Friday, July 22, 2011

Submission Is Not Silence by Elisabeth Julin (A Review)

Dear friends,

Submission Is Not Silence by Elisabeth Julin
My ears perked up when my friend Tonya Travelstead told me about a blog written by her friend Lizzie Julin.  On our early morning walks, we had been discussing the topic of how many in the home school movement think and speak about gender and authority.  She knows that I have done a lot of research into that edge of the movement that goes way beyond the normal, Biblical “men should lovingly lead their families” into an unhealthy authoritarian position.  So, was there really a blog for wives called “Submission is Not Silence”?   Sounded interesting! 

What is funny is that I didn’t realize I had already met Lizzie the previous year at a reunion for members of a church we both attended long ago.  I had even taken a picture of Lizzie with her husband Eric in the background (see left) and had posted it on Facebook – without a tag because I couldn’t remember their names.  And that picture, which I stumbled on later, is actually how I eventually realized the connection.  I also went to church with her brother Tim for a while in the late 1990's, and met her sister Connie about 27 years ago, too.

And I still have not told you about the book, Submission Is Not Silence: Boldness from a Quiet Spirit, have I?  Well, I always like to give the back story.  Long story made even longer, I started reading Lizzie’s blog and began corresponding with her.  When she finally published the same-named book, she graciously sent me a copy!

Now for Lizzie’s back story!  If you’ve ever read a Vision Forum catalog, you may have seen a book called Ten P’s in a Pod by Lizzie’s brother Arnold Pent. Their father, Dr. Pent, was a traveling evangelist, and the family traveled with him giving concerts and Scripture memory recitations all around the country.  The eight children, of whom Lizzie was the fourth, were home schooled on the road.  Raised in this very conservative family, they were taught that good Christian women were to be so quiet-spirited that they never fully expressed their opinions or desires or especially their disagreements to their husbands. That was considered being unsubmissive. When Lizzie married Eric a week before her 30th birthday, that is the model of communication that she took with her.  Eric, who had not been raised this way, did not understand why she was being so silent.  Lizzie, full of repressed feelings and emotions, resented Eric for not instinctively knowing what was bothering her.  It nearly destroyed their marriage.  Let Lizzie tell a bit of what saved them… 
“Fifteen years into our marriage, I had a nagging fear that Eric would leave if I ever countered his strong opinions.  As it turned out, I was the one who left him for four days.  Taking Isaiah 58 in my head, I drove north to the hometown of friends to quietly pray for my marriage.  When I returned, Eric and I looked at each other soberly over coffee in a downtown restaurant.  This was when I had my epiphany.  Our failures were destroying what we wanted more than anything else, which was a loving, peaceful relationship.  After that day of enlightenment, I began to understand my true value to him.  I saw his good intentions, commitment to God, character, and determination to stay in our marriage. “Even if you leave, I will stay committed to the marriage and the children,” he told me. 
I thought love had died in me, but it soon resonated again.  The crises in our marriage accomplished what my silence never could have.  I began this journey of many years trying to find wholeness.  Our marriage then became more like a game than a war.  How simple my part became, and how well it fit, like a perfectly crafted piece of a puzzle among the other pieces of my life; my relationship with God, my husband, and our children.”

What Lizzie learned is that a woman needs to offer her whole self to her husband: all her gifts, her thoughts, her feelings, her opinions.  He needs her female perspective.  Marriages thrive with mutual respect, not a rigid hierarchy.  As she wrote later in the book: 
“A free, wise, strong female comes up with a bold plan as she seeks the welfare of her husband, her children, and herself.  She is what every man longs for (even when he doesn’t know it).  He will love ever more fervently the woman who has a mind of her own, who gives to him from her own initiative and female genre of wisdom, and who loves him back because she is free and chooses to.  Love that is coerced is not real, and neither is submission that is coerced.  Personal dominance, dictatorships in marriage and other forms of mind control that are camouflaged by religion are all unbiblical.  No religion or denomination has permission from Scripture to control a woman.  Some try hard, but they have to violate Scripture in the process.  The biblical truth is that no human being is justified coming between you and God.  In the end of time, when it is your turn to stand before God, you will face Him alone. 
Marriage is an institution created by God to be the very foundation of the happiness and personal growth of a man and woman.  United to “the head,” she as the “body” builds her house.  She is his closest confidante, counselor and friend.  Women who fulfill their key roles on the stage of life will move an entire culture closer to God.” 
Reading this book, which is 275 pages long, I was at first put off a little by the repetition.  It seemed like I was reading the same concepts over and over again.  Then I realized that this was actually a (perhaps unintended) strength of the book.  Many women reading it have been beaten down emotionally in their marriages and need this constant stream of affirmation about their significance.  Just like a flower needs watering day after day, some women need to read these concepts over and over to counter the skewed ideas about “Biblical womanhood” that they may have been told all along.   

Lizzie and coffeeSubmission Is Not Silence isn’t a difficult book to read; it is more like a warm, friendly chat over coffee with a wise older Titus 2 mentor.  She understands the realities and challenges because she has lived through them.  Lizzie and Eric, the parents of three grown sons, have now been married for over 37 years -- and they are best friends!  Wow!  In this day and age, that’s quite something!

I highly recommend this book!  Read a little each day and be blessed!  To give you a taste for what you’ll see, the chapter titles are: 
  • Remember Who You Are!  In God’s Image, Yet Unique
  • A Resemblance of the Holy Spirit: Assuming Your Powerful, Positive Role
  • The Science of You: Knowledge is Power
  • God Honors You: The Bible Speaking Directly to You
  • Totally Unique: Created for Such a Time as This
  • Equal Opposites: Both in the Image of God
  • A Calling: Thriving in Your Dominion
  • Keep Your Heart There: The Center of Every Universe
  • Counterparts: A “Threefold Cord”’
  • On Stage: The Female Lead
  • The Power of Influence: To the Ends of the Earth
  • The Head: His Logic and Strength on Your Side
  • The Race: Finishing the Course
Take a peek at the Submission Is Not Silence blog, web site, and Facebook page.  (Please note that the web site might have some down time on Saturday, July 23, 2011 for maintenance!) Her first post on the blog is one of my favorites: Ponder It, Then Speak the Truth in Love.

You can order the book, in print or digital version, here:

This blog post is part of my series on gender and authority.  You can read the other posts here: 

You may also wish to read: 

Help for Hurting Marriages

Honesty, Respect, Leadership, and Academic Success

Virginia Knowles
(Wife of 1, mother of 10, grandma to soon-to-be 2)

P.S. This review first appeared on my blog of inspiration and practical tips for mothers,  If you are a mom, come visit me there!

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