Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Biblical evaluation - join the discussion!

We believe Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Helpmeet, like any book, should be tested by Scripture. My wife and I spent many hours over many days thinking about this book and researching our Bibles. We came to the following conclusions, but we are eager to hear your thoughts.

All the quotations from our critique of Created to Be His Helpmeet come from the 2004 edition by Debi Pearl, published by No Greater Joy Ministries.

We welcome disagreement on this blog, but have enabled comment moderation to ensure that the discussion remains respectful & focused. We will *only* delete those comments that attack other's motives or character.

33 comments:

not-a-pearl-fan said...

Thank you for spending the time to write about this so thoroughly. Your comments are well written and clear. The Pearls have flown under the radar for a long time and have gotten a pass because they give the initial impression of being a harmless, quaint and down to earth couple. I am relieved that you and others are starting to expose some of the concerns about their ministry.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for someone to review this book without fearing that they would be considered rebellious or unbiblical for a long time. Previous reviews on this subject have pussyfooted so carefully around the issues that the main point, which is that this book contains serious error, has not been obvious.

I followed Debi Pearl's advice, as written in the Pearl's No Greater Joy newsletter, back in the '90s, long before the book. Far from creating a "heavenly marriage", it enabled abuse and ultimately destroyed my marriage.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your service to the Body of Christ. May the word about this blog get out!

Eliza said...

Thank you for this evaluation of this book. I read this book as a newlywed and put it into practice. This caused great damage to my marriage and to my husband's soul. Please let me explain.

My husband was not saved, although he attended church and faked the Christian walk. After we married, he was very controlling and emotionally abusive. The advice in this book is to allow abuse cheerfully and to be a queen to your control-freak "king". When I followed this advice, the abuse got worse. Rather than melting my husband's heart and making a better man of him, it encouraged him to continue his bad behavior. He thought that he could do and say whatever he wanted and get away with it-- even be reverenced for it-- because he was the one with all the power. As Pearl advised, I meekly and cheerfully endured, smiling even when I was dying inside. I protected his dirty secrets and never told anyone about the abuse, even though it was obvious to everyone. This is much too heavy a weight for a weaker vessel to carry, but the Pearl book says it was my Christian duty.

To make a long story short, my husband spiralled into adultery and cocaine addiction and nearly killed himself. This never would have happened if I had held him accountable for his wicked and self-destructive behavior. Finally, I took a stand, walked out on him, and told him that if things didn't change, it was over. I talked to our pastor and his family about his (obvious) drug use and they stepped in to help him. His secrets were exposed, he was ashamed, he tearfully apologized, and we began working to heal our marriage and our lives. He began to draw closer to God. We still have issues, but I take a stand now and refuse to allow such depravity in our marriage.
To silently suffer mistreatment by your husband is not honoring him. It is enabling him, and it is warping your children. A wife is a partner-- a helper for her husband. A helper does not allow a man to destroy himself while she pretends that nothing's wrong.

Again, thank you for exposing the lies in this book. Your review has helped me a great deal, since I am trying to be a good, submissive wife without being a mindless doormat.

HelpedMeet said...

Thank you, Eliza, for sharing your experience.

Not having experienced abuse in my family, I can speak only from a theoretical and Biblical point of view. Speaking from experience is very different and uniquely helpful. Your redeemed painful experience gives you a special voice and responsibility to help other couples, as you are doing by posting this comment. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I have read several of the comments and the discussion points they are about and really think most of you have missed the point with this book and definitely missed Debi Pearl's heart motive behind writing this book. God's word is truth and truth is very hard on our flesh. I couldn't have stomached this book a few years ago. I would have felt it was too harsh and would have jumped on this discussion as a means to justify my hurt feelings, but as I am growing in the Lord and asking Him to fill me with His truth I am willing to look deep inside myself and let my flesh be offended. If anyone is feeling offended, go to God and ask Him about it. We, as fleshly humans, often attack what offends us. Don't discard this book just because you are offended; Jesus spoke of hard truth in John 6:60-63. Don't let your easily-offended flesh keep you from the truth. Finding others who agree with your offense will not help you find the truth, it will only keep you blinded to it. Look to your Lord and Savior.

HelpedMeet said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for your encouragement. The truth can be offensive indeed, but so can untruth. This book seems to contain some of both.

If, while reading "Created to be His Help Meet," you were able to focus on the truth, without being misled by the false, then you have been blessed. This blog was not written for your sake.

Our concern is to help people, if they decide to read this book, winnow the chaff from the wheat, based on the reliable guide of Scripture. Indeed, we look to our Lord and Savior, including to His Message.

Anonymous said...

As I have councelled dear friends, only our Lord God gave truely inspired advice on relationships. With every book you read, you have to take the positive you can get from it and apply it to your life, and leave the rest of it. What applies to you might not be the same thing that applies to someone else. Debi Pearl writes compilations from her readers, therefore touches on concerns from conglomerations of people and I found lots of great useful information and then some that was not. As well, she intended this book to be read and used by MARRIED women, women who are seeking to understand how to subject to their husbands. I actually saw you taking some of her comments out of context and applying them to women in general, when in truth they are for married women only. For married women, being subject to the husband isis is a God-instituted, and commanded, responsibility and is neccessary for the marriage to reach it's greatest joys. It is a noble thing for married women to seek to understand this, but does not detract from their personal relationship from their Lord. If you have ever been in a relationship where you are alone in speaking to your God, it is such a blessing to have your husband be able to go to the throne for you as well. As I can see from your commentary about yourselves, you are not without this sharedness, so you may not understand this aloneness and may be missing her point. Like you have said, I do have issues with following your husband into physically dangerous territory and I do not feel that God calls us to endanger our temple in which he dwells, he actually calls us to care for it. He also calls us to care for our children, and that it would be better to be killed than to lead our children away from God, so I would also have serious reservations about continually leading my children up in a household that would evenually indulge my children in sinful ways. I, for one, was able to preservere, and "win over" my husband to more Christlike ways by my quiet and humble behavior. All the years of talking and preaching before had not worked. Only when I submitted, even though he was not walking in the light, did he begin to see the light. But, you do have to use your smart senses, and not endanger your safety. You can give your husband some time while your children are small, as I did, but I would have some reservations about continuing on if my children became of age to begin taking on those very same behaviors, because it is also our job to ensure our children's salvational training. I would have to do some prayerful soul searching in that instance to weigh my duty to train my children in the admonition of the Lord vs. my covenant above all others to my husband. I cannot answer that one as confidently as Mrs. Pearl has. I do give her much more grace than you have, however, in that she does have a lot to offer, and that I think she did not mean her comments to detract from women's abilities to have more for themselves than it seems you took from it. I have become more empowered now that I have tasted the relationship as God meant it to be. The wife role as the Lord truly meant it, although it is more submissive than I had been, also has much more power than I thought it would. It is just something you have to experience to understand. She truly means no harm, I fully believe, and was trying to convey her happiness in marriage so that others may enjoy such a rich life as she has, just as you are trying to do likewise. It is a difficult thing to do, with the written word. I give her some grace.

HelpedMeet said...

Thank you, anonymous, for this thoughtful comment. I find myself essentially agreeing with you. We absolutely support submission and see its importance. Thank you for sharing the Bible coming true in your own life. This core element of Debbi's book is quite precious and, if you can take this away without getting mired in the mistakes, it is a beautiful gift. I apologize greatly if I have written without sufficient grace; I take your correction gratefully. I also believe "giving grace" does not entail letting error stand.

beloved said...

I am relieved to find someone who has felt the same way I have about this book. I simply wasn't able to back up my feelings with scripture.I have been married for 21 years and during that time my husband and I have been in and out of counseling with our pastor. The past 2 years have been very difficult and we are once again in counseling. My pastor gave us this book for us both to read and to help me learn what my role as a wife and help meet is. I don't agree with many of the same points you have brought up.If it is alright with you, I would like to use your points of refernce during our meetings .I don't disagree with many of Mrs. Pearl's and I have even laughed at some of the things in the book. It has several good points but as you mentioned, there are also many that just simply don't seem to line up correctly. Thank you again..blessings to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

So I'm wondering. I have been reading this book. I admit I just scanned through the first few chapters,so some of what you are talking about I may have missed. But for the most part I like what she says. So am I wrong? I've sort of just taken discarded the parts I didn't agree with. I know there is only one book I'll totally agree with,or should,that's the Word. I guess I just saw things different when I read some of the stuff you have talked about? Anyways. I'm enjoying reading your critique,none the less. :) God Bless!

Woman of Faith said...

Thank you for your wonderful and biblical response to this book. Someone gave it to my daughter when she got married and as I read it I was confounded again and again by her utter lack of grace toward women, especially those who were in difficult situations. I have been married for almost 30 year and have been through some incredibly tough times. I could not even read the whole book, because I was so offended by her tone of disgust. I agree wholeheartedly that the way she addressed some of the letters etc should never be toward God's children.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how often we take the power of God and prayer out of the equasion. This book was extreemly helpful to me in the early years of my mairrage. I had a husband who had a head relationship with God, but not a heart one. He was controling, and harsh when things didn't go his way. He was not the man that I thought I was marrying, and I had alot to learn and adjust to as a young wife at 18. This book helped me to focus on my relationship with God dispite what my husband was doing, and instead of nagging my husband, I submitted him to God through prayer. Many a days I cried out to my God to change my husband, because I knew that only He could. I in turn continued to strengthen my relationship with Christ, to work on becoming a better wife, to learn to anticipate my husbands needs, and to draw my worth and strength from Christ, not from how my husband treated me. The result was amaizing. I was genuinely joyful and content (When my focus was on Christ, not myself.) Today I am a happily married woman, to a transformed man.

The process was not easy, and not quick, but God has done a work in my husband, where the praise and glory can go to Christ alone. Because of the Help Meet book, I didn't look to my husband for my worth or my soul purpose for living, I looked to Christ who gave me a supernatural love, and forgivness for my husband. I was able to look at him through Christ's eyes and see that God had a plan for him, and I wanted to see God bring it to pass. God is perfectly capable of dealing with our husbands. I believe that Debbi in her book is calling us to believe this. My feeble attempts to play my husbands holy spirit may have gotten temporal action, but it didn't change his heart. God is the only one that can change our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. My husband cherishes me all the more for, in his words,"putting up with him." He is a now a man after God own heart, sensitive to my needs, unbelievably helpful, and thankful for my faithful prayers. I love what Paul says in Galations 6:9 "let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart."

I agree that Debbi is speaking specifically to Married woman, and as a married woman your ministry is first to your husband and children. If you take the Holy spirit out of the eqaution, then sure, this book can be dangerous, and our marraiges hopeless. It is only by the holy spirit the we can love others, and our husbands as Christ loved the church, with reckless abandon. Christ gave Himself not because we deserved it, but for His glory that He may redeem us unto Himself. I think we forget somtimes that we serve an Almighty God, who will not let our prayers fall to the ground. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

My husband and I now pray regularly together, and hold one another accountable, and he welcomes my input. I give all glory to Jesus Christ with whom all things are possible! Our faith in action can do great things, and will be contagious. I hope this makes sense, and is helpful. I wasn't offended at all by her book, but rather enlightened and encouraged.Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I've recently been reading this book after having come out of an abusive marriage about six years ago. Clearly, Mrs. Pearl has had no personal experience with abuse to either herself or children. When you come home and find your youngest child who is still in diapers bloody and bruised I find it hard to believe anyone could stand by and accept this. Also, please remember that men today, in most cases, have not been raised to be the leader of the family, spiritual or otherwise. I found this book to be a wealth of information, however, as with everything you must take the time to confer with His Word and in Prayer.

Anonymous said...

I think this book MUST be considered in its entire context. I read it 5 years ago right before I got married, and coming from a rather dysfunctional family, I can say it has positively changed my life more than any other book (other than God's Word). I would be leading my husband around and running for political office and many other things if I hadn't read this book (and neglecting my children, leaving them with a daycare). This book clarified so many things...I will comment on the individual posts. We have followed the 'To Train up a Child' book and we have the happiest, most well-behaved children I know, and would challenge anyone to a debate on the importance of consistent corporal training and discipline. It is sad and UNLOVING not to...I see it out at ballgames and the grocery store all the time. It makes me want to cry when I see parents telling their children over and over and then working themselves up to anger, when they should have just enforced the first time. I'm going to start carrying this around and giving it out.

Jazy said...

Hey, my name is Jazy and i just left a comment. I was hoping you had some sort of "leave message" box, separate from the comment box because i'd like to talk to you and your wife. My husband and i have been married 8 yrs also and well it's no "heavenly marriage" yet. If you don't mind, can you maybe add my email to yours, i'm no weirdo, and i can talk to you and your wife about some of my concerns. I've been looking for someone to talk to but because of my husband's calling i've not. my email is rjazy@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

A contented woman....
I have been overviewing this book for about 2 years, not to my dismay does it come to me like many other comments on this blog...the author never did or does condone abuse....
As another said, Gods word is hard, not condoning abuse either...
We all have to find OUR place in all of this, just because it is for another, DOES NOT mean it is for us....PRAY>>PRAY>>>PRAY!!!!!

Toyin O. said...

I never read the book, but it sounds like something I will be checking it out.

frmdeath2life said...

I think what is particularly disturbing to me are the comments that defend what the Pearls teach because it works for them. Are they not concerned about how it could be affecting or harming another? Personally, I "gleaned" much from CTBHHM. That doesn't mean I don't care enough to warn others of the false teaching that goes along with it. Yes, we are all to be like the Berean's and test the Scriptures but we also have a responsibility to our spiritual family...especially those who are hurting and desperate. Thank you for going to such great lengths to clarify the use of the Scriptures "according to the Pearls". There is much good advice between the pages of the Pearl's books but I wouldn't call most of it "God ordained". If you want an honest and fair Biblical examination of another Pearl book: "To Train up a Child" it's here: http://theologica.ning.com/profiles/blogs/to-train-up-a-child-an

Run of the Mill Church in Pensacola said...

I am leery of any book that implies that women are inferior, as in they must clean up and gut the squirrels you brought home from a hunting trip. If women are seen as inferior in any way, I think the work is an unscriptural piece of crap.

Anonymous said...

Being a christian, preacher's child, and social worker I have seen almost every situation imaginable and I tell you this.
If a husband puts his actions outside the laws of his country he has put himself outside the laws of God. Those who break the law must accept the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the women's Bible study at my church is using this terrible book. One of our elders' wives (a very dear friend and mentor of mine) has been promoting it, and has encouraged me to read it. I find it disturbing, to say the least. In my opinion, it tacitly endorses and promotes "the curse" (the woman's desire will be for her husband, and the husband will rule over his wife.). It is an evil book that encourages idolatry of the worst kind. In the scenarios Debi promotes, I would argue that the husband will eventually lose respect for his wife and leave her because she has abandoned her identity in Christ for an idolatrous identity in her husband. I would like to add that I am not a feminist, and I do believe that a woman should submit to her husband. What the Pearls are promoting is unquestionably husband-worship. It is degrading to a woman and evil.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your review of this book. It actually brings tears to my eyes to see in print so many of the things I have felt about the book. While I am aware of all the positive aspects of the book, the negative aspects have been overwhelming. When our women's Bible study group studied the book I was actually thrown into a dark depression--something I have never experienced before. I eventually realized my depression was a result of physical exhaustion from working so hard to be perfect and spiritual starvation from neglecting my relationship with Jesus. My husband asked me to get rid of the book. And since I truly am a good, submissive wife, I actually burned it. I wish I had never read it.

Anonymous said...

You cannot imagine the relief I feel reading your discussion and the blogs that follow it. The last entry from anonymous posted Sept. 6th was almost exactly my experience; with the exception that I have yet to burn the book. I was feeling heavy condemnation for even questioning a book on submiting to my husband, to question makes me automatically a rebellious wife according to many statements from Debi.The destruction of listening to their advice could fill a large book. One of the most damaging came from their articles on "cloistered fruit" and Debi's book "Preparing to be his helpmeet". It is directed to girls from around 16 to 25. I pray and cry out to the Lord to give back to our family what that book stole out from under our very eyes. Has anyone read this book? If you think the book written for mature married women led some into trouble in their marriage and family, this one read by vulnerable, impatient to be married ,YOUNG women has the potential to drive a wedge between parents and daughters almost irrepairable; without the wonderful mercy of the Lord. Thank you Thank you for your well written and fair discussion.I do respect and agree whole heartedly that the message of a wife submitting to her husband is absolutly essential. The basic issues of a lack of SCRIPTURAL foundation MORE then personal well chosen stories seems manipulative to the reader and dare I say brainwashing and deceptive. Ex: I was always led to believe that if I do this and this and have this attitude, my husband, or children, will of course respond this way. Where is the Lord and a man's free will in this? The mixture of a very real and needed truth as submission in marriage, along with so much error brought much confusion in my life and our whole family. I have been searching for others who may have had this experience with the "Preparing to be his helpmeet" also.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all your notes but appreciate your concern. It's true that it takes maturity to read this book and take it "with a pinch of salt". I personnally want to say that this book was a turnaround in my marriage as it highlighted to me all the hidden attitudes I'd had that had destroyed my husband and my marriage. I'd always seen myself as the victim in my marriage as my husband had the more "obvious" sins. This book helped me to repent and was the beginning of the restoration of my marriage (as my husband had just left for another woman). I think it's addressed to christian women who think they're doing it all right and their husband's in the wrong. It's a book not to be taken literally but the spirit behind it is very helpful in understanding our God-given position in life, where we will have God's protection.

Lindsay said...

I am so blessed I have found this blog. This book reaked havoc on my marriage. It nearly tore us apart. I read it and loved it at first. But the more times I read it and the harder I tried to put it into practice, the worse I felt. My husband as well, lost all respect for me. He was influenced by a man who hates women, like the Pearls, and decided that I wasn't wife material. This book put a strain on our communication, which was already problematic to begin with. Now, because of this book, it is VERY difficult for me to tell my husband when I think he is wrong. My already burdening guilt complex was made even weightier by this book, telling me that every fight was my fault. Every time he had a bad attitude, it was my fault. Both me AND MY HUSBAND curse the day it came into our lives.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the balance. I have had a love hate relationship with this book and kept thinking the problem was with me.

Dale Mackay said...

Regarding point 5 of the critique -
Refrence Matthewe 13:33 the coment is made that Leaven is good here. In actual fact leaven is always a refrence to evil in Scripture. Here prophetically the Lord is showing that 3 measures of meal(unleavened a well known picture of fellowship with God starting with Abraham Gen 18:6.)were a picture of the kingdom of heaven which would progressively be corrupted in a similar way to the action of leaven. Compare the last church age of Laodacia in Revelation 3 where the Lord has been kicked out and is on the outside knocking to gain entry.

Christian Feminist said...

Haven't read the book. Your blog was enough to enlighten me!

Here'a a quote which is NOT scriptural, but worthy of consideration:

Woman was created from the rib of man
She was not made from his head to top him
Nor from his feet, to be trampled on.
She was made from his side, to be equal to him
From under his arm to be protected by him
From near his heart to be loved by him.

~author unknown~

Anastasia said...

when i read this book i left my husband at the time for being drinking a lot, and getting angr easily, and sad to say emotionally abusing, my pastor gave me this book, in the meantime, my husband finally realized what he almost lost me, and his son.. when reading this book, it gave me the thought that its not only how he reacts but as i do as well, i dont see this book as ruining our marriage, infact it gave me some inspiration, and we are now doing much better, he does not drink to the point of blacking out anymore, and only drinking a beer or two on the weekends and never alone, but with me, i took the advice from the book, and it is working, i agree some things are a little tough to soak in, but it did save my marriage.. i guess it is where the person stands in life.. from BOTH sides. if he is willing to look beyond the bad, and look into the present. i shared some of the things i read in the book with my husband, and (his words) "wow, that book is REALLY chewing your ass out" lol and it kind of was.. but he agreed with what it said about men, and women, and he is accomplishing his part in the marriage as well.. love, compassion, paitence, and listening. it takes a lot for a man to realize what it takes to keep a good wife.. until he realizes that, then the marriage "kaput" if u tried everything else, PLUS this book, then i do agree that you should move on.. this book was my last resource. I give props to Debi and her husband.

Anonymous said...

"Created to be His Help Meet" helped save my marriage. My marriage had been through it all and I was at the end of my rope. I was a new Christian at the time and I didn't find it harmful to me at all. It opened my eyes to my own reactions. I find it very truthful. I find most people that dislike the book don't really read the true Bible themselves but some watered down feel good version like the NIV. Many things commented on were taken WAY out of context and based totally on opinion not fact. The book basically explains that if you rely on the Lord instead of your own worldly emotions that God will help you do the right things in your marriage no matter how hard they may seem. The Lord warns us that true Christians will have a hard time with thoes that are more worldly. I have nothing but respect for Debi and Michael Pearl. If you search for the Lord's true word and guidance this book will not stear you wrong. Very happy wife that laughs and loves with her husband every day!

Anonymous said...

I have read this book and studied it along with scripture also.
I have been married 30 years. It has even improved my "heavenly" marriage, when I thought we were already at our best!
I have bought many copies and shared them out. The results have been nothing short of amazing, life transforming stories and testimonies.
Some young marriages, some at the 10-15 year mark others longer than myself. All reports back to me on the effects of the book are truly astounding of the Lord's work through it.
I can only say let the fruit speak for itself.
It is not going to correct all marriage problems for sure. Some people have got themselves into very bad situations, but those who can hear these truths and apply them, then they cannot fail to be blessed.
The Pearls may not have ALL things right, but then no-one has. In this case on this book and their other books "In need of a helpmeet" and "In search of a helpmeet" even parts of "Preparing to be his helpmeet"
( not too convinced on their stand of the use of contraception myself) they have certainly been a blessing to the body of Christ.
Let the Lord shine HIS bright revealing light of truth into all our hearts, this can be a very painful and yet totally freeing experience.
In Christ.

dorcas said...

Just my two cents on this book-I grew up watching my Mr Steady dad being controlled by my mom. So… when I married, I tried to do for my husband what I thought would've made my dad happy his whole life ( come on, who knows how to be the perfect wife just by saying "I do" ) but, it was not at all what spoke love and respect to my husband, and we argued so much , and were drifting further apart. Then by the grace of God, a friend introduced me to this book. I discovered how to love and respect my Mr Command husband, and we have such a lovely marriage. Am I under him, no he respects my input now more than ever. But he still is my head. I am no less greater than him in the kingdom of God. Every country has a king or a president, that doesn't make him greater than the people, a business has a guy in charge, but he isn't better than the employees. All of life runs smoother if there are not two people bucking for the "top place". Look at society, women are so fiercely misled by what people have told them that they are afraid to submit to their husbands and so push and shove their way trying to show everyone that they are not gonna listen to th guy they married- they lose their gentle, feminine ways. Divorce abounds even in Christians. Take the book and read it. I don't agree with everything. But my mom is one of those ones that agrees they are horrible… like comments above. And yet she is one miserable woman, and yet still at 40 yrs of marriage, she is not the one at fault. Don't shove that Debi allows abuse on me- she doesn't. But on page 270, she says. "If a wife has an attitude of rebellion, she can find a thousand different exceptions to obedience". N yup, that is so true- I grew up watching that happen. And again by th grace of God, I have read this book.

Lacy Hepp said...

Wow I've never heard it put that way.. but I think u are spot on! I too felt like towards the end of my marriage it was a type of idolatry, how I viewed my marriage. And I tried this books technique when the abuse first started. Didn't work.