Author: Alisa Harris
Genre: Memoir, Politics
When I first saw this book, I read the author’s name, Alisa Harris, and subconsciously assumed it was ‘Harris’ as in Joshua and Alex and Brett, as in kissing dating goodbye and doing hard things. I took the title, ‘Raised Right’ to mean ‘Raised Correctly’ and the subtitle, ‘How I Untangled My Faith from Politics’ to refer to keeping one’s beliefs uncorrupted by the influence of political correctness.
I was wrong on all three counts.
Raised Right is the memoir of Alisa Harris, who was, in her own words, “picketing since before [she] could walk”. From praying outside abortion clinics to protesting outside capitol buildings and from Worldview Academy to debate class, her parents raised her to uphold strong Republican ideals and to be ready to combat false beliefs.
Early on in the book she gently criticizes her upbringing, citing instances such as her mother’s avoidance of explaining the definition of a prostitute but freely and graphically explaining the definition and process of abortion, as well as involving her in political circumstances and arenas she was too young to fully understand.
I do agree that many parents thrust their children into political arenas far too early, before the children are capable of understanding what they are taking part in and making the choice to participate themselves. As the author grew older, she began seeing this for herself and grew disillusioned with the extreme political nature of her faith.
What follows is an account of her rocky journey from being a far-right-wing conservative to a moderate to a self-professed liberal feminist.
Personally, I was deeply disappointed, even outraged, by this book. The author’s journey of ‘learning to live out the gospel’ consists mainly of a touchy-feely blurring of the lines between right and wrong, an embracing of vague bipartisan ideals, and subtle subversion against biblical principles.
In discussing the biblical role of women, the author relies on ‘a convincing interpretation of Scripture’ that said the Bible’s command to women to be silent in church was directed only at a particular church in a particular culture, to help them ‘avoid being a stumbling block’ to their culture. But, the author says, in twenty-first century America, ‘forcing women to be silent and denying them certain ministry roles because of their gender’ makes churches who practice that belief a stumbling block to our culture.
But if that is the case, perhaps we the church should stop preaching that adultery and promiscuity are wrong. After all, both those practices are widely accepted parts of our culture, and if people know they will have to give up those practices if they become Christians, that could become a stumbling block for them. See? That theory just doesn’t work.
The author also endorses an ideal of marriage in which both the man and woman are equal, ‘each submitting to the other in Christ’, which is completely contrary to the Bible’s clearly outlined plan for the man to be the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the church. Biblical marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. Is Christ supposed to submit to the church out of love, then? Should Christ and His church be compromising on tough decisions? Somehow I don’t think so.
Later in the book the author quotes a friend of hers who makes the following statement: “The whole gay thing? Jesus never mentioned homosexuals at all. I just feel that Jesus’ heart was more for the impoverished and the sick. I don’t feel like He would get so flared up.” Although the author did not make this statement herself and she does not expressly endorse it, neither does she refute or correct it. No, we have no record of Jesus saying anything about homosexuality when He was on Earth in the flesh. But Jesus was God, and the entire Bible, not just the words in red ink, is the Word of God. The Bible makes it quite clear that homosexuality is an abomination. As for Jesus getting ‘flared up’, I would like to point out the cleansing of the temple—throwing over tables and chasing people out with a whip qualifies as ‘flared up’ in my book. And, in direct relation to the homosexuality issue, God rained fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the rampant and unrepentant homosexuality taking place there. If that is not ‘flared up,’ I don’t know what is.
The author also expresses angst about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, wondering how war can possibly solve anything, and confusion over the fact that we liberated the people of Iraq from a violent genocidal dictator only for them to look at us as invaders. However, later in the book as she is describing the horrible treatment women in the Middle East receive at the hands of men, she criticizes Americans and Christians for caring more about unborn children being aborted every day than they do about born women being abused, tortured, and killed in the Middle East every day. My question is this: if we were to go in by force and liberate these abused women from the men abusing them like we liberated the men, women, and children suffering under a tyrannical dictator, what would stop them from having the same irrational perspective of us—seeing us as invaders—as the others we liberated?
I agree with the author’s view that Christians can often become too militant and combative in promoting their beliefs, and that we do need to speak the truth in love rather than shouting it from protest groups. I agree that finding a way to speak the truth in love to a culture that doesn’t want to hear it is difficult. But that does not give us license to reinterpret Scripture to suit our own desires and the desires of a corrupt and godless culture.
I received this book from the publisher free of charge in exchange for my review.