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In her book Popes and Feminists, Elise Crapuchettes suggests that there are similarities between the pressures on women now and pressures on the women in the sixteenth century. She gives an historical survey of the pre-Reformation Catholic church and popes. In particular she shows the corrupt nature of the Church and the way that the Church viewed women. This in turn had a baneful influence on the way women thought and made choices.
Elise argues that the church taught that the most ‘holy’ vocation for a woman was to give up her life to the Church and become a nun. She then asserts that women today are being taught by our feminist culture to believe that they will be most valuable and fulfilled in a job that provides a salary. Elise encourages us to look at the teachings of the Reformers to combat the pressures women face today.
The Reformers taught women that all lawful occupations can be ‘holy’ when done unto the Lord. This freed women like Katharina Luther and Katherine Zell to carry out the thankless jobs in the home and to focus their energies on bringing up a godly future generation. Their husbands were freed to spend themselves creating change in the Church. Elise gives numerous examples of women who had a large impact by doing mundane ‘unholy’ tasks as to the Lord.
This is also the solution for women today. Instead of believing the feminist lie that you are of most value in a paid job, women can know that it doesn’t matter how ordinary their work is, if it is lawful and done unto the Lord, then it is an ‘holy vocation’.
Elise recognises that both the women who stay at home to look after their children and the women in a salary paid job can idolise their work. She also acknowledges that there are different circumstances and that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with women in paid work. She does however, challenge women today that we may need to humble ourselves and be willing to serve God in the things that he has put right in front of us, no matter how unattractive or ordinary the world around us portrays them. Her conclusion reminds us that the lesson of the Reformation was that we are saved by grace alone. We can never justify ourselves by our own accomplishments.
This book is a timely challenge for me that ‘God sees our faithfulness in the small things and uses it’.
Review by Shamira Eglinton.