Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review: Created to Be His Help Meet, by Debi Pearl

I was quite surprised to find that I really rather enjoyed Debi Pearl's message on marriage. From the easy-to-read format of this book (including a mini study guide) to the fact that she took the time to explain concepts which had previously been foreign to me, I found that Created to be His Help Meet was a blessing to me.

I have been with my husband for six years (we've only been married a portion of that) and have been a Christian for two years as of the time of writing. For years my husband has been putting books about a woman's role in Christian marriage into my hands, and for many years I rejected these books because they made ME feel rejected. At the time I was still entirely of the world as a pagan.

When I first became a Christian I was introduced to a book called The Politically Incorrect Wife (by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby). These two authors wrote so kindly about their own journeys as wives that it finally began to sink in that many of the areas in my relationship that were failing were failing because of things that were in my power and control to change. For two years it has been the first book that I put forward when I want to share a book about marriage with female friends of mine.

The first book that has always been put forward to me has been EITHER The Excellent Wife OR Created to be His Help Meet.

Created to be His Help Meet is a book that people talk about, because they either firmly agree with the stance that Mrs. Pearl takes in her book (to the point of adopting her point of view and stern demeanor themselves) or they feel as though she goes completely off the deep end.

Debi Pearl is an interesting person, and she presents her case in a way that isn't always palatable. She's very hard in her writing, and appears to take the position that every problem in a marriage is the responsibility of the woman.

What I love about Mrs. Pearl's book is that she makes Scripture practical. Instead of simply throwing "respect your husband" at us, she tells us what it means to respect and reverence your husband. Instead of making vague references to Titus 2, she outlines what it means to follow (and to represent) Titus 2 as a woman.

This is a book for women, and is written in a way that is meant to speak to a woman and not to a man. There are plenty of books on the shelves that tell husbands how to treat their wives, and which put the same amount of responsibility on the husband that Debi Pearl puts on the wife.

While many reviewers of this book look negatively on Debi Pearl because she places so much emphasis on a woman and her behavior, this is not the area where I find fault with the writing.

For me, the problems arise with the unrealistic "anecdotes" which are peppered throughout the book. At first I accepted them rather blindly, reading them and enjoying them as personal experiences that another woman has had with Yah in her marriage. The problem is that these stories are entirely unrealistic, such as the story of the woman who's husband came after her with a butcher knife. Afterward she came to Debi to tell her that she was plotting her husband's murder, and instead of encouraging this young woman to go to the police, Debi advised her to be sweet to her husband.

Within an unrealistic period of time, the husband had become a Christian and was going to church with his wife. This simply isn't realistic and it is discouraging to me to read such obviously fictional stories in the midst of what might otherwise be a very helpful book.

I also feel very strongly that Mr. and Mrs. Pearl need to leave talk of abusive husbands to those who have a more balanced view of this situation. Too many reviewers have gone into detail about how wrong the Pearls are on this subject, and I don't feel that I need to repeat what has been said time and time again except to say that the reviewers who have touched on this subject are very much correct in their assertions.

On one final note, as a head covering Christian, I find the portion of the book where Debi touches on this subject to be sadly misleading. While she tells women that they should only cover their heads if their husbands mandate it (her point about head covering being cultural is common and understandable), I find it disturbing that she tells women that they should not cover if their husbands prefer them not to do so.

This is especially true because in the same chapter (I believe), Mr. Pearl goes on to say that a woman should disobey her husband if he tells her to disobey scripture. Therefore, if my husband tells me to remove my veil, he is instructing me to disobey the scriptures and I should refuse to remove the veil.

The book is full of such contradictions, but this one hit me the hardest because it has been an area of serious discussion between my husband and me.

In short, this book can be a major blessing to women who are looking to improve their marriages, but it is important to read the book with a clear head and an eye toward Scripture. Back up everything that you read in this book and don't take Debi and Michael's word for it! If a passage is quoted, look it up in the KJV Bible to confirm.

And, as with anything, handle with prayer.

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