Monday, June 6, 2011

Created To Be His Helpmeet

On my last post, I mentioned a book by Debi Pearl about marriage.  I didn't realize that I had gone on such a tangent in my review until two people mentioned it to me.  One gal emailed me and asked me what my concerns about the book are.  I thought I would post my concerns here.

It was a few years ago when I started reading Created to be his 
helpmeet.  I wrote this review on Amazon at the time...

"I was very discouraged by this book.  To summarize briefly what this 
book is about--Ms. Pearl addresses what it means to be a submissive wife and how one would live that out.  What I read didn't sit with me, 
though I do agree with all that I've read in the Bible--that wives are to 
submit to their husbands. 

When I read Created to be His Helpmeet, I began to get very upset and my husband suggested that I stop reading it and just read the Bible. I 
stopped at that point. But, I picked it up recently to try and understand a woman I knew who had been very encouraged by it. I gave the book to my husband, who read several excerpts.  He told me to throw it away.  And this is why... 

I am going to try and say this very kindly (unlike how she speaks in her book). My 
husband felt demeaned by how she wrote about Godly men. He felt she was sarcastic, rude, 
and very inappropriate in how she addressed matters in the book. He also felt that her 
advice was very manipulative and passive aggressive in how to handle conflicts.  Finally, 
he told me to throw it away, because the more he read, the more concerned he was. 

Now someone might want to say to me, well you must not be a very submissive wife if you 
struggled with that book. I will admit, I do struggle with submission, but I think all 
women do--it has been a part of our nature--from the time of Eve's sin.  I have 
spoken to my husband about this, and he does feel I am submissive and that I do honor 
him--and that is what matters to me and I believe--to God. My feelings about the book 
were that her tone was sharp and critical and that she was lacking grace in her approach 
to marriage. Ms. Pearl retold a story and described a woman as "hillbilly ugly" 
rather than just saying she was not very striking or that one didn't notice her at first 
glance. I'm sure there are many other things she could have said that would have had more
grace than the words she used. 

So, my caution is this...if someone suggests this book to you, peruse it first, before you buy it--and be careful! If you struggle with a critical spirit or a harsh tone of voice, I do not think this book 
would be a wise read.  It would encourage any cynicism you might have about your husband's 

Honestly, this book grieves my heart because of all the young women who may have read it 
and felt condemned or trapped because of its advice.  When a book takes on a black and white, critical tone--ie.  if you do this, you are right and if you don't, then you are wrong-- it finds itself 
verging on being legalistic. 

I just wanted to pass that caution along to you. 

One friend told me that she felt the author's point to be that you need to stay in your 
marriage through thick and thin. This I agree with whole heartedly, but I think that 
message is mired down in this book. Please be very cautious about this book... 
That was my review from several years ago.

The story that I remember most from the book was of a woman who's husband was having an 
affair.  Ms. Pearl advised the woman to stay in her marriage and not confront her husband 
because if she did she'd be left with the kids in a small apartment and her husband would 
get everything.  I didn't mention this story in my review.  We are called at times to 
confront sin in our spouse's lives.  It is a difficult thing to do.  I felt very 
unsettled by the advice Ms. Pearl gave the woman in this situation.  Based on the advice, it was as if the woman was stuck and could do nothing.   
Because of my own struggles with this book and others that I've read about submission, I have 
been searching for a book about submission that explained it in 
a gracious, loving way.  I found one in the fall titled Dancing With the One You Love by 
Cindy Easley.  I have found that submission is often written about in a very black and 
white way.  I think this is hard for many women because submission doesn't look the same 
in each of our marriages.  One of my friends was very quiet with her husband and 
didn't speak to him in the way I do with my husband.  She was a submissive wife, but I am too.  It just looks different in our marriages.  My husband and I probably have more 
conflict than they did, but I do submit to my husband and trust him.  Because of who 
he and I are our marriage works differently.  I weigh my words, but I'm not very quiet.  

I know that this is a book that many women have been encouraged by.  I hope I didn't 
offend anyone by alluding to it in my review a few days ago.  If I did, please forgive me.  I would 
be glad to dialogue with anyone about it and I'd love to hear why it encouraged you or if there 
was a particular story in the book that encouraged you.  There was another book that was 
similar to Created To Be His Helpmeet.  I spoke with a gal who read that book recently.  I had cautioned her about how the book could come across at times.  After reading it, she shared with me that she could understand how it could be unwise for a young believer to read it.  A mature 
believer could sift through and find the grace in the words in the book, but to a young believer 
the book likely would come across as very legalistic.  My husband defined legalism for me 
recently as the conviction that what one is doing is right coupled with a critical spirit 
of others who feel convicted differently.  Perhaps the same view could be taken of 
Created to Be His Helpmeet?  Perhaps it is a book that can be filtered wisely.    

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