CTBHHM: In Which Debi Has Scientific Proof

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 221-222

Debi starts this section with these reassurances:

So, is a woman a second-class citizen of the kingdom? Is she to be a subdued, brow-beaten servant to the male species? Certainly not! What the Bible teaches will not put women back into the Stone Age, nor will it turn us into a bunch of Muslim-like women who stay covered in black, sweaty bourkhas. If you knew me (and by the time you finish reading this book, you will know me), you would know that I ma the farthest thing from a mousy, brow-beaten wife. But I know what God teaches about women, and I know that for you to be happy—really happy—as I have been happy, you must follow and abide in God’s role for women.

First, I’m surprised that Debi believes in a Stone Age. The young earth creationist view is that the supposed “Stone Age” lasted a few hundred years max, occurred after the flood and before people settled down and began farming, and was a period when people had a higher mental capacity than today (before human DNA had degenerated as much as it has today, goes the argument). This makes Debi’s Stone Age remark rather anachronistic. Also making it anachronistic is the fact that one widely held theory of the origins of patriarchy holds that gender relations were much more egalitarian in the Stone Age and became patriarchal with the origins of farming.

Second, Debi’s reference to Muslim women smacks of Islamophobia. Muslim women are not a monolithic identity, and most Muslim women do not actually wear burqas. While it is true that some Muslim women are pressured into wearing the burqa, but the reality is far more complex than just that. Some Muslim women cover, and some do not—it’s generally considered a deeply personal decision, one that is ultimately between a woman and God. To criticize Islam as a whole based on the fact that some Muslim women wear burqas is structurally no different from criticizing Christianity as a whole based on the fact that some Christian women wear long skirts and head coverings. Debi’s Islamophobia yet another example of the same arrogant cultural superiority that characterizes the rest of her work. It’s also extremely hypocritical.

God has spoken frankly as to why he made us as he did and what our role is to be.

Yet, so-called Bible teachers today tear apart what God has said and make the average young wife reading these Scriptures feel as though what God has said to her is an insult. I, too, am a woman. I have spent my life counseling women. After almost 35 years as a wife, counseling ladies, reading thousands upon thousands of letters, and chalking up my own life experiences, I have concluded that what the Bible says on this subject is rock-solid truth, and it works! I have also seen the sad results of the teachings that reject the plain sense of Scripture.

When people speak with extreme confidence, people are more likely to believe what they say. The more confident you are, the more likely that they’ll believe you. I think Debi is capitalizing on that here.

My conclusions can be said to be scientifically correct. That is, the “evidence” that leads to my conclusion is reproducible: Anyone can test it and get the same results. The Creator knows best, and His way does work. His Word is meant to be taken at face value. And, when any woman does as I have done, the blessings are incredible!

I don’t think Debi understands how scientific evidence works. You don’t just say something works for you and you’ve seen it work for others and that makes it scientific. And I think she’s also forgetting things like variables. For example, women in the sort of communities she is writing to are often under a lot of pressure to act as though things are okay, even if they’re not. Also, Debi admitted last week that evangelical Christians are more likely to get divorced than are other Americans. How does that square with her assertion? Actually, I think I know the answer to that: Debi would say that most evangelical Christians have adopted feminism in whole or in part, and are not actually following God’s plan for a heavenly marriage.

I have received thousands of letters from women who have entered into God’s miraculous, blessed plan by simply believing and obeying his Word concerning our place as women. I have seen lesbians set free and become wives fit for the kingdom. I have seen broken whores, drug addicts, and church-taught, rebellious ladies all become women who honor their men and become good help meets. I have seen marriages born in hell and then reborn in heaven.

I’m really curious to know more about Debi’s ministry. Thousands of letters? I’d give a lot to actually see Debi’s an mail, the good and the bad. Further, these letters Debi receives (assuming she is being truthful) don’t necessarily present the full truth.  How does Debi know these letter writers aren’t glossing over the problems and fitting their articles to a standard evangelical redemption narrative?

When someone tells you that the Greek doesn’t read submit, obey, or silence, just ask that person, “How is your marriage? Would you say it is glorious? Will God use your marriage as an example in Heaven of how he wants Christ and the Church to be?” Those who change the Word of God concerning a woman being a help meet do so because they don’t know the wonder of a marriage made in heaven. I do.

I would not call a relationship where one party does all the leading and the other does all the submitting “glorious.” Also, Debi is creating a strawman of Christian feminists here. The argument isn’t that the Greek doesn’t say submit, obey, and silence, but rather the statements need to be read in their historical, sociological, and literary context—and in the context of the rest of the Bible.

Also, is “How is your marriage?” Debi’s equivalent with Ken Ham’s “Were you there?” gotcha question? It’s certainly not anymore effective. Debi doesn’t have scientific evidence, she has “gotcha” questions, anecdotes, and overly confident assertions. That’s not how scientific proof works. You know what would be interesting? An actual study. I’m not sure how one could be set up, though, because it would require those in the patriarchal relationships to be honest, and there would probably be disagreement on exactly what made a marriage “heavenly.”

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.

  • lucifermourning

    “How is your marriage? Would you say it is glorious? Will God use your marriage as an example in Heaven of how he wants Christ and the Church to be?”

    When I saw that I could help thinking “Yes, actually, it is pretty glorious. I don’t believe in God but, if there was one I think he or she could do much, much worse than use my very happy, very egalitarian, marriage as an example of how human beings should relate to one another.”

    That’s the thing about anecdotes. We can trade them all day and it doesn’t bring us much closer to the truth.

    • Machintelligence

      Too true. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    • ako

      I’m pretty sure she’d discount your marriage for the same reason why she’d discount the extremely happy marriages of my parents and my brother. Her comments about God using the relationship as an example gives her a convenient out, so if someone’s egalitarian and has a relationship that’s gloriously happy, fulfilling, just, and kind, but doesn’t follow her theological interpretation of what marriage should be, she can declare it has fallen short and therefore Doesn’t Count. (If people scrupulously adhere to her instructions, but aren’t happy, fulfilled, just, or kind, she’s got the old standby of blaming the woman for not trying hard enough.)

      • lucifermourning

        Yeah, I’m sure I wouldn’t count for not being ‘Godly’.

        My poiny was mostly that we can trade anecdotes all day and claim other people aren’t really happy and don’t know their own minds – but none of that will turn anecdotes into data.

  • NeaDods

    you would know that I am the farthest thing from a mousy, brow-beaten wife

    You keep telling yourself that, Debi. But there was a long quote of yours on No Longer Quivering yesterday that made you sound like the most miserable, brow-beaten woman on Earth and marriage itself like a living hell.

    That is, the “evidence” that leads to my conclusion is reproducible: Anyone can test it and get the same results

    Except no. I’ve rejected the Bible entirely and have a better life than you, Debi, by every objective measurement. So many liberals, atheists, and feminists do. Not to mention the women who’ve tried your lifestyle and run screaming and now blog about the horror. This is what happens when you confuse anecdotes with data, Debi; people who know rthe scientific method *hand you your ass!*

    women in the sort of communities she is writing to are often under a lot of pressure to act as though things are okay

    I notice this more and more, in the personal writings of the ex-fundamentalists and the writings of the fundamentalists themselves, including Debi – that it’s all about the outward appearance, that what others think is more important than how you feel and live. Look up the verse about whited sepulchers, Debi (and Michael)!

    My ipad is doing that thing where I think it’s throwing junk letters at the bottom of the post, so no more direct quoting. Suffice it to say that I agree with you, Libby Anne, that the divorce statistics are actually scientific proof rebutting Debi’s assertion. And someone who goes on so much about how controlling her man is and how stupid women are and how hard it is to be married and give up everything you wanted to do is REALLY playing with fire when she then calls all of that “glorious” and an example.

  • Amtep

    Certainly Debi has opened my eyes to the benefits of compartmentalization. If submitting to your husband makes you happy, then it’s proof that Debi is right! If your marriage is an unholy mess, then see previous chapter! If you’re deeply unhappy then see… whichever chapter it was where she explained that happiness isn’t the point!

    I’m going to try this too, I’m sure I could win every argument that way.

    • alwr

      I’m not sure you could get a representative sample from Debi’s world. The far right Christians I knew all regarded surveys of any sort as a governmental attempt to invade their privacy and steal their children or something. I was reprimanded my first week of teaching at a Christian school for giving my students a short questionaire to fill out so I could get to know them. Parents objected to my invading family privacy (with a question like “do you have a favorite book? What is it?) and “conditioning” them to give the government private information.

      • smrnda

        Then again, if you were say, a youth pastor demanding information about the masturbation habits of the youth in your group, you’d be
        ‘mentoring’ them.

    • Nebuladance

      It’s like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.

      • NeaDods

        More like Choose Your Own Hell.

      • Amtep

        It would be a pretty boring one… every page would present some conundrum, and then “Do you submit to your husband? If yes, go to the next page. If no, go to page 220″. And page 220 describes your sad fate when your husband drives you to a duplex and leaves you there.

  • Jolie

    Now you got me thinking about how a study could look like…

    Start from questions relating to the balance of power in a relationship:

    [Factual questions- economic power]

    Who earns more money- you or your spouse?
    What percentage of your household’s income is earned by yourself?
    Do you work full-time outside of the home? At home, but devoting full-time equivalent time/energy to it? (ex. freelance writers). If you are a parent on parental leave, when do you intend on coming back to work?
    Does your partner work outside of the home? (Same).
    If you have (or think of having) children, how did/do/would you and your partner share parental leave?

    [Power dynamic questions- economic power]

    In the event of separating from your spouse, would you have the means to support yourself and your family financially?
    In the event of separating from your spouse, would your material situation be severely affected?
    [If you do have a job] Which do you think is more important: your career, your partner’s career or both equally?
    Which do you believe your partner thinks is more important: your career, your partner’s career or both equally?
    [If you are a stay-at-home spouse] If you decided to start a career, would your partner be supportive, unsupportive or indifferent?
    If you received an offer for career opportunity you very much want, but it would require you to move to a city 500 miles away, would your partner choose to quit their job to be with you, start a long-distance relationship or expect you to turn the offer down to stay with him?
    If your partner received an offer for career opportunity they very much want, but
    it would require then to move to a city 500 miles away, would you quit your job to be with them, start a long-distance relationship or expect them to turn the offer down to stay with you?
    How much money and how often would you be fine with using to splurge on yourself without consulting your partner first?
    How much money and how often would your partner be fine with using to splurge on themselves without consulting you first?

    [Abuse questions- economic power]
    Did your spouse ever actively prevent you from getting a job?
    If you decided to get a job, would your partner try to prevent you?
    Do you have to account to your partner for every single penny you spend?

    Does your spouse demand you turn in your paycheck?
    Is your partner not allowing you to spend available funds on yourself or children?

    [Factual questions- housework]

    Who spends more time doing household chores- you, your partner or both equally?
    What percent of time spent on household chores at home is done by you, personally?
    Who does the cooking, usually?
    Who washes the dishes after a meal?
    Who cleans the house?
    Who does the laundry?
    Who irons and folds?
    Who mends broken appliances?
    Who does the gardening?
    Who drives the children around?

    [Power dynamic questions- housework]

    If your partner is tired or does not feel like doing a certain chore they usually do, would you be happy to take over? Would you take over begrudgingly? Would you refuse to? Would you express annoyance at your partner’s refusing to do it?
    If you are tired or do not feel like doing a certain chore you usually do, would your spouse be happy to take over? Would they take over begrudgingly? Refuse to? Express annoyance?
    Are you comfortable asking your partner to do housework?

    [Abuse questions- housework-related]

    Would your partner berate you for not doing housework to their standards?
    Does your partner systematically refuse to do any kind of housework?

    And soooo on, related to other sides of a relationship: children, emotional intimacy, sexuality etc., on the same pattern

    Then, ask life and marriage satisfaction questions:

    On a scale from 0 to 10, how happy would you say you are with your life nowadays?
    On a scale from 0 to 10, how worthwhile do you feel the things you do in your life are?

    On a scale from 0 to 10, how happy would you say you are with your marriage?

    To what extent do you feel your partner loves you?
    To what extent do you feel your partner respects you?
    To what extent do you feel your partner and yourself have important things in common?
    To what extent do you enjoy each other’s company?
    Etc.

  • Seeker

    Debi writes: ” I have seen lesbians set free and become wives fit for the kingdom. I
    have seen broken whores, drug addicts, and church-taught, rebellious
    ladies all become women who honor their men and become good help meets. I
    have seen marriages born in hell and then reborn in heaven.”

    This is just another “I know people who”. Anti-choicers love to use this argument as well, for example, “I know women who have had seventy-six abortions and WEREN’T EVEN SORRY!” and “I know a woman who went for prenatal vitamins and the doctor INSISTED she had to abort!”

    When people make stupid third-hand accounts like that, ask for names. That shuts them right up.

    • alwr

      For some reason, that went by me. My favorite phrase there is “broken whores”. Apparently the “unbroken whores” are just fine where they are and don’t need Debi’s help! LOL.

      • Scott_In_OH

        “Broken whores” caught my eye, too. It’s so jarring and unnecessary. The idea here is that she has helped people who are now happily living the Proper Life. If you had helped someone who wanted to get out of prostitution, would you refer to that person as a “broken whore”? Unreal.

      • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

        I found it quite suggestive of what her attitude toward women who don’t meet her expectations of what they should be like is.

      • NeaDods

        Oh, yes. Debi is viciously judgemental, and among the many verses her bible is missing is the one about taking the log out of your own eye.

      • Seeker

        Women who don’t meet her expectations are bound to wind up in … A DUMPY DUPLEX!

      • Seeker

        Sorry for the tag fail. That should say, “Note: not my personal opinion there”.

      • Olive Markus

        Calling somebody a whore, even if they are in the prostitution business, is just unnecessary, and implies (to me, anyway) that she knows no such person.

        I actually grew up in a town where prostitution is legal. We all knew somebody who worked in the industry. Nobody called them a “whore” that I’d ever heard. The place where I worked for awhile provided them with their monthly testing, vaccinations, etc. They were actually usually referred to by their names or as “women.” Shocking, I know.

        Debi, you’re a mean person and I don’t like you.

      • smrnda

        I thought anybody with any sense referred to people as ‘sex workers.’

      • Olive Markus

        Perhaps my community wasn’t as PC as it could have been. It seems less derogatory to me, but perhaps I simply didn’t know any better.

    • Kate Monster

      It’s the “But I have black friends!” of the evangelical set.

  • Goatless

    ‘I have seen lesbians set free’
    If this is true (and that’s a fairly big if) I want to find these women, give them a hug and tell them that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them before they were ‘set free’.
    Following these posts has mostly made me feel sad, both that this sort of attitude still exists and that Debi actually feels like she’s helping people when she’s facilitating patriarchy and abuse, but this makes me so angry. Nobody’s sexuality needs to be fixed. Nobody needs to be ‘set free’ of their sexuality. And nobody, nobody, should feel like they have to be in a certain kind of relationship.
    I’m not a lesbian to be rebellious. I am a lesbian because I like women. Sexually and in terms of a relationship. The thought of having sex with a man is very much Do Not Want and I hate that there may well be women out there who like other women but who are forced into relationships with people of a gender they aren’t attracted to in the slightest.

    • smrnda

      Set free from what exactly? I’m a lesbian, and the only thing that makes me feel less free than I would like is that I can only get a civil union instead of a marriage in the state I live in.

      • The_L1985

        Indeed. When same-sex marriage is legalized in FL, I will see a lesbian set free myself. :)

  • SheilaCrosby

    I think Debi needs to look up “confirmation bias”. If you simply look around you, you will practically always see evidence to back up whatever you believed in the first place. This is because you unconsciously cherry-pick the data. It’s a bit like seeing the streets full of pregnant women when you’re pregnant yourself. You also remember the good arguments for your position and the bad arguments against it. That’s how the human brain works, and you have to make a special effort to get past it. Like, deciding what you’ll count BEFORE you start counting. And counting ALL the replies so you don’t miss out the ones you don’t want to believe. And asking yourself if you’ve slanted the sample or the questions. Otherwise the opposing evidence winds up as “This rare, isolated case, and that rare, isolated case, and these 27,340,275 other rare, isolated cases.”

  • Sally

    I’m sad that people will know her by the time they’re done reading the book. It’s not pretty.
    I hate the way she calls any women “whores.” What the heck?

  • Hannah_Thomas

    ”When someone tells you that the Greek doesn’t read submit, obey, or silence, just ask that person, “How is your marriage? Would you say it is glorious? Will God use your marriage as an example in Heaven of how he wants Christ and the Church to be?” ”

    So in other words, Debi truly isn’t interested in what the bible meant ‘back in the day’ in which was given, received or written.

    Her conclusion? They were wrong back then – the authors of the bible – and we are right. God wants us to change his word, so you can follow our theories knowing….it is good.

    WOW! Talk about arrogance there!

    • Sally

      Yes, Michael decided the KJV was more inspired than any other translations. So any insight based on the Greek or Hebrew is dismissed, because you rely on English to understand the Greek or Hebrew. (I guess he doesn’t understand that if you study a language long enough, you can think in the language and don’t have to translate it into your own language anymore.) And I guess it doesn’t matter that the KJV uses archaic terms like “help meet” that require explanation for our modern ears, too.

      • Rilian Sharp

        And IME, translating between languages is even harder than just understanding them.

      • Hilary

        Yep.

      • Hilary

        I was at Barnes and Nobles recently, and in two shelving units filled top to bottom with Christian bibles, not one of them had the Greek side by side with the English. On the one, singular, one shelf for Judaism, there was a copy of the same JPS Tanakh I use, brown faux leather opening from right to left with Hebrew on one side of the page, and English on the other.

        In other words, at a place as mainstream big box bland as B&N you can still find the Hebrew but not the Greek original for the bible. I don’t know if this has any bearing on the fixation of the KJV, but I’ll take JPS vs. KJV any time.

        Perhaps the deal with fixating on KJV is because it is olde enough to sound authentic, and came before biblical criticism started all that heretical nonsense about actually analyzing the bible. Never mind that it too was a product of the culture and politics of it’s time.

      • NeaDods

        I used to read KJV-Only sites to try to understand the mindset. In some cases, all that was necessary was that the KJV says “Authorized” on it, and that MUST mean authorized by God! Whereas the newer English versions have copyright dates, so they were authorized by mere men.

        I weep that such blind ignorance and prejudice are considered logic, but we’re seeing plenty of the same shallow “logic” out of the Pearls.

      • sylvia_rachel

        The KJV does have some things going for it, principally the rhythm and flow of its language. I quite like the KJV of Psalm 23, for instance; it works for me, as poetry, in a way that the JPS translation doesn’t quite. It has a certain grandeur. And it was a huge, monumental translation project, and the people who undertook it are to be commended. (Well, were, I mean.) But the idea that they had no agenda? Yeah, no.

        And of course just because a translation sounds good, that doesn’t mean it’s a faithful translation or accurately conveys the sense — let alone the detail — of the original text. In fact, sometimes the reverse is probably true. Much of the bible is poetry of one sort or another, and translating poetry (even poetry of your own time, in a relatd language) is a nightmare, as any translator will tell you. Much of it is cryptic, or just elliptical. And all of it is of its (several) times.

        Every interpreter of a biblical (or other sacred) text is bringing to it all of his or her education in How We Read Our Sacred Texts, as well as his or her personal kinks and quirks and life experiences, and also the whole rest of the culture in which she or he lives. That’s what Ezra and Nehemiah did, and what Jesus and Paul did, and what the Tannaim and Amoraim did, and what Tyndale and the Vulgate guys and the Septuagint translators and the KJV translators did, and it’s what we do. You can try to keep your personal biases out of it, you can do your best to try and understand the text as its original audience would have, but there’s only so much baggage you can jettison; the rest comes into the text with you and flavours your reading.

        Which is why “biblical literalism” is a stupid idea, and also impossible.

        /rant

    • Christine

      It’s pretty difficult to be a bible literalist unless you’re open to that kind of thinking. Given how much the cultural assumptions have changed, you really need to assume that the writers had no clue what they were saying, and it magically was written for you. (Yes, you Hannah_Thomas).

      • Hannah_Thomas

        I’m not sure what you mean.

        I think we assume their culture is the same as ours at times when we read things. What may seem plain to us at times can be found to be completely different back then. For example, we tend to forget the honor/shame atmosphere that is similar to the middle east now was completely normal back then. You do tend to miss ideas, viewpoints, etc due the fact we view thing via different lenses. So it was make sense to understand HOW they would view things back in the day others YES we will completely miss their point.

        Ignoring that? Yes, you could completely miss the messages intent. Understanding the culture is a good thing, and brings a whole new understanding at times. We can’t ignore that, and yet the Pearl’s seem to blow that off completely.

      • Christine

        Sorry, I wasn’t trying to say that you were a Bible literalist. The “yes, you” was because Bible literalism only works if you think that the Bible is magically written for you and you alone. I obviously don’t need to explain how failing to consider context ends up requiring that, because you have at least a good a grasp as I do on reading the Bible.

  • ako

    What the Bible teaches will not put women back into the Stone Age, nor
    will it turn us into a bunch of Muslim-like women who stay covered in
    black, sweaty bourkhas.

    “Quick, think about stereotypical scary sexist Muslims, so my sexism seems comparatively mild!”

    My conclusions can be said to be scientifically correct. That
    is, the “evidence” that leads to my conclusion is reproducible: Anyone
    can test it and get the same results. The Creator knows best, and His
    way does work. His Word is meant to be taken at face value.

    “Yeah, you could do the sinful kind of science that involves proper experimental technique and formally tracking results to control for recall bias, and filtering out potential confounding variables, but that might lead to incorrect conclusions, so just take my word for it.”

    I have seen lesbians set free and become wives fit for the kingdom.

    I was wondering when she’s get to the lesbians! So I need to be “set free” by giving up control over my life to external authorities and renouncing a life of happiness and fulfillment in favor of an entire lifetime of constantly trying to force myself into a mold that doesn’t fit? And in exchange for that I get to have my life run by the sort of capricious, emotionally abusive bully Debi Pearl thinks is a good Christian husband? Plus I have to obey his every whim and feign enjoyment of unwanted, potentially painful sex?

    No thanks. I mean consider the alternative. I’m much happier, I apparently get to spite Debi purely by not making an effort to force my life into an artificial mold, and it’s becoming increasingly possible that I may be a wife one day, married to someone I find actually desirable.

    When someone tells you that the Greek doesn’t read submit, obey, or silence,
    just ask that person, “How is your marriage? Would you say it is
    glorious? Will God use your marriage as an example in Heaven of how he
    wants Christ and the Church to be?”

    “You can only win if you have both facts on your side, and an utterly perfect marriage. If either of those things isn’t true, that proves I’m right! And that’s totally fair, because…God!”

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Oooh, Debbi. The “How Is Your Marriage?” question is a dangerous one, because you’re going to run into LOTS of egalitarian couples with very healthy marriages who can answer that question with “Just fine, thanks, you?” I know, because I was the kid with egalitarian parents who could stump all the other teens in youth group when they tried to argue with me that egalitarian marriages weren’t happy (“Oh yea? My mom and dad don’t believe in gender roles!” and there was silence, because everyone knew how happy my parents were). Yeah, I was THAT kid. :)

    Second, that whole are-women-second-class paragraph. This is why Debbi frustrates me so much. She describes some really horrible things, then turns around and claims that those things actually don’t mean what they mean. She describes marriages where the husband rules his wife with an iron fist and doesn’t take her wishes into consideration, and then describes it as a marriage of equals. Just because you choose to describe it that way don’t make it so, lady!

    Finally, OF COURSE Debbi’s results are reproducible–because she essentially tells women to keep submitting NO MATTER THE OUTCOME. When any outcome is fair game, then of course there’s no way to prove that submission doesn’t “work.”

    • alwr

      I was told that my parents were lying and weren’t really happy. That will be Debi’s trump card–”they don’t know they aren’t happy”. The same thing is applied to seemingly happy well-adjusted people who are “unsaved”.

      • The_L1985

        Which doesn’t even make sense. Your emotions are based on your mindset. It is impossible for a well-adjusted person to be unable to tell you his/her own emotions. It’s possible for anyone to lie, of course. But for someone to be unaware of his/her own emotions, something else is also seriously wrong.

      • Christine

        I’m not entirely sure I’d agree with you. I meet all the markers for good mental health (not just lack of mental illness), I am fully functional in society, and I would not consider a neurological disorder (which wasn’t even suspected until I was in my twenties) to be enough to say I’m not well-adjusted.

      • NeaDods

        Christine has a good point, but I think it’s also salient that this lifestyle, as we have read in so many personal stories, teaches people within it to fake religious joy and contentment at all times, regardless of reality. So after a while, it may easily make sense to say “you only think you’re happy” and have that resonate among people who are serenely, smilingly, utterly miserable and deeply secretly worried that they’re not good enough for God. “You only think you’re happy” makes total sense in a world where salvation anxiety is a real thing… After all, they already fear they only “think” they’re saved.

      • The_L1985

        I fully agree. One of the reasons I despise fundamentalism in any religion is because it encourages you to lie to yourself about your own emotions, until you’re no longer certain how you even feel about anything.

      • Antigone10

        Ah yes- the concept of “false happiness”. For people who are very much against the communism, particularly the Soviets, they sure do pick up many of the concepts they used.

        I do sympathize. I don’t understand how people who follow submission could ever be happy, and I’m tempted to reach for “false happiness”. And, it is true that they do have a vested interest to lie about their well-being*, but I know very many who are perfectly happy to have traditional gender roles. It’s what works for them.

        *Which is why there is such a sharp gap with the “In general, how happy do you feel?” vs. “How happy do you feel today” questions asked each day for a year or so. If you average out the daily questions, they are WAY lower than the “how was last year” question for evangilical Christians. Also for parents.

      • ako

        Controlling people love that. “You can’t trust your feelings to tell you if you’re happy or not! Only I may determine if you’re happy!” It’s declaring that people you don’t approve of aren’t even considered the authority on their own thoughts. And if someone like that is considered untrustworthy and not worth listening to about the inside of their own head, how much easier is it to dismiss everything they say about the outside world?

      • Rachel Heston-Davis

        Which makes it really, really ironic that one of Debbi’s arguments for gender hierarchy IS that it will make people feel subjectively happy. She gets to use feelings when they support her view, but dismisses other people’s feelings when they disagree with her.

      • A Reader

        Definitely this. I’m an atheist from a religious family, and even though I’m genuinely much happier now than I was when I “believed”, my family assumes I’m lying to myself. It’s rather frustrating, to say the least.

    • Hilary

      “things actually don’t mean what they mean”
      I think the technical term is gaslighting. Less technical meaning, she’s full of BS. Actually, that might be an insult to real bovine excrement, which can be useful fertilizer if properly handled.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’ll eat my shoe if this lady is really, actually happy.

    And yes, she can openly question my relationship. The only thing wrong with it is the several thousand miles between me and him. We actually solve our issues, instead of dear boyfriend throwing his weight around because he has a penis.

    • Machintelligence

      Kind of meta, but I remember when the phrase was “I’ll eat my hat.” Hats being so rare these days I guess shoe will just have to do.:-)

      • Baby_Raptor

        The only hats in the house belong to my roommate, and I don’t foresee him being very pleased on the off chance I *do* have to eat his hat.

        So I went for my shoe to be safe. lol

    • wanderer

      Yeah I was noticing that, once again, Debi is working REALLY HARD here at insisting she’s happy. I don’t know any truly happy people that go around insisting they’re happy quite this often or vehemently.

  • Gillianren

    I have a friend who is pretty much submissive to her husband. Now, they aren’t particularly religious, so Debi won’t count them, but that isn’t my point just now. My point is, my friend thinks she’s happy, and she thinks her relationship is great. But if you talk to her for five minutes about her marriage, she’s miserable. (Of course, I think she thinks her marriage is more egalitarian than it is, too.) She’ll tell you how happy she is and how well her husband treats her, but she’s lying to herself. She called me up on Valentine’s Day and asked me if they should get a divorce. She’ll tell you that they share decisions equally, but then she’ll “get in trouble” for choosing a product for their kid that her husband doesn’t like.

    I know this is the same argument that Debi is using–”well, egalitarian marriages don’t really make people happy.” And since the plural of anecdote isn’t data, my story doesn’t outweigh hers, though the only reason I’m not providing a name is that my friend isn’t choosing to make herself an example and it’s not my place to. I could, though. However, yeah, I’m sure Debi thinks she knows a lot of women who are happier being submissive. My question, though, is a simple one. Is she listening to them when they say “I’m happy” or when their description of what’s actually going on is “I’m miserable”?

    • sylvia_rachel

      I get what you’re saying about battling anecdotes … but I have a lot more confidence that your friend is a real person than I have that Debi’s “liberated lesbians” and “broken whores” and “rebellious wives” — or any of her letter-writers — are real people :P

      What Debi’s doing here is, I think, a “no true Scotsman” kind of argument: if you say you’re happy in your egalitarian marriage, you must be mistaken, because no truly egalitarian marriage can be happy; and if you say you’re unhappy in your “biblical” marriage, then it must be because your marriage isn’t really “biblical” because you* aren’t doing it right, because no truly “biblical” marriage can be unhappy.

      This type of argument is totally stupid and infuriatingly difficult to refute effectively, because your opponent can go on defining the target category down practically forever.

      She’s also, simultaneously, doing that thing where you say how you actually feel and she says “No, you don’t.” (Which parents do to kids all the time: “Kate told Rachel I wasn’t allowed to go to parties, so Rachel didn’t invite me! I hate Kate!” “No, honey, you don’t really hate Kate! She’s your friend.” Ummm … yeah, actually, right at this moment she does hate Kate. The fact that by next week they’ll be BFFs again doesn’t change what she’s feeling right now.)

      *For values of “you” that do not have a penis, obviously. Because penis.

      • Gillianren

        Right, right. And certainly my friend’s marriage isn’t Biblical. (Though her husband has apparently decided that she should start going to church, because that’s the only way to teach your kids morality. Oh, and it has to be his church, obviously, the one he was raised in.) She’s submissive to her husband, but not because Jesus. (Because low self esteem, mostly.) My friend doesn’t even really consider herself Christian. So clearly, Debi would think that the lack of Jesus is what’s making my friend unhappy, not the fact that her husband is a domineering jerk.

        As for your party example, I do think it helps kids to distinguish between “I am angry at” and “I hate,” but that doesn’t mean the kid doesn’t have the right to be angry. And if Kate is doing that kind of thing, Kate isn’t your friend anyway.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Clearly. Because if she was just submissive for the right reason, her husband would magically cease to be a jerk (although he would of course still be domineering: see above re: penis). ::hurl::

        You’re totally right that “I hate” =/= “I’m angry at”, and that that’s a useful distinction. What I was thinking of is the situation where kids are told “You don’t feel ["negative" emotion]. We don’t [emotion] in our family” or similar, where a child is feeling angry or frustrated or disappointed, or feeling like they hate someone, and is just told they’re *not allowed* to feel that way or that they *don’t really* feel that way. Part 1 of the example is something my own kid told me a couple of weeks ago, but she may in fact have said “I’m so mad at Kate” or “I’m not friends with Kate anymore” rather than “I hate Kate”; Part 2, the adult’s response, is made up based on things I’ve heard other parents say to their kids, either in my own childhood or recently.

        I have a cold and am kind of angry at someone myself right now ;), so my comment was less coherent than I would have liked…

      • Gillianren

        Nah, understandable. I do see the point you’re making, and it’s a valid one. Fortunately, I never had to deal with it, except when it came to how I felt about my sister, but I’ve seen other parents do it and it always makes me angry.

        And I don’t think Debi would see this guy as domineering if he were just being Christian. (Which he may be, to be fair; I don’t talk to him. On the grounds of he’s a domineering jerk. But he may think this is his proper Godly place as a husband.) After all, domineering is bad. She’d find a synonym without the negative connotation.

    • Jayn

      Is she listening to them when they say “I’m happy” or when their description of what’s actually going on is “I’m miserable”?

      Given how her description of her own marriage falls into this gulf, and how she holds it up as an ideal, I’m going to guess not.

    • Machintelligence

      You do have to be aware that some people are not “happy” unless they have something to complain about. I never understood this sort of personality, but I have encountered it often enough.

      • Gillianren

        I am, but that’s not the case here. This is a person who will tell you that she’s completely happy, but when you actually get into how she really feels, it quickly becomes obvious that she isn’t, but she isn’t comfortable with how she really feels.

  • Whirlwitch

    Yes, I would say my marriage is glorious. We’ve been together 17 years and we’re still madly in love. Relative strangers remark on how happy we seem, how cute we are together. Friends and family hold us up as an ideal, and I’m not exaggerating. I’ve told people that we do argue sometimes, and been looked at with disbelief (although I don’t know why, since I’m stubborn as hell and opinionated). It’s not perfect, we’re not perfect, but my marriage is the best thing in my life, and it’s a darn good example of the institution. And yet:

    - We’re both women. She’s bisexual, I’m lesbian.

    - We’re feminists. I’m even a social-justice-agitating type of feminist.
    - We’re both Pagan.
    - We don’t use gender roles, and we are definitely egalitarian.
    - She’s trans.
    - I am (drumroll, please) polyamorous. I have actually had romantic relationships outside my wonderful marriage, with my wife’s full knowledge and consent, and things continued to be wonderful inside our marriage.

    So by Debi’s lights, am I deluded by false happiness, or do I perhaps not just exist?

    • wombat

      With that many non-biblical things in your life, you would have to be non-existant, otherwise Debi would have a complete mental meltdown

      • wanderer

        Yeah, agree. Sorry whirlwitch, you don’t actually exist….

    • ZeldasCrown

      You wouldn’t happen to live in a duplex, now would you?

    • Leigha7

      I can’t help but imagine her inventing a hypothetical lesbian, pagan, feminist, polyamorous couple (in a duplex!) for one of her letters. (I’m just going to assume she does not think there is any such thing as being bisexual or trans, and would therefore not even bother with those.)

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I don’t think she knows poly exists either, truthfully. Adultery, yes, but not consensual polyamory.

      • Leigha7

        Fair point. I was thinking about how frequently polygamy gets brought up in the gay marriage debate, and how many people (not even just extremely conservative or religious people) discount bi and trans people. But consensual polyamory isn’t quite the same as the stereotypical “one man, twenty wives” polygamy, and you’re probably correct that she’d have no concept of that.

  • Kit

    In terms of a study, this won’t be what you’re looking for EXACTLY, but I remembered a case we study a lot in law school up in Canada, colloquially called the Polygamy Reference (http://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2011/2011bcsc1588/2011bcsc1588.html). It’s interesting mainly because it includes a ton of study of polygamous relationships, particularly/especially in the context of fundamental Mormonism, which also embraces very strict, traditional gender roles … I think that’s about the closest sort of study I can think of at the moment.

    The case focuses on whether or not the criminal prohibition against polygamy should be struck down or not.

    • Gillianren

      I’m getting a 404 error. Maybe you have to be Canadian to see it?

      • Christine

        I can’t see it either, don’t feel bad. Kit, are you trying to link to http://canlii.ca/t/fnzqf ?

      • Kit

        Yes, I am, but that’s puzzling because I’m currently in France and I’m still able to see it :(

        i’m sorry you can’t see it, but on the bright side, it IS 400 pages long and does have some pretty weird conclusions at the end that I didn’t agree with – namely, the judge concluded that polygyny naturally led to sexism and gender inequality, etc, and seemed to completely discount consensual polyamory with a “It’s not real polygamy anyway!” argument. –”

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Try adding a space between the end of the link and the close-parenthesis at the end. Disqus does this thing where it adds the “)” to the end of any link, which of course is not the correct address.

      At any rate, it can be found here: http://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2011/2011bcsc1588/2011bcsc1588.html

  • smrnda

    A hypothesis has to be open to falsifiability. I’m sure that if you tried what Debi said and turned out not to be happy, she’d find some post-hoc rationalization that you were doing it wrong, meaning that any success proves it works, and no failure proves it doesn’t. This seems to be the norm with religious people. Answered prayers prove a god listens and answers. Unanswered prayers don’t disprove it.

    • Sally

      There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. Sometimes the answer is just “no.” ;)

      • The_L1985

        Indeed. If one believes in a deity at all, you kind of have to allow for “The answer is no.”

    • ako

      She’s already demonstrated the post-hoc rationalizations in the book:

      “If the woman tries hard enough, this works, so therefore if it’s not working, you must not be trying hard enough!”

      “You say the Bible doesn’t support me? Well, the proof is in personal happiness! You say you’re not happy? Well, what matters isn’t happiness, but whether you obey the word of God!”

  • Saraquill

    “Yet, so-called Bible teachers today tear apart what God has said and
    make the average young wife reading these Scriptures feel as though what
    God has said to her is an insult.”

    Debi, you are so one of them.

  • Anat

    What do the Pearls think of egalitarian men? You know, the ones who don’t want their respective wives to be submissive? If I started following Debi’s ‘advice’ My poor husband wouldn’t know what happened to me, and if I were to continue he’d be very annoyed.

    • Renee

      They have been emasculated by their women of course! Or feminists! Of course.
      She would tell them its their wives/mothers/girlfriends/females they don’t knows fault and not to worry, they CAN be MEN.

    • ako

      Judging by the rest of the book, she thinks a good wife will be submissive at her husband, regardless of his express wishes, until he ends up in a de factor authoritarian relationship. So you’re presumably wronging your husband with your honesty, respect for his wishes (that you not be submissive), and attempts to live in a way that makes you both happy.

    • Sally

      They would quickly refer him to Created to Need a Helpmeet by Michael Pearl, no doubt.

  • guest

    ‘That is, the “evidence” that leads to my conclusion is reproducible: Anyone can test it and get the same results.’

    Technically speaking this is correctly formed…it’s just not true. Here’s a great book on the subject, if anyone’s actually interested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_and_the_Air-Pump

    • aim2misbehave

      But that doesn’t work so well with qualitative experiments… especially because the observers will not have precisely the same standards.

  • KristinMuH

    Happiness is notoriously hard to quantify and study, anyway. I remember reading about a study – I think it was in Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Bright-Sided” – where half the participants “found” a very small sum of money (like, a dime) before their happiness was measured. (The dimes were planted by the researchers, obviously.) People who found the money reported much higher levels of happiness than those who didn’t.

    Also, it’s my experience that most people can find a kind of contentment even in very unjust situations. Not actively abusive ones, like Gillianren’s friend’s – that guy sounds like a huge asshole – because abusers love to move goalposts and come up with new ways to convince you that you suck, so you never hit an equilibrium – but non-abusive complementarian relationships are probably OK to be in once you accept that you’re inferior to your husband and just do what he says. I would think a lot of submissive women go through a period of great unhappiness when they leave, feeling disconnected from their whole social structure and facing decisions and responsibilities they didn’t have before.

    Anyway, TL/DR, the goal of feminism isn’t to make women happy, it’s to make them free. Not the same thing.

  • A Reader

    It’s interesting that she would twist the definition of “scientific evidence” that far, To be honest, it is possible she doesn’t even know the real definition of the term–I would guess that most people like her don’t even know the steps to scientific method and have never taken a decent science class or done an experiment. It’s especially interesting because evangelicals (who I know) tend to believe that science is all “lies” from “Satan” and that you don’t need evidence for something to be true. But maybe that’s only true when the evidence disproves your beliefs?


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