D.L. McCarragher. Mission Possible: Spiritual Covering. Believing for Your Husband’s Salvation. Alabaster Box Publishing, Inc., 2007, 2015. See here to buy the book. (The link is to the 2011 edition, which is cheaper.)
Mission Possible: Spiritual Covering is for Christian women who want their non-Christian husbands to become Christians.
The book has its share of positives. Each chapter interacts heavily with Scripture. The questions at the end of each chapter focus a lot on Scripture. The tone of the book is passionate and faith-filled. There were times when the book took a break from cheer-leading and expressed empathy towards those who struggle to be a loving spiritual example in their home; God works amidst human weakness, D.L. McCarragher astutely states. The vision of spirituality that the book conveys is compelling. To quote from page 74: “I thank you, Lord, that my husband will be a mighty man of God; a man so in love with you that he will not be able to satisfy the hunger he has for you…he will reach for his Bible instead of the TV remote…”
The book was also interesting, as I tried to understand McCarragher’s religious perspective (which is not necessarily to imply my absolute agreement with it). The book seems to reflect a Word of Faith mindset: a woman Christian is to speak in faith that her husband will become saved, and she waits for God to accomplish that. (The book has an inspiring chapter about Ezekiel preaching to the dry bones in Ezekiel 37, and the bones come to life.) In the meantime, according to McCarragher, the Christian wife should sow seeds by serving at church (with her husband’s permission) and giving to ministries, for then she can reap a harvest, her husband’s salvation. In the process, she is showing her husband that she takes her faith seriously.
There were occasions when I put a question mark in the margin, which shows that the book was not boring. On page 66, McCarragher states that “You must have genuine love for his soul because he is your husband and that is who will spend eternity with you.” Is McCarragher like a Mormon here (I said “like” a Mormon, not an actual Mormon!), believing that married couples will be married for eternity? What about Jesus’ statement in Mark 12:25 that, in the resurrection, people will not marry or be given in marriage?
On page 60, McCarragher states: “Compare I Timothy 2:4 and II Peter 3:9 to find out who God promises to save and if anyone is excluded.” These passages say that God wants to save all, and McCarragher does portray God as one who pursues a relationship with everyone. But the passages do not imply that God “promises” to save all, as McCarragher says in her question on page 60. Does her statement there flirt with universalism?
This is not to accuse McCarragher of being a universalist, for I may be misinterpreting her, or she may have intended something different in her statement. At the same time, she did appear to have confidence that God absolutely will save Christian women’s non-Christian husbands, provided the women have faith. But is that necessarily the case? The book has a chapter on Nabal, the churlish husband of the righteous woman Abigail in I Samuel 25. Nabal never repented, but instead he died, and Abigail then married David. In attempting to posit an application of the story, McCarragher says that God will give Christian women new husbands, as God gave Abigail the godly David in place of the ungodly, irreverent Nabal. But, according to McCarragher, the new husbands are actually the old husbands, but they are new because they have become born again and are now new creatures in Christ. But that is not what happened in the story of Nabal, and one can raise the question of whether it consistently happens in real life. This is not to encourage pessimism or to dismiss the value of hope and faith, but it is to say that there may be cases in which God does not answer “yes” to prayers, and McCarragher should seek to account for that, theologically.
Regarding other negatives, McCarragher should have included more stories, since that would have shown (or at least given the impression) that the principles she advocates actually work in real life. To her credit, she did talk about her own marriage, and she was honest about her husband’s strengths and good character, even though she wished that he would be enthusiastic about God, as she is. Her personal anecdotes, though they were rare, did add at least some human element to the book. Still, more stories and illustrations would have enhanced the book a lot more. In addition, it could have moved the book beyond focusing on her and her husband. What about a Christian woman who has a husband who is not so tolerant about her attending church? What should she do? What principles should she apply? The book should have addressed a wider variety of situations.
The book is practical in that it gives women advice about what specifically to pray for. The book includes a sample prayer, and McCarragher states that she prays that her husband might be receptive when God knocks on the door of his heart. The book could have been more specific when it came to interpersonal interaction, however.
The book could have been better organized at the beginning. McCarragher’s story about how she married her husband, then became a Christian after attending a church service, perhaps would have been better placed at the beginning of the book, in the “Introduction.” That would have set the stage for the rest of the book, setting forth the problem that the book aims to address. McCarragher also should have defined precisely what is at stake when a Christian wife is married to a non-believing husband: why exactly was it important to her that her husband become a Christian? That would have made her introduction better. Her chapter on how the husband is to be a priest of the family, like Jesus is high priest, would have served better as the following chapter.
On page 69, McCarragher interacts with II Corinthians 6:14’s statement that believers should not be unequally yoked with non-believers, since some Christians may argue that this means Christians and non-Christians should not stay married to each other. She states that “Paul was not discussing marriage” there but rather “business, worship…fellowship, and day to day decisions.” She then goes on to apply the concept of being unequally yoked to marriage, however, saying that “Believers should not willingly ‘join themselves to unbelievers’ in marriage as that leads to spiritual disunity,” which appears to contradict what she just said. McCarragher’s discussion of this issue had its merits, as when she astutely noted that Paul in I Corinthians 7 recommended that Christians in marriages to non-believers stay in those marriages. At the same time, McCarragher could have brought her discussion together a lot better than she did, discussing what spiritual disunity is, and why Paul permitted it in the case of Christian marriages with non-Christians. Perhaps she should have also acknowledged Paul’s statement that such marriages may not work out, since the non-believing spouse may leave the marriage (I Corinthians 7:15). That would have tempered the optimistic tone of the book, but it also would have made the discussion richer, more interesting, and maybe more realistic.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash. My review is honest.