Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 262-263
This is the last of Michael Pearl’s section of Debi’s book. In this section, remember, Debi’s husband Michael is explaining, from the Bible, when there are exceptions from wifely obedience—and when there are not. This section is called “Enduring Suffering Wrongfully,” and it’s really, really bad.
Michael begins by quoting I Peter 2:13-17.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
He then adds this commentary:
The Bible is so clear. We are commanded to submit to every ordiance of the government that we are under—even to ignorant and foolish men.
He then quotes the next few verses:
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
And adds this commentary:
This is where the issue is resolved. Servants are to be subject to their masters whether they are good and gentle or froward (crooked, perverse, wicked, unfair, surly). Even if a person in authority causes the one under him unjust suffering and grief, God commands the servant to endure it, and take it patiently. The servant is not given the option of deciding that the master is not acting within the will of God and therefore should not be obeyed. It is acceptable with God (God’s will) for the underling to suffer wrongfully and take it patiently.
And there it is. This is Michael’s argument—wives are to obey their husbands, even if their husbands are cruel and abusive, even if obeying their husbands means years or decades of unjust suffering. Why? Because God. And you know what? God’s a-okay with women married to abusive husbands suffering wrongfully. In fact, he thinks it’s totes awesome.
You will surely wonder, “Why is it the will of God for the underling to suffer at the hands of an unjust and perverse authority?” Two reasons are obvious, one of which we have already stated. First, the chain of authority must remain intact, even to the point of allowing some abuse. The other reason is introduced in verse 20—glory.
Why? Why does the chain of authority have to remain intact? Why is the chain of authority more important than people? And note how brutally honest Michael is being here—he openly admits that he is speaking of abused women.
We were created by God and placed upon this earth to express his glory. Jesus did not live his life in ease for his own pleasure. He lived and suffered for the glory that was to follow. Lady, you were created to give glory to God. When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer, it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering. And when you suffer wrongfully, as unto the Lord, you bring great glory to God in heaven.
So basically, this is the opposite of liberation theology. Instead of being about setting the captives free, it’s about keeping the captives in chains. And you know what’s convenient? Michael Pearl is a man. He can go on and on about how women are to bow down and endure wrongful suffering, but he will never have to do that himself. Personally, I’d like to see how he would handle it. I’m guessing not well. He strikes me as the kind of person who will glibly tell others to submit but would rebel the moment someone else tried to tell him what to do.
The text of verse 21 says that you were called by God for the very purpose of suffering for him, just as he suffered for you.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Has your husband reviled and threatened you? You are exhorted to respond as Jesus did. When he was reviled and threatened, he suffered by committing himself to a higher judge who is righteous. You must commit yourself to the one who placed you under your husband’s command. Your husband will answer to God, and you must answer to God for how you respond to your husband, even when he causes you to suffer.
Um, quick point. Jesus died. Those who reviled and threatened him killed him. Is Michael aware that when he uses this example he’s suggesting that abused women should respond by staying in the situation even unto death? Because yes, sometimes abusers kill their victims.
My interpretation is not out of context or fanciful, for the text of I Peter continues to develop this principle of authority and submission by discussing it in relationship to wives obeying their husbands. The first word in chapter 3 is “Likewise,” connecting this chapter to the former discussion of chapter 2—the verses we just covered.
The trouble is that for those who approach the Bible the way Michael does—and I’m guessing this is most of his audience—he’s making a pretty airtight case here. :/
Anyway, Michael goes on to quote the entirety of I Peter 3, interspersed with more commentary. Things get rather repetitive, so I’ll just offer specific quotes.
The passage is clear to all who have eyes to see. Just as we are to obey government in every ordinance, and servants are to obey their masters, even the ones who are abusive and surly, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands . . . “, even the ones who obey not the Word—have no regard for God. The text goes so far as to suggest that a wife should have the same reverence for an unsaved husband as to gall him “lord,” as did Sara. You can freely call your husband “lord” when you know that you are addressing the one who put him in charge and asked you to suffer at your husband’s hands just as our Lord suffered at the hands of unjust authorities.
And again I say, does Michael realize where this comparison leads? Beyond that, though, I’m struck by Michael’s portrayal of Jesus as someone who would put women in the charge of abusive husbands so that they can suffer. I know many Christians today who would be absolutely horrified by this portrayal of Jesus.
Did Jesus reject the will of God and flee to safe ground just because it involved suffering?
Again! Here it is again! Michael is really stuck on this comparison.
Women who do their own will may flee from a marriage that is no fun, but women who do the will of God enter into a plane of blessedness known only to the obedient.
And what, pray, is this “plane of blessedness”?
I know that this must be an amazing doctrine to many of you . . . The teachings of Jesus are so contrary to human nature that sometimes they will make you afraid and amazed. No one in the psychology department would ever think this one up. You will never hear this from Dr. Laura or from most of your modern preachers, but it is the path to glory, the path to a miracle that may change your husband after it has finally changed you.
Here Michael holds out the promise that obedience to an abusive or cruel husband will ultimately mean that husband’s eternal salvation. How many women, following these teachings, stay in horrible situations hoping, hope against hope, that their endurance will someday pay off? This ignores the fact that this sort of obedience can actually make abusers worse, and that standing up to him, and leaving him if need be, has more potential to change an abusive man (and even that probably won’t work—but it at least has more potential than continually buckling under).
When a Christian wife does what a woman of the world would never do—cheerfully obey an unworthy man simply because God commands it—God in heaven is glorified. Children are to obey their parents “as undo the Lord,” and wives are to obey their husbands as if they were obeying God.
Does Michael know what the world actually thinks when they see a “Christian wife” following the advice he’s laying out here? Hint: It’s not “who is this Jesus and how can I meet him?”
If you love life and want to live to a ripe, old age in peace and contentment, then refrain from returning evil words. For the eyes of the Lord see all that takes place. His ears are open to your prayers when you obey him and obey your husband.
This is the sort of thing people are referring to when they talk about “spiritual abuse.” Michael is telling women that God won’t listen to them or their prayers unless they obey their husbands.
You will receive a blessing when you suffer for righteousness’ sake, that is, when you obey God by obeying your husband and not returning evil for evil. You will be happy, so don’t be afraid or troubled by the things you must endure.
You will be happy? Really?
We are not suggesting a long-faced, “poor me, look how I suffer” attitude that so many seem to manifest. You will never win a lost husband if he thinks you are accepting misery as part of your faith, and I wouldn’t blame him. If your responses to him are making you miserable, you can be assured that you do not have God’s heart in the matter. You must be a worshiper of God and enjoy his presence if you are going to suffer for his sake and it result in great glory.
Oh, I see. So if you’re not happy, you’re doing it wrong.
I’m so glad we’re done with Michael’s exposition, because I’m not sure I could take any more of this. Michael doesn’t care about women or their wellbeing. He cares about maintaining a hierarchy, and he almost seems to get off on women suffering. It’s sick. Next week we’re back to Debi, who will be discussing specific examples.