CTBHHM: The (Proxy) Bride of (an Abusive) Christ

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 124-127

A wise woman understands that her husband’s need to be honored is not based on his performance, but on his nature and his God-ordained position. She learns quickly to defer to his ideas or plans with enthusaism. She looks for ways to reverence him. She knows this is God’s will for her life.

A while back I wrote about the pernicious problems with the Christian theological idea that the relationship between husband and wife was to be a sort of mirror of the relationship between Christ and the Church, and some readers responded by saying that I’d misunderstood, that that idea was only a metaphor and not to be taken literally. I don’t believe I got into how that idea ought to be understood, though. My point was that the way that it is understood in evangelical and fundamentalist culture is toxic, and in this section Debi makes that clear. Make sure you’re prepared before delving into this post—writing this one made me more angry with Debi than I have been since my post on her Command Man section.

Debi starts by quoting from Ephesians: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church . . . and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Debi then goes on as follows:

Jesus wants us for a friend. He wants a companion, someone wth whom to discuss ideas. He wants a playmate, someone with whom to laugh and enjoy life. He wants a buddy with wfhom to spend time. He wants a lover, someone to care about and someone to care about him. He wants a help meet, someone to share in his work of creation management. He wants to be a groom and he wants the Church to be his bride. This is the great mystery. He seeks to create in me and my relationship to my husband a working scale model of his relationship to the Church throughout eternity.

Debi, you see, takes this metaphor literally—and very seriously.

Amazing as it sounds, marriage between a man and a woman is what God chose as the closest example of Christ’s relationship to his bride, the Church. You are part of eternity when you submit to your husband. Submission, reverence, and honor are preparing you for your marriage to Christ. You may say, “But it would be easy being married to Christ.” Then you don’t know your Bible. What if your husband required you to offer your son upon an alter as a burnt sacrifice? That is what God required of Abraham. What if your husband killed you for lying? That is what God did to Sapphira.

I don’t. I don’t even.

To start with the most obvious, in the examples Debi uses to argue that being married to Christ is no picnic, she leaves herself open for readers to come away believing that they would be bound to murder their children should their husbands command it, or to allow themselves to be killed by their husbands should their husbands so decide. After all, Debi has said both that such submission unto death is required of the Church and that wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church is to submit to Christ. If Debi offers women exceptions to this rule, she doesn’t do it here, and leaving this passage without a discussion of exceptions—of the differences between the Christ and the Church relationship and the husband and wife relationship, differences Debi doesn’t given any suggestion she actually thinks exist—seems to me both dangerous and highly irresponsible.

But there’s more here than just that, and it’s only worse. Debi describes the relationship between Christ and the Church as the ideal every married couple is to strive for, and then makes it clear that the relationship between Christ and the Church is abusive. In other words, the relationship Debi says women are to strive for is an abusive relationship. And after reading this passage, an abused wife can tell herself every time her husband asks something horrific of her that at least he isn’t asking her to kill one of her children, as Christ asked of the Church (and asked perfectly appropriately and rightly, too, within Debi’s frame of reasoning). All throughout her book, Debi normalizes and promotes relationship patterns that are textbook examples of abuse, but here she perhaps goes the very furthest. And immediately after this, she perhaps goes the farthest she has yet gone in warning women against doing anything to stand up to potential abuse:

For a woman to usurp authority over a man is an affront to God Almighty, like treason in the camp. It would be like a man taking authority over Christ, or like the Church becoming jealous of Jesus’ leadership and taking authority unto itself. It would be doing just what Lucifer did when he said in Isaiah 14:13-14, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north . . . I will be like the most High.”

Yes, that’s right, if a woman stands up to her husband—even if he is abusive—she is committing treason against God—she is being like Satan. Some may wonder why I am focusing so much on abusive husbands. After all, most of Debi’s followers are likely married to men who are not abusive. The problem, though, is that Debi’s teachings are absolutely toxic when read by women whose husbands are abusive, or who have the potential to become abuse, and set up such an unequal relationships that they in fact, I would argue, serve to foster the development of abuse. In other words, I would argue that Debi’s suggestions have the potential to make bad relationships worse, and turn good relationships sour.

Knowing that my role as a wife typifies the Church’s relationship to Christ has molded my life. As I reverence my husband, I am creating a picture of how we, the Church, should reverence Christ. You have wondered why God would tell us to do such a think as to reverence our husbands. Now you know.

Yes, you read that right. The reason women are to submit to their husbands is that the husband wife relationship is a type of the relationship between Christ and the Church, and the Church is to submit to Christ. How that makes any sense at all I have no idea.

Reverence: to revere, to be in awe; fear mingled with respect and esteem.

Fear. Yes, fear. Debi tells women that they must fear their husbands—that fearing their husbands is right and good. How Debi’s books got to be so very popular in fundamentalist and Christian homeschooling circles I have absolutely no idea.

1. Obedience is doing what you know the other person wants you to do.

2. Submission is your heart giving over to the other person’s will.

3. Reverence is more than just doing what a man expects or demands. It is an act of the woman’s will to treat him with a high degree of regard and awe.

Do you know what is really baffling? That Debi can say that women are to obey, submit to, and reference their husbands and define the terms like this and then claim that she is not telling women to be doormats. Again and again she assures women that she is no mousy pushover! And then she says—well, this. There is no way a woman can do what Debi is laying out here without being a doormat. I mean, this is sort of the definition of doormat.

Obedience, submission, and reverence are all acts of the will and are not based on feelings. Showing deference toward one’s husband is an act of reverence toward the God who placed you in that role.

One of Debi’s common lines is that by serving their husbands they are serving God, and she is merely repeating that again here by saying that showing reverence to your husband is showing reverence to God. Interestingly, we see this slippage again in the letter Debi quotes in total immediately following this. I’m not going to quote the full letter for you, but it is signed like this:

Loving him,

Judy

It is very common for evangelicals or fundamentalists to sign letters or emails or what have you with things like “In Christ” or “With Christ’s Love,” but that’s not what’s going on in this letter. The context makes it very clear that she is talking about loving her husband, not about loving Christ.

In brief, Judy’s letter—which may or may not have actually been written by someone named Judy rather than by Debi herself—outlines the story of a young wife who learns that her husband is regularly going to strip clubs and seeing prostitutes, and yet decides against all odds to stay with him rather than to divorce him, and focuses on showing him love rather than disappointment and on teaching her son to love his father and see him as the best man in the world. In her response, Debi offers this:

She is reverencing God by reverencing her husband, not because her husband is a fit representative of Christ, and not because he is a worthy substitute, but because God placed her in subjection to her husband. . . . This woman is obeying and reverencing God, and no one else. THat creep of a husband is the fortunate recipient of honor being given to God.

Remember when Debi insisted that women are not “under” men? I’m not sure just what Debi thinks “in subjection to” actually means . . . Also, again, I want to point out well all this works out for the men in the equation: How convenient for them that God has decreed that women are to serve and honor God by serving and honoring men!

If her faithfulness is never rewarded with a new-birth change in her husband, her commitment will not be wasted, for the grace that God is working in her heart is making her supremely fitted to be the bride of Christ. It is an eternal work taking place in her soul.

And here is where I have a question: Aren’t men, too, supposed to be the bride of Christ? The bride of Christ is supposed to be the Church, comprised of a multitude of individuals of both genders. But here Debi suggests that Judy’s submission to her husband is making her especially fit to be the bride of Christ. What of the men? If wives learn by submitting how to be a good future bride of Christ, well, don’t husbands need to learn that too? If both men and women are preparing in this world to be the bride of Christ in the world to come, shouldn’t they be practicing mutual submission? Otherwise, aren’t we going to end up with lots of women in the Church ready to be the bride of Christ and lots of men in the Church thinking that they are to be Christ? But of course, Debi never answers this question—she doens’t even ask it.

When someone tells me in the future that I got that bride of Christ thing wrong—that Christians only believe it’s a metaphor, not that it should at all be taken literally or actually applied to husband wife relationships—I’m going to send them here. Are there Christians who do only see this as a metaphor and don’t ever try to take it further? Almost certainly. But that there are multitudes of evangelicals and fundamentalists who do take this idea literally and seek to apply it in very real ways is something that cannot be denied—or ignored.

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.

  • NeaDods

    Some may wonder why I am focusing so much on abusive husbands.

    Why shouldn’t you? Debi’s got one, and all she says springs from her lust for him and his cruelty to her.

    How Debi’s books got to be so very popular in fundamentalist and Christian homeschooling circles I have absolutely no idea.

    Looking from the outside in, I have a clear idea — because everything else in that philosophy is based on fear. On pants-wetting terror, really. Fear of another whipping from your parents. Fear of disappointing an angry God who will lovingly send you straight to the eternal torment you deserve. Fear of secular society. Fear of government. Fear of “the elite” – i.e., the educated and science.

    What was the repeated refrain of the stories of how to keep your kids from leaving your version of the church? Telling the kids they were worthless and installing fear of hellfire. Which stories are told over and over about why are kids pulled from school? Fear of the different, fear of government, fear of “loss of parental control.”

    All I see in stories is terror of authority, of abuse. Why would marriage be different?

    And we know already how well Michael deals with any questions to his personal authority.

    • lauraleemoss

      Agreed. Fear is a cowardly but powerful motivator. Debi may not even believe this. She just knows how to sell books.

    • Hilary

      I think you are on to something. Looking from the outside as well, everything in this subculture does seem to revolve around the polarities of authority and fear. And yet one of the best things Jesus said is, ‘Perfect love casts out all fear.’ It’s one of the few NT sayings I like.

      • Kagi Soracia

        It’s the main reason why I left – because if fear was the only motivating factor in life and faith, then I didn’t want any part of it. I decided I’d rather go to hell than let the fear of it rule my life.

    • Jessica

      I agree with you that fear is a motivating factor. I was home schooled for health reasons- I had pretty severe dyslexia and the public school system here didn’t have the best tools to help. I ended up in moderate christian home school circles, and the organic food only health nut hippies :). I did meet evangelical/ fundamentalist christian homeschoolers. They tended to homeschool, in part to go against culture. Saying or heavily implying; “How more godly they were! They weren’t sending their children to public school unlike godless liberals or compromising Christians!” They were being counter-cultural. And that’s how the competition starts. Who Can Be the Most Godly by Being the Most Counter-cultural. Everyone around them shares this desire and together they try to find more ways of going against the culture. This gives Debi Pearl and others like her an opening to exploit. I mean her book seems to be full of rhetoric of how counter-cultural it is to be a help meet, and how biblical it is. She and quiverfull christians also provides an enemy. Several, actually, but the biggest enemy is feminism. It causes women to act like harlots. Feminism causes men to be passive. The children suffer for it, because of their selfish mothers’ desires to work and be independent. I was never a member of this group so I could be off that feminism isn’t seen as the enemy, but I doubt it. Anyway, that’s why I think pride also plays a part. They are living the right way. Everyone else is unknowingly following a lie (feminism).

    • Japooh

      Wholeheartedly agreement with everything you said, and sincere thanks for saying it so well!

  • Parisienne

    The screwy thing is that fundamentalism gets the metaphor all backasswards. The idea is not to look at a husband in order to understand what Christ is like – you are meant to look at Christ to find out what a husband is meant to be like. The salient bits of Christ’s behaviour in this respect involve getting voluntarily tortured to death on the church’s behalf when she hated him and wasn’t grateful.

    In the writings of the church fathers, John Chrysostom wrote a homily expressing this idea that I find very surprising for its time:

    Husbands, he says, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. You have seen the amount of obedience necessary; now hear about the amount of love necessary. Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse. Even though you undergo all this, you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done. You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated, rejected, and disdained Him as tie accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave toward your wife. Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to subject her to yourself, through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her. There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife. A servant can be taught submission through fear; but even he, if provoked too much, will soon seek his escape. But one’s partner for life, the mother of one’s children, the source of one’s every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will? Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church.

    Basically, Chrysostom tells wives that their duties amount to not nagging their husbands about not earning enough money, and if the wife doesn’t behave well, the husband must always respond by loving her more.

    • Cathy W

      Compare and contrast with Debi – a husband is allowed, possibly encouraged, to hit his wife if she hasn’t been his perfect “helpmeet”. (But then again, compare and contrast with Left Behind, where it does sound like they expect Christ to come and start beating the Church…)

  • lauraleemoss

    I am looking at my ten month old daughter as I read this. How sad that people in this world think she should be abused, in the name of God.

  • Sally

    Debi wrote: “That creep of a husband is the fortunate recipient of honor being given to God.”
    So Debi gets to call him a creep of a man, but his own wife has to reverence him. Nice example, Debi.
    You’ve addressed this in other posts, but what this wife should be doing is giving him the logical consequences of his actions. She should be confronting him, being honest with him, and letting him know either he seeks counseling (I’m guessing he needs cognitive behavioral therapy, not just random talk therapy from a pastor, shall we say) or she leaves. And she might need to at least separate from him for him to get the message. You’re not doing him any favors by enabling his bad behavior. She doesn’t have to be handing him a stack a $1s or ordering up the porn to be an enabler. The guy needs real help. But Debi just calls him a creep and reinforces doing nothing honest to actually help him.
    But then, the Bible doesn’t talk about cognitive behavioral therapy, so what do we know?

    • Mary

      Right? All together now…. In the bible, the code of laws listed is for an ancient agrarian society. There are underlying streams of ethics, like the importance of personal property rights and respecting the property and persons of others, and sequestering a diseased person from the group so that the group is not affected. The bible is not intended to be a psychology textbook. Protecting others from a sick or criminal person looks different in our society than it did then, as does helping a person with serious mental or behavioral issues. Sorry for the rant, but rejecting modern medicine (and psychology) because it’s not in the bible makes about as much sense as only using horses, donkeys, and camels for transportation because cars aren’t in the bible.

      Also- I’m pretty sure that going to prostitutes was frowned upon in the OT. And, if a wife had a husband who was an ass, she could have her family beat him up or if he wasn’t fulfilling his husbandly duties to her satisfaction she could take legal action. Now, instead of family members with sticks, we have divorce, cops, and jail. Yay! Nowhere in the bible is this “lay back and take it” stuff advocated. Jael was celebrated because she seduced an enemy general and then drove a nail through his head. Abigail called her husband a fool in public, went over his head, and received God’s blessing and a queenship because of it. Deborah led the troops into battle, without asking her husband’s permission. (Technically, she was in charge of him, since she was the judge/ruler) Trying to use the bible as a tool to back up Debbie’s weirdness is just sad- yes, the culture in which the bible was written was not one in which women were equal. (Ok, maybe some of them- technically, the bible covers quite a few culture, but I’ll stick to the one circa Leviticus for clarity) But- the bible is full of powerful women, overt and covert, subversively working justice in their culture. Blech- this CTBHHM stuff is nauseating.

    • Kit

      Once upon a time, when I was younger, stupider and wasn’t sure when a relationship was well and truly dead, I cheated on my (very subsequently ex) boyfriend (because I ended it, right away after). That is something I regret, despite having learned a lot from it. One of the biggest things I learned from it, though, is NOT TO DATE A DOORMAT. One of the chief things I look for in a relationship now is someone who has the backbone to make me be a better person and be my better conscience. If it doesn’t look like they can stand up to me, then I end it right away because I don’t want to hurt someone like that again.

      I feel terrible for this poor Judy person, because I sort of see myself in her husband. He could just be a creep, but on the other hand, maybe he’s also sort of young and stupid, and needs someone with a bit of a backbone to say “We have a problem.” And that’s probably the saddest part about all of this – since she doesn’t stand up to him, she has no chance of finding out whether it can be fixed and she just has to be miserable about it instead.

      • Rosa

        yep.

        Compare their parenting philosophy with their marriage philosophy and you can see the marriage one is just about designed to make men into the worst possible version of themselves even by their own beliefs of what it takes to make a good person.

  • eamonknight

    Gosh: With a few changes (particularly: include that “she” wants that as
    much as “he” does), a lot of that first excerpt from Debi sounds like a
    great description of a healthy marriage — friends, companions,
    discussion partners, playmates (ignoring what Hugh Hefner did with that
    word!), lovers, mutual enjoyment, mutual caring. Sounds kind of like my
    marriage, actually ;-).

    Trust Debi to fuck up a good thing.

  • katiehippie

    One of the fundamental things I was taught was that you first and foremost have to accept you are a sinner, then you can be forgiven. So you can’t be anything until you admit you are the bad guy. The whole thing falls apart if you aren’t ultimately the bad guy. So books like this have to remind you over and over again that you are the one with the problem. It’s sad.

  • Mel

    For a woman to usurp authority over a man is an affront to God Almighty, like treason in the camp. It would be like a man taking authority over Christ, or like the Church becoming jealous of Jesus’ leadership and taking authority unto itself.

    Contradiction of own logic in this paragraph. Doesn’t Debi expect women to have their husbands tell them exactly what God wants them to do? If so, a man has already taken authority over Christ in his relationship with his wife. If the man is not standing in for Christ, by what logic does she allow women to follow them unquestioningly?

    Seriously. If you’re going to try and sell this shit, please have an editor make sure your internal logic doesn’t have massive gaping holes.

    • eamonknight

      If the man is not standing in for Christ, by what logic does she allow women to follow them unquestioningly

      Because under the sort of authoritarian Christianity peddled by the Pearls, Bill Gothard, etc, the husband *by definition* does stand in Christ’s place with respect to his wife — even if he’s a dysfunctional, abusive asshole. It’s the bad old days of priestocracy, back in new guise: you can only get to God by way of your friendly neighbourhood Authority Figure — however corrupt.

    • Sally

      I think you make a good point. The thing is, you’re coming from a perspective of doctrine that is mainline Christianity (Jesus is a peaceful good guy). Debi actually is more “honest” in her description of Jesus as someone who could ask you to kill your child. So often Christians dismiss the whole Old Testament and act as if it doesn’t count when in fact the whole New Testament is built on the idea that Jesus is Yahweh. So to me, the icky message she gives here actually is honest about what the Christian message is if taken as a whole (which other people claim to do but don’t). The irony is that when taken as a whole, it’s a terrible message and we can all see that clearly when it comes out of the almost allegorical Bible stories and is applied to real to people in these modern times.
      I think if all mainline Christians were given this message they’d have to face what the Bible really says and stop pretending it’s something that fits beautifully into the 21st century lives they live.

    • Japooh

      But her editor is Micheal, from whom she seems to have actually learned and put into practice all this crap she’s spewing. If he can’t see the huge chasms in the logic, how could she? She doesn’t appear to have a single thought of her own in her head that wasn’t planted there by Micheal.

  • Gillianren

    It’s probably my Catholic upbringing, but my first thought was, “The sacrifice had nothing to do with Jesus or a Church; it was God the Father and one guy!” This is probably also my tendency to focus on minor details to avoid exploding when it comes to the big picture, because the big picture here is so awful.

  • http://cuterus.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    Hypothetically, in what way would a world in which women must reverence and obey assholes in order to receive the glory of God be different from a world in which men created a system of belief to keep women subservient to themselves? It is awfully convenient for those men.

    • Mary

      Um- God sees the heart? Motives? If men were doing it for the right reasons then they get eternal rewards, but they burn forever if they were, really, just assholes, and we can never know? If you’re innocent you drown, and if you’re guilty you float? Oh…. wait….

  • Nox

    “After all, most of Debi’s followers are likely married to men who are not abusive.”

    Unless you specifically mean violently, physically abusive, this part seems kind of unlikely.

    Everything I’ve seen from Debi Pearl (admittedly most of that has been through this website) suggests her central thesis is to defend abuse. Her market is by definition going to be mostly people who (a) want an excuse to abuse their wife and kids, or (b) want an way to feel better about staying with an abusive husband. Who’s gonna be buying apologetics for abuse if there isn’t already abuse to defend (in this sense that I’m using the word here “abuse” does not merely mean violent physical abuse, but many varieties of nonviolent authoritarianism as well)

    How did Debi’s books get to be so very popular in fundamentalist circles? Because Debi’s ideas were already incredibly popular in fundamentalist circles. Debi was not the first one to suggest that women are the property of men. She did not create that belief or the society where millions of people believed it. She just struck a nerve that showed how prevalent this belief is.

  • http://kathrynbrightbill.com/ KB

    I’ve had too many people argue against my right to marry or to pursue a relationship based on that passage to believe that everybody views it as metaphor.

    • Nate Frein

      It’s tote’s just a metaphor…except when it’s not.

  • Monica Swanson

    The bit that stuck out to me was that “Judy” is teaching HER SON that Daddy is the Best Man Ever. Even when his choices are disrespectful towards his wife, she will still respect him. What kind of values is he learning about how to treat his future wife/girlfriend/women in general?? “You’ve got a penis! You can do no wrong!”

    • Sally

      Oh, you’re right. That’s probably the worst part.

    • sylvia_rachel

      ^This.

      What chance does this kid have now? (Not to mention his future spouse.)

      • stacey

        Hopefully, he will be so disgusted with the way his Mom acts and his Dad treats her, that he goes in the opposite direction. It happens, thankfully.

  • j.lup

    Debi Pearl is a sociopath who positively revels in the masochism and self-righteousness of her own submission. This bit threw me: ‘at least he isn’t asking her to kill one of her children, as Christ asked of the Church…’ Christ and his Church didn’t exist when the God of the OT told Abraham to kill Isaac as a test of Abraham’s fear. I think Debi must be confusing the offspring treatment instructions in the bible with the one in her husband’s sadist manual ‘To Beat Up a Child’.

    • Sally

      I agree that her referring to Jesus there is very strange. But since Jesus is Yahweh, it makes sense at least to her.

  • wanderer

    On this: Jesus wants us for a friend. He wants a companion, someone wth whom to discuss ideas. He wants a playmate, someone with whom to laugh and enjoy life. He wants a buddy with wfhom to spend time. He wants a lover, someone to care about and someone to care about him. He wants a help meet, someone to share in his work of creation management.

    My question was….. how does she know? How does she know Jesus wants to be my playmate? I don’t remember that verse. How does she know he wants to laugh with me? How does she know he wants a buddy?????? What in the world….. she takes a LOT of liberties; seems like she’s expecting that we accept her delusions of her imaginary friend without question.

    • Sally

      Quite.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      Because Daddy Michael Pearl said so, probably.

  • ako

    Jesus wants us for a friend. He wants a companion, someone wth whom to discuss ideas. He wants a playmate, someone with whom to laugh and enjoy life. He wants a buddy with wfhom to spend time. He wants a lover, someone to care about and someone to care about him. He wants a help meet, someone to share in his work of creation management. He wants to be a groom and he wants the Church to be his bride.

    So Jesus wants the Church, as the ideal bride to be a friend, helper, companion, playmate and lover, and marriages should mimic that? Excellent! That includes some wonderful mutual and reciprocal relationships on which to model long-term happiness. I mean if you’re real friends, for example, you’re both friends with each other, and while one person may or may not be more prone to assuming a leadership role (depending on personal preference), in a real friendship you should both feel comfortable sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas knowing that you won’t be bullied for expressing what you want.

    Amazing as it sounds, marriage between a man and a woman is what God
    chose as the closest example of Christ’s relationship to his bride, the
    Church. You are part of eternity when you submit to your husband.
    Submission, reverence, and honor are preparing you for your marriage to
    Christ.

    But…but, she just said friend, companions, and playmates! How do you play together if you’re constantly submitting and reverencing them? If you pour all of your energy into this ostentatious martyrdom fantasy, how do you ever relax and have fun? Even as a helper, how helpful can you be if you’re being so submissive you can’t ever speak up and correct them? What kinds of friends does Debi have?

    • onamission5

      The implication there is that women are expected to thoroughly enjoy and revel in their servitude, and if they don’t, that is a character flaw in them which makes the playful baby Jesus sad. If a woman does not enjoy being a servant there’s something prideful or worldly (aka, Satan) at work in her and she is therefore not right with god.

      • ako

        Ah, so the bit about Jesus wanting to be friends, and the implied bits about husbands and wives needing to be friends was a total lie, then? Because friendship simply isn’t compatible with one person being free to make all of the choices about what they enjoy, and the other one being obligated to obey their every whim and try to force themselves to enjoy it. I have actual friends, and a basic part of the relationship is that we’re all free to honestly discuss likes and dislikes and find some common ground.

        (Also, I’ve been watching Dollhouse, which is all about people being made to not only obey someone else’s desires in every way, but being made to enjoy it, and it’s intentionally presented as creepy and wrong, so Debi’s vision is incredibly disturbing. Although she’d probably object to women being programmed to be Good Christian Wives, because it’d be unfairly easy, in her eyes, for women to be brainwashed quickly and easily, instead of having to constantly brainwash themselves.)

      • onamission5

        Well from out here it looks like a lie, doesn’t it? But when you’re in it, it just feels like something which is unattainable because sin because pride because worldliness, not something that’s fundamentally impossible and set up for failure.

        It’s like the whole “helpmeet” thing. The way a woman is supposed to demonstrate her friendship is by serving. There is a firmly delineated hierarchy to friendship in Debi’s world, elders over youngers, husbands over wives (because relationships between people who are not cis and hetero do not exist), but it is a hierarchy which must be freely and joyfully chosen, and if you do not joyfully choose it, then you’re sinful. At least that was my takeaway after growing up in a similar version of this whole dynamic.

      • Jayn

        Her framing of ‘freely and joyfully’ choosing such a lifestyle is ironic, given that she basically doesn’t give you a choice to not choose it. It’s neither free nor joyful, but an obligation that I can see breeding resentment even for people who would have chosen it anyways.

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        Yes, Dollhouse makes this point incredibly, that this(fucked up power dynamics in relationships) is fucking disturbing.

  • Ahab

    The more I read about CTBHHM, the more utterly broken and self-hating its author sounds. Tragically, Debi not only lives this nightmare, but demands that other women do the same.


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