Book Review Series, The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, Complementarian Doctrine, Abusive Behavior
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.
After a lengthy pause, I’m back at learning how to be a most excellent wife. This chapter is all about God’s perfect plan for the wife. Let’s jump in!
Peace starts off with a list of “God’s perspective” for husbands and wives. These include that men and women are made in the image of God, however, due to the order of creation, woman was created for man, not man for the woman. She provides the following illustration to prove her point:
Because only men can bring glory to God, the husband will always be the head of the wife. Husbands are in charge of the home, but may not fully be in charge since he can delegate responsibilities to others in the home. What happens if the husband delegates responsibility, but is not pleased with the results? Since he is ultimately “in charge,” if something is not done exactly as he likes, is that a failure on the wife’s part to honor her husband? Can you see where a husband who holds power and control over his household could use this logic against his wife?
Practically, how can a wife bring glory to her husband? Peace offers the following:
1. Ask your husband, “What are your goals for the week?”
2. Ask your husband, “How can I help you to accomplish these goals?”
3. Ask your husband, “Is there anything that I can do differently that would make it easier for you?”
4. Be organized with cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and cooking. As you fulfill your God-given responsibilities, your husband is then free to do his work.
5. Save some of your energy every day for him.
6. Put him first over the children, your parents, friends, job, ladies’ Bible studies, etc.
7. Willingly and cheerfully rearrange your schedule for him when necessary.
8. Talk about him in a positive light to others. Do not slander him at all, even if what you are saying is true.
9. Do whatever you can to make him look good, to accomplish his goals.
10. Consider his work (job, goals, hobbies, work for the Lord) as more important than your own.
11. Think of specific ways that you can help him accomplish his goals.
12. Consider the things that you are involved in. How do they glorify your husband? Ask his guidance.
13. Be warm and gracious to his family and friends. Make your commitment to him obvious to them.
14. Do and say things that build him up instead of tear him down.
15. Dress and apply your makeup in an attractive manner that is pleasing to your husband.
16. When your husband sins, reprove him privately and gently, always giving him hope and pointing him to the Lord.
17. Encourage him to use his spiritual gifts in ministry.
18. Realize that just as God is glorified when man obeys Him, your husband is glorified when you obey your husband.
In a healthy relationship, each person will care for and consider the needs of the other. However, given the underlying context of a wife not being equal to her husband, this list only serves the husband and offers little in return for the wife. How does a husband manage to make it through the day if the wife takes a trip to visit family? Or, does the wife not take that trip because she needs to consider his needs?
If I were to reply to this list, I have to laugh at some of these things that are expected of me as a wife. First off, I am up at 6 a.m. every day for work. As a non-morning person, I am not getting up earlier to put myself together and prepare breakfast for my husband before he goes to work (I would be grumpy all day). My job is equally important as his because my finances help our family (plus I get great stock options that he loves!). I never wear makeup because I hate the way it feels on my face and I usually wear jeans and sweatshirts every day (because I can!). Does my husband feel less loved and supported by me because I don’t follow the guidelines of “glorifying” my husband? I think he would answer no.
In the end, Peace maintains her position of the wife’s role:
Basically, we have said that the wife’s role is to glorify and submit to her husband. She was created to fulfill her role as “helper” for her husband.
And, this is where I continue to have a problem with this type of teaching. Wives have no autonomy because their only existence is to serve their husbands. The twisting of scripture is not surprising as this view has been around for a long time. I often talk to people about these views and they are shocked that this teaching is still being used today. However, we know that spiritual abuse can be a factor within domestic abuse due to the thought that wives are equal in creation, but not in function. It’s time for this thinking to change.