Tim Challies reviews "Created to be His Help Meet"

Part 1 of why this is NOT the best marriage book to recommend to your friends. 

Much of Pearl’s counsel is utterly heartless and even that which is not is too often proud and terse and utterly devoid of biblical wisdom. She displays a distinct lack of wisdom.

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JD Miller's picture

Susan, thank you for bringing this to our attention.  My wife was given Created to be His Helpmeet as a wedding gift.  She realized upon reading it that there were some things that were wrong, but so many had been recommending it that she had just put it back on the shelf and left it there.  Finally after we had been married for a few years, she began to share some of her concerns with me and I assured her that her concerns were definitely valid.

Part of what initiated our discussion was when she was confronted multiple times by a woman at church for correcting me.  The reason this came about was because I had announced from the pulpit a few times that my wife had pointed out a mistake I had made in the bulletin and that I wanted to clarify it.  After hearing that my wife had corrected me, this woman rebuked her.  My wife was a young pastor's wife, so she did not say anything to me a first, so each time I would thankfully point out that my wife had shown a mistake in the bulletin, she would have to endure a rebuke.

Eventually I used a sinful action I had taken (I had not been as kind as I should have at a store check out line) as a sermon illustration and I pointed out how my wife had brought my sin to my attention (I am grateful that she did).  This resulted in her getting a letter of rebuke from this woman which my wife shared with me and then updated me on the other rebukes.  Upon reading the letter, my wife pointed out that these ideas had come from the Debbie Pearl book which led to many questions on my part.  (I had not read it)  I quickly saw how faulty the Pearl teaching was.

I told the woman who had confronted my wife that I had requested that my wife point out errors in the bulletin and that she had been given to me as a helpmeet and that as part of that job I expected her to point out sin in my life.  Further, if my wife were to obey her, and not point out the bulletin errors or my sin, then she would be disobeying me to obey her.  

I also found out that she had told my wife that she did not feel comfortable getting sewing or cooking advice from her because the older women are to teach the younger not vise versa.  (Ironically she is middle aged and I am confident that all the women in our church who are older than her would disagree with her views on these issues)

Upon further research, my wife came up with a couple of web sites that have been quite helpful in addressing the false teaching that comes from the Pearls:

    http://responsivereiding.com/2008/03/01/created-to-be-his-help-meet-a-re...

    http://createdtobehelpmeet.blogspot.com/

No doubt Pearl's teachings can cause a lot of needless division in the church.  Part of the problem comes when the Pearl teachings become like a guidebook for the Christian life.  Suddenly husbands are given license to sin and wives are shown how to manipulate them while making it look like they are submitting.   I have chosen not to attack Debbie Pearl directly, because I believe the allegiance to her is so strong that I would lose further opportunity to minister to these folks.  Instead, I have pointed out many of the errors of her teaching without naming Debbie Pearl as I have preached thought the scriptures and have privately warned others of the dangers with the Pearls.

I posted a few days ago about alternative medical decisions and even this has roots in the Pearl teachings.  The decision to vaccinate or to use traditional medical treatment can cause a huge emotional response among the followers of Pearl. 

Understand that not everyone who reads this book takes it hook line and sinker, but please pray for those of us who are trying to minister to those who have.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The Pearls' most avid followers have way too much time on their hands if they are able to so quickly and easily make pronouncements about the personal, private lives of others. And they (the Pearls) invoke an emotional response because much of their stuff is anchored in an emotional appeal, mostly fear-mongering. I agree with your approach, Bro. Miller, that sound doctrine is the best way to address the problems with the Pearls' teachings.

Edited to add: 

42 – p 231 / “When our first daughter was just two months away from getting married, she asked her daddy a theological question. Remember now, she was a graduate of Bible College and had spent three years on the foreign field as a missionary. But, rather than answer her, as he had been doing for the previous 26 years, he told her, “I cannot answer your Bible question, for you now believe what your husband believes. He will be your head, and you will follow him. It is time to get adjusted to your new role. Ask him what he believes about it.”

When this book was going around the church, I got a copy and outlined it. I remember reading this in CtbHHM and laughing out loud. Their books should NEVER have been written or published if this were truly the case. All their website should say is "Ask your father or your husband". Hilarious.

JD Miller's picture

It seems that those who are quick to follow men (or women in the case of Debbie Pearl) think that they are following the most spiritual people and that so many others are missing out.  There is often an arrogance that goes along with it that takes much patience and gentle teaching to overcome. 

It is one thing if a family decides to follow the Pearls and or Bill Gothard, but is quite another if they expect others to follow the ideas that are pushed by these folks but not found in the Bible.  Too often people who follow human authors look with disdain on those who do not follow their teachers and suggest that others are not as spiritual or are compromisers.  It is quite encouraging once they grasp the principle of individual soul liberty, but it can sometimes be a challenge for them when their way  of thinking has become so engrained in them.  We must remember that many of these people really do want to do what is right and they think that is what they are doing. 

That is why it is so important for pastors to consistently preach God's word and not just ride their hobby horses or favorite topics.  There are so many false teachers out there that are leading people astray and we do not know what the next issue will be, but God's word does not change and by going through the Bible verse by verse we have a chance to show the saints what it actually says so that they can more easily know the difference between truth an error.

One of the big problems I see with both the Pearls and Gothard are a subtle suggestion of extra-biblical revelation.  If Bill gets a rhema from God, how can you argue with him- it came from God (of course I do not believe it did).  The Pearls are also very open to extra-biblical revelation and getting teachings from dreams.  Such approaches undermine the sufficiency of scripture and elevate man.  We must keep directing people back to the word of God as their authority and teach them so they know what the word says.  Finally we must pray that God will work in each of our hearts to lead us to the truth found in His word.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Conclusion
The Titus 2 command for for older Christian women to serve as mentors to younger Christian women is too good, too important to ignore. Yet the ideal mentor offers not only years, but also spiritual maturity and evidence of God’s sanctifying grace. From the first page of Created To Be His Help Meet to the last, Debi Pearl shows that she is an unsuitable mentor; her counsel is too often foolish, her words too often harsh, her grasp of Scripture and theology inadequate and, not surprisingly then, her grasp of the utter centrality of the gospel almost completely missing. I would recommend avoiding this book at all costs.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

On the subject of extra-Biblical revelation, I was thinking about the description of the secretary at work on pgs. 28-32. A woman wrote a letter to Debi because her husband was paying attention to a woman at work, who had twice confided marital problems to her husband. He also went to lunch with her (although apparently along with other people from work), and bought her chocolates on Valentines Day.

Debi's response involved a depiction of the secretary as a "rival", "cheap slut", in the "dime-a-dozen" class, a "wench", a "cheap office hussy", who must be "beaten at her own game", stating that she would like to help the wife "wring her neck". This is not only uncharitable, it is quite possibly bearing false witness, since Debi didn't know this woman. Her language was insulting and crass, and there is no way that Debi had the insight to declare that the secretary "looks at him adoringly" and uses feminine wiles to her advantage, and that her goal was to seduce him.

The only thing we have to go on is the letter from the wife. We have no idea how much of that letter was a truthful account of the situation, or how the secretary was acting. For all we know, the secretary was patiently tolerating unwanted attention and planning a lucrative sexual-harassment suit! 

Another concern was that the secretary was described as an enemy to be beaten, instead of another soul who is possibly in trouble, in need of counseling, and more importantly, in need of a Savior. Instead Debi uses the words of the Loretta Lynn song "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take my Man" to inspire this wife to plot the defeat of this other woman.

This is one of those times where being harsh is excused as 'radical', 'honest' and 'blunt'. Truthfulness is only valuable when it is, in fact, truthful, and thoroughly seasoned with grace. This description illustrates the standard tone of this book- scathing, condescending, dismissive.

And if jumping to conclusions burned calories, some Christians would be skinny as a rail.

JD Miller's picture

Susan wrote

And if jumping to conclusions burned calories, some Christians would be skinny as a rail.

I had to laugh when I read that.  Maybe that is why I'm not overweight.  Great insight into the section on the secretary as well.  I am just glad that if I start jumping to conclusions too much, my wife knows she has the freedom to tell me so.