How Quiverfull Speech Can Crash Airplanes



The Quiverfull/Patriarchy culture produces plenty of “how-to” books, such as Fascinating Womanhood, and Created to Be His Help Meet, to show women how to be the most “godly” wives and mothers they can be. Since I practically absorbed a ton of these types of books through my skin for the first eight years of our marriage, I noticed one thing they all had in common: they tell us how how to talk to our husbands with “respect,” “honor,” and “deference to his authority.” We learned how to use encouragement, childlike phrases, praise, focusing on the positives, and carefully worded requests to communicate within our marriages.

For example, in the book Fascinating Womanhood , a man is about to make a disastrous financial decision, where he could lose everything. The author encourages the wife to say, “It sounds like a good idea, and I can see why you’re excited about it, but for some reason, deep inside, I just don’t feel right about it.” It’s not that she doesn’t see specific reasons for the financial danger—it’s that saying those reasons outright could hurt what the author calls his “Sensitive Masculine Pride.”

In Created to Be His Help Meet , Debi Pearl states: “It is important for a woman to understand that [a wife] must be feminine (devoid of dominance and control) in order for her man to view her as his exact counterpart, and thus willingly respond to her protectively, with love and gentleness. A woman who criticizes her husband… is expressing dishonor. When the relationship is properly balanced, a wife can make an appeal at the right time and in the right manner, and it need not be a challenge to his authority.” (emphasis mine)

These books promise that if you do speak to him just the right way, he will listen to you.

And if he doesn’t listen to you, it’s the outcome God wanted anyway.

The good news is that this method of communication has already been tested extensively in another context—commercial airlines—and the results were startling: they caused planes to crash.

Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, tells us of “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes.” Apparently, when investigators analyzed the events leading up to many crashes, using the black box recorders, they found a common thread. More than engine failure, bad weather, pilot exhaustion, or drug use, the most common cause of a plane crash was what the author called “Mitigated Speech” between the Captain and the rest of the flight crew. For example :

“In the 1982 Air Florida crash outside Washington, DC, the first officer tried three times to tell the captain that the plane had a dangerous amount of ice on its wings.

Look how the ice is just hanging on his, ah, back, back there, see that?

See all those icicles on the back there and everything?

[Right before take-off]
Let’s check those [wing] tops again, since we’ve been setting here awhile.
The captain says, “I think we get to go here in a minute.”
They don’t de-ice the wings.
The only direct statement this co-pilot made to the captain was as they were crashing into the Potomac River: “Larry, we’re going down, Larry.”

In an analysis of a similar crash, the investigators report was heartbreaking:

“The copilot was right. But they died because… when the copilot asked questions, his implied suggestions were very weak. The captain’s reply was to ignore him totally. Perhaps the copilot did not want to appear rebellious, questioning the judgment of the captain, or he did not want to play the fool because he knew that the pilot had a great deal of experience flying in that area. The copilot should have advocated for his own opinions in a stronger way…” (emphasis mine)

Even worse, when a pilot and flight crew was steeped in a culture that valued honor and hierarchy, such as Korea, then the odds of the plane crashing were astronomically higher. In the case of Korean Air, the planes were seventeen times more likely to crash than a comperable American airline.


As Gladwell says, “Among Korean Air flight crews, the expectation on layovers used to be that the junior officers would attend to the captain to the point of making him dinner or purchasing him gifts. As one former Korean Air pilot puts it, the sensibility in many of the airline’s cockpits was that ‘the captain is in charge and does what he wants, when he likes, how he likes, and everyone else sits quietly and does nothing.’”

And later: “At a [Korean] dinner table, a lower-ranking person must wait until a higher-ranking person sits down and starts eating, while the reverse does not hold true… in greeting a social superior (though not an inferior) a Korean must bow… All social behavior and actions are conducted in the order of seniority or ranking; as the saying goes, chanmul to wi alay ka issta, there is order even to drinking cold water.”

Sound familiar?

In the realm of the Christian Patriarchy Movement, if a wife disagrees with her husband, or communicates too forcefully, she’s fundamentally dishonoring him. Is it any wonder that marriages, finances, careers, children, and churches crash and burn? No one can tell the Pilot when danger is approaching.

And if the plane crashes…oh well, it must have been God’s will.

There is no scriptural support for this. By contrast, Proverbs 31:11 & 12 says:
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

If a husband trusts his wife, then a wife telling him the truth without mitigated speech should be viewed as a blessing, not an unfeminine quality that should be squashed.

Also, in Isaiah 33:
“3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. 4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die…..6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’” (emphasis mine)

Could you imagine the watchman saying, “Um, I don’t want to bother you, and I know you’re normally prepared, but I saw something that might have been a dust cloud kicked up by an army. If you get a chance, could you come double-check for me?”

My marriage has been crippled and broken several times by my own use of mitigated speech, and by the faulty, unscriptural belief that, “Well, if he doesn’t respond, it must have been God’s will.” I’ve learned that my husband simply can’t read my mind to discern when something is deathly serious, and when something is just a passing concern. I have to speak assertively, passionately, and clearly in order to communicate things like:

“What you said hurt our daughter, and was unfair.”
“We can’t afford that, and do the other things you wanted to do.”
“I’m sick, and I need help.”

According to Gladwell, what turned Korea Air around was a cultural shift that demanded the Pilot and First-Officer see each other as equals. They had to address each other by first name instead of rank, speak English-only at the airline, and work hard to overcome their ingrained cultural belief that the Pilot was always right.  Every single day, they had to work to change destructive habits that had been with them since birth.

Six years later, Korea Air received an award for the most improved safety of any airline.

We can change our own habits too, if we are willing to recognize that the culture we came from is not Biblical, is not helping us reach the goal of a good marriage, and is actually harming us.

72 thoughts on “How Quiverfull Speech Can Crash Airplanes

  1. “Larry. We’re going down, Larry.” Laughable were it not for the loss of life.

    Such an incredibly astute comparison! For the first time ever, I’m seriously tempted to join Twitter.

    • I recall hearing this and more of these recordings on a movie. They took the actual transcripts and had actors read them in real time. Great documentary. The film was on netflix and I think it was called BRAVO-TANGO=ZULU or something similiar. The film is used in training in many fields including educating nurses to say, “No Doctor” before the patient crashes

    • Thank you Taylor. Somehow Patriarchalists think that maleness gives them the superiority. This is not only NOT GOD’S WILL but it is completely unbiblical. It is also an insult to the God Who created men and women equally in His image and expects them to use the intelligence He gave them. I can see where authority is a problem in other cultures or religions, but there is not excuse in Christianity.

  2. I think a flight crew is a pretty good parallel. There is a need in all times for objective input. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Most crews have been from military where obedience to authority is very high – not just with a Korean flight crew. So there have been several preventable crashes caused by the inability of pilots to listen to their crew

    On the other hand, the British government during the American Revolution appointed two commanders in charge – Cornwallis and Clinton. Cornwallis advocated a strong military push to defeat the American army in battle. Clinton advocated a conservative approach where the British would win economically by devastating quick raids and by avoiding decisive battles without clear superiority. Both policies could have won the war for the British if pursued alone. Unfortunately, the division of the war into two different strategies doomed both approaches.

    On fatal crash of Air France Flight 447 into the Atlantic on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009, the pilot left to take a rest break. He left two co-pilots in charge. When the plane ran into difficulty, the co-pilots failed to take proper action because it was not clear which one of the two was in control of the plane and their actions were uncoordinated in conflict and doomed the plane.

    Flight and emergency crews have a methodology for working as a team and under authority it is called Crew Resource Management. It looks to balance leadership and authority with the ability to promote an open environment for providing information to the people in authority. In a similar way, I think the Bible is calling for a family authority within an open environment where decision can be discussed and questioned under the husband’s leadership.

    • Kevin Sherlock (love the name! Are you a Sherlock BBC fan?) I actually agree on several of your points, but plan to write a more detailed post about it later. Thanks so much for coming by. 🙂

    • Oh, I also meant to ask you–have you read any of the books that are specifically geared towards how *women* are supposed to treat their husbands, or achieve Godly femininity? When I got married, I felt like I wanted to become a student of men, and of my husband in particular, so I read several books that were geared towards helping men realize true “Godly masculinity,” because dangit, as his wife, I wanted to equip him as best as I could. ❤ The deeper I go into this culture, the more thunderstruck looks I keep seeing from men in the church. I have to wonder, "Have the men in the church read the advice that is being given to the women?"

    • Two years later, but your comparison supporting male hierarchy still needs a friendly rebuttal. 🙂 I just taught the story of Deboral, Barak, and Jael last week in my sunday school class. Interestingly, Jael went against her husband’s “authority”. Jael seized the opportunity to assassinate the enemy Sisera, even though her husband was on friendly terms with Sisera’s king. Also, Deborah was running the show, judging and leading Israel and telling Barak what to do, while her husband Lappidoth shows no participation in leadership. There is no evidence that the Bible commands all women, for all ages to be secondary to their husbands or men. We women are encouraged to respect the customs of our culture, and laws that (for most of history) required women to submit to the husband’s legal authority. However, setting the man as the “default” leader of the home for EVERY culture is extremely dangerous and foolish, and teaching legalism is insulting to the freedom Christ has given us in the cross. What if the man goes through a mental health struggle, or other problems that deprive him of the ability to make good decisions? I think that is why the Bible encourages believers, free in Christ, to submit one to another, and serve each other as Christ served the church. Decisions should be made according to whoever is gifted or experienced in that area. I have knowledge in health and medicine, so family health decisions fall on me. My husband is skilled in finances, so I am happy to let him lead in that area. Some issues, like buying a car, we work together – I am great at researching, and my husband is skilled at negotiating a good price. It would be ridiculous and exhausting to demand my husband have to make every final decision, because we are gifted in different areas! Sometimes we take turns making decisions, planning date nights or other activities. The American government is a great example of successful divided leadership. The three branches of government in a democracy have been more successful in balancing power than any aristocracy. Why? Because the leaders in the US are chosen by their talents/experience/skill in their specific area, and each branch has authority over its own area. In an aristocracy, the leader is chosen by default at birth, and even though there may be “an open environment where decisions can be discussed questioned” under the king’s leadership, ultimately, absolute power corrupts absolutely. No one person does well when they are given absolute veto power, whether it’s a family or a country. That is why patriarchal Christianity is failing… men are not designed to be able to handle complete authority. The three part union of man, wife, and Christ make a balanced leadership for the home, where Christ allows us authority, freedom and responsibility to make our own decisions… and the husband and wife should each be granted authority, freedom and responsibility to lead and serve each other in areas of giftedness.

    • I see one more flaw with the analogy using the two British commanders as support for male hierarchy. See, the British commanders were each trying to do their own thing. They did not agree on one battle plan. In a Christian marriage, we already HAVE our battle plan! We are not Commanders. We are lieutenants. If we both follow Christ, we will be in unity, even if we share leadership. Some battles can be under the man’s leadership, some under the woman’s leadership. Our Commander is Jesus Christ. Not the man. Or the woman. Each battle can be led by whoever is gifted/skilled/called to lead that area, at that time. God bless.

  3. wow. An incredible picture. Thank you. I could not agree more.
    I am an ex- ATI , Debbie Pearl, Wife and Mom. I have read them all and decided to trust the scriptures where God Himself tells me that the Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth. God is so good. The authors of said books can have their marriage the way they like it but stay out of mine.
    We have a wonderful marriage after many years of stupid frustration. Married 32 years.
    (I do like Elizabeth George – she has the audacity to trust her readers and not try to put words in their mouths or guilt in their hearts.)

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  5. Awesome article by a talented writer ! Notwithstanding I personally do not believe that a wife is a copilot, but instead husband and wife are equals and are meant to become one – a team of mutual respect and honor towards each other. The best Christian book on the matter, going scripture by scripture and applying SERIOUS research on translation etc is : “Why Not Women : A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership” by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton . Every Christian, especially pastors should read it.

    • Thanks Regina! ❤ I would love to read those. I had just re-read "Outliers," and was using the section on plane crashes to explain *to my husband* why the communication techniques promoted by many churches were so harmful. I aqgree, it's not a perfect analogy, but it gave my data-loving Genius a different perspective on the marriage advice we'd received in the past. ❤

  6. Hello, I would like to know if you would authorize me to translate this article to Spanish and publicate it into my magazine with your links so they can follow you. Thanks, great article!

  7. I was fascinated by that account in Gladwell’s book, and I’ve recounted it to a number of people as an illustration of the effect of culture on how well we communicate. You draw a very intriguing parallel here with patriarchalism

  8. This is a great post. It’s makes a strong and reasonable case without the hate-filled backlash toward those patrio-centric groups that I often find on the internet. I’m a newlywed, and I grew up around the Vision Forum and ATI crowd. I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, who is saved, but did not grow up in a believing home, and did not have any influence from these groups whatsoever in his life. He only knows God’s word, and that has given me such a fresh perspective. He is always encouraging me to share burdens with him, tell him difficult truths, hold him accountable in life’s challenges, etc. Processing the hurt and all the years of wrong thinking from the patriarchy movement has been difficult, but so much better with him by my side.
    I, too, have experienced some small-scale plane crashes in our dating and marriage, when I was being too “submissive” to speak up and tell my husband something was wrong. It was always in deference to what I perceived to be his ego, while he was just trying his best and could have used some helpful input. This is a great comparison!

  9. I liked this blog, it is very interesting and I agree that we should not be supporting codependency in the Church, but this has nothing to do with a full quiver and the title is misleading. Scripture doesn’t crash airplanes. Children are a gift and a man with a “quiver” (historically 10-12 arrows) full of them is blessed by God. Trusting in Him and not leaning on our understanding does not crash airplanes.

    • Anita, thanks so much for your comment, and I’m really glad you came by. I agree that Scripture itself doesn’t support codependency. However, the title is referring to the “Quiverfull Movement,” not whether or not the Bible requires/encourages having a certain number of children. Have you read any books put out by the proponents of the Quiverfull movement that encouraged wives NOT to use mitigated speech?

  10. I think this is a great post and I agree with your core concept completely. This mitigated speech (and the felt obligation to do it) has damaged my marriage, possibly irreparably. Now separated, I am learning to speak up and speak out in a healthy way (without swinging the pendulum too far the other way into unhealthy territory on the opposite side)

    I would like to suggest, however, that there might be a term to use other than Quiverfull. Quiverfull has to do with intentionally not using family planning. AFAIK, neither Debbie Pearl nor the author of Fascinating Womanhood are QF. While there are certainly QF people who also hold the “helpmeet model”, there are also many who do not, and because it is such a tiny “movement”, there are many more people worldwide who have nothing to do with QF who have this problem of an unhealthy power dynamic and mitigated speech in their marriages.

    • M. thanks so much for your comment. I agree that Mitigated Speech is a problem in many marriages, regardless of affiliation. However, the FW and CTBHHM books are frequently used by adherents to the QF movement, as are Vision Forum materials, Bill Gothard/ATI curricula, and many, many other resources. I also wouldn’t consider it a “tiny movement,” since VF and ATI in particular are also very patriarchal, and have influence over a large population of homeschoolers and churches. Bill Gothard, especially with his large seminars in the 70’s and 80’s, has had *years* to slowly spread his false “umbrella of authority” doctrines–among many, many others–to a variety of churches, regardless of denomination. It’s really frightening how mainstream many of these teachings have become. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting.

      • Thanks for your kind response. I suppose “tiny” is relative. I did not grow up in these movements, and to me they look fairly small in the broader Church, but I’ve definitely seen this same unhealthy mindset amongst people who look at me like I have two heads because I ahve “so many” kids (four, lol). My exposure to QF as a teen was soley as a mindset about family planning, and I met a really wide variety of QF people, some of who are ATI and Vision Forum types, and others who are most definitely not.
        I’m just being picky about semantics, ’cause I’m like that. But otherwise I thought it was a great and very important article that you wrote!

  11. Both wife AND husband are supposed to be using mitigated speech. Your article basically boils down to, “If THEY do it, WE should be able to do it, too!”

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. Men are called to be loving, thoughtful, and respectful. Women are called to be submissive and respectful. I realize you mainly kept your point in this article to specific types of language, but it’s rather clear you believe authority within marriage should be equal. If you have a problem that department, take it up with Saint Paul.

    Also, the, “We can’t afford that, and do the other things you wanted to do,” example passive-aggressively screams of a yearning for power. Please don’t be so disingenuous as to pretend that yearning isn’t at the root of this article.

    • I don’t get that vibe from this article. I totally agree with what it says, and I believe that men have been biblically chosen to be the family leaders. This article is an example of what happens when assisting leadership gets confused with fear of harming someone’s ego. Women should be able to communicate practical information without having to tip-toe on eggshells in fear. Not speaking up about red flags and problems, even with determination when necessary, is actually neglecting the duty of being an effective helper.
      I don’t see the author advocating for leadership and power. I see her asserting that women have to recognize when their husbands need to hear unpleasant feedback; it’s part of life, and part of an honest relationship.

      • I can’t reply fully as I don’t know the full meaning of what you say here, but I would challenge the ladies (not discounting the husband’s responsibility here, but so this doesn’t become a throw the husband under the bus thing) to read 1 Peter 3 in the context of 1 Peter 2 and the sufferings of Christ. While what is stated in the article may be ideal, there simply are husbands out there that won’t listen to their helper (wife). Christ calls you to suffer through that just as He suffered on the cross. To win your husband not with words but with acts of love, kindness, and sacrificial service to your husband. And there is a fine balance that a godly wife must learn. Remember a constant nagging wife is like a constant dripping on the head. To qualify, in an ideal and godly marriage…yes a husband and wife can interact freely and a wife should be able to privately speak respectfully to her husband about his faults and show her support of her husband in defeating sin/etc. But this also must be said because we live in a fallen world, and there are many husbands who will not listen to their wives and wives who don’t respect their husbands (in which 1 Pt 3 also tells the husband to suffer joyfully their wives as Christ suffered).

        Just hoping to provide some balance here to the conversation. I hope I was clear.

      • Andrew, I completely agree with everything you’ve said. 100%. No debate necessary.

        I simply take issue with your accusation of the author. You state that she has ulterior motives because the root of her article is a yearning for power over her husband. You don’t know her, or her heart, and calling her disingenuous comes off as plain absurd. Your angle is just as valid and necessary, but I think you’re preaching to the choir in this case.

    • I would be careful of judging motives based only on text; you know what I mean?

      “We can’t afford that, and do the other things you wanted to do.” <– That can be said a hundred different ways, both kind and unkind, loving and unloving. I would give the author the benefit of the doubt before just assuming it's passive-aggressive. The rest of the article doesn't support that notion.

    • I couldn’t help it–we were on our way to watch Captain America when I first read your post, & I asked my husband, “Honey, you’re my best friend, and I trust you more than anyone in the world, so please tell me honestly: Do you think I have a passive-aggressive yearning for power?” He laughed so hard that he almost rear-ended the little black chevy in front of him, and said, “Um, no!” However, your dissenting opinion will always be welcome here, even if your clairvoyance needs some fine-tuning. 😉

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  13. Everything about VF and patriarchy un-glues me. I spent many months writing two essays on VF’s “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy”. As of yet no one from these camps has called me to task on what I wrote. []

  14. I enjoyed your point of view here. I also read many womanhood books and often feel so guilty for not being sweet enough. Something definitely needs to change in how we teach women. Was Deborah sweet? Was Abigail?

  15. Love this post. Agree with the need to speak up as wives. God has gifted us with different wisdom and intuition from that of our husbands. And I LOVE your Malcom Gladwell quote. I just finished Outliers last night, and quoted him in a post of my own this week. I was speaking about his research into 10,000 hours being the bench-mark for success.

    His books are the most fascinating I have ever read. Thanks for your post!

  16. Oh man, thanks so much for writing this. As a young guy 18 months into marriage with an extremely smart, capable wife, communicating openly and kindly without neutering the truth or needlessly hurting each other is a dance we haven’t learned the steps to yet.

    It’s amazing to me that these proponents don’t see the underlying irony in telling wives to use mitigating speech to “respect” their husbands. Talking to your husband like he is an impetuous child incapable of handling open and honest criticism is the very opposite of respectful. If you are going to respect and love your husband, you have to tell him the truth about when he isn’t being wise. And if he is a gospel-believing Christian, the fact that he is a sinner who doesn’t hit it out of the park every time should not come as a revelation to him. He should be able to receive that criticism given the foundation he has in God’s covenant love, and secondarily the acceptance he has in the covenant his wife has made with him. Key word in all of this being “should.” We men are very insecure about these things, which is exactly how all of this mitigating speech nonsense probably started anyway.

    Anyway, if they are going to insist on bludgeoning men to death with the whole “Be a strong man!” deal, then they should at least apply it consistently and tell us to be strong enough men to listen to the intelligent women we married when they tell us the truth.

    • It’s so great to hear this from a guy. Thank you for your perspective! My husband and I are also 18 months along, and we struggle with this stuff too. I think what has helped us the most is how much quality time we spend together. We both work from home, and live in an isolated village in the countryside (Germany, actually; I am American and he is Bavarian). Because of this, we have to be around each other 90% of the time, and it’s forced us to work on communication in order to not go crazy! Things really improved after the first year, and now we enjoy each other most of the time. I think so much time together put our learning curve on steroids.

      • Oh wow!! What field are you in? How did you meet?? That has to be so crazy/cool/isolating/challenging…and a million other things all wrapped up & tied w/ a bow!

      • I’m never sure exactly where to hit the reply button . . . haha! Hopefully this goes in the right place.
        I teach literature online, and my husband studies linguistics (code for people who know how to live on a budget). We met while both of us were studying as exchange students in northern Italy. We became friends, and I introduced him (an unbeliever at the time) to a local pastor whose church I was attending. They became best friends and the pastor led him to Christ, and we somehow got married 2 and 1/2 years later!

        Two days after our honeymoon, I packed my life up into two suitcases and moved to Germany. We’ve been here around 18 months now. It has been SUPER challenging but also SUPER filled with grace and forgiveness and opportunities for major personal growth. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  17. Loved your article!! Great tie in!! My husband has read the book and our son is a pilot, so we understand these dynamics very well. You can imagine that we are in tune with exposing flawed patriarchal thinking since it doesn’t work. Keep up the good work!

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  19. Wow!! Well done. Great article. Thank you. I’ve been blessed with a hubby who allows me to speak my mind, but having grown up in an authority-fearing system, I have always been hesitant, even with his encouragement to do so. Loved the analogy — makes perfect sense. Thanks! Looking forward to saving more “airplanes” in my future! 😉

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  22. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for posting this article. I am a devout Christian but I absolutely hate the sexist attitude towards women by many of the men in our faith. I just left a church that I’ve been with for three years because the pastor said he will never have women on the board because he does not want them “usurping his authority” in the church. Seriously????????? I am by no means a feminist, but I believe that men and women are equal in the eyes of God in all areas of life; even in the church. More pastors – and women – need to stop being fooled by this degrading practice of demeaning women.

  23. Reblogged this on bWe Baptist Women for Equality's Blog and commented:
    This past week I read what young women were saying on facebook about submitting to their husbands. Then I heard a very close family say that the husband is the head of the house. This disturbs me greatly. I am glad these young women are attending church, but I am deeply saddened that the pastors of these churches foster this dangerous teaching.

    They all want megachurches, but a church can have mega people and still be egalitarian. Why couldn’t it be?

    Read the blog below to see how dangerous it is in real life for those yoked together when one must submit to the other because of his rank (such as husbands’ rank over their wives.)

  24. SOOOOOOO thankful that you wrote about this!! I was a part of the Debi Pearl “Helpmeet” camp and it created a deeply codependent, crazy making, marriage scenario that almost ended ours. It was as harmful to my husband as it was to me and sent me into a mode of perfectionism that spiralled into deep depression until I walked away from the church. The pressure that was put on my husband to be the sole leader in our household was unbearable and the pressure put onto me to be “submissive” was insane. I believe this whole scenario easily opens the door for abuse and forces us all into a place where self care falls to the wayside….and quite frankly makes our view of God small.

    I am so happy to be on this side of the ordeal but sometimes overwhelmed by how damaging it all was to us and our kids. Lots of counselling, boundary setting, and getting back to a place of trusting my God given intellect and instinct in life has breathed new hope into our marriage.

    Now when I hear someone quote the scripture about ” The nagging wife” I cringe, but am quick to reply that a) men are capable of and do nag as well, so please quit labeling women as the naggers and b) There is a big difference between nagging and voicing an opinion. Nagging comes from the intention of wanting to annoy to get results and the other comes from wisdom and a desire to help. Just because a woman offers advice does not mean she is nagging….no matter how many times she offers it.

    I have written a bit about where I was and what God is revealing to me now ;

    Peace to you,

  25. Good post. Thank you.

    The gender dichotomy in the church reminds me of an old seventies book, called “Total Woman,” or something like that. The author encouraged women to become, more or less, infantilized in order to get what they wanted from their husbands. I remember one piece of “advice” in particular, that made my then sister-in-law and I laugh. The author suggested that if a wife shakes her curls and stamps her feet, as it were, like her little three year-old girl (something that really gets Daddy’s attention and melts his heart), she, the wife, would have a much easier time getting that new dining room set, or what have you. I never dreamed I’d hear of such (very similar) nonsense in the Church, of all places! Anyway, I digress.

    I have often thought that the emphasis on stepping carefully around a man’s apparently exceedingly fragile ego (read: prid–but isn’t pride one of the seven deadly….?) speaks more of the weakness of the man than the behavior of the woman. Addtionally, if I were a man whose wife believed I was that weak, I would be one of two things: insulted at her low opinion of me, or very, very pleased at how I could control her and get her to do what I want. But I would also be sorely tempted to resent her contrived behavior toward me as demeaning and it would make me resentful, in the end. It would certainly tempt her to be very passive aggressive, to take it out of the spiritual and put it into the human nature…

    But, of course, there is another more dangerous and God-dishonoring reason to treat women “less than” men. Here is an analogy.

    My sister and I had a discussion recently over the tragedy of the genital mutilation of women in certain cultures. Apparently, the only reasons for this are a) the tradition of certain religious cults, and b) to deny women sexual pleasure excited by the body part hacked off (often with no sedative or sanitary conditions–and when the women are still in girlhood).

    When you think about it, by denying a woman her God-give ability to fully enjoy His design for sexual pleasure, this renders a woman “less than”. How tempting, then, for a man to value her less in the physical sense, and see her more as a means for his (sexual) gratification only .and/or to bear his children.

    The anology: by denying a believer her God-given and Scripturally-based right to be taught of the Holy Spirit and to be gifted by Him “severally as He wills (and there is no indication that her gifting is subject to her husband’s approval or disapproval),” which might just include the full range of gifts including wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, etc., is to deny her full expression of God’s design for the fullness of her spirituality. And, of course, presents the temptation to treat her less-than…

    Sorry for the graphic nature, but sometimes an analogy drives the point home.

    More often, however, I think of the old expression: “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is not good for anyone to have an occasion to think they have, by nature of their flesh, in this case their genitalia, certain inalienable rights over other believers because of their genitalia. Indeed, Jesus demonstrated His position of authority over us by…washing feet (a cultural debasement), and, of course, dying on the cross–while we were yet in our sins. In short, He served us to the death even before we were “behaving,” indeed, in spite of our behavior.

    Because it is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh, profiting nothing (John 6:63).

    I wonder if the men who espouse the kind of perverted patriarchalism discussed in the context here have ever been taught the concept of “irony”?

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