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.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and again, I’m viewing this chapter through the lens of domestic violence. For this chapter, I would like to focus on spiritual abuse in intimate partner relationships.
The intended audience of this book (Christian wives) may encounter spiritual abuse in the following ways: theology-based on gender roles which places the husband as the authority over the home, use of scripture to guilt into obedience, use of scripture to meet the husband’s sexual “needs,” not being allowed to work outside the home due to gender roles, life-threatening pregnancies, lack of decision-making abilities due to husband’s authority, isolation from threats of the world, or humiliation in front of faith peers.
Following are quotes from the chapter in which the author uses spiritual abuse to keep Christian wives in their intended, God-ordained role of being in submissive to their husbands.
The wife must focus on her THREE MAIN GOD-GIVEN BASIC RESPONSIBILITIES towards her husband: to love him, to respect him, and to submit to him. Her ‘good works’ are not dependent on what her husband does, but on her obedience to God in these areas.
It could be that a wife’s understanding true biblical submission has been greatly distorted. Distrust and hostility towards biblical submission in our society is rampant.
For the Christian wife, biblical submission to her husband is one of God’s testimonies and should therefore be a joy for her.
So, we are commanded to ‘consider it joy.’ You do that in the midst of a trial by thinking, ‘This is good for me and God has purpose in it or He would not permit it. This is not fun, but I do have joy in knowing that God is working in my life to accomplish His purpose.’
In understanding the biblical relationship between submission and joy, remember that submitting will not always be fun, but there is always joy in glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. You should therefore commit yourself to learning submission, not with a dread of what is to come but with an anticipation of how you can best glorify your Lord. This is God’s ordained purpose for you.
This book has already focused so much on submission, but for some reason Peace has at least two more chapters left on this topic. It makes me wonder if she is trying to convince herself that her theology is that good by saying it over and over and over. I’m afraid all she is doing is providing ammunition for abusers and making women second guess themselves.