We have slightly condensed this book review. Full version here on Amazon.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to open up about very private life experiences. That’s what Juana Mikels does so well in this book. You feel like you’re having a cup of coffee with her as she takes you through her life—sharing the ups and downs and most importantly her deep love for the Lord.
In her early twenties, she became frustrated with her marriage—feeling that she had fallen out of love with her husband Terry and needed someone else to light her fire. Hoping to find herself she leaves her husband and ends up instead finding a personal relationship with Christ and a whole new life. This book is a beautiful testimony of how both she and her husband came to know the Lord.
The parts of this book that I enjoyed most were when Juana shares her personal testimony. That’s about half the book. The other half is teaching on marriage—that’s where problems start appearing.
The first thing I noticed about this book is that she is VERY CRITICAL of herself. The self-loathing in this book gets so strong that after a while it feels like she’s reading from a script written by the accuser of the brethren. …
[Juana] remember that the women who buy your book are looking for real answers to heavy problems. They are already being bombarded with so many negative messages that they will never live up to society’s expectations of body image, status, achievement etc. The last thing we need is more self-loathing.
But there’s another layer to this. Reading through this book, you begin to realize that things are upside down. For example, in chapter sixteen she is interviewing various people about their marriages when she writes this,
“One man I interviewed who got attention in another woman’s arms told me he basically felt ignored by his wife in favor of her work and her television programs.”
Juana—he’s LYING to you. … even if his wife had been 100% perfect, he still would have had the affair because he wanted to sin. Blaming his wife instead of taking responsibility for his own bad choices is a huge red flag! Chances are that the affair is just the tip of the iceberg of what he wants to do. Without realizing it—this book is helping spread his deception by covering for his sin.
While meeting the needs of your spouse is a very important part of marriage—that’s not the only solution to every marriage problem. That disregards the reality that you can be the perfect spouse and still suffer the pain of watching your mate choose evil. The problem is that this book keeps blame shifting by trying to move all the responsibility for one spouse’s bad choices to the other.
And this book has a double standard where Juana will make excuses for people living in unrepentant sin while at the same time blaming real believers for supposedly being the problem.
Donna had struggled with her husband’s alcoholism their entire married life…..He was not a womanizer but alcohol and a traveling job proved to be all the temptation he needed to become unfaithful. (Ch. 3)
Wait a minute. Why is the abuser getting all the sympathy? He wasn’t a womanizer until he was pressured into it by work? Really?
The truth is that there are many faithful men out there who work away from home for months at a time and remain loyal to their wives because they are good men. That’s the difference between real men and abusers.
When she discovered her husband’s unfaithfulness and substance abuse, Donna became severely depressed. Once a wonderful, conscientious mother, Donna could hardly get out of bed. She and her husband separated for three years.
Eventually Donna became a believer and became immersed in the Word. She has grown tremendously in the Lord and in not enabling her husband’s self-destructive choices. His substance abuse began over thirty years ago, but she says they now have a good marriage; she just doesn’t talk with him when he chooses to drink. At the time of this writing, they are about to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. (Ch. 3)
Here we go again—more excuses for sin but no help for victims. The worst part is that somewhere out there Donna is hurting and bleeding right now, feeling like there’s no way out.
There’s a lot of women out there who are also hurting in these kinds of difficult situations. This book teaches them that if they just try harder everything will solve itself but that ignores the need for boundaries. The interview with Donna suggests that there are much deeper issues in that situation but this book seems to completely sidestep the topic of abuse.
Trying to understand Juana’s thought process on this, I looked for anything where her ministry directly addressed the topic of abuse. The closest thing I could find was a podcast interview with Delight Your Marriage posted on her website.
On part one of that podcast—at about 28 minutes into the interview—the host specifically asks Juana how she would minister to women who are living with controlling spouses.
Listen closely to her response:
Host: The wife that’s listening right now—that’s saying—I would submit to him but the problem is that he’s INCREDIBLY OVERBEARING or HE IS CONTROLLING or these kinds of REALLY TERRIBLE qualities—what would you tell her?
Juana: What I would say to that woman is—you look for ways to make his life as pleasant and easy as you can. You do your part—the wife’s part…..I’m not talking about the husband who is hitting his wife or asking her to do something that’s totally wrong because the other 99% of us—we just don’t want to submit. He wanted to go to the Chinese restaurant and we wanted to go have Italian tonight. So it’s all these little things in life. We just didn’t want to be intimate right now because…….didn’t he see how busy I was today and he didn’t even offer to help diaper the kids….
Maybe he wouldn’t try to be so controlling if we were more loving and sweet.
Maybe he’s trying to be controlling because every time he asks us to do something he knows we’re going to do what we want to do anyway. All I’m saying is let’s work on our part because chances are—let’s say he’s 80% of the man we want. None of us are prize packages. All of us have areas. Let’s work on our part.
…she just slammed women five different times in one brief response! That is taking the precious Gospel of Christ and mixing it with the deadly poison of misogyny.
What gets me the most is when she flippantly disregards the real pain people are experiencing by saying “maybe he wouldn’t try to be so controlling if we were more loving and sweet.”
That’s like saying that Pharaoh wouldn’t have been so cruel to the Israelites if they had just been kinder and sweeter. That opens the floodgates for the abuser to do whatever he wants while blaming the victim for not being sweet enough. …
Reading through this book, I began to see that in a very subtle way—this book is taking away the ability of women to recognize what’s happening to them or make even basic personal choices.
Juana writes about how while she was separated, her friends encouraged her to work towards reconciliation, “When I would get upset about something Terry said to me, they would remind me that a dead person doesn’t have any rights!” (Ch. 9)
At the core of the Christian faith is the giving up of your rights—your way. (Ch. 16)
… When Rosa Parks sat down on a bus and brought a nation to its feet—was it a sin for her to insist on her rights? Of course not! In fact, she said what inspired her to stand up for her rights was the Bible story of Moses standing up to Pharaoh.
Rosa Parks wrote that on that fateful day when she was ordered to give up her seat:
then three of the blacks in my row got up, but I stayed in my seat and slid closer to the window..…Our mistreatment was just not right and I was tired of it. The more we gave in, the more they mistreated us. …
From my upbringing and the Bible, I learned people should stand up for their rights, just as the children of Israel stood up to Pharaoh…..Someone had to take that first step…..in that moment on the bus I decided to resist and take the consequences. (Quiet Strength p. 22, 42)
Rosa Parks is the perfect example of suffering according to the will of God. She suffered by RESISTING the oppression NOT submitting to it.
Of course, Juana will say that we’re just misunderstanding her points. But all we are doing is obeying God’s command to “test all things.” Not to allow ourselves to be tossed to and fro by every new wind of doctrine.
In Juana’s book she also writes,
Pray for your husband whether he is a Christian or not and even if you feel that you are mistreated, remember that Christ says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Instead, Christ says to love them without expecting to get anything back—that’s how He loves us. That is love with no conditions…..of course seek safety if you are in a harmful situation…….when you love and pray for your husband……(God) says that our reward will be great. (Appendix 2)
That is taking away the ability of women to set boundaries to protect themselves from abuse while implying that submitting to abuse will be rewarded by God!
In fact—the more you read through this book the more you can feel something else simmering underneath the surface. It first appears in the very beginning of the book when you read an endorsement from Elisabeth Elliott.
Many of you know the story of how her husband, Jim Elliott, gave his life taking the Gospel into the remote jungles of Ecuador. Mrs. Elliott also served as a missionary and then later in life had a thriving ministry to women.
But if nobody’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes—is it possible that even a hero of the faith like Mrs. Elliott could make mistakes?
When you open this book, the very first thing you see is Mrs. Elliott describing how she mentored Juana for the ministry, saying “I have known Juana Mikels for nearly ten years.”
Then the very next thing is slamming women for working outside the home! Mrs. Elliott writes, “Who wants to keep house in this day and age? Isn’t it more fun to be out and about, getting a job, making money, etc. rather than being a quiet and gentle spirit busy at home as the Scripture clearly states?”
Now Elisabeth Elliott was involved with Bill Gothard’s ministry for years even personally teaching sessions for Gothard’s EXCEL program—an eight week seminar for teenage girls. What she taught teenage girls in those sessions was described by an eyewitness named Wende Benner in the article Created to Be His Doormat.
Wende describes being raised in a family heavily involved in Gothard’s ministry. So when Wende heard that Mrs. Elliott herself was going to teach at the EXCEL program, she was excited to attend and learn directly from this hero of the faith.
But what actually happened was not what she expected.
Wende describes how during these teaching sessions, Mrs. Elliott seemed to focus on how “there were so many sins women were prone to falling into…and just one of them could not only destroy our lives but the lives of our husbands and children.”
What were these sins?
Things such as having expectations from life. … God’s only purpose for women was marriage and children—as many children as possible. If women and girls had any other desires or dreams they were sinning.
At one point, Mrs. Elliott had a question and answer time where some of the girls start asking questions like “how does submission look when parents are quite possibly being abusive or even asking one to do something wrong?”
But Wende is surprised to watch that “with each question Mrs. Elliott seemed to become more and more impatient. She reiterated the fact that God called us to submit and surrender. There were no exceptions.”
Finally one girl asks, “Mrs. Elliott, are you saying that God made women to be doormats?”
Mrs. Elliott then replied, “Well, I have always said since God made me to be a doormat, I will be the best doormat I can be.”
That’s the kind of thinking that runs heavily through this book! It makes you cringe when Juana writes, “I’m so grateful that Elisabeth Elliott taught me these concepts on obeying my husband.” (Ch. 17)
Yet the irony is that what actually inspired Mrs. Elliott to become a missionary was Amy Carmichael who fulfilled God’s plan for her life by never marrying or having children but serving over fifty years in India—making a huge difference by rescuing many children. So did Gladys Aylward—who also inspired Mrs. Elliott. Gladys was turned down by missionary organizations but answered the call of God on her life by working as a maid to save up enough money to go to China by herself.
Both Amy and Gladys are great examples of how God can use women in many different ways just like the Apostle Paul wrote
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1:10 NIV)
There are more issues in this book that I wish there was time to deal with but I’ll close with this—if I ever had the chance to have a cup of coffee with Juana, I would encourage her to read Why Does He Do That? [Affiliate link] by Lundy Bancroft and Unholy Charade [Affiliate link] by Pastor Jeff Crippen. I’m hoping that because Juana really does want to help people she will take the time to get the right resources and training to better understand women facing harmful situations. Those two books are a great place to start.
68 thoughts on ““Choosing Him All Over Again” by Juana Mikels — reviewed by Avid Reader”
Elizabeth Elliot has an interview with the Bayly folks. They love her. I have some major issues with her views on women. I am not surprised that she cosigned this book. The person involved does seem to put all the pressure on women, and none on men. Such a bad idea.
Why does this reasoning never get used to excuse ‘nagging’?
Awesome review. Love the emphasis on NOT giving up your rights! And so sad to hear about Elisabeth Elliott’s wrong teachings, but wrong teachings need to be exposed, no matter who they come from.
Incidentally, I see that the publisher is Ambassador International, who expressed interest in publishing “Unholy Charade”, except that they balked at the divorce chapter. That’s when Jeff decided to start his own publishing house, and I’m glad he did.
“Try harder” is always their accusation. As if the abused and cheated on is at fault for being abused and cheated on. “Try harder” preached from the pulpit and from Christian books and teaching series at my church nearly drove me to suicide. It wasn’t until a pastor made the mistake of saying that if you’ve tried everything and it’s still not working, shake the dust from your sandals, etc. I think I definitely would have killed myself that day if the pastor had said “try harder” or “pray harder.” I rarely go to church anymore. It was not my own pastor who said that. The pastors at my church do more to reach out to abusers, cheaters, and addicts.
Thanks for posting this. Many of my Christian friends were promoting this book and the Focus on the Family show that she was on. I posted your article in my FB, but I think my Christian friends are tired of me pointing out flaws in their idols…Focus on the Family, Elisabeth Elliott, etc. They’d rather continue on in their worship of these people and organizations…yet another reason I don’t like to go to church anymore.
Thank you for your post. Elisabeth Elliott–I’ve often thought about her when I think of famous / influential Christian people who were perhaps not even Christians. (Fyodor Dostoyevsky is another one. Watch out for people who will jump on me for saying this!) I don’t know too much about her but I have read some of the books she wrote and heard some recorded interviews she had done. The word ARROGANT comes to mind when I think of many things she said but I’d never voiced this to anyone (except my daughter–she hears it all over and over!) because most people hate to topple the idols they have set up. She has perhaps contributed to this idol-making when she’s written about some of the “saints” she’s written about. I’m not sure what your impression of her is but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in having doubts about her.
My husband (who is a psychopath) is the first to encourage making other people into idols. Why? Because he wants to make himself into one and if he can get others to do this too they will be more receptive to making him into one as well.
We do set up these people as idols. I have been guilty of that. One day I was reading a post from one such male “idol.” He was describing walking behind a heavy woman in tight pants and making fun of her (the subject was feminine modesty). At first I laughed because in my mind he couldn’t say anything wrong, then I suddenly realized what I was doing. I was shocked that I would laugh at something so disgusting just because it came out of this man’s mouth. It changed me, and I started analyzing what actually comes out of the mouth of these “idols.” The reality is that these people are human, they say and do stupid stuff, and they need to be called on it.
Francis—what they put you through is horrible. We’re glad that you are still with us while we continue to grieve that there are so many other people still feeling that horrific pressure from so much heavy burden theology in the church that is making people despair. I’m starting to wonder if despair is one of the devil’s main tools in trying to turn us away from the Lord.
What really frustrates me in my reading is how so many popular Christian books only add to the heavy burdens instead of showing people that the real heart of God is “…to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6b NASB1995)
One of the biggest ties to depression and suicide is hopelessness. When you tell someone that their problems can’t be fixed, that they can’t leave, that the only solution is to keep doing what they are already doing (submit harder!)? How can that do anything but cause hopelessness?
I’m so glad you worked your way out of it.
Exactly!! It hurts. You can do everything “right” – forgive, pray, wait, fight, intercede, serve, love, hope and he can still CHOOSE to reject the relationship, mutuality, love, healing.
It’s a freeing and important truth that we are NOT responsible for other people’s choices ultimately.
As a young Christian woman I read and looked up to Elizabeth Elliot for guidance on being a godly woman. There were parts of her “doormat theology” that seeped through in her books that I would have negative physical reactions to. Instead of recognizing those as red-flag-intuitions I accepted them as God convicting me of refusing to ‘conform’. I believed this mentality for most of my walk because of brainwash – and how powerful that is. As a result, I ended up divorced only to remarry another abuser. The fact is that my soul knew that this kind of “doormat theology “/ mysogony was evil and ungodly before my brain did. This teaching has caused great up-rise of divorce among Christians, not to mention the many who have turned away from their faith – a faith that depicts god as a tyrant. Why can’t people add two and two?
As I matured, I realized those statements by Elizabeth Elliot about wifely / homemaker duties being our sole purpose, have actually caused great personal arrested development, and that I used them on some level as excuses for not taking personal responsibility and stewardship for the gifts and talents that were mine to develop and cultivate (for which I will be accountable to god for). Not to mention some personal dreams I had given up because I felt shamed and manipulated into believing they were worldly. I was even discouraged and taught that seeking higher education was unnecessary because even the Christian institutions were too blended with the world, and remarks were always made about them being “cemeteries” not seminaries.
To this day, I get sick to my stomach when I realize that all my PTSD is caused by faulty Christianity and the abuse I suffered because of it – and that may I say has been very emotionally and psychologically difficult to overcome, everything has been like a baby learning to walk, step by step. Now in my mid-forties, now that my eyes are wide open, and I know who my God is, I rejoice to see how the lord is been redeeming the years stolen – I am finally getting my education and pursuing life no holds barred, timidly but not barred! 🤓 And the irony is, God wanted these things for me all along but waited until I, like Rosa Parks, Moses, Joshua, and all the rest, stood up for my personal dignity and integrity – for these are the image of God in us, and we give honor to the Lord when we live in this knowledge. And I praise God for this website because it honors the dignity of God’s image in man AND woman. This site is strengthening, comforting, and very importantly, giving righteousness godly courage to women to stand against evil. God meets us in our steps of faithfulness.
BetterEquipped, Such a beautiful testimony! Your last paragraph really summed up what so many of us have discovered when we finally started living our lives for Jesus–satisfying, fulfilling and strengthening GROWTH in our walk with the Lord!
I always thought I was so dumb and my parents verbally told me this as well. I was very different from my siblings who are all geniuses. I was contemplative and quiet-natured and my mom often called me a “throwback” because of my odd ways compared to my siblings. So for my entire life I thought that in addition to being dumb, I was also weird and possibly slightly retarded (special needs), and when these thoughts about myself were compiled with the teachings I’d received from the church (that all women must submit to all men and all authority without question and with a smile on their face and that women were worthless unless a man wanted to marry them…blah, blah, blah) I felt so lucky that someone wanted to marry me!
I’m over the half century mark now (age-wise) and have finally received some success in college. I still have a ways to go in order to satisfy my own agenda but as with any other thing in my life–whatever I do God teaches me wisdom. So I rarely just “attend” college and each class ends up teaching me wisdom related to what is discussed on this website. I would love to be just one of the many students in the class but it doesn’t seem to work out that way for me and I end up being forced to participate and be verbal about something. (I DREAD speaking publically but God is RELENTLESS in his forcing me to do this.)
You wrote: “…I rejoice to see how the lord is been redeeming the years stolen – I am finally getting my education and pursuing life no holds barred, timidly but not barred! 🤓 And the irony is, God wanted these things for me all along…” Yes! God WANTED these things for us all along but horrifically wrong bible teaching imprisoned us with lies and now that we are out (working our way out) we can see how different the truth of God’s word is verses the lie that false teaching had harmed us with. I’m so proud of you and grateful that you shared this with us! Thank you!
I went back and read the article by Wende [Benner] linked in this post. Incredibly sad and shocking. I love this paragraph she writes as it was exactly the description of my turning point and crossroads in life:
A great tragedy is happening in the church! Following men and women of faith who rule by their flesh! What happened to the Holy Spirit? Is His power leading the spiritual leaders today? Or is it the spirit of anti-Christ?
Oh! how subtle the devil is!
Asking God for wisdom is like taking your next breathe.
He will give it liberally to those who keep seeking the truth.
I feel sick. I don’t even know how to describe it. From the time I was in my early 20s, for almost two decades, I respected Elisabeth Elliot so highly. I believed it was right to surrender my own rebellious thoughts to the teachings of those who were so close to God and so much wiser than me and knew Him and loved Him so much better. Anything else was just proof of my independent, wicked heart. As the churches I have been in and the pastors and elders and lay women in them have been exposed to me in these last few years for what they really are, my mind can’t take it in. All the supposedly sound teaching that I tried to build my life on, my “marriage” on, even my child-rearing – God help my kids – was poisoned. It was killing me all the while and damaging my children. So I tried harder because I must not be doing it right.
Even looking back, I had thought there was at least a little good left in some of the authors and teachers from whom I had learned. One by one they are revealed as having been destructive. Now even what I got from Elisabeth Elliot is gross to me. I was a good student. I pored over the Scriptures and Christian books, tuned in to the radio programs, and went to church and listened. I didn’t fall asleep in church like my anti-husband. I took it all in and let it have its way with me in what I believed was submissive obedience to God, and now I want it out of my heart and mind and brain, and I can’t get it out. It’s hard-wired in. The distorted interpretations and condemnations that used the very Word of God to twist and destroy are intermingled with His words now. I can barely stand to read my Bible. I want to go to my storage and my bookshelves and find all the books and the tapes and tear them up and burn them.
All the foundations of my life and my children’s lives have been contaminated with mold and rot. With the religious abuse so fundamentally bound to the complex PTSD, and all of that so intimately and intricately connected to now ruined health, there is no way out. There is no clear way to build anything or to purge anything. I keep trying counseling and it doesn’t seem to get anywhere except just enough validation of the reality of what has happened and is happening to maintain. I don’t have unlimited funds to keep looking for the right counselor. Why trust anyone anyway? How long will it take to figure out if he or she is safe? So, I read books and blogs on C-PTSD and religious abuse, but there is no healing. Books and more books. Will one finally have the answer? Or, will they make it worse? Will I find out they were damaging, too, and want to throw them away and get those thoughts out of my head?
I don’t expect anyone here to have the answers. It’s just that today’s post, both the book review and the revelatory remarks about Elisabeth Elliot made me sick. It’s almost too much to take anymore. Just when you think it can’t go any deeper or that you’ve uncovered everything and can try to put the pieces back together, there’s more, and there are new pieces lying all over the floor.
Dear sister Seeing the Light – I’m right there with you, C-PTSD and all. How to purge it from my thoughts? I wish I knew.
Thank you for your kind reply, Stronger Now. It helps to know you understand. I hope it helps you to have found someone else who understands out here.
You’re not alone. Maybe that’s all you need to know right now. I’ve been clearing out my books too. I read Passion and Purity and Desiring God and True Woman. They are all at the local dump now. I’m overwhelmed learning that all of those people that I respected were leading me astray and into bondage. For goodness sakes…Dobson was my hero for a long time. I gave to their ministries and shoved their magazines down my kid’s throats. Sick is right! Just sick! My heart is sad and I don’t know who to trust. Who will deliver me from this body of death? Yes, I believe God is clearing away the clutter for ONLY Jesus to shine through. Hang in there, friend!
Thank you for the encouragement, Toiler. This morning I started looking over the bookshelf and pulled out four books and tossed them in the trash. I can’t wait until the garbage truck comes. Maybe I will have more by then. Oh, and yes, I read Passion and Purity way back when. It was part of my getting engaged to a man I had not even kissed once. It made it all seem so much more like the will of God and holy. It was not.
Seeing the Light,
I am with you. It is a nightmare reality. And I too grieved in sickness for a long while once the Lord opened the eyes of my heart. Especially when I consider that lies consumed over 20 years of my life. And all I got for my faithfulness was personal destruction in mind, body, and soul. Starting over at midlife without the energy of my youth sometimes sets me into depression – I have to fight it daily. It robbed me of health too. But I have fought, am fighting, the good fight to gain life again. My first step was health, and getting into the gym. I also went back to school. These things were right and good – I fight daily to not grow weary in good works (though I’m my own good works project this time instead of another) – I don’t feel the joy and excitement of going forward the way I once would have, but, like I said, these are right and healthy steps forward. I trust God, and thank him for stripping me of that old death garment in exchange for the Truth I’m receiving in him. He will do the same for you because, despite this long tribulation, he heart toward you is good and pure.
With love and peace to you!
BetterEquipped, your comments and your reply give me hope. What you have written sounds enough like my story to encourage me that the turning point may yet come.
In your first comment, you said, “As a young Christian woman I read and looked up to Elizabeth Elliot for guidance on being a godly woman. There were parts of her “doormat theology” that seeped through in her books that I would have negative physical reactions to. Instead of recognizing those as red-flag-intuitions I accepted them as God convicting me of refusing to ‘conform’.” Indeed. Elisabeth Elliot’s teachings, as well as others, would send up those red flags in me as well, but you said it so well. I took it as conviction, too. Not just conviction, but often condemnation. As though anything they said that I bristled at had to mean it was sin in me. It is very confirming of the truth I have been learning to read the same experience in another.
Your reply is especially life-giving to me as I see you have been down a similar road and are making your way back. Twenty years consumed is a long time. It has consumed nearly all of my mothering years, especially with my oldest. So I will grieve and I will fight with all I have to stand back up. I cling to the knowledge that his timing is never off, and if this is when he turned the light on, there was and is a reason.
Thank you so much.
Seeing the Light,
What you described is what so many of us feel. SICK. This kind of stuff causes so much emotional turmoil that even your physical body struggles to carry the heavy burden.
And yes, just like you said, its really frustrating to look back at all the time we spent paying attention in church, pouring through Christian books, going to conferences only to realize how damaging their teaching was. That took me many years to figure out and still today I often feel sick to my stomach reading through these kinds of books.
But this is NOT your fault. Those Christian leaders will have to answer to God for not taking the time to really examine everything they believe according to Scripture. To purge out the bad stuff.
Meanwhile, God hasn’t forgotten all the time and effort you invested because you loved the Lord, because you wanted to raise your children to know the Lord. Because you were seeking the Lord. God saw everything you did for Him and is pleased by your heart that yearns to follow Him.
God “rewards people who try to find him.” Hebrews 11:6b (CEB)
Thank you for these kind words, Avid Reader. I appreciate the reminder of Hebrew 11:6b and 6:10. I am so grateful to you for your book review as well. God bless you.
I used to listen to Elisabeth Elliott daily on the radio as a young mother and thought she had so much wisdom and practical experience. When she recommended Elizabeth Hanford’s book “Me? Obey Him?” I felt a little queasy, but went ahead and bought the book (at a homeschooling conference, dontcha know). I finally got up the nerve to throw it in the trash, something that I never ever had done with any book before.
It finally dawned on me that Elisabeth Elliott (she kept her first husband’s name for the name recognition) was married 3 times, had one child, had her own ministry as a very strong personality in Ecuador, was a prolific published author and sought-after speaker, all the while telling women that they must submit submit submit, obey obey obey and stay home and out of the work force, etc. Such hypocrisy! The rules only apply to us little people. Maybe “submission” was one of her greatest struggles.
It was tough to watch one of my idols tumble, but very freeing to move forward into a life of God’s leading, not Elisabeth Elliott.
KayJay, I also read “Me? Obey Him?” at Elisabeth Elliot’s recommendation. That whole book was so disturbing.
It has bothered me, too, over the years, that as I listened to her talk about women being satisfied and fulfilled to stay home even unloved and in destructive marriages, she was so active out in the world, traveling, speaking, writing. Her youth was spent mostly single. I know that was due to widowhood, but she can’t know what she was talking about. She never lived the life she expected other women to live.
I looked up “Me? Obey Him?” and read the reviews. One particular review was very lengthy and included many passages from the book. It made me sick to think that anyone would pass along this nonsense as the very word of God. The book basically encourages women to abdicate all responsibility for themselves, making a husband godlike. This author, as well as Elisabeth Elliott, will have to answer to God for taking their human doctrines and spreading them as the Gospel truth. I know a different Gospel, a Gospel that sets even women free.
Thank you all for bringing this to our attention. Before several of you mentioned this—I had no idea that Elisabeth Elliott had actually recommended the book Me? Obey Him?
That is one of the MOST DISTURBING Christian books I’ve ever seen.
Just like you all were describing—that book actually teaches people that sin is ok—just go ahead and disobey God, ignore the Holy Spirit’s warnings and violate your conscience because the only thing that matters is obeying your husband—no exceptions allowed!
When that book was first mentioned on this thread I wanted to join the discussion on it—but hesitated because like you all said—reading through that stuff is sickening. Usually I’d prefer to post more encouraging stuff. But then I saw the powerful comment by StandsForTruth on how this kind of teaching is causing so much damage to people.
We have to speak up about this. So just in case there’s someone out there looking for answers on that book and happens to come across this thread—
Here’s the actual quotes from Me? Obey Him?
That’s putting a human mediator between you and God by requiring all your communication with the Holy Spirit to pass through someone else when the Bible warns that Jesus is the only mediator between us and God (1 Tim 2:5) and commands us to be directly led by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:14 & John 16:13)
How could Elizabeth Elliott have recommended THAT book?
Thanks for those quotes.
As someone else on this thread said, people who teach that are ignoring the fact that God killed Sapphira for obeying her husband when he pressured her to go join him in his sin.
It’s a normal but difficult phase after spiritual abuse- which is a horrible violation. I used to be triggered by everything, even and especially reading the Bible…but have gone through some healing about 6 years after leaving the abusive cult church. I’ m so sorry for what you endured.
You may find good support in the ex-cult community. Many similar concepts for people who have been harmed in the name of religion.
(((HUGS)))) Be gentle with yourself as you process what was taken and violated. I had to rediscover the loving God of the Bible who was not the same angry, punishing god of my sick former church.
Also- I’ve also felt that spiritual abuse is THE WORST type out there…
Donna surely must be feeling like there is no way out and I am deeply saddened for what her life must be after yielding to Juana’s advice.
And I am NOT convinced Juana wants to help people AS MUCH as she wants to believe, and have us believe, that SHE has a remedy to keep marriages together, AT ALL COST. Don’t we all want to see marriages survive and flourish, overcoming real issues, setting good examples and growing in holiness? And of course we do!
Enabling my abusive husband started to reflect a negative opinion of me in the eyes of so many (including his children from a previous marriage – my stepchildren)! People that knew what was happening could not understand why I would stay and ‘allow’ (enable) his lying, gaslighting, hypocrisy, deception, demeaning and demanding predatory evil tactics. His own kids did not want me to be the example to their children (our grandchildren) that it was okay for a woman to allow herself to be abused mentally, emotionally, verbally, spiritually and financially. Think about what I am saying!! FOR GENERATIONS MY ABUSER WAS NEVER CONFRONTED; EVERYONE AROUND HIM TURNED HEADS FROM HIS EVIL; THEY ARE / WERE HIS ENABLERS. They have guilt on their hands.
Just be kinder and sweeter, Juana is saying. Who among us has not traveled down that road, only to find “Dead End”, “No Outlet”, “Danger Ahead”, “Do Not Enter”, “Wrong Way”.
My personal belief is the highest form of love is NOT TO ENABLE. When we step out of the way, stop making excuses for the abuser, stop blaming ourselves, stop refusing to recognize that EVIL is real and stop enabling, we are then ‘giving’ God a direct path to our abuser, which will be for his ultimate good. That IS love and that is kinder and sweeter.
Juana is NOT good for victims of abuse.
The topic of enabling one’s abuser is one we approach with caution as we don’t want victims to feel they are being blamed. We know that Anonymous is not insinuating any degree of victim blaming as she recalls her own personal experience, which is why we published the comment.
Any time the topic of enabling surfaces we like to make readers aware of Barbara’s post “Enabling? Sins of the victim? Tetchy topics indeed!” as this post may help to clear up any confusion that the term “enable” may create.
I heard parts of these Focus on the Family shows earlier this week, although I didn’t catch the whole program, just snippets before I got out of my car. How disappointing to learn that this is more of the same old, same old, that I have been hearing from FoF for years. I confess I listened intently a few decades ago as Dr. Dobson interviewed Elisabeth Elliott, then I tried, and tried, and tried some more to make her advice work in my marriage.
“Try harder” – like Francis, this advice from every pastor, every FoF show, every book on marriage, very nearly drove me to suicide. I thank God that He opened my eyes just in time.
Sadly today – TODAY! – I heard a Godly older woman talking to a younger one. The younger woman is raising her grandchildren and agonizing over what to do about Halloween. She herself is convicted one way, and her “Christian” husband wants to go a different way. Not to choose sides myself one way or another, but I believe her husband wants to follow the path of least resistance and greatest fleshly satisfaction. He has not sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit or Scripture to come to his decision. The wife strongly believes it is against the Lord’s will to do what her husband wants. This Godly older woman assured our Sister that the moral responsibility for whatever happens falls on her husband’s shoulders, and she needs to submit.
REALLY?!? Violate your conscience, dear, and whatever harm befalls your family is OK, it’s not your responsibility. What small comfort is it to hear that it will be her husband’s fault if all hell breaks loose in her home because of his influence? I tried to live out that satanic advice for too many years, violating my own conscience to be totally “submissive” to my “Christian” husband as he proceeded to destroy our family with his sexual addiction and self-worship.
Like Emerson Eggerichs (also on FoF this week), these people take one passage of Scripture and make it the end-all and the be-all of husband-wife relationships, ignoring the rest of the whole counsel of the Word of God. They are making idols of husbands and of the institution of marriage and turning women into slaves. How can they suggest that a woman gives up all of her own moral agency when she marries a fallen man? It’s disgusting.
Well, we know from Scripture that God does not approve of a woman giving up her moral agency. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, God held Sapphira responsible for her part in their deception.
That statement is wrong and dangerous advice. A sadistic controller doesn’t have the aim of having his victim happily compliant. He [often] wants to see obvious humiliation and pain, and he will keep making things worse until he does see that suffering . For victims of this kind of person, rather than being “loving and sweet”, it [may be] better to pretend to be hurt, even when you’re not, so that the abuse doesn’t keep escalating. All controllers are greedy for power and are never satisfied. If you give in to them, they will just take more and more.
Very true. Their lust for power is insatiable.
Nailed it, KayE! Think about how very EVIL it all is. These sadistic controllers really do want to see pain, humiliation and suffering.
So true. And I suppose these abusers are like drug addicts. They start out hurting someone in a small way and as time goes by they need to increase the pain they cause to get more of their perverse “high”.
No behavior on my part ever changed my husband’s abusive behavior except standing up to him and bringing public exposure. No amount of submission, sweetness, or being a better wife had any positive effect whatsoever. I tried everything, and always, being nice simply escalated his behavior. Abusers get some kind of high out of terrorizing their victims.
I get so angry whenever I hear of women telling women they need to obey their husbands regardless if it’s against God’s written Word. And regardless of whether husband is becoming a tyrant. It’s all believers job to spur one another on to good deeds not enable sinful entitlement to grow. As iron sharpens iron a wife can sharpen her husband who profess to be a follower of Christ. She can take every thought captive and correct rebuke exhort.
That kind of thinking is heretical because it brings the Word of God into disrepute. It makes women close their Bibles because husband and his interpretation is “god” now and she must submit and sear her conscience and possibly shipwreck her faith!
It takes God-fearing moms, not husband worshiping women, to raise God-fearing children.
This comment is from standsfortruth:
Yes, Loving my Freedom,
God fearing Moms Can raise God fearing children- if they can steer clear of the twisted doctrines coming from the pulpit down, and follow the Truth giving Spirit that is in them.
The intention to raise Godly children was deeply imbedded in my heart when I laid eyes on all of my children, but the mistake of staying married to my covert abuser created the opposite agenda.
(an agenda he would never admit)
And due to the “twisted doctrines” that are being preached about “submission” to the husband from the “pulpits down”, I discovered the truth too late to stop the inevitable.
My children one by one were being turned off to Christianity from living in a unstable home environment.
Today three fourths of my adult children are showing the fruits of living a life of Not honoring God.
My abusive husband created an unpredictable/unstable environment and usurped any of my Godly instints to guide them differently durring their upbringing.
And each pastor I talked to regarding my husbands controlling behavior told me if I just submitted more to his wishes, than I would be pleasing to God and create the Godly husband I always wanted.
They were all wrong.
And my spirit knew it, as it always felt like my heart was being sacrificed daily to follow this wayward advice.
But it took me a while to believe in myself enough to challange the false propagation of male privilege preached in and by the church.
I finally got out of the marriage, but it was too late to influence the way my now adult children believe.
Hopefully more women will understand and get out of these types of marriages sooner than I did, and thereby increasing the odds of their children to truly follow God.
I wonder if Elisabeth got so woman-hating before or after Jim and I wonder why. I admired Mr. Elliott and his fellow missionaries, but I don’t know how he was as a husband. I’ll probably never know, but this validates my feeling that something wasn’t right with Mrs. Elliott’s books. And it’s upsetting that even the “best” Christians are so harmful.
I read “Shadow of the Almighty” more than twenty years ago. When I read your comment, I remembered a section of the book where Elisabeth had written about their family life, and it wasn’t hard to flip through and find because I remembered it was in the section right after Valerie was born. If I may quote, from pp. 224-225:
I find this quite sad.
“I find this quite sad.” I agree and I find it quite gross as well.
Those of us who have been woken up to the truth about evil may see things very differently than we may have seen things in the past or the way Mrs. Elliot is trying to present them to us. Jim’s behavior could be considered manipulative and controlling and although Mrs. Elliot frames these behaviors up so that they appear that her husband is “caring,” I find his behavior to be selfish and rude. One thing I was taught and learned early on in my child-rearing days was that you NEVER wake a sleeping infant! I only did this once and it was so nerve-racking and took such a long time to calm the baby down and it had so obviously upset the baby, that I never willingly did this again. I wonder how many times Mr. Elliot woke the baby up only to leave it in its mother’s arms to quiet and calm down. This is NOT loving behavior.
I guess the bottom line is: Don’t follow people or books….Just our Lord Jesus Christ by reading the Bible every day and pouring out our hearts to God, who loves us most!
We already have the spirit of God that leads us into all truth, contrary to the multiple programs of bondage that come to us in deceptive packages.
He has infused our hearts with truth.
So this is why women should not be sacrificing themselves and their families for anyone.
Ladies please consider marking Avid Reader’s Amazon review as “helpful” at the Amazon link Barbara Roberts provided…thanks to Avid Reader for taking the time to read and review such books that are not helpful to married women in destructive relationships!!
Thank you for reminding me to thank Avid Reader! Thank you Avid Reader (again) for taking the time to read this book as well as pouring your heart out when you wrote the comment on Amazon.com for it! Oftentimes when someone is consistently giving and true-hearted we seem to forget what a toll it can take on that person and that they need encouragement too. (How many of us have been in this position–where people seem to forget that we need love and appreciation too?)
Thank you again Listening Ear, for the reminder to go back and thank those who have blessed us! Luke 17:11-19.
This is exactly what is happening to many families by following the wayward advice given in books like this one.
This happened to me as well Stronger Now.
This cringing knowledge of ones concience being regularly violated to submit to another persons will, at the expence of the well being of her family is indictive of something is going woefully wrong.
There is no reward in living this out. Only destruction and lost opportunities for yourself and the family. It is a self destructive mission.
And might I add that the our very knowledge of this destruction is indeed from the Spirit of the Living God with in us to wake us up.
Let us learn to listen to our conciences and the Spirit of God rather then following a wicked adgenda.
Thank you so much for this review. I was hearing this woman talk on Focus the other day and very tentatively listening, wondering if she was going to say stuff that was victim-blaming or minimizing of abusive behavior or divorce-forbidding, as I was not sure by the beginning of her story. I was afraid to listen further. Now I know I don’t have to listen any further, just turn it off.
I really appreciate people who are able to read and listen to this kind of crap and warn people like me about it so I don’t have to hear it and be traumatized and condemned all over again. Thank you for helping to guard my soul.
Also a good reminder for me in that I recently had a well-meaning Christian lady recommend calling Focus for counseling when she heard my story of abuse and of my separation (because it helped her get through adultery in her marriage). I had a strong reaction of NO, I don’t want to call them, but I couldn’t quite remember why. I thought maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I could just call and see what they have to say. No thank you, now I remember why I didn’t want to call them before. All of their programming repeatedly victim-blames and condemns. Divorce is not an option? Glorifying suffering in marriage? I don’t want to hear it. When I listen to that stuff now, I can almost physically feel chains being placed upon me and pulling tighter.
Amen 100%! My few remaining brain cells are far too precious to waste trying to sift out the good from the bad with these books and sermons so I greatly appreciate people who are able to do this with Godly discernment. Perhaps we could consider it a gift from the Holy Spirit?! It certainly is a blessing to me!
You have mentioned this before, but somehow some or quite a few Christian leaders seem bent on merging Christianity with Islam. Muslim women are scapegoats for everything and property of their husbands. Muslim husbands are even commanded to abuse their wives, so guess what they do? Muslim wives are not free to get a divorce even if their husbands beat them into a pulp. They have no choice but to keep submitting to the most vicious abusers.
When I read all these stories about false “Christian” teaching and the resultant abuse, I cannot help but think of the position of women in Islam.
The ‘be more loving and sweet’ part reminds me of Warren Jeffs’ cult mantra which was / is “keep sweet”. It is such an evil thing really….keep sweet no matter what. Guaranteed to silence and control victims this way and allow evil to flourish.
You all have been making so many good points—you got me thinking about something else that Elisabeth Elliott said.
She wrote the book—Mark of a Man—to teach her nephew how to be a grown man. In that book she actually warns him against choosing a wife who dreams of having a career because
Reading that really surprised me that she could be so cold and detached from reality to have the nerve to slam all the hard working mothers out there. Why couldn’t she recognize the economic reality faced by many mothers who struggle just to barely make ends meet?
Her arrogance is astounding! I get thinking that most women are primarily gifted for motherhood (although many people disagree with that also), but she takes it to an extreme in saying that ALL women are ONLY gifted for motherhood. Motherhood is indeed noble and an important gifting, but it’s not the ONLY way a woman can possibly serve God. It’s like Piper and other Christians elevating marriage to an unbiblical level and making an idol out of it, in the same way, she’s making a woman’s role in procreation into something way out of proportion to what it is in God’s kingdom. Newsflash… there will be no marriage in heaven, no procreation, no child rearing, and in Isaiah 56 God says,
Marriage and child rearing, though wonderful, and but shadows of the things to come, and ultimately mean little to the coming of God’s kingdom. Does she really believe that a woman desiring and gifted to serve God in other ways would be without exception displeasing to God?
I had “The Mark of a Man” on my bookshelf and threw it out just yesterday as part of a purge. These quotes are so disturbing.
I was pretty sure that I remembered Elisabeth Elliot writing that Jim’s own mother, Clara Elliot, was a chiropractor. A brief Google search to confirm what I remember only confirms that. What gives?
Maybe my cynicism is showing here, but what are the qualifications for a Christian self-help author? It seems that in today’s Christian circles, name recognition is #1. Elisabeth Elliott is famous because her husband was martyred, and that makes her qualified to write books about male / female relationships?
My wife and I concluded that the qualification for writing books on parenting was having compliant children. No matter how much those authors screwed up or abused their children, they turned out JUST FINE. So, they get a swarm of people around them saying they should write a book. My kids don’t sit quietly with their hands folded in church. They are not “compliant”. They don’t practice their manners at restaurants. They don’t get straight-A’s. In fact, I had someone call me out on my “disobedient” children (when we ASK them to do something, “no” is an acceptable answer), and I get hints here and there along those lines, too. But… they respect those around them, and they know that they deserve to be treated with respect. That fact alone makes them a little bristly in Christian circles because they stand up for themselves. I’m guessing no one is going to encourage me to write a book.
Believing this way causes sinful apathy. My husband when he saw the dynamics of abuse stopped belittling my conscience pangs but would now say we balance each other out. I was more of weak conscience Christian while he flaunted Christian liberty and kind of sabotaged my convictions. It affected the children and still does a little, I’m afraid. Though I do think it is true that we balance each other out more now because we strive to respectfully deffer to one another instead of a hierarchical one sided submission. The best I can do now is keep studying the Bible and praying. I want my children well aquainted with the Word to know the Truth that sets them free from controllers who take pieces of the Bible to trap Christians with false teachings.
Jude tells all Christians (women too) to contend earnestly for the faith.
I think I tend to think the best of people, there is a lot of ignorance especially about emotional abuse especially if its in the guise of scripture and “Christianity”. Unless someone has went through it, or has been around people of all sorts including abusive ones or has a gifting towards empathy and the mind to imagine themselves in another’s situation they think things can just be fixed, but yeah it’s like trying to fix Pharaoh.
There are some like “theologian” Doug Wilson and some others I won’t name who seem sociopathic themselves. As for some others they perhaps don’t get it, they may think another’s relationship experience is like theirs.
What disturbs me is for someone to stay in abuse and think its normal because of lack of understanding in teaching that doesn’t have at least a rabbit trail into some truths about abuse and encouragement to those caught in it, along with some practical help and support. My pastor’s sermons on Esther almost three years ago helped me to think “Hey I don’t have to put up with this, I am doing something about this and I am reaching out for help and helping myself and taking high road with the help of the Holy Spirit.
It took over two years from that point to get out of that mess, some of it was making sure my two littles, my teen and I would not be destitute. My thoughts.
Good point. I grew up thinking I had a great Christian upbringing. When my eyes were finally opened because I saw my wife abused by the church, I started digging more and more and my eyes were opened to the fact that my “great Christian upbringing” was emotionally abusive. Even my siblings still don’t see it that way. They would say our parents weren’t perfect, but… perhaps I was just too sensitive.
When I point out abuse in the church, again, it seems like I’m “sensitive”. Others just don’t see it, or, that may be my experience, but they haven’t experienced the same sorts of things in the same church or denomination.
But… those who acknowledged they’ve been abused are keenly aware when they see it happening. I’ve pondered over and over how to get people to see it without first experiencing it themselves and I haven’t come up with any solutions.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there was a couple in a previous church that acted like they owned the church. They would volunteer because “no one else was willing to do what they did”, but when people stepped up, they would nitpick or sabotage them so they would quit. Whatever they pushed for happened, and people didn’t dare to stand up to them. No one really thought it through to the point where they realized THAT’S SPIRITUAL ABUSE.
I agree, some just don’t “get it”. Fortunately there are many resources such as this site that offer insight….and of course it is the Holy Spirit that leads us to the truth. I remember when I was in the “fog” the Spirit clearly spoke Galatians 5:1 to me “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Basically I ignored the revelation….it was about 10 years later I got “hit over the head” with painful circumstances that led me to realize that my life with a controlling spouse was bondage and Christ wanted me FREE..
So….I hope in every opportunity we stand up and shout that in Christ there is FREEDOM!
Oh dear. I am glad you brought up Elisabeth Elliot (RIP), who has been such a saintly role model for so many girls in the ‘purity’ circles .. in fact their while love story and relationship has been presented as the ultimate guide to perfect courting– That’s how to do things God’s way!
In fact, I always thought that the way he (Jim E.) treated her was not very kind or loving – kept her waiting and was emotionally distant.. of course, they did eventually get married.. but their example should not be taken as the ultimate example of how a man should treat a woman. Or vice versa… It is OK – and Biblical – to show some emotion, warmth, compassion and attraction – it can be done in all purity…! So many girls have unsuccessfully tried to be like Elisabeth Elliot, and then beaten themselves over their failure…
We have to be careful with any Christian’s life story, (dead or alive) they are and were all just humans, and made mistakes just like us.
Why must there always and only be an exception for the woman being in physical danger? What about danger from STDs, because of his philandering. Poverty and all of the health dangers and the difficulties that go with it, because he will not let you work outside the home to increase the family income. Loneliness and desperation, because of his jealousy keeping you away from others. Dangers to the children, because he couldn’t care less about their real needs. Financial loss and dependency, because he uses everything, that is truly yours, on his schemes or for his own benefit.
I have been a doormat for over 20 years and he has been grinding his boot into my neck as I listened to the words of women like Elisabeth Elliot. I gave over my rights and desires and thoughts and likes to his. I only even defended the children several times (in private). I sometimes see the eyes of other women and wonder if they are where I once was…hopeless, desperate, alone, unloved, fearful, intimidated, and wishing to die an early death, as I painfully discovered that no submission, no giving over to his ideas, and no joyfully conceding to his foolishness would ever help.
Abuse is so much more than a hit with a hand or a kick with a foot. It makes me want to weep.
Alright. Gag. When are we ever going to get the submission card played rightly? Deciding which restaurant to go to is called compromise, not submission. Is it really necessary for the little woman to give up her favorite foods in order to be submissive? Can the leader who is supposed to be laying down his life, not compromise?
I won’t even address the sex and kids issue, as again, it does not pertain to godly submission. This writer sounds patriarchal to me.
Perhaps women, in order to help their husbands learn THEIR role in the marriage, ahem, should ask him to eat Italian as an example of laying his life down for his wife, or bathe the kids, or feed them, or wait for intimacy when it can be about both people in the marriage, not just about his immaturity and selfishness. Now there’s an idea.
Another book quote page 300 ..Choosing Him All Over Again
What a free pass for a controlling husbands to demand their needs be met with no mutual responsibility to meet the spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, or any other need that a wife may have…..very hurtful advice for any woman.
That’s a great point.
The church is starting to forget God’s promise that “the desire of the righteous is granted.”
(Prov 10:24) Or maybe they’re just forgetting that God gave women desires and dreams too.
My vision is blurred after reading this. It’s absolutely outraging, this kind of teaching by women to women. The ladies at my former church endorsed & encouraged teaching like this. This kind of teaching keeps women in the cycles of abuse. It’s abuse ontop of abuse. It’s burdensome. It’s man’s teaching, not God’s teaching.
Praise God He opened my eyes to His Word, that I saw the truth!! His truth really does set us free. He values & cherishes us!! I’m praying for those who are under false teaching & even praying for the false teachers to have their eyes opened.