What would happen if you went to marriage counseling, and you were handed a list of 100 sins you may be committing against your husband?
It’s time for a new Bare Marriage podcast! And this one is a little bit different. Something was brought to our attention that was just so awful that we thought it was worth devoting an entire show to. So Rebecca, Connor and I all jumped on the microphone and dissected this list.
Listen in here:
On Twitter, someone shared a list of “homework” that they had received from Harvest Bible Chapel back in 2011/2012.
It was pretty awful. And all day on Tuesday my Twitter feed was blowing up as people shared very similar homework that they had received from other churches. We managed to track the root of it–a guy named Wayne Mack wrote a book back in 1980 of homework for Marriage and Family Counseling. And people had adapted his lists. It looks like churches were getting them from several biblical counseling organizations–Faith Bible Counseling in Lafayette, or the Biblical Counseling Organization.
(Seriously, this is one of the reasons I was concerned with biblical counseling).
So you go in for marriage counseling, and you’re handed a list of 98 things you may be doing to sin against your husband (another list from another church had 102). And there don’t seem to be equivalent lists for men. There are lists with 100 ways men can show love to their wives (and equivalent lists for women), but not lists that accuse men of sinning in all of these ways.
We’re dissecting this list on the podcast, and talking about how this whole approach is so harmful to marriages (and to women). I’ve uploaded two versions of the lists to the site, and you can download them here if you’d like. The first one has three components to it: How to love your husband; a scorecard for wives (where husbands can rate you on various aspects); and a list of 98 common ways wives sin against their husbands. The second is just the latter list, updated.
Scorecard for Wives & Common Ways Wives Sin (HBC)
Three documents are included here, that were shared on Twitter. It comes from Faith Bible Counseling, and was handed out at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago in 2011/2012.
LOG List Wife & Mother
An updated list put out by the Biblical Counseling Center with over 100 ways a wife may be sinning.
I would really prefer not to talk about all of this stuff, but then something big breaks on Twitter and people ask me to, and so I do. But we’re working on the Honeymoon Course we’ll be releasing June 10, and that seriously is much more fun! So I’ll be talking about that in the next few weeks.
However, I am burdened by how badly women are treated in some churches, and how much marriages are hurting. So I want to draw attention to this and let you know up front: this is not okay. One day some of you may be really vulnerable, at the lowest point of your life, and you may turn to your church for help.
I want you to know now: If they give you a list like this, this isn’t safe. And it’s okay to say no.
(I’ll be writing a bigger post about this on Tuesday, but I wanted to comment on it today.)
And remember, women: God wants you ultimately serving Him. He is to be your focus–not your husband! When we love God appropriately, THEN we’ll be able to see clearly to love our husbands well, too.
If you’re struggling with all of this, please pick up 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, which helps you look at marriage differently, with a Christ-centred, rather than a husband-centred, approach. And that actually allows us to love our husbands much more effectively and much more freely!
Do you have a hard time asking for what you want?
You can change the dynamic in your marriage and make talking about your own needs easier!
If your marriage is in a communication rut, it’s time for some change.
What would you think if you were ever given this list? What stands out to you in it? Let’s talk in the comments!
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You’re all nicer than I am. If I were handed that in marriage counseling, I would ask them why I should take theological advice from someone who has never heard of Matthew 7:3.
In all seriousness, there are a lot of people who will relentlessly focus on one person, and believe that appropriately “fixing” that person will “fix” all problems. It’s the burqa mentality: if only women would do everything perfectly, men wouldn’t struggle with lust.
But that’s not how it works. We don’t say “it’s your job to earn 100% of the money, do 100% of the childcare, and do 100% of the housework, and then your spouse wouldn’t be so stressed out.” We don’t mandate that one person do everything so the other person doesn’t feel discomfort.
Love that, Jane! Yep. And the problem, too, is that when they relentlessly focus on one person, it’s almost always the wife. And then we wonder why abuse is so high in some denominations.
I haven’t listened yet but … that list of “sins” is like reading my own critical inner monologue. Oy. I’m looking forward to listening, I’ve really internalized so much of this nonsense. :-/
I think that seeing this list written out, too, really can help people who HAVE internalized such harmful messages; seeing it actually on paper makes it so clear how un-Christlike these unbiblical religious mandates are, and it makes it easier to combat those damaging thoughts that we have been taught.
I totally agree. I’m honestly still really dumbfounded as to how I’ve really believed these things. In our heads I think it sounds a lot more sound and spiritual. Thank you guys for tackling this stuff; the church I’m in now doesn’t go in for this kind of destructive teaching, but I’ve been surprised about how much I still haven’t dealt with.
So glad you’re in a healthy church now, Bethany! That’s wonderful. And, yes, it is super scary that so many churches are like this.
Oh, dear Lord! WAKE UP THESE BENIGHTED SOULS!! I am so glad that I am now 10 years out of that appalling mentality, though not without scars. Thank you SO MUCH Sheila for your bravery in exposing the error here AND in presenting such a grace-filled understanding of what relationship is supposed to be.
Thanks, Laura! It really was appalling when we first saw it. It looks like something out of the Dark Ages, but apparently the Harvest version was handed out in 2011/2012, and the other one is still handed out today. So awful. I’ll be writing a huge post on it on Tuesday!
Thank you for tackling this topic! While I am no longer feeling that bondage even though it wasn’t to that extreme, it does have residue effects. I have to remind myself that not all men are ungodly. Misinformation and “submit/obey” seems so widespread within the church. All that to say, “Thank you, Conner, for giving hope and showing there are men that truly value women.” Now if you know a 40ish/50ish, single man…;)
I thought Connor did a great job, too! He is a good guy (as is my other son-in-law David). Not all men are ungodly, but in some circles, ungodly men are overly represented.
I actually said to myself and made the expression while I was listening that I wanted to barf right before Conner said it made his stomach turn. I have so much to say about the podcast today. What a shame that people actually believe this crap. I was speaking yesterday to a guy about the submission part of this discussion (Thanks for the rant btw – I like hearing that over and over again especially about headship) and he told me his priest had been telling him for years that his wife was supposed to submit to him and he just could’t understand it. He finally has come to understand just what his priest meant….and the problem is the word submission is so confusing. We had a great conversation that included a military point of view just like was shared. He said to me I am supposed to die to my wife spiritually. How am I supposed to do that if I don’t like her or in other words she is such a sinner for not making my life great? – eek that sentence sounds like something off that list…and we laughed because it’s so ridiculous. The conclusion of our conversation was that we need our spouses support so we can both die to each other spiritually. Fun podcast today thanks.
Glad you liked it, Phil! And, yes, we often get caught up on submission and miss that this was the whole point of Jesus’ life, not just something that wives are supposed to do!
What’s really sad is that I feel that the bulk of these lists are good and appropriate, but that they should be applied equally. If they were, I would see them as basic “generalized” encouragement/help for couples to give them ideas of things to avoid and things to do in order to help their marriage thrive. A few rubbed me the wrong way, but over all – applied equally – I think they’d be helpful to the majority of marriages between two people who WANT their marriage to work and their spouse to be happy, but often sabotage that with human nature.
I know what you’re saying, but I’m not sure I agree. I think when you’re in a hurting place, the best thing to do is to talk about what you each need, and then how you each can meet each other’s needs. Giving someone a random list of 98 things they may be doing wrong when they’re in a really vulnerable place loads a lot of guilt and shame. I just can’t see it being helpful in that situation. Talking about the individual issues and how someone experiences love is helpful; he may learn what it is that she needs that he’s not giving her, and she may learn what he needs that he’s not giving her. But talking about peripheral things that aren’t even necessarily sins can just be excessive. I don’t think that’s a healthy way to do counseling at all.
I definitely agree, especially having listened to the podcast now and thinking about the things that you brought out at this point. I could see this “print out” approach as more helpful in a premarital counseling situation, but it’s still just really wrong in its one-sidedness. My husband and I talked about this over dinner last night on a rare night out – thanks for starting the conversation!
Wow! These lists feel like they should be from 1935! I want to echo the thanks to each of you on the podcast for handling this. I also want to repeat the thanks to Connor for being an example of a man who respects women as human beings. A little sad that that quality can feel rare at times.
This may not be the place to talk about it, but I would really love to hear y’all’s thoughts on dealing with situations and people both in and outside the church that are..generally sexist? I have some family that I feel I have to put my sheilds up before I go visit. I’m teased about not serving my husband enough. The men make comments on situations like: typical woman, can’t keep her mouth shut. My grandfather never fails to comment on my appearence, ie, your face has gotten fatter. What do you even say to that? Sidenote: he never tells my brother anything like that. My grandmother on that side serves him hand and foot, bringing his dinner to him in front of the TV and removing the dishes when he’s done. I do that occasionally to treat my husband but usually I like to talk with him while we eat so it doesn’t feel like I’m just the maid.
This is a ton of detail, so sorry for the super long comment! I just would love some guidance on how to be in those situations. Do you say anything about it to them? Just keep quiet during the visit? Its my mom’s side of the family and she doesn’t really get what I’m talking about.
As for the “teasing” about not serving your husband enough: give them some hard-core marriage truths.
“The decisions made within our marriage are not subject to overrule by outsiders. I expect that you will respect our marital decision-making, because that’s part of respecting the institution of marriage.”
If you get “I was just teasing!”
“Great. But you’ve ‘teased’ about this before. Could you clear things up right now and just state, for the record, that you don’t think I should serve my husband more? ”
Then there’s also: “A marriage only has room for two people. Please keep your opinions of other people’s marriages to yourself.”
But I don’t care if sexist people hate me, and I tend to think it’s a power play to see how much you’ll put up with.
Welcome back to Stepford! I always enjoy (or almost) your blog, Shelia. I very seldom comment, for reasons which are my own, but honestly, there is no way I would reproduce these lists for download or leave them up. This is not an example for ridicule; this is legalistic, misogynistic trash which is unbecoming a follower of Christ, or one who claims Christ ( there is a difference). Understanding that you had a recent series on biblical “counselors” I fail to see anything positive, redeeming or helpful in this ridiculously-nuanced garbage and would hate to see it further propagated by anyone. It is unworthy of people even inadvertently mulling it over as potential truth and its misuse of Scripture is appalling.
Worthy of discussion as the “tale told by an idiot” but the documents are dangerous and not healthy in the least.
The lists speak for theselves, as you insinuated. Sheila posting links to them is exposing the “legalistic, misogynistic trash”, which is very helpful in deciphering the Truth. Discussing it is absolutely a good and right thing to do; maybe it will lead these organizations to take them down themselves? For people like me who grew up with these messages being touted as “godly” I find it eye-opening to see it all written out with check boxes etc. It’s shocking, really! So many of these ideas sprinkled into sermons and ladies’ teas etc…. I’m relieved these lists are being exposed and examined against Scripture.
Well, until it shows up in your church from someone convinced the junk is right. We need to see and discuss for what it is. Why make it downloadable?
I think people have to see that I’m not making it up. It’s readily available online. People need to see that this is out there so that they are empowered to say no. I think raising awareness of the churches that are using this will do far greater good than anything else. We need to expose it to the light.
Exactly! I’m so glad that Shelia, Her Daughter and Son in Law not only presented these crazy, sickening fallacies, but explored how silly they sound!
I was able to be angry at the foolishness of these churches who propagate such dangerous lives and calm down and laugh at the same time.
Women have enough problems without an extra list of One Hundred Ways We are Sinning.
I completely agree. I think the approach itself is even unhealthy–“Having trouble in your marriage? Take a look and see if you may be randomly sinning in these 100 ways!” Even if a list were given to both parties, it’s still totally the wrong approach.
But I agree, too, that it is totally Stepford. It’s scary. I hope that by bringing light to this, the next time anyone is in counseling and they’re handed something like this that they will refuse it.
My concern is the damage it could cause in a couples’ class or men’s/women’s ministry session, in the wrong hands, Shelia. A number of churches are not as carefully overseen as they might be. This work is not helpful at all.
I also agree with your Stepford label (ha, good one!), but I honestly do not think ANYONE will download these lists from Sheila’s site (of all places) and see that they are useful for counseling or ministry. I understand your concern…. I think you can rest easy on this one.
The.lists.are.there. They’ve BEEN there for years. For anyone to find (and they’ve done enough harm behind closed doors), and as Sheila said she didn’t even want to “go there”. The Twitter stir led her here. Let’s cause enough stir – maybe from generating traffic from this site to have them taken down!? That’s how you expose abuse and heresy and false teaching.
Sheila is EXPOSING this and providing the links so that we can read it for ourselves – and like she said BELIEVE these lists are real for ourselves (not just take her word for it) and subsequently be disgusted/ take action/ hopefully purge this nonsense.
I find your logic interesting…. should we for example NOT link to sexual abuse cases that are publically online for all to see? Should we not engage in or discuss the latest #metoo #churchtoo tweet storm bc to do so would be “unworthy” of dicscussion?
The evil in this world and the insidious hidden abusive twisted “gospel” in the conservative church is absolutely worthy of discussion, and it’s about time! Just ask the people who have been brainwashed, abused, harmed, and their lives completely altered by these kinds of legalistic lists.
We are ready to TALK ABOUT IT, examine it, analyze it, turn it upside down – and we absolutely need the original lists to prove the point. (Because those slick talkers will always say – oh we didn’t sayyyy that in THAT way. We just meant submit and respect, love and honor like the Bible says!) I didn’t even understand the totality of what I had experienced until I read those lists, to be honest.
I rarely comment here too, which is ironic that I find myself compelled to respond to yours. I think my core point here would be – your kind of logic, however innocent and good it may seem, is the EXACT kind of talk that allows abuse to flourish without anyone doing anything ab it. Don’t link it, don’t discuss, unworthy of our attention, we all know it’s trash lets not “ridicule” or draw attention to it. There are so many people who have been exposed to this who do not yet know it is wrong! I wish I had this article 19 years ago!
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Taking no part (from my perspective) means not accepting or promoting it in any way. Linking it, however, is exposing it. Hidden things have power. Exposing them brings them into the light and where the light is, darkness scatters. Women are living under this bondage (thinking it’s godly) right now, RIGHT NOW. I pray Sheila’s message reaches them. Wow this was way too long! (But I have more to say eeek)
I am passionate about this kind of discussion being open, ongoing and in the forefront of our minds.
This is of the upmost importance because the conservative church is blasting divorce and ignoring the legalistic binds that place women in subservient, hyper analytical, husband-focused roles, when what they should be doing is simply focusing on Christ, the Living Water who gives life and whose burden is light. If your focus is on Jesus, you WILL love your husband better and everyone else in your life. Your well will be full to give to others FREELY! Freely is key!
The fact that there is not a companion list for men’s sin (where wives get to rate them) says it ALL. Isn’t that always how it goes!? I don’t agree with lists for either but isn’t it telling.
Thank you, Kate. That was everything I wanted to say, but you said it for me (and better!)
I think I’ve asked this before, and I’m not sure if this thread is the right place, because I want to state up front that I 100% agree with you: these lists are appalling and ungodly.
And yet… every time you talk about submission, I really appreciate your take, but I’m always left with a couple of nagging questions.
I have heard it said that the “submit yourselves one to another, wives to your husbands…” etc., is properly interpreted as “submit yourselves one to another in the following ways: wives to husbands, slaves to masters, etc.” not “submit everyone to everyone equally at all times.”
Do you have any exegetical insight on that, or thoughts?
Secondly, you dwell a lot on the idea of chasing after Jesus instead of your husband and obeying God rather than men. I agree with that completely, but what about when it’s not a sin/not sin issue? What if God is glorified by fulfilling our calling by him to follow and imperfect man as together we seek to follow God? Why does scripture speak to women specifically about submission and respect, if it doesn’t mean something specific for them?
Don’t get me wrong, Sheila, I like your interpretation better! But I want to be faithful to scripture, and to God’s design for me as a woman. And I can’t quite shake some of those nagging questions.
Hi Susanna! Not bad to ask those questions at all. I am filming on the videos today for our Honeymoon Course, so I don’t have a lot of time to answer, but I’ll say a few quick things and then give you some links.
I believe that Ephesians 5:21 is saying, “submit to one another”, now wives, here’s how you submit, and husbands, here’s how you submit. We are all to serve each other.
In the context of the culture in which it was written, women were already in submission to husbands. But Paul was saying, “do it willingly.” Then to men he asked them to do something that had never been asked of them before, and he spent a lot of time explaining it–they were to love their wives, and give up everything for their wives. They were to serve them. It isn’t about authority, but about service. As for women respecting their husbands, again, this would have been something they would have been required to do in that culture, but Paul was saying, “do it willingly.”
But again, our definition of respect should never mean enabling sin, but instead treating each other well, and really recognizing each other’s boundaries and honouring them. Marg Mowczko has an awesome site where she deals with all of these issues, and she has a ton of articles on Ephesians 5 that you can look at!
Oh man, I’m glad you guys were able to laugh at some of these, but to me to was just sad how much I had internalized some of these things! To see it all written out was actually really helpful because it sounds SO ridiculous when it’s all laid out like that. One of the most difficult things I have had to learn in our marriage (and life in general) is that it is ok for me to be an inconvenience. Just the other night I told him my biggest fear is that I won’t be loved if I’m difficult. He has been so sweet in helping me change my thinking and trust his love for me. This list just totally reinforces that false and ridiculous belief!! Wives are humans with needs and feelings, and this viewpoint sees them as nothing more than servants.
So many were catch-22’s, so you’re sinning no matter what you do. One said “I pretend to be happy and hide my feelings,” but the next one said, “I’m too moody.” Seriously, what the heck???
Anyway Sheila, thanks again for teaching me that my feelings matter just as much as my husband’s. You have changed both our lives for the better!
Yes, EM! You totally matter! And I agree–I often feel like I’m not allowed to be an inconvenience, either. But that is what marriage is about–two people serving each other and being there for each other.
I’m glad you’re getting out of all that, and I hope that you can laugh at it, too! And I’m glad that I’ve helped you all with your marriage!
“…my biggest fear is that I won’t be loved if I’m difficult.”
This is me as well, and it stems from a childhood where I was raised by loving, well meaning parents who prioritized obedience over relating.
My mom was a harried, stressed out SAHM who homeschooled and had to deal with my dad running his own business. I understand now, as a mother of four littles that I homeschool while doing college full time, but she never really seemed to enjoy her kids – and children internalize that. I am trying to do better with my kids…but it is often difficult to stop “doing all the things” and instead let them know that you enjoy them.
The wounds we have from childhood usually follow us through life until we heal from them, and that was the case with me in our marriage. But this move to egalitarian has been so, so healing. It’s the primary reason why I believe this is the “right side of the debate” on scriptures regarding women and men. I am so thankful to have learned this while my children are still young.
May you have peace on your journey.
Hi Lindsay! So good to have others to journey with here. I just want to encourage you as a mom to not be too hard on yourself. I know in my case, my parents were super loving and enjoyed us as kids, and my dad in particular was ALL about grace, and I still ended up like this. I was just a naturally compliant little girl,
and I also excelled at school & sports, so I was constantly being praised for what I DID. Not so much by my parents, but by everyone else. Add to that the boys in high school who told me how awesome I was for being low drama and “not like the other girls,” I came away with the impression that to keep being loved by others, I had to keep performing and being low drama.
I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how well we do as parents, our kids are going to have their issues and things they need to work out with the Lord. I am so, so thankful for the work He continues to do in us, and that He loves us so much that He comes into our mess and loved us there.
Thank you for the encouragement, Em, and God bless.
I want to say thank you to Connor for his comment at the end of the podcast. (Around 33:20)
Some of us grew up in such a terrible environment, we didn’t get how wrong this thinking is.
I am the husband you always encourage your lady listeners to get away from…. rightfully so. I’ve made terrible mistakes and then used books and pastor’s words in my favor.
My wife has informed me of her intentions to get a divorce and I honestly can’t blame her. I felt powerless to explain my perspective, but it doesn’t make it ok and it won’t fix anything. She has to choose to stay.
God has shown me how I can love her by honoring her choice. It’s not been easy, but we do have to live with our choices.
I have repented and will continue to renew my mind because I clearly see how this perspective is evil. I don’t want a slave, I want a partner.
Not all will be in heaven with God…He honors their choice and He’s encouraging me to honor hers also.
I’m devouring your podcast and am very thankful for your perspective. Please continue what you are doing. Their are some bad guys out here that want to turn it around. Thanks
I can’t believe how legalistic this list is and it seems to indicate that perfection is possible and expected. I don’t think people should get married if they expect perfection – you are marrying a human being and this side of Heaven, they will never be perfect.
I am not married, but if I was handed this list or checklist or whatever, I would be so demoralized. Whatever happened to unconditional love? I think that’s the problem. We all fail in many ways, especially in relationships. But when we experience God’s unconditional love and allow it to change us, our relationships will grow and we will be nicer people to live with. That’s where our focus should be – knowing Jesus and letting Him work out His changes in all areas of life. If we let Him, He will do it. Focusing on 100 things and trying to fix them yourself will never work and just make you discouraged.
Amen, Budgie! That’s why I’m saying this list would be toxic even if there were an equivalent one for guys. It’s just the wrong approach and it’s adding burdens. Like Jesus said:
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. (Luke 11:46)
This is the gospel, beautifully expressed! I’m saving your comment to reread…. it’s the antithesis of futal legalism and I feel so free just reading it! Like a weight has been lifted. Thank you, Budgie!
Oh man, even if there was an equivalent list for men there is ZERO chance I would ask my husband to read it. The idea of putting emotional burdens like that on the love of my life makes me wince, can you imagine how crushing that would be to somebody’s spirit? I know he wouldn’t do it to me either.
Yes, we should always be openly discussing ways to better love and serve each other and striving to be humble when our spouse brings a concern or rebuke to us.
BUT: how is a list of 100ish things you are doing poorly not “keeping a record of wrongdoing” as 1 Corinthians 13 tells us to avoid?
THat’s the verse I was thinking of, too. I just can’t think of a situation where this would be emotionally healthy at all.
There is no equivalent list for guys because such a list would be about 50,000 to 60,000 line items long.
I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but when I do I’m sure I will get really worked up about this issue. Stuff like this is so damaging, especially to perfectionists like me. I wanted so much to be the perfect wife, to check every box.
I’ll be divorced one year in August, and I have had thoughts of remarrying someday. But at this point I just don’t see marriage adding a lot of value to my life. I refuse to be unequally yoked, but so many Christian men are hung up on “ruling their homes.” So many let their wives work themselves to exhaustion and won’t change a diaper or wash a dish. So many play video games for hours on end and are completely emotionally inept. I know nonchristian men do these things too, but Christian guys who do tend to say “It’s her role.”
I did find the corresponding scorecard for husbands. So we can all feel bad about ourselves equally lol!
Yeah there are some real doozies in there for sure. Mayne Wack they are for sure lol.
I’m glad you found this, EM! I find the one for husband’s far more introspective and “how can I better serve my wife and family” compared to the wife’s which is far more “how am I falling sort / sinning against my husband”. Introspection and having a servant’s heart are good and necessary for BOTH spouses to have in any vibrant, growing marriage!
Good grief!!!! That weight comment on the wives’ list really ruffled my feathers!!! So what happens when it’s the wife (me) who is very proactive about her body & health/fitness in all stages of life and it’s the husband (mine) who struggles with his weight & eating quantity/habits? Is he “sinning” against me by continually pushing the weight loss can down the road year after year? Do we address his gluttony, sloth & lack of self-control? Is he called to “build hope” for me by setting small goals & actually working towards & achieving them? Cuz, I mean, I’d be THRILLED if he actually did that at this point in our marriage & took his body & weight that seriously on a regular/daily basis instead of the ebb and flow over the months and years of “I really need to lose weight. I’m gonna work towards that starting today” vs “I’m fat. I should do something about that… eh, I’ll worry about that next week.” By this point, I’m come to the conclusion that he doesn’t do that to spite me or anything, & he isn’t “sinning against me” (just as the wife in the list isn’t “sinning” against her husband). His weight & self-control & personal initiative/discipline habits that he’s developed over the course of his life (all stemming from his childhood) concerning his weight & eating are simply things he struggles with greatly. And it’s my role as his spouse to help & support him in areas he struggles with, not constantly reminding him of his short comings & failures. It’s his body & he’s going to do with it as he sees fit, whether I am a positive force and encourage/love him or whether I’m negative & always reminding him of ways he needs to improve or ways he’s said he’d improve but then never followed through in the past.
Notice the difference in tone between the list for wives and the list for husbands. The one for wives is a list of sins for which she needs needs to repent. The one for husbands is a list of areas where he may be weak and needs to focus on improving. Very sad that these list are being used! Thank you for drawing attention to this, Sheila! I very much enjoy your blog and podcast!
Em, you are hilarious! And encouraging (previous comments of yours included)! Good to have this list to analyze too. Gotta be “fair”!
Since we are on Shelia’s blog I find it especially noteworthy that the husband’s list says this:
Do I seek to provide for her varying desires (physical, emotional, intellectual, social, recreational, spiritual: for worth, appreciation, security etc)?
(So many “varying”’desires wow, but is something really important missing here!!?? Hmmm…And I picked the one that was most likely to include it – tho there were others as well!)
And the wife’s list says this:
#17. Do you enthusiastically and unselfishly seek to satisfy his sexual desires?
The lists are bad. Period. The difference in tone, like Rachel pointed out in her comment (among other discrepancies) makes the lists – not just bad legalistic advice, but it dehumanizes women and places a much heavier burden on them to make the marriage thrive (when so many women are already struggling with and working on the things on those checklists ANYWAYS – without a list!!)!
Some of the items on that list can probably be applied to both husbands and wives, but the overall theme, that of the wife as servant and the husband as unquestioned lord and master, is very disturbing.
The “Wives submit to your husbands” phrase is part of a larger biblical concept that begins “Submit to ONE ANOTHER”. Husbands and wives should love, serve and submit to each other equally.
Yes, so true! And submit to one another is right before “wives, to your husbands.” It’s the same thought. So it’s not about power; it’s about serving. We’re all to serve each other!
Those lists are incredibly dehumanizing to woman. It’s like she is only allowed to be a two dimensional person with no valid thoughts, feelings or needs of her own… They make her into a servant/prostitute with no personal value. God’s heart must break for those living in this sort of bondage, especially when you consider how He created marriage to really be. Turns my stomach. 😞
I enjoy reading most of your stuff. It’s really practical, direct, no holds barred and liberating.
Having said that, I’ve felt a bit let down when you have chosen to criticise other ministries. It’s true there’s plenty of false teaching out there on just about every subject including marriage, and the result has been abuse of women in many cases. I’m not sure that is strong enough justification to focus on negative articles though. When you write positive, practical stuff, we can share it specifically with people who need it, and it’s great. I just can’t share the attacking stuff; not because it’s necessarily wrong, just because it seems focused the wrong way around. I like it when you stick to the positive. You can’t right all of the world’s wrongs, and trying to do so sets you up for attack and defence rather than as a unique contributor to marriage success.
I read those things you posted and I could see great benefit in them if they are used in the right context. I have done marriage counselling for many years and do not support abuse or excusing the husband or any of the criticism given to this list. Having said that, the list could help a couple if it’s used in the right way and if the husband is challenged in the corresponding areas.
Stick to the positive, I’d say, and fulfil YOUR ministry. Putting out someone else’s candle won’t make your brighter. The body of Christ needs less division, and Matthew 18 might suggest a one-on-one approach when you have something against a brother (I know you have tried in at least one of your previous attack posts!). Public discipline would be the end of the process rather than the start!
Keep up the good work!
Billy, I do know what you’re saying. And for YEARS that was the approach I took. Really until just this year.
I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and I’ve really just focused on giving people my thoughts.
But after getting email after email, day after day, and finding that the problem is that no matter how much I share, I’m often getting people TOO LATE. I’m getting people after the problem has already happened. And it’s much harder to cure something than to prevent it.
So I started asking myself, “what are some of the roots of all of these common problems?” And over and over again I realized that it was this common teaching towards women that is so, so wrong (and towards men. Really the first thing I took on was the whole Every Man’s Battle series which shamed all men telling them that they will inevitably lust). This just has to be called out. Every time I speak now I get women coming up to me, giving me a hug, and whispering, “Thank you so much for what you said about Love & Respect. It gave me the courage to finally reject something that was seriously hurting my marriage.” Seriously. Every single time since then. In Victoria, in Texas, in Louisiana, in Quebec, in Alberta, in Toronto–everywhere I’ve been, women have thanked me so much and even handed me hand-written letters about Love & Respect. And this week I’ve had so many people email in thanking me for giving them the courage to reject marriage counselling that was wrong.
Paul actually does call out false teachers by name. I know there is much division in the body of Christ right now, but we also need to warn people when something can harm their marriage. I tried the other way for 9 years, and the problems were still there. Now I want to give people permission to say, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Because that’s what’s going on here.
I’m not going to stop shedding light–in fact, my Honeymoon Course that I’m launching in a week is just so much fun! But when stuff like this happens, and it affects a significant number of my readers (because many readers are in churches like this), I do need to call it out and tell people, “this won’t help your marriage. And it’s okay to say no!”
Billy, this list can’t be called a ministry in any sense. Ministry and ministering to someone mean to help and to serve. Theser lists are a disservice, no serving or ministering at all. t can’t be called a candle either for it’s not shining anything that can be called light.
Sometimes we have to call things what they are.
Respectfully, Sir. Evil prospers when the Good do Nothing.
I’m sure this is why Shelia had to draw back the curtains. I wish someone would have told me this decades ago.
I tried to follow a list of dos and don’ts and still found out my spouse was not only cheating for decades, but was in an affair.
You couldn’t have found a better wife or person than me.
I was taking care of his needs, the children with autism, and taking care of how I looked and carried myself, too!
He still cheated. We have lost our family home, my kids are shattered, and my health is failing. This could have been avoided.
So, I’m all about exposing the lies. She didn’t put down the authors by challenging their views. It’s was a wonderful thing she did. The Gospel sets captives free instead of giving more rules to keep or add to enslavement.
Thank you, Tu!
I think you missed mentioning the biggest doozy on those lists!
Number 14 on the “Practical Ways to Love Your Husband” section talks about not showing greater spiritual loyalty to anyone (pastor, male friend, female friend, or BOOK). So, since the Bible is a book, apparently we must be more loyal to our husbands than the Word of God. That sure sounds like heresy to me! But then, I guess since I’m a woman I need a man to interpret the Bible for me. 😛 (And what if the husband isn’t a Christian or isn’t acting like a Christian?)
I also love how John 15:13 is what’s cited to “prove” that. (“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”) Neither the English nor the Greek makes any reference to husbands and how to interact with them.
Oh, good one! I totally didn’t see that. Isn’t that awful?
This list reminds me of a scene in a sci-fi fantasy book where a young couple was getting married. The priest was lecturing them and the congregation with a long list of the rights, duties, obligations and privileges of marriage.
The bride’s sister rather sarcastically noted that all of the rights and privileges were HIS, and all the duties and obligations were HERS.
As an aside: I love the name of the website, and Mrs. Nathan and I split vacuuming and sweeping equally!
Awesome, Nathan! And that is a perfectly apt description of the lists, too.
This sounds more like a scorecard for Stepford Wives. And my wife has been pleasingly offensively attractive for 45 years.
Offensively attractive wives unite!!!
My wife showed me this list and before I finished the first page I was feeling uncomfortable and unspiritual. It is outrageous and wrong. There are flecks of truth sprinkled in, but lots and lots of some demanding man’s 50’s wetdream. Real men value their loved ones feelings and opinions. Real men share the load of the family. Real men love their wives as Christ would.
This sounds like a book I had around that time called “Fascinating Womanhood” which was written in the 50’s. There are some truths but very archaic in its outlook.
That makes me sick in my heart. You know where I land on headship, Sheila, and THAT is so far from what I and many others like me believe. That list is pandering to a patriarchal society in which men get a bye for bad behavior and women bear the burden for making things right. That’s not what the Word says.
And especially heartbreaking because I used to listen to James MacDonald’s sermons during the struggling time of my marriage, and he preached some things that really helped me. It’s frustrating to see that his church was involved in such harsh views. May God comfort and heal those who were hurt by these messages.
How do you get out of a marriage relationship like this? Or how do we heal and transform into a true Jesus-centered relationship (if my husband takes ownership and sees the wrong and wants to change?)
I am struggling as I try to transition my paradigm of a wife’s role in marriage from these books that I have read and reread and taken as truth for so many years. (Created to be his Helpmeet & Fascinating Womanhood) I can now see why I feel like I’ve been going insane on and off in our relationship. I came into this marriage with a stronghold of not “being good enough” and it’s just compounded it.
Oh, Amy, I’m so sorry that you’ve been fed such total codswallop (to use an English term). That can make you feel insane, because you’re feeling responsible for things that you can’t control.
I’d recommend three things: First, get in a really good church that values women and that would never recommend those books. Look for a Wesleyan, Evangelical Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran, Baptist that values women, something like that. Second, read 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage to help you see what marriage was supposed to be for you. And third, have both of you read the book Boundaries together. It’s a much healthier way of learning to relate. But the big first step would be to get in a good church community. I’m so glad God is bringing you out! It will mean that your children (if you have them) will also reap tremendous benefits, too.