On My Shelf: Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy

****

Oh goodness, where do I begin?

This book confused and convicted me.

Sometimes I felt that author Leslie Ludy hit the nail on the head. At other times I felt that she was the one hit on the head.

Right off the bat Ludy admits that some Christians find her views extreme. She accepts this and takes it as a compliment.

If you read other reviews of Set-Apart Femininity you will find that Christian women either love or hate this book. Some accuse Ludy of a holier-than-thou attitude while others applaud her for standing up to the popular Christian culture of today.

Although I gave the book 4 stars, I disagree with much of her delivery. Her doctrine (for the most part) appears sound, but her harsh voice makes acceptance of the truth in her words difficult.

Without a doubt I can see why others call her extreme, proud, and arrogant.

At the very onset of the book Ludy describes a woman she names “Maria” (clearly referring to Adriana Lima), who she believes to be a false depiction of Christian femininity because of her modeling profession and her immersion in pop-culture.

As a woman who wants to work in the entertainment industry, right away this turned me off to the book. I couldn’t believe that she called out this woman in a way that seemed so judgmental and harsh. Throughout her writing, Ludy has no problem calling out others who profess Christ (i.e. friends seeing movies she doesn’t approve of, a Christian publisher, the authors of the popular Christian book Captivating, etc.).

Along with much of her readers, my biggest complaint is Ludy’s lack of grace and tact. Yes, we Christian women in the United States need a wake-up call. But we also need the grace of God. Ludy attempts to tie God’s “enabling grace” into her message, but she focuses more on cutting the evils of pop-culture and Hollywood out of women’s lives.

She pairs the call to holiness and godly living with an intense hate for the messages portrayed by pop-culture in a way that distracts instead of convicts, implying that we should give up most movies and television. (Not to mention, be careful when giving full hugs to men lest we become a stumbling block.) Guys, if that really is an issue, correct me and call me out on it. But until then, I’m probably still going to hug my friends in a way that we’re mature enough to handle.

At the end of Set-Apart Femininity, Ludy provides a creed for women to commit to and sign. She summarizes each chapter ending with, “I acknowledge this sacred [enter chapter subject] and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.”

After all this ranting against Ludy’s principles and delivery, can you believe that I signed it?

I didn’t sign it because I love Ludy’s writing, delivery, or her views on hugs. I signed it because amidst her harsh words I still found truth. I found conviction from the Holy Spirit and I found a calling on my life to be set apart.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading fiction or stop watching movies with my friends. It means I am going to take my relationship with God seriously. I am going to be more mindful of how I spend my time, money, and energy. I am going to be more careful of what I allow myself to read, watch, or listen to. Not to earn God’s favor or participate in some legalistic sect of Christianity, but to make myself available to God’s calling on my life. To remove that which would hinder me following this calling.

God sent His Son to die for me and purchased me. I am His and He calls me to abide in relationship with Him and live for Him. Living for God provides purpose and direction, something I crave in my life.

This book (even with its poor delivery) reminded me of my own pride and narcissism, my own need for Christ. It reminded me that my identity must be found in Christ and without Him I am worth nothing. Part of me appreciates Ludy for calling out Christian authors that tell women to just look within themselves to find natural beauty and self-worth. We as Christian women need to be reminded of the harsh reality that without the redeeming love of Christ we are nothing.

This book also taught me practical ways to view men in the light of God’s love. I learned that putting Christ first in my own life and at the center of all my relationships will help these relationships to grow and honor God, that viewing men as souls made in the image of God and not simply potential boyfriends will provide me with more satisfaction and clarity.

So yes, although I want to work in the entertainment industry (and Leslie Ludy might call me a false depiction of Christian femininity for it), I also want to eliminate thoughts and patterns in my life that hinder my relationship with God. Set-Apart Femininity made me reevaluate my motives for wanting to work in entertainment. And if God calls me down a different career path, I pray that I would have the strength and humility to follow.

If I work in the entertainment industry am I serving two masters? Am I feeding a culture of idol worship and narcissism? Do I have one foot in the world and one in Heaven? Or do I have the ability to be in the world and not of it?

I can be a light in the entertainment industry, only if that is my true goal. Only if I put Christ and others’ souls first. Only if I seek His kingdom and His righteousness and not my own fame, success, and notoriety.

God may call me to a foreign nation, to adopt a child, or to start a non-profit ministry, but can God not radically use me in the most secular area of American culture today? If I find a secure group of dedicated Christians to encourage me to stand firm, can I somehow be “a sheep among wolves … as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16)? Can I bring set-apart femininity to the highest platform of American pop-culture?

Only if my motive is Christ.

So as a young woman, no matter where He leads, I pray that God would break my heart for an industry, a people group, or an individual. That I would be willing to go wherever He leads and share His love and grace there. That I would be willing to truly be set apart.

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