The Lie of the Heavy Yoke: the idolization of husbands through the corruption of God’s character

When you think of Christianity and the metaphor of the yoke, is this the imagery that first comes to mind?

A woman married to a Command Man wears a heavier yoke than most women, but it can be a very rewarding yoke. In a way, her walk as his help meet is easier because there is never any possibility of her being in control. (Debi Pearl. All quotes from Ms. Pearl are found in the blog post linked in her name.)

This Command Man is one of the three types of men –  along with Mr. Visionary and the Steady Man –  that Ms. Pearl says all men fall into. Her position is that in these three types the character of God is revealed for the good of women and the world. Here’s how she describes being married to a Command Man:

  • “They are known for expecting their wives to wait on them hand and foot. Most of them do not want their wives involved in any project that prevents them from serving him.”
  • “We receive very few letters from wives of Command Men. These men have less tolerance, so they will often walk off and leave their clamoring wife before she has a chance to realize that she is even close to losing her marriage.”
  • “Command Man will not yield. He is not as intimate or vulnerable as are other men in sharing his personal feelings or vocation with his wife. He seems to be sufficient unto himself. It is awful being shut out. A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart … .”
  • “She is on call every minute of her day. Her man wants to know where she is, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. He corrects her without thought. For better or for worse, it is his nature to control.”

Sounds ominous. Yet she thinks not. To her, it’s a blessing:

If you are blessed to be married to a strong, forceful, bossy man, as I am, then it is very important for you learn how to make an appeal without challenging his authority. …

A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart by proving that she will stand by her man, faithful, loyal, and obedient. When she has won his confidence, he will treasure her to the extreme.

Unwavering obedience and fealty will win his heart, she says. Only after she has earned his love will he treasure her.

What a heavy, ungodly, horrifying burden she places on people.

Laying Your Burdens Down

Jesus never asks anyone to carry a heavy burden. Instead he invites you to give up your wearying burdens and put on his yoke, that is, to give up the crushing ways of the world and find ease and rest in his ways.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.)

When it comes to people like Ms. Pearl giving pseudo-religious instruction, Jesus calls it out:

“And you experts in the law [that is, religious teachers], 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.)

What would be better teaching for Ms. Pearl? She should tell men to stop trying to run their wives as if they were puppet masters making their spouses dance on a string. But in Ms. Pearls’ world women can’t tell men anything except how wonderful they are and how much they want to obey them. Anything else and a wife should expect her husband to leave her and the kids behind.

By the time she realizes that there is a serious problem, she is already a divorced mother seeking help in how to raise her children alone.

According to Ms. Pearl, it’s all the wife’s fault.

God’s Love Comes Before Your Love

Remember, this is the man Ms. Pearl admires as the Command Man, a necessary member of society that any woman would be blessed to be married to. All she needs is to earn his love by unerring loyalty and obedience to all he says and does. After all, as Ms. Pearl says, he won’t treasure her until she succeeds in pleasing him.

How different from the love of God:

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21.)

First comes God’s love, then ours. And then we are to love one another because of God’s love, not because of each others’ love. A failure to love one another like this, John says, is a failure to love God. Anyone who says God created some husbands to withhold caring for and treasuring wives until they earn it is teaching an ungodly doctrine.

One verse Ms. Pearl relies on to support her rules for wives married to a Control Man is James 3:1.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

She should read that verse again and apply it to herself in light of how her teaching contradicts God’s word and his love for people.

God loves you and he wants you to love one another. There is nothing to be earned, no heavy yoke to bear. Remember, as you are in relationship to one another, Jesus offers you rest rather than rules.

Rest in his love as you love one another.


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42 Responses to The Lie of the Heavy Yoke: the idolization of husbands through the corruption of God’s character

  1. Deanna says:

    Yikes! Either she is completely disregarding Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5:25, that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church – or, even worse, she thinks the behavior of the “Command Man” is a good representation of Christ’s love! Incredibly disturbing either way!

    • Tim says:

      The latter, Deanna. She thinks God created men to act like this because it represents God to their wives and the world. It’s a twisted view of God and the gospel.

    • purple kitti says:

      or mr. command man told her to say it.

      “Many times as I read a passage, I would say to my husband, “I’m not going to include those verses in my book because if I do the ladies (of any religious group you can think of including my own) will not like my book or promote it.” My dear husband would say to me, “If God thought it was important enough to inspire it as part of his Word to us, then you should include it.” And so I would cringe and add one more controversial subject after another.”

  2. What else can you say but that she does not know Jesus? I’m not saying she’s not “saved”; maybe by God’s grace she is. But if so, she doesn’t really know the One who’s saved her. That is so sad. Or it would be sad if she didn’t have so much influence — that makes it truly “ungodly and horrifying” as you put it. Terrible, terrible teaching.

    • Tim says:

      Jesus told his friends that because they’ve seen him they have also seen the Father. Jesus did nothing remotely like the Command Man.

  3. JYJames says:

    Regarding the man types with corresponding woman types, one can see how this plays out in society as fruit of the flesh, Galatians 5:16-21 (i.e., selfish ambition, etc.) in the consequences of sin coming into the world. However, Jesus died to save us from the flesh or sin and to enable us to choose to live indwelt by God’s Spirit, bringing in a completely different walk of life and radically different relationships: the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.

    Again, Tim Fall, you have brought misguided teaching into the light of God’s Word. Excellent. Both in your recent post responding to “the husband/father as the god of the family” and this one, there is the cultural phenomenon of worshiping at the altar of the man of the household. God help the misguided souls who teach this idolatry in place of the ground at the foot of the cross is level.

  4. Lea says:

    “it can be a very rewarding yoke”

    No. Just no.

    • Tim says:

      It grieves me that she uses the yoke imagery to celebrate being burdened down, when Jesus used it to show how he lightens our load and gives us rest.

      • Lea says:

        It’s awful. Did you read the story of her honeymoon? It’s basically the story of her husband being selfish and uncaring over and over again.

        Also, I like men who are confident and secure, but they don’t act like she describes them. That is something completely different and shows no character of god! There is so much wrong with what she says.

        • Gaila says:

          Surely the point of this honeymoon description is to say how selfish and insensitive he was? And that he has learned how wrong he was and is telling husbands to notice, care, help, etc…?

        • Lea says:

          Gaila, my impression was that his thesis was ‘women are different’ or something, but I’m sure not reading the rest of the book to find out!

        • Dorcas W. says:

          Just read the honeymoon experience written by Mr. P
          … & it sickened me way deep down, so I can’t even find words too express my abhorrence at how she was treated!!! Definitely NOT honouring her as the ” weaker” vessel!!!

        • purple kitti says:

          oh man, i have GOT to stop reading about quiverfull.

          or at least save it for when i develop low blood pressure.

  5. Pingback: The Lie of the Heavy Yoke: Debi Pearl’s corruption of God’s character — Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another @tim_fall | Talmidimblogging

  6. stephreeves says:

    Oh my word
    What the
    To quote Meg Ryan in “Joe vs the Volcano”: I have no response to that

  7. Command Man, Mr. Visionary, and Steady Man is the lamest group of superheros I have ever heard of.

    Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is “egregious” when it comes to the content, and the life, behind her words.

  8. Kristian Morales says:

    Tim, This is a difficult read. My wife and I have had some unusual engagements with women from our previous church. I remember one conversation revolving around Doug Wilson (when he said Christian women were more beautiful than other women) and Piper and what she needed to do/be out of fear of losing his “love”. This is what I said then, “My wife will never wonder why I am still attracted to her when she is 85. I love her because Christ commanded me to love her as he loved the Church (full of the unlovely apart from Christ and I’m also thinking about Hosea). I obey and do this because the Holy Spirit enables me to do so. No strings attached. Nope none whatsoever. She doesn’t have to do squat to be a beneficiary of my love. Now I may fail to do this, and I do publicly confess that I do this (fail) multiple times every day, because of my sinful, selfish nature, but this has nothing to do with what she has or hasn’t done. It’s all on me. As a Christian, I’m confident that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ. This is what her confidence is in.”

    • Tim says:

      Exactly, and my wife loves me in like manner. On top of that, we do appreciate each other and feel wildly blessed to be in this marriage together.

  9. Pastor Bob says:

    Her words lost me after this:
    “A woman married to a Command Man wears a heavier yoke than most women, but it can be a very rewarding yoke. In a way, her walk as his help meet is easier because there is never any possibility of her being in control.”

    The first sentence is intriguing, but it falls apart after that. It almost seems like a woman asking to abused…. That is scary!

    “Command man” and “Visionary Man” are indeed gifts, but mislabeled. The Visionary needs a support person to make the vision happen, and keep the visionary out of trouble. (This from two men who brought many good ideas to fruition).

    “Command” is a function of training and proper servant-leadership attitude.

    Somehow it looks like the writer is opening some doors best left closed.

  10. Jean says:

    She is describing the classic characteristics of an abuser- possibly narcissist. An individual who is determined to shape everything in life according to their needs and whims. Someone who finds meaning in exerting power over others. This is the opposite of loving your wife as Christ loved the church and it has no place in a Christian marriage.

    Thank you for calling out this atrocious “teaching.”

  11. Kathi says:

    “She is on call every minute of her day. Her man wants to know where she is, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. He corrects her without thought. For better or for worse, it is his nature to control.”

    The poor wife of a Command Man is in an abusive marriage. DP says it herself, “it is his nature to control.” Abuse is all about power and control. Wanting to know where your spouse is every moment of the day is psychological abuse and stalking behavior. A woman in this type of marriage will be miserable.

  12. M. Joy says:

    The Pearls do a lot of chest thumping about how all their advice is biblical. But this baloney about the 3 types of men – Debi made that up. Her book states on page 75,

    “I have become aware that there are basically three types of men………. It seems that God made each male to express one side of his triad nature.”

    NOWHERE in scripture does it tell us God created three types of men as a way of representing the trinity. Why these people continue to have a following is beyond me.

  13. NJ says:

    Are there 3 corresponding types of women also, I wonder, or does that only apply to men because women are all alike? 😛

  14. Cheryl says:

    I am so glad to see a Christian man calling out the terrible evil that is the teaching of Michael & Debi Pearl. We need more good men standing in opposition to this nonsense. Thank you for a great post!

    • Tim says:

      I hope more people who come across their teaching will carefully compare it to the Bible and see how unscriptural their books are.

  15. keri w kent says:

    I remember people at my Christian college recommending Debi Pearl’s work. Yikes! Almost made me lose my faith. Created to Be His Helpmeet published in 2004. Is she still leading people astray these days with new books? Just wondering.

  16. dcnfamily says:

    This makes me want to cry. I was married to that man and it is hell on earth. I lost my self and that was not a good thing. I’ve never read that God wants wives to be zombies, but that’s what I was. Horrible.

  17. BRENDA LINN says:

    A home-fellowship group excommunicated me because I refused to accept Created to Be His Help Meet as ‘the mind of God’ (the exact words of the group leader).
    I could not, nor will I ever, accept a book or doctrine which glorifies the suffering of abused women. Especially one which also glorifies the abusing men.

    Berated to Be His Door Mat is a messy, horrible book. It teaches idolatry.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This Pearl Theology has been a driving force is what was suppose to be a marriage. I can assure you, anyone living under this kind of idolatry….it is no marriage. John Piper, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Vision Forum, John MacAurthor, ATI, the list can go on and on. There is No End for these men’s thirst for more control and power. It Literally Is a Form Of Murder. They kill the wife and children’s souls…because their minds, wills,and emotions are the blood they thirst. It Is Evil to it’s core…and what is even worse? That these preachers and church goers feed these men’s egos, as they play the victims, if the wives are able to leave. She often looses her children and has a very dismal future. (No financial resources, none if any emotional support, been out of the work force for years, and family has long been isolated by the husbands.) As she (we) seem to be even too unclean for the pastors supposedly supporting these women. (Occasional cheer leading would more accurately describe what they do. But they can then walk away feeling really good about themselves…because after all, they do not support the abuse.) It is messy, very messy to get out. And after all, no one REALLY wants to get TOO involved. Oh, an occasional email from a possible staff member or a Real Quick, “How are you doing?” as you pass in the church hallways. And the staff pats each other on the back for the support they show. Is that really any better? Where are they on court hearing days? What about sacrifices of time? How many show up at these women’s homes to check on them, see their living conditions, ask about needs, and even PRAY with and for them? Oh no, they sit in their loftybuildings behind their fancy desks and have…much more important kingdom work to do.

  19. Natalie Barr says:

    I bought this book the year it was published and read it over and over, hoping to understand what I was doing wrong in my very broken, abusive marriage. I was so hurt and wanted to please God, so badly. Her advice locked me deeper into a very horrible marriage for another 19 years. My mind got so twisted and I read scripture with her voice and meaning in my mind, feeling even more of a failure because I could never earn the love of my “mr. Visionary/command man” husband. Turns out, he has sociopathic/narcissistic disorder as diagnosed by 2 Christian marriage counselors who met him in the only 3 sessions he would attend before they offended him and he refused to come back. They recommended separation for my physical safety. Mrs, Pearl is dangerous.

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