When I first read Debi Pearl’s Created to Be His Help Meet, I wanted to burn it.
I had liked it for the first several chapters, but then she kept making me so mad with the conclusions she was coming to, and the language she was using, and the points she was making. If you’ve never heard of Created to Be His Help Meet, it’s a book for wives on how to make your marriage a “heavenly marriage”, focusing on the Scriptures that deal directly with women and wives. She doesn’t shy away from verses like 1 Corinthians 11:3 (“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”) and 1 Timothy 2:14 (“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”). For that very reason, Pearl’s book is one that is either loved, or despised. I’ve read absolutely venomous reviews of this book, and if you’ve heard of it you’ve likely heard at least something negative about it, such as “Debi is heartless”, “Debi has no grace” and “Her book promotes female servitude”.
When I first read it, I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind and give it a fair hearing, but I eventually got so mad at her that I gave it back to the person who loaned it to me, without finishing it. I came to many of the same conclusions as those negative reviewers I’d read about – that Debi was heartless, and that her expectations were unrealistic, and that living like she writes about (submitting to and obeying your husband in everything) was just unrealistic and ridiculous.
Fast forward nearly a year, and for some reason I couldn’t get Created out of my head. I went back to the shelves of the lady I borrowed it from, and sat down to just flip through the book and see if it were as bad as I remembered. Almost as soon as I started reading, I didn’t feel indignation like last time – I felt conviction. It was like Debi was talking straight at me, forcing me to confront stinking attitudes that I’d been recently harboring in my marriage. After nearly an hour with my nose glued to the book, I realized that only in two parts of the entirety of Created to Be His Help Meet did I truly believe Debi’s conclusions and attitudes to be wrong. Setting those two sections aside, I was literally covered in chills as I read through the rest of the book. The very next day I ordered my own copy and have been reading through it thoroughly for the past week and a half.
Let me tell you (especially you fellow wives) – by putting the principles in this book into practice, the results of just one week have been astounding.
Several times this past week, Galen and I have literally just looked at each other in awe. It was as if we were asking, “What in the world has changed? We were very happy before, but this is marriage on a whole new level!” I honestly believe that much of the change has been in me – I am finally putting submission, reverence and obedience to my husband into full practice. It’s been a rather subtle, yet ground-breaking shift for me in my heart. Galen didn’t even notice that I’d been having this mental revelation and heart change. What he did notice was the sudden increase in good communication, laughter, a feeling of intimacy and closeness, deepening friendship and just overall super-charged improvement in every area of our marriage all of a sudden. It’s been nothing short of glorious.
Don’t get me wrong! I’ve always been a huge believer in the woman’s place of Biblical submission to her husband and the husband’s role of leadership in the family, and a strong opponent of feminism. But honestly, I think that the church has let a heck of a lot more feminism (or at least political correctness) seep into the minds and teaching of the believers than we think. When’s the last time you heard a sermon preached on 1 Timothy 2? Or 1 Corinthians 14:34? Uh…probably never. Or if you have heard those passages mentioned from the pulpit, it was likely introduced and ushered away again with a dozen or so caveats and explanations. Almost every sermon I’ve ever heard on the wife’s submission to the husband has been cushioned all around with explanations – “Of course this doesn’t mean that the wife is a doormat!” “Paul never meant for women to be treated as lesser than men!” “If a husband tries to lead the wife into sin, she should definitely not submit!”.
All of these statements are absolutely true. But the result usually is that the potency and simplicity and directness of those Scriptures are watered down. There are certainly some really bad situations where the husband is abusive, treats his wife like a slave, and tries to force her into sinful practices – all in the name of Biblical submission. But for the vast majority of Christian marriages (including mine), none of these factors ever comes into play: not even close. Usually, the issues that a wife gets her dander up about are really very secondary when you think of it – the husband is spending more money than the wife is comfortable with, his tone of voice can get snappy, he likes a TV show that the wife considers too violent. Fill in the blanks. No clear sin – just “issues”. The issues that I usually get upset about are equally simple, but seem so important at the time. It’s easy to get worked into a frenzy over things that you want your husband to change – especially if you feel like it’s a really important issue. Most Christian wives at least try to hold their tongues on the small things, but feel obligated (sometimes morally obligated) to do their duty and “put their foot down” if the issue is big enough.
That’s where I was having trouble. I had no problem submitting to Galen with a myriad of everyday choices, and even some “big” issues, but I always felt that if some future issue was really big enough (like moving somewhere I didn’t want to, or making a really big purchase that would be financially “foolish”) I had the right to put my foot down. I’d never used that trump card throughout our whole marriage, but I kept it in the back of my mind just in case. When he started leading us in a direction that I thought was a bad idea, I’d mentally take that card out and turn it over in my hands, considering if now was perhaps the time to use it. The result of this “trump card mentality” never brought about anything but my own discontent and an occasional feeling of rebellion. I’d return pretty quickly to contentment and submission once I’d decided that the issue at hand wasn’t worth it, but it was still a habit that I didn’t feel quite right about.
Through Created, I was thoroughly convicted of not taking the “submit to your husbands in everything” Scripture literally. Or the “respect and obey your husbands” verse. I took it to what I considered its reasonable conclusion (and felt pretty good about it, since I was submitting and obeying more than some other wives), and the results were really good. We’ve always had a fantastic marriage. But now that Debi has challenged me to trust and obey those scriptures absolutely and not just mostly, the results are beyond amazing! I have more peace, have been more content, more in love and have had more joy than I ever had in my life. And it’s not like I did anything that dramatic – I didn’t go from being a rebellious, screaming wife to being calm and obedient. I just went from being a 94.76% obedient/submissive wife to a 100% obedient/submissive wife. And now I finally understand why Debi calls marriage “heavenly.”
I’m so young that I don’t feel quite qualified to give marriage advice just yet. But I want to spread the word about this book to every single wife I know (and every wife I don’t know) in hopes that it will help them to have an amazing marriage! I want to challenge my unmarried and married friends alike to fully trust and believe the Lord and His Word so they can experience the peace and joy that I’ve been basking in lately. I want to encourage wives to throw away their “trump cards” and stop “putting their feet down” (because really, the only time to not obey is if your husband is directly leading you to imminent harm and sin – in which case “putting your foot down” would be a pretty weak response). I’d encourage you to stop your ears to the indignant voices that scream that such teachings will only foster servitude, fearful and mousy wives and will degrade women.
It’s just not true.
Like any Scripture, the Scriptures commanding wives to submit to, reverence and obey their husbands can of course be twisted far out of their meaning, turning them into something horrible. But again, like any Scripture, if you trust the Lord and His promises and put them to action in your life, amazing things will happen. I’m still a very young and inexperienced wife – I know that our marriage hasn’t been tested like some have, and that we haven’t experienced the difficulties that others have experienced. But I do know that God’s Word is always true, and that God is good all the time and that His intentions for His children are always good.
Just try Him and see if He’s as good as His Word. You won’t be disappointed.