Thursday, September 6, 2007

Point 8

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.

One of the funniest examples to illustrate this point (p. 217-219) involves a letter a woman named Vicki wrote to Debi because she was “tired and discouraged”, frustrated that her husband wouldn’t fix the sink or the screen door. Debi opens her reply letter by asking Vicki to take the “Standard Dumb Cluck” test. The first question in this test is “Does natural healing not interest you?” Indeed, all of the questions in the “Standard Dumb Cluck Test” except the last have absolutely nothing to do with the original letter. Debi follows this test with, “Well, are you a dumb cluck?”, then writes an extremely harsh letter about how Vicki should get her lazy self off the couch, learn to use tools, and take some initiative. Not knowing the situation, we’re not disputing Debi’s advice, but are disturbed by the complete lack of courtesy and compassion in the letter, a style unfortunately carried over into many of Debi’s other letters. Debi is essentially presenting this woman (whom she knows nothing of except for a one-paragraph letter) to thousands of readers as a silly, lazy “dumb cluck” bum.

The verse just before Titus 2:4-5, which Debi spends so much time exploring, says this: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” To label another woman (all of the following are direct quotes from her book) a “cheap office wench”, “cheap office hussy”, “lazy, complaining wife,” “cranky, demanding leech”, “skinny swine”, “rebellious”, or “hillbilly ugly, which is worse than everyday ugly” in a book to be read by thousands, simply based on one letter or observation, comes dangerously close to slander. At the least, this approach does nothing to show the love of God or the respect we should all show to people made in His image (women included, we believe!).

Debi constantly holds the threat of divorce and the miserable life that would bring over the women reading her book. Women should never be secure in their marriages or their husband’s love, but should always know that the fate of their marriages, their husbands’ fidelity and love, and their happiness, rests solely on their ability to take Debi’s advice, follow her teaching, and be lovable and “precious” all of the time. The following are pages in which Debi threatens women with all kinds of vivid, drawn-out, melodramatic, worst-case scenarios if women “disobey” her advice: 29-32, 66-67, 69-70. All of the scenarios contain a quote similar to the following (p.66): “If you continue to dishonor your husband, the above scenario will likely become your own nightmare – soon!” Here are some representative quotes:

Page 31: “It is a mistake for a wife to take her position for granted, to assume that love and contentment exist because ‘we are husband and wife’… Never demand that a man love you and cherish you because he ought to. Earn every smile and shared moment. Cultivate his love for you… A woman holds her man with the fragile threads of adoration, thankfulness, delight, and just plain fun.”

Page 131: “Men may allow the lust of the flesh to pull them away from that which they value, but they will try to get back to that comfort zone. It is this natural need for his own family that keeps a man caring for and bearing the responsibility for his wife and children. When a woman does not provide for her husband a comfortable nest and a reverent attitude, she has to rely on his goodness to ‘keep him’ faithful. She is a fool to expect him to be a good husband when she is not being the help meet God has created her to be.”

Page 139: “It doesn’t seem fair that the wife is expected to honor and obey her husband even though he has not earned the right; yet she must also earn the right to be loved… If my husband were talking to men, he would tell them to love their wives regardless of how they act. But remember, this is me, the aged woman, telling young girls what they can do to make a heavenly marriage. You cannot command your husband to love you, and you have no right to expect him to love you when you are unlovely. But God has provided a way for a woman to cause her husband to love and cherish her.”
Unfortunately, a lot of what Debi is saying here does have truth to it – not Biblical truth, but the cold, hard truth of living in a fallen world where the curse is very much still in action. However, if women are following Jesus and finding themselves in Him, fear of husbands leaving them should not be their primary motive for loving and reverencing them. Women should love and reverence their husbands because the love of Jesus is in them and they are responding in obedience to His commands. 1 John 4:18 says that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Moreover, a woman reverencing and serving her husband primarily so that he will love, cherish, and be faithful to her makes a pathetic parallel to the Great Mystery of Christ loving His Church.


Anonymous said...

thank you so....much. Started reading this book -- and Debi's name calling really took me by surprise. My thinking is, is this a person who is mature in Christ? One can exhort and do it with love.

Anonymous said...

You have done a valuable review of the book and thanks a lot! is not easy discerning good and bad especially when presented like supported by Scripture.The book is such a mixture...some sounds like sensible advice, making it more confusing(especially for an unmarried girl like me). Your /putting into words/ helped me a lot!

Lily of the Valley said...

I agree that this book carries a lot of confusing mixtures of both sound wisdom (it has definitely been a help to me over the years) and yet imposes guilt and shame upon women, which is very unbiblical. The older women are indeed to teach the younger, but like you made the point, it should be done in reverence before the Lord and humility. The Pearls seem to definitely have an attitude of superiority and condescending to those who do not "have it all together". By the grace of God ONLY are we any better than our brother or sister in the Lord. Thank you for this website, I plan to bookmark it and refer to it. I appreciate your wisdom and your taking the time to explain in detail the problems with this book yet not in a mean and spiteful way. May the Lord bless you and use this site for His glory.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your research. The name calling was attrocious to me and so much is taken out of context. If we want to talk about being better wives, this is not the book to waste our time in!

Anonymous said...

Debi Pearl says that we as women cannot expect our husbands to love us if we are unlovely. I would respectfully, and I believe Biblically,disagree. The bible tells us that Jesus came to die for us not when we were godly, but when we were unsaved and unsightly. Unlovely. It also exhorts husbands to 'love your own wives as Christ loved the church'. Husbands are to love their wives, lovely or unlovely, as God loved us all, unlovely as we are. We are to do the same by them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your review, i can see that all your points were well thought through and well explained. One thing that disturbed me the most about this book is captured in Point 8. In fact i stopped reading the book after seeing Debi calling other women with such demaning terms. The author didn't come across to me as a gracecious woman who is full of the peace of the holy spirit. Quite honest, it's the opposite - angry, bitter, and judgemental.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with the Pearl's teaching, and was always a little in awe of how Michael claimed to you could "stop sinning", and soaked up Debi's advice as a newly married woman. I haven't read the book in about 5 years, and my husband and I have changed a lot since then. I really appreciate y'alls review. It amazes me how much I missed when I read it all those years ago. I mean, how much I was blind to. I think you hit the nail on the head in this post, when you said that a woman should love her husband and serve him not out of fear of losing him, but out of love and reverence for him, but also ultimately for God!! We should be motivated by our faith and trust and love in Jesus Christ, not FEAR!! That is really the heart of so many of the issues in this book. Thanks again for all your thoughtful reviews!

Anonymous said...

I was also confused by her telling women that they needed to "earn" their husbands love. If husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves the church it should be an unconditional love like God has for us!