When you're a 20-something woman trying to uphold certain Christian values of sex whilst navigating the sexually liberal 21st century, it isn't always easy. So I was super excited to get my hands on Carrie Lloyd's The Virgin Monologues and take a modern look at this whole issue of relationships and sex. Within just a few pages I was nodding my head in agreement with Carrie's words: 'Dating becomes even harder if you are a Christian trying to be understood while holding moral values that match that of Queen Victoria.' Yup, I hear you!
Carrie's natural chatty writing style made the book so easy to read; I was rapidly turning the pages, feeling like I was talking to or hearing from a friend. It was witty, honest and fun. The 'Carrie's Practical Pointers' at the end of each chapter were a useful way of summarising what I had just read.
But, in part two, my eyebrows raised and alarm bells started to go off at talk of men's 'pursuit and chase' of women. Carrie's views that, since the time of caveman, men are wired to hunt and gather, and women pursuing men is 'emasculating' for them doesn't quite sit well with me. I had been hoping for something a little bit more modern and feminist than an appeal to 'let men be men'.
However, don't let this detract from some of the great messages that the book is built on. Carrie herself says:
'The reason why I wrote this book in the first place was not to give advice on how to find Prince Sebastian in all his royal military regalia. It was actually to encourage each one of us to learn to be whole in ourselves, to learn the joy of self-love.'
And to this end, she succeeds, reminding all of us women that we are not 'Eve the helper', made whole only when we find our Adam. But instead we have our own identity, and God has plans for our own lives. The whole book has this principle of self-value woven throughout the pages, and what better message than that of knowing your God-given identity?
The Virgin Monologues didn't quite live up to my (admittedly high) expectations, and did have me shaking my head in disagreement at times. However, the underlying message of loving yourself is one that I think all Christian women need to hear. So if you're going to read this book, just make sure you do so with a pinch of salt!
Charlotte Hendy is The Esther Collective Project Leader at Girls' Brigade Ministries. The Esther Collective equips women leaders to serve the world.
The Virgin Monologues will be published by Authentic Media on 23 January 2015.