I repeat: Unless the guy is on the mission field, he has NO excuse for wasting your time.

If you ignore this advice and good sense fact, then you are choosing a broken heart of some sort or another because, whether you admit it or not -- I know that you are secretly, inwardly questioning the validity of the relationship. If he gets huffy if you ask him where you two are going or he refuses to answer your question outright and puts you on the backburner for awhile -- then he is not willing to guard your heart either. It's selfish misery. Plain and simple.

So I'm very much with Ludy in the idea of young woman learning to jealously guard their hearts for marriage. Every single day is one that you can spend honoring first God, then your future spouse. All the days of your life. And if any man is worth his weight in salt, he will encourage you to do the same. If he doesn't -- walk on by and continuing building a relationship that is guaranteed not to fail. He will bring you His best in His time and that's just another thing we can rest easy in.

That is where I think Ludy's message is very poinant in today's society. Instead of being incouraged to guard one's heart, we are encouraged to throw it up in the air. Then we're given a victim's mentality everytime it gets a bit bruised. There is a better way and I think Ludy found it. I think she shares her story well (even given the graphic nature of some of the conversation) and its worth anyone's time and consideration. Why not be different? Why not guard your heart by guarding your lips, your eyes, your ears, etc? God gave us a way to do it but we'd rather be satisfied instantly and know that we are "loved." We are too frequently willing to give up the eternal benefit for a moment's satisfaction. Ludy just gives a little encouragement to those who truly desire to marry with a pure and guarded heart. It's a treasure that can be regotten and restored if you have lost it. There is such thing as eternal hope. For the heart and for the ultimate form of true love.


Sheila said...

There is one small detail that I take issue with in your post - the 9 month mark. My DH and I dated for just over a year before we were engaged. He wanted to set a date sooner but I wasn't ready. Some couples have issues to work through before they are ready to make that next step - it may not be that the man is dragging his feet or using the woman. The important thing is that from the beginning both of us knew we were considering heading towards marriage - this wasn't a casual relationship.

Carrie said...

I'm definitely all for the avoidance of casual relationships! I think I'm going to stick with the nine month mark though. But I DID think of another exception (other than the mission field) and that is the Armed Forces. Sometimes Uncle Sam gives the directives and there's nothing you can do about it.

But I AM glad that you both knew that it was going somewhere from the start. That's key, I think. Knowing something "deadly" serious IS going to happen. It's not just a fling or an exploration. I'm completely against random explorations.

return home gnome said...

Sheila, I hear you: my husband and I dated for a year before getting engaged. But that was because his parents are missionaries, and it was important to him that I get to meet ALL of his family before we got engaged. I was thrilled that was so important to him!

But we made up for a year of dating (we would have gotten engaged much sooner if his parents were in the states), by having a three month engagement; it was wonderful!

I certainly agree that pre-marital counseling can bring out issues that may need time to work through: but that's what it's there for! And that ought to make the engagement longer, not necessarily the dating.

Carrie, I'm totally interested in reading this book, considering your review. I know several young ladies who keep feeding themselves the "he wants to spend the rest of his life with me" line, but they've been dating for years! Everyone around them can see that if "he" really wanted her so badly, he would have taken action by now; the poor dears are being used (and sometimes willingly!). I wrote a post myself on just this subject recently:
Talking about marriage is just not the same as being married.... and discussing your future life together is nothing to taking active steps (read, engagement) in that direction.

Well said, Carrie! I so appreciate these deep truths!

return home gnome said...

sorry, that article is:

you will have to cut and paste it into the address bar...

Lani said...

Interesting thoughts. I admit: I disagree with most of them. I went to public school and came out just fine on the other side. Not ALL high schoolers focus completely on sex--some of us actually had an obvious relationship with God and went to school to get our diploma, play our sports and hang out with our friends (some christian, some not).

Also, Mark & I dated for more than a year before engagement. Not once did I feel used or like the relationship wasn't going somewhere--as long as you communicate and are both wanting the same things, you're doing fine.

I understand those are your opinions, just be careful making very general statements--there are always two sides (at least) to every situation.

Carrie said...

Hey Lani! I appreciate your comments. Knowing you. =) Anyway, I think this is one where we just agree to disagree.

I think I was careful not to state that "all high schoolers are like this." I specifically did NOT say that. I said that if her desire was to shock me, it worked. In fact I said, "having never been to public high school I cannot vouce for the fact that the majority of teenagers in America flitting from relationship to relationship . . ." I recognize that I am not an authority on the matter, nor have I conducted any studies. =) I know you and I know Stacy. What I DID say was that Ludy painted a rather shocking picture and it IS one that I DO think exists. But I didn't make a general comment condemning all.

And yes, I did expect you to disagree. =) And I still hold to the same opinion. I think barring a special and unique set of circumstances (which, let's be honest and admit that everyone who has been or is in a relationship that is over one year old is going to argue that they are special and unique) then I would question the guy's intent.

All that being clarified and said . . . I still haven't heard any responses that would make me think that I'm totally in the wrong.

Lani said...

Just one thing and then I will agree to disagree. You said you don't know why any Christian parent would subject their children to public school--consider this: some parents consider it a mission field in which their children can make a difference. During the early years, while you're children are at home, raise them in the Lord, teach them what is right and godly and help them understand these things. But what if ALL Christian parents home-schooled their children? Then the kids in public school wouldn't have the opportunity to see a godly perspective at school. If I home school my children, what does it say of my husband's profession? Basically: public school isn't for everyone, but neither is homeschooling. Even for some Christian parents. I trust God to help me raise my children well and, because of that, I trust myself to teach my children how to handle public school in a godly manner. There's nothing wrong with homeschooling, but I don't see anything wrong with public school, either.

That said, I agree to disagree--you have your (very) strong opinions and I have mine. :)

B said...

An interesting book, but honestly one that I don't think I could stand reading. I strongly suspect it would irritate me from start to finish, and I grew up in such a way that what she recommends was basically my life (as you well know!). In retrospect, I have to admit that I'm now swinging a little more toward the center on issues like this and that I struggle with how to approach sensitive subjects in this ever-changing world. One of the reasons my husband and I may choose not to have children has to do with how one brings up girls these days. I have no wish to bring up a daughter in the sheltered world in which I was raised. I want my daughter to go out and feel like she can get whatever education she wants and that she doesn't have to get married right away. After all, girls who pursue more and more education are unlikely to be getting married young. Do I honestly expect my 25 or 26 year-old to be waiting around until marriage. No chance of it. So, what's the answer? Force purity on someone, or force guilt on them if they stray? I just don't know and might end up taking the easy way out.

Carrie said...

CI - It was interesting to hear your thoughts about raising girls. I can't say that I relish the thought of it but not enough to avoid the risk. However, I didn't know your feelings about the topic and it was interesting to hear. I can very much understand the sentiment behind it (knowing your background). Since we were raised in the same circles -- I know.

Lani -- I reread my post and I think you took issue with something that wasn't the main point of my post. I think that if you read through what I said, and reflect back on our personal face-to-face conversations, you wouldn't assume that I'm saying that all public school is bad. Or that anyone who goes to one is in the wrong. That's not what I'm saying at all. I totally hear where you are coming from. You also know my background. And yes, I would choose the same background (or, at least, very similar) for my own kids. On the issue of where our kids are going to be educated -- sure we can agree to disagree. We just have different philosophies on it. But the point of the blog post was to focus on the issue of how one would help to guard their own heart. I asked the question, "Where should the boundary be?" And I DO invite commentary and good arguments for where they should be placed. My point is -- boundaries ARE lacking in today's society and they need to be safeguarded as they once were.

All I'M saying is I think Elizabeth Elliot, et al, have one extreme view. And I said in my post I don't think I'd recommend going that extreme. I AM saying that something more is needed than the looseness we so frequently see.

So now that I've taken the time to read and reread my original post and both of our comments -- I don't think the issue is Where Does One Go To School (we can disagree on that and I'm not going to make any such bold statements relating to environment) but rather How Do We Guard Young Women's Hearts.

Sky said...

Ahhh, such subjects you tend to bring up, you really love discussions don't you? ;oD
My two cents worth;
It comes down to how your parents raise you or if you have the wisdom yourself.
Mine kind of went with Courtship instead of Dating which is kind of laughable since I had a heavy dislike of the opposite sex until I fell in love with Mike. (I could do all things as well or better and I was more considerate and didn't use bad words.) I had many proposals (For dates and marriage) but I just hated the facade of -Gee, let’s have fun together, but not for real- and men not knowing or understanding me as a person.
Dating will always come down to broken hearts. Instead of kissing a bunch of frogs just wait for the prince.
Secular society deems dating as an essential step toward maturity and adulthood. (the more people you sleep with the more mature you are being the general consensus.)
Christianity defines it as a step toward fulfilling God's plans for your life by becoming one body in serving Him and raising children to follow Him.
Relationships with anybody from your In Laws to the checkout clerk in the gas station should never be treated casually. You never know what or who will affect your life or theirs. How much more so should we be cautious with the hearts of ones we love dearly.
Love is an action not a feeling.
There are many kinds of love and the discretion and wisdom of discernment is a hard thing to have at times. Only a heart built on the foundation of God and His Holy Word will have any idea what to do!
I know a lot of couples who met and married within months, sometimes weeks of meeting for the first time and because they held marriage sacred they are still together 60, 45, 20, 5 years later.
It is not the time you knew each other or where you went to school, it is your heart center that matters, when we focus on God all other things develop into pictures of our life!

We are raising our boys to be gentle, perceptive human beings who genuinely care about how they live Life. Period.
We must be good stewards of the world and the life we are blessed with. Only God can bring the right person into our lives to complete them, and in all things we must always behave well so that every thing we do will echo beautifully in eternity.

Carrie said...


=D It's not so much that I like heated discussion or debate.

I just want people to THINK. And I find that they frequently don't. And posts such as these typically generate *something* and therefore I feel it's sort of served its purpose.

Except no one has convinced me, biblically speaking, that I'm in the wrong on suggesting that we could help guard young ladies purity by setting up guard limits.

Sky said...

That's because we SHOULD have guards for our young women's purity! (I wasn't trying to argue against your points; I was trying to add to them.)
If they are not capable of walking God's way themselves then their loved ones should be right there with swords drawn and kind words, ready to help the Word of God penetrate their souls.
As parental figures or spiritual leaders, we are to train and equip our young ones to the best of our ability, after a certain point we must let go and have the faith that God will continue His work in that person as He sees fit.

For thought provoking arguments sake:

I was mulling over what CL (I respect you CL this is an argument for my views!) said about not wanting to raise a daughter in this age, mostly because we want a daughter or two of our own, and my thoughts are thus;
No matter what age a woman is born into there will be immorality and peer pressure. Better it to be in this era where women are capable of pursing education and careers in fields that used to be shut to us. Not very long ago female doctors weren't just frowned upon; they were banned from the profession! In many job places that are now common to woman we would have been barred. In some ages past we were forced to remain in spheres allotted to us by male leaders.
Raising Christian children is not about how to live worldly ways, but how to be apart from the world living God's way.
I will raise my children that way and pray that their feet will not stray, that they will find fulfillment in God's work not in the carnal pleasures of this world.

Anonymous said...

Hi could you clarify exactly where you think that elizabeth eliot etc. go TOO FAR in their views on dating etc.??

rae said...

I think you may enjoy reading my critique of the theology undergirding Authentic Beauty. You can find it at

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, thank you for sharing!

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