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Sunday, 16 October 2016

CREATED TO BE HIS HELPMEET: A DANGEROUS BOOK



I am a conservative, a non-feminist and submissive wife. Even though there were some good things regarding bringing women back to godly principles in marriage, I found this book very disturbing. I had been a severely abused wife for 25 years. So from the angle of an abused wife, I would like to comment and speak up for those women too afraid or unable to speak for themselves.

Chapter 2: The ugly hillbilly woman- the first and main reason she is accounted as ‘Ugly’ by Debi Pearl, is that she is overweight! As an overweight woman, that stung! I may be overweight, but my husband and family and friends have never even intimated that I am ugly! The fact that a smile can change this “worse than regular ugly!” woman is hogwash. It takes more than a smile to change a character- though a smile does indeed help. To say that the woman became unrecognizable when she was caught scowling because she was upset at her obese daughter taking candy is a bit far-fetched (unless her husband is short-sighted or dim-witted) However, I do agree that we must cultivate a happy disposition and smile. Our husbands and family need to see that.

When I first read the letter to the desperate wife whose husband was having an emotional affair with his secretary my first response was that Mrs Pearl’s advice was wrong. Then I reconsidered and thought that there was truth in the advice that if the wife stood up for her rights (and indeed she was in the right)- and fought to win her man back, then that would be the better way to approach it than to end the marriage. I have seen marriages almost ruined by affairs become stronger than ever where the wife has stood her ground. But if the marriage fails, why does Mrs Pearl attest that “if you get another husband, he will be like your old one- cast off by some other woman”? Who is she to say that with such conviction? It is not necessarily true or a given fact!

But it is so true that you cannot force or demand your husband to love you and that he cannot be pressured to love you because you are husband and wife. But why does love come into the equation in a Christian marriage? Where are commitment, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and other Christ-like attributes like forbearance, integrity and obligation to keep the marriage vows simply because God says we must?

If one person does not want to be in a marriage, it is a sad fact of life that sometimes no matter how much the spouse who wishes to remain in the marriage tries to please the errant spouse, then the one wanting out will often leave or make it impossible to stay in the marriage by becoming violent or aggressive. Then, because of hardness of heart of the errant spouse, the prayers and efforts of the faithful spouse come to naught. Why? Because we are carnal creatures at times- both men and women. God sometimes cannot soften a heart that is turned from Him because He will not violate our free will. However,I believe if you loved your husband enough, you would fight for him. Or stay in the marriage until it was impossible to remain safely in it.

We do see a bit of the “boys will be boys” mentality in this chapter, and I have to wonder if this is biased towards men being helpless creatures bewitched under the guiles of wicked women- Jezebels all. I know that men are called to account to God for their sins and being a man who can’t control his thought life and actions is not being a godly man. It does seem that the wife is to bear the burden of blame for her husband’s sin and then take it on the chin! And smile, smile, smile through her tears!

Another sore point with me is where she says,” being pitiful, hurt, discouraged and even sickly is one side of a “bad marriage” coin. Men in general (your husband in particular), are repulsed by women who project this image. A man’s spirit tells him his woman is rejecting him manipulating him when she regularly manifests a broken spirit, and he will react in anger.”

As a woman who suffers from an illness that causes chronic pain and fatigue, I am so overjoyed to report that my husband doesn’t treat me as a faulty appliance which causes him great anger, but he cherishes me and tries to alleviate my suffering on bad days by sharing in my tasks and closing an eye to that which can’t be done on any particular day. After all, we promised to love each other in sickness and in health. Isn’t that type of commitment what God wants in marriage? So this chapter got me thanking God for the blessing of a husband who puts me first when I need it. (see Sick Wives Are Despised By Their Husbands: Debi Pearl)

Chapter 4: Thanksgiving produces joy. Whilst I can see Mrs Pearl’s point about not getting upset about the trash not being taken out, I think she is a little (much?) on the immature side when she finds screaming like that funny. IMO she is mighty fortunate to have a man who can see the funny side- especially when he has not been in the habit of taking trash out for her. And then to see her struggling week after week with the trash and not help her seems really inconsiderate to me.

Also I am uncomfortable that a woman who is teaching other women to be godly wives forgets that we are to be discreet- especially when our intimate lives are involved. It is not very discreet to almost hope that the business manager comes in and then to have a scream ready to embarrass the poor man! Yes, we are to be our husband’s playmate! I agree 100% but then I agree with the Word which clearly says: ” as a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” Proverbs 11:22

To not care about the feelings of the business manager but in fact to entertain thoughts of him finding Mr and Mrs Pearl frolicking or worse yet, in flagrant delicto, is absolutely contrary to Scripture. We are not to be the cause of another person to stumble- apart from being very embarrassing to the staff, I am sure most of them would think Mr and Mrs Pearl extremely indiscreet and insensitive- lovemaking should be enjoyable, fun and PRIVATE!

Chapter 5: the gift of wisdom: In the beginning of this chapter, IMO Mrs Pearl is putting a great deal of pressure on the wife to be the prime force behind a successful marriage. If the marriage is not a heavenly one, it would seem in her opinion, that the wife is not submitting or being thankful and joyful. Whilst I agree that basically what she says is true, there are marriages where normal boundaries are overstepped and it is impossible to be thankful or joyful- for example after a beating or some other horrendously humiliating experience. Now it is extremely difficult if not impossible, to be thankful to and for the husband who is like this.

Marriage is a two-way street. A man is to love his wife as his own body- no man hates his own body but cherishes it (Ephesians 5:28) To completely negate this by saying that a wife should love and respect her husband regardless is OK- to a point. But what of the badly abused wife? It is impossible to be a loving responsive wife in the evening after that same man has bruised you physically and emotionally during the day. At best our body can be receptive, but our heart cannot join in with loving responses. The fear overrides all else.

I feel Mrs Pearl is totally unable to empathise with a wife who is badly abused and to add the pressure of maintaining or creating a “heavenly” marriage in such a case is not only impossible but invites the poor woman to break down emotionally or even doubt or lose her faith! Mrs Pearl is preaching the truth for the majority of marriages- but not for all!
As a woman nearly beaten to the point of death in my first marriage, I take great exception to this:(the abusive harsh husband)…”But he cannot victimize you unless you react outside of the wisdom of God.” This is such hogwash! When your jaw is dislocated or your ribs broken, it is a normal reaction to feel pain. Then to fear being hurt like that again. It is hopeful that the godly woman will turn to God in her pain and not feel rejected by Him. To even continue in a marriage like this takes more faith and obedience than Mrs Pearl will ever know personally.

I did as Mrs Pearl advocates: I held my tongue and didn’t strike back in anger. I tried not to feel sorry for myself and protected HIM from the consequences of his sin by not going to the law and telling my doctor lies about how my injuries came about. I understand what Mrs Pearl is saying but I also understand that there are some men walking so much in sin that it goes WAY BEYOND TRASH BAGS NOT BEING TAKEN OUT. Preaching like Mrs Pearl’s saw me come to the point of a nervous breakdown.

When you feel like God doesn’t intervene or care or if you leave your husband, that you are going to Hell, and are therefore trapped in a cycle of abuse that makes you vomit up everything you eat because of fear, then you have nowhere to go but down into the pit of Hell itself. I am adamant that God does care, and doesn’t want any wife to be treated in this way. But I realise that on the other side of the coin, there are many wives who will justify leaving their husbands for a minor infringement like not taking the trash out! So this chapter has to be read assuming that a marriage is not in the extreme range of violence against the woman.

I wasn’t going to get personal in my critique, but maybe some women reading this will identify and be helped by what I write! Balance, dear Sisters, balance and wisdom in ALL things! So this chapter to me is one where I nod and turn the page over!

I have made notes of other things both good and bad to comment on, but I now realise that in all honesty, the more I delve into this book, the more I find it disturbs me. There are too many things that Debi Pearl writes about that are not backed up by scripture and in other situations, I feel that she and Michael offer no real answer for those married to men who are habitually abusing their wives. I am not really well enough at the moment to write about each and every chapter, so I will make a blanket critique of this book by saying in my opinion,  the advice is often unrealistic and even dangerous- especially about keeping silent if you are a wife suffering from abuse.

My belief is that when a wife comes to the point of shedding blood or having bones broken by her husband then the authorities should be notified, her doctor should be consulted and treatment given and her pastor should be informed. I regret that I followed the “suffering in silence” method of dealing with my own physical abuse and almost ended up dying at my ex husband’s hands. To counsel women along the lines of silent suffering is not wise counsel and downright dangerous.

So in closing, I would say that I have changed my mind about recommending the book- I would caution all those who read it to keep in mind that husbands do indeed have no right before God or man to so damage their wife that she suffer real physical damage. Christian or not- the red line is crossed when a woman or child is hit enough to cause any damage.

We have many excellent books on Christian marriage that are equally good in bringing women back to remembering that they are helpmeets. IMO the Pearls book is not totally backed up in scripture and is therefore erroneous teaching and dangerous as well. I now would say that my findings are 90% rubbish and 10% good teaching. If you are in a marriage where you are not living in fear every waking moment, praise God! I am happy for you, however, I am speaking up for thousands of godly Christian Sisters who are not! They need your prayers and compassion badly- something that Debi and Michael Pearl seem to be lacking!

Here are some books that are by far better than CTBHH:
“The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective” by Martha Peace.

Leslie Vernick’s ‘How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong’

Gary Chapman: ‘The 5 Love Languages’ and ‘On the Marriage You Always Wanted.’

And by John Piper: ‘What is the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.’

"The Power Of A Positive Wife” by Karol Ladd

‘Feminine Appeal: 7 Virtues of a Godly Wife’ and

‘Mother and/or Biblical Womanhood in the Home’…both written by Nancy Leigh Demoss.

Other greats include ‘Lord, Meet Me in the Laundry Room’ by Barbara Curtis as well as

‘The Mother at Home’.

© Glenys Robyn Hicks

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for directing me to your blog after reading my review of CTBHH. By the grace of God, I have never been emotionally or physically abused by anyone. My heart breaks for all that you've had to endure. When I read this book, I took from it what would apply to my life. Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to what she had to say about abusive husbands because it wasn't relevant to my life. However, I know she did encourage women whose husbands were doing something illegal (which abuse is) to turn them over to the authorities. As for her advising to "suffer in silence", I vaguely remember this, but if this is true, I would definitely advise against following Mrs. Pearl's advice. The one thing I would disagree with you on is this statement: "God sometimes cannot soften a heart that is turned from Him because He will not violate our free will.". To state that God cannot soften a heart implies that He is not all-powerful. Should God chose to change a heart, He will. But it is all up to His choosing. Sometimes He chooses not to soften a heart. Romans 9:14-18 tells us that God has mercy on whom He has mercy. It also states that it is not determined by our will but by His mercy. I know that wasn't specifically related to the book, but I wanted to point that out to you in love. ;). As for what you have said about the book, I can see where your comment from. I do stand by what I said in my review about going back to scripture any time we read something outside of the Bible as well as "digesting the meat an spitting out the bones". As stated in my first review of this book, I did get a lot from it as far as the way I think about my husband directly affects how I treat him. Anyways, this comment is long enough. ;). God bless!

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    1. "...When I read this book, I took from it what would apply to my life. Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to what she had to say about abusive husbands because it wasn't relevant to my life.

      However, I know she did encourage women whose husbands were doing something illegal (which abuse is) to turn them over to the authorities".....

      Because it wasn’t relevant to your life shows that there is limited understanding of the way an abused woman reacts. She simply cannot afford to have her husband put away in case it backfires. Usually when an abuser returns to the home after incarceration, there is a brief honeymoon period, then the cycle repeats. Because of the fear that she experiences, the abused wife knows that to go against him will very possibly result in another beating and an exacerbation of the abuse further down the track. One has to envision the fear that constant abuse causes.

      "....The one thing I would disagree with you on is this statement: "God sometimes cannot soften a heart that is turned from Him because He will not violate our free will.". To state that God cannot soften a heart implies that He is not all-powerful. Should God chose to change a heart, He will. But it is all up to His choosing. Sometimes He chooses not to soften a heart. Romans 9:14-18 tells us that God has mercy on whom He has mercy. It also states that it is not determined by our will but by His mercy. I know that wasn't specifically related to the book, but I wanted to point that out to you in love. ;)" ....

      Point taken. However, in a lot of cases, a hard heart is not softened. Only God can answer why… but that is His right… In waiting for this to occur, the abused wife usually stays in the toxic and unsafe marriage, praying fervently and frequently…. Often she stays far too long, resulting in serious injury or even death….. I know this for a fact, because I heard and saw it in the many womens’ refuges I went to with my children over the years…and I stayed in a dangerous marriage far too long, waiting for something that for one reason or another, didn’t happen!

      "...As for what you have said about the book, I can see where your comment from. I do stand by what I said in my review about going back to scripture any time we read something outside of the Bible as well as "digesting the meat an spitting out the bones". As stated in my first review of this book, I did get a lot from it as far as the way I think about my husband directly affects how I treat him."....

      I have no doubt that there are good some results in marriages from this book, however there are many instances where it is not only dangerous in certain situations, but unscriptural as well…Check out the Pearls theology on sin and man....

      I stand by my comments on behalf of all abused wives suffering in silence whilst praying for God to soften their hard hearted husbands.... and I pray for the ones whose silence is now broken along with their spirit, bones and homes....

      Thanks for taking the time to share over tea today!

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  2. Yes, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm so thankful Christians can respectfully discuss differing opinions without getting ugly. As for all you've said concerning abused wives, I appreciate you sharing those truths with me, as I have not experienced the tragedy of abuse. I can see how it would become a vicious cycle. I would say that the abused women should escape the abuse but continue to genuinely pray for the salvation of her abuser. After all, we are called to pray for our enemies. Wouldn't you agree? Though I don't know the abuse you've known, I will join you in standing up for the abused through praying for them. When, and if, someone approaches me and reveals they are in an abusive relationship, I will do what I can to help them get out of the relationship. Any further suggestions would be helpful.

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    1. Alana, I believe that you would be a sweet friend and support to any abused wife who came to you... and I believe that you want to help Christian marriages thrive through CTBHH...
      I really am praying that many who read it who bought it to help in their abusive relationship will not take Mrs Pearls advice for themselves, when in fact they should be making an escape plan. In response to my critique of CTBHH for Mrs Pamela Spurling of A Christian Home, many women shared grievances and misgivings about both her advice in this book and To Teach a Child, and in the Pearls theology regarding sin and man. It is easily seen to be false teaching. Because abuse in marriage is swept under the carpet for a long time, we do not realise how prevalent it is... my hope is that we can share the dangers of these books and not recommend them. Thanks for sharing over a cuppa... you have a gentle spirit! Blessings!

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  3. From what I have read about the Pearls, they come across as psychos. I don't like the "blame the woman for everything" attitude that comes across in what I've read about them. The man is supposed to be the leader, but in too many Christian women's blogs, it seems like the wife is the back seat driver and encourages other Christian wives to be the same. Like the woman's behavior is the most important, and the man is just the reactor to her behavior. This is not right. Men can think for themselves and lead without the woman making them or letting them. Or, they should.

    Yes, I believe if a woman is being really abused she should get out of there before she is killed. Definitely. Yes, she should pray for the abusive husband, that he will be convicted of his sin and saved. Then, all you can do is move on. Leave him to God -- pray that God will forgive him, which hinges on repentance.

    I agree with you on the free will aspect. God gives his creatures awesome free will. I am not a Calvinist. I guess God is strong enough to do that and deal with the consequences of His decision to do that. That is awesome.

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    1. There is so much wrong with their theology and books... thanks for sharing a cuppa with me.

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  4. Amen. Having been in an abusive marriage and gotten out, and being in a "normal" loving marriage now, I also cannot recommend The Created to be His Helpmeet book. Thanks for your transparency! Women who are being abused and then given this book need to know that Debi is well-meaning, but not correct in her thinking. I hope all those women see your blog!

    I remember begging God to help me, and in a dream He said he was going to pack his bags, that I no longer had to carry any burdens. When I made the choice to leave, I had to be willing to let go of all my material belongings (and I was the only one who had worked for them), but then the choice was actually made for me! My ex found someone else and left me! I was mad and sad for two weeks before I said, "Why am I sad? I'm FREE!" and my life is soooooo good now! I think women in these relationships just need to get out.

    Another book that is far better is "Me? Obey Him?" by Elizabeth Rice Handford. Even Fascinating Womanhood is better because she doesn't advocate staying with an abusive man! But these books are NOT for women in abusive relationships. These kind of books are just helpful in understanding men and how to live with them : ) They don't advocate being a doormat. Janine

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    1. I agree that Debi is well meaning... but being in the position of being able to publish multiple publications quoting scripture inaccurately and then giving bad advice, makes her dangerous! Especially knowing that many people, also with good intentions, follow her erroneous advice, makes this tragic... I am so glad you got out of that abusive marriage. Blessings, Glenys

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