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