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 – Chapter Two – Chapter Three – Chapter Four – Chapter Five – Chapter Six – Chapter Seven – Chapter Eight – Chapter Nine – Chapter Ten – Chapter Eleven – Chapter Twelve – Chapter Thirteen – Chapter Fourteen – Chapter Fifteen – Chapter Sixteen – Chapter Seventeen – Chapter Eighteen – Chapter Nineteen – Chapter Twenty
This is it; the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The final chapter! My goodness, I thought we’d never get here. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry or break open a bottle of wine and give a grand toast. Well, technically we’re not quite there yet, so no early celebrating. Let’s knock this chapter out.
Chapter Twenty-One is titled, “The Wife’s Sorrow: Overcoming a Grieving Heart.” This chapter focuses on a wife’s sorrow and grief caused by her husband’s actions. How much do you want to bet that Martha Peace thinks grieving is sinful behavior?
Peace provides the following examples:
Husbands are capable of extremely gross sin such as child molestation, other criminal acts, violence, drug addiction, solicitation of prostitution, adultery, pornography, cruelty, drunkenness, and homosexuality. Any one of these sins is enough to put a wife into a state of hopeless despair and to break her heart.
How is a wife to respond?
If you are a Christian, God has given you many inward “heart” capacities. For example you now have a capacity to love God and love others you did not have while unsaved. You also have a joy that the world cannot know. In addition, God gave you His peace. You also have the ability to experience godly sorrow or grief.
What in the world is “godly” sorrow and grief? Peace means that if you are a Christian, your grief is combined with peace, joy, and love. She then says that “Jesus was never sinfully filled with sorrow.” What? I’m really confused with how sorrow can be sinful.
Being sinfully filled with sorrow is a result of unbiblical thinking or actions. Grief is never a justification for sin.
Of course, a list of sinful actions is provided to describe what could make your grief ungodly. These include: gossiping, judging and husband’s motives, exaggerating offenses, not giving your husband a chance to repent, not going to church, anger, seeking comfort from another man, sharing intimacy with children that is not age appropriate, wishing you could kill your husband, wishing your husband were dead, or committing suicide. If you want to carry out any of these sinful actions you need to repent.
Here’s the thing about Martha’s list; it’s like all of her other lists in this book that describe everything else as sinful. How is this list different than the list about anger in Chapter Eighteen, or the list about fear in Chapter Nineteen, or the list about loneliness in Chapter Twenty? What Peace fails to recognize is that anger, fear, loneliness, and sorrow are all valid and perfectly reasonable reactions to difficult situations. This is what drives me crazy about this book- there is nothing specific that helps a wife who is grieving over the wrong actions by her husband.
This last chapter sums up everything a wife is to do if her husband sins against her:
Your heart may be broken over someone’s sin. Remember, though, that you are not alone. God, too is deeply grieved as well as offended. God is ready and waiting to help you. He will bear this burden with you and lighten your load.
Your sorrow will lessen as you seek refuge in God, as you go against your natural feelings, and as you show love to God and your husband. You do not ever have to be sinfully overwhelmed again.
There you go — turn to God and love your husband. Sounds so simple, right? The reality of people and relationships is that there is often complexity if a wife feels angry, lonely, afraid, or sorrowful over her marriage. There are no recommendations to seek licensed, professional counseling. No going to the authorities if you feel your life is in danger. No taking action to protect yourself and your children. Submitting to your husband and loving him more is not going to solve these problems.
Throughout this series I have heard from many women about the impact of this specific book and how it enabled them to stay in abusive marriages. This makes me angry and breaks my heart. Martha Peace needs to listen to the stories of women affected by these damaging teachings. She needs to acknowledge the impact of her damaging teaching on the lives of women and children trapped in abusive relationships.
Wives, your lives matter. Your well-being matters. You do not have to stay with a husband who does not respect you or who puts your life in danger. You do not have to talk gently to him; winning him over with a gentle word. You don’t have to watch how you talk about his actions to others; tell the truth about what is happening. You don’t have to keep loving him; God does not command this. You don’t have to stay; the Bible does not require it.
Thank you for hanging on with me through this book and the great discussion. This book currently has a 4.5/5 star review on Amazon. You can be sure I’ll be leaving a lengthy review.
I don’t have another book to review at the moment. If you like these book review series, I’m more than willing to take suggestions. We could even do a book group! Any takers? Fine, I’ll just read it so you don’t have to.