I’m no longer torn. I’m sad that women who are lost are leading many with them. I’m sad that orthodoxy has become offensive to Christians. I’m sad that there are many in the church who aren’t getting good teaching on Imago Dei. I’m sad that women are looking outside of the church to be discipled because they are starving for theological answers. I’m sad that we are being marketed to with such bad theology. I’m sad that these events and books are so popular because they are capitalizing on the church’s blind spots about humanity and the value of women in the household of God. I’m sad that unbelievers see this bad witness of the church and think that Oprah’s book club has a better gospel to offer. I’m sad that many in the conservative church draw the orthodox line in critiquing speakers and authors on homosexuality, and not way before that, on first order doctrines.
This review is a little different for me. I’m torn. I’m frustrated. I’m wondering how in the world things will progress for evangelical women. Or maybe I should say Xvangelicals.
I picked up Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir, Love Warrior, from my library because I wanted to learn about other women. Some of them are my friends. I first saw excitement for Melton’s latest book announced by non-Christian friends on social media. I read the pitch for the book, about how Melton fought through bulimia and alcoholism to embrace motherhood, only to discover later in life that she would face the toughest rock bottom News of all—her husband was a serial adulterer. To cope with the unbearable agony, she wrote. She wrote and she wrote, and now she is sharing her story with all women because it is about self-discovery, love, mind, body, and soul. It’s about being a warrior. I knew the book would be a bestseller.
But then Melton’s name popped up as a speaker in the latest Belong Tour, accompanied by other familiar names such as Jen Hatmaker, Shauna Niequist, and Nichole Nordeman. Wait. Glennon Doyle is speaking with this crowd? I didn’t know that she even identified as a Christian. I did know that her book was now part of Oprah’s book club. Now I want to learn more about the women packing arenas to follow the New Christian Women.
But I’ll be honest. I also began reading Love Warrior with a high dose of, “here we go again…” I was incredibly skeptical. To my surprise, I didn’t have to force myself to finish Melton’s book. It has substance. She nails the “hidden rules” of society that girls pick up on at a very young age. Her depiction of body image, performance as life, pain, premarital sex, addiction, fear, and helplessness is gritty and enlightening. Her encounters with both the Roman Catholic and conservative evangelical churches live up to our worst stereotypes. Melton is a brilliant observer. She’s a good writer. Her insights are engaging. And she’s terribly honest. Terribly. I don’t know if I’m using that word in a positive or negative way. There were times where I felt like Melton really over shared, and I wondered about her family, her friends, and her kids. Was this fair to them? But I kept reading. Her story lives up to page-turner status.
Of course women love her. Melton tears away all the masks. She shares dirt about herself that makes the tabloids seem boring. We can compare ourselves to her and think we aren’t so bad after all. And we are rooting for her. As Melton shares her unedited inner thoughts, we recognize them as our own—except, this woman with a really messed up history sounds a lot smarter than us. Her brutal self-examination calls us out as well.
Melton isn’t the Christian author who makes you feel like you’re sitting across a table having a cup of coffee with her as you read. No. There’s nothing fluffy about her. And she’s no small talker. I like her. I’m embarrassed to admit this to myself, because Oprah.
But where is she going?
I wonder, as I’m reading this gritty book, how does she end up as a speaker in a Belong conference? There must be some sort of conversion story at the end of it all.