Cover Image: Red Lip Theology

Red Lip Theology

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Member Reviews

This came out a while back and I'm still puzzling through it. The culture, values, and age group is so far from my own that I spun it around a few times and couldn't finish.

I am going to recommend it to young women who are distracted by influencers, social media, and peer pressure. Maybe you'll find a way through the maze of comparisons and illusions to a true spiritual life that satisfies you from the inside out.

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As a red lipstick rocking, Christian black woman from the south, I loved this book so much! During my entire read, I found myself nodding in agreement. The author and I shared so many of the same experiences and had some of the same questions when it came to being a "church girl." Candice Marie Benbow made me feel like I wasn't alone in learning to navigate womanhood + femininity as an imperfect Christian and I appreciate this read so much for that. Red Lip Theology reminds me that God is gracious and He will meet me where I am, not matter what.


Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for ARC of Red Lip Theology in exchange for an honest review.

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Wow. Where was this book when I was in my 20's. I think my life would have turned out a little differently had I thought like this back then. This was such an eye opening book and really made me think and put things into a different perspective. I am definitely going to get a physical copy to refer to it often. The thoughts and perspective was clear cut and great for me while I'm in the deconstruction phase in my life. Still have a love for Jesus, but some of the rituals and perspectives of the traditional church have left a bad taste in my mouth.

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review of my own thoughts and opinions.

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I have never felt a read that made me feel so seen. She delved into her personal life and correlated her spiritual journey with it. Her spiritual perspective is so enlightening. For once in my life, I feel liberated. I am so excited to read more from this author. Thank you for providing an arc.

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This was a tough read for me as someone who grew up entrenched in conservative evangelicalism. While I think purity culture is profoundly harmful, and I have developed a vastly different sexual ethic over the years, Benbow ends up much farther away from me than I would've imagined. I agreed and identified with so much of what she wrote here! But her enthusiastic embrace of an extramarital affair - knowing that her partner was married - was across the line for me, and certainly contributed to my not being able to take in everything she said. I do believe that this is an important book, though. Books by Black theologians, and especially female Black theologians, are still in short supply and Benbow's honest words will resonate with a number of people. I'll be interested to see how the author's work will look moving forward!

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Loved this essay collection! Relevant! Candice is such a powerful voice!

Blurring the boundaries of righteous and irreverent, Red Lip Theology invites us to discover freedom in a progressive Christian faith that incorporates activism, feminism, and radical authenticity. Essayist and theologian Candice Marie Benbow’s essays explore universal themes like heartache, loss, forgiveness, and sexuality, and she unflinchingly empowers women who struggle with feeling loved and nurtured by church culture.

Benbow writes powerfully about experiences at the heart of her Black womanhood. In honoring her single mother’s love and triumphs—and mourning her unexpected passing—she finds herself forced to shed restrictions she’d been taught to place on her faith practice. And by embracing alternative spirituality and womanist theology, and confronting staid attitudes on body positivity and LGBTQ+ rights, Benbow challenges religious institutions, faith leaders, and communities to reimagine how faith can be a tool of liberation and transformation for women and girls.

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One of my favorite things about reading is learning about different people, religion and cultures. This was no exception.
A collection of essays about life, love, religion, Black womanhood, women’s theology, LGTBQ+ rights and embracing your spirituality and your truth. A fascinating book and well written. Thank you to #convergentbooks for an arc in exchange for an honest review

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Candice Marie Benbow offered a brilliant collection of essays. Her work deeply resonated with me as a Black woman who grew up in the Church. I had moments of agreement, reflection, tears, and laughter. This book would be wonderful for Black Christian women who want to see an authentic journey through religion and spirituality.

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RED LIP THEOLOGY: For Church Girls Who've Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn't Enough is an essay collection from Black feminist theologian Candice Marie Benbow. She gave us the widely popular #LemonadeSyllabus and is known on social media for challenging the misogynoir and patriarchy that permeates faith spaces. Now Benbow's debut introduces us to the woman behind her poignant essays.

RED LIP THEOLOGY is for the Black girls, the millennials, both the churched and the unchurched. It is a masterful journey through Benbow’s life as she wrestles with identity, acceptance and worthiness, love and betrayal, faith and academic spaces, grief and depression, and the ease of her mother's love. Benbow welcomes us into the intimacies of her life and lessons that shaped her own understanding of God and herself, which she’s coined as red lip theology.

“What is that? Who started it?” a pompous male classmate (yes, he was) demanded. To which Benbow responds: “I did. Just now.”

According to Benbow, “Red lip theology is the space in which young, Black churchwomen can sit with the parts of ourselves and be honest about them all.” And this is what attracted me to Benbow's work years ago. For me, Benbow's writing, ethics, and existence testify to the possibilities of a liberated faith for Black millennial women. In my life, Candice Benbow was the first person who embodied what it means to hold onto God without letting go of yourself. That maintaining faith does not necessitate self-abandonment.
This book is a celebration of self as much as it is about faith. It causes us church girls to confront what we have grown up believing about God and our ourselves that never served us, that never told the truth. It challenges us to liberate ourselves from traditional (white, male, and straight) views of God. It encourages us to see God in ourselves—Spirit dwelling in Black women.

Red Lip Theology also gives us a stunning portrait of an everlasting mother’s love for her daughter and an unshakeable, undying adoration and reverence a daughter has for her mother. Benbow offers this book as a gift to her mother, a stellar display of ancestor veneration.

Reading RED LIP THEOLOGY felt like sitting down with an older, wiser sister who, after surviving deep pain and grief, is mindful of how her story can free someone else. I am grateful for this work. I am grateful for Candice Marie Benbow. Do yourself a favor and add this book to your collection!

This is the book for you, if you love:
- Black Feminism
- Womanism
- The South + Black Church
- Black liberation, womanist, queer theology
- A writer who tells it like it is

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I was able to review Red Lip Theology by Candice Marie Benbow and Convergent Books for providing me with an advanced ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a collection of essays on relationships, loss, sexuality, the church, patriarchy, feminism, womanist theology, A memoir about Candice’s experiences within the church and how her theology has changed throughout the years, being honest about both the positive and the negative. She provides a mirror for those of us trying to make sense of loving a good God and ourselves.

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Representation in media is of paramount importance to me as a Black church girl. When my mother passed away, my reason for living vanished. She was my blueprint/map of black womanhood. My whole entire life. So, I was lost for some time but then I started reading a lot of Womanist/Black Feminist texts and I found myself again! Books like Dr. Britney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage and Dr. Tamura A. Lomax's, Jezebel Unhinged gave me the representation/praxis I had been looking for. To add to this group of books that changed my life, is Red Lip Theology. I started following Ms. Benbow from Twitter many years ago and I have really seen her come into herself as a very gifted theologian and writer. This book is no exception. It is EXCELLENT. With Lipstick Theology she created a 21st-century womanist framework that is relatable to the everyday Black woman. In this book she is fearless! She talks about a lot of taboo subjects such as grief, purity culture, leaving church, mean girl academia and questioning who God is regarding Their deity and theology. She also deals with the significant issues of racism, sexism, misogynoir, and sexual assault. My favorite essays in this book are “We Should All Be Womanists,” “Black Lace Teddy’s and Other Pieces I Rock Under the Anointing,” and “Why I Left the Church.” But most of all, this book is a love letter to her beautiful and transcendent mother. I related the most of this because my mother died a few years ago and trying to explain to people-what I was going through was extremely difficult. This book, among the others that I mentioned before, calls out all the sins of the church against Black women and gives us space to wrestle with our spirituality. They all gave me the vocabulary and framework I needed to express myself and create my own understanding of theology using a womanist lens. I gave the book a 4.5. It was almost perfect. I just wish that I had an index and a selected bibliography list. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I HIGHY recommend it. Thank you, Candice, NetGalley and Convergent for the ARC of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.

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I am so grateful for the honesty and authenticity of this book. Candice has a true gift--she can write about even the hardest situations with painful honesty yet leave the reader feeling refreshed, inspired, and encouraged. I was one essay in when I opened a group chat to tell my sisters they all have to read it (and it's now been sent to them so they can). What Candice shared in these essays has helped me articulate so many things I've long processed and made decisions on but still have trouble expressing, even in safe spaces with the same sisters as we work through these things together. I identified with so much of this and I know it will be an encouragement to so many women on this journey, especially Black women.

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"I believed if I wasn't like the 'fast girls' I would go far. My dreams were contingent upon me keeping my legs closed and staying focused...And part of our confusion, right now, is trying to understand how we ended up in the same place they did or with them ahead of us." - #RedLipTheology by Candice Benbow

This quote almost made me almost throw my Kindle. Being a "church girl" led me to getting my Black Card Revoked because I didn't know the answer to the multiple choice question, "According to the song, who took over for the '99 and 2000?" Y'all I was in college - at a HBCU - but I didn't listen to secular music because years ago my Sunday School teacher had instilled in me that spirits were connected to the music and listening to anything other than gospel would make me angry, sad, or horny.

I'm getting freer in my faith as I get older and continue to ask as my seminary professor encouraged us to, "who said God said?" Whether it is in personal Bible Study, sermon prep, or just talking to another person of faith...cuz a whole lot of stuff people put on God ain't got nothing to do with God!

That’s why I’m so excited about Candice Benbow’s “Red Lip Theology” that comes out next week. With chapters entitled Suing God for Back Child Support and Amazing Grace for Side Chicks, she writes truthfully about what many of us have thought or experienced but wouldn’t dare share publicly because it would tarnish our good girl image.

I had the privilege to be on the book’s launch team. I’ve read the book and thank God for keeping Candice for such a time as this. She writes so intimately about her faith, experience with the Black church, and her questioning God when stuff just didn’t make sense. Her words let me know that I am not alone with my thoughts and feelings about God, the church, and a whole bunch of stuff in between.

For any of my sisters (especially those in your 30s and 40s) who are struggling with fragile faith, #Preorder your copy of Red Lip Theology today! It drops next week.

I’ve preordered a Kindle version, a hard copy version to gift to someone, and the Audible version to hear Candice tell her story in her own voice. Looking forward to hosting a book club next month where the sisters will have space to get free. I’m supporting my social media sister who I’ve grown to respect and I hope you will too. #Preorder yours today!

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“You can’t trust white people. Thats why we don’t go to church with them. Thats why we don’t live with them… that’s why we only deal with them at work and at school. And even there, they can’t be trusted. Because, when given the chance, they will choose white every time.”

I found this book very thought provoking. I enjoyed this read even if I disagreed with the author on a lot of the topics. I realize this is written from the authors perspective and we all have different experiences that shape us into who we become.

I was given a copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion of the book.

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I read three of the essays (We are Good Creation, God Made Me Black and Black Lace Teddies and Other Pieces I Rock Under the Anointing) as a preorder gift. When I read Candice’s words in each, I could identify with my own upbringing in the South, as a Baptist and as someone who is Black. Candice does an excellent job of bringing the reader into her world through her beautiful descriptions and her undeniable voice that is present throughout. However, in her share, I was able to have my own life mirrored back to me. It left me wanting to read more, and thankfully, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of the book.

This is the book I needed on the shelves when I searched Bible bookstores and Lifeway Christian when I was in high school and college for the questions that kept coming up for me about God and how I was to navigate living as a Christian. It is a book that does not condemn for questioning but gives permission to the reader to question. It does not seek to make us see God in the way Candice sees Godself, but it gives us all the ability to recognize that the way we each see God is not wrong if it doesn’t conform to the way we were brought up in the Black Church to see God.

So many times, I felt Candice was putting my feelings into words especially as it relates to how she felt in her relationship with God after the death of her mother, in her view on homosexuality and her transformation on the subject and in navigating what Christianity looked like for her. I appreciate this book so much for giving voice to so many of us who have not been able to be heard over the cries that we are sinners or are being deceived. I look forward to future books by Candice Benbow, and I’m grateful that she accepted the call on her life that her mother and pastor saw for her.

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A memoir about Candice’s experiences within the church and how her theology has changed throughout the years, being honest about both the positive and the negative. She speaks specifically about her experiences as a Black woman and the Black church community, her struggles with racism, sexism, and other prejudices. She shares honestly about wrestling with hot button issues in the church and finding her own place and truth.

I appreciated her honest questions and objections and giving me a new perspective with which to view my own faith and beliefs.

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I discovered Candice Benbow in December 2017 orating a powerful message titled, “My Lemonade Has Vodka In It”, this message stirred my spirit as Candice discussed her journey of healing, wholeness, and trusting God through the darkness, a place I found myself during that time. Candice’s fervor for Black womanhood, feminism, and faith are what make her the raw spiritual homegirl this generation needs.

In her debut novel, Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough, a prolific collection of essays dissecting and critiquing the implications and the redemption of a Black woman’s intimate journey through the intersection of feminism, faith, and authenticity. Candice has so eloquently written the experience of so many millennial Black girls who desired to love Jesus and themselves authentically. As a Black woman who grew up in church, this book is something I wish existed when I was growing up. I wrestled greatly with not fitting into the “Good Christian Girl” box because what do you do when you love God but also desire to show up as your full self. Candice’s words resonated with me deeply, “But, no matter what condition I find myself in at any given moment, I know I am fully loved by God. My faith is grounded in the teachings of Jesus, the wisdom of the ancestors, and the power of Black womanhood. Each has saved my life over and over again”.

It’s been long overdue for the critical lens Candice brings to the forefront in Red Lip Theology about the implications of the Black church on Black girls and women’s existence. There are nuances to the plight of Black women and our relationship to spirituality because as Benbow stated: “Black people have always been a spiritual people, but nobody is more spiritual than Black women. To love God and the Spirit is the legacy of Black women."

The full compilation is truth-telling in its rawest form; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight my favorite chapters: God Made Me Black, We Should All Be Womanists, Survived By a Special Friend, and Black Lace Teddies and Other Pieces I Rock Under the Anointing.

If you're a Black woman practicing faith, honoring your inner gangsta this book is for you. If you're a Black woman who believes in unpacking the nuances of faith and feminism this book is for you. If you are a Black woman ready to have a reckoning about your personal spiritual journey this book is for you. Candice's sheer audaciousness, authenticity, and vulnerability within each chapter will impact any Black girl or woman who loves God ferociously and desires to walk in her truth unapologetically.

In Writing Black Girl Solidarity!

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This is one of the new releases I was anticipating for 2022. I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of the book for review.

The author, Candice Marie Benbow is a social media personality, theologian and much more. In this book, she lays out what she calls “red lip theology”. It is how she interprets how millennial Black women experience God.

The book starts with a powerful foreword from Melissa Harris-Perry. Benbow then follows with chapters with thought provoking chapter titles that she links to the process of applying makeup starting with Foundation and ending with setting spray.

Benbow’s writing style is engaging. It feels as if she is having a conversation with the reader. It does not read like an academic, scholarly theological book. Some of the language she uses may offend some in Christian circles because she does use curse words.

This is a great book for someone who views themself as a feminist or womanist and wonders how this fits into Christianity and Black church settings.

I received a review copy of the book from Convergent Books through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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In “Red Lip Theology”, Candice Marie Benbow sets out, for a reader like me (a white woman) to “open new levels of understanding and ideological transformation” and she does it well. This book is primarily autobiographical, broken into subject-driven essays. As such, being an American, Black, Southern Baptist raised, woman is central to each and eye opening to those of us who aren’t. Whilst none of the challenges and heartaches raised were unfamiliar, putting flesh and bone, lived experience to topics such as #BlackLivesMatter, #ChurchToo and others is moving and compelling.

I deeply appreciated her honesty, and vulnerability. She has endured an immense amount and doesn’t shy away from sharing the darkest and hardest elements. She is brave, bold and inspiring. She is also thought-provoking, I may not agree with everything she says but I enjoyed the way she argued her perspective.

If you are looking for a challenging and interesting read, be sure to pick this one! It’s a four out of five on the enJOYment scale.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Convergent Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I grew up in the church & found myself bound by so many definitions of who people wanted me to be. The craziest part is- and I mean to use that term- what they were trying to get me to do/be, they hadn't been able to do/be either! This book spoke to my childhood, adolescence, and my adulthood, as I am navigating the waters of finding who God is to me. I am finding God in myself as I see my reflection in this book, and I am loving her.

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