CTNAHM: Michael Talks to the Ladies

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally Posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 44—46

We’re still on Chapter 4, where Michael tells men why they need women. So far, we’ve established that women need to be needed; it’s the man’s job to sanctify his wife; and it’s the woman’s job to be her husband’s moral compass. More about that compass today.

I Need Her Morality and Conscience

It is well known that the women are the moral anchors of any society. When the ladies become depraved, families perish and society disintegrates. Men are less introspective and better able to ignore their consciences than are women. Wives and mothers are created with a nesting nurturing instinct that is not dependent upon religious beliefs. They feel secure in a moral environment, sensing the necessity of a structure and an ordered society based on values that protect them and their children.

This may be heresy to the Pearl’s, but I don’t believe that women as a whole are society’s moral anchors. I think there are inherent moralities in most people. Most people know what’s right and wrong, with or without religion. Very few people will murder just for kicks. A small percentage will steal. Across the world and throughout various cultures, there seems to be the same things that are considered criminal. Yes, there are cultural differences (and sociopaths), but in general, people seem to think things like murder, rape, lying, and stealing are wrong. Not just women.

Also, I’m curious what Michael means by “depraved”. I’m wondering if it’s women wanting to work, or lesbians, or what. I kind of wish when he makes statements like this, he explains his reasoning and what he really means. Are men really less introspective, or is that just something they’re cultured not to be? My husband has zero introspective skills, but that’s because in his family, emotion (any emotion) is unacceptable; so he doesn’t know what he’s feeling or have the skills to figure out why he’s feeling it. It’s a work in progress for us! And again, Michael tells us that women are magically gifted with a nurturing instinct.

Considering the vast number of laws, rules, and regulations that are a part of every society, I think it’s safe to say that people, in general, feel secure in a moral environment. There would be very few people that feel safe in a lawless world, female or male. Oh, and women are fully capable of protecting themselves, their children, and even their husbands.

Excuse the base comparison, but as men are the predators in the human kingdom, women are the prey. Feeling their vulnerability, women support a society based on the rule of law. We regularly read of a gang of men raping women, but not the other way around. A man may walk off and leave his children, but a woman of sound mind will walk three thousand miles to tend to her offspring—substance abusers excepted.

Wow. That’s not a base comparison, that’s an INSULTING comparison. It sounds to me like Michael’s reasoning could lead to a lot more lawlessness. “It’s not my fault I murdered her, officer! I’m just a predator! It’s my God-given nature!” Show of hands, ladies, how many of you “feel your vulnerability” and want to be protected? I’m more afraid of car crashes than I am of being robbed, murdered, or raped.

Speaking of rape, yes, we have heard of gangs of men raping women. It’s also statistically true that men are far less likely to report a rape. Does it mean gangs of women don’t rape? I honestly don’t know. Considering Michael makes the point often that women are illogical and governed by female emotions, it’s very odd to read him talk about women of “sound mind”. And that the only women that ever leave their children are substance abusers. What about the exodus of women in the 70s to communes and retreats to “find themselves”? Something I’ve learned in foster kid class is that just because a woman doesn’t leave, doesn’t mean she’s still around taking care of the kids. Plenty of children learn to take care of themselves and siblings at a young age because their parent(s) just aren’t capable of doing it. Sometimes leaving isn’t the worst thing a parent can do.

Some depraved women will view pornography, but most men will become addicted to it to the point of abandoning all nobility. Women never start or conduct wars, but men grow bored unless their generation settles some dispute with a river of blood. Mister, you need your wife’s conscience. She is the smoke and detectors waiting silently in the home…well, maybe not so silently, but she is there to sound the alarm when her conscience is pricked by your careless moral meanderings. So don’t take the batteries out.

Oh, those depraved women! How terrible for them to have a desire to see a naked hunk or babe! Surely the sight of one’s husband, ready for action, should be more than enough for them! And once again, Michael lowers men. “Most men” will become addicted until he’s lost his “nobility”. First, who says that all men are noble? What defines manly nobility? Second, not all men want to view porn. Finally, not all men that view porn are addicted, nor do they ruin their lives because of it. This is a trend in Mormonism, too. Porn=addiction=failed marriage. Obviously, this isn’t true 100% of the time.

I’m kind of aghast that Michael claims wars start out of men’s boredom. Like men have a desire to kill thousands on a whim. I guess this goes with his comment that men are predators. During the Vietnam War, just as many men (if not more) as women protested the war. Not all men are violent. That should be an obvious point.

Kind of like last post, I want to emphasize that women are not a catch all for man’s emotions! People in general should be able to be decent, law abiding citizens. Men, if you’re using your wife as a smoke alarm, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, it’s good to have someone to help us toe the line, but if the only thing keeping you from a bloodbath started by boredom is your wife, please see a shrink ASAP. And what does Michael mean by taking the batteries out? I get the feeling he thinks he’s being a clever wordsmith with a fine joke…

Men will hide their sin from their wives while boldly displaying it before others. Why? Because she is a resident judge who will not let us lie to ourselves. A good woman, like a clean mirror, will cause a man to see his shame. Some men are angry with their wives for that very reason. Rather than accept the judgement of their wife’s conscience, thy rail at the messenger. If a man is every successful in corrupting his wife to the point of causing her to join him in depravity, he will go to hell faster than a drunk in a Ferrari.

It seems odd that a man will boldly display his sin to everyone but his wife. In thinking of the lousy men of my past, all of their despicable deeds were done in secret to everyone. My dad would hide his drugs and take them locked in the bathroom. My ex would find girls on craigslist and sneak them over to his house. I think it’s a rare man that will loudly proclaim his evil. Another thing that’s bugging me in this paragraph is Michael calling women “judges”. In Debi’s book, I seem to remember her saying “never judge or complain”, just shower with respect. If a woman is following Debi, then how will the husband accurately use her as a moral compass, if all she’s allowed to point to is how amazing he is?

Two problems can arise from the reality of a man’s wife being his moral stabilizer The first is she becomes immoral and can no longer fulfill her role. The second is that she becomes haughty and judgmental, denigrating her less-than-righteous husband. Certainly the second is to be preferred but will causes a man to stay on the golf course or put in extra hours at work.

Ok, Michael. First you say it’s women’s nature to be a moral compass. Then you tell us how this causes problems. How about if each spouse is their own moral compass, and touch base with the other often to make sure everyone is law-abiding and decent?

I have known many men who have just enough Bible teaching to know that God commands their wives to submit and honor them, but not enough grace to seek to be worthy of that position. It is the lowest form of hypocrisy to be immoral and expect your wife to draw the curtain on her conscience and honor you as if you were honorable Stupid jerk. Such a man becomes the predator demanding the prey be silent while eaten, and all in the name of God. Woe, woe, woe unto that man.

I agree. With the whole paragraph. I’ve been wondering how Michael and Debi’s books would actually work in tandem, but here it seems to be saying “Don’t expect her to worship you while you’re being a cad.” Excellent point!

“Render therefore to all their dues…honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:7)” A good wife will interpret that passage to mean that she should honor her husband because of his God-appointed office, just as we honor a police officer or judge irrespective of his character. But a righteous man will interpret that passage to mean that he should come to be worthy of that honor. Don’t expect your wife to pretend you are honorable when you are not. Many men don’t want their wives to be moral help meets; they want them to be covers for their immorality.

Gah! I feel sometimes like his logic runs in circles. “Be worthy of the honor your wife gives you. A good wife should honor her husband because he’s God-appointed. Don’t expect your wife to pretend you are honorable.” It just doesn’t’ seem like these sentences go together. Either a wife’s honor is conditional or it isn’t. You can’t say “Don’t be a jerk, but your wife will honor you anyway” and “Be honorable and your wife won’t have to pretend.” Or maybe I’m just missing the point here. My brain is starting to hurt from the doublespeak. Also, I don’t know about the men Michael is around, but the guys I know don’t need women to be their moral compasses, because they are capable of doing that themselves. Why are Michael’s men so helpless?

If God gave us what we deserve, we would all be in hell. If wives gave us what we deserve, we would be chained to the doghouse, eat leftovers, and have to potty in the yard. God’s mercy and free gift of righteousness motivate us to walk in conformity to his most undeserved favor and grace. Likewise, when a good woman honors her dog-of-a-husband, he should have the humility to seek to be worthy of her most undeserved grace.

I don’t think I like Micheal’s God. Sure, He hands out mercy and grace, but he makes sure we know we don’t deserve it? It’s like giving a 3 year old a birthday present, and every time they use it, reminding them “You really shouldn’t have gotten that. You’re not good enough. Aren’t you glad I was nice enough to give it to you?” Ick. I don’t think I want to be the wife Michael thinks women are. If I truly gave my husband what he deserved, I would be better to him because he is wonderful to me. It seems, in PearlWorld (TM), that men are rakes and women are shrews. I also think it’s interesting to note where women (courtesy of Debi) are threatened with duplexes, divorce, and infidelity for not “properly honoring”, men are sternly told they “should” be worthy. No scare tactics, no threats. Just a sentence that they really should be honorable. No consequences for not being so.

A warning to wives: That’s right. I’m aware that some of you nosy wives are reading this book while your husbands are at work so you can “help” them remember it-or hold them to it. My warning to you is that just as husbands are prone to read “Created to Be His Help Meet” and demand their wives obey them—a most inappropriate response—wives may read my scathing exhortation to their husbands and decide not to honor the dog until he can do his tricks properly—again a most inappropriate response. One of you must do his/her duty before God regardless of what the other is doing if this marriage stands a chance of getting any better. A husband can make a marriage half good if he loves and cherishes his wife no matter her response, and a wife can make her marriage half good by honoring her dishonorable husband. A marriage that goes completely bad is one where both parties hold out until the other fulfills his or her duty. That’s no marriage at all. It’s a war where everybody loses.

Ooooh. Shame on me for reading this book! And honestly, I think more husbands would read CTBHHM and expect their wives to obey, than wives would read this and expect their husbands to love them. For one thing, obedience is easier to spot than love. Love can manifest in lots of different ways, but obedience is pretty obvious. For another, Michael really hasn’t said HOW men can do these things. Just vague sentences like “bring her to the place” and “sanctify your wife.” Despite Michaels’ claims, I have yet to read any scathing exhortations. At most, he calls guys a selfish jerk. Debi’s book is more scathing, promising madness, poverty, cold beds, and ripping apart letter writers. Michael is just making a case that men “should” be decent.

And I disagree that one person can change their marriage. Why would you only want your marriage to be “half good”? I suppose it’s better than all bad. But what I have an issue with is: if a man is being a selfish jerk, how would his wife suddenly submitting and acting like he’s great provide him with motivation to change? If anything, he would think “Oh, there’s no problem here . . . see how well she treats me.” I do agree that a bad marriage is where both parties are holding out, but I think the problem is easier solved by saying “Let’s both work this out, even if we try marriage counseling” rather than a unilateral attempt to “half fix” things.

I remember a lesson my daddy taught me when I was learning to drive. I asked him “What do I do if the other guy keeps his lights on bright after I flash him a warning? Should I just put mine on bright and teach him a lesson?” He answered, “One blind drive is enough; no need for two blind fools.”

It’s a good anecdote. But I’m not sure how well it applies. In PearlWorld, women are commanded to submit. Men are suggested to love. Whereas Debi firmly lays out exactly how wives should submit, Michael hasn’t really said how men should love. Unless you count his “let her know you need her.” Which I’m not sure I do.

Here’s some free advice—if your marriage is unhappy, communicate and work together to come up with a solution. Involve professionals if you feel the need. Simply unilaterally trying to change the other spouse (and the marriage) is going to result in hurt feelings and burn out. It took 2 people to begin the relationship, it will take 2 people to fix it.

CTNAHM: Obey vs. Submit
CTNAHM: Let's Talk in Circles!
CTNAHM: Love Never Enslaves!
CTNAHM: Don't Command Your Wife to Obey
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.


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