ONGOING DISCUSSION & READER INPUT
Please check back periodically to see updates to my book based on emails and discussions I have with my readers!
April 17, 2016, I was with friends at a SOS (Save Our Streets) luncheon. I said to Mary, “Let’s sit with strangers and see what happens.” I met a man, Philip Hurley, who had gone through a marital odyssey similar to mine. We had a most interesting discussion. He’s now reading Two Loves, and continues to give feedback. His May 6, report follows, along with my comments:
Part 1: Modeling
[Philip] Sex is not a need for a woman. In general, I agree with this, but I believe the “egalitarian” concept uses this generalization to deceive women into thinking that sex is something they control. In reality the biology of a woman causes her to have a strong drive for sex during a narrow window each month. It would offend many women to consider the idea that they, like their female counterparts in the animal world, “come into heat.” While the biology isn’t exactly the same, I believe women often are caught unawares of their body’s betrayal of control and they often find themselves, especially during their nubile years, in bed with a man they hadn’t planned on sleeping with and pregnant with a child they hadn’t intended to have.
While the animal kingdom has rare examples of sex for pleasure, by contrast I believe that woman is not immune from the strong desire to procreate once every 28 days and for many—”egalitarian” or not—it is easy to lose control. Even more reason why a woman needs the protection of a man—father or husband!
[Russell] Male protection is of value only when a woman voluntarily submits to her male authority figure. Elisabeth Elliot is the author of Let Me Be a Woman. In Chapter 40, “The Restraint of Power,” she writes the following:
As a man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by the command to submit. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. It is not physical strength that is most powerful. It is not the ability to deal with high-level abstractions. She may be as intelligent as, or more intelligent than her husband, she may be more gifted than he is. Whether this is the case or not, she also has “wiles,” emotional power and she has sexual power. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission.
[Philip] I was expecting something a little different here. I really think that talking about the effect of hormones on women is missing from the discussion. My experience has been that my woman had a period each month in which her sexual appetite increased. When she was in her early twenties or late teens, this appetite was so strong at times that she could scarcely help from satisfying it. Certainly, what we know about a woman’s “need” for sex is still true and I don’t mean to detract from the comparative drives but I believe young women, especially, get in trouble because no one has taught them that they will answer to the call of their hormones unless they do something about it.
[Russell] The information Philip gives above is new to me. My Chapter 7 comments were based on what *Debi Pearl writes in her, “Hormones 101,” p180. So what should a woman do to insure that she doesn’t answer to the call of her hormones? As both Debi Pearl and Elisabeth Elliot have both said, she must fully accept her calling, under God, which is to submit to her father, husband, or other male authority.
[Philip] What is birth control? Hormone regulation. When a woman is on birth control, this periodic drive is stifled by chemicals that even out the hormonal swings God created women to have. In fact, I would venture to say that this reinforces what was said earlier. If God had not designed a woman’s body to desire sex periodically, the human race might never procreate! This drive diminishes with time, certainly, but raises its ugly head later in life in the form of menopause.
[Philip] None of my guy friends or mentors prepared me for menopause and I really hold it against them. Menopause is something that we men should really be preparing younger guys for. I was astonished when my doctor told me that menopause could start earlier than you’d expect and could last into a woman’s seventh decade! God help a man who has to deal with menopause for 20-30 years! When my wife began behaving erratically due to changes in her hormone balance, I approached an older lady that I knew and asked her directly, “Can you tell me anything about menopause?” She said, “Oh, God, yes and it’s awful. I’ll hear myself saying horrible things to my husband for no reason!” The culture we live in doesn’t help with these matters, either because of the role reversal we have accepted.
[Russell] Philip has been married to a self-centered, controlling wife. Debi Pearl is a godly, submitted woman. She has been through menopause and gives quite a different story. I quote from *p180 to give the big picture and then from *p.181 for the details.
When a woman’s first commitment is to her own needs and feelings, she is necessarily going to view sex as strictly a carnal experience, for then she does indeed have an entirely hedonistic outlook—her self-gratification. But if a woman views sex as a ministry to her husband, then it is a selfless act of benevolence.
Don’t talk to me about menopause; I know all about menopause, and it is a lame excuse. Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs? Do you know who created you, and do you know He is the same God who expects you to freely give sex to your husband? Stop the excuses! Determine to find a way past your “excuses,” and provide the pleasure your husband wants only from you. Your creator knows your heart. When you truly love and reverence your husband, the very thought of him loving the likes of you should thrill your soul and make you long to give him pleasure. If your heart is right with God, you will focus on his needs and lay aside your own selfish, prudish attitude.
[Philip] It is my strong opinion that a woman (and I believe this describes a very large number of women in our society today—both inside and outside the church) who succeeds in exercising headship and leadership in the family will, as Debbie Pearl says, not find satisfaction and will come to despise her husband as weak and useless. She may not realize that she feels this way, but her own success will be the reason she concludes that she “married the wrong man,” or “fell out of love,” or decides that “we just grew apart.” In reality she has found exactly what she was searching for: a man she can control and now is dissatisfied with his lack of leadership. This may not cause her to leave him, divorce him or even cheat on him, but her marriage is empty and flat. I believe this is also why some are cynical about marriage, especially when it languishes under her headship.
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
[Philip] In today’s modern world, there is a role-reversal that is subtle and accepted. It’s the same as everything else you describe and yet appears to be the “acceptable way”. In reality, it’s the same old problem that started in the Garden. Homeschooling has become very popular among Christian families. This appears to be a perfectly legitimate and acceptable role for the wife and mother. She becomes the children’s teacher. When the movement first began the laws weren’t always very clear and varied from state to state. In some states it was necessary for there to be a formal approach to teaching children in the home including structure that mimics public schools: a classroom, teacher (Mom), principal (Dad), recognized and approved curriculum, etc. But as homeschooling challenged the status quo and the very foundation of academics, families began to have more liberty. This is good.
What’s not so good is that homeschooling appears to have become an excuse for the woman’s kingdom to become preeminent and, once again, Dad’s role takes a back seat. The perverse reality is that many men don’t see that they play a part in home schooling. When I was president of the local home school association, I sometimes would call people on the phone about issues or upcoming events. It was discouraging and irritating when the man would answer and as soon as I told him who I was, he’d say, “Let me get my wife.” I often would say, “Wait! I called to talk to you!” How disturbing it was for this man to turn his authority over to his wife so quickly and so readily, [then] turn his wife over to some other man on the phone. Wow!
As time has passed, homeschooling seems to have evolved easily into home church—and guess who naturally tends to have a lion’s share of the leadership role?
[Russell] Homeschooling is NOT the culprit, and I know Philip agrees with me. It is just another avenue for wrongful female dominance. Kay Arthur’s ministry is another example where the woman’s kingdom becomes preeminent. Debbie and Michael Pearl are into home schooling “big time,” but Michael is clearly in charge. Not because of his superior dominance, but because of Debi’s superior submission!
The following is taken from my Chapter 22:
I know a woman who was a wonderful Christian wife as long as she was under the authority of her husband. Three years ago she became a widow. Now she is both independent and bossy—very much so! Her ministry is to women, but she is functioning like a man. (Even the most godly person can conform to the culture.)
As I see it, every woman should always be under male authority—first her father, then her husband, and then the male authority of her choosing. If she’s a widow, her son might be the right choice. It’s important that she deliberately place herself under a specific male authority to whom she will be accountable. This is a spiritual matter with eternal consequences.
May 31, 2016 report from Philip Hurley
[Russell] Philip comments on my statement, “I see no compulsion for a man to continue, indefinitely, a non-relationship.” From Scripture, he quotes numerous passages as to the permanence of marriage.
In context, I stick with what I said. I think you, like almost all Christians are reading Scripture as Rules, Regulations, and procedures. As I show throughout this book, the RR&P are just a starting point. The Holy Spirit guides the application.
For years, I thought I was glorifying the Lord by sticking with a bad marriage—I was wrong! By allowing it to continue 32 years, I allowed our family to be seriously and permanently damaged. There comes a time when a man should be a man and do what he has to do. We moved to TX in 1976. Theresa didn’t want to leave Detroit. I told her I was going, and she could follow if she wanted to—she did! When I finally filed for divorce, I was saying I’m moving on. If you want to be my biblical wife, you can follow—she did! If I had continued to “honor the Lord” by tolerating her rebellion, nothing would have changed.
Your passage from Deut. 22:28-29 is the man’s responsibility. My book is also about the man’s responsibility. HE MUST NOT allow his wife to usurp his leadership role—at all costs! I LOVED my wife when I finally put my foot down. She is probably the most peaceful Alzheimer’s patient around. She is right with God. If she had refused, she would have had to answer to God. Obviously I disagree with most of what you have said up to now, but I’m glad you said it.
I love your report on Abraham and Sarah—it is magnificent! Sarah walked in faith, and so must every wife. She must trust her husband, and he must trust the Lord. That’s what Abraham and Sarah did, and they did a wonderful job. I will copy verbatim what you wrote:
[Philip] Consider the example of Sara, Abraham’s wife. “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” That seems like a strange testimony until you consider things from her point of view. Looking at Gen. 12:1, imagine the scenario:
Abram comes home and announces, “Pack up everything we own and everyone in the family; all our flocks and servants. We’re moving!” If you were this man’s wife, you’d probably ask, “Where are we going?” and Abram’s answer would have been, “I don’t know yet but I’ll know it when I get there.” It is very difficult to imagine any woman, even an obedient, Christian wife to be content with that answer and fall in line, but that’s what she did, time after time.
Here is the list of things Abraham’s wife had to deal with:
1 Moving—lock, stock and barrel–to an unknown country.
2 Believing with her husband that her children would be too many to number—though she was 75 years old!
3 Cooperating with her husband in taking refuge in Egypt because of a famine—by lying about being married, which could have led to her becoming Pharaoh’s concubine.
4 Giving the choicest land to your husband’s nephew—only to watch your husband go into battle to save him after he was captured.
5 Cooperating with her husband in lying about their marriage—again!
6 Quietly enduring while her husband takes their only son into the wilderness to offer him as a sacrifice.
Sara did all this because her husband talked to a God she had never heard of before and wives today will “do well” to follow the example of this submissive wife.
What would Sara’s “girlfriends” have advised her to do?
Philip Hurley 6/13/16
[Philip] Here is an analogy that occurred to me in the past few days.
God said, “Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
Wouldn’t it be silly for anyone to try to convince us that when you become a Christian, you stop sweating and the ground stops growing thistles for you? This would be bad theology. Perhaps the name it, claim it heresy is trying to do this. But it’s basically foolish to think that the curse can be undone.
Someday, the earth will be renewed and the curse will be gone, but today, we have to live—and work—within the context that God has placed us. When we work, it’ll be sorrowful, difficult and sweaty.
Why, then, should anyone think that husbands and wives can undo the curse that God placed on their relationships? Egalitarianism wants to pretend that the curse doesn’t exist, or at least that it is undone by both partners being equal.
I have to be very careful that I’m not also trying to undo the curse by believing that if I behave like Adam *should* have behaved then I can at least undo the curse that’s on me. Also, I can’t fool myself into believing that by behaving properly, even scripturally, I can undo the curse. It’s still there impacting and affecting my relationship with my wife.
The glory of the curse on the ground comes from focusing, not on the work, but on God’s glory and a future hope, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Similarly, the glory of the curse on marriage comes from focusing on the responsibilities of men and women. For husbands: Ephesians 5:25-29 and for wives: Ephesians 5:22-24.
[Russell] Can any portion of the curse be lifted this side of glory? The answer is “No.” But the born-again Christian can walk above the curse—even though it’s still there.
If both partners to a marriage are obedient to the Ephesians Chapter 5 commands that you gave above, they can walk above the curse. But there must be ongoing obedience to the Word, or the relationship will relapse.
What if only one partner to the marriage is obedient to the Ephesians Chapter 5 commands?
I have my testimony and Jim has his. For 32 years I behaved like Adam should have behaved. In April 2002, Theresa “overcame.” For 14 years, now, Theresa and I have had a heavenly marriage. I saw her again today and she looked really bad. The curse is on her body, but our godly marital relationship continues.
The whole purpose of God’s commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians Chapter 5 is that they might walk above the curse when it comes to their marriages. (Remember, marriage models the relationship of Christ to the Church.) Our Baptist church is filled with such couples and with godly children, who are their offspring. Most of the couples have been biblically married from the beginning. Our wedding vows, in contrast to those of other Baptist churches, are biblical. Start with the right confession, and you’ll get better results.
In, Created To Be His Help Meet, Debi Pearl tells how a godly woman can win her husband, even if he is a jerk.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [conduct] of the wives. (1 Peter 3:1)
In my Abstract and in my Chapter 23, I explain how a godly husband can win his wife, even if she is rebellious. As the spiritual leader, he must be aggressive in his role. As far as the thorns and thistles, the Lord is with you every step of the way. He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
Acting alone, a man can get saved—not many takers! “Narrow is the way that leads to life, and few be that find it.” It takes two willing partners, who are obedient to the Word, to have a good marriage. As they say, “That makes the cheese more binding.” A successful marriage is rare. My church is filled with these “rare” marriages. That makes my church exceedingly rare.