Book Review Series, Christian Marriage, Complementarianism, Doctrine as Idol, Gender Roles, Marriage, Martha Peace, Spiritual Abuse, Women and the Church

Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter 2: Carefully Placing Wives in a Box

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


-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Chapter One

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Chapter Two – A Wife’s Understanding of God: God’s Protective Authority

Peace sets the tone of Chapter 2 with:

Understanding your proper position as a creature serving the Creator is foundational to clearing up any misperceptions you may have about God and His protective authority over you.

Am I the only one uneasy about being referred to as a creature? Technically, I suppose human beings are creatures since we are mammals. But to reference a woman this way seems very impersonal.

The main points of this chapter are: what wives need to know about God, God’s protective authority, and why the wife needs protection. I’m not going to list every single sub-point, but would like to focus on some areas that are of concern to me.

Peace begins by stating that the husband is the wife’s primary ministry and role in life based upon Genesis 2: 18 – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'”

Yours and every wife’s chief end in life is to glorify God, but it is to glorify Him in the manner in which God planned.

By “planned,” she means that God purposefully made the focus of a wife’s ministry her husband. I don’t understand the need to place a married Christian woman in a “wife-only” box. Just as men have different roles in life, women do, too. Personally, I find this mentality an offense to God and the Spirit. If the Spirit gifts a woman with leadership or teaching or administration abilities, then she should be free to glorify God in that manner. Limiting a Christian wife’s role to solely ministry to her husband limits the work of the Spirit in her life and her ability to glorify God.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Wives also need to know that God cares about her circumstances. Does Peace really mean this? Is she okay with a wife leaving an abuser for her safety or does she think that God wants a wife to stay in a marriage no matter the circumstances? I’m hoping Peace will specifically address abuse in the book, however a red flag goes up because she says:

God promises to use all of your life experiences, including any evil that has been done against you, for your good. One example of good that comes from adversity is changes in your character as you become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Another example of good that comes from adversity is that God is tremendously honored (glorified) if you respond biblically. God promises to use all things for your good if you love God. You love God by being an obedient Christian (John 14:15). (Emphasis added)

I see another red flag when she claims wives are only to be concerned about their own actions and attitudes and not about their husband’s actions. This is a popular sentiment by Lori Alexander which is used to dispel a wife’s concern over mistreatment, and places the focus back on her. It suggests that a wife should not be concerned about how she is treated and must always look to herself to evaluate her faults.

The works that God has prepared for you to do include not only what you do in your relationship with your husband, but also your heart’s motive or attitude. It will help you to have the right attitude if you focus on what you are supposed to be doing, not on what your husband is supposed to be doing. Certainly, it is easy to get caught up in seeing whether other people (especially your husband) are doing their jobs right.

In regarding to God’s protection, Peace states:

God is perfect and we can completely trust that He knows what is best for us even though husbands are not perfect and many may not be saved. In spite of the husband’s imperfections, God has chosen to place the wife under the authority of her husband.

Does it matter if the husband makes unwise, ungodly choices? Nope. The fact is that God can work in a wife’s life and be glorified when she is in her purposeful place. Oh, this makes my head hurt. I’m sure you can imagine the road my thoughts go down with this mindset.

The final point of the chapter discusses why a wife needs protection. Now I’m beginning to feel like I’m being talked to like a child. Wives need protection from: 1) the influences of the world (out comes the dreaded “F” word. She Who Must Not Be Named wants us to focus on education and career); 2) the devil (most certainly behind She Who Must Not Be Named); and 3) being easily deceived (I’m not making this up.).

We’re only in the beginning of the book and I can see that this whole thing is meant to tear a woman down and rebuild her back up to her rightful place. There is no room for a wife to find fulfillment or joy outside her marriage. And, if her marriage is based upon power and control, she has no justification for leaving.

Here are links to additional chapters in this series: Chapter One – Chapter Two – Chapter Three – Chapter Four –Chapter Five – Chapter Six

40 thoughts on “Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter 2: Carefully Placing Wives in a Box”

  1. Am I the only one uneasy about being referred to as a creature?

    No, it’s very odd language to use. I don’t like the idea of her talking about ‘understanding your position’ either.

    Peace begins by stating that the husband is the wife’s primary ministry and role in life based upon Genesis 2: 18 – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”

    It’s such a strange read to me, to see the man was the one who needed help, or strong help, and think that makes the woman beneath the man. I think they see the word through their patriarchal ideals, not as it actually is – in this instance, help does not imply lesser. In fact, in casual usage it does not either. We help children. That would be an equally valid interpretation. Couple this with ezer being used for God’s help, and then modifiers putting man and woman on similar footing, it definitely makes no sense to put her down as Adams little helper. That isn’t what’s going on here.

    Wives need protection from: 1) the influences of the world (out comes the dreaded “F” word. She Who Must Not Be Named wants us to focus on education and career); 2) the devil (most certainly behind She Who Must Not Be Named); and 3) being easily deceived (I’m not making this up.).

    I’m curious if she thinks this only of wives or women in general. Or are they, as usual, seeing all women as current or future wives. Sigh.

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  2. Genesis 2: 18 – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” must be juxtaposed with Gen 1:28: “God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.””

    Specifically, rule and dominion was given to THEM – the two people created at that time. Adam and Eve. If Eve’s calling is subordinate to Adam’s, then Adam would have been told to rule, and Eve would have been told to obey Adam.

    “Understanding your proper position as a creature serving the Creator is foundational to clearing up any misperceptions you may have about God and His protective authority over you.” – This is Gothard’s protective umbrella in word form – God’s protection only exists when you are “under the proper authority”.

    “God promises to use all of your life experiences, including any evil that has been done against you, for your good.” Jesus did not submit to any and all evil against him. For example, when he preached in the Synagogue, the people rushed him to the top of a cliff to kill him, but he was seemingly miraculously saved. He also answered the accusations of the religious leaders. This is, as others have coined, “salvation by suffering” – the idea that we should refuse to protect ourselves so as to allow others to hurt us and then we get brownie points for suffering persecution.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In order to sell authoritarianism, the subordinate must be convinced that subservience is in her best interests. That means:
    – The one they should submit to is superior physically, intellectually and spiritually
    if unconvinced:
    – They are inferior physically, intellectually and spiritually to the one they should submit to
    if unconvinced:
    – God will bless them for submitting to the authoritarian culture
    if unconvinced:
    – God will curse them for disobeying the authoritarian culture

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  4. Kathi – this is the phrase that annoys me: “Understanding your proper position.” It automatically implies a hierarchy. And it also gives me a flashback to BGBC when Chuck O’Neal told men to get control of their wives. Blech!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Children need protection.
    Children need guidance.
    Children don’t work outside the home.

    In a very subtle way, Martha is trying to turn adults into children. God doesn’t want that.

    “Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.”
    Eph 4:14 (HSCB)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Toiler – Is this a guess or do you know it’s going that way? For the life of me I cannot remember reading one word of this book. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s this way though.

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  7. I’m very interested in this series because I facilitated a book study decades ago on this book. If I remember correctly it was on the Sovereign Grace must read list. What I’ve learned since then is that books like these help stay-at-home moms feel good about their decision while heaping condemnation on those who choose or are forced by circumstances to do otherwise. It absolves church ladies from any responsibility to encourage or support women in different circumstances. Thankfully our group was diverse and we had multiple perspectives to consider which kept me grounded or I would have gone off the complementarian deep end.

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  8. I’m not surprised to hear it was on the Sovereign Grace must-read list. Sovereign Grace people loved John MacArthur, too, and as I said earlier, they gave this book out at the Shepherds’ Conference to the men. So men were given this book to show what kind of wife they are “supposed” to have, and now that they know this, they can use it as a weapon over her. After all, it’s even written by a godly woman!! 🤮🤮

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  9. Between Sovereign Grace and John MacArthur’s network think of how many women have potentially read this book. I wonder how many women have felt guilty that they aren’t good enough to be the wife God intended.

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  10. “…and 3) being easily deceived (I’m not making this up.).”

    I take it that Martha is among those who believe all women are more easily deceived than all men. This is what is behind the implication that women need more protection from the world than men do. They read that into Genesis, but also get it from Paul saying things like, and Adam was not the one deceived, but it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner, etc.

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  11. Martha Peace considers her view to be “biblical”. How strange. I hold to a conservative view of Scripture as the infallible Word of God, yet I am an egalitarian. She seeks to undermine any differing interpretations by co-opting the word “biblical “. Rather arrogant.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I guess single women who may not ever get married don’t matter. Are single women more easily deceived than single men? Who are single women suppose to serve? I realize the book is directed toward wives, but I just don’t get it.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I read this book. Comp theology really messed up my marriage for far too long. I am a recovering comp. so thankful for learning about Egalitarianism. Another one that was big in my circles, “Creative Counterpart” by Linda Dillow

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  14. I guess single women who may not ever get married don’t matter. Are single women more easily deceived than single men? Who are single women suppose to serve? I realize the book is directed toward wives, but I just don’t get it.

                    I DO. Single adult + church = invisible. 
    

    If you are male you are either gay, a possible predator or that “WEIRD” single guy.

    IF you are a female you are lesbian, “unhealed” , a radical feminist that is UNsubmissive or VERY bitter.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. @Jenn,
    “I am a recovering comp. so thankful for learning about Egalitarianism.”

    I praise our LORD for you Jenn in sharing the joy of your testimony with us folks! I can completely relate to the “recovering comp” flock of sheep as I too was chained down by this unbiblical philosophy of man.

    In my neck of the woods, comp theology does so much more harm/abuse than good, and perhaps this is why so many sheep do not fit into the mold of organized c’hurch religions, because we hold fast to Jesus’ Teachings first, and foremost, over the lordship teachings of those who desire to be “first.” Diotrephes has not left the building in this century!

    If our LORD Jesus says that He is our Shepherd, which is gender neutral, no “manship” or “womanship” required, why do c’hurch leaders and those who write books for monetary gain, thus taking the Name of our LORD Jesus Christ in vain, ie. Martha Peace, promote such slavery and bondage to a certain gender engraved “meme.” And if Jesus’ sheep live their lives outside of the “gender defined meme,” where does that leave those precious sheep who love the LORD God with all of their heart, mind, and soul, and desire to serve Jesus with fervent passion in love for Him?

    Where does that leave us? Perhaps with the greatest ministry that abounds on the face of the planet……outside of the 501c. 3 c’hurched walls………IS in our homes, in the streets, in the stores, in the public arena of life, speaking the Name and Testimony of Jesus Christ without any form of “leadership,” “lordship,” or any other oppressive form of “Nicolaitan system” men love to preach and teach to warn/judge us in telling us that we are wrong in boldly and courageously proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ without their barbed wire stamp of approval.

    As the rusted chains of comp theology slowly erode away from my soul, the most wicked and evil persecution using all kinds of abusive methodology, are cast upon me from the “comp camp.” The fruits of God, the Holy Spirit, are quickly replaced with anger, bitterness, and an iron fist……from men, especially those in c’hurch leadership. This is how I know that comp theology is of their father, the devil.

    No doubts what-so-ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WOW!!!
    This is the viewpoint of the church we are visiting!!!
    “Taken from Martha Peace, “Excellent Wife – A Biblical Perspective”, Focus Publishing, 1995″

    Submission… What is it?
    Submission is NOT…
    1. Inequality
    Phil. 2:5-9 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very
    nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…”
    2. Recognizing the husband as infallible
    Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no
    authority (husbands included) except that whichGod has established.” parenthetical thought
    added
    3. Immobility – You’re not a slave, a doormat, or completely passive
    Eph. 4:16 Each part does it’s work
    4. Inarticulate – Submission does not mean silence or failure to speak. You must still speak and seek
    to persuade in a gentle and submissive manner.
    Eph. 4:25 “Speak the truth in love…”
    5. Intellectual Stagnation
    I Cor. 4:2 As a child of God, you are a steward that must be faithful with the gifts that God
    has given to you as an individual and a woman.
    Biblical Submission IS…
    1. The divine plan for function and order in the home- Someonemust be responsible before God for
    leading the home. God has assigned that task to the man.
    2. A way of life for all believers
    Eph. 5:21 “Submit to one another…”
    I Peter 2:15 Submit to all authorities
    3. A protection for the wife – true freedom is NOT getting out from under authority
    4. An attitude
    I Peter 2:22 – 3:1 “Entrust yourself to Him(God) who judges justly… wives, in the sameway
    be submissive to your own husbands… that they may be won over without words by the
    behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
    5. An act of the will – NOT a feeling
    6. A proof of one’s love for God
    John 14:31 “I love the Father and I do what He says…”
    7. A picture of how the church of Jesus Christ is to obey Him
    Eph. 5:24 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their own
    husbands in everything.”
    (Taken from Martha Peace, “Excellent Wife – A Biblical Perspective”, Focus Publishing, 1995)

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  17. Biblical Submission IS…1. The divine plan for function and order in the home- Someonemust be responsible before God for leading the home. God has assigned that task to the man.

    ha. Funny how my home seems to manage without a man to ‘lead’ it.

    A protection for the wife – true freedom is NOT getting out from under authority

    Have none of these people read orwell???? Sheesh.

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  18. Whenever the ‘Umbrellas’ turn up, I am reminded that

    ‘The rain it raineth on the just
    And also on the unjust fella;
    But chiefly on the just, because
    The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.’

    (Lord Bowen)

    And, the only place in the Bible I can find where the husband is specifically told he is the head of the home, is in Esther. And it’s from the influence of King Whatshisname’s advisors who are all fearful that their wives will up and pull a ‘Vashti’ on them. I believe, when the book of Esther is read aloud at Purim, everyone boos and jeers at the baddies, so I don’t think we are expected to follow that king’s proclamation nowadays.

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  19. And, the only place in the Bible I can find where the husband is specifically told he is the head of the home, is in Esther.

    EPHESIANS 5:23 is the verse mostly used: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the savior of the body.

    Then are are 20 verses telling wives to submit to their husband or to be submissive to their husband. One verse actually says ” in all things”. The problem is many of these people writing books and preaching take this well beyond what a reasonable reader of the text would. Some even justifying abuse, wife spanking and other forms of serious SINFUL abuse. The wife’s response to her husband is to be natural and of her free will NOT enforced by the husband or the weirdos at church by twisting scripture. It largely a function of the marital relationship to be worked out between spouses. Sure preach on it but in a complete and balanced way.

    The big equalizer : husbands are commanded to LOVE THEIR WIFE MORE THAN THEIR OWN BODY, even giving your life for her. When you add that to the equation it should be more like this:

    LOVE your wife more than yourself, even giving up your life for her = wife submits to husband

    Cause & effect. NOT the husband bullying, demanding, ordering and being a tyrannical oppressive jerk. Many of these Sovereign Grace type of ” churches ” and fundamentalists pervert the WORD of GOD and create a parental relationship between married people. That is really twisted and totally unscriptural. It is also sin.

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  20. I’m glad you’re going through this book. This book was the final straw for me leaving the last church. I couldn’t believe how great the women thought it was! I’m single. Shortly before I left the church I (privately) asked the leader’s bff, “If this is what marriage is supposed to look like, WHY would I get married?!?”

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  21. Hi Katie Joy – I’m amazed that this book is still used today mainly because of how old it is. I suppose churches think that the teaching is “timeless.”

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  22. How can you love someone you don’t respect? How can you respect someone you don’t love?

    I think people who like this book would say all single women have the “spirit of Jezebel.” All bitter. And if you aren’t you aren’t gloomy and bitter oh rebellious spinster, that’s just proof you don’t attend their church regularly.

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