CTNAHM: Let’s Talk in Circles!

CTNAHM: Let’s Talk in Circles! June 28, 2014

By Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, 179-180

In case you were thinking that men in the Christian Patriarchial culture sure have it easy, Michael is here today to tell you that you’re wrong. Being a man brings with it the great, great burden of responsibilty. Poor things, it almost makes me want to serve my husband more…

Not Created to Serve

My wife is telling your wives to serve their husbands. I am thankful she serves me, but we need to keep in mind that being born a man is not a license to be served. I have worked on construction sites off and on since I was ten years old. There are times when you must leave one of the regular hands in charge of the construction while you get materials or bid on another job. Some employees are so immature that they see their leadership role as a chance to tell other people what to do rather than as a responsibility to get the job done correctly. They get heady with power and act the fool to the detriment of the project, making it very difficult for the other men to obey them. The job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers.

As usual, I am struck by how little introspection Michael has. Debi is a great servant, telling other women to be servants to their husbands (and if you think I’m overexaggerating, read her book), yet Michael claims being a man isn’t license to be served.  I’m confused as to how he came to that conclusion. Literally 5 or 6 times so far IN THIS VERY BOOK, he talks about what a great servant Debi is. Yet the only time he discusses what he’s done in his marriage to deserve being served is when he talks about “cleansing his wife’s spots”, or encouraging her to write and publish a book. So I’m trying to figure out why he thinks he deserves to be served, if it’s not because he’s a man. Anyone have any ideas on this?

As for the construction analogy, it makes sense. I’ve worked at a few places, and there are always people that think leadership=bossiness. I’m currently assistant manager of an ice cream/hamburger restaurant, and let me tell you, leadership is far more than being bossy. Effective leadership is about helping; pitching in everywhere for the good of the team. It’s about noticing what needs to be done, and finding the best person for the job to do it. It’s about balancing constructive criticism, praise, and professionalism.

But this idealistic view of leadership isn’t even covered in this book. No, Michael thinks being a leader is changing one’s wife to suit his needs. Or “encouraging” one’s wife to find a hobby that he approves of. In short, despite his pretty analogy, Michael thinks being a leader is being the boss. I’ve spent more time with this book than is probably healthy for me, and not once has Michael talked about constructive criticism, or even praise. He never encourages men to build up their wives, or support them in their choices. He’s all for support, as long as HE is the one choosing, but he rarely advocates giving the woman the choice.

Oh, and the line “the job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers”? Read Debi’s book. If a man is unsaved, mean, abusive, manipulative, or a jerk, it’s because the wife wasn’t submissive enough. And even in Michael’s book, if the marriage is suffering, it’s because the wife is spotted, blemished, or wrinkled, and the man needs to fix that. So who, really, is being blamed here? Oh, that’s right. The woman (or the worker, to hold to the analogy). Way to prove your own point, Michael.

Likewise the leadership role God gives a man in marriage is not a privileged position; it is a great responsibility requiring sacrifice and service. I am embarrassed by the attitude of actions of many preachers and laymen alike. Some misguided men see the world as divided into the served and the serving-male and female. Women are not created to serve men any more than men are created to serve women. There is nothing in the Scripture that suggest the female gender is to be subjugated by the male.

I agree that there are sacrifices that happen with leadership, but, to be honest, I don’t see Michael making them. Especially in marriage, sacrifice usually means compromise, and that word has not appeared once in this book. I’m not even joking here. Compromise isn’t an option, according to Michael.  I’m amused that he’s embarrassed by the attitudes of other men, because it sounds like he shares those views. Why else would he continually call women servants and weaker vessels?

Then he truly loses me. Women are not created to serve men, and yet the title of Debi’s book is “Created to Be His Help Meet.” Which almost literally means “created to serve”, doesn’t it? And of course men aren’t created to serve women; if this book is any indication, men are created to need a servant (help meet).  Here’s some marriage advice, Michael. Why doesn’t each party try to serve/help/support/love/accept the other? If you’re going to make such a fuss about not seeing the world as male/female, then why not hold each partner to the same standard?

And shall we talk about the scriptures that Michael has named that suggest females are to be subjugated by the males? I don’t think I have the stomach for it today, actually. So here’s a link to a few sections back where Michael makes this point.

Both are created to meet the needs of the other, which means that each voluntarily serves the other, but to reduce either to the role of servant is a perversion of nature.

Head/desk. Read the first two sentences of this section. In the text, those sentences are literally 2 paragraphs up, and yet he doesn’t seem to recall reducing his wife to the role of a servant. I’m actually getting upset at how little Michael seems to recall his own text.

Your wife is not your assistant. She assists, but not as a business assistant or domestic servant would. Her assistance is first on the level of soul and spirit, which may then result in gracious, voluntary serving. If not, you have no right to intimidate her and certainly no power to constrain.

Alright. How can a wife assist the husband on the level of soul and spirit? Is that mentioned in Debi’s book? Because from what I remember, she assists by cleaning, cooking, sexing, and obeying.  Is that how to assist the soul? Because if I could describe what my soul needs from my husband, I would say it’s validation, acceptance, love, and honesty. Which, frankly, seem a lot less tangible than Debi’s list. And isn’t that the point? The soul, an intangible (and debatable) thing, has intangible needs. Except, I guess, chicken soup. But that might be just good marketing…

I think it’s amusing how gracious, voluntary serving is not optional per Debi, but “may” happen says Michael.  You would think that a husband and wife team writing books about marriage would…I don’t know…agree more about marriage. I’m not even going to touch on the subject of intimidation or constraint. Because it should be obvious.

I hope you’re ready to throw up a little in your mouth. Because what comes next is only for those with strong constitutions.

Upon marriage, my wife immediately commenced serving me, but it was years before I would learn that it was a gift from someone who wanted to bless me, not a woman doing what women are supposed to do. For years I thought it was all about me. I was the head and she was…well, she was there to make me happy and successful, to help me do whatever I wanted to do. It was her role to be happy serving. Somebody has to be boss, and, imperfect as I was, God appointed me to be the head of the home and her to … you know, cheerfully do her duty. I knew that when a woman gets right with God she stops complaining and nagging and starts serving her husband without question. But then, I acquired my views from my culture, not from God.

Yes, you read that right. If this isn’t a humblebrag, I will eat this book. The worst part about this last paragraph is how true it is! And still, Michael never comes out and says “I was wrong! That’s not what women are for!” Oh sure, he may call it a gift, but dollars to donuts, if Debi suddenly took that gift away, there would be (probably literal for her) hell to pay.

And I swear, the “cheerfully do her duty” part means sex. Did anyone else get that vibe? When a woman gets right with god, she stops complaining and nagging? He truly believes this stuff? Because Debi’s book pretty much says “TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD, DO THIS”. I am just so confused and disgusted right now. Because it seems, though Michael approved “every word” of Debi’s book, that he didn’t read it. I’m just so taken aback by how differently Michael and Debi view their marriage, and marriage in general.

All I can say is, thank goodness that my marriage is nothing like this. Who’s with me?

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