CTBHHM: Wives, Cover for Your Husbands

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 214—215

This week we begin Debi’s chapter on being “Good,” which is the next character trait listed in Titus :4-5.

The Crown

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4).

A good woman is a crown to her husband. She can make a mediocre man be as honored as one wearing a crown.

This is a really good summary of this passage. The entire point is that by being “good” the woman can bring her husband honor—she can be a “crown” to her husband. How? By enabling him and covering for him. Debi offers three examples.

A good woman might be married to a man who is lazy or just does not make much money. Yet because she is a wise shopper and does not waste her time or their money foolishly by eating out or indulging in expensive entertainment, and because she is a keeper at home, she makes his “little money” go a long way. As a result, he appears wiser and wealthier than he really is and is looked upon with honor because of it.

Note that Debi doesn’t suggest that a woman whose husband is lazy or has a poorly paying job should get a job of her own. Debi has previously made it clear that she is against women, or at least mothers, working outside of the home. But note, too, the reason Debi says a woman should so carefully stretch her husband’s money—so that he appears wiser and wealthier than he really is. He. Basically, Debi is saying that a woman with a layabout husband or a husband who doesn’t make much money should cover for her husband, so that nobody knows.

A good woman may be married to a man who is not an attentive father or a patient child trainer. Yet a good wife never shows dishonor to him, and she trains the children to be obedient and resourceful. When people see their children, they assume that the father must be a good man to have such fine children.

And again, a woman is to cover for her husband—not to ensure that the children grow up well but rather to ensure that everyone will assume her husband is a good father when he isn’t.

A good woman could be married to a man who is a poor example of a father and husband. He may be selfish and self-centered, possibly not even honest, yet because she is submissive and honoring toward him, he treats her with kindness. People look at their relationship and think he must be a good man since he has a good woman and because they seem to be happy together.

I’m thinking that a selfish and self-centered husband and a submissive and honoring wife is a bad combination. The wife is set up to let the husband walk all over her. Her quiet submission is enabling him. What a selfish and self-centered husband needs is for his wife to stand up to him and not buckle under. Either he will correct his patterns, or they will split up.

And here, once again, Debi is asking for the wife to cover for her husband, so that people think he’s something he’s not. Is a bad man being seen as a good man a good idea? Bill Gothard was seen as a good man for decades, and that put him in the position to molest countless girls and young women. Sure, there’s quite the step from “selfish and self-centered” to pedophile, but seeing someone as good when they’re not is definitely a commonality there.

By now you are likely saying, “Why should she carry the load and make a lazy, impatient, selfish man look good?”

Why yes, yes I am wondering that!

Why should she not?

Hmm, let’s see. There’s the fact that that’s not fair. There’s also the fact that making a lazy, impatient, selfish man look good is a deception, and is dangerous, because then people may come to trust or rely on that man in a way they would not if they knew who he was. There’s also the fact that this is enabling, and ensuring that they do not have any reason to change. What lazy, impatient, selfish men generally need is for someone to stand up to them and say that that is not okay. So actually, covering for them and making them look good when they’re not is worse not only for those around them but also for lazy, impatient, selfish men themselves.

But somehow I don’t think Debi was expecting an actual answer.

By being a crown to her husband, she is raising children who will rise up and call her blessed. By the time they are teens, they will know their dad is something much less than he should be, but they will honor him because of the example of their mother.

I have spoken with enough individuals with submissive mothers and selfish, manipulative, abusive fathers to know that this is completely false. Generally, children with such parents are grateful when the mother finally says enough—and those whose mothers never say this are often resentful, or else end up viewing their mother with pity.

And what about the risk that a child with such parents will grow up to repeat such patterns? What about the chance that a son will see his father’s selfishness as normal, and repeat that pattern? What about the chance that he will walk in his father’s footsteps and be a bad husband and a bad father? What about the chance that a daughter will learn from her mother’s example and simply roll over if she finds herself in an abusive or unhealthy relationship?

Also, is it a really good idea to give honor when there is nothing to merit giving honor?

By being a crown to her husband, she is winning his love and appreciation, thus she gets treated much better than if she stood against him.

Woah, woah, woah. Back right up there. Just what kind of worse treatment are we talking about here? Because when it comes to men who are abusive or manipulative, “she was asking for it” is a very common defense, even for physical abuse. If she just hadn’t been so XYZ, I never would have hit her! This idea that a man will treat a woman badly if she stands up to him, but will treat her with love and appreciation if she is submissive and covers for his faults . . . this is not healthy. This is also not true for men who have healthy relationship skills.

And, by being a prudent woman in how she uses the meager funds given to her, she is gaining a comfortable place to raise her family.

Exactly what does Debi mean by “comfortable”? If a man is unemployed and refuses to get work, even pinching pennies isn’t going to result in “comfortable.”

In the final analysis, she is doing exactly what God says will cause her husband to come to God.

This is a constant theme for Debi, this idea that if a woman is perfectly submissive that will cause her husband to wonder what she has that he doesn’t and through her example find God. In a few chapters, Debi will tell a story of a woman who submitted to her husband in all things even when she did not want to and was so kind and sweet that he was eventually saved. That story stands out to me because the thing that is hard for that woman about submitting is that her husband requires her to perform oral sex on him even though doing so is repulsive to her because he was extremely unclean and never bathed. And yet, she submits, and as a result of years of sacrifice, her husband comes to Jesus. It’s hard to describe how horrific I find this.

And most of all, she is bringing honor to God by fulfilling her calling as a help meet.

Well of course—women’s role is as appendages to men.

In the end, people who know her will know the truth.

If that’s so then what’s the point of covering for your husband in the first place?

I am really disturbed by this passage. I’m trying to figure out precisely why it is so disturbing to me. I think a lot of it has to do with this expectation that women should cover for their husbands’ shortcomings while their husbands take all of the credit. That isn’t just not fair, it’s downright deceptive, bad for everyone involved, and even dangerous.

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.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X