Biblical Counseling, Book Review Series, Christian Marriage, Doctrine as Idol, Domestic Violence, Extra-Biblical Nonsense, Gender Roles, Marriage, Martha Peace, Spiritual Abuse

Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter Seventeen – Conflicts and Lists

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 OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter Fourteen Chapter FifteenChapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen is titled, “Conflict: Quietness of the Wife’s Spirit.” This chapter is all about biblically solving conflict with your husband. I’m not entirely sure what this phrase means, but you can be sure that there are lists to help us understand. Four lists to be exact: nine unbiblical thoughts, six biblical thoughts to help problem solve, three causes of conflicts, and four attitudes a wife needs to biblically solve conflicts.

For the sake of time, space, and everyone’s sanity, let’s discuss the six biblical thoughts to help problem solve. Because I have heard how destructive this book was to women in abusive marriages, I am coming from the perspective of abuse. The six thoughts, along with associated verses, are:

What is God trying to teach me in the midst of this conflict? (James 1: 2-5)

I am a Christian. For me to initiate a divorce just because we are having a lot of conflict is not an option that I have. (I Corinthians 7: 10,13 and Matthew 19:6)

God will help me to endure these conflicts. (1 Corinthians 10: 13)

If I must suffer through this conflict, I want it to be for doing what is right, not because I have sinned. (I Peter 3:17 ad 1 Peter 4:19)

God has a purpose for this conflict. (Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50: 20)

What can I do differently to make it easier for us to solve this conflict? (Philippians 2:3)

What is a wife in an abusive marriage to do with this list? Endure abuse, suffer at the hand of her abuser because it is wrong to divorce, and pinpoint the ways she is contributing to the abuse. She is also led to think that God allows the abuse to happen to teach her something. This falls in line with the biblical counseling teachings that we read in previous chapters.

These “right thoughts” make it easier to biblically solve conflict with little emotion to influence wives. Conflict is difficult, and it is unreasonable to expect that someone isn’t going to have any feelings about the experience, let alone always thinking the right thoughts. Reading this list leaves me with all sorts of emotions: sad for a wife that has to put up with her abusive spouse; anxious to think if this were happening to me, I couldn’t do anything about it; and angry on behalf of the wives who are told that this is the way they are to be in their marriages.

Let’s end by thinking of some “wrong thoughts” that Peace might think an excellent wife shouldn’t have:

  • I am valued by God and deserve to be treated better.
  • Even though I am a Christian, I can divorce my abuser to save myself.
  • I do not need to put up with abusive behavior directed toward me.
  • Nothing I do will change an abuser who is bent on maintaining power and control.
  • A loving God weeps at injustice. He would not condone my abuse.
  • My life is too important to be destroyed by abuse.

Wives, please don’t hold on to the destructive teaching that God has a purpose and plan for abuse that happens to you. You can leave an abusive marriage and remain honored, valued, and loved by God.

13 thoughts on “Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter Seventeen – Conflicts and Lists”

  1. “Conflict: Quietness of the Wife’s Spirit.”

    Before even reading the rest, I’m thinking that my spirit is never ‘quiet’ when i’m in conflict! So…this doesn’t make any sense on its face.

    Bless you for slogging through this mess, Kathi!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. anxious to think if this were happening to me, I couldn’t do anything about it

    On this, all of this sounds like it would also lead someone to be hopeless. One of the things I was taught is that hopelessness is a predicting factor for suicide/attempted suicide. I just pulled a paper that says “a given assessment of hopelessness (i.e., baseline, 6-months, 24-months, and 48-months) reliably predicted attempted suicide up to 4–6 years later, but not beyond.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330175/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lea, I agree with the word “hopeless”. Another word is “trapped”. The harder my daughter tried to do everything right (according to this book and her church counselors) the more it seemed the abuse escalated until she really felt that death was her only escape from something unbearable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The bottom line in all of this instruction toward a false form of godliness is that there really are wolves in sheep’s clothing within our churches – and our marriages. Abusers don’t care whether their wives are hurting, and they don’t care about finding resolution or whether God is glorified or not; they want power and control.

    What Ms. Peace and so many other Christian marriage “experts” fail to acknowledge is that marriage was never designed to provide a haven for sin.

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  5. Moderator note: I removed a couple of comments that do not apply to the topic at hand. Let’s stay on topic of how a wife is supposed to “problem solve” when abuse is a factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What bothers me about the authoritarian/complementarian model of conflict and growth is that the “lesser” can never change the “greater”. That is, the husband can never learn from his wife, the pastor from his congregant or the boss from his employee.

    It’s complete nonsense. I prefer Sheila’s idea that iron sharpens iron. My wife shows me my weaknesses and I show her hers, in both love and respect for each other. Instead of taking offense at that, we can learn and grow. Seriously, why would I choose to walk out of the house with a sock stuck to my back because I was too “manly” for my wife to point it out?

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  7. Kathi,
    this blog sometimes addresses how churches inappropriately deal with those who have mental health afflications, and just up thread (this very thread), Lea talked about people who have suicidal thoughts.

    My posts, both of them, pertained to that issue, with a link to WSJ about how churches are mishandling congregants who have depression, suicidal ideation and bipoloar disorder.

    I’ve been posting to this blog for many years and have never had a post removed for posting a blog-related, yet specific post unrelated, link in a thread conversation. This is strange.

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  8. Daisy – Lea and Mary addressed hopelessness and anxious feelings due to remaining in a domestic violence relationship. We’re not addressing mental health issues in general; which I agree that the church does a poor job with handling as well. Wives who feel hopeless and anxious about the relationship with their husband should always be referred to talk to a licensed counselor. And, in the case where domestic violence is involved, a counselor trained in trauma informed therapy.

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  9. Thanks, Kathi. There is a place to post off-topic discussion – it’s listed at the top of the blog. The issues we deal with at SSB are very important and generate great discussion. People learn here and it’s important that the topic remain the priority.

    However, if someone is going through something urgent and needs personal help, I am absolutely ok with someone jumping in with a comment to ask for help because people come first; but, again, if it’s a link to something unrelated to current article, it can go on the off-topic discussion page. Thanks!

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  10. I think this is the chapter I remember the most when we had to read it for our “Biblical Counseling” class in high school. There are just so many things wrong with this… It just reminds me of my disgust when people in the Church say things like this – “What is God trying to teach you in this? / There’s a purpose for why you’re going through this. / Is there some sin in your life that God may be punishing you for?” It’s such a wrong, dangerous and warped dialogue.

    Also, if you look up the verses she uses to support her statements, they are taken WAY out of context! For example her statement: “If I must suffer through this conflict, I want it to be for doing what is right, not because I have sinned. (I Peter 3:17 ad 1 Peter 4:19)”

    She uses 1 Peter 3:17 to support her statement, but I am going to list 1 Peter 3:15-18 so we can get the context for what is being said:

    “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

    To me these verses speak to the persecution that was going on to the Christians at this time for speaking and giving “the reason for the hope” they had. It is better to be thrown in jail or persecuted for proclaiming Christ, then to be thrown in jail for a crime… This in no way justifies putting up with an abusive or bad marriage. Also, did God have a purpose in Christ’s suffering? Yes, but because Christ’s sufferings were for the salvation of humanity and were used to give us access to Him. Suffering at the hands of husband does not have a purpose and a wife should not be made to feel like she has to stay in that situation. It is a manipulation of the verses to say that she should.

    Again her other verse to support her above statement is 1 Peter 4:19, and again it is taken out of context. If you look at that section in the chapter of 1 Peter 4, it is talking about suffering for being a Christian (again talking about the persecution of Christians) NOT about an abusive or bad marriage at all!

    1Peter 4:

    “Suffering for Being a Christian
    12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

    “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
    19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

    I haven’t looked up the rest of the supporting verses for her statements, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the same… It makes me sick that this is a book given in biblical counseling sessions and yet it takes verses out of context to support unhealthy views of marital roles.

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