It is with some pain that we point out the serious concerns we see in Debi Pearl’s book, Created to Be His Help Meet (CTBHHM). Her book has points of wisdom, sometimes deep wisdom, and several sections full of endearing energy and joy. We think a well-versed Christian might well enjoy winnowing the wheat from the chaff, finding things useful and challenging. Unfortunately, we think that taking this book at face value could cause a great deal of lasting harm (or prevent a great deal of good development) in a woman's relationship to God, herself, and to her husband.
First, we want to affirm and make clear where we agree. We believe that Scripture is the ultimate authority for life, and that everything written in the Bible is true, and a solid basis for all of our beliefs and actions. We believe that the Bible teaches women to submit to their husbands, and that men are to be the heads of their homes (and that it also teaches a lot of other things about marriage relationships). We believe everything the Bible says about men and women.
My wife did find some challenging truths in this book. In her own words: Only God can change hearts, and my responsibility is not to change my husband, but to focus on my own heart, attitudes, and actions. My respect towards him and my submission should not hinge on whether or not my husband “earns” it, but should be an act of the will and of obedience to God. When I entered into the vows of marriage, I committed to love, honor, and respect my husband no matter what, and that often means choosing to die to my own desires and feelings. I can choose to make the right choice, remain joyful, and honor my husband no matter what our circumstances. I also recognize that this book was written for the purpose of teaching women how to act towards their husbands, not the other way around. I liked the way the book challenged women to choose joy and choose thankfulness, no matter what their circumstances. I thought the poem Debi wrote at the end of the book was beautiful and contained depth.
[Writing together again] Indeed, Debi’s book drove us into the Scripture—unfortunately, many times, only to find she was wrong. This book is troubling to us, especially in the ways it seems to be twisting and misusing Scripture. Please understand the following reflections not as a personal attack, but as a sincere attempt to voice our misgivings towards using this book to teach any women, but especially new Christians. Listed below are our main concerns with this book, followed by more detailed descriptions of each point (you can click on any of the point numbers & you'll be taken straight to a more detailed description of that point).
Point 1: CTBHHM takes away the very heart of a woman’s identity as a child of God, created in His image, by Him and for Him. It takes a wife’s God given role – being a help meet to her husband – and asserts that for every woman, being a help meet (as defined by Debi Pearl) encompasses her sole purpose for existing and her only true identity. It goes so far as to state that Eve was created in the image of Adam rather than in the image of God.
Point 2: It presents a woman’s husband as a mediator, a kind of high priest, between herself and God.
Point 3: It consistently asserts that a woman/wife bears responsibility for a man’s/ husband’s sins, going so far as to say a husband’s complete sanctification and deliverance from temptation is provided to him through his wife and her actions. It seems to teach that women are deceived by Satan but men are not, and that men’s primary weakness is their desire for (or to please) women. Therefore, women cause men to sin (or not) by their actions and submission.
Point 4: Its use of Scripture often seems wrong or out-of-context—so often that we frequently feel as though the author is stretching to find scriptural support for her own pre-determined conclusions. We feel it is more appropriate to first study the scripture and let it guide the conclusions.
Point 5: It discourages women from spending time in prayer, Scripture study, or meditation on Scripture, hinting that a woman’s spiritual connection to God is primarily determined and built through her actions towards her husband. It asserts that that there is no woman in Scripture who is commended for doing “spiritual” things (i.e. praying, reading Scripture, etc.)
Point 6: The book itself is full of inconsistencies and can be very confusing.
Point 7: CTBHHM advice to women involved in an abusive situation (it advocates enduring in silence for the glory of God) is not only Scripturally suspect, but is also potentially lethal. The book also suggests that when a woman is abused by her husband, it is usually her fault.
Point 8: The writing often lacks grace and compassion towards those struggling, calling women names that should never be used to describe human beings made in God’s image.