So, I've been writing a blog post in my head for a while now. It is a tough subject, so I have been giving it some extra thought. But I think I'm ready to throw it out there, so here goes...
It all started when I skimmed through a book recently. It seemed to have been written from a Christian viewpoint, but it didn't "click" with me. I couldn't put my finger on a specific thing exactly, it just didn't seem to "mesh" with my spirit. Its intended purpose was to strengthen your marriages. It was written by a woman and aimed at women, so I thought it was just going to be another book like the many books on the topic that I have read and been able to glean wisdom from. No, I am not going to be telling you the title, mostly because I don't want any one reading it because they learned about it from my blog!!
This is an unusual thing for me, because I am a very eclectic reader, and am not a big supporter of the "book burning" mentality. (You know--the "if it's not Christian fiction by Janette Oke, then you shouldn't be reading it" school of thought.) But I just couldn't get on the same page with this lady. (Pun intended!)
At this point, I began to ask some questions. Was I having these problems with this book because I was spiritually immature, and not ready for this "next level?" Was it the writing style itself? Was I unwilling to look at my life through the lens of this book, written by what was supposed to be a mature Christian woman? Did this make me unwilling to be teachable; unwilling to give up my preconceived ideas on marriage and how I responded to my husband? (the main point of the book) As I pondered what I had read, and compared it with the Scripture I knew, the answer to these questions seemed to be "no." But maybe I wasn't being objective enough...too close to the situation. So, I asked the person that I could guarantee wouldn't lie to me or sugar-coat what they would say--my Hubby!
So, I explained to him my issues with the book--1. It seemed to me to be encouraging women to basically deceive their husbands concerning their own (the wife's) intelligence level, opinions about things, etc. 2. It seemed to paint all men with the brush of secretly (or not so secretly) desiring a young, innocent girl as opposed to a mature woman with a functioning mind and opinions of their own. 3. Well, I may have had more issues, but as I couldn't get past these two, I guess I'll just cover these.
As I explained these concerns to my husband, I asked him what he thought about said things. Because we were riding in the car, First-Born could hear some of the conversation. His response from the back seat: "That sound kinda dumb to me!" Out of the mouth of babes! I agree! Hubby asked, as any good spiritual leader would, "Well, what does the Bible say?"
So, this is what I have come up with in response to these ideas. You might be wondering why I am taking time to write about this. I guess it's because I see this insidious idea being taught and preached in some Christian circles. I believe there are men who are pushing this idea because they have a need for control. Control of their wives, daughters, even the women in their church. And this is dangerous because these women are unable or unwilling to think and decide for themselves between right and wrong. They just go with whatever the current authority in their life thinks they should do. This is so dangerous! And I think if you look around and think about situations you know of, you will see this mentality at work and realize how easily this power is abused and the damage it has caused in the body of Christ.
If I write about both points in one blog, it will be way too long for you to want to read, so I am going to break it up into two posts.
Point one: the idea that we, as women, should basically practice deception in our lives concerning our intelligence levels, opinions about things, etc.
Well, my main problem with this is obviously the push for deception here. The Bible is fairly clear on the matter of deceit, lying, guile, or any of the other various forms of dishonesty. It is wrong. Period. End of discussion. Oh, and your motivation has no bearing on it. "I didn't want to make him feel bad." or "It makes him feel manly to be able to do such-and-such for me...if he finds out I can do it, he will be hurt." REALLY! I am not joking...this book actually told you that it would help your marriage relationship if you basically pretended you were helpless, confused, and unable to understand even the most basic of life's processes. How is this a Godly relationship?! How is basing your marriage on a deception going to work out for you in the end? Jesus said "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life." (emphasis added) How can God be a part of your marriage if it is based on a lie?
That's the spiritual conflict I have with this point. On a purely mental level, it just annoys the mess out of me when girls (and women) pretend to be stupid. GRRR! God has blessed each of us with different mental abilities, and that is His plan for our life. How can you take the talent He blessed you with and bury it in the dirt? Pretend like it doesn't exist? I'm pretty sure there was a Bible parable about that too...
You may be better at something than your husband. (gasp!) In our house, I am the reader. I can read faster, with more comprehension, than my husband. Does this mean that just because I don't want to bruise his sensitive male ego, that I never read in front of him? Or that if I do, I pretend to struggle, just so he can swoop in and "rescue" me? Does it mean I don't speak to him intelligently about the things I have read and learned? No! And precisely because I value my marriage is why this cannot happen. My husband needs to be able to trust me. How can he trust someone who practices deception on a daily basis? (Not to mention seems to struggle with the most basic concepts?)
Now, a wise woman will learn quickly the value of discretion and humility. If you are constantly showing off your knowledge, or bragging on your accomplishments, or always talking about how much better you are at something, of course your husband will begin to take issue with this. Pride is not what I am talking about here. The Bible says, about the Proverbs 31 woman, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom..." (verse 26) It also says in verse 31 that her own works will praise her. Pride or boasting is not becoming of a woman of God.
However, neither is false inability. Look at examples from God's Word: do you think Deborah dithered around, wringing her hands and saying, "Oh, dear, I just don't know what to do, Barak! You're so much stronger than me...you should just handle it however you see fit." Ummm, no. The Bible speaks of her wisdom. Oh, and she was married! (Judges 4:4) Do you think she hid her God-given wisdom from her husband? Not likely! He no doubt counted his blessings every day to have such a wise and Godly woman as his helpmeet!
There is an example of a woman in the Bible who did practice deceit to get what she wanted. Although, not for her husband's benefit. Delilah was obviously a smart girl who pretended to be something she wasn't to get Samson to cough up the secret of his strength. This should be a cautionary tale to those of you who use your "feminine wiles" to get what you want...her husband was destroyed by her hand. I'm sure her life didn't get better after that. She may have never loved Samson, but her selfish desire for wealth blinded her long before he was blinded by the Philistines. She may have even been destroyed when he pulled the temple down on the worshipers. Do you think she could have resisted an opportunity to gloat over him? It doesn't seem very likely looking at her lifestyle.
So, my encouragement is this: girls, if you are pretending to be something you are not to impress or get a guy's attention--STOP! If he is the one God wants in your life, he will love you for your strengths as much as your weaknesses. Don't base your relationship on a lie! You will be sowing seeds that will only bring a harvest of trouble later on. Ladies, I encourage you to be honest with your husbands. If you have an opinion, respectfully share it. Yes, he is the leader of your home, but what kind of follower are you if you see a situation that will lead to trouble, and say nothing? Then put all the blame back on him? I have seen this happen, and it is so much more shaming to a man. Don't worry ladies--your husband is an adult...he will be able to deal with your honest opinion much more than with your deceitful manipulations. Be careful of the message you are passing on to the next generation--are you teaching a young girl somewhere that a Christian marriage is based in deceit? Be a Titus 2 woman--a teacher of good things!
I hope you read part two of this post. Prayerfully consider how you are treating your husband...begin practicing honesty in your marriage. I guarantee that it will be healthier than one based in deceit! :)