When a woman attempts to live for God contrary to his Word, her ‘spirituality’ is equal to witchcraft, because she is attempting to ‘divine’ the will of God in total disregard of his clear written words. God calls such a woman ‘Jezebel.’ –Debi Pearl, Created to be His Help Meet, 61
The book Created to be His Help Meet seeks to help young wives discover how God can make their marriages “glorious.” Many women turn to this book in order to learn about how to be a good wife, to understand what the Bible says concerning their roles as women, learn how to be less selfish and finally, to get a perspective that is apart from the broader cultural teaching.
Initially I was going to just flip through this book, but found that a good number of my friends had been exposed to it and damaged by it and its pervading culture. My background is biblical. I have a Bachelors from Biola University in Bible and Theology, a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and will soon start a PhD program in Theology and New Testament. The following are some of my thoughts and they are not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, they are meant to give you the gist of what I think and I hope you consider some of the points the author makes as you study God’s word. I will reference the author’s book in parenthesis.
While there were many things I found disturbing—the way the author approached Scripture was more than disconcerting—and while the author claimed to believe the Bible was the highest authority, so much of what she did was read things into the text (as she did with the letters she received) instead of taking things out of the text.
Very frequently, the author would lift out single verses from their context and apply them to whatever point she was making. This gave the appearance that her view was biblical when—in actuality—there was very little in the text to support her claim. At other times she would tell the reader what the biblical narrative taught—only it wasn’t to be found—anywhere—in Scripture.
For example, look through the beginning portion of Genesis and see if you can find it say anywhere that Satan decided to target Eve because he knew Adam could not be deceived or that males have a natural resistance to Satan and that women are naturally naïve (107-108). 1 Timothy 2:13-14 does indeed tell us that Eve was the one who was deceived but it does not claim that all women are or that God made them this way or that Satan was looking for this. After all, if women were more easily deceived overall why would God command that women teach other women and children? Isn’t that just a wreck waiting to happen?
Did Eve leave Adam’s side to confront the Devil’s logic alone as this author claims? Not according to Genesis 3:6.
This was just one example, but you can see it everywhere in the book. The author tells you that the picture God creates of a woman is one without armor, “because he intended for her to stand behind her husband’s armor” (108). All of this is linked to her understanding of Genesis, and none of this is actually in the Bible.
The author often leaves out important bits of scriptural information that would better clarify the situation.
For example, on page 96 she tells us that God appointed Adam (man) to rule the planet. Does the Bible say this? Yes. Throughout chapter 8 (75) men are represented as made in God’s image. Are they? Well, yes. However, the Bible says women are also appointed to rule over the planet and women are made in God’s image as well.
Gen 1:27-28 So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the ocean, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth.
Gen 5:1-2 God created men and women to be like himself. He gave them his blessing and called them human beings…
I used the CEV translation for these verses but look it up in any Bible translation. I like to mix it up and compare at BibleGateway.
Elsewhere in the book (almost everywhere) she tells us the Bible teaches that women are to submit (230). Does the Bible teach this? Yes. However, it tells men to as well. For example, Ephesians 5:22 is not well balanced without Ephesians 5:21.
Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, [submit yourselves] to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
This one is the NIV and I put the added portion in brackets. In fact even in the Greek (yes, in the Greek), the word submit does not appear in v.22 because Paul has submission inferred from v.21. Meaning the two verses definitely go together.
Also note that in Genesis God does describe men ruling over women—only it is in the section describing the curse and what will happen given the fall. In my opinion this is not to be followed as a command (since it isn’t) any more than we should not weed our gardens, use birth control or pain killers.
A Warning Against Bible Scholars?
The author seems very much aware that many ministers and biblical scholars disagree with her on what the Bible teaches. She echoes many people’s fears about the text being taken out of the every day person’s hands when she says the following:
There are many books written by men, ‘scholars,’ that undermine the beauty of a woman’s help meet position. They do so by casting doubt on the Bible itself. They talk in elaborate and ‘learned’ terms about ‘ the original languages’ and the ‘cultural settings’ in which the words of Scripture were written. Of course, there are many other scholars who believe the Bible just as it is written. 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 (51; also see 61 and 229).
The author is framing the issue as though deceptive people are trying to confuse the plain meaning of Scripture with a bunch of nonsense in order to cast doubt on the Bible.
First of all, it is strange she makes this kind of claim because she herself regularly appeals to the original language—something she says is not for her. She even belittles people who differ on their translation of one text for not knowing Hebrew! (See 24, 182, 188, 250). Overall, it seems she uses what is ‘learned’ when it suites her and tries to scare people away from it when it might challenge her understanding.
That said, understanding the cultural context the Bible was written in and knowing that it was written in another language can be helpful! Many of these things you can look up. Here are some examples used by the author with some additional insight:
- Gen 2:18- the Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer (author writes it as: ayzer) and it is coupled with a word of correspondence. It would be helpful to know that in Hebrew it is better understood as “a strength corresponding” rather than what the English word “helper” gives the impression of—an assistant. The word is used most often (and is also translated as helper) to refer to God as the helper of Israel. In the Hebrew mind in order to “help” one had to be of equal or greater ability. In the latter case, God would be a helper of greater ability.
- 1 Peter 3:7- “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (ESV). Vessel is a word used for the body. Women are you generally stronger physically than your husbands? Usually no. There is nothing indicating that women have weaker natures. No surprise there. In the ancient world women worked hard! In many third world countries you will notice women carrying very heavy loads. In contrast, Peter tells husbands to show honor to their wives and be understanding of their physique. Interestingly, this “likewise” or “in the same way” comes off of the very verse where Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. Likewise, husbands should honor their wives!
- The word in your Bibles “head” (see 1 Cor. 11 and Eph. 5 for example) can also be problematic. The fact of the matter is that no one is taking it literally and for good reason. Paul is not talking (for the most part) of the literal body part, the head, the thing literally on top of your shoulders. It is a metaphor. In English we use it to mean leadership. In Greek it can mean “source” or “preeminence” (which can apply to a leader but the word itself does not mean this). Isn’t it interesting that In Ephesians 5 the husband is the source of nourishment to his wife and gives up his life, but nothing is mentioned about leading. Odd. And isn’t it interesting that the “created order” in 1 Cor. 11 is reversed in 1 Cor. 11 so that neither is man independent of woman? Eve came from one man, and all men after Adam come from women and all men and women come from God.
Women in the Bible as Counterexamples
There are many women in the Bible (commissioned by God) who stand as counter examples to the author’s idea that a woman’s only purpose is to serve her husband. The author names only two and so I will only write some responses to these two for the sake of brevity.
Deborah was a Judge and prophetess (in early Israel this was a spiritual and civic leader). The Bible says that God raised up these Judges (Judges 2:16) and says that Deborah was specifically leading Israel at the time (v.4). She summoned Barak and he came. He refused to go into battle without her (ex: Moses the prophet also acted as God’s presence in battle keeping his hands lifted). She does not chastise him but says ““I’ll definitely go with you” (v.9). She also lets him know that glory will go to a woman and it does, a woman named Jael (not Deborah) kills the military commander. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that the glory going to a woman is a punishment or that Barak was cowardly. In fact, God honors him in the New Testament book of Hebrews as a great man of faith (Heb 11:32).
The author of Created to be His Help Meet in contrast speaks of this passage in terms of a woman being wrongfully allowed to take a man’s role by men and as punishment men lose the glory. Do you see that anywhere described in Judges? It is not even mentioned in the victory song. Quite the opposite! Under this author’s understanding Barak would not be a great man of faith since he was not trusting God with his God-ordained role, but the Bible speaks the opposite of him and even puts Deborah in a great light. Pearl, says “God’s rule that women not take the lead is not a statement about our being inferior or not as capable as men; it is a statement by God about it not being within our sphere of authority…” (120). Well, the story of Deborah certainly issues no such statement by God. It would seem women (at least two) are presented as both capable and appointed by God. His glory shown in those men deem unworthy.
The author claims people are using her example to negate a hundred or so verses teaching women are only helpers. There are not a hundred verses thought to teach this only a handful, and of course there is something to be said about those that will not be covered here. In regards to Priscilla, the author dismisses her involvement teaching doctrine to Apollos (a man) as just a wife tagging along. No big deal. After all, the author goes to seminars with her husband advertised as “Michael and Debi Pearl,” he takes the stage teaching and she chimes in when asked (121). I wonder if the author would have a problem with it being called “Debi and Michael Pearl” instead. This is possible, because her husband is the more prominent to her. In the ancient world this was all the more the case, the more prominent was usually named first, husbands would be listed first. In the Bible, in all church functions including taking Apollos aside to teach, Priscilla (or Prisca) is always named first. This says that she is functioning as more than an otherwise silent partner but is the more prominent in the teaching.
There is much more that could and should be commented on. Here are a few things to be covered at another time: the vision of women submitting (and I do believe the Bible teaches women and men should submit) is extremely warped and destructive (even dangerous), the author is abusive in the way she speaks to women and refers to people as stereotypes, women overall seem unhappy, men are encouraged to go against the example set by Christ and be selfish, the author relies on scare tactics to get people’s compliance, believes in manipulating her husband and after all is said and done is ultimately conditioned by her own culture and experience rather than purely Scripture.
Does this book reveal God’s plan for a good marriage? This question will be explored more at a future time. However, if someone wants to take Scripture seriously and know God’s will for marriage, this book certainly gives one woman’s perspective, but it is astonishingly lacking in biblical support despite verses thrown loosely around and despite the high claims made.