I’m reading the Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, but I really can’t recommend this book. My main issue with the book is not that I don’t agree with MOST of what she says, but the way she makes her points are very weak.
Before I say what I want to say, let me begin by stating that all my life I’ve been fed lies. As a kid, I was given a version of God that was not biblical or correct. I grew up thinking God hated me and wanted the worst for me. I thought Jesus was a nice story, but didn’t even get the point of his death until I became saved at age 28. So whenever someone gloats about this author or that speaker, I don’t ever jump on the bandwagon of groupies and jump all in. I’m a skeptic by nature. I question everything. I put it to the test. And then when I’ve worked it out–me and God, wrestling and searching, then I am the biggest supporter of the truth. Or one of the biggest anyways
So with that said, I have been wrestling with her book. I’ve read Chapters 1-7, and I’m convinced she is very black and white and very opinionated. Her main points are made by picking and choosing bible verses about random topics and using them for marriage. Maybe she is correct in her assessments, but her explanations do not jive with me. I need concrete. I need firm foundations. I need to be able to convince another person I believe this stuff. And her book just doesn’t do the topic justice.
Here is an example and as you can see, I argue on the sidebars:
Her first point is why women need protection is because of the influence the world has on her. She states 1 John 2:16. This is true of men too, not just women! If you are going to make a point about why women need protection (from men) but then use a verse that is applicable to all people, it makes very little sense.
I agree with her assessment that I fall victim to the influence the world has on me, but last I checked, so does my husband!
On the next page she says this:
2.) The Devil
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the full armor of God, that you maybe be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-11, 13
Satan is against everything that God establishes. So he tries to undermine the home and the wife’s role….One biblical requirement of your obedience is for you to graciously place yourself and remain under your husband’s authority (unless he asks you to sin). If you do not, you are out of God’s will and have not done everything biblically to “stand firm”.
Overall, I don’t disagree with what she is saying here. But again, she using this as evidence for why a husband needs to protect his wife. Does not the devil also attack the husband? Is he immune to Satan? I think not. Doesn’t really convince me that I “need” protection from my husband. It just shows me I need to seek God’s protection.
Last and my least favorite is point 3, in which she states that a woman is “often more easily deceived” and she uses 1 Timothy 2:12-14 to make her point. I have no idea which Bible version she used because I tried to look it up and I can’t locate it. But this is what the books says (i.e. The Bible according to Martha Peace):
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived fell into transgression. (underlining and emphasis courtesy of Martha Peace)
But look it up in the NIV or even the ESV or the NASB and you will get this kind of language instead:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (NIV)
So from this simple verse about church leadership, she makes the assumption first of all that women are quite deceived, more so than a man. Secondly, she jumps from church leadership to marriage. When I first read this, I said to myself, “How do you get all of that from these few verses?” because I didn’t see one thing in here about marriage. It was all on church leadership. And the “quite deceived” version is new to me. Nice additions though, Mrs. Peace.
Thankfully, our universe has people who CAN write and explain and even teach well and unfortunately it isn’t Martha Peace (but I don’t know–everyone on Facebook seems to worship her, so guess I’m the problem). John Piper states things differently and I tend to agree with him, if only because his logic makes sense and hers doesn’t:
We summed it up with two definitions: of authority (v. 12) and submission (v. 11).
- “Authority” refers to the divine calling of spiritual, gifted men to take primary responsibility as elders for Christ-like servant leadership and teaching in the church.
- “Submission” refers to the divine calling of the rest of the church, both men and women, to honor and affirm the leadership and teaching of the elders and to be equipped by them for the hundreds of various ministries available to men and women in the service of Christ.
These definitions are intentionally parallel to the definitions of headship and submission and marriage which we learned from Ephesians 5:
- Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
- Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
The reason this is important to see is that both in the case of church order and family order Paul is basing his teaching on God’s original order in creation. Paul is not arbitrarily choosing roles for men and women, nor is he simply adapting to the cultural expectations of the day. He is saying that there is something about the way God set things up in the beginning that makes this kind of order good. In other words true manhood and true womanhood mesh more effectively in ministry—they are better preserved and better nurtured and more fulfilled and more fruitful—in this pattern of home and church than in any other pattern—because God made it to be this way. It is part of his gracious design for the good of men and women.
He goes on to state things further in this way:
The second point from verse 14 is this: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Now most commentators in the history of the church have taken this very simply to mean that women are more vulnerable to deception, and therefore should not be given the responsibility of leading and teaching the church. My guess is, from what I have read and experienced, that women are more vulnerable to deception in some kinds of situations and men are more vulnerable to deception in other kinds of situations. (Source: Desiring God, emphasis mine)
Then sums it up, for us non-assumption makers in the room:
I think this is what Paul means in 1 Timothy 2:14. Let me try to paraphrase it to bring this out. “Adam was not deceived [that is, Adam was not approached by the deceiver and did not carry on direct dealings with the deceiver] but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor [that is, she was the one who took up dealings with the deceiver and was led through her direct interaction with him into deception and transgression].”
If this is right, then the main point is not that the man is undeceivable or that the woman is more deceivable; the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated, it brings damage and ruin. Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended.
So Paul’s argumentation in 1 Timothy 2:11–14 is that men ought to bear primary responsibility for leadership and teaching in the church (that is, be the elders):
1) because in creating man first, God taught that men should take responsibility for leadership in relation to woman; and
2) because the fall of Adam and Eve shows that the neglect of this divine pattern puts men and women in a more vulnerable position and leads to transgression.
(emphasis mine. Source: Desiring God)
Whether Piper is right or wrong, at least he makes some valid points. That’s my biggest complaint about the book “The Excellent Wife”. Anyone can state anything they want to, but if you are going to back it up with weak arguments, you are going to lose a lot of people. For me, I am not drinking the Martha Peace kool-aid. She has some good points and I tend to agree with most of what she says, but her points about women and her interpretations of scripture bother me. Did she search these verses out before writing this book? I just don’t know. It seems opinionated, not truthful.
I suggest doing your own digging and come to your own conclusions based on prayer, searching the scriptures, and conviction by the Holy Spirit. It’s been assumed by most that I just am prideful and don’t want to believe what Martha Peace is saying because it goes against my ego. Maybe. But maybe I’m just not wanting to stand on man-made truths and instead, want to stand firm on God’s word–not man’s opinion. Not everything that is questioned is a bad thing. I have found the times I question are the times I grow.
It’s going to be a long 21 Chapters…
Read or listen to John Piper’s sermon in full here: Affirming the Goodness of Manhood and Womanhood in All of Life