Thursday, July 9, 2009

Before You Meet Prince Charming

I am linking to the reviews of a book that I have meant to read for a long time. It is called Before You Meet Prince Charming, by Sarah Mally. The comments on Amazon were all very positive about this book, so I was surprised to read this blogger's viewpoints.

I am gratified that I have been saved from spending money to purchase this book for my girls. There are views in this book that I do not wish my daughters to absorb.

I am disturbed by Sarah Mally's claims that a girl needs to be rescued. Excuse me, unless something dire happens, we don't need to be rescued. Being rescued implies that there is some sort of dangerous tragedy happening in your life, like a house fire or being held at gunpoint. Certainly, please help anyone that is suffering from such atrocities. But if a young woman is simply living her day to day life, then she shouldn't need to be rescued. What the heck should she be saved from anyway? Doing dishes, mowing the grass, cleaning up after her dog? What? Why would a man desire a woman who wants to be saved from her regular life?

Also, I am troubled by the classism presented in the book. The nobility are all good and all wise. The snobbery that is present throughout this book is very evident. Anyone who disagrees with the King's parenting choices, according to the author, is either jealous or guilty about their own lives. The poor peasants are seen as easily led and tempted. So far, I am rooting for the commoners in this book to revolt, but I doubt that will happen. This type of thinking actually sounds like the reason that countries have rebelled against their leaders.

The mother-Queen-is rarely seen in this story. I don't know why that is so, but it troubles me that she is so little involved in her daughter's life. By the way, the fact that the Princess has no name irritates me also. Actually, I really disliked this goody good young woman. I was sort of hoping that the alligator that lived in the moat would eat her. Alas, the gator appears to be a vegetarian because he-according to Miss Mally- eats pond scum.

I am equally amazed that all festivities in the book are considered evil. Getting together with other young women and having fun is called evil. That is a bit strong. Having fun just for the sake of enjoyment is not a sin. Even in Franny Burney's works(1700's) the women went to balls and had social picnics. I have no idea why Miss Mally is against events where young people can meet and socialize.

Mally implies that those who don't follow her guidelines will automatically be unhappy. A lot of us dated and ended up happily married. To claim that there is one way to find a spouse when the human population is full of a variety of personalities, cultures and circumstances seems to be very narrow minded. It makes me wonder about the author's experience level with other people. Perhaps she isn't purposely being dishonest but has had limited contact with those who hold different views then her own.

What concerns me most is this quote from her book:A girl can defraud by dressing in a way so that boys will notice us, flirting with our eyes, or even just by the way we smile at a certain time or laugh at every jokeThat sounds much more extreme. This would be troublesome if something happened to a young girl like a sexual assault. The victim might think that she deserved her attack because she smiled at the man.

I realize that this is a popular book among many Christians. But there are apparent issues within the book that should be discussed before allowing our daughters to read the book.


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Anonymous said...

Loved your review of this disturbing book!

The Brights said...

I have read both the book and this review and I most certainly have been disturbed-but by the review, not the book. I just finished reading this book and I loved it. It was thought-provoking and challenged me to change some things in my life in order to grow closer in my walk with God and also to better my own life. First of all, you must keep in mind that the story of the princess and the alligator is an analogy-not real life. The analogy is also set in the Middle Ages. If you realize that the princess' story is an analogy, the things you objected to make much more sense. Sarah Mally's guidelines are excellent and very Biblical. I personally know of married women who followed these guidelines and are now happily married. On the other hand, I know many many married women who did not and are not happy in their marriages. It's not guaranteed that you will automatically be happy if you follow her guidelines, but the success rate is dramatically higher. The author has had much experience with people who hold different views from her own. As part of her ministry, she travels to churches around America to speak on this subject and others. She meets many who don't agree with her point of view. I really appreciated this book and the Ms. Mally's decision to choose the Biblical way rather than the world's way in this matter. I am 16 and I have also chosen to do things this way. My prayer is that God will work through Sarah Mally and her ministry and many other lives will also be changed.

deb said...

Hello to The Brights! Yes, I realize that this is an analogy.

I have met many couples also. Some dated when they were young, others were more traditional. Of those couples, there doesn't seem to be a connection between how they met and their level of happiness years later.

But Sarah Mally's book is based on her opinions, not the Bible. Just because she quotes bible verses does not mean that she is interpreting those verses correctly.

Thank you very much for visiting my site and leaving such a thoughtful comment. You sound like a very sweet, young lady.

Mekinna said...

I have never read this book, but, the comments on thsi blog trouble me. You guys are both misssing the point, from what i read the auther of this book did too. The point is: God should deside. I think that God thinks its okay for some peaple to date, i have many friends who have dated in high school, and are now married(or engaged) and they are very happy. I also know peaple who havent dated. Its what God intended for you. I dont at all think its okay for everyone to date. Some peaple wouldnt be able to conduct themselfs apropitely.
In my life, God has allowed me to date, i have read many books about purity, and i think that God is still saying its okay for me to date. That doesnt mean i am going to date around. It does mean I can start dating a Godely man, and grow closer to God together. That doesnt mean i am going to marry him. I am just 15!
I hope this make sense!

Anonymous said...

I have recently read Sara Mally's book. It came highly recommended to me. As a mom, I feel very strongly to challenge my girls and boys to think ahead before they consider relationships. Relationships are often neglected in "planning", but we strategize everything else in our life such as when we buy a house, open a bank account, consider a job, a school...,etc. I don't see many parents helping their kids strategize with the opposite sex; hence meaningless, hurtful, and possibly damaging relationships form and baggage begins very early. I personally want to give my kids the tools to plan ahead as to what and how to think through circumstances and this is what this book does. It prepares girls to look for situations which may not encourage healthy relationships. To be patient, rather than driven by emotion. The book isn't an absolute, but a principled approach to be observant and aware rather than indifferent and vulnerable. Kids are'nt born with an automatic honing device when it comes to managing life, they have to be taught and learn from example. I would say, that this book is fresh perspective in a society that is raising their young people to be independent in the name of happiness. With our rates of divorce, lack of commitment, abortion, failed relationships, abuse, fatherless kids...the list goes on, isn't it time we consider preparing them with substantial guidelines rather than continue letting them fall into disturbing situations based on the wrong foundations? Good relationships begin at home and are taught/shown to kids. I am all for giving them soemthing healthy to chew on and own for their own. Does it mean they will "accept" it? No, but at least we are giving them something to process and maybe they glean something small to help. Sara never mentioned once that gatherings were "evil." The gatherings were intended for relational "match-ups". And, because she and her father were watching out for her prince, it wasn't wise to put herself into situations which would tempt her into meaningless relationships. Her hope, was to wait for Mr. right, not try out everyone inbetween. It was important to her to obey her father because ultimately she was obeying her Heavenly Father and she knew his will was her best. Your comment about the alligator eating the princess was rather harsh and makes it appear that you yourself don't like people who have such strong convictions...I don't know..maybe you wish you had stronger convictions like the princess...or at least had.
I highly recommend this book to any young lady who takes her purity and future mate with absolute seriousness. It will give her much "food for thought."

deb said...

Not only did you leave an annoymous comment but you threw in a very catty remark.

"maybe you wish you had stronger convictions like the princess...or at least had"

Audrey said...

I haven't read this book, so I can't make any kind of judgment on it. But, I read all the comments and notice that you have a lot of attacks coming at you for writing this! Don't worry-- the whole world isn't against you. You're just one of the first links that pops up on google when people type in the name of the book. And who are the people searching for the book? The ones who LIKE the book and will dislike your readings...

Anyway, disregard the rude, naive, and ignorant responses you are receiving. It's funny how condescending some of these comments are, since they're led by a god who preaches being loving and kind.

Anonymous commenter, my response to your "..or at least had" comment: YOU ARE A BITCH. You may think you're high and mighty because you believe in god, but you're not on the right path until you treat people the way you should as a true follower of god. SHEESH!

People, grow up please! Yes, that includes all you "experienced" moms!

And Deb... Blog on, sista!

Karyn said...


So in the end did you read this book?

Let me state up front that I am a second cousin to Sarah (we share a common great grandfather)and I did read her book. While all of Sarah's views are not my views, I did agree with her that it is important to find a person that best matches your own values.

She also points out that the time you spend 'waiting' for that person can be used to develop yourself as a complete person. And that might be devoting yout time to service for the Lord.

Another point I agree with is that it is not the worst thing to not have relationships right away in your teen years. Develop as a person, develop as a friend but let relationships wait until you are truly ready.

In the end, I am not sure if the princess has been rescued or if the man she has always admired is ready as well to start into a meaningful relationship. Because they are equals in their value base, Sarah is implying they will have a long lasting and happy marriage. That is worth the wait.

Thanks for letting me talk,


deb said...

Thank you, Karyn, for the polite response. I enjoyed reading your take on your cousin's book.

vikimmy said...

I read this book and highly recommend it.

The analogy of the Princess is a solid one & uses many situations that would be consistent with the time period.

I also appreciated the sentiment that a believing young woman, in preparation for marriage, should keep herself apart from male/female relationships. That sounds strange, but that is because of our culture here in the US. If a young woman pursues her relationship to God with her whole heart, then God will take care of her future. The same is true of young men, but, of course, this book is written to young women.

I was blessed by this book and so were my two daughters. Pursuit of God is the most important pursuit in your life, don't be distracted by pursuit of a husband.

Bethany said...

I was required to read this book, as well as Beautiful Girlhood [by Karen Andreola, I believe? Or edited by her?] and Raising Maidens of Virtue [Stacy McDonald] in my early teens. If anything, these books alienated me somewhat from Christianity, and from the courtship movement, something I deeply regret. Only in the past two years or so have I more fully embraced God and the idea of a courtship-based approach to marriage [and I still consider that the last needs to be carefully handled, a la Josh Harris].

I found myself continually taking issue with the points raised, probably because I felt convicted of my own failings [and of their truth? I'm still not sure]. For a girl who has always been over-fond of the company of boys, almost everything that I read in these books felt as though it was aimed at me.

My mom realized that I would probably never fully embrace all the philosophies in Before You Meet Prince Charming, and sold the book at a homeschool book sale last year, so I unfortunately do not have it to refer to here. But I remember arguing [in my own head] with the idea that if girls live outside of the home [i.e. college], they will become used to independence and feel stifled when it comes time for them to marry. The idea was that this would be prevented by a girl's living under her father's roof until marriage.
My arguments were 1) that if a girl feels [and probably knows she will feel] 'stifled' by marriage, it is not yet TIME to get married! There comes a time when a woman [or anyone, IMO] becomes lonely with a solitary life, and I think that maybe one cannot appreciate the companionship of marriage without a previous time of 'freedom'. What would be more submissive than a woman entering into a marriage contract when both she and her husband know she is giving up what the world calls freedom FOR this one man?

and 2) that if one is afraid that a girl will become used to feeling independent and enjoy it, how fragile must be the 'benefits' of eschewing that independence! 'The truth needs no strength to sustain it' [probably a mis-quote on my part...]

There is, in all three of the books I mentioned, a concern with girls guarding the hearts of the young men around them, something I heartily endorse. [I personally am enraged at some girls' careless and selfish behavior with young Christian men.] However there is always mention of some behaviors as incorrect or even sinful, which I have indulged in and hope to be innocent.
The most hurtful thing I ever remember one of my girl friends saying to me was at the age of 12 or so, in a tone of disgust at what she must have thought to be my purposeful attention-getting: 'Bethany, why do you always make such a show of yourself?' It so happened that at the time I had NO idea I was 'making a show of myself', but it certainly looked that way, I will admit. I was also once nicknamed 'Peacock' for a [short] while. All of this going on in a small Christian homeschool co-op group... Anyways, my point is that some girls feel horribly offended and hurt if they are told they are trying to get attention. Books [Beautiful Girlhood, which I know is not the topic of this post] often mention girls who 'do their hair in new and daring styles' [that IS a quote, at the time I read that I was about 11 and enjoyed braiding my hair in new styles and so on...I memorized that darn phrase] or are fond of being in town, in negative lights [usually the harlot's-feet-abiding-not-in-her-house comes up].

[I find that Blogger says this post is too long, so I will make this into two posts.]

Bethany said...

[continued from above]

My other major concern is with the concept of courtship, only as portrayed by Sarah Mally in this book.
Please correct me if I am wrong on this though! :)

At least in the allegorical story which is woven through the book, the Princess finally marries a Prince who approaches her [or rather her FATHER] in the appropriate way, and who is also a courageous and caring young man. BUT BUT BUT...I can recall little or no time with the young couple shown getting to know each other! Did I just miss this? It certainly was not harped upon in the accompanying text. How did they know that they shared the same interests? Ideals? Did they at least know where the other stood on important issues, even if they didn't agree? Just because a person is 'good', even just because they are a strong Christian, does not mean that they will automatically make YOU a good marriage partner.

I do not consider that dating is a good choice for most people, certainly not in any form of 'dating around' just for fun. But on the other hand, surely getting to know members of the opposite gender, however little dating actually performs that task, is preferable to being close friends with NO ONE! I recall now another book [Emotional Purity, by Heather Paulsen I believe] which made the case that it is dangerous to be close friends with anyone of the opposite gender. It referred to 'emotional fornication' which, if I recall correctly, was not lust as we would think of it, but instead the sharing of one's MIND with another person. Having in-depth talks about one's faith were to be avoided. There was something to the effect of, you only want to share your spiritual life with your spouse, isn't it emotional fornication to do anything else?

My main concern is that young people may wind up marrying each other without knowing each other very well. Sure, they may get better acquainted during courtship and engagement, but isn't it a little late to be finding out important stuff about your significant other at that point?

I am amazed and thankful to find that this view of courtship is not the only one. Josh Harris' is, I think, much better. One of my very close Christian friends ascribes to a courtship ideal which I consider extremely sensible. It involves being very clear with people on where your relationship with them stands, and not dating just for fun. The plan is to be allowed to get to know lots of people very well, but be open and honest with all of them. When you know who the best choice for marriage is, you hopefully already know a LOT about them...and one would hope that one of the first criteria is being compatible in faith, interests, and personality.

[oh dear...Blogger is spazzing at post size again...comment #3 coming up :P]

Bethany said...

[part 3, continued from above]
It seems that girls who follow some of BYMPC's guidelines will miss out on many good and innocent relationships. Friendships that is. [for me personally at least. Some girls do connect well with other girls, I tend to have trouble doing so with all but a few. In addition, my scholastic/career interests put me in contact with chiefly guys. While I would hate to appear to undervalue female companionship, I also frequently find it easier to give and receive help in spiritual and faith-based areas with young men.]
I know this is getting long, so I will wind up after just one more [heh heh] personal testimony. Had I followed some of BYMPC and Emotional Purity's guidelines, I am pretty sure I would have missed out on one of my deepest friendships: more importantly, I very well might still be in the fairly lukewarm Christianity that I was a few months ago. Conversing with a young man who deeply loves God helped me in so many ways that I hate to think of the sort of person I was even a few months ago. That provided a sort of springboard to pursuing God more strongly than I have in all my years of being a Christian. While God might very well have opened my heart in other or better ways, the fact remains that whenever purity has been a focus of my friendships with young men, nothing but good has resulted.

Hum. Almost done now. I would like to say that I highly support many of the principles outlined in Sarah Mally's book. Purity before marriage is a very important topic but I feel that this book has some worrying ideas and perhaps fallacies in it.

Ana said...

I think that Before You Meet Prince Charming was a great book and Sarah Mally made some great points. I do think that she could have come off as a little bit too dtrong because she put it in black and white for people without letting people consult God for themselves on the matter. Everybody has different convictions on the matter, although I do feel that recreational dating is not the way to find a marriage partner. I am more of a fan of Joshua Harris' philosophy, though. I am sixteen years old and I have been in only one serious relationship in which I have made a lot of mistakes. I gave my life to Christ and sensed that God wanted me to end the relationship. And while I wouldn't say that someone is wrong for deciding to date, I feel that courtship is going to be the path that I take later on in life when I have that God is calling me to a husband. I do believe that Sarah Mally makes great points in her book that would prepare one for a string marriage. God bless. :)

Anonymous said...

I am a catholic young lady. I read the book but I didnt 100% agree with everything Ms. Malley said.
First of all she said that young ladies shouldn't go to college to do "a mans job". We all know that if God wants us to stay single, our parents will eventually pass on and we need jobs for money.
Then she said that we shouldn't have close guy friends. I believe that you can be just as close with guys as you are with girls and she also said that you shouldn't get too close with girlfriends either.
She also never mentions same-sex relationships and even though I'm not a lesbian or bi, I still found that a little insulting because the bible says to accept one another for who they are.
I also don't think that just by being close to a guy you are giving part of your heart away. You should be able to have an open friendship with guys if you wanted to.
I do however agree that God is the one who chose our future partner since the beginning of time and I also don't think that you should just get a guy because you need a guy that you should get a guy because you love him. I also I agree in letting your parents filter the boys that are interested in you because that can prevent a lot of heartache
I also agree about keeping you body pure before marriage but I don't agree about not being able to even hold hands before marriage or hug or kiss. Doing these thigh are simply telling you how mush you care and its not going "all the way".