How Debi Pearl Enables Abuse in Marriage

Several people have requested me to take a look at Created to Be His Helpmeet  by Debi Pearl and offer my thoughts. This is not a complete review of the book by any means; however, these are some of the more blatant examples of the ways Debi Pearl’s teachings enable abuse in marriage.

1. Debi Pearl uses God’s name to claim that a woman’s entire life should revolve around her husband.

At the beginning of chapter five, Debi Pearl asks the reader, “Do you have enough fear of God not to question his Word?”

So what is it in this chapter that a wife is not supposed to question?
  • That she is there to meet all her husband’s dreams and desires. (This is in response to a letter she received from a lady whose husband treats her harshly, walks all over her, and does nothing but watch TV. She says that all she feels is pain. Wow, I’m sure the abusive husband is loving this! Not only does he get to abuse his wife; his wife’s spiritual mentor tells her to meet all his dreams and desires!)
  • Debi says that it does not require a good man to have a heavenly marriage, it only takes a woman willing to honor God by being the kind of wife God intended.
  • Debi says that to be this kind of wife (who meets all her husband’s dreams and desires regardless of how he treats her) is the woman’s mission here on this earth. (And this is heavenly how?)
  • A woman’s calling according to Debi Pearl is to allow someone else (her husband) to control her life. It can be a challenge, she says, but with wisdom from God, if it doesn’t change her husband into a good man, it will at least make her a bride fit for the Son of God. (Wait, I thought that’s what Jesus did? I didn’t realize our salvation and sanctification requires us to let someone abuse us.)
  • Debi says that, “God very clearly spelled out to us exactly what he expects of us as wives…His Word speaks abundantly and clearly of our role.”

Notice how all of these statements, harmful as they are, are supposedly clear commands from God that a woman should not question.

2. Debi Pearl addresses abusive situations as if they are a normal part of marriage.

Many of the illustrations included in Created to Be His Helpmeet are actually abusive situations, but Debi Pearl writes about them as if they are normal and even good!She describes various types of men (which are actually abusive) and creates a whole narrative around the different ways that their abusive traits reflect the image of God./

She gives instructions to the wives of these men to mold themselves into the right kind of woman to match the type of man he is. This is literally teaching her how to be an abused wife. Molding yourself into the image he wants is what the abusive man wants you to do — it’s not helping him reflect the image of God; it’s helping him be a better abuser.

One of the abusive men Debi describes, she calls Command Man, whom she says reflects the image of God by his dominance both over his wife and over anyone around him. She describes what this dominance looks like, and she also describes the ways his wife must shrink herself down to nothing in order to make him treat her gently and lovingly.
Lundy Bancroft, in his book Why Does He Do That? describes various types of abusive men. He identified these types in his years of working with men in batterer intervention programs, as well as talking with their wives. If anyone knows how abusive men operate and has seen the devastating effects it has on their wives, Lundy Bancroft does. It’s fascinating to note that one of the abuser typologies he identifies is Demand Man, and he sounds strangely similar to Command Man.
So let’s compare what Debi Pearl says is a reflection of God’s image to Lundy’s experience of working with abusive men.



Debi Pearl is describing an abusive man throughout this book and saying that his personality is a reflection of God’s image. Not so! It shouldn’t even take a comparison like this to recognize that pride, arrogance, entitlement, selfishness, and behaving like a child when one doesn’t get their way has nothing to do with being a godly husband.


3. Debi Pearl gives abused wives dangerous and ignorant advice.




In chapter 12 of Created to Be His Helpmeet, Debi Pearl addresses a woman who has tried all the advice that Debi has previously written, but it is only making her husband act worse.

Instead of accepting the fact that maybe her advice to women about “obeying his every reasonable and unreasonable word” is not actually helpful, Debi blames the wife for being “meek and subjugated” and for “believing it was God’s will” (Yet this is exactly what Debi has spent the book telling women to do!)

She says that only about 5% of women are abused (I have no idea where she got this statistic, but is outrageously uninformed! Here are some quick statistics on domestic violence which state that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. have experienced severe intimate partner physical violence.) She says that due to a woman’s browbeaten state she’s simply not able to understand when the line has been crossed between service and servitude. If these women were to serve their husband graciously and joyously, she says it would heal their marriage; but broken, sad surrender is causing the victim’s husband to abuse her further.

Here is a summary of Debi’s advice for these women who have apparently caused their own abuse due to not being just the right kind of servant to their controlling husband:

-Don’t sit in the “dunce’s seat”, which is what Debi calls it when a woman feels guilty for having an ugly spirit and not being a submissive wife.
-Don’t become the protector of the kids, huddling the children around you, calling him names, threatening to leave him
-But also, don’t cower with the kids or urge them to act in ways that won’t provoke him

Instead these are the things Debi advises an abused woman to do:
–  Think more of yourself and he will think more of you.”
– “Just say “no” in a loving and respectful way.”
– “Endure abusive words without feeling abused.”
– If you’ve read on the internet that your husband may be a narcissist, realize that the narcissist is actually probably you. Get the beam out of your own eye.
– If he is hurting the children, tell them to try not to provoke him. (But wait, she just said not to tell them that. This business of figuring out how to be the perfect abused, not-abused wife is very tricky!)

Debi promises that if an abused wife follows this advice, “Most marriages will experience supernatural healing and deliverance.”

I don’t even know where to begin explaining how much ignorance this displays regarding the character of an abuser. This advice is so incredibly dangerous that I would not be surprised if it has directly contributed to the murder of women who have tried to follow it.

An abuser abuses, not because his wife provokes him, but because he chooses to abuse.

Just as a wife has no role to play in an abuser’s choice to abuse, she likewise cannot manufacture in him the choice to stop abusing her. Not by saying no in just the right way. Not by foreseeing her baby’s sickness so that she could plan ahead to have dinner ready for him. Not by urging her children not to provoke him (or, wait…is it not urging them? It doesn’t matter, because an abused woman will never win. Whatever she does will be wrong because that is how an abuser operates. Whatever she does, the abuser will blame her and say that if she hadn’t done x, then he wouldn’t have done y. Debi Pearl plays straight into an abuser’s hand by telling women the exact same thing. “Don’t do x, so that he won’t do y.”)

 There are far too many other issues with Debi Pearl’s writings for me to cover them all here. But if nothing else, I want you to understand just how dangerous this material is for women with abusive husbands.
To understand how an abusive man operates, especially one who claims to be a Christian, I highly recommend you read the book Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church.

You can also sign up for the free guide below.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Safety Exit