March -- April 2002
The causes of marital failure are many and varied. There is no one cause or single issue. The man is at fault just as much as the woman, but it is nearly always the woman who seeks answers. Men just go to work and learn to live with it--or flee from it. Women ask, "What can I do to heal my marriage?” I am a woman. Men don't usually ask me for advice--which is as it should be. So I speak to women, and for that I am often accused of being one-sided. Women ask, "Why do you always blame the women; what about the men?" So to the women I say, you cannot change 100% of the marriage, but you can change 50% of it, and that may improve your marriage by 200%.
Our readers are a unique group. They are spiritually minded, church going, Bible believing, mostly homeschooling, and very family centered in perspective. This profile lends itself to several unique sources of irritation to the marriage. Your letters and testimonies have enabled us to identify one of the most common problem on the woman's side. It is the Jezebel spirit.
When the name Jezebel comes to mind, most of us see the painted face of a seductively dressed woman gazing into the eyes of a man who lacks good sense. The Bible portrays Jezebel in a different light.
Revelation 2:20 says that Jezebel "calleth herself a prophetess," and men received her as a teacher. This was given as a warning to the church. The one whom you have received as a spirit filled teacher comes to you in the great tradition of Jezebel. We have observed that many wives have stalled their half of the marriage by assuming the spiritual headship of the home. They would teach their husbands. But consider 1 Cor. 14:34-35, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
I went back to I Kings to see what the Bible had to say about this woman Jezebel. The first thing I noticed was that Jezebel was more religious than her husband. She was spiritually intense. The Bible says in 1 Cor 11:3, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." As a woman, our place is under our husband, especially in the spiritual realm. Regardless of our circumstances, when we take the spiritual lead, we have stepped out from under our head. We have tried to rearrange God's designated place for us. We are no longer in God's will.
The second thing I observed was that Ahab was emotionally volatile--unstable. Is your husband prone to retreat? Is he bitter, angry, or depressed? When a woman takes the lead, she is playing the masculine role. Unless her husband fights her for supremacy, he must assume second place. And men who are forced into spiritual subjection to their wives tend to be angry and retreat like Ahab.
The third thing I noticed was that she used his emotional stress to endear herself to him--strange way of lording over the husband. Jezebel manipulated and accused an innocent man, then had him murdered so that Ahab might have the vineyard he wanted. Ahab kept his face to the wall and let her do her dark deeds. Today, if a woman is willing to play her husband's role in directing the family, he will lose his natural drive to bear responsibility.
In the dominant role, a woman quickly becomes emotionally and physically exhausted. God made us the weaker vessels. If you are in this exhausted state, then chances are you're carrying a load not meant for you. It is not for you to press your husband to do his duty to be spiritual. You are to live joyfully in the context he provides.
The fourth thing that jumped out at me was that Ahab could easily be manipulated by his wife to suit her purposes. Jezebel used him to set up images as aids to worship under her own prophets and to kill God's prophets. Often, a man becomes involved in the Church, not because God has called him or because it is in his heart to do so, but because he is trying to please his wife and at least LOOK spiritual. When a husband steps into a spiritual role at his wife's beckoning, he becomes vulnerable to her guidance in that role. This is against nature, and often brings conflict in the family and in the church.
Ahab chose not to notice when his wife worked behind the scenes. Many men turn their heads when they see their wives stepping out of their God-given role. These men would rather not have to deal with the stone-cold anger they would receive from their wives if they offered any resistance. Have you been there, done that?
Jezebel knew that she was not the rightful head, so she invoked her husband's name to give her word authority. Did you ever say, "Oh, my husband will not let me do that," when you knew in truth he really would not care? It is a way to maintain control and stop those who would question you. When a woman does this, she stops any ministry God has to her.
Jezebel was deeply concerned about spiritual matters and took steps to help promote her spiritual leaders. In the process, she provoked her husband to destroy those in spiritual authority she did not like. Have you ever influenced your husband to think evil of those in authority because you did not like something about them? When a woman comes to this place she might as well sign her name "Jezebel."
God has a plan for women. He revealed his will in many verses in clear, concise commands. He gives a revealing picture of what he abhors in a woman by introducing us to Jezebel, then reaffirming in the New Testament just what it was about her character that he found so despicable.
He reveals his will in a positive note in the stories of the women whom he honored. The story of Ruth tells of a young girl who had known tragedy, extreme poverty, and hard menial work, yet she maintained a positive, thankful, and submissive attitude. God blessed Ruth because her own personal success and happiness were not the driving forces in her life.
Esther is the story of a girl who lost all of her family and was taken by force to become the wife of an older, divorced, heathen man. She was put (by her husband's decree) in danger of losing her own life as well as the lives of all her people. Yet, she overcame her circumstances and her fear in order to honor her husband. The Scripture teaches that when her husband heard her honest appeal, delivered with gracious dignity, she won his heart, and he turned to save her people. God used Esther because God's will was more important to her than her own fulfillment.
Proverbs 31 defines the virtuous woman. She is NOT a mousy, voiceless prude. She is confident, hard working, creative, and resourceful. She uses her time wisely, and contributes to the family income. Her first virtue is that the heart of her husband is safe with her. It says that she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. That is, he can trust her with his thoughts and feelings, never fearing that she might use the private knowledge she has of him to hurt him in any way. Some men maintain a distance from their wives because if they reveal themselves, their wives will use it against them when they are out of sorts.
If this passage had been written from our modern perspective, it would have extolled her for having a "quiet time," prayer time, fellowship time, and would have projected an image of a prayer warrior, teacher, or counselor. In all the Scriptural profiles of righteous women, including Proverbs 31, none of those concepts are even mentioned. A Proverbs 31 woman is busy helping her husband become successful. She is too busy being productive to spend time being his conscience. In our culture, we have lost a clear understanding of what constitutes a virtuous woman. We have accepted the modern concept of the "spiritual" woman, circulating in the realm of religious power, and have forgotten that God does not see them in this same "glorious" light. What we think is spiritual, God labels "Jezebel." "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD (Isa 55:8)."
In order to become a righteous woman, reaping the benefits of having our man adore us, we must follow God's principles of womanhood and totally reject the Jezebel tendency.
God laid down a few simple rules that must be followed because they are consistent with our feminine nature and the nature of men. It was Ruth's virtuous and humble, yet feminine, bold example that caused Boaz to love and admire her. It was Esther's submission to this principle that won the King's love and appreciation for her as a woman and as his queen. These women showed themselves womanly and lovable in the midst of extreme circumstances. God honored them with favor from the men in their lives.
Dominance and control are always masculine. It is a hormonal thing. It is the way God designed male nature. It is important for a woman to understand that she has to be feminine (devoid of dominance and control) in order for her man to view her as his exact counterpart and thus respond to her protectively, with love and gentleness.
God designed us, so he knows what our husbands need in order to function properly in their roles as men who cherish the woman in their life. By nature, men need honor (this includes not questioning their decisions). They need respect (treated as if they are wise). They need reverence (daily admired as a man who is accomplishing great things). They need to be accepted for who and what they are, just like they are. Men need to feel they are in command and doing a good job.
An important part of man is a God-given, natural instinct to bring his wife pleasure. If a woman is to be greatly treasured she will choose to find pleasure in the way the man presents himself and his care. All these traits are basic masculine needs. We were created as a helpmeet to the man we married, fulfilling who and what he is. This is God's will for us as women. When we as women obey God by responding to the needs of our husband, we are worshipping and honoring God. "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man (1 Cor 11:9)."
God created you to fulfill your husband's basic masculine needs. Only in that role will you find peace and cause your man to respond to you in loving adoration. This role of submission is totally feminine. It is the exact counterpart for his masculine needs. "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Gen 2:18)."
A woman who criticizes her husband for watching too much TV no longer honors him. When a woman tries to control areas of their life together because she thinks she is right, she is usurping authority over him, and lording over him. A depressed, discontented woman, who feels that her husband does not meet her needs, is dishonoring God.
Hurt feelings are a way to control. Silence and emotional retreat are ugly, destructive ways to control both your husband and your children. Anger, sickness, exhaustion, and even fear are all used to control those you care about. Some women control their husband by having an intense spiritual hunger. Jezebel comes in many disguises.
There are many various and subtle ways to control and direct your husband. One of the ways to take control is to tell your husband that you want him to be the spiritual leader in the home and then let him know that you are waiting to follow. You can lead from behind just by clearing your throat at the right moment. Many nice homeschooling moms are the spiritual leaders in their homes. They play the masculine role spiritually. How this must grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Often the excuse is that we cannot serve two masters, and since our husband is carnal, we have to take the higher ground. Like Eve, we are so deceived. "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Tim 2:14)."
A man cannot cherish a strong woman who has expressed her displeasure with him and is holding out until he fulfills her ideal. You say he should have Christ's love. Is that what you want? Do you want your husband to have to seek supernatural power just to find a way to love you? What most men cherish in their wives is the memory when love was fun and free, with no demands-the time when she smiled at him with a sweet, girlish, 'I think you are wonderful' look. She was so feminine then, so much the woman. It was a time when he wanted to hold her just because she was his, a time when he wanted to give her everything. A vague memory keeps him hoping. He is as disappointed in love as you are, maybe more. He is just as lonely. He just fills up his loneliness doing things that will distract him from the reality of the emptiness he knows is there but does not know how to fix. His helpmeet is not pleased with him. He is a loser.
The very first command God gave to a woman was, "Thy desire shall be unto thy husband and he shall rule over thee (Gen. 3:16)." Is your desire toward your husband? Do you desire him as a man? Do you live to please him? Does he rule over you? This is God's will.
Being a Jezebel is an active role--actively controlling, actively doing our own thing. Being a Ruth or an Esther is just as active. It is a decision we make hundreds of times each day as we choose to joyfully honor our husbands.
God's reward is without measure. Men are like clay in the hands of a woman whom they can trust with their hearts. A man, lost or saved, responds to a woman who honors him. When a woman looks to her husband with a face that is full of laughter and delight, he will look forward to being with her. If her voice speaks words of thanksgiving and joyful appreciation of him, he will want to listen to her. If her actions are full of service and creativity, and if she has goodwill towards him, he will be drawn to her as a bee is to honey. This kind of lady is altogether feminine. She is what God created and gave to Adam.
Deep in our heart we all want the same thing. We all want to be loved and cherished. We all cry out with our utmost being to be treasured in the heart of our husbands. It is the greatest honor on earth to know your husband is thrilled that you are his woman. It passes all of earth's blessings to feel his gaze upon you and know that you are his greatest gift, his most prized possession, his best friend, his favorite pastime, his only chum, and his delight as a lover. It is a great joy to know that he is actually proud you are his. It is not remembering birthdays, opening the door of a car, or other silly customs that we crave, it is the knowledge that he is totally taken with us. We want him to want us. We simply want to be loved. It is God's perfect will for our husbands to love us. It is God's perfect will for us to honor, obey and reverence our husbands. God's way works. If what you are doing this year has not worked, why not go God's way?
1 Co 11:7 "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man."
1 Co 11:8 "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man."
1 Co 11:9 "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man."