For part 1 of this series, and some observations of two Christian men on this topic, please read here.
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON THAT MOST OF US ARE COMPLETELY UNPREPARED TO BE GODLY WIVES?
Christian women in recent generations have had a number of cultural, church and family influences that have moved us FAR away from respect for our men as well as far away from any concept of biblical submission to our husbands’ God-given authority.
- The thoughts, goals and ideals of feminism profoundly impacted our culture and the church. There have been 3 waves of feminism (Carolyn McCulley – Radical Womanhood):
- women’s suffrage – women seeking the right to own property when they were married, and seeking the right to vote as well as seeking to be able to hold the office of pastor or minister in churches (1800s) – and so began a subtle undermining of the authority of the Bible. The New Testament does not allow women to be pastors or to have authority over men to teach men (I Tim 2:11-15, I Cor 14:33-38). The women’s suffrage movement was very adamant about insisting that women have equal access to all areas of ministry as men had. At the time, this was a RADICAL deviation from the practices of Christian churches (for the preceding 1850 years).
- The second wave was very strong in the 60s and 70s and brought the ideas that marriage and motherhood were oppressive to women, that patriarchy was slavery, that men were the problem with society/government/marriage/church/family, that women could only find true fulfillment in the workplace, that there is no such thing as the God of the Bible, that God is really a woman, or whatever you want “her” to be, that the Bible is irrelevant and that no God-given authority ought to be honored or respected. Men did, in fact, cause many problems. They were sinners. But feminism painted women to be spiritually and morally superior to men and did not allow for women to be seen as sinful. Femininity was good and masculinity was evil. Women weren’t just seeking to be equal in value and to receive equal pay in the workplace – but they were seeking to have “equal power” and “equal roles” in marriage and the church ministry as well. (Think about the sin of Satan – seeking equality with God. And then think about Christ, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Philippians 2:6 Birth control and abortion were a HUGE emphasis of the 2nd wave of feminism – allowing women the “freedom” from childbearing to maintain their beautiful figures and to work without the “inconvenience” of children. Children became disposable, a burden and a bother instead of a blessing from God. Marriage became disposable – whenever we no longer “feel happy” we can ditch our husbands. Covenant is no longer in the picture. Sex became disconnected from child-bearing and became “free” from the bonds of marriage. No Fault Divorce was one of the largest “triumphs” of the 2nd wave of feminism. Women entered the workforce in staggering numbers and children began to be raised in day care instead of at home with their mothers. Divorce became increasingly widespread and accepted. And it was and still is largely WOMEN who instigate divorce – often citing reasons like Anonymous and David mentioned instead of having biblically sound reasons for divorce.
- the third wave of feminism is less organized but has several goals: erase biology from the definition of family, establish fluid gender acceptance (it’s ok to switch from being male to female and back), to promote homosexuality and bi-sexuality, to destroy the traditional definition of the nuclear family, to continue to promote birth control and abortion, to have no moral labeling against any kind of deviant sexual behavior or lifestyles, to promote the idea that pornography “empowers” women and that women should dress and act like porn stars to get the attention of men in public and that pornography is harmless or actually even “good.”
- Women have had a few generations now of examples of mothers and grandmothers who were domineering, disrespectful and in control of the family. That is normal and mainstream now. We don’t even question it.
- Fathers have lost their place as the authority in families and marriages. Wives/mothers have been leading in parenting, finances, and have recently begun to out-earn their husbands which has ushered in a whole new even greater resentment towards husbands in marriages.
- Fathers are no longer involved in protecting daughters’ chastity and purity. They don’t monitor boyfriends or approve of potential suitors. They don’t require young men to ask permission to court their daughters or to marry their daughters. We as young women handle all of these things ourselves, not realizing how blind we can be to the red flags in the men we date until it is too late and we are already married. But even if we have a godly father who objects, we are likely not to listen. We usually don’t have a history of submitting to our father’s authority, so we don’t often give his advice much weight.
- There are no cultural standards of dating etiquette anymore. We don’t wait for men to call us. We are aggressively pursuing men. We are asking them out. We are calling first. We are kissing them first. We are giving our bodies to them before marriage – erroneously thinking that sex before marriage will bond men to us – WRONG! We are demanding engagement rings and marriage and giving ultimatums – and we miss the romantic proposals we could have had if we had waited. If our men do commit to us, it is under compulsion, with resentment and not wholeheartedly many times. We pressure our men to do what we want NOW! We don’t learn to wait on God and wait on our man’s leadership before marriage.
- We are in charge of planning the wedding for a year or more. It is “my day.” We get to make almost all of the decisions, and it can easily become a pattern that we takes over control in the relationship if we hadn’t already.
- We usually don’t even acknowledge our husbands’ leadership and headship in the marriage. Husbands are afraid to talk about such things because there is great risk of sounding “arrogant” and chauvinistic. So most men don’t say anything. Most wives are unaware of the concept of the husband having God-given leadership in marriage – even in the church.
- The word, “submission” has been hi-jacked by our culture and has connotations and meanings in our society that have nothing to do with the biblical concept of “ranking oneself under” the authority of another.
- Many of us think that if we were to submit to our husbands, we would be “slaves.” We don’t realize that the reason we are not feeling loved, cherished, adored and protected is that we won’t let our husbands lead, protect and provide. This is not slavery, it is intimacy! And there is also a huge misperception that submission means that the wife has “less value” than the husband. (Christ submitted to God the Father. They were equals. That is where submission began – in the ultimate loving, equal relationship).
- Of those of us who are aware of the Bible’s teaching, many feel we HAVE to be in charge because our husband “can’t” or “won’t” lead or is incompetent (that was me!). We justify our disrespect because of our husbands’ sin or his inability to meet our own expectations and believe that we are exceptions to God’s commands.
- Most of us are entirely unaware of the differences between masculinity and femininity and are unaware of the masculine realm of respect. We don’t recognize respect or disrespect. We think about love. We think if we give more love, our men will be happy. We give until we are exhausted and don’t have any idea what is wrong.
- Many of us have “reasons why” we are disrespectful or why we sin against our husbands – so we don’t count our behavior as sinful. Of course, every time a sinner sins, there are reasons. But sin is still sin. We don’t get this!
- We expect our men to obey God’s Word first. We LIKE what God commanded husbands to do – and we try to force them to obey God for their part. We don’t realize obedience to God can’t be coerced! Then we think that we are exempt from having to obey God’s Word for us if our men fail in our eyes to do their part to love us first. We do not take responsibility for our own behavior and obedience to God’s Word many times. We don’t understand that we are accountable for our behavior and obedience no matter what our husbands do or don’t do!
- We have extremely well-defined and narrow expectations for our men to be “spiritual leaders” in our terms and we show great contempt and disrespect when our husbands dare lead in ways that we don’t approve of. (Again, we are “right.”)
- We don’t follow our men’s leadership if they don’t lead where we want to go. We don’t recognize what our men to do lead us. We maintain the “right” to veto their decisions, or we just jump in and take over.
- We are impatient, often, and we don’t realize that men take longer to make decisions and that if we would just WAIT long enough, most men are plenty capable of leading.
- Our culture is all about pride, self, selfishness, greed and looking out for #1. Humility is mocked and scorned.
- We have no sense of duty and sacrifice in relationships – we want to be HAPPY. All the time. Every waking moment. Our feelings of being happy and loved are our idol many times. We don’t want to have to work for our marriages. We don’t want to have to invest blood, sweat and tears. We want to be catered to, pampered and spoiled and have all of our own needs met and we don’t want to have to meet another person’s needs. And if our needs are NOT being met – we feel completely entitled to resent our men. It never occurs to us to meet our man’s needs even if our own needs are not being met – that might begin to heal the relationship.
- We are often not even aware that we have wounded our men.
- We tend to complain and argue constantly. We often do not have grateful hearts. We do not look for the good. We see the 1% that is wrong and harp on it instead of appreciating and enjoying the 99% that is great.
- We do NOT want to accept criticism of ourselves. We won’t listen to it. We don’t want to believe there could be anything to criticize about ourselves. We can GIVE criticism very liberally, but we go ballistic if anyone dares to criticize us. After all, “I am right!” (That was me!)
- We make little issues in life MUCH BIGGER than our marriage covenant. We lose perspective and the big picture and focus on the tiny details that aren’t really a big deal. (so many of these were me! UGH!)
- Women go to female friends and coworkers for counsel and guidance and advice (who have dysfunctional relationships themselves!) – where husband bashing is rampant and girl friends frequently counsel women to leave their husbands for unbiblical reasons and girl friends encourage divorce, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness and promote division in the covenant of marriage. Many women are more committed to their girl friends than they are to the partner of their marriage covenant.
- In school, we learned to take charge of our own destiny. We earned our own grades. We spent countless hours studying. We planned our major in college. We determined our own “destiny.” It was all about ME, MY work, MY efforts, MY goals, MY plans and MY dreams. I was not prepared to focus on my husband’s career, his plans, his ministry, his priorities. I was all about what I wanted.
- Our men have become weaker and weaker over the past few generations and we have few godly examples of fathers taking the leadership of the family seriously and honoring God as the provider, protector and leader in the family. Women grow up in homes expecting to be the leader and have little to no experience being a godly follower. Women LOVE to be in control and are happy to take up the slack! They don’t realize that they are carrying too much weight until the stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness and overload completely overwhelms them.
- Many of us are products of broken homes (as are many men today) – and many have had NO godly example of marriage whatsoever, and are often the victims of abuse of all kinds. Victims of abuse naturally try to protect themselves and control things to try to keep themselves safe.
- Many of our parents did not talk about disrespect or respect at all. We were often not criticized or corrected for disrespect. Many of us had no accountability for poor attitudes, or disrespectful attitudes. Many of us have NEVER had anyone bring disrespect in our hearts to our attention. We are often completely blind to disrespect. The culture is full of disrespect – so it seems “normal” to be disrespectful. Most women do not see it whatsoever.
- We were taught to have “high self-esteem” instead of holiness. We were not shown our sin. We were not told of our faults. We kept our childish pride that we are “basically good” and we don’t believe or even acknowledge or see that we truly are NOT good. We got good grades, didn’t get in much trouble at home or school, and believe that we are “good.”
- Feminism taught us that men and women are the same emotionally and spiritually. We expect men to be feminine. We try to be masculine. We think men feel, think, process and look at life just like we do. We are deceived! Then we misinterpret the actions of our men and label them with evil motives when they actually don’t have evil motives sometimes because we don’t understand masculinity and how different it is from femininity (Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only,” Dr Walt Larimore MD “His Brain, Her Brain”)
- Because of broken and dysfunctional families, many of us learned that we had to take care of everything ourselves and be the “parent” in their homes and be “in charge” because our parents didn’t seem to have things together. We learned from our parents’ lack of control over things that God is also not in control and that WE must take charge and make things happen. We learn at a young age that THEY are sovereign, not God. This is the picture of God we learn from our parents, and we carry this picture into our marriages.
- School teaches us to focus on ourselves, to strive for excellence, to make great grades, to get good jobs, to make lots of money, to be in charge of our own lives. Many girls spend VERY little time learning to work as a team or how to cooperate with others. It is all about self promotion, hard work – and the type A, driven, successful women are greatly rewarded in school and in the work place with good grades and good salaries. Women take this same mindset into marriage – and we have no idea why it doesn’t work.
- The media portrays men as idiots and women as clever and intelligent. This began around the late 1980s or so with programs like “Rosanne” and “The Simpsons” and “Married with Children.” Decades ago, there were programs like, “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” and even “The Brady Bunch” – in spite of being a blended family – the fathers were portrayed as wise, loving authority figures to whom was given honor and respect.
- Princess stories that girls grow up fantasizing about constantly are all about the princess and not really about the prince whatsoever . I mean, he is THERE (eventually) – but there is no character development or focus on his life. These stories promise total attention to the princess, glamorous clothing, constant romance and a fairy tale happily ever after. Cinderella’s prince DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A NAME! That is how unimportant he is to the story. That really upsets me! Disney and Barbie did not teach us to be our husbands’ helpmeets. Disney taught us that marriage and life should revolve completely around US. And what our husbands do for a living, or their dreams, or their plans, or their feelings are irrelevant. Barbie taught us that men are basically just accessories and are to fit in with our plans and that WE are in charge and they will go along with whatever we want. When we played Barbies – we got to totally control Ken, make him act and say what we thought he should. So we made him after our own image. We didn’t know what masculinity was all about. We could tell him what to do constantly, and he was fine with that. Not good preparation for a godly marriage!
- Chick flicks do not demonstrate the way men actually think/talk/behave and set up unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships to be like a Hollywood script
- Unfortunately, many of us enter adulthood as selfish, spoiled women who are extremely used to getting our own way and have zero experience handling situations where we don’t get what we want. We have always been able to talk our way into whatever we wanted with our parents and teachers – and we expect to do the same in marriage.
- Higher education (not wrong in itself) can easily contribute to our sense of pride that we know best or better than our men and that we are “more qualified” to lead
- There is a lack of proper teaching about God’s design for marriage in our churches.
- We have not learned to be still before God. We run ahead of God and are not listening to His voice. We try to control Him, too, and we treat Him with disrespect, as well.
- We are so full of sins like pride, unforgiveness, gossip, resentment, trying to control others, trying to be God and make things happen for ourselves – that we have grieved God’s Spirit and don’t have His power in our lives. So we must resort to our own efforts to try to get what we want – people pleasing, using guilt to manipulate, pressuring others, whining, pouting, crying, demanding, pitching a temper tantrum, exploding in anger, etc.
- We don’t accept that others are human. We expect perfection (our definition, of course).
- We don’t accept that we are not perfect – we think we truly can be.
Looking at this list – which is not an exhaustive list – WHY WOULD WE BE PREPARED TO BE GODLY WIVES?
Tomorrow, we will discuss signs before marriage that may indicate a woman might have trouble with respect and biblical submission, as well as some signs that a woman may be fairly well prepared to be a godly wife.
Undo the damage that exists in the women of Your body! Let us tear down the lies and falsehoods and rebuild firmly on the foundation of Christ and Your Word alone! Let the scales of disrespect that we have learned from our culture and families fall from our spiritual eyes. Give us eyes to see what You see! Give us humble, teachable spirits. Let us be willing to reject our own way, our wisdom, our culture’s teachings and our sin and let us cling to You. Let us fully submit ourselves to Your will, Your wisdom, Your way, Your power, Your glory and Your purposes for our lives. Teach us what godly femininity, godly masculinity, marriage and family is about by Your design. Let us re-establish respect for God-given authority and let us honor Your Word and obey You even when it goes dramatically against our culture and against what we think seems right. Make us a godly people, holy and set apart for Your use!
In the Name and power of Christ,