Nancy Leigh DeMoss Says Women Victims Must Reverence Their Abuser!
The following is a review of one of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ books that seems to keep finding its way into our churches and women’s study groups, Lies Women Believe. At the Amazon site (scary place as there are 128 reviews, 72 of which are 5-star), a lady named Esther Brown posted this review. What a great job she did! I tried to contact her and thank her, but was unable. I hope she doesn’t mind us putting her review here as well. Esther, if you’re out there, thank you. Following the review, Barbara Roberts makes some insightful comments from her own experience of abuse and how DeMoss’ teachings would have devastated her. (And thanks to Katy for pointing this book out to us) –
Esther Brown’s Amazon Review of Lies Women Believe: by Nancy Leigh Demoss
Let me say first that I’m a wife (married 15 months) and a Christian woman. I was given this book by a relative as a wedding gift, and because I respect her views, I went ahead and read through the book. I don’t like to be negative, but this book is so dangerous to women that I felt compelled to show potential readers what you’re getting into.
Perhaps her most horrific claim had to do with the situation of spousal abuse (a term which she limits to physical abuse; emotional abuse is apparently irrelevant):
“There are extreme situations where an obedient wife may need to remove herself and/or her children from proximity to her husband, if to remain in that setting would be to place themselves in physical danger. However, even in such a case, a woman can — and must — maintain an attitude of reverence for her husband’s position; her goal is not to belittle or resist him as her husband but, ultimately, to see God restore him to obedience. If she provokes or worsens the situation through her attitudes, words, or behavior, she will interfere with what God wants to do in her husband’s life and will not be free to claim God’s protection and intervention on her behalf.” (p.149)
DeMoss is saying that abused women should stay with their husbands in all but the most extreme cases, avoiding “belittling” the man who is actively harming her. Moreover, if she has any kind of negative attitude about the fact that she’s being abused, then she “will not be free to claim God’s protection.” This dangerous doctrine means that not only should women continue to live in harmful situations, but they are encouraged to blame themselves for “provoking” that abuse.
DeMoss’s un-Biblical views extend to her false vision for women’s lives, which conflicts with that of Bible heroes like Deborah, Priscilla, and Miriam:
* “The modern-day feminist movement was birthed and has been sustained by persuading women to march and clamor for “rights” […] However, I am convinced that the claiming of rights has produced much, if not most, of the unhappiness women experience today.” (p.74)
* “The Scripture is clear that a married woman’s life and ministry are to be centered in her home. This is not to suggest that it is necessarily wrong for a wife and mother to have a job outside her home — unless that job in any way competes with or diminishes her effectiveness in fulfilling her primary calling at home. […] The Truth is that God gave to the man the primary responsibility to be the “breadwinner” for his wife and children.” (p.127)
* “In the apostle Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, we are reminded that childbearing is a basic, God-given role for women. […] A woman’s willingness to embrace, rather than shun, her God-given role and calling (“childbearing”) is a necessary fruit that will accompany genuine salvation — it is proof that she belongs to Him and follows His ways.” (p.171)
In other words, women don’t need and shouldn’t pursue legal protections. They should stay at home, having as many babies as possible, and anything otherwise means that they’re not “genuinely saved.” (Note that I fully support women who choose that path for their own lives — what I contest is the idea that the Bible mandates this as the only appropriate destiny for women.)
Ultimately, though, the foundation for DeMoss’s toxic views is a vast over-generalization of the source of women’s unhappiness. DeMoss begins the book by describing the Christian women she knows: “burned-out, overwhelmed, defeated, depressed, ashamed, emotionally unstable, angry, frustrated, discouraged, lonely, fearful, … and, yes, even suicidal.” (p.16) I agree with this assessment, and I long for the good news of God’s love to bring hope to their lives. But the solution is not telling a depressed, lonely, and suicidal woman that “we do not hate ourselves, nor do we need to learn to love ourselves. We need to learn how to deny ourselves, so we can do that which does not come naturally — to truly love God and others.” (p.70)
Some women certainly could use to hear the message of self-denial, but many of us have been pressured all our lives to deny ourselves and love God, to the point where we begin to forget the reciprocal message: God loves us in return. If DeMoss could view her readers through Jesus’ eyes, I suspect that she would realize that lecturing them to be better child-bearing automatons will not ease the emptiness and loneliness in their hearts. I only pray that this book will not irreparably harm too many women who read it in search for a “truth” it does not contain.
Barbara Robert’s Comment on DeMoss:
De Moss says:
There are extreme situations where an obedient wife may need to remove herself and/or her children from proximity to her husband, if to remain in that setting would be to place themselves in physical danger. However, even in such a case, a woman can — and must — maintain an attitude of reverence for her husband’s position; her goal is not to belittle or resist him as her husband but, ultimately, to see God restore him to obedience. If she provokes or worsens the situation through her attitudes, words, or behavior, she will interfere with what God wants to do in her husband’s life and will not be free to claim God’s protection and intervention on her behalf. (p.149)
If I had read that paragraph after I went to court for a protection order against my husband, it would have slid into my soul like a poisoned knife. That day in the court corridor I believed I’d ceased to be a daughter of Sarah (1 Peter 3:6) by giving way to my terror and going to court for protection from my husband. I felt like I’d been disobedient to God and stepped outside his covering by resisting my husband with such a glaring act – an act that I felt was necessary but which I knew would belittle and shame my husband dreadfully. Then the church denounced me for applying for the order – Do Not Take A Brother To Court! was the elders’ stern rebuke, so they certainly thought I’d worsened the situation by going to court, and they lectured me on my sins against him (example of my sins? I made my husband feel spiritually inadequate by reading my daughter’s nightly Bible story to her in the lounge-room while my husband was watching TV [hey, I only did that during winter when her bedroom was freezing!] ). I was locked in an emotional logjam of fear, terror, shame, guilt, anger and fury. How dare he; how dare they! And I’ve stepped over into the abyss!
If I’d read Nancy de Moss’s words the log jam would have done a quantum leap into hyperspace. How could I possible maintain an attitude of reverence for my husband’s position when he had been so terrifying and full of lies? And when no one believed how dangerous and deceitful he was?
Update: November 2015 Nancy Leigh DeMoss married and now goes by the name Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.