Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Created to Be His Help Meet: Part 7

As we did for the last several Tuesdays (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6),
Molly at My Three Pennies
Jenna at Proletarian
Karen at Roses and Tea
Sal at Stand up and Walk and I are reflecting on Debi Pearl's new book, Created to Be His Help Meet (which you can order here).

By the way, for a man's take on the husband side of the coin, please see Ron's seven-part series on "The Ephesians 5:28 Husband." (That's part one; here are parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Chapter 13: The Great Mystery

I like this chapter. As I noted in other reviews of this book, Jesus came as a servant, though He was in His very nature God (Phil 2:5-8). The marriage relationship was created by God to reflect and to illustrate the relationship between Jesus and the Church. Our marriages can serve as examples that point us and others to Jesus Christ. The Lord desires for us to see the parallel, and for that knowledge to influence the way we live with our spouses.

The hard part is that this lovely picture must play out with broken people who have been redeemed but have not yet been perfected. (I know, it's a blow. You're not perfect yet, I hate to break it to you!) Translation: we are required--AND EQUIPPED--by God to do things that we wouldn't even WANT to do in our flesh.

2 Pet 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Don't miss it: He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Man, that doesn't leave me with many excuses.

The heading for this chapter reads,

"A wise woman understands that her husband's need to be honored is not based on his performance, but on his nature and God-ordained position. She learns quickly to defer to his ideas or plans with enthusiasm. She looks for ways to reverence him. She knows this is God's will for her life" (emphasis mine).

The old feminist in me bristles at this. Why should I have to defer to HIS ideas? What if I think they're hare-brained?

NB: I am not one of those women who thinks you should giggle and fawn like a bubblehead over every sentence your husband breathes. Most intelligent men don't want that, anyway. I have not read the book--and no offense meant to its fans--but I've heard that Fascinating Womanhood recommends such behavior. When I think about enthusiastically deferring to my husband's ideas and plans, I think about respect. Not ditziness.

Eph 5:28-36
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Debi writes about marriage, Christ and the church:

"He [Jesus] seeks to create in me and my relationship to my husband a working scale model of his relationship to the Church throughout eternity. Amazing as it sounds, marriage between a man and a woman is what God chose as the closest example of Christ's relationship to His bride, the Church....Submission, reverence, and honor are virtues God seeks to establish in His Son's bride. Your marriage to your husband is preparing you for your marriage to Christ" (emphasis hers).

One of the things I really like about this book is Debi's frankness and practical bent. She wastes no time going from abstraction to application:

"As I reverence my husband, I am creating a picture of how we, the Church, should reverence Christ....Reverence: To revere; to be in awe; fear mingled with respect and esteem.

1. Obedience is doing what you know the other person wants you to do.
2. Submission is your heart giving over to the other person's will.
3. Reverence is more than just doing what a man expects or demands. It is an act of the woman's will to treat him with a high degree of regard and awe" (italics mine).

I love that little list. It confronts my own selfishness, excuses, and desires to be served rather than to serve. And it reminds me of just what it means to respect my husband.

One more thing from this chapter: this book slapped me in the face with the realization--as I told you at the outset of these reviews--that divorces happen all the time. To Christians. What keeps a marriage healthy? What behavior and what heart does God desire, and what will keep my husband a happy man, as far as it depends on me?

"[Men] highly treasure their families and like for their homes to be comfort zones. They want respect and a family that gives them security and purpose....When a woman does not provide for her husband a comfortable nest and a reverent attitude, she had to rely on his goodness to 'keep him' faithful. She is a fool to expect him to be a good husband when she is not being the help meet God created her to be. A man coming home to a tense or messy home, lousy meals, and a wife who is critical might not have the 'goodness' to remain faithful if a sweet young woman at work seeks to pull him away with the promise (illusion) of a more fulfilling comfort zone."

I realize there are incredibly broad generalizations here, and I will say that I think different people's "nests" and the ways in which they reverence their husbands will vary widely. But the truth of her statements stand, and are fortified by the church's divorce statistics.

That's enough for now. I'll blog on Chapter 14 later this week.