Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes reviews Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued. Womble says she wants to like the book but finds much of what it contains decidedly unbiblical, thus her advice is unhelpful to women who are searching for biblical answers to life’s pressing problems. “Never once does Terkeurst (sp) emphasize the fact that when we sin, we refuse to give God glory and instead, please ourselves,” says Womble. “She completely neglects the fact that the absolute, most significant goal of our lives should be to glorify God—because that is what He is most considered about. “
Sadly, sin and repentance were omitted and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ wasn’t emphasized either. According to Womble, TerKeurst’s attempt to share the gospel with her readers was “weak, it was man-centered, it was without Christ’s atoning death, and therefore, it wasn’t the gospel at all.”
Now listen to Rebekah Womble’s review of the book…
I can relate to the woman on the cover of this book, screaming into her purse in utter frustration. How many times have I let my sinful emotions take the reins and direct my spirit? More than I can count. It’s a daily battle, for sure—not only for me, but for all of us. It’s no wonder then why Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued is so popular among women. By tackling as common a problem as self-control, it certainly reaches a wide audience.
And I wish I could like it. I really, really do.
As I read her book, I found myself relating to many of Terkeurst’s personal stories (and there are many). She intimately tells the tales of her frustrated outbursts at family, her “freak-out” reactions when stressed, and her struggles with jealousy, anger, and bitterness. Following each narrative, she offers her own strategies for how to deal with those situations. Sprinkled throughout the book are some Scripture references, but most of the content relies on this two-part structure.
Though at times her storytelling is too comical for such a sobering topic, she, for the most part, aptly describes the sin that most women (including me) fight against day by day.
But there’s one huge problem: she doesn’t call it sin.
MISTAKES: A MAN-CENTERED VIEW OF SIN
When I was a kid, taking tests meant following a multi-step process to ensure the best grade possible. After I answered each question, I put a symbol next to it to estimate how confident I was in my solution. A check meant I knew it was right; a wiggle-line, I wasn’t sure; and a question mark indicated that my answer wasn’t much better than a guess.
Then, once I reached the end of the test, I returned to the beginning and reviewed my responses again. Often, that second look helped me catch mistakes I had made. “Whew!” I would say to myself. “Glad I double-checked!”
Mistakes, like accidentally marking the wrong answer, are amoral. It’s not sinful to forget someone’s name, slip and fall while ice skating (cringe), or misspell a word. We are imperfect creatures with imperfect minds and bodies.
But sins are not mistakes. “Mistake” implies that your intentions were good and your error was innocent. But when it comes to sin, nothing could be further from the truth. The Word teaches us that our sin—our transgression of God’s holy Law— comes from the heart, from our evil desires, and we are held accountable for all of our sinful words, thoughts, and actions.
Unfortunately, Terkeurst does not seem to recognize this distinction in Unglued. She repeatedly renames her sin as mistakes, errors, issues, and junk—seemingly to soften the blow.
But if I view my unjust anger or selfish envy as just “issues” or “junk” in my life, it becomes all about me. It’s something I want to get rid of because it interferes with my happiness and harmony in relationships—not because it offends the holy God of heaven.
The word “sin” appears in the book only twice, once as part of a Scripture reference, and the other in the epilogue during her (insufficient) description of the gospel. (More on that later.)
What’s the big deal? you may wonder. It’s just a word, after all. But in fact, her choice of words points to something much larger. It reveals Terkeurst’s view of our relationship with God.
THE MYSTERY OF THE STOLEN GLORY
The ultimate question is—what’s at stake here? What happens when we let our sinful emotions take over, instead of listening to God’s wisdom and following His Spirit?
It doesn’t take much to read between the lines of Unglued and see what Terkeurst believes about this. Every time she addresses a different “mistake” she made, the emphasis is on how it affects her relationships with others and her own view of herself.
Whenever she throws a fit and screams at her kids, she regrets it. Why? Because she disrupted her relationship with them, and now she feels like a bad mom.
If she reacts angrily to her husband, she regrets it. Why? Because their marriage is negatively impacted and now she feels like a bad wife.
That’s why, according to Terkeurst, we need to prevent these outbursts from happening again—so we have some harmony at home and no longer feel so bad about ourselves.
See the pattern? See the problem?
While self-deprecation is never the answer and our relationships with others must be protected, there is so much more at stake: God’s own glory!
Never once does Terkeurst emphasize the fact that when we sin, we refuse to give God glory and instead, please ourselves. She completely neglects the fact that the absolute, most significant goal of our lives should be to glorify God—because that is what He is most considered about.
Striving to grow in self-control, or in any other area, just to make our lives better is ultimately selfish. It doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, but finds a new, “church-y” way of feeding our man-centered desires. Worst of all, it steals glory away from God, who gave us His Spirit so that we would bear fruit for Him, not ourselves.
Like the Pharisees, we may be able to fix our “mistakes,” clear out our “junk,” and repair our “issues” on the outside, but inside, the stony heart remains untouched. Such false change is not of the Spirit, but of the flesh. Continue reading