3 Things I Want You To Know as I Launch a Countercultural Book
A book release. Normally this would be an exciting event. It’s kind of like giving birth to a child that you have nurtured in your womb for nine months. As this one approaches, my excitement is honestly mixed with trepidation.
Over twenty years ago, I wrote my first book, Finding the Hero in Your Husband. I was a young wife and therapist, yet God was giving me wisdom to understand some of the more common challenges of marriage. That book went on to sell about 80,000 copies over the years and was still selling. I realized that while the message of the book was true and helpful, a lot needed to be updated. Cultural trends have shifted, and I’ve learned a lot through twenty years of life and ministry.
So in 2020 I got to work rewriting the entire book. Little did I know that it would be re-released in the middle of changing cultural winds. It seems as if everyone, including those inside the Church, is running away from discussions on the uniqueness of male and female within marriage. With increasing revelations of abuse in churches, ministries, and Christian families, we are desperately trying to correct our understanding of biblical passages that have been taken out of context to promote unhealthy authority, toxic masculinity, and the devaluing of women. While this is a very necessary conversation, we also run the risk of overcorrecting. This has become the era of a woman’s voice.
Then here I go with this book release, encouraging women to consider that God has a unique design for them within the covenant of marriage. Their husbands matter, and how a wife uses her power in marriage can either build or destroy intimacy. Both husbands and wives have the power to be either destructive or life-giving in their marriage.
By nature, I’m a people pleaser. I don’t like conflict. I like to help people, not ruffle their feathers. I’m not looking for a debate or an argument, especially not with fellow Christ followers. But this book is standing in a place from which the whole culture seems to be running.
It’s a sobering thing to teach, to write, to speak. James reminds us that teachers will be held to stricter judgment. So I want to share my heart with you. I want to share why I teach what I do and the spirit with which we approach ministry at Authentic Intimacy.
I want you to know God.
I believe that the Bible is unlike any other book. It is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. It comforts, convicts, and brings us to truth. I don’t want to simply teach my opinion, but to be faithful to begin and end with what God says on every topic.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scriptures for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?”
God’s Word is unchanging and life-giving. It is also extremely countercultural. Christians are called to live in this world as “foreigners” and “aliens” who have our eyes fixed on what it means to honor God in everything. We don’t measure God’s Word by the world’s wisdom, but we measure the world’s wisdom by God’s Word.
This doesn’t mean that we bury our heads in the sand, ignoring research and science. The same God who inspired His Word created the world with observable patterns of health and flourishing. I’ve earned three advanced degrees in clinical psychology and I love studying God’s wisdom reflected in His creation. When I look at what causes humans to flourish, I see a consistency with biblical wisdom. I also understand that research and scientific conclusions, particularly within “soft” sciences like psychology, may be flawed by how we ask questions and use findings to reinforce our agendas.
Paul told the older women to teach younger women how to love their husbands. Finding the Hero In Your Husband, Revisited is my imperfect but best attempt to help you answer the question, “How do I honor God in my marriage?” I hope to encourage you to be like the Bereans in the book of Acts, who measured every teaching by the truth of God — not the wisdom of their age. Don’t trust me as your source of truth. Don’t trust any human author or speaker to be your final gauge. The winds of Christian culture will blow back and forth, reacting to the most recent podcast or blog. My desire is to point you to the Unchanging One, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
I don’t want to avoid difficult issues.
While the Bible is quite clear on many principles of living, the application can be really messy. It’s tempting to avoid complex topics like addiction, trauma, and sexuality. It’s also tempting to sidestep triggering teachings, like what God means when He instructs wives to respect their husbands. The leader of a Christian family organization recently told me, “We’ve just decided not to go there.” I get it. No matter what you say or how you say it, you will likely be misunderstood and elicit angry responses. Why not just stick to safe topics like communication or conflict management?
Real-life relationships are messy and require courage to address complex questions. Since we began in 2012, I’ve wanted Authentic Intimacy to be a space where people (particularly women) could wrestle with complicated topics and issues. What should you do if your husband refuses to get a job? When does heated conflict cross the line into emotional abuse? How do you know when you have become controlling and manipulative as a wife? How should you approach sex if one or both of you has a history of sexual addiction?
I don’t want to “stay safe” to keep this ministry from potential criticism. Many women feel lost in their marriages. They don’t know what to do with their disappointment, when to stand their ground, when to reach out for help, and what it looks like to surrender their need to control. That’s why I felt it was necessary to resurrect this book for a new generation of Christian women who are asking questions and have few places to turn for Christ-centered answers. But messy means “no easy answers.” Much of the damaging teaching toward women from Christian resources has come from blanket statements of truth that do not nuance the complexities of relational dynamics. What might be life-giving advice in 99 situations may also be harmful for the one woman in a unique marriage dynamic.
As much as an author or podcaster may try to give well-rounded perspectives, it’s impossible to consider every conceivable application (or misapplication). For example, a book on health and nutrition might say, “Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.” This is solid and needed advice for the vast majority of the population but may be disastrous for someone with a condition like Crohn's disease. This is why God uses a body of people with different gifts and why He gives us wisdom to help sort through how to apply principles to your own unique situation.
I want to be known by Jesus’ love.
Paul said that if you have all the wisdom and knowledge in the world, but you lack love, you will be like a clanging gong — an annoying noise. It’s not enough to strive for truth in what we write and say. Jesus told His disciples that people would know them by the way they love each other.
It gives me great comfort to realize the early Church, even with such great leadership and revelation from the Holy Spirit, still disagreed about important applications of truth. God doesn’t expect us to all get on the same page. In fact, He designed the Body so that we need each other. No one person would contain all truth. We need shepherds, counselors, pastors, researchers, and prophets. I need my brothers and sisters to give me their perspectives, and I have something to offer them. I can learn from those who see things differently and they can learn from me.
In the working out of God’s truth, it is vitally important to carry ourselves with deep humility and grace. As Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each to you to the interest of the others.” He goes on to say that our relationships should reflect Christ, who didn’t demand to be noticed but came to serve. (Philippians 2:3-8 NIV)
People are impacted not only by what we say, but also by how we say it. Jesus calls us to be unified as believers, to love our neighbors unselfishly, and to bless those who curse us. Does the watching world observe Christians as a group of people who snip at each other about who is right, or do they see supernatural grace, patience, forgiveness, and kindness? Our posture of grace is as important to God as our pursuit of truth and may even have a more lasting effect.
One day, all of our books, blogs, and podcasts will be forgotten. He will never be. When we stand before Him, we will see everything clearly. I’ll see where I got things wrong. The hidden secrets of my heart will be revealed. The messiness of life on earth will fade away, covered by God’s extravagant grace. So we set our eyes on what is eternal. In all things, we remember and reverence the One who was and is and is to come.
Learn more Juli's new book, Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Revisited, in our FREE webinar, How To Use Your Power To Build Intimacy. Gather your friends and have your questions ready because Juli will be answering them live!
You can also preorder a copy of Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Revisited today.
You may also be interested in these related blog posts, "How To Have Tough Conversations" and "How We Love Each Other."