Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 51-53
Remember that Debi has just poisoned the well against trusting one’s feelings, listening to mainstream society, or giving a hearing to the arguments of Christian feminists. She continues with this:
Can we, ordinary housewives and mothers, jump into the arena and compete with these “scholars,” deciding which verses in the Bible should be believed and which ones should be dismissed for various reasons? That is not for me.
But I do have a solution. There is one verse that they have not yet contested: “The aged women … may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedience to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). It reads basically the same in all my English translations. And my husband says it reads the same in his four Greek Bibles as it does in the King James. According to the Word of God revealed to the apostle Paul (a man!), aged women are to teach the younger women to be obedient to their own husbands. It is clearly God’s plan.
Is it just my imagination or has Debi just revealed her mandate – the reason she believes she is qualified to write this book telling women to be perfectly obedient to their husbands? I should mention that this passage – Titus 2 – is a favorite among female leaders in conservative Christianity. This passage states that older women are allowed to teach, well, younger women, thus giving “mature” Christian women a ministry role to play in congregations that typically bar women from ever teaching men. (I once saw a woman have to go to her pastor to find out if she could teach a mixed group of teenagers, both girls and – gasp! – boys. The answer was yes, because as long as they were under 18 the guys counted as “children” rather than “men.”) So I’m not at all surprised that Debi would at some point invoke Titus 2, though perhaps slightly taken aback by the strength with which she claims it.
Debi next prints a letter from a woman who explains that, after reading the works of a certain Bible teacher, she has become convinced that “The women obeying and not teaching their husbands passages are wrongly translated and received.” Weirdly, Debi removes the name of the Bible teacher the writer is citing, replacing it with “H___.” Yes, really. It’s almost like she doesn’t want someone to go look up his books and read them for themselves! Debi’s response is all over the map, but I want to highlight a few points.
If you were trying to convince me of the truth of your argument by telling me the “full gospel” crowd encourages women to take positions of leadership, you used the wrong argument. Check out their divorce rate, and you will understand my amazement in your choice of arguments. Statistics reveal that modern Christians have a higher divorce rate than does the general population.
…what? First of all, “full gospel” Christians are Pentecostals, and last I looked, Pentecostals are generally considered traditional Christians, not “modern Christians.” Second, if Debi is going to use the “Christians have higher divorce rates” argument, she has to realize that her own sect of Christianity, whatever exactly that is, is also included in this statistic. If she would rather break it down and look at the statistic for each type of Christians, well, she’ll have to do that for the full gospel people as well as for her own group. But she doesn’t do that. As a result, her argument makes no sense.
She goes on to argue that there is a “huge amount of scripture” supporting her view on women’s role, including “500 verses, found in twenty-five different books of the Bible.” (Of course, she doesn’t actually site a single verse.)
And then she says this:
I believe God has given and preserved his words so that the average woman can know what he means without having to go to a man who claims to be smarter to the words of God.
Given how much Debi emphasizes that women must submit to their husbands, I actually find her argument that the average woman can understand the Bible without having to go to a man rather odd. Growing up in a home where the Pearls were idolized and embraced, I was actually told that I should take my theological questions to my father and then accept what he said. I was taught that I would someday do the same with my husband. So this idea that suddenly women can figure out the Bible for themselves without any help from their husbands or any other man? Odd.
If God’s words are so misleading and difficult to translate that the fifteen English translations I have and the four Greek translation my husband has (all in agreement on these verses) are not able to speak the truth about women, then He is not the God I have worshiped these many years.
Given that Debi earlier came out as believing that the KJV was the only translation that accurately preserved the word of God, I find her sudden appeal to the Greek also, well, odd.
But the other part of her argument is something I’ve heard before many times. It’s fairly formulaic, actually: “If God _______, then He is not the God I have worshiped these many years.” If you think about it, it’s an appeal to personal experience. My experience of God is like this, therefore this must be so. But what of someone else whose experience is different? There are plenty of liberal Christians who believe that translating the Bible and discovering the actual original Greek words is a complicated and difficult process, but don’t see that as at all inconsistent with the God they have “worshiped these many years.” In other words, Debi’s assertion here is nothing more than an attempt to universalize her own personal experience.
Would you have me believe that only in these last decades, as the world shifted to a “women’s liberation” philosophy, that suddenly a few preachers who “studied Greek” in college for three years should discover that the world is right after all?
I grew up hearing this as well. But you’ll find that most Christians have made this same “discovery” with regards to slavery as well – in other words, Most Christians used to believe that slavery was totally okay according to the Bible, and today most Christians believe that the Bible condemns slavery. In other words, religion changes all the time. That a view is the oldest or the longest-held does not mean it is either “right” or universal or that it will continue unchanged in every cultural context. How do we figure out which view is correct and which is incorrect? Not by completely rejecting Biblical scholarship as flawed and refusing to examine the arguments on each side, surely. And surely not by simply declaring that your side is right!
You will have to go to a “pop” TV evangelist or conference speaker, who depends on monetary gifts from women, to get the modern view that you say is taught by men like H___.
I’m sorry, what? Seriously, two pages ago Debi was talking about “Bible scholars” who argue that the Bible endorses gender equality, and now she’s saying that only televangelists and conference speakers who depend on people’s money teach gender equality? I might think that this means that Debi thinks “Bible scholar” is synonymous with “TV evangelist” and “conference speaker who depends on monetary gifts,” but given her husband’s views on the deceptive nature Biblical scholarship coming out of seminaries, I know this isn’t the case. Debi’s contradicting herself here.
There is a reason why those people attempt to appeal to the modern woman. Nine out of ten gifts to these ministries, and nine out of ten purchases of books and tapes, are by women.
And now Debi is making up statistics.
Women who can’t be close to their husbands have a propensity to develop a self-absorbing, spiritual intimacy with spiritual leaders – be they men or women.
Look in the mirror, Debi. No, really. Even with all of the adoring letters receives, she never stops to consider that she might be one of the spiritual leaders she describes. She’s also making some pretty wild accusations here – that the only pastors or scholars preaching gender equality are those who are looking to take money from women’s purses and get in their spiritual pants. Also, what is this “spiritual intimacy” she describes, and why hasn’t she talked about developing it between husbands and wives? Perhaps that’s still coming.
My husband started studying Greek forty years ago. (He daily uses three different Greek Bibles in order to correct the teachers who attempt to correct the Bible with the Greek.) When my husband, who is a Bible scholar and, for many years, also a student of Greek, wants to know what God says, he always opens his KJV Bible first.
Again with the Greek. And using different Greek Bibles to correct teachers who attempt to use Greek to correct the Bible? What? I mean I think I know what Debi is trying to say, but honestly, she’s not saying it very clearly. And note that for all of her discussion of just how learned in Greek her husband is, she doesn’t use Greek when examining the passages she quotes in her book, nor does she discuss the reasons Biblical scholars have caveats regarding some of them. Instead, she sticks with the KJV and takes it at face value – just like her husband, who “always opens his KJV Bible first.” I honestly think she keeps mentioning how very learned her husband is in Greek just so that she can claim to know better than those Greek-quoting Bible scholars, and all without ever having to actually address the Greek in her book. I mean, really, how does her continual touting of the Greek here jibe with what she said about the average woman being able to understand the Bible by herself?
You are asking me to adopt a philosophy that is contrary to the Bible, has destroyed countless homes, has put thousands of woman on Prozac, and has driven men to pornography, in exchange for something that has worked perfectly for the past thirty-five years of my marriage.
Prozac? Really? In this section, Debi argues that the belief that men and women should be equal in the home and in the church has destroyed homes, put women on Prozac (again, really? really?), and resulted in men watching porn. I hate to break it to Debi, but there’s been lots written about the large number of women who were addicted to alcoholic “tonics” in the 1800s, and while the technology we have today may be different, pornography is not new. And finally, while families may have stayed together more often in the past that does not mean they were not broken.
I am supremely happy and content woman, in submission to my husband but I am not altogether gullible.
While this statement may appear to some to be the epitome of irony, it’s actually a bit of a staple in Debi’s circles as women insist that their belief that women must submit to their husbands does not mean that they don’t have brains are are some sort of dupes. It’s almost like there is some huge psychological need bound up in this insistence, as though making sure others know that they’re not just gullible dupes soothes their need to assert their selfhood.
Also, when someone has to spend a great deal of time insisting that they really are “supremely” happy, well, that’s frequently a tip off that they’re not.
I suggest you believe God, and let the snake deceive some other dumb lady (just like he deceived Eve in the garden).
Did I mention that Debi’s really not very nice? Well, just in case you missed it, Debi’s really not very nice. I’m not sure if she thinks that calling women “dumb” makes her sound hip or something, but honestly, to me it just makes her sound like a misogynist.
So let me sum up. After explaining that the Bible says that older women are to teach younger women, and thus claiming a mandate for teaching, Debi sets out to do just that as she responds to a letter from a woman who believes that God is okay with women preaching and teaching. This would seem to be a contradiction except that the letter writer makes it clear that she’s talking about women’s ability to teach men, and Debi makes it clear that she’s only talking about older women’s ability to teach younger women. Regardless, Debi spends all of her time talking about (a) how there are “hundreds” of verses that teach that women are to be subservient to men, (b) how very well her husband knows Greek, (c) how those who preach that women can teach men are just out there to take women’s money, and (d) how a belief that men and women are equal has led to women taking prozac and men watching porn. And in all of this, Debi doesn’t even quote a single Bible verse, whether in English or in Greek. I suppose that now that she’s got her Biblical mandate to teach, that’s all she needs.
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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, Femini
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