Book Review: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

I usually don’t go for books like this. But I was given a set of CD’s and decided to take a stab at listening while I was working in my shop a while ago. It first came out in 2006 and I think I listened to her read it and explain it in about 2008, but it is on the money even now. While listening I was blown away by how exactly Dr. Laura Schlessinger put her finger on the problem with a lot of marriages. Even if you don’t think there is anything wrong with your marriage you will want to read the book or get a set of CD’s and listen. It will really help any way you look at it.

The basic idea in the author’s mind is that men treat their wives like queens, but women do not treat their husbands like kings. Men are naturally geared toward caring and providing for, and protecting our wives. Women have, to some extent, accepted at least some of the modern feminist thinking about men and marriages. This includes ideas such as “men and women can do the same things,” (different than equality) “women can have it all” (career, home, husband, kids) and “you don’t need a man to complete you.” Men put their wives up on a pedestal, and all too often women use the position to lord it over the husband. (I was actually thinking of a different picture involving bathroom humor, but this will suffice.) In accepting the modern thinking women are by and large contributing a great deal to divorce or a marriage that isn’t very happy.

I was stunned as I was listening, because I have become so used to women who write books about marriage and blame men. We do our share of wrong, on the whole, but I get so tired of hearing how men should be more sensitive, get in touch with their “feminine sides,” and help with the housework. And before you get on my case I helped a lot with housework. Women want control over their own lives, and they want control over the men’s. Frequently, they want this control without responsibility. Husbands don’t get the credit for what we do, yet in order for women to do what they want men have to provide the environment for it. What I mean is, women have gotten a lot more independent now that men have tamed the wilderness and built cities and houses. It’s a little harder to be “self-realized” when you’re running from the local carnivores or defending yourself from outlaws.

A lot of times men just go along with the poor treatment. Right up until they get a different sort of attention from another female. Then, kaboom goes the marriage. Dr. Laura is not saying that husbands are without faults. Lots of men do lots of wrong things. Lots of women are doing lots of right and good things too. But she is saying that if a husband is treated like a king by his wife, she will generally find that her man responds and does what is natural for him. The message from the world is beating us men down on a daily basis. The message from our wives should be an “adorning (of) the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). It is precious in our sight too.

Sarah called her husband “lord” (Genesis 18:12), submitted to him and obeyed him. I know that message just goes all over the modern woman, which explains the high rate of divorce. Men also have a big responsibility to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” as Peter says (1 Peter 3:5). Dr. Laura’s point is that if a women takes care of her end, it is very likely that the husband will respond as she wants. The wife is torpedoing the result she wants by getting wrapped up in her “self realization.” Try the book, and you’ll find that most of what she says is in The Book.


Childbearing salvation

One of the more puzzling verses in the Word is directed at Timothy by Paul in what some refer to as a pastoral epistle.


Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:15, ESV)


It seems that Paul is saying that women can be saved through having kids. I’ve heard a lot of teaching connected with this, mostly focusing on the second part of the verse (faith, love, holiness, self-control) but also trying to work in how women are saved by having kids. I’ve tried to understand it myself by going with that teaching and thinking that perhaps the discipline of actually having kids (it is very difficult to bear children in case you didn’t know) was somehow helpful for learning salvation. Sort of going along with “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But I could never really make it fit with my understanding of other parts of the Word, such as that salvation is by grace through faith.


I recently read a different take on this by Dr. Walter Kaiser in the book The Promise Plan of God. He says that we should think of this as the act of childbearing as in the fact that the Son of God was birthed by a woman. Salvation came to the world because a woman bore a child. Paul was trying to elevate women because of the gift of bearing children, contrasting their poor treatment at the time (which continues to the present time) with the godly point that they should be honored instead. Yes, Eve was deceived, but a woman was given the privilege of birthing our Messiah Jesus.


Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (1 Corinthians 11:11–12, ESV)


Paul is encouraging godliness by acknowledging faults in both genders and at the same time pointing out equal blessings from God. We are not independent; we are interdependent. We each have different jobs, we are made differently (thank you Jesus!) but one gender is not inferior to the other. Women are not property, they are sisters in the household of God and have equal standing with men before God. The childbearing gift was how God chose to bring the Messiah to us, and should not be discounted. Women are saved through the act or gift of childbearing, because our salvation Jesus came to us by way of a woman.


An interesting proposition, and one that fits better with the rest of Scripture than any others I’ve heard so far. It’s probably an old teaching in some places, but it’s the first I’ve heard of it.


But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4–5, ESV)

Women and Clothing

Nowadays, some think that a woman should wear only long skirts, while it is okay for men to wear pants. The problem is, I couldn’t find any Scriptural reason for this. If it is wrong for women to wear pants (and I don’t think that it is) then it is wrong for men also. If it’s okay for men, ergo, it’s okay for women. It seems rather arbitrary to teach otherwise, and I hesitate to tell husbands that we get the luxury of picking and choosing what is modest and what is not according to our own limited sensibilities. If we are arbitrary in this, we come up with all sorts of inconsistent rules having no biblical basis whatsoever. Then we expect those rules to be binding on others, when only the Word of God is binding.

Think back to the time of Mt. Sinai, and the giving of the instructions on how to run a godly community (the Law). What were the people wearing? All of them, men and women, wore, as near as I can tell, robes. So in a sense, everyone wore long skirts. When we were given the command not to wear clothing of the opposite gender (Deuteronomy 22:5), how could people tell what belonged to one gender or the other? One way, I suggest, to tell genders apart was long hair on the women, and beards with shorter hair for men. But this is not legislated for us anywhere. Another way to tell must have been style or maybe even color differences which were clearly masculine and feminine. The mere presence of long skirts (since everybody wore them) did not serve to differentiate between the genders. There is no Scriptural warrant for teaching that pants are related to morality or modesty one way or the other.

People Husbandry through the Word article from Whole Bible dot com

Walter C. Kaiser on Women

A good article on women in the Body by Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. on his website. He translates the word for ‘helpmeet’ for instance as ‘strength’ rather than ‘helper.’ Although he points out that helper is not a pejorative since God is also called a helper on occasion. Four pages, and has quite a different viewpoint than you might expect. We like what he has to say, and we think most believing women will like it too.

Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women

Dr. Kaiser is a professor of Hebrew and was president of a seminary.