CTBHH: In Which Debi Twists Scripture

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 21-23

Debi starts by looking at the Genesis story of the creation of Eve. She explains that Adam was completely delighted that God gave him Eve as a gift, and that every woman’s husband should similarly be delighted in having her as a gift.

And then comes this nasty bit:

When you are a help meet to your husband, you are a helper to Christ, for God comissioned man for a purpose and gave him a woman to assist in fulfilling that divine calling. When you honor your husband, you honor God. When you obey your husband, you obey God. The degree to which you reverence your husband is the degree to which you reverence your Creator. As we serve our husbands, we serve God. But in the same way, when you dishonor your husband, you dishonor God.

Reverence? Now might be a good point to mention that “worship” is a synonym of “reverence.”

What Debi is doing here is sick. She is explaining that women are to obey their husbands as they are to obey God – absolutely and without question – and that by obeying their husbands, they are obeying God. In other words, God has created women to be helpers for their husbands and commanded them to obey, honor, and reverence their husbands.

No. Just, no. I mean, isn’t this blaspheming or something? It’s placing man in the place of God. It’s demanding that man be treated as God. It’s sick and it’s wrong.

But I promised that I was going to tell you about Debi twisting scripture, didn’t I? After discussing Adam and Eve, Debi turns to the question of whether God “changed his mind” in the New Testament. The answer of course is “no.” She explains that “Paul, Timothy, and Peter wrote to us, telling us God’s original plan was still the same as it was in the beginning when Adam and Eve were first learning to be husband and wife. … God’s will is that you be a suitable helper to your husband.”

And then Debi backs this up with scripture. One verse. Just one. Here it is:

But she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (I Corinthians 7:34)

See? God affirms here in the New Testament that women’s sole purpose is to be helpers to men and married women are to serve, reverence, and obey their husbands. What, you don’t see all that in this one verse? Here, let me put it in context:

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

You see that? Right there, in this passage, God confirms that women’s sole purpose is to be helpers to men and that married women are to serve, reverence, and obey their husbands.

Wait a minute. Um, actually, that passage actually says the exact opposite of that!

This passage says that those who are unmarried can focus on pleasing God, and if you read even further up in the passage, Paul suggests that Christians – of both sex – are better off single and serving God, and should only marry if they truly feel they must. So, does this passage say women women were created to be helpers to men, to serve the men while the men serve God? NO. Not in the least. In fact, it says the exact opposite.

But this passage does say that the married woman should honor, obey, and reverence her husband, right? Um, actually, no. Instead, it says that women who are married care about pleasing their husbands – a statement of fact, not a command – and that men who are married likewise care about pleasing their wives. The exact same language is used here. Unless Debi is suggesting that men ought to honor, reverence, and obey their wives too, she’s completely out of luck. This passage treats men and women as equals, and treats their situations as identical – focusing on God before marriage, focusing on each other after marriage.

How Debi thinks she can do this and get away with it I do not understand. This passage does not just not say what she wants it to say, it says the opposite. If someone was reading and open to listening to Debi and following her advice, this should be the point where they stop. (Actually, they should stop way earlier, probably right about the moment Michael Pearl talks about “the taming of Debi” in his brief introductory endorsement.) How anyone could take Debi seriously after this (or before this, really, but that’s neither here nor there) is beyond me. This isn’t just a sloppy reading of the Bible. It’s lying. It’s deceiving. It’s intentionally misleading (or else having no idea how to read, and since Debi homeschooled five kids and wrote this book, I’m going to make the assumption that she can read.)

After twisting a poor unsuspecting passage of scripture to suit her diabolical needs, Debi finishes this section with the following:

It is not a question of whether or not you can do a better job than he;  it is a matter of doing what you were “designed” to do. If you successfully do the job of leading the family, you will not find satisfaction in it. It is far better that the job be done poorly by your husband than to be done well by you.

In other words, your individual gifts and talents do not matter. God gave you a gift of public speaking, or of managing money, or of opera singing? Too bad. Your individual gifts and talents do not matter. You think you can go out and do great things for God? No! All that matters is that you fit yourself into this little box that Debi, er, I mean God, has created for you. All that matters is that you serve, reverence, and obey your husband. So says the Gospel of Debi. Period and full stop.

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.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    Even out of context that passage seems suspicious. You’re not supposed to be caring about ‘worldy’ things. I know cherry picking scripture is par for the course, but if this is the best you can come up with you’ve got a problem.

  • machintelligence

    Quote mining — it’s the Christian thing to do.

  • http://beautifuldisarray.wordpress.com Chryssie

    It is so interesting and fascinating to me how many women buy into her book. I posted your link about a woman’s created purpose on my facebook, and caused and uproar of woman adamantly crying that God is so clear and that Debi has gotten it right. My husband and I live as equals, and we both know that individually we both are a ton better at certain things than the other, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s so messed up to say that to dishonor your husband would be dishonoring to God. I feel bad for the guilt trips any woman reading Debi’s book and swallowing it hook, line, and sinker would get. Thanks for reviewing the book! I’m thoroughly enjoying these posts. :-)

  • Uly

    Does she actually believe what she’s spewing? Or is she fully aware that she’s a lying liar with regards to her own holy book?

  • smrnda

    Good to point that out, but I think the whole notion that ‘single people can serve better’ is a dangerous falsehood itself. I have known many single people who, because they lacked enough emotional support that would come with having a partner, weren’t very socially useful. Once they ended up with someone (got their own needs met) they did much better.

    But yeah, by making obedience to husband == obedience to God she might as well just say the husband IS God and speaks for him.

    • Judy L.

      “Single people can serve better” isn’t about being socially useful, it’s merely about being devoted to the faith. You do a much better job of giving your worldly wealth and your time and labour to the church when you don’t have a pesky partner or family to take care of and distract you from worshipping.

  • http://yeswesam.wordpress.com Sam

    I attended a wedding where a worship song was sung that included the line “May the vision of you be the death of me” (talking about God). My first thought was “why is that song being played at a wedding?” My second thought was “If it’s because of a Church as Bride of Christ analogy, wouldn’t that translate its meaning to: ‘May the vision of the husband be the death of the wife’?” It sickened me, and it still does.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    WOW, when I got to the part where you quoted 1 Corinthians 7:34, I was like :O and literally said “WHAA?” You’re totally right about her twisting that to mean the opposite of what it means- I always understood it to mean “maybe you shouldn’t get married, because then you’ll be so concerned about pleasing your husband/wife that you won’t be able to focus on God.”

  • RB

    I think it’s worth noting that the Hebrew word ezer translated helpmeet is translated as savior in many many other places in the ot. Not saying that makes the myth much better but if Christians built a doctrine on women being saviors I think our culture would look radically different.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

    I don’t think I’ve fully appreciated how much they ignore the parts of the Bible that suggest remaining unmarried is a good thing. They completely take that option off the table. I understand that this is a historical feature of Protestantism, but they really take it to extremes. Single people do not fit into their worldview at all. Except, I guess, as stay at home young adult daughters, under the proper authority of their fathers, because women living outside male authority are abhorrent.

    • E

      Not just Protestants. Catholic vocations to the single (non-ordained) life are heavily discouraged as well.

      • Melia

        I’m Catholic and would dispute that. Marriage is a vocation, but there is also a great call at the moment for more people to become priests and religious. Some of the greatest Catholic saints were single (St Catherine of Siena, for example).

    • Steve

      You should look at how Mormons treat single people. Especially older ones. It’s beyond disgusting. They segregate them into “singles wards” for the sole purpose of marrying them off to each other.

      • aletha

        i actually preferred the single’s ward. no crying babies, no wives trying to out holy the other. it was nice just to do my job and get out. i also enjoyed getting to know more people my age; that wouldn’t have happened since the ward boundaries really included about 50 miles.

    • Anne

      Look, I’m as opposed to the Pearls as the next sane person, but it is only fair to mention that they have a dim view of parents treating their adult progeny like children. Mike has stated that he is fine with an adult daughter moving out and setting up independently if she has the resources, and that even if she continues to live at home, an 18-year-old woman is not under her parents’ authority.

      http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/cloistered-homeschool-syndrome/

  • MM

    Really the takeaway should be that, in Paul’s perfect world, no one would marry or have sexual thoughts and have as little contact with the opposite sex as possible, because all that crap distracts you from serving god. Leaving aside that this seems to indicate Paul probably was not heterosexual (or at least not one with normal hormones), it’s also contradictory, because multiple other bible passages talk about marriage as being the perfect state for men and women (church as the bride of Christ, for instance). If marriage is the distraction that Paul says it is, why did god create it to be the ideal arrangement for the sexes?

    • smrnda

      I’ve always read Paul as a person who probably loathed himself, his desires and the whole process of life, and couldn’t stand that other people might be actually enjoying living and being alive. So he has to preach the doctrine that whatever things he can’t enjoy, nobody else should either.

      Plus, if “god is love” as the Christians say, why is any form of human love a distraction from god?

      • ScottInOH

        I’ve always read Paul as a person who probably loathed himself, his desires and the whole process of life, and couldn’t stand that other people might be actually enjoying living and being alive.

        I have to believe that’s a pretty healthy way to read him. I, on the other hand, read (past tense) him as the next best thing to Jesus.

      • Greg G.

        I think Paul exaggerated how bad he was in his pre-Christian days to make himself look better in his evangelist form, just as Christians do to this day. In some letters, he is preaching freedom to churches in cities with a Jewish philosphy while preaching “Whoa! no that mush freedom!” to the churches in Greek philosophical cities. He really believed that Jesus would come any minute now so he never allowed himself any more of life’s pleasures than necessary.

    • Greg G.

      Paul was totally convinced that Jesus was going to appear at any time. He didn’t see the point in getting married or having kids because there wouldn’t be time to raise them. He thought it better to prepare oneself for the endtime. He wasn’t really against sex but he opposed sex between unmarried people. The only reason he could see to get married was if you couldn’t refrain from having sex.

      1 Corinthians 7

      8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    • Steve

      Paul was every bit as screwed up about sexuality as Augistine. You have to realize that nearly all Christian core doctrines were made up by self-loathing, dysfunctional freaks.

      • smrnda

        Paul also seems to degrade marriage as just an outlet for sex for people who are too horny. The idea that there’s this relationship going on that’s more than just sex probably didn’t occur to him. At the same time, it was a misogynistic time where men probably didn’t view women as much but sexual objects, domestic servants or babyfactories.

  • http://teethofthebuzzsaw.blogspot.com Buzz Saw

    “How Debi thinks she can do this and get away with it I do not understand. ”

    Really? I would expect the way she gets away with it is from people just nodding their heads in agreement and not actually reading those passages to get the context.

    The better question, perhaps, is how does she sleep at night knowing that she’s lying? …Or does she??? Know that she’s lying, I mean (not that she doesn’t sleep). Did she even read those passages for context, or was she herself fed this verse without the context once upon a time, make note of what a great verse it was, and then passed it on to her readership the same way she learned it? Which just moves the question back to the next person, but, if there is such a person, we won’t know their motivations.

    Another possibility is that she can read (and write), but cannot comprehend. I’ve seen that. More so in cases where the context wasn’t as blatantly obvious, but I’ve seen Christians post verses on Facebook and not understand the meaning of the verses they post even when they post enough to include the context.

  • http://alisoncummins.com Alison Cummins

    The insistence that Chritianity is about family has always confused me. The New Testament is very explicitly anti-family, especially the gospels.

  • Ashton

    I have to wonder how she gets away with this to the degree that she does given how much evangelicals read the bible. Do they never look up the verses that she quotes?

  • Don Gwinn

    Buzz Saw took the words out of my mouth. I was going to suggest that while should could have manipulated the quote, she may have been fed the same thinking and the same quote in her younger days and simply be passing it on. You’d think she’d check it before she published it in her own book, but experience teaches that some people just don’t bother.

    I’d still bet money that she’s read the full quote and simply banked on others not reading it in context, though. This is also a common feature of quotation, and not just in religion. Quoting things out of context and hoping your audience won’t bother to read for themselves is a time-honored tradition of the rhetorical arts.

  • http://thechurchproject.me Tracey

    I have difficulty with the idea that one must either endorse marriage or the single life. Seems like both states ought to be able to bring valuable assets to a group. Singles will have a greater flexibilty and availability time wise. Couples will have more insight as to how to truly get along with someone. Couples with kids have learned to care for others and manage lots of things at once.
    Oops, I guess that’s three different states of living- could there be more? Dating? Long term partners? Engagement? With so many flavors, it’s a crime to boil it down to just 2 things of which one MUST somehow trump the other.

    • Rosie

      But…but…if there are more than two options, how can we know what is Absolutely Right and what is Absolutely Wrong? :P

  • Regina Russell

    Being a help meet is not a derogatory thing as promoted in these posts. In fact, in the Hebrew, it is equated with being God-like in answering needs. The whole words translate into something that exemplifies a savior quality and is definitely not a put-down in any way. When I look at these articles, it’s hard to see past the huge chip on your shoulder. And when the Bible is discussing a woman reverencing her man it is not talking about a woman reverencing an abusive master-slave-like relationship. It is talking about a woman who has a reverential attitude toward a husband who is loving her the way Christ loves the church. True feminism was never about rebellion or abortion or being like a man. It is about being able to love who you are as a woman–a co-creator with God, Himself. The words “help meet” truly describe–according to the Hebrew translation–a powerful, woman, enabled by God to fulfill a wonderful role on Earth.

  • Leigha7

    “She is explaining that women are to obey their husbands as they are to obey God – absolutely and without question – and that by obeying their husbands, they are obeying God. In other words, God has created women to be helpers for their husbands and commanded them to obey, honor, and reverence their husbands.”

    That was explicitly taught at the church I attended, and was the first step towards me leaving Christianity.


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