I wonder what Dr. Hegstrom and the Davissons would say to a genuinely abused man: A man who has been denied sex for years, has been emotionally manipulated and threatened with divorce and financial ruin, and has had his children taken away to be raised by the mother and a replacement father on the other side of the country. Would they care? Would they have even an ounce of sympathy? Are are they so blinded with ideology that they are incapable of empathy and reason?
No need to wonder. They would say that since women are “responders”, everything she did was ultimately his fault and proof that he wasn’t following the instructions God wrote for him. If he weren’t doing something terribly wrong, she would not have done those things. He needs to admit his abuse and beg for her forgiveness. They would at the same time counsel her to forgive him when he repents.
I know this from Joel and Kathy’s book The Man of Her Dreams The Woman of His! See page 31 where Joel explains what Dr. Hegstrom taught him about women’s misbehavior when Joel attended Life Way International. This moment was Joel’s epiphany (all emphasis in quotes below is from the original):
A few more hours into the training, I repeated the question in another manner. “Can’t the woman be the problem? The man is not always the problem in marriage.” Of course I gestured toward my problem wife! This continued into the second day until Dr. Hegstrom finally had enough. He told me point blank that I was the problem in my marriage. He told me that Kathy was desperate to have a great marriage relationship for that is how God made her.
He continued saying that my issues had caused the problems in our marriage and that if I would get healed and change that I would have a most incredible wife. He emphatically stated that she might have some very minor issues that needed to be addressed but that she will deal with those on her own after I have dealt with mine.
Paul told me that God made Kathy a responder and that her problems were a reflection of her responding to my treatment of her. He said that when I grow up and lay my life down for my wife as Christ did for the church that I would be amazed at how wonderful a wife I have.
This was the beginning. A seed was planted…
This is very similar to the theology FotF and Dr. Clarke teach, where the wife is made by God to know what should be going on in the marriage and the husband needs only to put her in charge. In fact, Joel and Kathy spell this out more directly in their book. On page 36 in a frame box it says:
Men, here it is. Your wife wants a fabulous relationship with you. God made her that way.
On the same page Joel explains that this is the meaning of Genesis 3:16:
Your wife wants a fabulous and happy relationship with you. God made her that way. In Genesis God spoke to your wife concerning this desire that she would have for you.
Your desire shall be for your husband.
She wants you baby, she wants you! However, what God created your wife to desire is a deep, meaningful, bonded, successful relationship with you.
On page 86 they explain in another framed box that the wife’s feelings are a marriage manual from God:
God has equipped every woman with a marriage manual in her heart, designed to instruct her husband in how to meet her unique needs.
On page 90 they explain that God has written His instructions for men in their wive’s hearts, and that only by doing what their wife feels is right can they know God’s will not just for the marriage, but God’s plan for the man himself:
It is very simple. When your wife’s marriage manual points out that you have violated her in some way, your job is to hear her heart and accept what it is that your personal marriage manual is saying to you. Your wife may not have a clue as to how to handle the household checkbook. She may not have a clue as how to run a lawnmower. What she does have is that unique marriage manual in her heart for your marriage which is given to her from God. The way that a man becomes the man that God has called him to be is to become the husband his wife needs him to be. The only way to become the husband our wife needs us to be is to read our personal marriage manual. How do read that marriage manual? We listen to her heart.
The logic is as plain as it is absurd: If you wish to serve God, submit to your wife’s emotions in all things.
I realize that this stuff is so flat out ridiculous that some will suspect I’m making this up. I urge you to check the book out for yourself using Google Books or the Amazon “look inside” feature to see that this is accurate (barring possible typographical errors). Keep in mind that Joel and Kathy are writing about what they learned in Life Way International from Dr. Hegstrom, and that FotF urges your pastor to send men accused of abuse to this same place to learn Life Way International’s theology of marriage.
Prior to researching for this series of posts I thought that Joel and Kathy were on the fringe, expressing a theology outside the modern Christian mainstream. In researching these posts I’ve been surprised to learn that they are:
- Even more absurd in their theology than I had previously understood. They take wife worship to a whole new level, far worse than I had ever seen before.
- Teaching a theology that is well within the modern Christian mainstream. This isn’t as far as I can tell taught as overtly as Joel and Kathy do (yet). However it is taught in a less obvious form on venues like the FotF radio program, as well in full strength behind closed doors at “marriage counseling” sessions endorsed by mainstream Christian organizations.