Book Review—Damsels in Distress

Reviewed by Beth Murschell

Peace, Martha. Damsels in Distress. Phillipsburg: P & R , 2006. Paperback, 187 pages. $13.99

(Review copy courtesy of P & R Publishing)
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Special Features: Appendix: Salvation Worksheets

ISBNs: 1596380381 / 9781596380387

LCCN: BV4527.P395

DCN: 248.8

Subjects: Spiritual Growth / Women

Martha Peace is a biblical counselor, conference speaker, and best-selling author. She lives with her husband, Sanford, in Peachtree City, Georgia. (from the back cover)

Despite the title, Damsels in Distress is no storybook piece of self-help. As its subtitle indicates, it provides “Biblical Solutions for Problems Women Face,” specifically women in our churches. Mrs. Peace uses Scripture, engaging personal anecdotes, densely packed writing, and various charts and figures to counsel the reader through a variety of life situations common to Christian women. I believe it would be most useful for those who could use a point of reference when counseling others.

The first of 11 chapters, “Casting All My Cares on Whom?”, provides an overview of crucial basics, including salvation and the character of God. From there, the book is divided into three major sections: 1) Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others, 2) Biblical Solutions for Problems with Ourselves, and 3) Biblical Solutions for Problems with the World. Doesn’t sound like it leaves anything out, does it?

Part one covers gossip and slander, idolatrous emotional attachments, manipulation, and hurt feelings. Part two deals with vanity, PMS, and legalism. Part three discusses the feminist influence, the role of women in the church, and trials. An appendix containing salvation worksheets follows the last chapter. Each chapter concludes with study questions.

Mrs. Peace acknowledges God’s sovereignty throughout the book. She reminds the reader that being a Christian does not eliminate problems but gives biblical hope to those who humble themselves before God. She does not mince words—a spade is a spade, and a sin is a sin, not a syndrome. For example, “You know you are guilty of sinful manipulation when you don’t graciously take ‘no’ for an answer and keep trying to convince the other person to let you have your way” (p. 61).

The following advice I found practical: “Unintentional hurts are sinful on the part of the person perceiving something as hurtful… . In Philippians 4:8 we are told to think true and lovely thoughts. True thoughts face reality. Lovely thoughts assume the best about the other person unless you can prove otherwise” (p. 82).

The main strengths of Damsels in Distress include its straightforward, biblical approach; its thorough coverage of the subjects presented; and the experience of the author as a counselor. Its weaknesses, in my opinion, involve an inability to engage the reader long enough to provide help. The book feels like a series of lectures at a seminar for women, rather than a sit-down-and-read-it-through book. Also, the small print on the charts and figures is hard to read.

Who should read it? I believe those who would benefit most from this book are Christian women who need help and are ready to change or those who plan to counsel other women. Perhaps a Bible study group could spend a few weeks going through it and discussing the study questions. Pastors may also find this book of value as they deal with women’s issues in their churches.

beth.jpgBeth Murschell is married to Mick, a computer programmer, and they live in Bradenton, Florida. Her master’s degree is in music education, but her past work experience includes industrial cleaning, childcare, bumper factory, fast food, camp work (three different camps), music team, telemarketer, media center, music educator, sixth-grade teacher, maid, retail, writer, and now mother of four. She has lived in Panama City, Louisville, Greenville, Miami, Brevard, Quakertown, and Bradenton.
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