Joy Davidman
Westminster Press
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1954

Reviewed by Barbara Folkenberg, Member,Tridelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church,Clarksville, MD

Born of Jewish parents in 1915, Joy Davidman became a communist in early life, and later converted to Christianity. In 1957 she married C S. Lewis. Three years later she died of cancer. Discovering that only through love could she fulfill the law, her personal journey took her to original interpretations of that law. Though I can’t agree with all she wrote, I found very stimulating angles that had never occurred to me. Here is what I consider the highlights of the book, chapter by chapter.

God comes first Modern world must choose between divine order and chaotic atheism. The vacuum fills with false gods. Hopefully the 20th century self-worshiper will discover that no other gods before Me is the prescription for happiness. The more we look to objects for happiness, the less help we seek from God.

Gods made with hands What shape is your idol? The more we look to objects for happiness, the less we ask help from God. If we are saved it will be through a God we can’t make with hands, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The word was with God Great faith was placed in the power of names, especially the names of God. Many think this commandment is mainly to forbid casual profanity. But our ultimate offense is not to call upon Him at all. Let’s think of it in the positive: Thou shalt take the name of the Lord thy God in earnest, in sincerity.

Day of rejoicing How does one keep God’s day holy? It was God’s plan on His day for man to enjoy companionship with one another and with God. But soon hundreds of man’s foolish restrictions came in, such as on the Lord’s day one might not use false teeth; rescue a drowning man, or put out a fire. In Scotland in the 17th century one was haled into court for smiling on the Sabbath. If we are joyful Christians seven days a week, it is likely that the Sabbath will take care of itself.

Honor your father and mother Many parents are willing to be honored, but not all are willing to be honorable. The result is juvenile delinquency and adult unhappiness. Children who never experience warmth and love when small are seldom capable of showing it when older. Let’s practice and pray for love, and the honor will take care of itself.

Who takes the sword No previous age has ever killed so much. Into the midst of all the killing came the Prince of peace who went beyond the injunction of the law which condemned killing, and added the ?impossible:? instead of harboring anger they were to forgive their enemies. In spite of all the hypocritical justification for killing, the only remedy is the new birth.

The adulterous synopsis Marriage was given by a loving God for the happiness of His children. But man’s self love so often ends in no love. Casual adulteries follow civil contracts. If instead, as Christians, we concentrate on what we can give to our marriage, instead of on what we can get, our children may grow up in happy homes.

You can’t cheat an honest man Dishonesty makes headlines. Why? Dishonesty in any form—lying about what we sell, shady dealings of any kind need not entrap a Christian. Sadly the human heart deceives us. The Christian steward uses his property as a loan, a trust from God.

Pilate—did expediency justify him? Roman law agreed that a false witness against a criminal should receive the same punishment. Whether one lies boldly, is evasive, tells a half truth or keeps silent, he’s certainly tampering with truth. Easiest is to lie to ourselves about our own offenses. Too often we believe our own rationalizing, and justify any lie to ease our conscience. Freedom comes with confession and repentance.

The moth and the tile rust Could it be our violation of Thou shalt not covet that the richer we become, the worse off we seem to be? None who think things bring happiness ever has enough. Covetousness stops when we want God so much we can’t be bothered with any other wants.

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July–September, 1998

The Price