Shall I review Created to Be His Helpmeet?

Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious, that extremely patriarchal marriage manual I have mentioned before, was published by Debi Pearl in 2004. Michael Pearl and his wife Debi run No Greater Joy ministries and are the authors of To Train Up A Child, that extreme discipline manual that advocates spanking infants as young as six months and spanking toddlers until they are “utterly defeated.” Here is the descriptive summary of Created to Be His Help Meet found on the Amazon page:

“Somewhere over the passing years and changing culture, women have lost their way. This book is written to lead them back home. Regardless of how you began your marriage or how dark and lonely the path that has brought you to where you are now, I want you to know that it is possible today to have a marriage so good and so fulfilling that it can only be explained as a miracle.

Follow Debi Pearl as she takes the wisdom and experience of her own marriage and confirms it with the wisdom of scripture and learn how to be the “help meet” that God created you to be. You will learn to appreciate God’s gift of a husband with a thankful heart that produces joy and wisdom in you and your home. Gain a better understanding of who your husband is and how your response to him can make or break your marriage. See the Bible’s perspective of obedience and authority and understand how you are joint heirs to the promises of God.

The miracle of a wonderful marriage is like the miracle of birth, God allows you to be an essential contributor to the miracle. Read, enjoy and be blessed as over 330,000 other women already have.”

I have recently started reading Fred Clark’s reviews of Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series on his blog, The Slacktivist, which has put the idea of reviewing Created to Be His Help Meet in my mind. Basically, Fred is going through the Left Behind books slowly, a few pages a post, and posts once a week. What I really like about his reviews is that they are both highly analytical – pointing out severe problems with the theology, worldview, and text itself – and rather humorous. I think I could do the same for Created to Be His Help Meet. And if I post just one installment a week, I think it’s something I could do and something that wouldn’t get in the way of my other posting.

There’s another blogger who went by the name Personal Failure who was doing something extremely similar in her excellent “The Deconstruction of Elsie Dinsmore” posts, going through the Elsie Dinsmore books a few pages at a time on her blog, Forever in Hell. But then, last June, she disappeared, and her blog and posts along with her. If anyone knows what happened to her, let me know.

Anyway, before jumping right in I wanted to give you all a heads up and ask if this is something you would find interesting. Since it’s something I think I would find interesting and personally edifying (killing more personal demons, I’d imagine), and since this is my blog, I’m probably going to do it. Maybe you have suggestions or thoughts?

Note: I just found out that Created to Be His Help Meet has been translated into both Spanish and Russian.

Beyond Civility
CTBHHM: Why Was Marian's Husband So Loving?
CTBHHM: Blessings and Vessels
But What If Your Husband Tells You Not to Submit?
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Rachel Monroe

    Yes, please!!

  • smrnda

    PersonalFailure is at

    though after an initial post there, hasn’t posted any more. I miss her blog a lot too.

    The thing about this book is that it’s actually claiming that its advice is useful, and that you’re marriage is probably in trouble because you desperately need to get Debbi Pearl’s advice. I think most married couples are probably doing fine without her program, and that gradually, books like this will reach a smaller and smaller audience.

    I think your posts would be informative, because you can probably point out that you can do the opposite of what Debbi Pearl says and then have a find marriage.

    • Libby Anne

      I think most married couples are probably doing fine without her program, and that gradually, books like this will reach a smaller and smaller audience.

      The problem is that her books can attract people whose marriages aren’t doing fine and are ready to do whatever they have to make them fine. Most especially, of course, conservative religious women.

      • Elizabby

        Oh yes. I posted on a Christian forum for marriage advice, and this book was sent to me – free! Apparently the woman had found it so useful that she bought it in bulk and sent it to everyone she could convince to read it. I’ve read it – can’t remember most of it now though. I just remember I found most of it puzzling and a bit strange and didn’t think it would work. It is still on my shelf somewhere, because I’m a book hoarder. Maybe I should get it out again. Or maybe I’ll wait for your reviews…

  • Malte

    Yes please.

  • L

    That would be an awesome resource to point people to! Fred Clark’s series is actually what freed me from a huge amount of fear and allowed me to really explore my doubts. These kinds of series can have big impacts on people.

  • Niemand

    I hesitate to ask you to expose yourself to this filth. Seriously, the Pearls are not nice people and are you sure you want to spend that much time with Debi Pearl’s world view?

  • John Small Berries

    Yes, please, I think that would be interesting.

    One suggestion I might make is that if a concept isn’t explicitly defined in the text, that you be so kind as to explain it briefly for readers who don’t come from an Evangelical/QF/CP background (e.g. during the course of the “Raised Quiverfull” panel posts, I found myself rather mystified at first by the references to “courtship”, as it wasn’t a feature of my Methodist upbringing, and the posts all seemed to assume that the reader was already familiar with it.)

  • Jaimie

    Sure, why not? But please keep in mind that although they are wackjobs of the highest caliber, the readers and followers of their teachings must be held accountable too. The Pearls have no power in and of themselves and as Christians, their readers should be following the teachings of Jesus, which are hella different than theirs. But, knowing the gospels probably backwards and forwards, these people choose of their own free will to step away from the kindness of Jesus to embrace a system of cruelty, oppression, and dependence.
    I hate to sound judgmental, but that’s how I feel.

    • Ibis3

      The Jesus of the gospels wasn’t kind.

      • Blue Camas

        Well, compared to the Pearl’s, Jesus of the gospels is really nice. Not that this comparison is saying much, mind you. I suspect that an angry Grizzly bear with two sore paws is nicer than the Pearls.

  • Stephanie

    I would absolutely love for you to review this book. Warning this is going to make you angry, I know it did me. She just comes across as not a nice lady. I don’t wanna ruin it for you so I am gonna stop now.

  • Emily

    I would absolutely read this series if you do go through with it.

  • Jeri

    Do it!

  • Ahab

    Absolutely! Please review it.

  • wanderer

    It would be great if you want to do this.
    As a side note, I’m still stuck on trying to accept the fact that someone *needs* to de-bunk “Left Behind”. I thought it pretty much de-bunked itself. Obviously not.

    • Libby Anne

      That’s what makes Fred’s reviews so funny. Left Behind is so bad it hurts!

      • wanderer

        right!? And if there was any doubt before…enter Kirk Cameron.

  • Rae

    As a side note I think it’s very telling how she references birth as an anaology to marriage and says women are contributors. Really? We’re just contributors?? I have given birth all natural and let me say it was all me! I was not a contributor! It was my strength and my choice. This Is just another example of how they seem to view women as a means to an end.

  • Caitlin

    I would enjoy reading your review/analysis.

  • Karen

    Do it, because and only because you want to… and abandon the task somewhere in the middle if that’s what you want to do, too. It’s a challenging task, and if you decide in the middle that you’ve exorcised your demons and the woman is a complete idiot, don’t continue. But if you do continue to the end, it’ll be an awesome body of posts.

    • Dulce

      I agree. You would do an awesome job of it. I just know that it would make me sick to immerse myself in it enough to write a post (although I would enjoy reading yours!).

  • Noelle

    Better you than me. I can’t make it through the Focus on the Family’s advice column in the Sunday paper. But I’d be interested in seeing your take on it.

    If you ever want to catch up on the pop culture of your youth with us, that’d be fun too. I could wax eloquent about Goonies.

  • Sue Blue

    I’d worry about your stress levels and blood pressure. I wouldn’t be able to sleep after reading that crap. I’d be gritting my teeth and seeing red all night – and my blood pressure’s already too high.
    I do think you’d do a great job of it, though. I believe that people like the Pearls and their heinous views need to be exposed to constant scrutiny and public outrage; otherwise it tends to slide under the radar of most thinking, rational people who ignore it as just more fundie stupidity… until someone dies, as happened with those unfortunate toddlers whose parents read the Pearl’s steaming pile of child abuse advocacy.

  • Red

    I haven’t read the whole book, so I can’t comment with extensive knowledge, however…..from what I do know, this book offers extremely damaging advice, advice that basically enables couples to fall into unhealthy patterns of male abuse.

    So review it, but keep in mind you are touching some seriously poisonous stuff. It may be hard to keep it fun and funny most of the time (though I’m not saying that is necessarily your intention).

    Just my .02

  • Schaden Freud

    I miss Forever In Hell too.

    If you want to review this book, I’d love to read it.

    • Schaden Freud

      That’s the review, not the book, just to be clear.

  • Silver

    I would love to read your reviews if you can stand the source material!

  • Emma

    Here’s an angle I’ve always wondered about: what do people like the Pearls say about the roles of women with disabilities? I ask this because I was born with a moderate physical disability (I walk slower than normal, have trouble with stairs, and cannot stand up from the ground or a low down chair). I have no personal experience with the CP/QF movement outside of blogs like these (my parents are very liberal and secular), so I don’t know myself. From what I’ve read of your blog, the normal duties of a housewife in the CP/QF movement are probably not that doable for me (assuming I can even go through pregnancy/labor safely), much less someone with a more severe condition). Do you know what becomes of disabled women in the CP/QF movements? Or disabled men for that matter?

    • Attackfish

      This. I’m severely disabled and infertile. What do they do about women like that?

      • smrnda

        A really good point, but I also wonder what they think the role for men with disabilities would be.

      • Judy L.

        I think their plan for you is to be a “stay-at-home daughter” and have no life.

    • Liberated Liberal

      My guess is that they pretend you don’t exist – just like anybody/anything that doesn’t fit their tiny black-and-white picture of what “is.”

      Sorry if that sounds snarky. I am being serious, but can’t word it in a way that doesn’t sound loaded with snark….

      • Christine

        Oh, your answer is much less snarky than the version that I discarded. They probably believe it’s a sign of insufficient faith, otherwise you’d be healed.

      • Attackfish

        Christine: I had a feeling that would be it… I have seizures, and my extremely secular Jewish mother and agnostic father had to put up with a lot of Evangelicals telling them I was possessed.

        Liberated Liberal: Most people treat people with disabilities like we don’t exist until they have to. It’s what they do once you force them to acknowledge you that varies :)

      • Emma

        I think “forget we exist” is slightly more accurate than “pretend we don’t exist.” Unless you’re disabled yourself, or are very close to a disabled person, it won’t occur to you to think about things from that point of view. We’ve learned to because we have to, as have (one hopes) our close friends and family to a certain extent. Other people don’t have that experience.

        Still, I think you’re spot on otherwise. It’s especially evident in what some people consider acceptable accessibility plans for buildings (example: “Oh, uh, well, we don’t have an elevator or ramp, so how about we send someone to carry you up the stairs?”).

        Anyway, my theory is that, whether you’re male or female, you feel a lot of inadequacy not unlike what Libby Anne describes here:
        (though replace “having as many children as possible” with a more general “fulfilling your gender’s prescribed role in life”)

  • perfectnumber628

    Yes, I like this idea. Addressing all her points directly would be really useful.

    Dude, even the title of the book- “Created to be his helpmeet”- says to me that my life has no point because I’m not married. I bet I’m not the only one who feels insulted by this.

  • Nome

    oh yes, please

  • Sarah

    Yes, please do (if you don’t mind subjecting yourself to that crap)! I was given this book as an engagement gift from a friend of my mom…. I read bits and pieces and then burned it at a friend’s bachelorette party. It was very gratifying :)

  • BabyRaptor

    Only do it if you think you can get through the mess without harming yourself. We all like you, we wouldn’t want you to disappear from spontaneous rage combustion or something.

    No, that’s not snark. I’ve read some of the Pearls’ stuff before, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been that mad.

  • Bethany

    honestly, i’m not gonna read posts on that topic. it’s a waste to me, and i don’t want to have to remember what my mom is currently dealing with. reading something that i used to somewhat agree with would make me just think too much, and that hurts a lot of the time.