Item description for The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman by Nancy Wilson...
Overview Imagine where the Church would be today if the men in it were respected as they ought to be by their wives. What power would God unleash through godly men who were respected in their homes? Wives, instead of focus on your husband's problems and shortcomings, look at what you are supposed to be doing yourself. In the Song of Solomon we read, "Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons." So what is your perspective when you look at your husband? Is it biblical or does it stem from all those modern lies which surround us?
Publishers Description Imagine where the Church would be today if the men in it were respected as they ought to be by their wives. What power would God unleash through godly men who were respected in their homes? Wives, instead of focusing on your husband's problems and shortcomings, look at what you are supposed to be doing yourself. In the Song of Solomon we read, Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. So what is your perspective when you look at your husband? Is it biblical or does it stem from all those modern lies which surround us?
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman?
This review is written by a stay-at-home mom who is disgusted with this book... Apr 16, 2008
I am not joking when I say that I threw this book across the room by page 18. No lie. And, by the way, this book actually starts on page 13 and is a quick read, so it took no-time whatsoever for me to become, frankly, ticked-off (to put it politely) at Ms. Wilson, the author of this book.
The book is titled: The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman. Now, initially I thought, "OK, I'm probably not going to love this book, but it sounds like this book may actually be about the respect that a Christian wife deserves for her role as wife and mother." I could not have been further from the truth! This book is not about the fruit of a woman's hands at all and is certainly not about respect due a Christians Mom/Wife. This book is a diatribe on the part of Ms. Wilson about how women should act, about their roles, about how they are unintelligent, and about how one can meet up to biblical standards and honor God through appropriate actions. For all intents and purposes, Ms. Wilson stands on her soap-box and proclaims: "THE CURSE HAS NOT BEEN LIFTED IN JESUS CHRIST! WIVES ARE STILL TO BE SUBJECTED AND RULED BY THEIR HUSBANDS!"
"But why continue reading this book?", one might ask me. Well, it's quite similar to a really bad accident; I couldn't put it down. I kept thinking to myself, "NO WAY! She didn't! WHAT?! Uh-uh! O-M-G!" It was gripping, just in the sheer audacity on the part of the author!
By this point you may wonder what my problems are with this little book. I'll tell you. But, to be fair, I'll not only tell you my problems with the book, but where the Fundamentalist, Literalist Ms. Wilson actually hits on some valuable concepts for wives--these are things that I gleaned from the sections, the things that made me say, "Well, technically, I can see that..."
I will list the Chapter headings then some comments on each chapter --the pros and cons, one might say.
Chapter One: A Woman's Orientation to Marriage.
Beware, this chapter did a number on me and is the lengthiest discussion in this blog.
Okay. I don't have to go any further than the first page to point out something that gave me a bad taste in my mouth: "American women today are indeed gullible" (13). Yes, that is her first sentence. I mean, what a way to give those come hither eyes to your audience! Within the first six words, she comes across judgmental, extreme, and a know-it-all. If it hadn't been for my sheer determination and what my mother calls my obstinacy, I would've closed the book and tossed it on top of the recycle (I know, so green of me!).
A little further down on the same page, she writes, "The modern woman has been deceived, like Eve, and led away by her own lusts from her God-given domain and he God-ordained responsibilities" (13). No, the typo wasn't me, it's hers (or her editors). I tend to expect that at some point in a book I'll find some error (God knows, I'm never error free); but ON THE FIRST PAGE?! That turns a reader off! My librarian friend agrees with me (Thanks, Susanah!). Okay, n ow to look at his sentence: 1. All modern women are deceived--really, all modern women? I dislike generalizations. I can agree that some have been deceived, if we are in the judging mindset; but to say "all" is extreme; 2. All modern women have been deceived, like Eve, and lead away from their God-given domain and their God-ordained responsibilities--oh, so in the Garden there was a home with a kitchen and a dishwasher and a washer and dryer? And it was here that Eve was supposed to dwell? Oh, this must be in the Hebrew and I missed it! I completely forgot that what was really said that the creation of woman was in Gen 2:18 was "'Adam is leaving his clothing all over the place and can't find anything to eat and his home is just way too untidy, I must create for him a domestic slave.'" Where in Gen 2:18-24 does it say that a woman is to reside in a home and be subjected to her husband? It doesn't say this. There is something similar or close to this in Gen 3, but, again, it's a stretch. Plus, there was a guy in history we like to refer to as God incarnate who came and broke in to our world and reversed the curse stated in Gen 3...what was His name...Oh...that's right...JESUS CHRIST! Why does Ms. Wilson prefer living under the curse so much as to forget about the life-giving restoration found in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ? 3. Please, Ms. Wilson, when you are addressing a certain crowd , address them appropriately: it's not women but wives you mean. Please don't bring our whole gender down with you. Please stop breathing your condemnation upon my single sisters and direct it toward those of us who are married.
Ms. Wilson, on page 15, describes what it looks like to be a woman of the Word: strict adherence with no compromises what-so-ever. And she calls this basic Christianity. I wonder if she wears pearls?
Ms. Wilson describes headship as authority and not in regards to mutual submission, but just plain old, just-like-the-government AUTHORITY. There is no such thing as mutual submission in her book. A WIFE is to be submissive to her husband (her own) and in everything. She does get it right when she says that women are not to be submissive to men; but then negates this very truth by using the word "woman" in place of "wife". Ms. Wilson writes, "A head is given to a woman for protection, safety and shelter....What a great protection it is to have a head to submit to, rather than being swayed by our emotions, whims, and fears. A woman must cultivate a very high view of her head--both the position God has given him over her, as well as the authority God has given him" (17). Here are the phrases the irk me: "rather than being swayed by our emotions, whims and fears"--apparently, single women are floating about hopelessly bedraggled and whipped about by their inferior intellectual capabilities and weak control over their emotions, whims and fears; "the position...over her.." Okay, as I said earlier, this was true before Christ, but not in Him!
This is my favorite part of this book...Ms. Wilson writes about the concept of obeying your husband in everything (Eph 5:22-24): "The second word is everything. Hmmmmm. What does everything mean exactly? Maybe we can get out of this by examining the word in Greek...." (17). Ms. Wilson, your own husband should be ashamed about this statement since he is a pastor and should be in the Greek every time he prepares to preach! If you can't take the heat of the Original language and a correct interpretation that isn't coherent with your English Bible, then stop writing theology. A good scholar or theologian goes to the Greek to understand what is being said; a bad one doesn't.
Chapter 2: Walking with God
Here Ms. Wilson talks about what it means to be a woman of the Word, or, more appropriately, a wife of the Word. I have no problem with the concept that being in the word is good for a wife; it's just that when presented as LAW, it fails to produce fruit. Being in the Word and wanting to be in the Word is awesome, but having someone or anyone lay it over your head as a way to be a good wife/mom is condemnation. Ms. Wilson writes, "[Being in the Word] will enable [Wives] to discharge their duties before God joyfully" (23). That's a bold statement. Just because I read the Bible dutifully, doesn't guarantee that I'll be in a better mood for it or happier about my "roles" or "duties". I don't disagree that it should, I'm just saying that there is no guarantee that I'll become magically in love with ironing.
She also "suggests" (and that word is in quotes because she really doesn't suggest anything but demands) that women read 5-10 chapters of the New Testament. Again this is a noble thing and one worthy of doing if you are so moved by the Spirit to do this; but I wouldn't make this a Law! In my mind, if a mom/wife can fit in 5 verses, she's doing pretty darn good! Ms. Wilson has fairly lofty goals for wives/moms.
I do agree with her that women tend to leave the "'fat books'" (25) and theology to their husbands (if those husbands are so inclined to read those things). My prayer is that women would read more about Calvin, Luther, Barth, and Doctrine rather than stuff that is simply about motherhood/wifery; however, because I am oriented this way doesn't give me any right to make it a law for anyone else. Rather, what I should do, is to take my passion and read this stuff and teach it rather than pushing it in others' faces.
Ms. Wilson hit my pet peeve: WOMEN ARE EASILY DECEIVED (26-30). Gosh, this just irks me to no end.
Chapter 3: Respect
This chapter is about respecting your husband. I really don't have much to say here because I've covered most of it above under chapter 1. However, these are some of the things that she says:
1. Obedience to God's commands--as in complete submission/subjection to your husband in everything, which is respecting him--will result in blessings.
2. She offers a list of do-s and don't-s for wives in regards to respect for their husbands. I believe, with Ms. Wilson, that our husbands need our respect and we should offer it to them at all times. Some of these do-s and don't-s are valuable, when taken with a grain of salt and discernment.
3. Ms. Wilson suggests that a woman not go any where else for help with a problem but only to her husband. If he can't help her, then she needs to ask him if she can search else where. She then has to obey whatever response he gives her. I asked Daniel about this and asked him what he would think if I did this, "I'd go crazy" he said. My husband was attracted to me because I can think on my own, solve problems, and am not dependent upon anyone for anything (this last one can actually work to a disadvantage). I have a PMS problem, I call a friend. I have a lactation problem, I call a Lactation Consultant. I have a problem with Quinn, I talk to my mom, my friends with boys, or my mother-in-law. He's busy and doesn't need me calling him every time I have a problem. Now, on the flip side, because I love (agape) my husband, he is also my best friend; therefore, I naturally talk to him and tell him about all of my problems or questions. He advises me where he sees fit and says, "Good Job" when I solve it on my own. Ms. Wilson is really under an archaic understanding of submission--near slavery, in my opinion; and, she has a warped concept of what it means to be a wife and a mother!
4. This one is awesome. Because of her backwards understanding of the marriage relationship, Ms. Wilson suggests that when it comes to finances you not lift one finger to help your husband. It's his role to provide, and you, being the good wife, will force him to provide appropriately. "You must allow the consequences to fall on his shoulders, no matter how hard it may be for you to watch" (Wilson 51); wow, isn't that Grace for ya?
That's about all I can stomach to say about chapter 3.
Chapter 4: Principles and Methods
Oddly, in this chapter she condemns younger moms/wives for being too exuberant about their wifery/mothering methods because it can make the even younger moms/wives feel that they have to adopt their way of doing things and feel condemnation if they don't. Ms. Wilson boldly says that it's not about the Method but about the principle; it's not how you feed the baby but that you feed the baby. Okay, I agree; but, I find this odd coming from the very woman who is spouting off METHOD after METHOD after METHOD in this short book. And, frankly, if it wasn't for some friends of mine who were ecstatic about nursing, I'd probably had given up. If I didn't know people who loved cloth diapering, I wouldn't have been tuned into it. If it weren't for some of my friends who love being a mom, I may have dumped my son in child care and went on my merry way. But because of the zealousness of my young friends, I too have become zealous. May we keep the energy going!!
And, again oddly, she condemns being zealous--younger moms/wives are more prone to this rather than older women who are more sensible--yet, she is a zealot for the proper biblical obedience in marriage between wives and husbands. Ms. Wilson, I'm feeling a bit condemned; what ever happened to "just feed the baby?"
Chapter 5: Contentment
Short and sweet this chapter talks about being content. The gist: JUST BE CONTENT. Oh, yeah, that's right, I forgot Jesus' second return has happened and this just comes naturally! Ms. Wilson is either way beyond me in Sanctification or she's completely not working in reality. Discontentment is real and we all (mostly, except for Ms. Wilson) suffer from it. I agree that we shouldn't let it discolor our lives or our outlook on our lives, but I don't agree that it's just something I can get over without serious intervention by the Holy Spirit. Some days I love everything about the path God has me on; and, others...well, I'm sure you know.
Chapter 6: Duties of Homemaking
Oh brother. Don't get me starts. But, I can't help myself. The gist of this chapter: If your house is messy or disorderly or, God forbid (this must have been on the third tablet of commandments, 11-15, that Moses FORTUNATELY dropped and broke), not decorated properly (with just enough masculine mixed with feminine) you are dishonoring God. In short, you sin if you are messy and lacking that interior design touch. I know, it makes you wish you could allow your head to spin like the poor girl in the "Exorcist".
Oh, she also "suggests" that wives/mothers be in the home most of the time and not out being with their friends. And that we should pursue friendships that are good for us with women who are older so they can be mentors in wifery/mothering. We need to have all our chores done before we can go out and play; if there is anything lacking, why are we conversing with friends? Well, Ms. Wilson, that's one of the perks to being a stay-at-home mom, now isn't it. I can nap and I can socialize anytime.
Ms. Wilson also has a real problem with pride and how hard she works at keeping her house so darn perfect. The last time I read the bible, I thought it clearly said that pride was bad and the root of many if not all of humanity's problems. To be honest, I am actually embarrassed by my orderly house; it shows that my neurosis is full blown and in control of my life. I am compelled to have order and no clutter; I envy my friends that have houses that looked lived in and look like they have children they aren't ashamed about.
Chapter 7: Lovemaking
Okay, I know there is a lot of debate here. I know that Scripture is pretty clear about either the husband or the wife refusing the other sexual intimacy except for reasons of prayer, etc. The disturbing aspect to me is that she doesn't take seriously that a woman who suffered some form of sexual abuse in her history may have "issues" later in her marriage, and she believes that that woman should just be well over it because she's Christian; it is with this that I have major problems! Intimacy is not easy for me and is very scary, yes even with the man I love; please, I beg, be patient with me I'm not over anything yet. Ms. Wilson's message in this chapter is not of love but of, once again, condemnation. We are wounded creatures, and we need to be patient with each other, especially wives with husbands and husbands with wives. If you can't depend upon your husband to be patient with you here and be the safe place with you here, then with whom can you ever feel safe and feel that there is patience for the wounded?
Ms. Wilson suggests that sex shouldn't be mediocre. Okay, so I agree; but, then I return to my real-life situation and realize, well, it's going to be, most of the time, mediocre. She encourages women to be rejoicing (imagery is awesome, isn't it) during sex. She says that media has skewed our understanding of what sex is, as well as Good Housekeeping (really? Good Housekeeping? Is this woman even aware of Vogue, Elle, or Cosmo?? I think on the grand scheme of things, Good Housekeeping is probably pretty prude). Yet, I'm puzzled by her insistence that husbands and wives should have rapturous sex every night. I think Lauren Winner hits the nail on the head when she pretty much says in her book, Real Sex, that it's okay to have mediocre sex because it is one of those things like all the other things that you do with your husband (this is my summary, she says a lot more with a lot more style). Media has in fact, Ms. Wilson, warped our understanding, but you are promoting the exact same thing under the guise of the Bible/Christianity. I'm not saying we shouldn't enjoy the body of our husbands, but, the fact is, when you have chocolate cake every night after dinner, it's not longer rapturous...it is in fact just chocolate cake...again.
Chapter 8: Leftovers
She really didn't have to add more insult to injury, but she did write and 8th chapter that covers a bunch of miscellanea.
To explain this chapter, I'll quote her directly,
"If our marriages are not in order, if our children are disobedient, or our homes a wreck, then we give the gospel of Jesus Christ a black eye. Criticism form the outside should be the result of our godly behavior, not our sinfulness....What a disgrace to read of Christians divorcing, children rejecting the faith of their parents, pastors forsaking their calling. Christian wives and mothers need to awaken to the need for personal holiness and obedience. Let us receive criticism for our faithfulness and fruitfulness and count it all joy; but if we receive it for our unfaithfulness and fruitlessness, then we deserve everything we get and probably more" (100).
In the margin, I wrote, "HOLY CRAP!" And, I am praying that you are thinking the same thing. It's atrocious.
My other favorite part of this book is when she referred to the story about some older woman who had insulted/criticized her to her friends. This woman said, among other things, that she thought our very own, perfect and lovely Ms. Wilson looked like she "had been drug through a knothole" (100). Ah, the sheer joy of that imagery!
Now, the remaining question everyone is waiting for: Would I recommend this book? I bet you know the answer to that! I highly recommend that you buy every copy you run across and then throw it in the recycle (remember, be green when you are disagreeing with someone theologically). I've read it in your stead and wish no one to have to undergo such torture. These books are the fodder for my passion and the fuel in my tank to get my doctorate on the restoration of woman to God. Thank you, Ms. Wilson, for more fuel!
If you've made it this far and would like to visit my blog where there are some other book reviews (and other musings), please do so:
This book changed my marriage Feb 11, 2008
I first read this book over five years ago. I had just become a Christian and it was recommended on a website I was visiting. I had not been brought up in a Christian home and has no idea what being a godly woman or wife was all about. I had prayed for a long time that God would show me and show me He did. This book was amazing! Mrs. Wilson writes with a warmth that makes you feel as if you are sitting across the table sharing a cup of tea with a close friend. While her words are convicting and challenging and will make you really think and realize the great need you have of God's grace in your role as a wife, you will also find it to be a book compassionatly written. Married to an unbeliever? This book addresses it and gives wise, godly counsel. This book forever changed my marriage from the first day I read it and I still get something new out of it each time I re-read it. If you can only buy one book on a Christian marriage buy this one! Don't let all the hype over some newer ones get to you, I read many books that speak to my role as a Christian wife and none have ever surpassed or even come a close second to this amazing work!
Great for single women!!! Oct 24, 2007
I'm in the "Career Class" at my church...this class is for singles out of college, yet under 35. My Bible study leader gave this to me to help out in a completely different area of my life than that of husband/wife and it helped immensely. Because of the profound effect it had on me, my dear leader went on to purchase copies for all the dating girls in our class and I couldn't be more happy.
If you are a Christian woman who is ready to be smacked with the truth and you are interested in the Progressive Sanctification mindset of GROWING and CHANGING...this little gem of a book is for you!
WOOT! for Reformed Theology!!
What Fruit? Aug 2, 2006
For a book with such an empowering title for women, it sure doesn't give them much credit. This book stresses the message that a woman's only calling is to produce children and support her husband relentlessly. Wilson seems very frightened of what might happen if she so much as disrespects her husband once or isn't there for him enough. For example, she advises treating your body like your husband's garden so he may enjoy it whenever he pleases and always having your breasts available to him because he might be tempted by another woman's breasts (this gave me a humorous image of a woman thrusting her chest in her husband's face when he glances at another woman). There seems to be a note of fear in these words, as though Wilson truly feels a husband will stray if he's not constantly reminded that he can have sex with his wife. If Wilson's so concerned about disrespecting men, maybe she should consider how disrespectful that presumption of male lust sounds.
This book has such a negative view of women that it harps on and on about how we need men to take care of us because we apparently can't take care of ourselves. Both sexes are portrayed badly here; if I couldn't take care of myself, I certainly wouldn't want to be in the care of a man who needed a constant view of my breasts to keep from straying! The book is full of offensive remarks about marriage, particularly the claim that it's not a partnership. What does two becoming one mean, if not a partnership and a joining together?
Wilson also preaches that the husband is head of the wife, though the usage of the word here is different than the Biblical one. Constant comments such as, "you must always refer to your head; your head has the final say" imply that Wilson believes women, upon marriage, should give up use of their brains and place their husband's heads literally on their own shoulders. Indeed, my personal favorite idiotic comment is as follows:
"A head is given to a woman for protection, safety and shelter....What a great protection it is to have a head to submit to, rather than being swayed by our emotions, whims, and fears."
I hope you got this message as clearly as I did: this foolish woman has absolutely no faith in womankind and claims that it's good for women to have men control and lead them, because we can't make decisions for ourselves! Speak for yourself, Mrs. Wilson; it certainly sounds to me like your emotions in this matter overrule actual Biblical truth. Oh, and nice try indicating that women read the original Greek meaning behind Bible passages to "get out of this". This is practically an admittance on Wilson's part that the Greek does, indeed, say something about womanhood that contradicts the woman-slave picture that Wilson tries to paint into Scripture herself.
This teaching goes far beyond loving and respecting a husband in a Godly way. I cannot see how people can embrace this book, but I'm going to caution women to stay away from it; try Liz Curtis Higgs instead. One final note of interest: inspite of Wilson's many different suggestions of how to sexually please your husband (because he might get bored if you stick to one way), her own husband, in his book for men, says quite plainly that he believes sex is a duty and doesn't need spark in order to be pleasing. I wonder if his wife knows this?...
One Every Christian Wife Should Read...and Reread May 11, 2006
This book takes biblical principles directly from God's word to give women a guide as to how to be a godly wife. Our ultimate calling is to our Lord first, our husbands next and our families after that. This book is convicting regardless of how great you believe you're doing as a wife.