I was recommended this book in a Facebook group I’m in for Christian Women. Ladies in the group raved about it and how much it helped their marriage, so I decided to go ahead and pick it up myself. I originally wanted a hard copy of the book, and I wanted to start it as soon as possible. I figured I’d check the local book stores in the area to see which places carried it.
I first went to Barnes & Noble, and when I asked about the book, they told me they do not carry any work of the Pearls in store, and that I would have to special order it through them in order to receive a copy. First store: a flop. I then went to a local Books-A-Million, thinking I’d have better luck there. When I inquired about the book, I was given the same response: they didn’t carry the book in store, and I’d have to special order a copy.
Now I became curious. In the rows of Christian books they offered, no one carried any work done by the Pearls. My next stop was my only other option; a Lifeway Christian Stores™ across the street. This is a Christian store for crying out loud, they HAVE to carry it, right? Nope. I looked and looked and found nothing, and when I asked an employee regarding the book, they informed me that their work was not permitted to be sold in their stores, online or in store. Now THAT got my attention.
I posted in the Facebook group questioning why I couldn’t find this book, or any of their books, at ANY bookstore. Their response was that because they talk about biblical submission and child rearing, that no one would carry their works, and I’d have to ether order the book from their store or through iBooks or equivalent. Fair response in this day and age, so I went into my iBooks and bought the book.
This book is directed toward wives regarding their role within marriage and how to be a helper to their husbands. She divides men into three different types, and shares how a wife can effectively serve her husband depending on what type of man she is married to (more on that further down). She states that “most men are a mixture of types, but usually stronger in one”. (Page 89)
My overall thoughts are mixed. To anyone who doesn’t support, believe, or agree with biblcial marriage roles, everything in this book with stun you. It will sound ridiculous and almost asinine. If you are someone who does, or if you’re trying to learn more about them, some of the content in this book could be dangerous, especially to someone who’s impressionable.
Where I Agree
She encourages women in their role as a helpmeet.
She starts her book encouraging her reader about their role as their husband’s helper. I don’t have any quarrel with this. I think it’s a great thing to be encouraged in. When we become a helper to our husbands, it paints a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:23)
“Every day, I remember to view myself as the woman God gave this man. This mind-set helps me be just that: a gift, a playmate, his helper.”
She doesn’t avoid the topic of submission.
“It is far better that a job be done poorly by your husband than to be done well by you.”
As harsh as this quote seems, it is a perfect picture of the difficulty submission can be. I may be a better driver than my husband, and I may have more experience, but if he asks to drive somewhere, I need to submit to that. Submission isn’t for the things you and your husband both agree on, it’s more for what you disagree on.
When submission doesn’t exist in a marriage, there tends to be a power struggle, especially when the husband and wife both disagree on a consistent basis. Does this mean that a husband shouldn’t ask for his wife’s opinion or be considerate of her? No. Your wife needs to have a voice in what her needs are when a decision is being made, but the final authority is the husband. So while on the surface some of her words sound demeaning, I do see where she’s coming from:
“You are not on the board of directors with an equal vote.”
She eludes to serving a husband being comparable with serving Christ.
“When you are a help meet to your husband, you are a helper to Christ.”
“You serve Christ by serving your husband, whether your husband deserves it or not.”
This is difficult for some to consider, but the comparison is pretty accurate. Just as we are to serve Christ willingly and without argument, I see the same would go for a marriage. Are there exceptions to this? Yes, there can be. We are human, we are not infallible. I plan to get into more detail as we go on, but for the majority of cases, this statement falls true.
Where I Disagree
We have to earn our husband’s love.
This is where I feel like, if not careful, this book can be harmful in understanding what exactly the role of a marriage is:
“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.”
This one struck a cord with me. She talks about how we are to earn our husband’s love and how we are to never take his love for granted. For one, you cannot demand that anyone love you. I get it. But to feel like you need to earn your husband’s love seems a little misleading to me. Do we have to earn Christ’s love for us? Do we feel the need to compete with other Christians to ensure we are still pleasing to Christ? My first inclination tells me no.
It’s your fault if he reacts negatively.
“Your life will be full of dumped-trash-bag situations. Your husband will be selfish. He will be unkind. He will not respect your rights. He will be foolish. He may be cruel, and that son of Adam may actually walk in sin. But he cannot victimize you unless you react outside of the wisdom of God.“
Is most of this true? Yes. BUT let me say this: If your husband intends to victimize you, there is nothing you can do to cause it, stop it, or change it. Period. I have a feeling she’s going in a more of a “keep your side of the street clean” direction to ensure any evil intentions won’t be overshadowed by an inappropriate reaction, but to say a husband cannot victimize his wife unless she is at fault for an unbecoming reaction is, to me, completely false. Is it easier for the follower to fix the problems? In most cases, yes. That does NOT mean everything is their fault. That’s a dangerous idea to have.
The Three Types of Men
In order to continue moving forward, I’ll need to give you a brief summary of the three types of men she outlines in the book:
Mr. Command Man: Described as dominant, controlling, and sufficient unto himself. He is a natural born leader who expects his wife to “wait on [him] hand and foot” and “does not want his wife involved in any project that prevents her from serving him.” Her advice to women married to a Command Man is to give him honor and reverence on a daily basis. A wife of a Command Man should “obey his every (reasonable and unreasonable) word.” (Pages 84-87)
A Command Man “who has gone bad is likely to be abusive”. She writes this immediately after:
“It is important to remember that much of how a Command Man reacts depends on his wife’s reverence towards him.”
I’ll be honest, to me, this is frightening. She is literally saying that a husband’s abusive behavior is determined by the amount of reverence his wife gives him. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Some may argue that this is an example of 1 Peter 3:1, but this verse is geared toward unsaved husbands, not husbands who are abusing their wives.
YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT. YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT. YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT.
Mr. Visionary: Described as dreamers who tend to focus on the goal or task at hand with a sense of tunnel vision. They tend to be inventors, activists, and great communicators. Expect rash, crazy decisions, and “learn how to be flexible” and “enjoy the trip”. He is said to need a wife who is “good, wise, prudent, and stable” with a “positive outlook on life”. A wife of a Mr. Visionary should “[lay] aside her own dreams and aspirations and [embrace] her role as a help meet to her man.”. (Pages 87-94)
Mr. Steady: Described “as an eternal rock, caring, providing, and faithful”. He “does not make snap decisions”, nor does he “try to tell other people what to do”. He is “cautious” and he does not expect his wife to “be his servant” or “perform miracles”. She advises wives to not confuse his “gentleness” with “weakness”, but to see it as his “strength”. He is said to need a wife who should not take “his goodness for granted” and will not try to change him, taking up tasks to fill her time so as to “give her husband joy and satisfaction in her productiveness”. (Pages 94-102)
You are a helper, NOT a partner
“Adam commenced his rule of the planet before God created Eve to help him in his life’s goals. Adam didn’t need Eve’s consent. God gave her to Adam to be HIS helper, not his partner. She was designed to serve, not to be served, to assist, not to veto his decisions.”
She writes this in response to a letter she receives about a wife who’s husband purchased a farm without consulting her first. She is now left to fulfill the chores that come with owning a farm, and is, nicely put, beyond exhausted. “I know I must be submissive, but I truly do not want to do this. This is not my dream.” (Page 106)
Does Christ has to get the church’s permission in order to make decisions regarding the faith? That would be a tad ridiculous. However, the tone is almost similar to if she was referring to a slave, not a wife. This wife being referenced is being made to stay in a miserable situation, and she is telling her to basically deal with it because her job is to serve her husband. Is a spouse not to be a partner? Can a wife be both? When people get the idea that Christians see women as slaves to be owned, this is what they’re talking about.
It’s probably your fault
Also, if you have a newborn with a fever and other sick children, and your husband comes home wondering why the “house is a wreck” and “when [dinner will] be ready?”, here’s her response. She refers to this women as ‘Jill’:
“Dear Jill, It is your duty, your job, and in your best interest to serve your husband.”
She goes on:
“No one would dispute that Jill’s husband is insensitive, but two wrongs do not make a good marriage. One ‘right’ can make a BIG difference in a marriage and change that selfish old guy. Always keep in mind that your job is to do a good job serving him, so planning ahead is a must. If Jill had done better at her job, her husband would not have been such a jerk.”
Again, let me reiterate: If your husband is an insensitive jerk, there is NOTHING you can do to change that or make it better. To say her husband’s insensitivity was her fault is completely dangerous. This mindset could put you in danger. I know that sounds serious, but if the situation was more concerning than an insensitive husband, this mode of operation could harm you.
My Serious Concerns
As if outright victim blaming isn’t enough, there’s more:
Pain during sex is not an excuse.
“Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs?”
WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!
IF YOU HURT DURING INTERCOURSE, GO TO THE DOCTOR. SEE YOUR GYNECOLOGIST. And if your husband is inconsiderate of your health in this area, YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY. PERIOD.
For the wife with an angry husband
I pulled her excerpts on this topic, most of which I find appalling:
“Always avoid ‘provoking’ him, except, of course, to provoke him to love and good works.”
“Although this explosive anger is emotionally upsetting and certainly not pleasant, it is a man-thing that a smart woman can learn to deal with in a wise manner.”
Explosive anger should not be put off as a “man-thing”. Not only are we now blaming the victim, we are also justifying acts of anger that should not be justified. If you have a husband with an explosive anger issue, seek help!! No, not every single man does this. Do not normalize this!
“It is common for the wives to be the cause of their husband’s bitter anger.”
“Your first concern should be to ascertain your part of the problem.”
“Once you are able to recognize the source of his anger and the contribution you make in words and attitude, you can make changes that will stop fanning the flames and allow him to cool down.”
NO NO NO NO NO NO.
YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF HIS ACTIONS AND REACTIONS. Can we provoke our husbands to worsen a situation? Yes, as with any relationship dynamic. Is it our fault? NO
Patriarchy comes first
“First, the chain of authority must remain intact, even to the point of allowing some abuse.”
“Lady, you were created to give glory to God. When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer, it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering.”
“To those of you who are enduring verbal and physical abuse, we realize that statistically you are likely to remain with your husband. It is therefore important that you understand how to speak and conduct yourself in a way that will maintain your physical and emotional safely and ultimately win your husband.”
Micheal Pearl’s Excerpt
-Pages 297-298 & 306
I don’t even know what to say, other than please, if your in an abusive situation, get help. I have an entire page devoted to this here with resources and phone numbers you can call. Your safety, and the safety of your children go beyond maintaining the chain of command.
Sexual Abuse – Foolish Counsel
There’s a portion of the book where she discusses the steps to take if your children have been sexually assaulted by their father. She advises to “call the authorities”. (Okay, I can agree with that one.) She says to “pray he gets at least twenty years in prison, so that the children will be grown when he gets out”. (Because that’ll fix everything.) But here’s the part I find more than dangerous:
“Visit him there, and be an encouragement to him. Get him books and tapes (how old is this book again?) on good Bible teaching, and let him see the children three or four times a year in the prison visiting area. Children heal better from sexual assaults when they know the perpetrators (even their fathers) are punished for it.”
First of all, when something this traumatic happens to a child, the last thing you want to do is put them in the prescience of the abuser. Until they are older, and they can make their own decisions as to whether that is something they want to do, whether it be for closure, forgiveness, etc., your job is to protect them. There is nothing wrong with trying to be an encouragement to your spouse if you feel inclined (I don’t know a lot of mothers who would be if their husband’s molested their children, but that’s my opinion.), but DO NOT bring your children into it. Get them help, counseling, therapy, whatever they need in that area, DO NOT take your child to the foot of their molester.
I can’t tell you whether to read this or not. While I do see some encouraging things in this book, I worry about the impressionable mind of a young girl being recommended this work, only to feel marginalized, degraded, potentially open to abuse, and feeling at fault for things beyond her control. I worry about the children being neglected at the expense of appeasing the father in the picture. Biblical submission should never be this degrading. It is not slavery, that’s missing the entire point.
I’d say if you read this book: Proceed with absolute caution and wisdom.