CTBHHM: Created in the Image of Man

by Libby Anne cross posted from her blog Love Joy Feminism

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 75-76

In this section Debi argues that there are three basic “types” of men, but that women, unlike men, are fluid and flexible, able to become the “composite” of any of those three types depending on who they marry. But Debi says that teenage girls and young women generally fix on an ideal male type, whether it is that of their father or that of a character in a book or movie, and go about making themselves into composites of this type. This creates problems when they marry, as they set about trying to change their husbands into their images of an ideal man. But men are fixed, so they fail—and quickly end up divorced. The key, Debi says, is to understand the type your man is and be ready to change yourself to fit your man’s needs rather than trying to change your man to fit your own needs.

So let’s get started:

Men are not all the same. I have become aware that there are basically three types of men. The different types are just as marked in one-year-olds as they are in adult men.

Call me skeptical. But I am. According to Debi, then, male infants have set and fixed types while female infants are some sort of fluid blank slates. I have a male baby who is fast approaching one, and I have a little girl who was a baby not so very long ago, and you know what? I don’t see it. They both have strong personalities, and have since they started sitting up and smiling. If my little Bobby is already a fixed type while my Sally is flexible, that’s news to me!

It seems that God made each male to express one side of his triad nature. No single man completely expresses the well-rounded image of God.

Annnnnnnnnnd call me more skeptical. You would think that if God intentionally designed men to each express one side of the trinity, there would be something about that in the Bible. Or, you know, someone before Debi would have come up with it. You would think that Debi wouldn’t be the first one discovering this tidy divine truth! Note again that Debi is only talking about men. Men express sides of God’s nature. Women? Nah.

And all the training and experiences of life will never successfully make a man into a different type of man. There is nothing clumsier or more pathetic than a man trying to act differently from who he is.

Debi is ready to jump all over women trying to get them to change who they are, but she’s so opposed to men even trying to change themselves that she calls any such man “pathetic.” In all Christ-like love, of course.

As we review the types, you will probably readily identify your husband and be able to see where you have been a curse or blessing to him.

Because that, ladies, is how we score your life—whether you’re a curse or a blessing to your husband. Just while we’re talking about priorities and all.

By the time a young woman gets married, she has developed a composite image of what her husband ought to be like. The men she has known and the characters in books and movies provide each woman with a concept of the perfect man.

Here I think we need to take a quick detour. In an article I wrote about a year and a half ago, Debi penned some advice to teenage girls and unmarried women. She told them that they are each able to be the composite of any of the three types of men, and that it is their job to fit themselves to the man they someday marry.

God did not create women as he did men, strongly fixed in one type or another. Being created in the image of man, we are more muted and flexible in our types. If a woman were a strong Command type married to Mr. Steady, that would cause terrible conflict in the marital relationship.

What Debi is saying here, then, is that young women are flexible and don’t have set personalities and temperaments. This is so that they can mold themselves to the image of the man they someday marry, becoming a “composite” of his type. But as Debi said above, sometimes young women develop into the composite of their ideal husband before they meet and marry.

Poor guys! Our preconceived ideas make it tough on them. They are never perfect—far from it. God gave each one a nature that in part is like himself, but never complete. When you add in the factor that all men are fallen creatures, it makes a girl wonder why she would ever want to tie her life to one of these sons of Adam.

Given Debi’s descriptions of men thus far, I’m going with yes, yes it does. And given how she’s writing this, Debi seems to agree with her rhetorical question. In Debi’s world, men are miserable louts and no woman in her right mind would want to find herself chained to one. So then, why do women sign up for this?

But God made us ladies to have this unreasonable desire to be needed by a man, and our hormones are working strenuously to bring us together.

Oh. Right. That’s why.

Hey ladies! Did you know that you have an unreasonable desire to be needed by a man? No? Me neither!

Look, it’s only normal for people to want to have people around them who love them and value them, people they love and value in return. But that’s not what Debi is talking about here.

In any case, Debi says it’s because of this unreasonable desire to be needed by a man, in combination with our hormones, that women choose to chain themselves to men. But what happens after they put on the shackles?

When a girl suddenly finds herself permanently wed to a man who is not like she thinks he ought to be, rather than adapt to him, she usually spends the rest of their marriage—which may not be very long—trying to change him into what she thinks her man ought to be.

Wisdom is knowing what you “bought” when you married that man, and learning to adapt to him as he is, not as you want him to be.

Women are supposed to adapt themselves to the men they marry, and not expect him to change. As with much of the advice Debi gives, there’s a grain of truth here—a grain that Debi has completely pulverized and then mixed with excrement. It is true that you cannot change someone, and that you should not go through marriage wishing your husband (or wife) would be somehow transformed into your perfect ideal. But the trouble is that adapting goes both ways. A marriage ought to be about a husband and a wife coming together as two individuals with their own personalities and temperaments and learning to live with each other, as they are. Yes, some rough edges will ideally get ground off in the process. Over time, both partners will change. But marriage shouldn’t be about one partner stubbornly refusing to change a thing or adapt one iota while the other partner does all the changing and adapting around him (or her). Marriage ought to be about communication, compromise, and cooperation. But in Debi’s world, these things are utterly absent.

Men are not alike. … Our husbands are created in the image of God, and it takes all kinds of men to even come close to completing that image. No man is a perfect balance; if he were, he would be too divine to need you.

Debi seems to suggest that if we were to expect men to achieve some balance in their lives, men would become too “divine” to have any need for simple women. It is almost as though Debi is suggesting that we must humor men’s imperfections or else he will suddenly grow a halo and emanate divine light, frying us mere mortals.

But also, this reminds me of something Debi had to say in the article I quoted from earlier:

Men were created in God’s image. God breathed the breath of life straight into Adam. It is mind-boggling to think that mere man is in God’s own image. In effect, man is in the likeness of God. . . .

As Adam was created in God’s image, Eve was created in Adam’s image. God could have shaped two clay figures and breathed life into both, but he chose to take the woman from the man’s own flesh and bone. I have come to see that tiered process as very significant, making it consistent with nature that the woman should be the helper in the chain of command.

*pulls out hair*

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem the creation story in Genesis 2. In it, God created man. Woman was an afterthought, created out of Adam’s rib because Adam was lonely. All Debi is doing is taking this story painfully, painfully literally. Man created for God, woman created for man. But the thing is, Genesis has two creation stories, and it’s the first one that mentions the whole “in the image of God” thing, not the second one.

Genesis 1: 26-28

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

The problem isn’t simply that Debi is taking the Bible painfully literally and not looking into things like context, the problem is bigger than that. The problem is that Debi gets the very text of the Bible itself wrong. But given how Debi lays it out, it’s easy to see why she gives much of the advice that she does. Debi believes that men are created in God’s image, but women are not. Women are created in men’s image. Men have an obligation to fulfill God’s needs and desires, and women have an obligation to fulfill men’s needs and desires. Too bad we women don’t have something out there to fulfill our needs and desires! Or is that what children are supposed to do?

One thing I will say for Debi is that she’s not subtle.

Thing is, not only is Debi suggesting that women give up existing as their own personalities and instead simply shape themselves into shadows of their husbands’, she’s also setting up a system wherein women are to essentially worship men in the same sort of way men are supposed to worship God. And yet somehow, she still throws in egalitarian-sounding language:

God gives imperfect women to imperfect men so that they can be heirs together of the grace of life and become something more together than either one of them would ever be alone.

When it’s men who are made in God’s image and women who function as their mere support staff, I’m not sure where the “together” really is.

Debi finishes with this:

If you fight your husband’s inadequacies or seek to be dominant where he is not, both of you will fail. If you love him and support him with his inadequacies and without taking charge, both of you will succeed and grow.

Let’s imagine that you are good at finances, but your husband is not. As I see it, you have three basic options: 1) help your husband become better at finances; 2) be the one in charge of finances, since you’re good at it; or 3) let your husband be in charge of finances and do a horrible job of it while you stand by watching mutely. In a healthy relationship, the answer is generally some combination of options 1 and 2. Debi, it seems, would go with option 3: Embrace your husband’s bad skills with money and let him spend you to oblivion. Fun times!

I just keep rereading those last two sentences of Debi’s and I keep coming up with “Don’t try to get your husband to address areas where he is weak or compensate for his weaknesses by taking up the slack in those areas. Instead, celebrate his weaknesses and the result will be rainbows and sparkles and purple unicorns.”

So, next week we delve into the first of the three male types. First is Mr. Command Man, followed by Mr. Visionary and Mr. Steady. Would any of you male readers like to take a stab at which one Debi would peg you as?

Oh, and ladies, get busy on the bit where you forget you have personhood and, like, your own personality. Remember, Debi says you’re really just a blank slate waiting to be drawn on by your husband. Thoughts and needs of your own? Pshaw!

Comments open below

Read everything by Libby Anne!

Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Libby Anne blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism
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

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

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    “Women must do all the changing, they cannot expect men to change” is standard Debi fair. But women not being made in the image of God?????

    I can’t mince words about that, that is BS.

    The text you quoted from Genesis is right, but Debi reads the text wrong. http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/women-not-in-gods-image/

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I’ve personally seen two major heresies making the rounds in fundamental Christianity today.

    One is that the Trinity is a divine hierarchy: the Holy Spirit is subordinate to Jesus who is subordinate to God…it’s how I’ve seen them justify their “equal in substance, different in function” crud. The second is the one that Debi just talked about: the belief that men were created in the image of God, while women were created in the image of man. Although usually I see Cor. 11 trotted out as “proof” here, the whole “God is the head of Jesus, man is the head of woman, Jesus is the head of man” thing Paul went on about.

    The one time I tried to explain to some online fundies that these were, in fact, *heresies*, (and not new ones at that!), I was met with derision, passive-aggressive insults and “oh you poor deluded feminist, we’ll pray for you”. :/

  • Dorothy Young

    This book nearly destroyed my marriage. I’m so glad you skewer it here. QF theology is presented as “progressive” in the sense of a “progressive disease.” You start off with a little of this, which leads to a little of that, and one day you look up and find you’re living in Stepford slavery. I’m so thankful for your site. :)

  • Nikki Lewis

    I really appreciate that you said she’s not subtle. That is the first positive thing I’ve ever agreed with about DP. It works in favor of people on the egalitarian side too. Usually the misogyny is embedded in white-washed, semi-flattering language and it’s difficult to explain to people why the implications, or the true messages, are so sinister. Don’t have that prob with Deb do we? ha ha


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