Book Review Series, Christian Marriage, Complementarianism, Doctrine as Idol, Gender Roles, Marriage, Martha Peace

Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter 1: The Elusive Excellent Wife

Book Review Series, The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, Complementarianism

-by Kathi

For those new to the blog this will be my third book review series. I also reviewed, “God’s Design” by Sally Michael and Gary Steward and “The Power of a Transformed Wife” by Lori Alexander. (Links are the last article of each series. These posts contain all links for the series.) For those who journeyed through the others with me, here we go again!

***

I stumbled upon “The Excellent Wife” many years ago while attending a women’s prayer group. It wasn’t really a stumble, but more mandatory reading as the group was going through the book each week. I think I barely read it either because there were points I didn’t agree with, or my then young children were draining my energy and time. I think the latter is more likely as nothing about this book stands out to me.

This book was originally published by Focus Publishing in 1995. I am reading the 2005 tenth anniversary addition on my Kindle.

***

Chapter One – The Excellent Wife: Who Can Find?

Martha Peace begins the chapter describing her upbringing as an only child who was spoiled by her indulging parents. She married her high school sweetheart at 19, and details a marriage in which she found no joy. She sought out happiness through having children, education, jobs, and partying. At one point in her life she recalls being a “full blown feminist” trying to make a mark on the world.

Taming of the Shrew – Wikimedia Commons

She states her conversion was like “Taming of the Shrew,” meaning she went from a disobedient wife to a submissive wife. Sounds a little bit like Lori Alexander to me.

After her conversion to Christianity and living a life submissive to her husband, her life and purpose changed:

God has not only given me a deep love for my husband, but also a passion for His Word and for teaching younger women to be the excellent wife described in Scripture.

Peace states that:

God’s will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband (Genesis 2:18).

and,

Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife’s time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day.

Peace then divulges that the answer of finding the excellent wife is in Proverbs 31: 10 – 31. On one page she posts a diagram listing thirteen traits of the excellent wife and on another page says there are twenty traits. Now I’m really confused, and I’m really hoping that later on in the book one of the traits will include a wife working outside the home to provide for her family.

The chapter winds down by exhorting wives that they are not excluded from sin. If wives try to do wifely things their own way instead of God’s way, they are sinners. Only a truly Christian wife will want to leave her lawless ways and submit to God’s word. There’s somewhat of an altar call (I’m not kidding) and a prayer to pray before diving into Chapter Two.

I think I can see where this book is leading. Perhaps it wasn’t my young children causing me to not read it after all.

70 thoughts on “Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter 1: The Elusive Excellent Wife”

  1. “There’s somewhat of an altar call (I’m not kidding) and a prayer to pray before diving into Chapter Two.”

    Screenshot?

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  2. Kathi, I don’t now if I’ve told you before, but when we were at the cult, the men used to go to the John MacArthur’s Shepherds Conference. Each year they give the men a bag of books, and this one was included.

    I remember rolling my eyes when I saw it, thinking about all the men eventually reading this book and putting more restraints on wives, using the book to back up their demands. After all, since a woman wrote it, it can’t be bad!

    Later, after having first-hand experience on how Bill Shannon (a big leader at Grace Community) treated me, it all made sense and why they’d want to hand out that book. Women are certainly given a back seat to men.

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  3. Oh boy, GCC and dealing men trained by MacArthur. Didn’t know you’d been through such a thing. I have also, served as an elder under (and even as a male elder, it was definitely under) a pastor who’d gone to TMS and been on the pastoral staff at GCC before I knew him. This was a guy who’d been formed by J Mac. By the way, he was one of the most disturbed people I’ve ever associated with, the poor guy didn’t know anything but pseudo-Christian abuse his entire life, and J Mac’s system only reinforced it for him and he passed it down to those in the congregation and on the elder team. He ended up destroying our church entirely, it no longer exists.

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  4. I found it was a good commentary on Proverbs 31 to look at modern-day African culture. In that culture, a man pays a dowry to marry a woman, and he can essentially marry as many women as his funds will allow. Once he is married, however, the woman (or women) are essentially self-supporting. They must provide for themselves and their children and the husband essentially hops from house to house and spends time with whichever wife pleases him at the moment.

    I think we’ve taken an anachronistic view of Proverbs 31 in light of Western monogamous, single-household families and tried to recast the excellent wife as a stay-at-home-mom, when she could have been nothing of the sort in that culture. She was more like a single mother by today’s standards.

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  5. My thoughts.
    (You knew I’d have some.)

    Re:

    …and details a marriage in which she found no joy. She sought out happiness through having children, education, jobs, and partying. At one point in her life she recalls being a “full blown feminist” trying to make a mark on the world.

    After her conversion to Christianity and living a life submissive to her husband, her life and purpose changed…

    Observation 1.
    I’ve never identified as a feminist, but I was raised in the opposite manner:
    in a traditional Christian family that brought me to Southern Baptist churches that heavily push complementarianism,
    or assume it to be true (without proving it – cherry picking Bible verses and yelling them from the pulpit is not proof).

    I very much tried to live out complementarianism, even though I’ve never married (complementarianism has nothing to say to single, divorced, or widowed women, which is one of its many flaws.
    Comp is really about trying to justify Christian male control of women, especially married ones).

    Complementarianism contributed to my low self esteem, and it increased my anxiety, depression, and fear of people.

    Complementarianism is _a href=”https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/christian-gender-complementarianism-is-christian-endorsed-codependency-for-women/”>Christianized Codependency for Women_, which is not a good thing.

    Complementarianism is not healthy for women, nor for men, and it’s not “biblical.” It actually clashes against other biblical teachings, principles, and it offers a distorted view of God.

    Complementarianism did not bring me joy, peace, etc.

    Observation 2.
    Also, as I’ve noted before on my blog (and on this one), comps often present a false dichotomy (as appears to be the case with the book Kathi is quoting in the OP):
    either one has to be a complementarians, or one has to be a feminist, they argue.

    The truth is, you don’t have to be either one.

    You can reject complementarianism but also not be a feminist.

    You can reject complementarianism and remain politically and socially conservative (you won’t automatically or necessarily morph into a liberal).

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  6. Also, there’s a series on “Love and Respect” at another blog that I think really shines a light on what is happening. The most pertinent to this discussion is here: https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2019/01/the-ultimate-flaw-in-love-and-respect-eggerichs/

    Specifically, “Marriage, to the wife, then becomes about following the husband, rather than following Jesus.” – submission by Eggerichs’s definition is indistinguishable from idolatry.

    “Ephesians 5:22 does not give conditions for when a woman should submit. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does God give wives conditions for when to submit. So either the woman submits (as in, obeys and follows authority) in all situations, even sinful ones, or Eggerichs (and others) has a faulty definition of the word “submit.” I believe it’s the latter.”

    “God’s aim is not our husband’s happiness; God’s aim is that all of us look more and more like Christ (Romans 8:29).” (Interesting that this is turning ‘holiness not happiness’ back on men)

    “What do you think it does to men to be constantly told that their wives should make them happy and do what they want?”

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  7. Re:

    God has not only given me a deep love for my husband, but also a passion for His Word and for teaching younger women to be the excellent wife described in Scripture.

    A woman does not have to be a complementarian to do that.

    A married woman could be a flaming liberal feminist and still have a “deep love” for her husband, a “passion for God’s word,” etc.
    – she just won’t hold the same assumptions about certain topics as the complementarian one.

    The rest of the Bible already instructs Christians to love each other and to love Non-Christians.

    Even Christian men are at the receiving end of Biblical commands, parables, and teachings to show kindness and consideration to OTHER MEN, in addition to their wives and to other women who aren’t their wives.

    One does not need a hermeneutic of complementarianism to realize the Bible teaches people to help and love other people, e.g.,

    If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    eg,

    “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you

    You don’t need complementarianism to see that the God of the Bible is telling you to give sandwiches to hungry, homeless people.

    It’s absolutely over-kill and redundant to think women need complementarianism to realize, “Hey, I should probably be kind to my spouse and to love him.”

    -Possibly the ONLY exception to that would be in specific churches 2,000 years ago where Christianity was brand new and the newly converted pagans were raised in a culture or Non-Christian religion that taught that all men are pigs, and married women were allowed to slap and spit on their husbands day in and day out.

    But do complementarians like to take the culture and particulars of the Bible into account when living it out, understanding it, or teaching it, especially in regards to women, dating, marriage? Nope.

    They behave as though the entire Bible is timeless and always prescriptive for people reading it in the year 2019.

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  8. Re

    Peace states that:

    God’s will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband (Genesis 2:18).

    and,

    Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife’s time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day.

    I think Mark touched on this above, so I won’t get too much into it…

    Complementarians make the entire male biological sex into a Golden Calf.

    Complementarians are actually – oh, what’s the term for people who have more than one god, like the ancient Romans? – Comps are that word (probably “Poly” something or other?).

    Comps make the entire male biological sex into a deity, they teach wives to put their husband in the place reserved for Jesus of Nazareth, and the institution of marriage itself is turned into yet another little god they worship.

    And what are divorced, never married, or widowed women to do with any of this? They get by without a husband to worship – which is a clue that married women don’t need to regard their husband as a little deity, either.

    It’s a manufactured problem.
    It’s a non-existing problem that doesn’t need the complementarian solution.

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  9. Re:

    On one page she posts a diagram listing thirteen traits of the excellent wife and on another page says there are twenty traits.

    Broken record time:

    I guess widowed women, the divorced, and never married have no biblical standards by which to measure if they, their actions, or their lives are “excellent.”

    Telling women to just practice these concepts until they’re married (yes, some complementarians actually toss this out in advice blog posts or articles I’ve seen) isn’t an answer.

    Some women never marry, and some never re-marry after husband number one dies or divorces.

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  10. This book is required reading for those taking Biblical Counseling training (in our area) and is used in their marriage counseling. During the many years our daughter was in counseling, looking for help in her abusive marriage, she was taken through this book more than once. When we called another counselor who had been recommended as someone more knowledgeable about abusive marriages she immediately wanted to use this book, even after we told her “been there, done that”. It’s like she didn’t know how to counsel without that book. Apparently, all marriage problems and all abuse can be stopped IF ONLY you can be an “excellent wife”. I’m thankful our daughter has escaped the abusive marriage and the abusive counseling… but wish she could have escaped it all much sooner.

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  11. Re

    The chapter winds down by exhorting wives that they are not excluded from sin.

    This has turned into a huge, huge grating pet peeve of mine in the last year or so, and I’ve noticed it more and more since the “Me Too” trend started or became really popular in fall of 2017.

    One manner in which this comes out are in the “Not All Men” objections I see on social media, or the “but women too!” argument.

    There used to be a guy on this very blog who had to jump in about every third complementarian-related post to remind us all (as if we need reminding, eye roll) that all women are worse than all men, and/or women are “just as bad” as men.

    That attitude shows a complete ignorance of how systemic sexism works.

    Most sexism in many cultures is heavily male-against-female, so that girls and women are most often short-changed or harmed by boys and men due to patriarchal beliefs, biases, and practices.
    Which is NOT to say that all girls and women are innocent angels all the time, or that girls never hurt boys.

    I don’t think anyone who objects to male-on-female sexism has ever argued that all women are sinless and perfect (while all men are evil villains),
    so why the anti-feminists, the anti-Me-Too-ists, or the pro-sexists argue in such a manner is bewildering.

    Re

    If wives try to do wifely things their own way instead of God’s way, they are sinners. Only a truly Christian wife will want to leave her lawless ways and submit to God’s word.

    Such a view overlooks that the one arguing it is interpreting the Bible, and perhaps his or her interpretation of what the God of the Bible is saying is incorrect.

    You would think after seeing how….
    -19th century, pro-slavery Christians got the Bible wrong about slavery (they used it to defend whites owning blacks as property),

    -And seeing how Christians cannot agree on the rest of the Bible (e.g., prophecy, mode of baptism – adult immersion Vs. baby sprinkling, Arminianism Vs. Calvinism, etc), they’d show a lot more humility on the complementarian topic.

    It’s fairly arrogant for complementarians to act as though their interpretation of marital passages, and submission, etc, is the ONLY way to correctly understand the Bible and of being “Godly” and “obedient to God”.

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  12. Mary27 said,

    This book is required reading for those taking Biblical Counseling training (in our area) and is used in their marriage counseling.

    During the many years our daughter was in counseling, looking for help in her abusive marriage, she was taken through this book more than once.

    When we called another counselor who had been recommended as someone more knowledgeable about abusive marriages she immediately wanted to use this book, even after we told her “been there, done that”.

    It’s like she didn’t know how to counsel without that book. Apparently, all marriage problems and all abuse can be stopped IF ONLY you can be an “excellent wife”. I’m thankful our daughter has escaped the abusive marriage and the abusive counseling… but wish she could have escaped it all much sooner.

    I am sorry for what your daughter endured in her abusive marriage – and that it was compounded by ignorant people.

    We were just discussing this subject _in another thread on this blog_ about two weeks ago, about how secular books are often far more helpful than most Christian-authored ones.

    A far more helpful book or two for women in abusive marriages would be ones such as, “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft, and for less abusive marriages, books such as “The Disease to Please” by Harriet Braiker.

    Very few Christian books about domestic violence, mental health problems, or verbal abuse (or other problems) are any good, competent, or helpful.

    The few Christian written books I can recommend for helping people in troubled marriages, or for those with mental health problems, would be some of the books by Dr. Cloud / Dr. Townsend, and this one…
    “Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded? Helping (Not Hurting) Those with Emotional Difficulties” by Dwight Carlson

    Most of the rest of the Christian books are victim-blaming.

    Most Christian books tell abused wives they are to blame for the abuse, that only they, the wife, can “fix” the abuse and make it stop (by praying more, being even more “submissive,” and being “nicer” to the husband), and the majority of them will never, ever allow divorce as a viable option.

    Much of the same is said in articles or books by Christians for people dealing with verbal abuse or with mental health issues – terrible advice that doesn’t even work is given, such as: you are ultimately to blame in some fashion (even if you’re not to blame, you didn’t instigate the issue), you can cure it or fix it by praying more, having faith, and by reading the Bible.

    If Bible reading was a workable cure for domestic abuse, depression, anxiety and everything else, we shouldn’t be seeing so many Christians who to this day, are in abusive marriages or who have PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, low self esteem, anxiety.
    But lots of Christians have those problems, too, and all the Bible reading in the world hasn’t healed them of it.

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  13. Daisy, Complementarianism is just the application of Authoritarianism to marriage. So, for example, I was raised complementarian. That should have made me very “happy” in marriage, but I somehow missed the “wink, wink” when talking about husbands loving their wives and sacrificing for them.

    I think the struggles you had were because the church’s training plan for authoritarianism is to convince people that they are worthless and deceived and that they need someone “over” them to tell them what God says they should do. I started realizing that pastors preached with two hats. There was the “Total Depravity” hat and the “Authority” hat. When they preached depravity, they included themselves – “we” have all gone astray, etc., but when they preached authority, the only depravity that mattered was “your” depravity. Somehow the exercise of authority by pastors and church leaders guaranteed that there was no depravity. It was pretty annoying to see how they would bend the rules, for example during votes, but somehow because we followed “due process” we were told that God blessed the results – meaning that whatever candidate they wanted to elect would get elected and that was “God’s Will(tm)” for the congregation.

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  14. A married woman could be a flaming liberal feminist and still have a “deep love” for her husband, a “passion for God’s word,” etc.

    Yes, Daisy, this is true. It’s also somehow much easier to love a husband who doesn’t treat you badly simply for being a woman! Fancy that.

    I’m a bit fascinated by this:

    …and details a marriage in which she found no joy. She sought out happiness through having children, education, jobs, and partying.

    First of all, it’s perfectly ok to be happy with your children, education, jobs and even having fun on a weekend! But I am interested in hearing why she thinks she found ‘no joy’ in marriage to her college sweetheart…Did he treat her badly? Was she bored? Maybe she should look into that instead of just insisting that you can be happier by getting rid of all your own desires, heart, personality and throwing it into making your husband happy.

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  15. Mark quoting an article:

    “Ephesians 5:22 does not give conditions for when a woman should submit. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does God give wives conditions for when to submit. So either the woman submits (as in, obeys and follows authority) in all situations, even sinful ones, or Eggerichs (and others) has a faulty definition of the word “submit.” I believe it’s the latter.”

    Speaking of Eph 5.22.

    Source for the following:
    _How Men Changed the Bible to Make “Male Authority” seem like “the Will of God”_

    The Vulgate also changed important passages in the New Testament. In our two oldest Greek manuscripts of Ephesians 5:22, women are not exclusively directed to “submit” to their husbands in marriage.

    Papyrus 46 and Codex B both omit this verb, which strongly suggests that it was not present in the original letter.

    Ephesians 5:21 contains the participle “submitting,” which indicates that everyone who is filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18) will demonstrate this by “submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

    Jerome’s Vulgate, like Byzantine Greek texts of the later 4th century AD, adds an additional verb, “submit,” which appears to be an additional command directed exclusively to wives.

    While Christian wives will indeed demonstrate Christ-like love and humility towards their husbands, husbands will also demonstrate these qualities towards their wives as they imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 5:25).

    The participle —submitting– used by Paul in Ephesians 5:21 is a masculine plural in the middle voice, which indicates a reciprocal action performed by a group of people that must include men.

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  16. Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife’s time and energy

    Where on earth in the bible does it say women should focus solely and primarily on a husband btw??? I don’t even think there is a real proof text for that. It’s certainly not included in the bulk of instructions to Christians – I’d wager there is more about taking care of widows and orphans than there is of husbands.

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  17. Mark said, Re:

    I started realizing that pastors preached with two hats. There was the “Total Depravity” hat and the “Authority” hat.

    When they preached depravity, they included themselves – “we” have all gone astray, etc., but when they preached authority, the only depravity that mattered was “your” depravity.

    Somehow the exercise of authority by pastors and church leaders guaranteed that there was no depravity.

    It was pretty annoying to see how they would bend the rules, for example during votes, but somehow because we followed “due process” we were told that God blessed the results – meaning that whatever candidate they wanted to elect would get elected and that was “God’s Will(tm)” for the congregation.

    Complementarians do often shift how and what they market to their listeners, depending on whom the target audience is at any given moment. I did a blog post about it here:
    _The Changing Jesus of Complementarians – A Pink Jesus for Women and a Blue Jesus For Men Makes for a Jesus with Multiple Personality Disorder_

    Pastors want to sell Jesus as a meek and mild, passive, submissive, sweet heart when they are selling Complementarian messages to women.

    But, the moment a sermon is aimed at men, one won’t hear anything about sweet, docile, passive Jesus, but all about tough, karate-chopping, decisive, powerful, Jesus.

    Jesus can crush a beer can with one hand in complementarian sermons for men (or soda pop can, if in an anti-alcohol Southern Baptist church).

    He’s such a rugged, manly man He-man, except when that sermon is for WOMEN, then we hear about how submissive and deferential Jesus was to the Father.
    And Jesus loved to give the Father shoulder rubs, and bring him his pipe and slippers after a tough day at work, and had a hot casserole on the table waiting for him. No beer can crushing in those sermons for ladies.

    Funny how that works.

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  18. Daisy, “They behave as though the entire Bible is timeless and always prescriptive for people reading it in the year 2019.”

    People tend to read the Bible in a way that justifies what they are already doing. What they are already doing is more habit and culture than specifically Christian. So, the Bible is read through a cultural lens of the present day, not trying as much to understand what it meant to the people it was written by and for. When the cultural perceptions are challenged, the knee-jerk response is ridicule or worse. Not that being challenged means that you are right, but…

    So, not surprisingly, Jesus was ridiculed and worse, for saying that the ordinary members of the congregation, including the “sinners” and “tax collectors” had just as much access to God as the Pharisees, and often more insight into the truth. Jesus was ridiculed and worse for suggesting that the cultural interpretation of the Bible had strongly diverged from bringing grace and peace and righteousness (e.g. Sabbath, healing, tithes, prayer, forgiveness, women) and had instead been used to keep people trapped in a legalistic, abusive system that brought worship to the religious leaders and not to God.

    We haven’t changed much since then, have we, just different prooftexts – “submit” to your husbands and “obey” your leaders.

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  19. Lea remarking on a quote from the comp book,

    Where on earth in the bible does it say women should focus solely and primarily on a husband btw??? I don’t even think there is a real proof text for that. It’s certainly not included in the bulk of instructions to Christians – I’d wager there is more about taking care of widows and orphans than there is of husbands.

    Doesn’t the Bible say that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church?

    Why do complementarians at times cast the wife at times as the Messiah-figure (they teach a wife can “save” her husband, especially in abusive marriages), when the Bible actually sort of compares the husband to the Christ role?

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her

    Comps are not consistent on when in a marriage which partner, the male or the female, is to be the Messiah figure.

    Also, the whole treating one spouse or the other like Christ is getting into idolatry anyway, which Jesus taught against here:

    “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.
    (Matthew 10:37)

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  20. Why do complementarians at times cast the wife at times as the Messiah-figure (they teach a wife can “save” her husband, especially in abusive marriages), when the Bible actually sort of compares the husband to the Christ role?

    They do that all the time and it does drive me crazy. It would make much more sense the other way around. The other thing that cracks me up in an exasperated way is when biblecompdudes will say stuff about how they would be willing to give up their lives for their wives (even thought that never ever comes up) but the great sacrifice of picking up wet towels (or any other tiny thing) to make the wife happy seems to be a bridge too far.

    Not terrible convincing, that.

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  21. I groaned when I saw the title of book being discussed here. I knew it would make my skin crawl, as does just about everything that Lori Alexander has ever written.

    Nevertheless, my husband and I have what many would consider to be a “complementarian” marriage. He does not rule over me nor does he consider me subservient to him. He is by nature a leader, protector and provider as well as the best friend and companion I could ask for, and he makes sure my every need is met – generally without my even asking. He has given me every reason to trust him in every area of our marriage, and I do – even after coming out of a 20-year abusive marriage… In my view, he is a king, which makes me his queen. Neither of us would have it any other way, and I truly believe we have a marriage consistent with God’s wondrous design.

    Still, I wonder if I will be attacked for cutting against the grain a little here…

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  22. Nevertheless, my husband and I have what many would consider to be a “complementarian” marriage. He does not rule over me nor does he consider me subservient to him.

    Hi Cindy! It sounds like you have sorted your marriage to your satisfaction and your husband treats you well, which is great. If I may, and you may or may not want to get into it, but I’m curious what it is you think defines your marriage as ‘complementarian’ in a way that would go against the grain?

    Generally speaking, aside from the overly controlling and misogynistic elements in more patriarchal readings of ‘complementarian’ thought, I think the main faultlines really only show up when things go wrong. So if both partners treat each other with love, respect, and truly listen and consider the other in decision making, have good communication, etc, you probably won’t see a problem. It’s just that the framework doesn’t seem to have any way of dealing with people outside the norms, whether it be abuse or women and men who do not fit the expected ‘mold’ or even single people.

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  23. @Daisy:

    Comps are not consistent on when in a marriage which partner, the male or the female, is to be the Messiah figure.

    They’re consistent; both are Messiah figures::
    * The male is the CONQUERING Messiah.
    * The female is the SUFFERING Messiah.

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  24. @Lea:

    It’s just that the framework doesn’t seem to have any way of dealing with people outside the norms, whether it be abuse or women and men who do not fit the expected ‘mold’ or even single people.

    In other words, the framework is BRITTLE.
    Anything outside the norms and the system shatters.

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  25. Daisy: A far more helpful book or two for women in abusive marriages would be ones such as, “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft,…

    I agree. We found that book to be extremely helpful and I have since recommended it and bought it for many other abused women. However, the church didn’t like her reading anything that wasn’t approved by them. It still makes me shake my head that they actually thought they had the right to control what people read… my daughter was/is an avid reader and they would have been kept busy approving (or disapproving) her reading list… ha.

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  26. Julie Anne – No, you didn’t tell me J Mac’s church was handing out the book at conferences. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Cindy – I have no problem with people who decide to live out a complementarian marriage. As long as it is loving and respectful, then you do what works best for your marriage. I certainly wouldn’t bash you and your husband about your wonderful relationship. I am happy for you!

    Personally, I don’t believe God ordained gender roles to define marriage and church function. And, for those who are abusive, I think that the comp message is a perfect set up to enable that abuse.

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  27. @Lea – Thank you for showing such excitement for another book review! You know, it’s a good thing I’m reading this on my Kindle. I can make notes easily and I’m less prone to fling it across the room!

    You said: “Where on earth in the bible does it say women should focus solely and primarily on a husband btw??? I don’t even think there is a real proof text for that. It’s certainly not included in the bulk of instructions to Christians – I’d wager there is more about taking care of widows and orphans than there is of husbands.”

    She uses Genesis 2:18 as her text that the husband is the wife’s most important ministry. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”

    As I’m looking at all the translations for this verse in Bible Hub, not one states that the husband is a wife’s ministry. Imagine that.

    Some of the words describing the person God made for man are:
    Helper (who is): suitable, just right for him, fit for him, corresponding, counterpart
    Help meet
    Woman (with corresponding authority)
    Companion (who is): corresponding
    Help: like unto himself, suitable to/for him

    Like

  28. Somehow this reminded me of an article that was being talked over a few years ago—“Soap Bubbles Submission”—in which the wife learned how to rinse the soap off the dishes correctly and so finally pleased her husband.

    So I did a search for it, and it turns out that it was written by…Martha Peace. It’s a lesson about the joy of submission, and the sovereign will of God. Ephesians 5:22-24 gets a shout-out, but not verses 21 and 25.
    http://marthapeacetew.blogspot.com/2016/02/soap-bubbles-submission.html

    Like

  29. So I did a search for it, and it turns out that it was written by…Martha Peace.

    Excellent Research, Ted!!!

    “Sanford and I had many conflicts, but one kept occurring. The conflict was over how I rinsed the dishes that I had washed…I did not always rinse every dish perfectly. For all of our married life, he would sometimes say, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off the dish. ”

    Within this context, I think we have solved the mystery of why she needed to find happiness in something other than her marriage to a non-dish washing, nitpicky husband.

    Which leads me to another question, how many women writing ‘Christian marriage advice’ are married to abusive husbands, and how many men are themselves abusive? Because it’s definitely over zero…

    Like

  30. Ack, Ted, yes, you’re right, it is Martha Peace. Here are 2 queaze-worthy paragraphs:

    I was washing dishes and rinsing a glass I had just washed. Sanford walked through the kitchen and was behind me. He noticed that I was about to place the clean glass in the dish drain and he said, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off!” Now to my credit, it was not dripping with soap! But he must have seen something. Well, in my heart I thought, “If you don’t like how I am washing the dishes…” Quickly, though, I thought, “He is telling me to rinse it again and I need to be submissive.” Neither one of us was saying a word but Sanford stopped to see what I was going to do. The water was running and I knew I needed to rinse it again. I did not want to do it but I knew the Lord wanted me to. Meanwhile, as I contemplated what to do, my arm was stuck in an uncomfortable, outstretched position. So, I began in my mind to talk to my arm, ‘Come on, you can do this! Rinse it again.” It took so long for my arm to begin to move back toward the running water, that the muscles began to ache. Finally, I talked my arm into moving towards the water and carefully rinsing the glass again.

    After I rinsed it again and put the glass in the dish drain, I began to wash the next dish. Sanford said in astonishment, “You did it!” I replied, “Yes, you told me to.” And he countered with, “But you did it!” That moment was a turning point in my walk with the Lord. The Lord was testing me and teaching me to be faithful even in the very least of things. Submission was beginning to be my joy.
    God, in His kindness, had prepared me to love thinking about His sovereign control over my life; and when I learned about His sovereign plan for me in my role as a wife, He gave me grace to obey Him.

    The fact that he stood there and watched to see if she would obey him – – yuck. This is not a partnership – this is like a father/child relationship.

    Like

  31. Julie Anne, this part bugs me so much:

    Now to my credit, it was not dripping with soap! But he must have seen something.

    This would lead to me never washing a dish again, I think. Of course, I have a dishwasher because I hate handwashing dishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Julie Anne,
    Queaze-worthy paragraphs is putting it mildly.
    Astonishment is even milder.
    How can otherwise intelligent human women believe this pile of horse crap?
    Here’s a literary quote that does do it justice though:

    “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another) … There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”

    ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I went and reread the SBS post. That bizarre, creepy scene apparently occurred early in their marriage. I would like to think that Sanford is no longer being a jerk to her, though the publication of this story in 2016 makes me wonder. If my husband treated me like that, I wouldn’t be finding joy in my marriage either.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Muff Potter, your quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird” is brilliant! My definition of the word “courage” concerning the “soap bubble incident” would be this case scenario:

    Husband sees that wife is not washing every “soap bubble” off of the platter. His conscience is pricked by God, the Holy Spirit, so when the wife leaves the kitchen, he carefully and skillfully (and quietly), chooses to rinse the dishes that irritated him in the beginning…….then proceeds to take a clean, shiny white dish towel, and dries the dishes (ever so carefully), and puts them in the cupboard in an orderly fashion.

    He then asks our LORD to be thankful for an amazing wife that has chosen to faithfully wash the dishes in the first place and make sure his belly if full to overflowing, for he has married a gem and an amazing creation from our LORD Himself.

    I find it an oddity in defining precisely “who” does the dishes (with the rinsing process included) because at the end of the day, does Jesus really care precisely “who” does the chores? REALLY?

    When my father in law passed away from a brain tumor, my husband did not care what genitals I had between me legs, nor did he care that I was an “expert farmer.”
    As our income dried in the fields ready for harvest, the main goal was that I was competent and confident enough to drive the trucks, haul the grain to the elevator, operate the drying system on the farm, and adequately get the grain in the bins for storage to be sold and hauled to the elevators at a later date. During the harvest, I was neither a man nor a woman, but a hard worker and a person of faith, relying solely on Jesus to get me through the trials and tribulations of stressful times. We hired “men” at different times to assist us in getting the crops out at I was a mother of little ones who often accompanied me in my work situations. Ironically, it was the woman who had to assist these men (some were elders) on the farm in instructing, as well as physically assisting in cleaning up their messes.

    From me life experiences, there is no way that I could ever believe that Jesus, my personal LORD and Savior, ever preached or taught that complementarianism is His Way, or the Way of Salvation. Nope I see the land/terrain at the foot of His Cross as being level, not the valleys for the women and the peaks for the men, but level/equal.

    In the presence of a complementarian religious system, which is embraced by both genders, I will never believe that I was created as an inferior being as I once was led to believe by an abusive Baptist church with an Assembly of God p’astor man. Nor will I ever sit through any John MacArthur DVD, so called “bible (?) series,” at any particular c’hurch, detailing that women were created to be submissive “helpmeets,” designed to make every one else happy, healthy, and satisfied while their own health deteriorates and few of their needs are met.

    I still stand in awe of me Savior, Jesus Christ, who through His Words and actions, treated women so different back in a day and age where they were regarded as “property” instead of human beings, created in the image of Christ Himself. As the days progress, I will be carefully watching how men (and many blind women) will react to Sharia as it gains momentum.

    And for the record, a few of those women married to complementarian “men,” have called me home in tears, due to the mental/verbal abuse they have had to endure because their “farming” skills weren’t up to “par.” And yet, the hired man never hears the abusive words their wives hear in the privacy of their own fields.

    Also, I have never spoken to me arm in getting any job done on the farm…..I find that speaking to any body part…….well……just plain strange. Just sayin’!

    Like

  35. I was wondering also, if the wife of any complementarian, is allowed to say the word, “No,” to their husbands, or if that is a “non-submissive no-no.”

    Like

  36. My personal and humble beliefs about Proverbs 31, the ”excellent wife” passage…

    First and notably, this scripture was originally taught by a woman, specifically an oracle (word of God) from a woman identified as the mother of King Lemuel.

    Second, it seems to me to be a long list of examples of how a woman, in that specific culture, could display the virtues of personal integrity, compassion for others, creativity and a strong work ethic. I don’t feel that this scripture was intended to be a checklist of everything one woman should (or could) do; including being a wife, or having children or employees, or having a husband that “sits in the gate with the elders”. I believe these passages are examples, not commands or requisites to make us feel inadequate or failures as women if we can’t be or do everything included in this passage.

    Third, Proverbs 31 is totally devoid of any examples of things a woman should specifically do for her husband (if she has one), nor is there any hint that she must sublimate herself to his interests or authority… it only talks about how her strength and virtue as a person will be a blessing to him, i.e. he will be able to trust in her and his life will generally be enhanced through his relationship with her. In a similar way, she would also be a blessing to other people in her life.

    Finally, I’m convinced that Proverbs 31 scripture is one that all women can take inspiration from, because the passage is concluded this way:

    Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many *daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.* Proverbs 31:28-30 NASB

    Although I have no husband to praise me or children to rise up and bless me, yet I am surely a daughter and woman who loves and fears the Lord, and I can reflect on this scripture for encouragement and motivation in my life… without legalistically believing I must be (and do) it all.

    Like

  37. Katy,
    It pisses me off to no end when I hear of women who are abused by ‘complementarian’ men. I betcha’ it pisses Jesus off too, cuz’ they sure as hell ain’t listen’n to Jesus when they hurt women in body and spirit:

    “The Talmud says that God counts a woman’s tears, and men are warned to make sure that they do not cause their wives pain.” (Baba Metzia 59)

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Muff,
    Funny you should mention the Talmud as I am watching the movie “Yentl” as we speak. (on commercial break now 🙂 ) I loved that movie as a teen and still enjoy the movie as a Grandma!

    Question to ponder……”Could the likes of John MacArthur ever learn from the faith of a woman?”

    Like

  39. Tedsaid,

    Somehow this reminded me of an article that was being talked over a few years ago—“Soap Bubbles Submission”—in which the wife learned how to rinse the soap off the dishes correctly and so finally pleased her husband.

    So I did a search for it, and it turns out that it was written by…Martha Peace. It’s a lesson about the joy of submission, and the sovereign will of God. Ephesians 5:22-24 gets a shout-out, but not verses 21 and 25.

    Ted, thanks for sharing that info and link. I updated an older post on my Daisy blog with that, and I credited you.

    I updated my older post towards the bottom, look for the heading,
    “Too Picky Husbands = Emotional Abuse” / Self Blame
    _Housework, Dirty Dishes, Complementarianism and Personal Anecdotes_

    In that post, I also related personal stories about my sister and myself. My sister had a full time job, but her then-boyfriend, who stayed at home all day, wouldn’t do any housework.

    My ex fiance would expect me to drive 45 minutes to his apartment when he had to hit the road for his job, expecting me to clean stacks of dishes and utensils that HE had dirtied up.
    I discuss all that in the blog post.

    Like

  40. I also added this link to that post, which Lea reminded me of when she posted it here a few months ago:
    _She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink_, by Matthew Fray

    And, as I said months ago, the final thing that caused my sister to snap and finally dump her mooching, lazy, selfish, sometimes-cheating, live-in boyfriend of 20+ years, is the morning she walked into the kitchen and saw his dirty spoon hanging half off the sink on the counter.

    My sister told me on the phone that was IT for her, she was DONE with him.

    She had tolerated 20+ years of his dirty spoons resting half way on the sink, even though she had asked him 56 trillion times to stop doing that.

    It was the spoon that caused my sister to crack.
    But if you’re a woman, you know it wasn’t just the spoon. It was more than the spoon but it was also what the spoon symbolized (such as, the Boyfriend not caring about her, her needs, him being lazy, him not taking responsibility, indifference to what bugged her).

    The end result is my sister kicked the boyfriend out and he had to find a new place to live (a spare guest room at a friend’s apartment).

    Like

  41. @Ted — I remember that post! But, I didn’t place it with Martha Peace.

    If a wife doesn’t like the way her husband loads the dishwasher, does she have the same ability to say, “You’re doing it wrong,” and wait to see if he corrects his mistakes?

    *Asking for a friend….

    Oh, wait….The correct answer is the husband wouldn’t be doing the dishes in the first place because it’s the wife’s “ministry.”

    Like

  42. Katy wrote:
    “Question to ponder……”Could the likes of John MacArthur ever learn from the faith of a woman?”

    Not likely, not anymore than he’d deign to learn from the faith of a rabbi.

    Like

  43. Muffsaid

    “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another) … There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”

    ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Reminds me of this song:
    No Earthly Good

    You’re shining your light, yes and shine if you should
    You’re so heavenly minded and you’re no earthly good
    No earthly good, you are no earthly good
    You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good
    You’re shining your light, yes and shine if you should
    You’re so heavenly minded and you’re no earthly good

    Listen on You Tube:
    Johnny Cash – No Earthly Good

    Like

  44. Katy said

    I find it an oddity in defining precisely “who” does the dishes (with the rinsing process included) because at the end of the day, does Jesus really care precisely “who” does the chores? REALLY?

    Some men never marry, or they don’t marry until age 30 or older. And many of them, if they can afford it, live in their own apartments, and they cannot afford a maid service.

    What do these older complementarian guys think those men are supposed to do?

    My mother died several years ago, leaving my father with no choice but to clean his own dishes.
    My Dad doesn’t have my Mom around to nit-pick over how or if or when she cleans any dirty dishes or gets all the suds off a soapy glass.

    What do these complementarian marital advice book writers have to say about any of that?

    Like

  45. Daisy wrote,

    I updated my older post towards the bottom, look for the heading,
    “Too Picky Husbands = Emotional Abuse” / Self Blame
    _Housework, Dirty Dishes, Complementarianism and Personal Anecdotes_

    Daisy, I remember now that the article had been promoted on the CBMW site and some of the discussion (here? at Wartburg Watch?) was that CBMW had removed it.

    Some of this stuff is hard to tell from parody, and that probably gets pointed out to people occasionally and causes them to throttle back a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Daisy, I noticed “Put Another Log on the Fire” on your blog. Here’s the Muppets version with Candace Bergen. I don’t think she’d put up with anyone telling her how to rinse dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Thanks for that video clip, Ted. Gotta love the Muppets! I actually don’t remember this one clearly from my childhood, but Candace Bergen’s expressions are absolutely priceless.

    And yes, it was the Wartburg Watch that pointed out Peace’s ridiculous and bewildering “Soap Bubble Submission” article. The numerous criticisms levelled at the CBMW for running such a bizarre piece are likely why they decided to… scrub it.

    Like

  48. Ted said,

    Daisy, I noticed “Put Another Log on the Fire” on your blog. Here’s the Muppets version with Candace Bergen. I don’t think she’d put up with anyone telling her how to rinse dishes.

    That was good!

    Also worth watching:
    _Mac Davis singing It’s Hard To Be Humble on The Muppets_
    – video on You Tube

    If you go to You Tube, you can find the Muppet(?) version of the Charlie Daniel Band song, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” though it’s a tribute to marijuana called “Muppets Devil Went Down to Jamaica.”

    (The post on my blog Ted was referring to was this one – I did a musical commentary on Gender Complementarianism Vs. Gender Egalitarianism:
    _Gender Complementarian Vs Gender Egalitarian Song Lists_)

    Like

  49. Julie Anne,

    I think I remember you posting something re Bill Shannon before. Years ago, he was the guest speaker at a church retreat I attended. I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience.

    Like

  50. Kathi,

    The advice given in Proverbs 31 was from a mother to her son, a king. A king would have been able to marry a wealthy woman who had a number of handmaids. That’s why she was able to rise while it was still night to feed them! She would have had the support necessary to accomplish what was outlined in Proverbs 31.

    I once attended a hard core comp church that I ended up leaving after not too long. A story I heard after I left was that a family was driven out of the church because the wife “worked outside the home.” What did she do? Well, very ironically, she “considered a field and bought it.” (Prov 31:16) She was a real estate agent! LOL, but kinda not LOL.

    Like

  51. Steve – Christianity has turned Proverbs 31 into a check off list. Amazingly, when teachers try to apply these words literally to a wife, they forget the first part of Proverbs 31 in King Lemuel recounts instruction provided to him by his mother.

    he sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

    2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
    3 Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

    4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
    5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
    6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
    7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

    8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
    9 Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

    Like

  52. Kathi, I think the Evangelical treatment of Proverbs 31 is a case of the best defense being a good offense. So, instead of the passage being a case where the women of today can point to the example women even in the OT toxic masculinity culture being self-reliant and entrepreneurial, the Evangelicals twist it into a checklist for a good slave or hired servant who is put in charge of the household.

    That goes for other passages – the women who are supposed to have their heads covered are not praying in the modern Evangelical imaginary “praying along with the pastor sense”, but were praying in the “out loud in front of the congregation in worship sense”. But, in order to put women in their place, the church had to create this idea that listening to and affirming the pastor’s prayer was actually a form of active prayer. And… we see these sorts of inventions in order to deny women their equal standing. Deborah was a “small-p” prophet. Phoebe was a “servant”, not a “deaconess”, and even when deaconess is acknowledged as a bona-fide office (e.g. Calvin) it is a separate office with severely limited authority.

    I read a diatribe against women deacons, and one of the arguments was that all authority was unidirectional. So it was somehow unbiblical for a wife to have authority over her husband, yet, I have yet to hear anyone say that the President cannot be a church member unless he’s the pastor.

    Like

  53. I read a diatribe against women deacons, and one of the arguments was that all authority was unidirectional.

    What?

    Our deacons work in different ministries and help the church.

    I think some people can’t see anything but position=power. Since women can’t have power they can’t have position. Strange people.

    Like

  54. Lea, “I think some people can’t see anything but position=power.”

    That seems to be the cornerstone of authoritarianism, and it’s a bit more involved. “position=power=worth” So, the church refuses to give women positions, and when women don’t occupy positions and have power, the assumption is that they have no worth.

    I think that speaks to a lot of the angst we see here. For example, when I was single, I picked up pretty strong hints that singles weren’t married because of their “worth” – either to God (sin) or to women (looks, income, personality). I saw a strong difference in treatment between when I was being considered as leadership material, and when I was definitely NOT being considered and they were trying to remove any influence I might have. I think we also see it when people like Driscoll, Tchividjian, Mahaney and Piper are given unbelievable grace where abused women are told to get over it, or worse, forgive their abuser without any repentance on his part.

    Like

  55. Maybe, if Martha Peace was really, fully honest, she would say that she found the happiness and fulfillment she had been seeking in writing books and becoming a teacher of women. As far as the subject matter, this tends to be what women in comp circles are constrained to, and I think they can get pretty zealous about it because otherwise, what would they have to teach the other women about?

    There are so many Christian books presenting some formula for living that supposedly brings success and happiness. The 13 (or 20) traits of the excellent wife… whatever… How about people just love each other, treat each other with kindness, and pursue the interests that they are drawn to?

    Liked by 1 person

  56. I would so love to see the soap bubbles scene acted out by the Saturday Night Live crew. You know it could be acted in many different ways. Cracks me up to picture it.

    Like

  57. Is “Martha Peace” her real name? My vote, based on her unbiblical knowledge, would lead me to believe her real name may be “Martha Reviler.”

    Shy1, “There are so many Christian books presenting some formula for living that supposedly brings success and happiness. The 13(or 20) traits of the excellent wife…..whatever…..how about people just love each other, treat each other with kindness, and pursue the interests they are drawn too?”

    Spot on Shy1! You just described living by the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are supposed to be evident in believers.

    And as far as pursuing your own interests, the one’s our LORD instilled in each one of us, well that doesn’t abide so well within churches/societies that brainwash and manipulate folks into the “herd mentality.”

    Allowing our LORD to be the potter in molding the “clay of our being so to speak” is considered blasphemy by those “nuts” who do not love nor respect our Father, Who made all things.

    Being a former “complementarian” brainwashed minion, I can honestly say in truth and love, that my being “never, ever measured up to the works/expectations of the complementarian worldview……another words, who I was and whatever I did, was NEVER good enough, in the comp’s mind’s eye. It was a life of slavery, bondage, heavy yokes and burdens, and losing my soul/personality to the enemy disguises as c’hristians.

    Jesus came to set the captives free, and I now believe in marriages of mutuality and equality, not the lordship of one over another/power over.

    Like

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