Book review: Each for the Other

This is a review of Each for the Other: Marriage As It’s Meant to Be, by Bryan Chapell (Baker Books, 1998).

Each for the Other is popularly read in conservative presbyterian circles.  Bryan Chapell is the president of Covenant Seminary, the seminary of the PCA (the denomination in which my family and I are members).

This review is specifically concerned with how Each for the Other‘s  teaching squares with the teaching of the Holy Spirit in Scripture.

Contents

1. Servant Leadership
1.1. Sacrificial love
1.2. Authority in action
1.3. The abuse of headship
2. In everything, but… but… but…
2.1. So complex, so confusing
2.2. Focus on feelings
2.3. Garbage and groceries
2.4. An autonomous responsibility to arrange under?
3. Times of disagreement
4. Handling the Word of God
4.1. “Thus saith the Lord” stated weakly in the first six chapters
4.2. The contrast with the teaching on children and society
5. Conclusion

1. Servant Leadership

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is concerned with the responsibilities of the husband. Chapter one is titled A Man’s Responsibility: Servant Leadership.

1.1. Sacrificial love

Throughout the book, Chapell gives many illustrations of the principles under discussion.  Expanding on the theme of servant leadership then, Chapell gives examples of men who exhibited sacrificial love:

  • The boy who died keeping his younger brother from suffocating in the sand (p. 14)
  • Chapell’s father driving home from business trips to be with his family (p. 26)
  • The loving concern of Major Sullivan Ballou for his wife, Sarah, expressed in a letter he wrote to her just before he died in a battle during the civil war (p. 39)
  • Robertson McQuilken stepping down as college president to take care of his wife, Muriel (pp. 60-61)
  • The man who did not repay evil for evil when his wife cut the buttons off his church suit and other things (pp. 62-63)
  • The man who regularly went to Wal-Mart with a lawn chair because his wife wanted to be there (pp. 69-70)

1.2. Authority in action

For the leadership part of servant leadership, Chapell provides these helpful explanations:

“Because he who has all authority in heaven and earth came to serve rather than to be served (Matt. 20:28), we know that sacrifice does not erase authority. Instead, when authority serves the interests of another, it masters the purpose for which God ordained it. Because a husband’s headship reflects the ministry of Christ, we should understand that the head of a home is Christ’s chief representative in that home. A wife and children should better know the love of their Savior through the actions and decisions a man makes.” (p. 36)

and

“Since Christ gave himself for the church to cleanse her from unholiness (Eph. 5:26-27), a husband who seeks to honor Christ in his marriage will give himself for his wife’s progress in overcoming sin and drawing near to God.” (p. 66)

…and gives a few examples of such authority in action:

  • The mountain climbing guide, whose authority does not mean he’s always out front (p. 19)
  • The man who gave his wife more structure to help her with her temptation to steal (p. 21)
  • The man who took leadership in an in-law relationship issue (p. 47)
  • The man who made many sacrifices to give his wife the opportunity to teach again (p. 48)

1.3. The abuse of headship

Chapell also provides many examples of the misuse and abuse of headship and authority, to clarify what he’s not teaching. Chapell illustrates that biblical headship is not:

  • making a practice of flipping a coin to determine whether you will help your wife (p. 10);
  • not making a decision regarding your family for two years and making no attempt to discipline the children (p. 27);
  • torturing your wife with a cigarette lighter because she doesn’t submit to your sexual desires (p.30);
  • making your wife log the hours she does housework to make sure she did not loaf (p. 30);
  • occasionally returning from work drunk to awaken your wife and children with threats and beatings in order to ‘preach the Bible’ to them for hours in the living room (p. 33);
  • disregarding how your headship is affecting your wife’s sense of self-worth (pp. 42-43);
  • berating your wife for putting the car in the ditch (especially when you do the same thing) (pp. 44-45)
  • making your mother a higher priority than your wife (p. 47);
  • asking your wife not to speak in public without your permission (52);
  • being more concerned about control of your marriage than allowing your wife to grow (p. 65);
  • destroying your wife’s self-confidence so that she will be more dependent on you (p. 71);

2. In everything, but… but… but…

Addressing the wife’s responsibilities, Chapell teaches thus:

“Finally, Paul indicates the extent of this authority: “wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (pp. 31-32, emphasis original)

…and gives an example of a woman whose gentle and quiet spirit won over her unbelieving police captain husband after a matter of years (p.80).

But…

2.1. So complex, so confusing

“Should a woman be a doormat to her husband’s demands?” (p. 12)

“Biblical leadership means that a man places his family’s interests above his own. He uses his leadership to put each member of the family in the best position possible to know and experience the care of God. A woman who submits to such headship is not feeding the selfishness of her spouse but rather is supporting the godly nurture of her entire family.” (p. 12)

“From palaces to campuses to churches to our homes the questions echo: How really is a wife supposed to love; how should she honor; should she obey? Flip answers that do not consider the challenges of our times, the dignity of each person, and the authority of God’s Word will neither satisfy us nor glorify our God. He is too concerned for his people to leave us without principles to guide and govern our most precious relationships. So what is a Christian wife to do? The plain answer stated in Scripture is to submit. The Bible says, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:22). However, neither mouthing ancient dogma nor mindlessly shouting, Submit, at modern women (nor even studying the original meaning of that biblical term — a combination of words meaning ‘to arrange under’) will settle today’s concerns. The true duty, dignity, and beauty God intends for wives unfolds only as we consider the significance of his intentions for them.” (pp. 78-79)

“A woman disobeys God when she ignores, undermines, or counters the properly expressed authority of her husband. At the same time, the apostle’s example [the church submitting to the headship of Christ], frees the wife from submission to ungodly demands since the church’s submission to Christ never includes participation in evil or yielding to what dishonors God’s plan for his people.” (p. 81)

“Still, knowing that the submission concept is important does not tell us all we need to know. We still have to know what submission means. The original word is a combination of Greek terms that in very rough translation would mean something like, ‘to arrange under.’ In common usage submission conveyed ideas of obedience and subservience. From the precise biblical contexts in which the term is used, commentators variously interpret submission as ‘a disposition to yield,’ ‘voluntary yielding in love,’ or ‘not to exercise authority over.’ To these technical ideas can be added the colloquial commentary that biblical submission means that ‘a wife should follow her husband’s lead, but it does not mean that she should be her husband’s shadow.'” (p. 85)

“Sacrificing one’s self to make a relationship (and those in it) whole defines the essence of biblical submission. Still, the subtleties and complexities of any marriage defy attempts to simplify submission to a few rules of home etiquette.” (pp. 85-86)

Clearly a wife doesn’t want to be a doormat, or be feeding the selfishness of her spouse, or yield to what dishonors God’s plan for his people, or be her husband’s shadow — and surely the subtleties and complexities of any marriage defy attempts to simplify submission to a few rules of home etiquette. So difficult to determine what the command even means, let alone the complex applications!

2.2. Focus on feelings

“Our Lord submitted his life to the purpose of glorifying his bride. His goal was to help her realize her eternal preciousness and value, so he purchased, with the price of his own blood, the radiant beauty God desired for his spiritual spouse.” (p.42)

But Jesus’ purpose is to make her holy, to cleanse her, to present her to himself radiant, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. This is distinctly different from a goal to merely help her realize her value. The focus makes a world of difference — it’s the difference between “Wow, I’m so valuable! I’m so precious! I’m of great worth!” and “Thanks be to my Husband-King, He has cleansed me and now at last I may stand in His presence with joy and without shame! He’s been good to me!”

“Instead of making his wife feel precious, this husband’s headship made her feel worthless. Christ’s love, on which the husband’s love is supposed to be modeled, never makes us feel ‘crummy,’ ‘worthless,’ and ‘like a nonperson.'” (p. 42)

Every loving husband wants his wife to be happy and to know that she is precious to him. But when God was working with His people in the wilderness, were they always happy with His care — did they always feel precious to Him?

Later, when God had brought them to the beautiful Promised Land, did they swoon rapturously over the prophets’ indictments of their sin?

Yet no people has ever been so steadfastly loved, so faithfully pursued by her Lord’s tender mercies, as the Bride of Christ. Mark the danger of measuring the lord’s faithfulness by the measuring rod of the lady’s feelings.

2.3. Garbage and groceries

“Scripture consistently articulates what attitudes are required for a woman to support her spouse, but the actions required are never as completely described. God tells us to sacrifice for each other but he does not provide a universal grid of activities or habits into which every couple must fit their lives. The Bible nowhere says who should take out the garbage or carry in groceries from the car. There is a remarkable absence of such prescriptions in Scripture for the daily operations of a marriage. Apparently the goal of wholeness and health for the family is far more important than any specific set of behaviors that all couples should observe despite differing personalities, gifts, and circumstances. This means that, while it is impossible not to be influenced by stereotypical behaviors in our culture, merely confining women to the roles a society determines to be wifely will not fulfill the Bible’s mandates for wives.” (p. 90)

It is curious that in confidently stating, “Apparently the goal of wholeness and health for the family is far more important than any specific set of behaviors that all couples should observe despite differing personalities, gifts, and circumstances” (obvious, isn’t it?  — who wants to be roped down to some rigid, specific set of behaviors when you can see that you have differing personalities, gifts, and circumstances?)  Chapell does not engage Titus 2:3-5:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

And what about the good deeds that would allow a widow to be on the list to be provided for by the church, in 1 Timothy:

“A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work…Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.”
–1 Timothy 5:9-10,14-16

Clearly the Holy Spirit places a special emphasis for a holy woman on home, family, service…so why does Chapell speak as if Scripture gives us no such guidance?

2.4. An autonomous responsibility to arrange under?

“Discerning how wives should fulfill their obligation to honor their husbands requires us to unroll the implications of Paul’s comparison of marriage to the relationship of Christ and the church. The church does not honor Christ by dispensing with all the gifts and graces God provides. Rather, God calls her to arrange all her energies and abilities under the grand purpose of glorifying the Savior. To do less would not be submission; it would be disobedience…Biblical submission truly is an ‘arranging under’ of one’s own resources and abilities for the glory of another. Such submission is never an abdication of responsibility for another’s welfare, nor is it an abandonment of one’s own gifts to fit a predetermined behavior mold. Biblical submission requires a woman always to explore how to use the unique gifts and abilities God has given her to make the glory of God’s image most evident in her spouse and home. Each wife must determine how she can best bring the glory of God into her marriage.” (p. 91)

Chapell develops his point:

“As we have seen, submission to a spouse should never be interpreted as requiring a wife to sin because her husband demands it. In a similar way, a woman should not betray the reasons God placed her in the marriage by submitting to misguided authority. If a husband is abusing his authority or abandoning his spiritual obligations, then the duty of a wife committed to her husband’s good is ‘no longer conscientiously to submit, but conscientiously to refuse to do so.’ She must use the heart and brains God gave her along with the humility and courage he requires to promote the glory God intends for her husband. Writes Kent Hughes:

‘The fact that a wife wants to honor her husband’s leadership if possible does not mean she will sit in mute silence. Questioning his reasoning or acquainting him with his error is not evidence of a rebellious spirit, but rather of love. Refusing to support his moral folly is not sin. A Christian wife can stand with Christ against her husband with a humble, loving spirit which indicates her longing to honor his headship. The attitude is, of course, key.’

…To apply [these biblical principles] effectively and correctly, a wife must understand the gifts God has given her and how her husband and her marriage benefit when she uses them. Biblical submission ultimately is not the suppression of gifts but the full expression of them on behalf of another.” (p. 93)

Let’s consider these:

  • Sit in mute silence? No!
  • Question his reasoning, acquaint him with his error? Yes!
  • Use heart, brains, humility, and courage? Yes!

But beyond these, Chapell says a wife’s responsibility not to obey her husband is a multifaceted thing. In fact, she is apparently not to obey him in anything where she judges that her gifts would be suppressed if she obeyed her husband.

Hmm.

How does this compare with 1 Peter 2:18–3:6?

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
–1 Peter 2:18–3:6

How does Chapell’s teaching concerning a wife’s responsibility to refuse to submit to her husband square with the Holy Spirit’s teaching?  The Holy Spirit teaches the high and holy calling of wives to submit to their husbands even if they are being unreasonable. By the patient endurance of unjust suffering, wives bring glory to God.  In our day, the obvious must be stated: this is by no means an encouragement to husbands to be unreasonable!  God will judge.  But instead of commending the example of the holy women of old, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, Chapell teaches that a woman has a duty to rebel against her husband in the name of “arranging her gifts” under him. This is false teaching.

While at first it may seem kind to point women away from the way of suffering, this is also the way of faith and the way of Christ. “…since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”
Chapell teaches that to make sure her gifts are properly used, a woman must take the weight of responsibility on her own shoulders. This is a weight she has not been given to bear, and it is neither liberating nor loving nor right to place this burden upon her, inciting her to disobedience to the Lord.

3. Times of disagreement

Beyond these problems in what the book does teach, there are a couple of important application issues on which the book does not teach.

Now no book can explicitly address all possible angles of all possible questions. That would be ponderous and unwieldy. Not even the Bible does that.

But there is a class of questions about the application of Scripture’s teaching to our lives that I wish Chapell had spoken to: the implication of the Holy Spirit’s teaching on times of spousal disagreement.

  • What does godly leadership look like in differences of opinion in a significant matter?
  • What does godly leadership look like in differences of opinion in an insignificant matter?

Leadership and submission flow smoothly where there is already mutual agreement, but they are tested where there is disagreement between husband and wife. Chapell gives several examples of the husband being a boor and lording it over his wife; but what about the husband who loves God and loves his wife and is convinced that a particular decision must be made to walk in the way of faithfulness to the Lord, or is simply best for the family — though his wife disagrees? Is not a husband responsible for leading his wife and family in the way of godliness and guiding his family, even when a decision is unpopular, even when he encounters resistance from his family? Such situations will occur in every family, and they need to be navigated with care and with godly wisdom. What wisdom, then, can be given such a man? What counsel would we offer to his wife?

I can find only one example in the book that deals with a godly man exercising his authority in such a situation: the man who gave his wife more structure to help her with her temptation to steal (p. 21).

And there will be times when a man may come to a decision that is wrong, so wrong that he needs correction from a Christian brother or elder in the church. What would that look like? How should a godly man receive and evaluate such correction?

These questions mostly concern differences of opinion in a spiritually significant matter. What about in matters of less weighty import — small things? A godly husband will not lord it over his wife and family and insist on his own way at all times — but should it not be the husband’s will that charts the course for the family? A form of servant leadership that teaches a husband to maintain a constant posture of bowing to the wishes of his family does not seem to match the picture of our Lord and King who, yes, sacrifices His very life for us — but also is not bound to accede to our every demand, but rather lovingly conforms us to His good will. How would that work out on a human level, with a human husband and father?

4. Handling the Word of God

4.1. “Thus saith the Lord” stated weakly in the first six chapters

Throughout the first six chapters, Chapell seems to struggle with the Holy Spirit’s teaching on God’s revealed order for husband and wife. This can be seen in the kind of language he uses to speak of that teaching.

Taken individually, we would not make an issue of this.  But consider the pattern:

“…the concept of headship, which Paul advocates…” (p. 23)

Paul? Advocates? What a strange way to speak of the revealed will of God.

“The conclusion that God grants this authority to husbands is difficult to sidestep when we read what the Bible plainly says.”

Are we looking for ways to sidestep this teaching?

“…the apostle wants the husband to have primary authority in the marriage…” (p. 32)

The apostle wants? Is this merely the advice of man, or the command of God?

“If we are unwilling to throw away scriptural passages that require the exercise of authority, then how do we know that such conduct in marriage [referencing the example of a husband flipping a coin to determine whether he would help his wife] is wrong? Finding biblical answers to this question will require us to go beyond a surface reading of Scripture that would seem to justify dictatorial rule by one spouse or to require the abandonment of personal dignity by another.” (p. 10)

Why would we be toying with the idea of throwing away passages of Scripture?

“…Scripture, which claims to be the inspired Word of God” (p. 23)

I wish Mr. Chapell would put himself out there boldly as an example to us younger men: Scripture IS the inspired Word of God!

“If the apostles were actually writing their own fallible opinions, while claiming that God had provided them (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Peter 3:15-16), then the Bible’s writers were either terribly deluded or inexcusably deceitful. Either alternative would deny us confidence in anything they wrote and would leave us with only our own opinions to judge what parts of Scripture we will allow to instruct us” (pp.23-24)

Yes, we would lose confidence and be left with only our own opinions… but what about the much greater consequences — eternal consequences — of offending a holy God?

“Rather than taking the divine prerogative of picking and choosing what passages of the Bible I want to heed, I am content to listen to the Bible’s own counsel not to add to or subtract from its instruction (Deut. 4:2; Gal. 1:8; Rev. 22:18-19). In this way God’s Word remains intact, and I can continue to rely on wisdom greater than my own. (p.24)

Chapell is content to stick with the whole Bible — this way “God’s Word remains intact, and I can continue to rely on wisdom greater than my own”. But what about the man who doesn’t care about God’s Word remaining intact and who thinks he has enough wisdom on his own? Revelation 22:18-19, which Chapell references, speaks thus of such a man:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

If we love our neighbor, how can we not warn him of this danger? Chapell gives no indication of how high the stakes are. Why does he present the consequences so weakly?

“If what [Paul] says about such basic relationships between men and women is false for our times, then we have no reason to think that any principles he gives for organizing our homes and churches continue to conform to God’s plan. The uncertainty to which such a conclusion enslaves us is all the more apparent…” (p.25)

Again, not the terror of offending a holy God; Chapell presents the problem as merely the “uncertainty to which such a conclusion enslaves us.”

“For example, the apostle still gives parents authority over children” (p. 35)

The apostle gives parents authority? Or is Paul declaring that God gives parents authority over their children? Why does Chapell shy away from saying that this is the Word of God, not man?

4.2. The contrast with the teaching on children and society

The first two sections of the book focus on Each for the Other in marriage.  In the third part of the book, Chapell explores the “Each for the Other” theme as the couple relates to their children and society.

Chapell’s teaching in the areas of children and society does not evidence the struggle nor the apologetic tone of his teaching on God’s order for husbands and wives. Let’s take a look at the striking contrast:

In a section of Chapter 7, “Each for the Other as Parents”, Chapell addresses the duty of a child to submit to the will of his parents.

We will parent well only if we know what God wants to nurture in our children. What does God expect children to do? The simple answer is that he expects them to obey (Eph. 6:1). Special qualifications accompany the obedience God requires of children. The Bible tells children to submit to their parents “in the Lord.” This means that a child should do whatever parents require so long as their instruction is not contrary to God’s will or Word. However, Scripture also makes it clear that this submission is to be more than just doing what a parent requires. Sullen, angry, begrudging fulfillment of duty is not acceptable. An obedient child must also honor father and mother (Eph. 6:2). Children must submit in action and attitude to their parents’ instruction.

Submission is Right
The apostle Paul supplies two reasons for such submission. First, children are to obey “for this is right” (Eph. 6.1). What a peculiarly simple and, at first glance, unnecessary statement. Despite our temptation to retort, “Of course,” there is great wisdom in the apostle’s simple affirmation of the rightness of a child’s obedience. We sense the importance of his remark when we wonder whether to make our children obey. Consider the moment when a little, three-year-old bundle of sugar and spice, bedecked in the finery of a new Easter dress, ignores her daddy’s no and grabs a handful of candy from the table treats intended for guests. Then, when Daddy patiently tells this precious package of lace and sweetness to put the candy back, she says, “No.” Now Daddy knows that if he does anything about this rebellion, he will feel like the grinch who stole Easter. What should this father require? What does the Bible say? Children, obey your parents for this is right. Because God knows that we parents are easily torn by our love for our children and our insecurities about ourselves, he graciously speaks plainly. When our hearts wrestle with the question, Should I insist my child obey? God answers, Yes, “for this is right.” When a young mother cannot bring herself to discipline her child, when a father will not provide the time or attention to discipline, when the latest child rearing book has made you question whether you should just ignore some improper outburst from your child — in each of these moments we need the straightforward simplicity this Scripture supplies.
Of course there are moments when our circumstances, or our children’s situations, will require discretion regarding the timing and degree of our disciplinary measures. Still, we cannot make dismissal of discipline a pattern. If we think we love our children too much to require them to do what is right, then we have not really loved them enough.
(pp. 139-140, emphasis in original)

And again in Chapter 8, “Each for the Other in Society”:

Christians may not act as though they are above man’s law. Though they owe ultimate allegiance to the laws of heaven, their testimony requires that they submit to all authority that does not require them to transgress God’s law. The social structures that maintain the medium of human relationships necessary for the spread of the gospel as well as the testimony of Christians that validates the goodness of our message require us to honor the authority of those to whom God grants rule (1 Peter 2:14-15)…As uncomfortable as this instruction may make us, its force is accentuated by the conditions under which Peter wrote. The apostle commanded his fellow Christians to submit to governing authorities when his own rulers were cruel pagans designing policies to persecute his fellow believers.
If Christians are ever tempted to dismiss Peter’s words with the explanation, “That old apostle just does not understand the kinds of people who are in authority in our culture,” then it is time for the reminder that the highest human authority when Peter wrote was Nero, the Roman ruler who fed Christians to lions…The events of our contemporary world testify to the power of God’s higher purposes…
(pp. 156-157, emphasis in original)

(Chapell goes on to speak to the way God has not been hindered by the oppression and opposition of the Communist government in China, but instead has grown His church there).

Here we have straightforward exposition, affirmation of God’s goodness, and exhortation to trust and obey God’s good Word. Good, solid stuff!

Where are the assertions that what is needed is not “mouthing ancient dogma, nor mindlessly shouting, Submit (or Obey), nor even studying the original meaning of a biblical term”? Where is the caveat about “Flip answers that do not consider the challenges of our times, the dignity of each person, and the authority of God’s Word”? Where is the conundrum about whether we (or our children) are a doormat?

They are simply not needed here. Yet the Bible’s teaching on husbands and wives is no less clear than its teaching on parents and children or people and governing authorities. Each for the Other would be a stronger and more God-honoring book if Chapell would teach the Word as boldly in the husband and wife sections as he does in the children and society sections. I hope that he someday revises it and does so.

5. Conclusion

Each for the Other is certainly not devoid of good. The teaching on children and society has already been mentioned; one powerful and illustrative story not yet mentioned is in the introduction to Part 2, where Chapell relates he and his wife’s experience in the home of Dr. Robert Rayburn and his wife — how Dr. Rayburn exercised his authority for the good of his guests and wife, and how his wife honored him and helped him in the weakness of his cancer (pp.75-76). And there are many smaller examples sprinkled throughout the pages of the book.

However, the presentation of submission as a complex and difficult prospect, the incitement of wives to rebellion rather than faith, the inattention to the Holy Spirit’s teaching on the particular callings of women, and the tone of chafing against the Holy Spirit’s words, fill the book with errors to avoid.

Surely there must be a better book than this for teaching the truths revealed by the Holy Spirit about the Father’s good order for a man and a woman together in marriage… if our desire is to hear and obey our Lord.

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