Thursday, September 6, 2007

Point 6

Point 6: The book itself is full of inconsistencies and can be very confusing.

Even a woman who agreed with every word written in this book could be very confused about some of the conflicting advice.

For example, Debi writes that a woman should be subject to her husband in everything: “every decision, every move, every plan, and all everyday affairs (p. 54)”. However, in her chapter about being keepers at home, she writes that God’s will is for mothers to always be with their children, never leaving them with a babysitter even for a few minutes. And what if a man wants his wife to work or do something that doesn’t involve the children’s presence? “This is where firm conviction of faith in God becomes vital. God can make a way for you to obey both.” (p. 210). What a cop-out! There’s no guarantee that God will! What if He doesn’t? What do you do then?

Debi and Michael provide a few instances in which a woman should confront her husband rather than submit to him. These are confusing – what criteria did they use to choose them? Why these instances and not others? They are limited, pretty much, to having anal sex, letting your husband cross-dress, and stealing. (For things like the husband abusing the children or the wife, it is a bit more hazy. For sexual abuse of the children, the woman should call in the law but still be subject to her husband. For abuse of the woman herself, she should maybe, sometimes, call in the law, but should most often submit in silence for the glory of God – more on that in the next section.) For the few instances in which a wife should not submit, the force with which the Pearls suggest she confront your husband is surprising. For example, if a husband wants to cross-dress, a wife “must make it known that he is an unsaved man, on his way to hell, and that she is not going to dishonor her Lord” (p. 267). This seems inconsistent with all the other advice in the book about a wife never saying anything negative to her husband. To be consistent, shouldn’t a wife use a gentle manner to make an appeal?

The story at the beginning of the “exceptions” chapter written by Michael is also confusing. In it, a woman talks about how she fixed up her study so she could spy on her husband to see if he was viewing pornography. When she found out he was, she was so overcome with rage that she threw rocks through the glass window, then broke the computer screen with more rocks. The children woke up and stood in the room, crying, while she yelled at her husband hysterically and threatened to tell everybody she knew. Even after she calmed down, she threatened to talk and talk and talk if he ever shut himself up in a room again. She also put into place extreme accountability measures (policed by herself). She concluded that she was glad she had done all that she had – otherwise, she would have “grown old and bitter knowing he was an unfaithful deceiver” and would have come to hate him.

We both finished this letter expecting that Debi would write a vehement reply, pointing out everything this woman had done wrong in not reverencing her husband and in acting as his conscience (screaming at him in front of the children, blackmailing him, etc.). After all, she called the woman who ignored her husband’s strip-clubbing and consorting with prostitutes a queen and extolled her for publicly announcing and teaching her son that he was a wonderful daddy. To our great surprise, this letter actually gets no commentary, and its placement at the beginning of the exceptions chapter puts it in a favorable light. We are left to conclude that the Pearls support this woman’s actions and attitude. Why? Is porn worse than going to prostitutes and strip clubs? Even if it is, does the fact that her husband was doing it make all of these women’s actions, words, and attitudes (vehemently opposed in other parts of the book) right? What is the reader to conclude?

These are just a few of the inconsistencies we noticed in the book. Of much greater concern was the book’s unclear and dangerous teaching on domestic violence, which we address next.

[Please click on "Older Posts" below to read our final 2 points & conclusion!]


Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed reading this and would love to post it on my blog (with your permission). this is one of the best reviews i've read on this book. thank you for taking the time to write all of this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your review of this book. I find myself agreeing with you on all your points. I think you as a couple should write a book about being a married Christian couple ...and raising children. I would read it. :)

LivingCTBHH said...

I see one consistent complaint against this book over and over, and that is how Debi deals with abusive relationships. Nowhere does she say to remain in what would be a physically harmful relationship. This is addressed near the end of the book. Nor does Michael Pearl in HIS comments regarding abuse. (Nancy Leigh DeMoss deals with this similarly in "Lies Women Believe", but because she is more "polished" and "purtier" than the Pearls, she gets less flack!) The Pearls deal with folks in the "heat of the battle" biblically, bluntly and lovingly. Hard to critique their advice if you haven't been in the trenches with the "unlovely" and seen the Lord work.
This is a book to wives on faith. Faith that God is sovereign and will reward their obedience; and submission, a requirement made clear in Ephesians 5, and 1 Peter 3.

I understand your concern with the book, although it seems you had to dig pretty deep to back up your points. God is blessing the many wives who have applied it to their marriages. "Wow. God wants me to have a good marriage; and He VALUES me enough to show me in His word how to have one if I'll trust Him with it."

Michael Pearl has some interesting comments for husbands in the latest issue of NGJ. Equally "in your face" as CTBHH.

Dena Brehm said...

I agree -- it's a scripturally twisted and dangerous book. Even more dangerous is their child-raising advice, which amounts to abuse.

One of the best books I've read on how God views women is, "Woman: God's Plan Not Man's Traditions" by Joanne Krupp -- it's a life-altering read.

Thanks for a very thorough and accurate review. May God set the Pearl's, and those who follow them, free.

HelpedMeet said...

Reply to livingctbhh:

Thank you for taking the time to join the discussion. We don't want to discourage disagreement, and if God used this book to bless your marriage, we rejoice with you.

But, of course, we disagree with a few of your statements:

1) "Nowhere does she say to remain in what would be a physically harmful relationship." Debi goes one step worse than saying the women should remain; She says they are to blame. That they should remain is also strongly implied, as I've covered in point 7.

2) "deal with folks in the 'heat of the battle' biblically, bluntly and lovingly" She is not biblical (see points 1-5). She can be cagey, not blunt (see point 6). She does not deal lovingly (see point 8).

3) "if you haven't been in the trenches with the 'unlovely' and seen the Lord work" I'm sure CTBHHM does work in the trenches, as does nerve gas. The question is, "Is it in line with the Bible?" The Bible has also been "in the trenches".

4)"although it seems you had to dig pretty deep to back up your points" I find digging deeply into scripture rather enjoyable and productive.

5) "one consistent complaint against this book over and over" We also saw this as the most common complaint and felt that it did not deserve such emphasis. We deliberately made this point 7 (not point 1), because her misuse of scripture and misrepresentation of a woman's relationship with God seemed so much more fundamental and important.

Again, while we obviously disagree, we appreciate hearing your thought and experience.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your work in this blog. I share your opinion, 100%. My sisters-in-law and my mother share Debi Pearl's opinions, and it has caused some bad feeling in the family.

I smoothed over the difficulty by explaining to them (truthfully) that my husband forbids me to study under Debi Pearl. Because of the Pearls' teachings on submission, my female relatives accepted my statement. All is now friendly again, although they believe I am not a submissive wife. I believe that I am, I am just not like Debi Pearl would have me to be. My husband, however, is happy. :)

I have heard of other families and churches in which the extreme and unbiblical teachings of the Pearls have caused division.

Mrs. R.

Anonymous said...

Great review! As always, we should be comparing what we read in books with Scriptures, and certainly chewing the fish and spitting out the bones-there seem to be bones in about everything we read, aside from God's Word! :) I learned from this book, and a the same time feel that one needs to be ever mindful of following after Scripture, rather than "man."

Mrs. D.

Anonymous said...

There are many books for woman/wife should be reading, absolutely not this one... I enjoyed reading their 'train up your child' book, though I wasn't able to do much of the things they have said. But thanks for this review... I didn't read this one! I also believe you guys should write a book on this subject! It would help us a lot!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the second blogger who encourages you both to write a book. There really isn't a lot of sensible books on that subject written by a spouce team. It seems these are usually extreme in one way or the other. Thanks for taking the time to study this and write the review.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a balanced review of this book! I was one who read it and first appreciated it. (I think I probably needed a wake up call at the time.) But the more I go back and read it the more alarming I found it. I appreciate the gracious way you have dug out the root of the problem in regards to scripture twisting, etc. while refraining from incredulous, personal attacks. (Which are easy to do...)

Anonymous said...

I have personally experienced the division caused by the Pearl's teachings in our church. I believe that the reason for this is that they do not "rightly divide the Word of truth". They have a very extreme and controlling view not only of parenting, but also of marraige that I do not see anywhere in Scripture. I find it quite fascinating that they stir up such varied and strong opinions. I wonder if it is not because the Pearls themselves are so much at the fore-front rather than God. God can use anyone to bring us closer to Himself, but I would never recommend their teachings to anyone. I believe they cause more harm than good. There are many other Godly, balanced people whose ideas are not based on "behaviorism", control or fear, who exemplify grace to their readers ,unlike the harsh and mean-spirited tone I have read in the Pearl's writings.
I could never see Jesus talking to women the way Debi does in her book. Thank you for such a thorough review!!

Anonymous said...

i really have appreciated your comments on the contents of this book. i have never read it, but it began circulating around my church sometime last year. i realized that something was wrong when i saw the way the women began acting toward their husbands...i completely agree that a wife MUST submit to her husband, but the word also says "as is fit in the Lord". it seems to me, from the comments i have read about this book, and what i have seen with my own eyes, that this book is basically encouraging wives to make their husbands into IDOLS! i love my husband, but i would never put him between me and the Lord, nor would i ever trust my husband with my spiritual health and well-being. that is my responsibility as a follower of Jesus Christ.

the lies found in this book have so penetrated the women in our church that it is destroying some of their walks with the Lord. they are so busy trying to be perfect wives to their husbands that they have forgotten that their first call is to seek the Lord..

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

as wives, if we want to know how to perfectly submit to our husbands, then we must first be fully surrendered to our True Husband, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is him name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.), and to seek His face, to get our lives and our will in line with the Lord's will, and THEN AND ONLY THEN will we be the helper our husband needs.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know you wrote this blog forever but I just found it and I have to thank you guys so much. I'm not married but I'm doing some mission work in Japan right now. When my mom was here visiting she shared with one of the married missionary women that she was having some problems with my dad. The missionary woman gave her that book and my mom left it here (not on accident, she said she'd read it all before).
Anyways, I began to read it and it was really tearing me up inside. It started very nicely and I thought it was harmless but as I continued to read it I became confused and hurt. I began feeling unimportant to God because of what it was saying. I knew that God was not the author of confusion and that's when I googled to see if others felt the same as I did.
Thank you for writing this blog so thoroughly and intelligently, it's helped me fight against the false doctrine I was drinking in.

Bonnie said...

I just wanted to say 'thank you' for this blog. I know the original posts are a few years old but I have enjoyed reading them. I agree with what you say. Jesus is the greatest liberator of women. He has told me that I can sit at His feet and learn of Him. Having close fellowship with my Savior is what gives me a love for my husband--not the other way around as Mrs. Pearl claims. Why she would instruct women to disobey God's Word in not helping her husband overcome the sin of being an abuser is beyond me. Submitting to abuse is leaving her dear husband in sin! Why would a woman want to cause her husband to continue in sin? Her husband needs the encouragement and admonition to do right of his Christian brothers. If she doesn't talk about the abuse how will his brothers in Christ know that her husband needs counsel?

People can say "take the meat and leave the bones" on this one all they want. JESUS teaches that a little leaven leavens the whole lump--meaning that a little false teaching mingled with truth makes it false teaching. That was the same tactic the devil used on Eve in the garden! He mingled enough truth with his lies that Eve was deceived. Many women are being deceived by this book. May the Lord open their eyes to the truth.

Lisa R. said...

I, too, enjoyed this book at first--and passed it around to many other ladies. As time went on, though, I began feeling uncomfortable with it. Your thoughtful posts have helped to crystalize some things for me. I've printed them off, and I'll share them with ladies I shared the book with.

There is no doubt that teaching is needed in our culture to counteract what the feminists have been teaching for years. We need more reminders to be submissive to our husbands, to take the places that God has chosen for us, to live joyfully. But there is also no doubt that we must use discernment, and I thank you both for doing so.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say thank you for the points presented in this blog. I am currently attending a church that has decided to do CTBHHM as a women's bible study. I began to read the book, okay I read the chapter about pants just to see the view point first, and was pleased to see that my view matched with many of Pearl's. However, the more I read the book, the more I began to have an uneasiness in my spirit. I gave the book to my mother and she too had many of the same concerns. I googled CTBHHM and this blog came up. You have stated many of the concerns that she and I shared to the point that I called the pastor to discuss my and the concerns listed. Thank you for the work that was put in.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!! A friend recommended this book; however, I'm not so sure it's worth an online purchase. Maybe a Library loaner read with considerable discretion. Thank you again for your insightful post.

The Open Bird Cage said...

thank you so much for this...I was going to do this bible study with my sister in law...she loves the book, but as I went over the literature I was so bothered...but couldn't articulate why...thanks for articulating all of this so well. Now I know why I was so bothered by all of the half truths and legalistic content in this book. If I were a new believer in this Bible study...I would think twice before believing in the kind of God that the Pearls portray Him as. Such a tragic pity. I do feel however that I should say something to my sister in law...she and her husband are starting a new church...and both take teaching the bible very seriously. I am concerned for them and their new church...because my sister in law is using this to lead a bible study with women. I don't know if her husband knows much about this book, except what she's told him. And I don't know if it's my place to say anything...any suggestions?

HelpedMeet said...

Open Bird Cage,
It's interesting that you're stuck wondering what to do about your sister starting a Bible study on this book. Our church's intention to start a Bible study on this book is what initially go us going on this blog. We typed up our concerns, printed them out, and handed them to our pastor, saying "Here are some concerns we have." (The pastor decided to cut the study--in the name of church unity.) I suppose you could do something similar, either by printing a couple posts or somehow linking your sister to our blog, saying something like, "I found this online...Got concerned...What do you think?" Of course, anyone has "permission" to link to our blog.

Anonymous said...

The word of God is told here... plain and clear... and by living it, eat, sleep and swim in it with a love for Christ as your motivator... you can and will find that peace that is beyond all understanding!

Anonymous said...

I thought I was through with the Pearls when I threw out a copy of to train up a child after causing much division in our household (abusive vs. non mainly), and lo and behold a friend gave me some of their NGJ pamphlets just last week. I cannot let naive trusting women read that garbage! I informed her nicely what I thought of the Pearls and have been reading up on why they are wrong to back up my previous conversation. Thank you for your blog post.

CrispyDog said...

It's been my experience that the Creator or his messengers visit those people who love him and keep the commandments/teachings that Christ has given us. And the very brief contact I've had with the Pearl's tells me that I don't like to be beaten about the head with this, "God said" crapola.

What I find inexplicable is how the evolution of the Pearl's message has gone from, "This is God's message"!, "We are the message".

It's like the famous journalists around the world who become famous. They started out as a rookie reporter doing the shipping news and the weather and in the end, they were the message. Oprah is a classic example.

Christ's whole message was, 'love one another'.

Be kind. Be understanding. Be compassionate. Be generous.

And it seems to me that all of those words are verbs. Yet they also necessitate us having those attitudes in our hearts and minds; and not just like the Fancy-Dan Sunday, suit & tie clothes people like to wear to impress people.

Those words, at least it seems to me, must be the structure of the cells and the DNA that comprise our hearts and minds to really be part of the Creator's plan when he returns to the earth.

You can preach God, you can talk about God, you can tell everyone just exactly what God meant in the scriptures and what the various other things in the scriptures mean; but if those things mentioned above aren't the motivators for action; then you're just another religious maniac.

Forget the Pearl's, (and all of the other noisy, full-of-themselves-preachers) if you don't like them.

We've always got the answers to everyone else's problems; except our own. (And God knows, I've got plenty of them). "Paddle your own canoe".