Does Debi Pearl Promote Physical Abuse in Marriage?

Does Debi Pearl Promote Physical Abuse in Marriage?

As many of you know, Debi Pearl’s book “Created to Be His Help Meet” is the book that began the transformation of my marriage. I read it with eagerness and was thoroughly convicted throughout the book. I was so convicted that I bought cases of the book to hand out to every woman that I knew. I mentored groups of women and individual women with this book for many years.

Yes, I have heard all of the arguments against it and there are many and some of the women I gave the book to either gave it back to me or threw it away. Some have even labeled it the worse marriage book ever. They falsely believe that Debi promotes physical abuse in marriage. Does she?

There’s a story in the first edition of her book (2004 – the year I read it) beginning on page 132. She tells a true story about a woman named Sunny who married a man without any wise counsel. “Over the next seven years, Sunny was regularly subjected to his alcoholic rages and beatings, and she endured his flaunted unfaithfulness…When Sunny was pregnant with their third baby, Ahmed came home drunk and tried to kill her with a butcher knife. Only the miraculous intervention of Almighty God spared her life.”

Every time her husband would come home drunk, she would flee to her mother’s home and tell all of her friends about him. I am sure all of them were encouraging her to leave him. “But she did not leave him.”

She planned out how she was going to kill him and she told Debi about her plans. Debi wrote, “I spent hours in prayer and counseling with Sunny that evening. I asked her to make a decision, either to leave Ahmed once and for all and put the pieces of her life back together, or to stay with him and begin a campaign of winning his heart and saving their life together. I fully expected her to leave him that night…”

THIS is what infuriates women. They believe that Debi should have demanded that Sunny leave her husband and never have given her the option of trying to win him back. “Why, he tried to kill her!” they proclaim, yet she didn’t leave when her mother and friends told her to leave.

Was Debi’s counsel wrong? Was Debi sinful for offering this counsel? NO! She was mentoring her according to 1 Peter 3:1,2. “Likewise [as Christ as suffered for us as stated in 1 Peter 2], ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also many without the word be won by the conversation of the wives: While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

Debi never told her she must try to win her husband. She clearly knew that Sunny was in danger. She told her she could leave him once and for all and even fully expected her to leave, but Sunny made her own decision. Debi didn’t force any decision upon Sunny. “Sunny really wanted God’s will in her life. She had grasped an eternal vision about life, and she now believed God could save her man.”

Are we to fault Sunny for making this decision? It’s her life and she decided she was going to fight for her husband’s eternal soul even if it meant more harm to her. How can we fault Debi or Sunny for this decision? We can’t, and Debi is not counseling all women to stay with their physically abusive husbands. She is giving one extreme instance in her many years of counseling where a wife won a horrible, physically abusive husband to show the power of God’s Word in a marriage.

The first thing Debi told her after Sunny made up her mind to try to win her husband was to stop blabbing about him to others since this causes great anger in men. “She was not to speak ill of him again…Sunny had a learner’s heart. She took my advice, and the change in her husband was obvious in just one week. It is amazing how vulnerable a man is when a woman treats him with honor.”

“The last time I saw Ahmed and Sunny, they were growing in the Lord together. As the Scripture says, she won him ‘without the word’ by her ‘conversation.’ God’s ways work.” Who are we to discount Scripture and His ways?

No, Debi doesn’t support physical abuse in marriage, as many claim that she does. She supports Scripture and even if she may not always think it’s the best thing to do at the time (she did tell Sunny she could leave him and begin a life without him), she made sure to tell Sunny exactly what God’s Word has to say about being married to a husband who is disobedient to the word. There is nothing wrong with doing this and everything right. We must never underestimate the power of obeying God nor should we ever underestimate God’s instructions to us. Sunny’s husband will now spend eternity with Jesus instead of in eternal hell and damnation because of Sunny’s willingness to not give up on her husband even if it caused her suffering.

For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
1 Peter 2:20

29 thoughts on “Does Debi Pearl Promote Physical Abuse in Marriage?

  1. While I do not think Debi’s counsel was AT ALL promoting domestic abuse, I think it would be valid of a woman in Sunny’s situation to remove herself and her children from the situation temporarily until the husband got proper counseling and help, even if she intended to save the marriage. Women often give up too easily when it comes to these situations, I think; most spouses that are abusive in any way, shape or form, are troubled themselves but with proper help (and motivation), they CAN change. But that usually takes time – just because it happened really fast in Sunny’s situation, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen overnight for every woman who just stops gossiping her husband to her friends, and in the meantime, it is a mother’s duty to protect herself and her children.

  2. I remember being shocked when I read that she stayed with him, but it never occurred to me that Debi was at fault. It wasn’t Debi’s choice to make.

  3. Amen so true. I hear that all the time about the book, its so nonsense. Debi just teaches biblical truths in the book. Yes a wife in a physical abusive marriage should separate, but if a wife wants to fight and really try to save her husband then thats her choice. God never promises an easy life. That story is an amazing testimony and I’m so happy God worked on her husband by her staying subjected to him through the bad times. God is always good. As christians we will all suffer, just varies.

    So yes most of the time a wife should separate and work on the marriage from a far or until the husband changes but you can’t fault a wife who decides to suffer a little to see God change her husband.

  4. This is what people do not understand, that God is the God who saves and restores. I would not have condemned Sunny if she left, as she had real physical concerns. Instead, I applaud her bravery and dedication to Christ as she trusted Him to put together the pieces of her marriage. I believe this is what God wants to do in all marriages, even ones that have had the worst of trials. He is the great physician and can bring amazing healing to the very worst of circumstances.

    1. Amen and I Agree! I know of a situation that was very bad and within 24 hours to 48 hours, 80% of the mess of a marriage was restored!!! God is the Almighty, sovereign, powerful and a just God!

      I love the scripture …without faith it is impossible to please him for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him! Faith is Believing!

      Believing that he will work out the situation, everything is in his hands, total surrender and obedience.

  5. When you are in a marriage where one spouse is abusive or has betrayed you the first thing a counselor will advise you to do is find safe people to mentor you. Safe people are those who will listen and not judge, not talk bad about you, your husband or your situation. That is what Debi modeled. She did not force her own decision on Sunny. She allowed Sunny the safe space to think through her situation, seek wise counsel, seek God’s counsel and then decide. People who want to force their own will on someone are not safe people.

    My favorite book about this is A Fierce Love by Shauna Shanks. Her husband was having an affair and she saved her marriage by loving him. She had support from her family. They prayed for her, helped support her on the days when he was awful and when she wanted to quit they reminded her of what she was fighting for.

    I have an index card that I keep and it says, “I will always win when I do things God’s way. I will always lose if I do things my way.” That keeps me focused on what I’m fighting for in my own marriage.

    1. I have something similar in my Bible, the preacher who told it to me called it an “anchor thought”.
      It is:
      If we leave everything in God’s hands, eventually we will see the hand of God in everything.

  6. I assume this post was spurred by the fact that another popular Christian blogger felt the need to “expose” Debi on her own blog recently. I have looked at that blog on and off for a few years and I like a few of the things she has said, but between that latest post about Debbie and a different series she did about how men should share the housework, I’m just really not comfortable reading it anymore.

    I got saved after my husband and I were married. After I got saved, there was not an overnight change. My husband said he noticed the significant difference after we watched Michael and Debbie Pearl teach a husband’s / wives seminar on DVD. It gave me a good foundation for what my role should look like as a wife and Debbie has blessed me greatly with her teaching. ♥️

    1. Yes, it is, Isadora, and we disagree about many things such as a wife’s submission to her husband. I haven’t looked at her site for a long time but I did yesterday and I saw her post bashing Debi Pearl and accusing her of promoting physical abuse. I wanted to set the record straight.

  7. It’s a good thing Ahmed changed because if he hadn’t and Sunny went through with her plans to kill her husband, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I’ve read CTBHH twice. It has it’s good points but there were a few things I just couldn’t agree with.

    1. There’s no one that you agree with 100 percent I bet, Regina, but this book has changed many marriages for the good. And yes, people forget to realize that Debi convinced her NOT to go through with killing her husband which would have landed her in jail for life.

  8. I am still working my way through this book. I’ve read the whole thing, and am going back through and reading it again, studying it in a bit more detail this time, and consciously applying some of it in my own marriage and I can honestly say that it is working! I am noticing the most incredible changes 🙂

    Debi encourages women to endure abuse and suffering if we can, while we work on the things we can control, but I certainly have not noticed anything where she actually condones abuse. And she certainly does not promote it. I have a new edition so maybe it’s been changed a little, but I loved the way Debi has included internal monologue such as “why should I do this?” and the attitude that is so common for us women to feel. And she acknowledges that we *shouldn’t* have to do this – and we’re not wrong for feeling like we shouldn’t have to (there are a number of times she does this, for various situations) but then reminds us of our goal. No, we *shouldn’t* have to endure (some) abuse but if we do suck it up and work on our ourselves and following God’s will, we will be rewarded and our husband’s will become better men.
    But I most definitely have not read anywhere in the book that Debi is promoting abuse of any type.

  9. This is an example of what I mean by how Debi acknowledges our feelings:
    “Were you mad at your husband this week over something he did, like being late, speaking to your rudely, or yelling at the kids? Did you seethe with bitterness and intentionally avoid looking into his eyes so as to express your disdain?….. Yes, your husband deserved it. Yes, it is your right. But is there any satisfaction in your punishing responses? Does he now bend to your anger and do better in hopes of escaping your condemnation? He practices his faults, and you practice your bitterness. You are both practicing divorce.”

    My husband often speaks to me rudely. He calls me horrible names that cannot be repeated on here, and he yells at me…. none of it is nice. And my reaction is just as Debi described – I seethe with bitterness. And my bitterness doesn’t stop my husband from being nasty. If anything, it makes it worse.
    I love how Debi acknowledged that my husband deserved my anger and bitterness, and I love that she pointed out that it isn’t going to help. Instead, she goes on to point out what *will* help. Much of the book is about teaching us what will help.

    I can see how a bitter, angry, abused woman could take that paragraph I just shared above and say that Debi is condoning verbal abuse, but she really isn’t. She’s acknowledging that it happens, and that our human response is natural, but that our natural response isn’t going to help.

  10. Hey Lori! I miss your videos, do you mind making a video about this explaining more and maybe giving more advice on how to deal with an angry husband. If not, will you be making anymore videos anytime soon. Also, I’m a young woman (18) getting married very soon (March 13th) and your advice has been helpful.

    1. Hi Geleya,

      I am taking the summer off of making videos and I am not on social media as much. It’s been great. I may get back to making videos in the Fall. Debi has a great chapter in her newer version of the book in how to deal with an angry husband.

  11. I read the comments on the other blog and I had read her opinion on the book a few years back. All I can say is she cherry picks the book, misuses scripture and doesn’t understand Debi’s intent. Debi herself commented years later she really thought Sunny would leave him. But it’s not about Debi’s feelings. It’s about what God’s word says.

  12. Lori, why does i have the impression that you believe that a believer can go to hell if he’s sinning. If someone is saved he cannot lose his salvation therefore his soul shall be in heaven when he die even if he’s not walking with the Lord.

    1. I have never stated that a believer can go to hell if he’s sinning. Once one truly believes, they are forgiven for every single sin they have and will commit and will spend eternity with Jesus Christ. The key is to keep on believing as Hebrew exhorts us over and over again since only those who don’t believe will spend eternity in hell. The fruit of our lives, however, should show whether we truly believe or not.

    2. If we are not walking with the Lord when we die, we will not be in heaven. To think otherwise, is just ridiculous! That’s basically giving people licence to do whatever they want and it doesn’t matter how they treat people or what they do because they are “saved”. Is that really what you think Jesus taught? No. It’s not. Read your Bible again if you don’t believe me.
      Yes God’s grace covers our sins, but if we’re intentionally sinning because “God’s grace” then we’re going to be very disappointed. If we’re not doing our best to follow the Lord (remembering that our best might look different to someone else’s best) we’re not true saved believers, are we?

      1. If a person is truly saved, KAK, they will not lose their faith in Jesus Christ. Will they ever be perfect while on this earth? No, but the moment they believed, there were completely freed from all past and present sin and filled with the Holy Spirit. Our actions now will prove our faith. But let’s say a believer commits suicide because they have struggled with mental problems for a long time and just simply gave up. They couldn’t take life anymore. Will they not go to heaven? The only sin that will keep you out of heaven is that of unbelief. Yes, a Christian who commits suicide can still go to heaven if they are truly a Christian and have believed upon Jesus Christ as their Savior. But does the fact that we are saved give us license to sin? “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2). Anyone struggling in this area should listen and learn from Michael Pearl teach through Romans on YouTube at “The Door.” It’s powerful teaching!

  13. An example of what I mean is a woman I know who is living in sin with her boyfriend, multiple children to multiple men. She has been a Christian all her life. She believes she is saved. Is she? Only God knows that answer. But the Bible says that God is not mocked. Claiming to be a saved Christian while not making any attempt to live a Christian life is mocking God, in my eyes.

      1. This is a question that plagues my husband as well. He was a baptized believer yet still continued to struggle with habitual sin. So he questions whether he was saved. One night his life was such a mess due to this sin so he cried out to God to help him. He said from that moment he started to see all of life differently and the desire for his habitual sin left. So he questions if he was ever saved or was this the first time he was truly sincere in asking God for help with this sin and God answered his request. This has shaken us both a little bit for some reason.

        1. I think I’ve shared this before on here, but my father (who is dying of heart failure) had a massive heart attack and went into cardiac arrest and died. The hospital staff managed to revive him with several shocks of a defibrillator. When he was dead he said he *knew* he was dead, and he also believed he wasn’t saved. He was terribly afraid.
          He’s been a Christian for 40-odd years, and a very faithful man. It was a massive shock to him, and to me.
          It’s pretty scary, isn’t it? How do we truly know whether or not we are saved? How do we truly know if we have been sincere enough? It frightens me.

          1. God does NOT want His children to live in fear but in faith. If we have believed that His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, lived a sinless sin, was the sacrificial lamb who paid the price for all the sins of those who believe in Him, and rose again, then we are saved from His eternal wrath. I have no doubt that I am a born again Christian who will spend eternity with Him. He has told me that I will, so I believe Him.

  14. Approximately a decade or so ago Mrs.Pearl published a book, “Preparing to be a Helpmeet.” I read this book as a young single lady and it’s been a blessing to me in my current married life.
    If you are a single lady, newly married, or have daughters you might want to check this book out. Learning to be cheerful, submissive, and hardworking begins long before you ever reach the altar. A chaste pure bride is what you want to be on your wedding day. Not all men are like your Dad. … etc ….

  15. I also read Created To Be His Helpmeet eagerly and with great determination to be the best wife possible. It gave me a new perspective and taught me a lot as a young wife.

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