Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thoughts on The Forbidden Woman

I have been meaning to write about a couple of topics for quite some time now (family worship and devoting yourself to “endless genealogies…”). However, mothering, cooking, hospitality, schooling, bow hunting, housekeeping, fall cattle work, etc… has taken priority over sitting down at the computer and typing!  But there has been another topic heavy on my heart for the past few weeks and it was compounded this week when I found out about a man whose teaching and ministry we highly respect admitted recently to having an emotionally inappropriate relationship with someone who was not his wife.  It is interesting because my weekly Bible study/prayer partner and I were just discussing some of the practical applications of guarding against Satan and the flesh in this area of our marriages. (On a side note, if you don’t have an accountability partner who you meet regularly with to strengthen, encourage, pray, confess sin, and search the scriptures together to discover how to conform your life to Christ, then you are missing out on a HUGE blessing of being part of the family of God. And if you “do” and it is a gossip session focused on worldly conversations or complaining about your lot in life… again, you are missing out.)

Be warned now: this is not going to be politically correct! The Biblical worldview that I hope to portray is completely antithetical to what our society values, teaches, and promotes. In fact, a large portion of “churches” in the western culture will not necessarily stand with the Holy Writ on this issue.  However, I pray that each word will be completely founded in the scriptures.

Proverbs 14:1 says “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” How do we guard our marriages from infidelity? (I am not saying or insinuating that in all cases of marital unfaithfulness the wife is to blame…) But is there something we can do as wives to prevent Satan’s and the flesh’s temptations to our husbands in this area? How can we be wise women and build up our houses?  Proverbs has much to say about the guises of the adulteress and forbidden woman (Prov. 2:16-19; Prov. 5; Prov. 6:20-35; Prov. 7; Prov. 9:13-18; Prov. 23:26-28; Prov. 30:20… just to name a few). I study the book of Proverbs several times a year; and I have been pondering the ways of the forbidden woman the past few weeks, thinking about how she pursues, woos, tempts, and makes herself noticeable and desirable to a man.  These women are out there. I know some of them and I bet you do too; AND they have contact with our husbands. It is important that we recognize our “enemy”, even if the enemy is in theory only (for today…).

It is so easy after you are married (especially after you’ve been married for a long time) to let our guard down, to stop trying to impress our husbands, to stop “pursuing” them. In some respects this is a good thing, because they can see us at our worst and still love us. But that doesn’t mean that we give up trying to have any excitement in our relationship. Before marriage, didn’t we care about what we looked like, what we said to him, how we spoke to him, and weren’t we more forgiving? When he was around us, didn’t we try to make the experience pleasant? But after we get married, it is far too easy to get too comfortable, selfish, and complacent. Proverbs warns about the tendencies and their effects on a husband that a wife is prone to. Proverbs 19:13b: A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain; Prov. 12:4b but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones; Prov. 21:9/ Prov. 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife; Prov. 27:15-16 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.  There you have it! We wives can easily be nagging, quarrelsome, shaming, and really just not fun to be around! And what are we doing to our beloved husbands? Water board treatment, rotting his bones, and making him prefer solitude. Ouch!  Now the tendency is to read these passages and think, “That’s not me.” But think a little harder about that. When our husband gets home from a hard day at work, does he walk into a house that is a refuge? Is it a pleasant environment? Does he feel welcomed, missed, and appreciated? Does he open the door to a wife who has prepared herself in anticipation of his arrival? Or do you meet him with an attitude of frustration because the kids have been crazy, a to-do list a mile long, a complaining spirit because he didn’t do _________ or fix ________, and do you drill him about all the errands he was supposed to get done and didn’t? That is nagging, quarrelling, dripping, shaming, and rotting his body and soul. That is tearing down your house with your own hands… and I’m sure to some extent, we have all been guilty of it.

Contrast this with our opponent: She is vying for his attention, she listens to what he has to say, she doesn’t nag him, she does her hair and makeup, she is not wearing a stained t-shirt and baggy sweat pants, she makes him feel important and respected. Do you see the difference here? This woman may be a secretary, associate, or co-worker of some type  who is paid to be an asset at work. It is pretty easy to see where the man would rather spend his time. So knowing that Satan is roaming around, seeking whom he may devour,  knowing that men are especially tempted by the lust of the eyes, what can we do to protect our men and our marriages?

The first thing to do is to pray: for wisdom, energy, correct biblical attitudes about our female roles, and strength as wives to fulfill our positions as our husband’s helpmeet (Gen. 2:18), and secondly for our husbands to avoid temptations in this area. A couple of years ago, I went through the scriptures describing qualifications of elders and deacons and made a prayer list of those attributes to pray for my husband. Not because I desire him to be an elder, but because I desire him to be a man of God who is characterized by those fruits. Below is my prayer list based upon the listed scriptures, unfortunately it didn’t copy/paste in the cute little text boxes that my original document was…
What to pray for my Husband
Titus 1
He would be above reproach
Our children would be saved
Our children would not be rebellious
He would not be greedy for gain
Not be arrogant or quick-tempered
Not be a drunkard or violent
Not be greedy for gain
He would be….
                        A lover of good
He would hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught
He would be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and be able to rebuke those who contradict it
Titus 2
He would be sober minded
He would be dignified
He would be sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness
He would be a model of good works
He would show integrity, dignity, and sound speech in his teaching
In everything he would adorn the doctrine of God our Savior
1 Timothy 3
He would be respectable
He would be able to teach
He would be gentle
He would not be quarrelsome
He would not be a lover of money
He would manage his household well, with dignity
He would keep his children submissive
He would not be double tongued
He would hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience
That I would be a wife that is dignified, not a slanderer. That I would be faithful in all things so that I will be his helper
Ephesians 6

That he would not provoke our children to anger but would bring them up in the DISCIPLINE and INSTRUCTION of the Lord

1 Peter 3/Ephesians 5

That I would be submissive, respectful, and that my conduct would be pure in GOD’s eyes
That I would adorn myself with a gentle and quiet spirit
That  he would live with me in an understanding way, showing honor to me as the weaker vessel
That his prayers would not be hindered
It probably would be a good idea to pray that he wouldn’t be tempted by the lust of the eyes or flesh.  So the first defense we as wives need to be participating in is the power of prayer.

The next thing we need to address is our attitudes.  This is especially against every bone in our flesh… handed straight down to us from the curse (Gen. 3:16 “…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”) and reiterated to us through the feminist movement in our society. We have been told and believed that our roles in the home are oppressive, degrading, and not valuable.  We laugh at that famous textbook from the 50’s that encouraged wives to clean up the house, prepare a nice supper, make sure the kids are cleaned up and quiet, and to dress themselves up in preparation for the husband to come home.  Biblically, the wife is the husband’s helper. Would it not make sense that having a haven to come home to after work is a help to him? Does a good, nutritious meal help him physically and spiritually? Especially if he knows that it has been prepared with his likes/dislikes in mind? Wouldn’t you have loved doing such a thing during your engagement? So why not during the marriage?

Pointing out all of his shortfalls is not building up your house (either in gossiping to your friends or venting on your husband). Yes, we all have broken things in our houses and lists that the husband needs to take care of. But there is a better way than nagging him to convey your frustrations.  Don’t throw the list at him when he first walks through the door. Don’t text or call him several times a day piling up to do lists on his plate. Find a time to have a pleasant conversation with him and gently bring up issues that you may be having. Ask him how you can be a better help to him. Pray about your attitude, ask the Spirit to make you more selfless (Phil. 2:3-16). Pray through 1 Corinthians 13 and meditate on what love really is.  Will we have days where the house and kids are a mess and supper is ruined? Yes, we will. But that should be the exception and not the norm.  What else can you do to make your husband look forward to coming home and seeing you?

Lastly, I want to address our physical appearance. Do you dress up and put on some makeup when you grocery shop? If you dress up for your grocer, shouldn’t you all-the-more want to dress up for your husband? That doesn’t mean that you put on your Sunday best every day of the week, but there are more attractive clothes than your husband’s worn out t-shirt and baggy sweat pants, (even if you are pregnant or don’t look like a 20 year old). No matter what your body type, put a little thought into how you look. It is very easy to go through the tasks of a housewife/mom each day and never look into a mirror. But it really doesn’t take too long to fix up your hair and makeup and look nice for your husband. It never tells us what the Proverbs 31 woman’s figure was like, but it did say her clothing was fine linen and purple, and also strength and dignity. Is that what your wardrobe says about you? Again, yes, there will be times when sweat pants is all we are able to muster up, but that should be the exception. Remind yourself of all the thought the “forbidden woman” is putting into her appearance if you need some more motivation…  (Please note that I am not promoting immodest dressing, but that which portrays godliness and dignity. Does your clothing draw attention to your face or your body? “Hot” is for the bedroom of a husband and wife in a covenant relationship… *blush*).
Moving on… I am not going to comment much on this, but read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. Meditate on it, pray about it, and seek the Spirit’s guidance.

I do not have any of this stuff perfected, but the Spirit has stirred my spirit on this whole concept of safeguarding my marriage. There are many areas in a marriage to be selfish and unloving, to seek worldly treasures rather than heavenly treasures. Our goal as Christians is to become more Christlike and becoming less selfish as wives and mothers is one way to display the gospel in our homes.

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