Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Five Marriage Killers Part 4

on April 30, 2014

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photo credit: Raleene via photopin cc

4. Manipulation & Spiritual Domination

When we look at scripture, we see a long list of women who manipulated their husbands in order to get their own way. Let’s start with Eve in the Garden of Eden, feeding her husband bad fruit (Genesis 3). Adam should have been leading, but Eve took the reins and led them both into temptation and the first sin. Should Adam have refused to follow her into sin? The answer is clearly yes, which is why both were disciplined by the Lord. However, would Adam have ever considered eating the fruit if not for his wife’s encouragement? Perhaps not. How about Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 16)? Sarah’s deep desire to give an heir to her husband prompted her to convince her husband to commit adultery with her own handmaid, Hagar, and to produce the son of the flesh, Ishmael. Once the son of promise, Isaac, came along, there was tremendous friction and subsequent pain. We certainly cannot forget Delilah (Judges 16) and how she manipulated Samson, causing him to lose his hair, his strength, his connection with the Holy Spirit (for a time) and eventually his life.

These are just a few examples of women manipulating their men, but manipulation may not always be leading our husbands into sin. Sometimes it is simply leading them in a different direction than they feel God has called them. A man and woman get married and the woman wants to have a child right away, while the man feels they should wait for a few years so that they can spend time together as a married couple first. The woman seduces her husband and conveniently forgets to take her birth control pills. Whoops! Now certainly there is no sin when it comes to sex in marriage, nor is having children a sin, but the refusal of the wife to follow her husband and her clear manipulation is far from fitting behavior for a daughter of the King. Perhaps you want to move to the beach but your husband feels called to buy a home in the mountains. Circling the ads for lovely beach homes for sale and leaving them sitting on his favorite chair when he comes home is not the way to do it. Neither is crying and complaining all day and night until you get your way. These are tactics of manipulation and are not in line with God’s Word.

The same principle holds true when it comes to spiritual issues. Women are far too swift to take up the role as spiritual leader when they think their husbands are doing the job incorrectly. Spiritual domination by a wife can be a marriage killer. I know a young woman who was the daughter of a pastor, and she married a nice, young Christian man when she was about 19 years old. This young woman and I would chat about married life, and I was always taken back by her attitude of spiritual superiority over her husband. Her husband was raised in a different type of church than she was, and so there were small differences in doctrine. She would complain that after hours and hours of trying to convince her husband that his church was wrong and hers was right they would get nowhere. She called him stubborn, but I think the more problematic of the two was this woman who thought it was her job to teach her husband in spiritual matters. If I, as a friend and outsider, picked up so quickly and with such clarity that this woman considered herself far above her husband in spiritual wisdom and maturity, than there is no doubt her husband felt the weight of her spiritual domination on a daily basis. No doubt he felt disrespected and deflated at home instead of built up and edified.

Don’t get me wrong. It is fine for a wife to share with her husband in a respectful and humble way. Most godly husbands cherish their wife’s opinions and are more than happy to hear her feelings on various topics of faith, the Word and spiritual growth. However when a bossy, dominating woman sits across the table from her man and lectures him for hours about praying longer, throwing out any PG-13 rated movies they have, or his faulty views on the issue of whether or not the Bible speaks against tattoos, I have to question her spiritual discernment. God never intended wives to lead their husbands in spiritual matters, or to instruct them. Yes, she may be right sometimes, but her disobedience to the Lord is far worse a sin than her husband’s occasional bad decision. The correct response would have been to lift her husband up in prayer and to speak with the law of kindness on her tongue. God is the head of her husband, and He will complete the work He has started. A pushy woman is merely a hindrance to the handiwork God wants to do in her husband’s heart, and she ought to spend more time focusing on her own spiritual growth than worrying about that of her husband’s.

Now we look for a moment back to Eve. People love to debate which of the two was more to blame for the fall in the Garden of Eden. Eve was the first to fall into sin, being deceived and tricked by that cunning serpent, and she gave to her husband of the tree as well, who was not deceived but willingly disobeyed God’s instruction. Men love to talk about how women lead men into trouble, just as Eve led her husband into temptation and sin. On the flip side, where was Adam’s leadership or discernment? We don’t see him struggling against doing what he knows is wrong, or rebuking his wife. When it comes down to it and their sin is exposed, both man and women tried to pass the blame and both were punished and therefore both guilty. While figuring out who was more to blame is not necessarily an important quest, we do learn something quite fascinating and significant from this passage about our strengths and weaknesses as women and the roles we are intended to have. We will take a right turn in the Bible to 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

 

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

 

Feminists hate this verse. They love to label our brother Paul as being sexist and the Bible as being outdated and oppressive. Others will attempt to explain away this verse by saying that it was only for the early church and does not apply today or that perhaps it is acceptable for women to teach as long as they are under the authority of male elders. After all we’ve come so far in our mission to create equality between men and women, and to prove to the world that there is no difference between us, right? Wrong. The Bible doesn’t change because God doesn’t change. He created us for a beautiful role and purpose. As women we are precious jewels to our Heavenly Father and to our husbands, should we choose to follow God’s plan for us as wives. There is nothing belittling or insulting about this passage of scripture. Nor does it say it is for a time or a generation, and therefore we must accept that it is for all generations and still applicable today.

Let’s move on to the second part of the passage from 1 Timothy about Adam and Eve. Paul is explaining why women are to learn in silence at church and not to teach or have authority over men. Notice he doesn’t say it’s because women are not educated well enough in the Bible or that it is because at the present time woman were not treated as equals in society. Paul gives two reasons for creating these role boundaries. 1. Adam was created before Eve, and 2. Adam was not deceived in the Garden but Eve was.

Indeed, as we read back in Genesis 2 we see that Adam was created first. This does not mean he was more important than Eve or that he has priority over Eve. It is simply the order in which the Lord God willed for mankind. He has appointed the man to be the leader, going forth first with his wife following right by his side. Men are given a huge responsibility here. Teachers of the Word of God are always bearers of great responsibility as they must pray and study diligently not to lead anyone astray or misinterpret the Word. Secondly we see that Eve was deceived by the serpent. In Genesis, Eve makes the mistake of having conversation with the serpent, misquoting God’s actual words and then allowing the enemy to fill her heart with lies. She was caught up with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. As a result, she was deceived. She certainly wasn’t the only one in sin. Adam sinned willfully. The Word does not mention him being deceived, but he did sin. Perhaps in God’s deep knowledge of the character heart of women, He knows that we are often times more easily deceived and led away by emotions than our other halves. There is no shame in this, but the verse in 1 Timothy makes it clear that this commandment not to allow women to teach or usurp authority spiritually over men is not cultural or for Paul’s generation alone, but based on the will and wisdom of our Lord God.

As women we are to refrain from taking control of situations and decisions, even if we think we will handle them better. If you are a controlling woman, this will really be a challenge for you. If you are set in your ways and are married or planning to be married, pray for God to change your heart as I did before I was married. If you are one of those ladies who must have everything “just so”, pray that the Lord will give you a spirit of flexibility, patience and submission. God finds these characteristics so lovely in his children.

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