The Mark of a Man: Elisabeth Elliot

29 Mar

A clarion call for young men to embrace biblical manhood. In this book Elliot lays out what the Bible tells us about the roles of men and women. She then illustrates how these truths will play themselves out in courtship and marriage. This book manages to be very practical (in both length and content) and keep Christ and his commands firmly at the centre of Christian relationships. A book well worth young men’s time.

The Argument of the Book

Elliot argues that a man is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church. For about the first half of the book she argues her case from the scriptures and laments the feminism of the modern book. In the second half she begins to give some practical applications on how this will look before marriage and in it for example in forgiveness for sin, leading through suffering and who asks out who.

Primary Audience & Purpose

Elliot writes this book as personal advice to her nephew Pete. He seems to be a young man, before marriage, wondering what to look for in a woman. Elliot encourages Pete and young men like him to take the lead, despite the feminism of the day, and shows him how this would look. She also is concerned that Pete know what to look for in a woman.

Literary Features of the Book

Elliot writes in an incredibly easy to read way. Her style is conversational, and few chapters are over five pages long. This would be a very easy book to dip in and out of in a busy life and for the less experienced reader there should be few struggles. Elliot does use paraphrases quite a lot, which helps the flow of the argument but sometimes can leave you running to the Bible thinking “does it really say that?”. However, the paraphrases are probably fitting for the purpose. The book does not put itself forward as a systematic theology on masculinity, it is an aunt’s advise to her nephew and in that sort of conversation a paraphrase can be quite relevant. However, readers should be careful to treat it as such.

Is it Biblical?

Elliot’s view is based on scriptures and she obviously has a solid understanding of the biblical basis for her view of masculinity. She makes her view’s scriptural backing clear, despite the paraphrases. There are some niggly things I would probably express another way, but in all she uses texts responsibly. However, if the reader wants a thorough exegesis of the texts about masculinity and femininity this is not the book to turn to. A more detailed book like Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (read for free here) would be helpful if the reader desires to know the scriptural background in detail.

Does it Apply Truth?

This is the strength of the book. It is filled with applications of the doctrines and real life problems and victories in this area. Elliot has no time for feminism, with its open disobedience to the scriptures, but she does this with love, understanding the drives of such women but not allowing them to think this is positive. She also has no time for wimpy men, but again helps guide them into caring leadership. Where the Word speaks so does she, but she does so in love. I found it helpful to hear application for men from the female perspective. It’s good to know how women feel about acting in a masculine way towards them and has been a great encouragement. She does, however, not mention the fact that some men may be single for their entire lives and fails to give them indication as to how they can be male in their singleness. Nevertheless, for men seeking marriage the application here is very helpful and practical.

Is it Christ centred?

Yes, in so far as the topic demands. Elliot does assume the reader knows the gospel, but uses the example of Christ in the gospel as the model for masculinity. Moreover, she always views the relationship between the man and the woman not as an independent duo, but rather as two individuals in need of a saviour and wanting to live their marriage in light of a saviour.

Overall, a good book for applying the truths about masculinity in the context of Christ’s plan for his people’s marriage. (Buy it UK).

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2 Responses to “The Mark of a Man: Elisabeth Elliot”

  1. Joyce Tseng November 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    thanks very much for this post, as it helps me deciding whether to purchase this book. I’ve read Elisabeth’s Passion and Purity and found it very very useful. And now I’m ready to read another book by her, though this book seems to gear toward men; women can still read it :) and know what true men are!

  2. kathy daling April 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    . .i like this book.

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