Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 21
God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman. … If you are a wife, you were created to fill a need, and in that capacity you are “a good thing,” a helpersuited to the needs of a man. This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing. You are, by nature, equipped in every way to be your man’s helper. You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature, for no man can do your job, and no man is complete without his wife. You were created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him. A woman trying to function like a man is as ridiculous as a man trying to be like a woman. A unisex society is a senseless society – a society dangerously out of order.
There is so much in this short passage that it’s hard to know where to start.
Remember that Debi spent her introduction doing two things: talking about how she came to marry Michael (and what a silly girl she was then) and explaining that she knows God’s plan for marriage and that anyone who follows what she outlines in the rest of her book will lead a blissful existence. She then began chapter one with a letter from a woman who says she was “a Jezebel type” before following Debi’s advice and achieving marital bliss. This section, coming immediately after that letter and at the start of chapter one, is where Debi explains her core premise: the purpose for which women were created (i.e. to serve men).
Let me go over it sentence by sentence.
God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman.
I would rather not be described as a “gift” given to my husband. Gifts are possessions. They’re something passed from one person to another. If I give a gift to my daughter, I am giving it into her possession to be owned by her. In other words, speaking of women as gifts for men sets women up as objects rather than people. And more than that, when I give my daughter a gift it’s because I care about her. I generally don’t care about the gift itself except in the value it will have to her. If women are simply “gifts” given by God to man, the implication is that we are man’s possession and that God cares about men first, and women only tangentially. I know this might seem like a nitpick, but words do matter.
If you are a wife, you were created to fill a need, and in that capacity you are “a good thing,” a helper suited to the needs of a man. This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing. You are, by nature, equipped in every way to be your man’s helper.
So here we have it. Women’s “purpose for existing” is to be their husbands’ “helper.” Note that Debi does not say that women, like men, are created to serve God. No. Men were created to serve God. Women were created to serve men. That’s the whole reason God created them. And of course, Debi doesn’t say a word about what this means for single women. I suppose they live lives that are aimless and without purpose – at least, according to Debi.
You are inferior to none as long as you function within your created nature, for no man can do your job, and no man is complete without his wife. You were created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him.
Debi pulls an extremely common bait and switch here. She says that women are “inferior to none” but also that they are not to “seek personal fulfillment parallel to” their husbands. If I had a dollar for every time a complementarian or supporter of patriarchy insisted that men and women are “equal” but simply “have different roles to play” I’d be rich. The truth is that the different roles they say men and women are to play are nowhere near equal. Men are to have lives and plan out visions, and women are to serve their husbands and forward their husbands’ visions. There is nothing equal about that.
Next, I’ve often heard it said that a man needs his wife, can’t function without his wife, and that that somehow makes up for the fact that the man is to lead and his wife is to submit. Somehow it means that women are not inferior. Debi echoes this idea here. The trouble is, would you say the same about antebellum slaves? I mean, the master of a plantation needed slaves, his plantation wouldn’t function without them. So that makes the fact that their role was obedience and his was to make the commands a-okay and totally equal, right? Um . . . no. And yes, there were plenty of people at the time who argued that slaves “created nature” was servitude, and that white people couldn’t labor in the heat the way black people could, accustomed to it by their natural physic as they (supposedly) were.
A woman trying to function like a man is as ridiculous as a man trying to be like a woman. A unisex society is a senseless society – a society dangerously out of order.
Here Debi emphasizes the importance of “complementarianism.” Complementarianism is the idea that men and women fill different and “complementary” roles. According to Debi, a society without such gender roles is “a society dangerously out of order.” She doesn’t clarify why in this section, but so much of what you find in her book is premised on this idea. Men and women are by nature extremely different from each other and are fitted to extremely different roles. To her this seems only natural. It makes sense. It represents order. The reality, of course, is that a society premised on gender equality does not simply fall into disorder and ruin. We’ve had ample proof of that by now. (Of course, my definition of words like disorder and ruin may differ from Debi’s – I’m thinking mobs in the street, crime rates through the roof, that sort of thing, she’s probably thinking premarital sex and people being openly gay. Oh the horror!)
Since this passage is a bit of a downer, I’ll take this moment to mention that Debi’s text is chock full of odd little offhand statements. I don’t know if she thinks it makes the book seem more personable or what, but it gets downright annoying after a while. Here are a few:
God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive – a woman. I know it to be so because my husband tells me quite often.
My husband, who is a learned student of the Word, assures me that Eve was indeed a birthday present, as seen by the fact that they were both wearing their birthday suits.
Seriously. She does this thing throughout.
And do wait in anticipation for next week, because you’ll get to watch Debi twist scripture to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means. I’ve seen scripture twisted plenty of times, but this particular example is absolutely outrageous.
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Libby Anne blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism
The Beautiful Girlhood Doll by Libby Anne
Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the religious right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the problems with the “purity culture,” the intricacies of conservative and religious right politics, and the importance of feminism. Her blog is Love, Joy, Feminism
- See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/stories/libby-anne/#sthash.PSzu04Vf.dpuf
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce