Last week I addressed, The Cleaner: the idea that women feel the need to clean up after, or remove the consequences of, their husbands failure and sin.
Additionally, sinful behavior is perpetuated when churches define a wife, or “helper” as someone who:
1) Prevents her husband from sinning
2) Equates pleasing a husband with pleasing God.
The Holy Spirit is the “helper” Jesus sent to continue His redemptive work on earth. I’m going to be blunt. If the Holy Spirit is not preventing this man from sinning, what kind of power does a wife have? Who is she, and what super power does she possess to stand in the way of a wicked man bent on destruction?
Yes, women can be influential in their husband’s lives. God has given them the privilege of helping their husbands become like Jesus Christ. Together, they are joint heirs, members of Christ’s body, fellow workers. But wives are not responsible for a husband’s decisions or choices. They are not responsible for his spiritual growth or treatment of them as wives. Do I believe in marriage? Absolutely. I love it. I love God’s design and provision. I love marriage that represents Christ and His church. But we unknowingly create obstacles when we naively misapply Scripture and are ignorantly unaware of how sinful men twist God’s Word and plan.
Most women in unbalanced, or oppressive, marriages do not understand why their marriage isn’t working. Since she’s the “helper,” it must her fault. She’s obviously not helping enough, or well enough. She’s a failure. She doesn’t have what it takes. Other husbands and wives have it figured out. What’s wrong with her?
The fact is that a helper is just that. The help. er. Not the do.er. In an oppressive marriage, she isn’t helping because he isn’t doing. He is unfaithful. He is unloving. There is nothing she can do or contribute to change the situation or relationship. She can do, work, try, pray, read, confess, repent, exert effort but a godly marriage is not a one-man band.
Second, and just as important, pleasing your husband does not equal pleasing God. I’ve heard it, perhaps you have, too:
“How you respond to your husband reflects how you respond to God.”
“If you husband makes a request, it’s the same as God making a request because your husband is God’s authority in your life.”
They are said in women’s Bible studies, on the phone, from pulpits. But they’re not true. Ask yourself, “Is my husband reflecting God by asking or expecting me to (fill in the blank)?” “Would Jesus talk to me that way?” “Would Jesus ask me to do that?” You might reason that if your husband is God’s authority in your life, it’s God asking. Didn’t God he put you in a position to obey?
A complementarian view of marriage (women and men are meant to complement each other with different roles), believes a husband is called to lead his wife, protect, and provide for her. When his requests and demands are not godly, when they do not reflect Jesus, he is not walking in obedience. The charge to wives is to submit, “As unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). Submitting to sinful behavior and demands is not “as is fitting to the Lord.” It is “as as is fitting to my husband.”
Right here, right now, let’s clear the air. It’s not a wife’s fault when her husband sins against her. He is responsible. She is not. If we’re going to blame her for the mess and sin, we’ve given into the myths above.
The underlying dynamic is called coercive control. These husbands punish their wives for not obeying ungodly demands and expectations. They withhold affection, finances, isolate, alienate children, misuse Scripture, degrade, or humiliate a wife when she pushes back or refuses to follow. These men are predators that have groomed women, studied them, and use the least amount of effort to pack the most punch needed to extract expected behavior. Each man knows what makes his wife tick and he uses it to his advantage. You and I don’t see it because we don’t know the history, patterns, specific gestures, words, and behavior that drive it.
Pastors–you’re not seeing this. Friend, you hear but have a hard time believing.
A woman caught in a trap of coercive control struggles to unite thoughts of her husband who is sometimes amazing but also frightening, wicked, and foolish. Who is he? When she thinks he is going to respond one way he responds differently, creating confusion, or dissonance. Similar to shaken-baby syndrome or whip-lash, she is mentally and emotionally whipped between good and evil–by the same person, her husband. Trying to find solid ground; there is none. Who to believe? What to do? It is not a matter of wanting or not wanting. It is not a matter of choosing or not choosing. It is a matter of survival and sanity.
Church, we seek and look for consistency in individuals. We “choose to believe the best” and refuse to listen to what we don’t see and fail repeatedly. Unless he is backed into a corner and held there, a controlling husband will not show his true colors. That behavior is reserved for his wife and children who view it as normal.
Churches, pastors, Jesus here on earth–please start listening, heeding, believing, asking, helping. A godly wife can not prevent her husband from sinning. God is not pleased when she pleases an ungodly requests and expectations. We are not serving Christ to teach heresy and blasphemy in His name–to oppress the wounded and needy. Be on guard!
For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)
these people also, dreaming, defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak abusively of angelic majesties. (Jude 8)
these people disparage all the things that they do not understand; and all the things that they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. (Jude 10)
These are the ones who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, like shepherds caring only for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, churning up their own shameful deeds like dirty foam; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 12-13)
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. (Jude 16)
These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 19)