CTBHH: Women’s Created Purpose

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 21

God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman. … If you are a wife, you were created to fill a need, and in that capacity you are “a good thing,” a helper suited to the needs of a man. This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing. You are, by nature, equipped in every way to be your man’s helper. You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature, for no man can do your job, and no man is complete without his wife. You were created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him. A woman trying to function like a man is as ridiculous as a man trying to be like a woman. A unisex society is a senseless society – a society dangerously out of order.

There is so much in this short passage that it’s hard to know where to start.

Remember that Debi spent her introduction doing two things: talking about how she came to marry Michael (and what a silly girl she was then) and explaining that she knows God’s plan for marriage and that anyone who follows what she outlines in the rest of her book will lead a blissful existence. She then began chapter one with a letter from a woman who says she was “a Jezebel type” before following Debi’s advice and achieving marital bliss. This section, coming immediately after that letter and at the start of chapter one, is where Debi explains her core premise: the purpose for which women were created (i.e. to serve men).

Let me go over it sentence by sentence.

God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman.

I would rather not be described as a “gift” given to my husband. Gifts are possessions. They’re something passed from one person to another. If I give a gift to my daughter, I am giving it into her possession to be owned by her. In other words, speaking of women as gifts for men sets women up as objects rather than people. And more than that, when I give my daughter a gift it’s because I care about her. I generally don’t care about the gift itself except in the value it will have to her. If women are simply “gifts” given by God to man, the implication is that we are man’s possession and that God cares about men first, and women only tangentially. I know this might seem like a nitpick, but words do matter.

If you are a wife, you were created to fill a need, and in that capacity you are “a good thing,” a helper suited to the needs of a man. This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing. You are, by nature, equipped in every way to be your man’s helper.

So here we have it. Women’s “purpose for existing” is to be their husbands’ “helper.” Note that Debi does not say that women, like men, are created to serve God. No. Men were created to serve God. Women were created to serve men. That’s the whole reason God created them. And of course, Debi doesn’t say a word about what this means for single women. I suppose they live lives that are aimless and without purpose – at least, according to Debi.

You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature, for no man can do your job, and no man is complete without his wife. You were created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him.

Debi pulls an extremely common bait and switch here. She says that women are “inferior to none” but also that they are not to “seek personal fulfillment parallel to” their husbands. If I had a dollar for every time a complementarian or supporter of patriarchy insisted that men and women are “equal” but simply “have different roles to play” I’d be rich. The truth is that the different roles they say men and women are to play are nowhere near equal. Men are to have lives and plan out visions, and women are to serve their husbands and forward their husbands’ visions. There is nothing equal about that.

Next, I’ve often heard it said that a man needs his wife, can’t function without his wife, and that that somehow makes up for the fact that the man is to lead and his wife is to submit. Somehow it means that women are not inferior. Debi echoes this idea here. The trouble is, would you say the same about antebellum slaves? I mean, the master of a plantation needed slaves, his plantation wouldn’t function without them. So that makes the fact that their role was obedience and his was to make the commands a-okay and totally equal, right? Um . . . no. And yes, there were plenty of people at the time who argued that slaves “created nature” was servitude, and that white people couldn’t labor in the heat the way black people could, accustomed to it by their natural physic as they (supposedly) were.

A woman trying to function like a man is as ridiculous as a man trying to be like a woman. A unisex society is a senseless society – a society dangerously out of order.

Here Debi emphasizes the importance of “complementarianism.” Complementarianism is the idea that men and women fill different and “complementary” roles. According to Debi, a society without such gender roles is “a society dangerously out of order.” She doesn’t clarify why in this section, but so much of what you find in her book is premised on this idea. Men and women are by nature extremely different from each other and are fitted to extremely different roles. To her this seems only natural. It makes sense. It represents order. The reality, of course, is that a society premised on gender equality does not simply fall into disorder and ruin. We’ve had ample proof of that by now. (Of course, my definition of words like disorder and ruin may differ from Debi’s – I’m thinking mobs in the street, crime rates through the roof, that sort of thing, she’s probably thinking premarital sex and people being openly gay. Oh the horror!)

Since this passage is a bit of a downer, I’ll take this moment to mention that Debi’s text is chock full of odd little offhand statements. I don’t know if she thinks it makes the book seem more personable or what, but it gets downright annoying after a while. Here are a few:

God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman. I know it to be so because my husband tells me quite often.

My husband, who is a learned student of the Word, assures me that Eve was indeed a birthday present, as seen by the fact that they were both wearing their birthday suits.

Seriously. She does this thing throughout.

And do wait in anticipation for next week, because you’ll get to watch Debi twist scripture to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means. I’ve seen scripture twisted plenty of times, but this particular example is absolutely outrageous.

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.

  • Slow Learner

    I read that bit about “You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature”, and – being odd – immediately thought of Dorothy Hodgkin.
    You’ve probably never heard of her, but she is well-remembered at my old university, as a Nobel Prize winner who (among other things) discovered the structure of insulin, a necessary precursor to treating diabetes. And this wasn’t a chance discovery, being in the right place at the right time. Over a period of 35 years, she pushed the state of the art forwards until eventually she succeeded.
    The point of this is, her ‘created nature’ clearly suited her ideally to being a brilliant scientist. Does Debi Pearl really expect me to believe that the world would be a better place, if Dorothy Hodgkin had been a stay at home mother? That Mr Hodgkin, with Dorothy’s loving support, could have achieved everything she did, as well as everything he did? Puh-lease…

    • Cathy W

      Agreed wholeheartedly! My biggest gripe with the whole idea of “complementarian marriage” is that it’s one-size-fits-all. It starts with the assumption that all men are the same, and all women are the same. But we’re not – we humans are individuals from the get-go, and no amount of “training” and “self-help” is going to do anything but make the woman forced to stay home when she’s a terrible homemaker but a wonderful engineer miserable.

      Here’s a news flash for people who idolize the “Leave It To Beaver” family model: In the real world, there’s pretty good odds that if June wasn’t drinking, she was on Valium…

    • plch

      And I think of Marie Curie, another woman who didn’t know her place… and I don’t think that her husband would have ever thought of her as ‘gift or ‘helpmet’ or anything else than a patner.

      • Niemand

        Women like Curie or Hodgkin are supposed to “support” their husbands’ research and act as unpaid and unacknowledged lab techs for them. Sure, they’re supposed to do the work, but it’s supposed to all come out under their husbands’ names. Sort of like Albert Einstein did to his wife, if rumor is true. Certainly, a lot of male scientists throughout history have used the talents of their wives, daughters, sisters, etc and taken the credit for their discoveries.

      • plch

        @Niemand: fortunately Pierre Curie was a different kind of man! Anyway, Marie keep winning Nobel prizes after his death… so much for the unaknowledged lab tech ideal.

      • Niemand

        Fortunately for us all, Marie Curie kept working and was able to keep working. If she hadn’t, a lot of what we know about radioactivity we would have known later. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the best at keeping herself safe from lab dangers…

      • Andrew G.

        @Niemand:

        Sort of like Albert Einstein did to his wife, if rumor is true.

        Just to scotch this one: that rumor is not in any way supported by the evidence, it has been investigated in some detail from the surviving correspondence and other records. The wikipedia article has a good collection of links to sources on the issue.

      • http://kagerato.net kagerato

        A better example of men plagiarizing the work of a woman would be Watson and Crick, who copied and utilized Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction data that provided the last key clues as to the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick were given a Nobel Prize; Franklin got nothing.

      • Attackfish

        Watson and Crick’s actions were shameful. I remember learning about them when I was thirteen and just feeling sick.

      • plch

        About Marie Curie: nobody knew that radiation were dangerous at the time, so therewas no protection at all!
        About Watson & Crick and Franklin: actually she didn’t get the Nobel prize mostly because she had already died when they received it and Nobel prizes aren’t attribuited after death (she died because radiation exposure like Marie Curie, she did know about the danger but she was not very careful with protection). Actually her boss, Wilkins, got the nobel prize with W&C and he behaved toward worse then them toward her (in general, as a woman, she was discriminated and not much considered like all the other women at her university/college at the time)

  • http://eFeminism.com Matthews

    I will firstly say a woman oriented post… and i also like the statement that the most precious gift a men will ever receive is woman.. we can also say feminism had got a certain place in the society and the women’s are now more aware of there rights and jobs… its a good thing that now women’s are actively participating in every sphere and now women’s are more concern about there rights and role in the society…

  • smrnda

    I think what fuels this thinking, at the bottom, is that many men feel that their lives would be incomplete without a woman. I’m not saying that’s bad in and of itself; I’m not going to critique people for their needs. I do think though, that many men throughout history have really hated feeling this way since it makes them vulnerable, and they don’t like feeling vulnerable in a way that makes it seem like women have any sort of power over them. So the discussion gets framed about women’s proper roles and whether or not women are defecting on their proper obligations. It’s kind of a conflict between male need (or sense of entitlement) and female agency.

    Plus, do ALL men need women to be these submissive partners? Aren’t there lots of men who are fine with women having goals of their own?

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      That’s a really interesting point.

      • smrnda

        I think it’s tough for anyone to both accept that they have a deep need, but also accept not getting it. In most areas, like gainful employment, I do believe that need equals an entitlement. Anybody who is willing to do useful work should be given some to do and fairly compensated.

        With relationships though, wanting one badly doesn’t give you an entitlement to one. There’s lots of social pressure put on men to be strong and not vulnerable, so the whole “I’m not with a woman and I don’t like it” gets expressed in hostile, misogynistic ways. I kind of also see this in that it’s Debi Pearl who writes about how badly men need women and what women need to be to make men happy and not her husband, probably since her husband, no matter how badly he needs her, has to have his fragile ego reassured in some way that he is not needy.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      “Aren’t there lots of men who are fine with women having goals of their own?”

      I’d go so far as to say that many men would be creeped out by a woman NOT having goals of her own and deriving her entire identity from him. Only a total narcissist (like Pearl) would ever really want that. In general, I think the kind of slavish, sycophantic, nothing–in-the-world-makes-me-more-fulfilled-than-sitting-at-my-husband’s-feet-and-hanging-on-his-every-brilliant-word devotion that wives are taught to display in this subculture would make pretty much all of the men I know really uncomfortable. And not just the super-progressive feminist consciousness-having ones either. It’s just…weird. It’s not a real relationship.

      • smrnda

        I’d agree that most men I know are the same way. One guy told me his experience around Fundamentalists was that in conversations, men talked and women just said ‘wow, really? wow, really?” He made it sound like some type of dystopia where women had been replaced with mindless robots.

      • Elizabby

        >>In general, I think the kind of slavish, sycophantic, nothing–in-the-world-makes-me-more-fulfilled-than-sitting-at-my-husband’s-feet-and-hanging-on-his-every-brilliant-word devotion that wives are taught to display in this subculture would make pretty much all of the men I know really uncomfortable.

        Yep. I tried it on my hubby and he got really annoyed.

        We used to know a couple whose relationship was genuinely like this – he was a doctor and she was just SO impressed that he SAVED LIVES every day at work! But he broke it off and married another doctor – an opinionated, outspoken one. And she met a really nice artist who appreciated her artistic side, so it worked out well for everyone – except Debi Pearl’s theory…

  • wanderer

    I’m still hung up on the idea that women are “inferior to one one” AS LONG AS they are doing their role. Well….. are they inferior, or not? You can’t have a different VALUE as a human being just because you’re doing a certain thing or not. Value is inherernt.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      Honestly, that’s the one part that comes close to making sense to me, in that it recognizes that different people have different strengths and weaknesses. It just sucks that she assumes that your gender determines what those are.

    • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

      Wanderer said:
      “Well….. are they inferior, or not? You can’t have a different VALUE as a human being just because you’re doing a certain thing or not. ”
      I think the idea is that they are not inferior unless they become “damaged goods,” which is what they become if they step out of their place.

  • Carol

    “This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing. You are, by nature, equipped in every way to be your man’s helper.”

    Is this supposed to boost me up? Rah, rah, you’re built to serve. The very fact that this statement makes me want to throw up disproves it right there.

    “You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature, for no man can do your job, and no man is complete without his wife. You were created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him.”

    It’s a paradox. Women cannot be considered inferior to a man as long as she does what she’s told, gets herself a man, does whatever needs doing to get him completed, whatever that means, while sublimating any of her own desires and disappearing into her husband.

  • Niemand

    the purpose for which women were created (i.e. to serve men).

    This is so far off my view of the world, that my first feeling isn’t even outrage or queasiness over the horror of the idea that 50% (or slightly more) of the population has no purpose but to serve the other slightly less than 50%. No, my first thought is, “Any man who tells me that my purpose is ‘to serve man’ will be informed that it’s a cookbook.” (And how old do you have to be for that joke to be funny?)

    • smrnda

      I got it, but only because of the Simpson’s Halloween parody of the original Twilight Zone episode.

      • Carol

        Well, if you wanted to make Serak the Preparer cry, mission accomplished.

      • Niemand

        Poor Serak! I’ve seen the original episode, but since I saw it on a Youtube pirate version, I can’t really claim the age I implied I had reached.

    • Attackfish

      I can and have used this joke, and I turn 24 tomorrow. But my dad and I are huge geeks, and SF is our primary means of father-daughter bonding.

      • Rae

        Yep, I’m a similar age, and I get it, too. Also, mostly because my parents did watch Twilight Zone.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Um, yeah, the constant Michael-reference tic would get old REAL fast. They’re like a Christian fundamentalist equivalent of “one time, at band camp.” lol “And one time, my husband said…” Maybe they’re her way of constantly reminding everyone (and herself) that she is TOTES NOT TRYING TO LEAD by writing a book or anything. We readers need to be reminded as of often as possible that Michael guided every word of this book and every thought of the woman who wrote it!

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

    Good analysis. It’s kind of mind-blowing how much wrong there was in that one passage… and how those are things I used to accept.

  • Scotlyn

    It is strange that the idea of women and men being “interchangeable” in their social roles is anathema to the Pearls, and yet they seem quite happy for every woman to be interchangeable with every other woman, in her person and reason for being!

    • wanderer

      wow, great point!

    • http://kagerato.net kagerato

      Indeed, and isn’t it ironic that these are supposed to be the people with the universal, absolute values? I sense a lack of consistency.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        It’s not inconsistent if you believe that gender is THE most significant thing about a person. If you fundamentally believe that gender defines who we are, then it makes perfect sense to believe that people of one gender are basically interchangeable with one another but DEFINITELY not interchangeable with people of another gender. It’s messed up but it’s consistent.

      • Leigha7

        Wait, I just realized something. You know how when extreme conservatives talk about homosexuality, they act like it is literally the only characteristic that exists for gay people? There’s no such thing as a smart, athletic, hard-working, kind, ambitious gay person, just…gay. Well, now that you mention how they seem to see gender as THE defining trait of a person, it starts to make sense, doesn’t it?

        Nuance is really not their strong point.

  • Karen

    If a man wants someone who adores him, is completely (or almost completely) subservient to him, always put his goals first, and is always ready to change direction on his whim, he can damn well get himself a dog.

    • Attackfish

      You haven’t met my dogs…

  • beth

    I do believe that men and women are very different, and I believe that we have different roles, but I don’t believe those roles are absolutes. I also believe that I was created by God, for God and everything after that ( including my husband ) is secondary. I understand that men and women alike use the complementarian ( i don’t even know how to spell the d*** word ) to gain what they want out of others. Some women like the role because it takes the pressure off of them and they really don’t want to be responsible. But there is the danger of extremism in every school of though there is, on both sides of the scale. So my long winded question is , is the idea of complimentarywhatever wrong OR is it the people who are walking it out? Because I can find scripture to back up both sides of the issue. HOWEVER, I will say that the author Debi is a dingbat and what the heck is she doing writing her own book and how is that being a help meet to her husbands dreams and goals? Unless he really wrote it and used her name as the author lol.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      I say this as a self-identified Christian – if there seems to be Biblical support for opposing models, go with the one that more accurately depicts reality.

    • Rosie

      I think the trouble with complimentarianism is that it claims to be universally applicable. So if ANY man or ANY woman is unhappy with the roles, it can’t work. And since obviously a good many women and men don’t like the roles it assigns them, it can’t work. That’s not to say that folks who dig those roles shouldn’t do them; I’m all for people doing what suits them best in their own relationships. But they shouldn’t try to tell those who feel otherwise that they’re doing it wrong. And complimentarianism does that. (Also, it’s not that you can’t spell it, it’s probably that your spell-check doesn’t recognize the word or its conjugations. My spell-check doesn’t, anyhow.)

      • Ibis3

        Maybe that’s because you’re spelling it wrong. ;-)

        Complementarianism. As in complete rather than compliments.

    • Ibis3

      Why are you looking at an old book depicting an alien culture and written entirely by men (surely a biased perspective on the question if there ever was one) as a guide to whether there’s anything to the hypothesis of complementarity? Would you go looking for scripture to figure out whether the geocentrists or heliocentrists are right? How about looking at the evidence *in the real world*?

  • Karen

    I’m reminded of the Tale of Lilith, supposedly the true first woman created in the first Genesis creation story (the one where man and woman are created equal). Supposedly Lilith took one look at Adam, told God “You must be kidding!” and walked away. So God tried again, this time using a piece of Adam so that the new woman would be his helpmeet. Mind you, I’m an atheist and consider all of these to be just-so stories, but I’m wondering why God couldn’t have encouraged Adam to spruce up a bit and go court the lady, or why he didn’t forsee the problem in the first place.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    The Pearl way of reading “I will make a help meet for him” (what God said Eve is when making her) is totally contrary to the real meaning. It does not mean an assistant existing for his sake. It comes from 2 Hebrew words (Genesis was first written in Hebrew) next to each other: ezer k’negdo

    Ezer, translated as help, is a word mostly used for God, in texts like Exo 18:4 “the God of my father, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh” or Psa 146:5 “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:” Other times, it refers to a strong political ally helping the weaker Israel in wartime.

    Ezer help do not mean inferiority in rank, but strength that rescues(helps).

    “Meet for him” is the Hebrew word k’negdo. It means eye-to-eye equality, opposites like right and left, standing before someone. (My Afrikaans Bible translate it rightly as an equal.)
    “I will make a help meet for him” can also be translated as “I will make a rescuing strength at his own level.”
    She is not “made for him” as in made to fulfill his purposes, she is “meet for him” – on the same level as him.

    • Laurie Schiller

      Amen!

      • Laurie Schiller

        It drives me crazy that people even use the word “helpmeet”. It’s a made-up word! (Granted all words are made up, but pretending that it comes from the Bible makes it more forceful, like it is somehow God-ordained.) The KJV reads “I will make an help meet for him” where “help” means someone who shares the same tasks and “meet” means equal and similar. (Rebecca Merrill Groothius notes in “Good News for Women” that “the notion that ‘helper’ means ‘subordinate’ must be brought to the Genesis text; it cannot be derived from it.”) Anyway, “helpmeet” is an incorrect contraction of “help” and “meet”. This is why, I suppose, Pearl’s book is titled “Created to Be His Help Meet” (with a space between “Help” and “Meet”), but this would be the equivalent of stating “She created a song lovely” or “He made a cake moist” and considering “song lovely” and “cake moist” compound nouns.

        Whether or not the KJV is correctly translated from the Hebrew is outside my range.

  • http://wayofcats.com WereBear

    It was exactly these kinds of attitudes that drove me away from the Southern Baptist Church when I was an adolescent.

    I watched as men ran everything and women did all the work. I made straight A’s and yet there would be something wrong with me if I used the intelligence God had given me. And the church was full of women laboring in rotten jobs.

    I struggled for a few years, trying to make sense of it. But it didn’t make any sense. I could not accept the fact that I was less than human. I somehow felt that could not be what God had in mind.

  • smrnda

    I think it would be interesting to see patriarchal men interact with men who are accepting of egalitarianism. I’d imagine that the patriarchal men would be a lot of criticism, not just for oppressing women, but for just being insecure losers who want to get women to pad their fragile egos.

    • Richter_DL

      And gay. Never forget that. They need to constantly prove to themselves how great they are, after all.

  • elly

    So no man can serve two masters but women can obey both God and husband. Interesting.

    • Richter_DL

      I guess the thinking si that god speaks through their husbands – husband’s words are god’s, so if you disobey,y ou disobey god, heresy, apostasy, cats sleeping with dogs, the works.

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  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    I suspect my stepmother may have read this book. I can’t see the KJV-only nonsense appealing to her, given that she’s (a) Catholic and (b) a Latin teacher, but I know she’s heavily involved in some ultra-conservative Catholic homeschooling movement (young women wearing long skirts and having bazillions of children), the no-government-can-be-trusted thing would be right up her alley, and the way she treated my late father during their marriage was eerily similar, in many ways, to what’s described in these posts. Way creepy.

  • Richter_DL

    One ring to find her and, in darkness, bind her.

    • Matt

      Richter, I desperately seek your forgiveness for only being able to “thumb-up” your comment once.

  • Matt

    The amazing thing is that if you take all of these ridiculous books and replace all instances of “God” and “Jesus” with “Allah”, these books are instruction manuals of Shariah Law. But none of these people will ever, EVER see it.

    • jejune

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      Saw a documentary on women’s rights on CNN a few months back, and a writer made a comment about the treatment of women within muslim countries it was this:

      Women are for men’s pleasure and profit.


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