Monday, August 22, 2005

Debi Pearl revisited

I thought I might be all done writing about the book "Created to Be His Help Meet". (To read my complete review click here. Or go to my sidebar) I really wanted to be. But recent personal events and Sparrow's review and Kirsten's continual review have prompted me to post again.

There is an aspect to this book that troubled me from the beginning. That is, the book makes liberal use of personal letters to help make Debi's points. These letters are never shown in the original hand of the writer. We must believe that they are original and credible without documentation. Furthermore, there are huge assumptions made from the letters that Debi seems willing to accept to make her case. Something Debi once said was not wise to do.

In her May 1999 newsletter, Debi Pearl wrote in response to a mother who was having a conflict with her husband, (This was take from a hard copy of their newsletter, No Greater Joy. no link available)

"From many years of counseling I have learned to never take at face value the interpretation of just one member of a controversy. And with no more than the contents of just one letter, it is difficult to be certain in my interpretation of the situation, but to answer it is necessary to make some assumptions.
And yet throughout this book Debi does exactly that.

One of the most grievious examples of this comes in Chapter 16 "To Love Their Husbands". It is in this chapter that Debi reminds us that it is a great sin not to be intimate with our husbands. Debi writes on page 164,

If you are not loving your man, you are in danger of blaspheming the word of God. - "to love their husbands." The Bible says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17) Hopefully you just didn't realize that your lack of s*xual interest in your husband was sin, but now you know.
Debi is emphatic that there is no excuse that should prevent us from this aspect of being his help meet. Not even hormones or physical pain. From page 170,

Stop the excuses! Determine to find a way past your "excuses" and provide the pleasure your husband wants only from you.
The force of her beliefs comes in a very brief letter to Mr. Pearl from a real man named Mr. Miller. (I feel for all the Mrs. Miller's out there!) He writes to the Pearl's thinking he might need to castrate himself because his wife is not responding to his needs. The Pearl's response was,

The gravity of this wife's sin is staggering. She has NO FEAR of God Almighty. She has blasphemed the word of God with her selfishness, thinking only of her needs and not loving her husband. Never, never, never be guilty of such a grave sin. The husband needs to know that God says, The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband...Defraud ye not one the other...that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (1 Cor. 7:4-5) God grants the marraige partner full acces to his
spouse's body for s*xual gratifiication. And remember, indifference is unwillingness.
Pretty strong words from a very short letter where only one side of the story is told. So much for her wisdom from years of counseling as stated earlier. Might the man have left out any details that would shed some light on the situation? It doesn't matter. On the basis of this one letter, the Pearl's have accused a woman of blasphemy and having no fear of God.

I agree that in general a woman should not withold from her husband. But the idea that this woman is guilty of blasphemy for refusing her husband is not necessarily true. And a prudent counselor would want more details before making such a strong accusation. But it fit with theology that Debi believes so reluctantly I let it go in my earlier reviews.

But I wondered, if the roles were reversed would Debi think the same about a man who refused his wife?

I thought that would just be a lingering unanswered question along with the others, until I came upon Debi's news website Created to be His Help Meet. In the section on testimonies, I came across a letter praising the book and the asking for wisdom for the very same situation only reversed. (Scroll down to the letter from Concerned Wife that is 7th from the bottom. This was editted for brevity and discreteness.)

What if my husband isn't interested in love making very much at all? We are both healthy, and I have my figure back after pregnancy. He doesn't want to make love; just cuddle and talk. (snip)

This is fine with me, but every time s*x is mentioned in your book, I think, "What is wrong?" Weeks can pass by without s*x, and my husband doesn't seem bothered by it at all. I am, though, just because I feel like something is missing in our marriage." ~ Concerned Wife
So will Debi respond with the same rebuke and accusation to the man that she did to the woman in the book? No. There is no mention of blasphemy or the man's lack of fear for God. Instead Debi blames it on hormones and tells him to take vitamins (phone number provided) and to fix steak!

"Dear Wife, your concern isn't nearly as uncommon as you might think. We have these suggestions: Your husband must have very low testosterone, because this
low of a s*x drive and lack of interest is not normal. Perhaps he would be willing to go to a doctor and have his testosterone levels checked. Red meat really boosts a man s*xual drive. Serve your husband red meat often. He also needs to take a very good vitamin/mineral/herb supplement that includes zinc.

"You should not feel bad at all going to him any time you need to, since he won't initiate anything very often. His body belongs to you, and yours to him. 'Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife' (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
Citing the same scripture, they do not accuse the man of anything. Why the double standard? Why isn't the man guilty of blasphemy? Is it a sin or isn't it? Could the man be involved in another relationship? (Most often the reason.)

What is staggering is that Debi contradicts her own explanation in the book and gives the husband the benefit of the doubt but yet refuses to do the same for the wife. Why? Is God a respecter of persons? It doesn't appear that this "sin" is gender specific. It mentions that both the husband and the wife have a responsiblity to each other. So why the different answers?

Read A Dissenting Opinion.

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