Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A MASCULINE RELATIONSHIP WITH WOMEN”

Proverbs 31.3

Please turn to Proverbs 31 and stand for the reading of God’s Word. We begin reading at verse 1: “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

Verse 3 speaks to an extremely serious problem in Christendom. By Christendom, I refer to the world of people who consider themselves Christians, regardless of their actual beliefs and whether or not they are actually converted. One serious problem with Christendom is that it is increasingly effeminate. I do not think this is a serious problem among our church members, though we see evidence of this among some of the unsaved who have attended here, but a noticeable lack of masculinity is a problem that has reached the crisis stage in most denominations and churches. More and more and more of those men who claim to be Christians, and who attend church at least from time to time, are exhibiting fewer and fewer behavioral characteristics that are distinctively masculine, and are exhibiting more and more behavioral characteristics that are distinctively feminine. This reality was powerfully driven home to me on my recent missions trip to Thailand and Nepal. Rather than attempt to explain these characteristics to you in detail, let me at this time refer you to four sources that have arrived at the same conclusions that I have arrived at when I first delivered this sermon, twelve years ago.

First, the Barna Report. Based over in Oxnard, California, the annual Barna Report is the result of a poll that is conducted every year. In the report written in 2000 was the prediction that within the next twenty-five years Christianity will become so feminized, if present measurable trends continue, that the gospel ministry will be as much a female profession as nursing is today. Their words, not mine.

Next, Credenda Agenda. A very conservative Presbyterian periodical that was first introduced to me by church member, Credenda Agenda devoted an entire issue in 1999 to one facet of this problem, with one article decrying the lack of distinctive masculinity among pastors. That magazine issue went so far as to describe ministers as resembling neither men nor women in their conduct and deportment, but behaving like some third gender, halfway between the two. Sadly, I have to agree with that complaint.

Third, there is the book that I have mentioned on several occasions titled The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity. In that well researched book is documented the ever increasing tendency of church attendance to be lopsided, with a greater and greater percentage of those attending and performing key leadership roles being women. As well, the author cited evidence that showed that, more and more, the men who do attend church are less masculine in their behavior, more feminine in their behavior, than in past years. That is obviously not the case in our church.

Finally, if those sources do not convince you, let me read to you just a few of the workshop titles I was once invited to attend in Dallas: “Father-Hunger Among The Lost Generation,” “What To Do When A Husband Won’t Lead,” “Mentoring Strategies For Turning Boys Into Men,” “How To Raise Feminine Daughters,” “Teaching Manhood To Men,” “What To Do When A Wife Won’t Follow,” “Rediscovering Femininity And Modesty,” “Cultivating A Man-Friendly Church,” “How To Raise Masculine Sons.” That is just a partial listing of the titles, but from those titles, and the number of people who attended those workshops, it is clear that there were a number of pastors who were very, very concerned about this issue of masculinity in men, its effect on femininity in women, and how it impacts raising children in their churches.

Those of you who have sat under my ministry for any length of time are somewhat familiar with my conversion testimony. You have heard me voice the fears that I had as a young unsaved man. As an unsaved fellow, I was not at all impressed with Christianity. My estimation of Christian men, especially, was that they were all a bunch of sissies. I had good reason to come to such conclusions. My grandfather, who I idolized as a little boy, was a big, strong, loud, profane man who never read the Bible, who I never saw pray, who I never saw go to church, who never talked about God in my hearing. So, I never associated Christian manhood with the kind of big, strong, courageous, tough man I wanted to be when I grew up. On the other hand, and in contrast to my grandfather, I had two uncles, one who had been a lifelong preacher and one who served as a pastor very briefly, who were both portrayed to me as weak and effeminate men, causing me to want nothing to do with them and having no interest in being like them. I have since learned that my perceptions of them were very much distorted, but as a child, it affected my desires. As well, on those few occasions when our family did attend church, when I was a teen, we attended a church whose pastor I knew to be cheating on his wife. Therefore, overall, I imagined Christianity to be the surest way of divesting one’s self of manliness and integrity that I could imagine.

After coming under conviction and coming to Christ in March of 1974, the greatest problem that confronted me as a newborn babe in Christ was the dilemma of how I should go about becoming obedient in my newfound faith without becoming like the effeminate sissies I knew at work, who attended and conducted the Bible studies I thought I should go to. So, I was very perplexed. Being an assertive and aggressive male who loved and was faithful to his wife, was the ideal of manhood I sought to emulate in my grandfather. It was not until I attended a preacher’s meeting, where I heard two Tabasco sauce Texas preachers some months after being baptized and joining my church, that I could sigh a sigh of relief, realizing, by observing those two men, that it was possible to be a Christian and be masculine in the way I had imagined a man ought to be. Christianity was beginning to look like something fulfilling to me. Do you suppose I was the only fellow who thought that way? Was I the only teen who felt like that in church on those rare occasions our family attended? Was I the only young man who could not reconcile masculinity with Christianity? I don’t think so. I didn’t think so then. The literature that is being published these days convinces others as much as I have always been convinced.

Let me tell you something. There is a reason why more women attend church than men are. There is a reason why teenage boys stop going to church as soon as they can. It is a reason that is in addition to the natural tendency of a sinner to turn away from the things of God. Somehow and in some way, those boys and men have been convinced that they cannot be men, not real men anyway, and be religious. Many perceive interest in religion to be a threat to their masculinity. However, how is this notion reconciled with the fact that more men are involved in Islam than women are, more men are involved in Judaism than women, and an equal number of men and women are involved in eastern Christendom, such as the Russian, Greek and Armenian Orthodox Churches? Something has convinced men in the western world that religion is a danger and a threat to their masculinity. I am here to tell you that they are wrong. They are as wrong as wrong can be. The men in our auditorium long ago figured out that most men and the vast percentage of teenage boys are simply mistaken. While religion in the western world may very well be a threat to masculinity, such is not true of the Christian faith as it is found in the Bible or in this church. It is a fact that the vast majority of churches are increasingly effeminate. However, this is not the result of real Christianity. This is due to the encroachments of feminism into Christendom. However, the feminization of Christendom, and the feminization of more and more churches that bow to the pressure of political correctness and move away from Biblical norms for manhood and womanhood, does not mean Christianity, real Christianity, Bible Christianity, is actually a threat to any man’s masculinity.

The real problem, in my opinion, is twofold: First and foremost is the decisionism that leaves so many who have professed Christ to, in fact, be unregenerate. So, they are lost men even after they have been baptized and have become church members. Being unsaved, so very many men, and a large number of pastors should be included among their number, cannot understand the spiritual realities of manhood and masculinity because, being natural men, being unsaved, they do not understand the things of the Spirit of God. However, that is not the whole problem. Even under the ministries of truly converted pastors, there is a general absence of pointed and focused instruction from God’s Word on how to be a Christian man, how to be masculine, how to be manly, and how not to be feminine, effeminate, and womanly as a man. Such instruction becomes more and more needed with each passing year, what with the number of fatherless homes children are being raised in, and with the increasing number of effeminate men who are passing on to their sons the passive befuddlement that they exhibit as men who simply do not know how to be masculine, especially as they relate to women. Don’t you see? Here is the key to dealing with the problem of masculinity in men after the course has been properly set with regard to decisionism. Once a church knows how to deal with people about their salvation, which of course includes men, then that church must undertake to teach those men how to be masculine men. By masculinity, I am not talking about foolishly resorting to violence or adolescent demonstrations of bravado. I am referring to genuine manhood as it is portrayed in God’s Word. This is so needful, even in the lives of men who grew up with their dads in the home. I say this because this assault on men and this feminization of the church has been going on for so long in our country that real Christian masculinity has been missing even from families with a rich Christian heritage.

So, where do we start? To be honest, we started a long time ago here at Calvary Road Baptist Church. When I arrived as your pastor and announced to the congregation that this was going to be a man’s church, and when I saw that most of the women of this congregation eagerly backed me, for which I commend you ladies, I knew that we were well on our way to reestablishing the New Testament church as a place for growing men who were really men and women who were really women. That said, the Holy Spirit has provided for us a real key to showing our newer and younger men, and our boys, how to be masculine, particularly in your dealings with the women in your life. Understand that masculinity is something other than climbing mountains or going hunting, something other than shooting pool and fighting, something other than drinking and being a womanizer. We read our text once more, Proverbs 31.3: “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” I am speaking now only to men who are converted, who have direction and purpose in their lives, who are indwelt by the Spirit of the living God, who are committed to finding God’s will and actually doing it. This message is not directed to men who are pretenders, or who have some insane notion that real Christian manhood is possible apart from God’s grace and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Three main points I would like to develop:

First, LET US ADDRESS THE PROBLEM IN SOCIETY

Up to now, I have only mentioned to you fellows some of the symptoms found in our society. What I would like to do now is define the problem, the real problem, which has always been a problem for men to deal with in their dealings with women. Sir, the woman with whom you have to do, whether it be your wife, or your sister, or your mother, or the woman you are engaged to marry, has her own agenda. Presumably, you have your agenda. If you do not have an agenda for your life, you should. In any case, I promise you that each of the women with whom you have to do have an agenda. That is not the problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman having an agenda. The problem comes when that woman, whoever she may be, begins to tug at you in a complex variety of ways in an effort to fulfill her agenda.

Please do not ever become angry with that woman for seeking to fulfill her agenda by tugging at you in one way or another. Just understand that she will do that. So, rather than become angry with her, choose to be wise and dwell with her according to knowledge, giving honor to her, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered, First Peter 3.7.

I would remind you that the problem you are faced with is an ancient problem.

It was a problem for Adam with his wife Eve. He had an agenda that was given to him by God. Eve, on the other hand, had an agenda that was suggested to her by the serpent. The Fall occurred when Adam abandoned his agenda in favor of Eve’s agenda. I am not suggesting that Eve be blamed. Not at all. The responsibility was Adam’s because he abandoned his agenda, given to him by God, in favor of Eve’s, suggested to her by the serpent.

It was a problem for Abraham with his wife Sarah. He had an agenda set for him by God with a covenant and the promise of an heir. However, Sarah grew impatient with Abraham’s agenda and sought to advance her own agenda. How so? By suggesting to Abraham that he sire a child by Hagar. What did Abraham do? He abandoned his agenda in favor of Sarah’s agenda and Ishmael was born, giving rise to the tension between the Arabs and the Jews that troubles the world to this day. However, do not blame Sarah, for it was Abraham’s decision to abandon his agenda in favor of hers, making it entirely his responsibility. She did not make him do what he did. She only urged him to do it, and he decided to do as she urged.

It was a problem for Jacob and his wife Rachel. Already finding himself married to two women, sisters yet, Jacob was in a terrible fix. However, he further abandoned his agenda in favor of Rachel’s agenda when he took Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah and sired a son by her. Then he did as Rachel urged yet again. A vicious cycle was set up in his household, worse than it had been before, because he abandoned his agenda, faulty, as it already had become, in favor of his beloved Rachel’s agenda.

This problem showed itself yet again with Judah, the son of Jacob, and his daughter in law Tamar. Remember that Judah had two sons, one of whom married Tamar. Tamar’s first husband died without issue when God killed him. As well, God killed Judah’s other son, Onan, who was Tamar’s second husband. To pacify her, Judah then promised Tamar his third son, who was very young. However, over the course of time, when she saw that Judah was not going to fulfill his promise to give her yet a third son to marry and have children by, Tamar posed as a prostitute and sold herself to her unsuspecting father in law and became pregnant by him. No more clear case of a man abandoning his agenda in favor of a woman’s has ever been seen. She got what she wanted from him, with him suspecting absolutely nothing. It was great sin.

The fifth example I bring to your attention has to do with Samson and Delilah. He clearly had an agenda set for him by God. However inconsistently he was fulfilling his divinely appointed agenda, Delilah cleverly lured, enticed, and seduced him into abandoning his agenda in favor of hers. The result? The loss of God’s power on his life, the loss of his eyesight, enslavement by God’s enemies, and eventually his death. Do not blame Delilah. To be sure, she was an evil and deceitful woman. However, it was Samson’s choice to abandon his agenda in favor of hers when he continued to go in unto to her and tell her things she ought to have never known. The blame for the tragedy of his life is his and his alone.

What about David and Bathsheba? Did he abandon his agenda in favor of hers? It is obvious that he did abandon his agenda. He destroyed his credibility. He certainly gave God’s enemies occasion to blaspheme when his adultery and the murder of Bathsheba’s husband to conceal his adultery became known. Did the woman have an agenda? Oh, yes. The woman always has an agenda. “But David was the king, and his position and his power made it impossible for her to deny his desire.” Thank you, dear feminist. However, according to God’s Word she should have cried out, Deuteronomy 22.24. Thus, if she had been willing to die rather than be raped by David the damage to God’s name would have been less than occurred by saving her own skin. She should have died rather than let David take her. However, I do not blame her. I only show that she had an agenda, even if she did not in any way initiate the encounter with David. Her agenda? To save her life. Again, I do not blame her for that. All of the blame is David’s. All of it.

My final example of this problem that exists between a man’s agenda and a woman’s is the tragic example of Solomon and the many women in his life. Oh, how he succumbed to their wiles, to their charms, to their beauty, to their allure, to their enticements. It ruined him, didn’t it? How was Solomon ruined? By not adhering to the agenda that God had established for him, but succumbing to the individual and private agendas of hundreds of beautiful women.

Lest you think the outcome is always tragic when a conflict arises between the agenda of God’s man and the agenda of a woman, consider these examples: Joseph refused to alter his agenda so that Potiphar’s wife might fulfill hers, and God blessed him greatly. Moses refused to alter his agenda when his wife, Zipporah, was clearly displeased with him about the circumcision of their sons. However, he obeyed God and went on to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Moses also resisted the effort of his older sister Miriam to advance her agenda at his expense when she called attention to the fact that Moses’ wife was an Ethiopian, Numbers 12.1. Then there is the courageous example of King Asa. In First Kings 15.13, we are told that Asa removed his mother from being queen. How difficult that must have been for him. So, why did he do it? Her personal agenda was in conflict with his own. The premier examples in the Word of God, however, are those two occasions when Mary sought to impose her will on the Lord Jesus Christ. First at the wedding feast at Cana in John chapter two, and then in Matthew 12. I read from verse 47: “Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” For whatever reason, Mary sought to impose her will on the Lord Jesus Christ, but He would have none of it. Therefore, you see, this problem we have of women seeking to persuade a man to set aside his agenda in favor of hers is an old, old problem. Those godly men who set aside their agendas for the agendas of their women did so to their regret. Those godly men who resisted the persuasion of their women and held fast to their agendas did so to their advantage, and thereby pleased God. The Lord Jesus Christ set wonderful examples for us in this regard.

This ancient problem has been greatly exacerbated in our modern world by some factors I want to explain to you. This point, so critical to your understanding, could best be explained with visual aids, but I am unable to set before you what you need, so I will do my best with words alone. I want you to think, now, in terms of the relationship that exists between a man and a woman in different cultural contexts. Try to place yourself in several different contexts that I will describe to you, and imagine what it would be like for you as a man or a woman in that setting.

First, place yourself in a pre-Christian setting. Imagine yourself to be in Ireland or Scotland, in central Africa or India, in North or South America, in a civilization, perhaps even an advanced civilization, but one that is untouched by the gospel, such as I have recently seen. What would the relationship be between a man and his woman among the Aztecs, or the Incas, or in Timbuktu, among the Highlanders, or in some other setting such as these? Always and in every case, the man was thought in those settings to be superior to the woman, by virtue of his size, his strength, his aggressiveness, and his tendency toward violence. Is this not true? In a marriage, if you could really call such relationships marriages in those cultures, the husband was the lord and the wife was almost always chattel, or property. She was certainly considered to be inferior to him. So, what would happen if she openly opposed her man’s agenda? Could she succeed? Never, and he would oftentimes respond to her with violence.

Along comes the gospel and the converted husband or the converted wife finds that God’s will is for the functional relationship that existed previously to remain exactly the same in the home. He was still the leader of the home, providing direction and oversight, and she was still subordinate. The difference now being that instead of the husband being superior and the wife inferior, they are both equal in the sight of God, with the leader/follower relationship established by God for functional purposes. Still the leader, the man is now commanded in God’s Word to love his wife, to sacrifice for her, and to honor her. Still the follower, the wife is now commanded to fear the Lord and not her husband, and to submit to him as unto the Lord. This was the way it was in our country when the gospel strongly influenced our culture.

However, we now live in a post-Christian civilization. As the Bible is removed from our culture and from society’s memory, only one vestige of Christianity is for now being left behind; the equality of women in the sight of God. In no other religion ever seen on earth, and only in cultures affected and influenced by Christianity, have women enjoyed equality with men as human beings. However, as the Bible is withdrawn from its former place of prominence, our society’s willingness to continue implementing God’s functional plan of men leading and women following their men has been cast aside. Now you have men and women valued as equals, but they are also now struggling for functional dominance by means of legislation, by means of lawsuits, and by means of the imposition of cultural restrictions on men. Please understand that I am not opposed to equal pay for equal work, or equal opportunity for advancement in the work place, or the rightness of those principles. I speak here only of the home and of social relationships between men and women. However, for how long do you think this struggle for functional dominance will continue without a general societal resolution of the conflict? Do you honestly think a society can survive without a generally accepted norm, but requiring that each man and woman will engage in their personal conflict to resolve who will be the leader and who will be the follower in the home? Such a society has never in the history of mankind existed. Imagine getting into a car and driving, but with each person you meet having to decide whether to pass on the left or the right, because society has decided there will be no convention, no societal pattern to follow. People would be nervous wrecks, and worse, if each highway encounter required the establishing of an entirely new set of ground rules for driving interaction. You see, I am speaking of something like that, only more complex, and more important.

I ask how long you think a society can function without having an agreed upon norm for relations between husbands and wives, because with the passing of time we will move from a post-Christian society to a genuinely neo-pagan society and culture, just as things were before Christianity arrived on the scene. There will come a time when it will no longer be taken for granted that men and women are equal in the eyes of God, for God will have long since been cast aside by society. Things will once again be as they were in pre-Christian times. What do you think will happen between men and women when men and women have not only discarded the notion that men should be the functional leaders in the home, but also when men have forgotten about the notion of women being their equals? Because it was by means of the gospel’s advance that the notion that men and women were equal in the sight of God was introduced. What happens when you have cast God aside? How will men and women relate to each other when there is no thought given to who is equal to whom in the sight of God, and the only thing a man notices is someone’s size, strength, and capacity for violence? We are not there yet. However, we are seeing the first glimpses of what it will be like when we study the relationships that exist between boys and girls in street gangs, or when men look at pornography, using women only for gratification. Is there any semblance of equality between men and women in those situations? There is none whatsoever.

We now live in post-Christian America. There is an undeniable struggle taking place between men and women for dominance in our culture. Now, before we degenerate into a brutal culture of violence toward women and wholesale abuse, there are some strange and unique consequences to be seen. This struggle for leadership between men and women, in our society of equality without a functional hierarchy, has produced some rather unique specimens that I personally cannot imagine existing at any other time in history or in any other culture. In some cases, you see sissy boys who prefer the company of girls to boys their own age. These fellows will strongly protest that they are sissy boys. However, such preference of girls instead of boys is something seen in no other kinds of cultures. Boys with powerfully masculine personalities do not usually exhibit such preferences for girls over boys. Rather, they tend to have rather weak and effeminate personalities. Are these candidates for homosexuality? Not always. Almost certainly not usually. However, the likelihood increases as this conflict between men and women continues and boys become more and more confused about their proper role in relationship to women. In other cases (and there will be considerable overlap in the examples I mention to you) there will be a surprising amount of aggressiveness by girls. This will be seen by their tactics of bullying their boyfriends and bossing them around. It used to be a given among youth workers that when you saw a guy who allowed himself to be pushed around by a girl it was because he was having sex with her and he would put up with her nonsense so he could get sex from her. However, more and more you will find it is just because boys are becoming more and more passive in the face of more aggressive behavior by girls. A third type of case is the momma’s boy, who just will not grow up. He may or may not be promiscuous. The key to understanding him lies not in his promiscuity but in his relationship to his mommy. He wants to be his mommy’s boy and he does not want to become what he thinks a man is. You may remember that singer Ricky Nelson was this way. When he was more than forty years old, he was still saying that he did not want to grow up. Elvis Presley was this way. Promiscuous in the extreme, Elvis was, nevertheless, a real momma’s boy. Frank Sinatra was also a real momma’s boy, if you will remember. A fourth characteristic typical of our time in history is the man who is both passive and promiscuous. As I said, there is considerable overlap with some of these. This is the man who seems to be wildly successful with women. Oftentimes not aggressive at all, he is frequently quiet and soft-spoken . . . and patient. He will do whatever he has to do, put up with whatever he has to put up with, remain as silent as he has to for as long as he has to, for only one purpose. What he wants is to have sex with that woman, and he will have sex with her, because she will have sex with a man who is passive in return for her being aggressive in their social relationship. Finally, we have the befuddled man or the stubborn man. The befuddled fellow and the stubborn fellow are really so very much alike. Neither one is a leader in his home. The one reacts to difficulties and confusion by exhibiting befuddlement, waiting for someone else to step up and make a decision, while the other guy goes ahead and just shuts down by making some stupid pronouncement and then being stubborn in his unwillingness to deal with reality. In both cases, men who are like computers whose hard drives have locked up. I submit to you that each of these are examples that are the direct result of the confusion that exists in a society, in a culture, when people have turned their back on the functional relationship between men and women that God has established. In our society, people remember only the basic equality of the two sexes, while vigorously denying that there is or should be a divinely ordained functional hierarchy. Thus, they engage in a struggle for supremacy, for dominance. Or, and this is more likely, the woman engages in this struggle while the confused man, who does not want to be thought of as primitive or unkind in the face of withering opposition from his culture, simply refuses to assert himself as a masculine man and just gives up.

I realize that these examples are oversimplifications. However, I cite them to provide for you some composite personalities that result from men having no idea what they should do, or how they should behave, when dealing with the women in their lives. You should see the frustration of some of these guys. They plead with me in my office. “What should I do now? How am I supposed to act? What’s expected of me?” All of this in reference to their relationships with the women in their lives.

LET US NOW ADDRESS THE PROHIBITION IN SCRIPTURE WHICH DIRECTLY ADDRESSES THIS PROBLEM IN OUR SOCIETY

Our text reads, “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

I want you to notice two things about this verse:

      First, I want you to notice the parallelism of this prohibition. Look at the parallelism so typical in Hebrew poetry, to understand what is communicated here.

“Give not thy strength      unto women

          nor thy ways          to that which destroyeth kings.”

The Hebrew word translated “give” means to “bestow,” or to make a gift of something. In other words, this reference to something is entirely up to the discretion of a man. What is being forbidden simply cannot happen unless and until a man decides that it will happen. Very interesting. What is “strength?” It is virility. It is power. In addition, it is really contrasted with the woman here, since the word for “woman,” means the soft one, the delicate one. Therefore, the prohibition is “Do not surrender your strength to a woman.” “Do not turn over your virility to a woman.” That is just the first half of the verse. The verb “give” is only used once, but it applies to both parts of the parallel. “Nor thy ways.” “Ways” translates a word that refers to your undertakings, your course of life, and your actions. This word fits nicely into my use of the word “agenda,” earlier on in this message. What are you not to give your undertakings, your course of life, your actions, to? To “that which destroyeth kings.” If you look back, you see a parallel drawn between that which destroyeth kings and women. Did not women destroy Solomon, who wrote most of Proverbs, though not this portion?

Having seen the parallel, let us take notice now of the principles of the prohibition. When you look back from the end of Proverbs 31.3, you see that that which destroyeth kings is women. When you look forward to the next verse, you see something else which destroyeth kings; wine. May I suggest to you that women and wine can have similar effects on kings, on princes, on husbands, on men who permit such effects by giving themselves over to them? If you understand that a man’s strength, his virility, is likened here to his direction in life, to his actions of life, to his undertakings, to his agenda and the execution of his agenda, if you will, then I think you understand what Lemuel’s mother was teaching her son so that he might be a good man, a good husband, and a good king. Men, in your dealings with the women in your life (and I speak to men and not boys), there are prerogatives you never surrender to a women. There is a freedom of decision and a freedom of action that you never allow any woman to talk you out of. She can only talk you out of it, seduce you out of it, persuade you out of it, because she cannot take it from you without your passive acquiescence. Consider what we have in this verse. How strange, and how marvelous. We see here that a woman, this king’s mother, taught him to never, ever, under any circumstances, surrender control, or leadership, or initiative, or decision-making prerogatives to his wife, or to any woman for that matter. Good Lord, what would happen in the United States of America if Christian men stopped giving their strength to women, and if they stopped giving their ways to that which destroyeth kings? Why should a man stop allowing his wife boss him, no longer take orders from the girl he likes, quit surrendering his vitality to females because he is a wimp? Because that woman, if you are not careful, will have the same effect on you that wine has on a man. What effect does wine have on a man? A woman, who has enticed you to forsake your agenda for hers, like wine, has caused you to forget the law and pervert judgment, verse 5. Oh, she makes you feel good, as liquor does to a man who is about to die or a man who is depressed, because it is an anesthetic, a drug, verse 6. Like liquor, she causes you to forget, verse 7. For an unsaved man it is bad enough. He does not really have a spiritual agenda. He does not intend to serve God. He just lives from day to day, going to work and going home, seeking to accomplish and fulfill his fleshly agenda. However, the Christian man’s life is more important, is more significant. Therefore, how devastating it would be for that man to surrender his agenda to a woman, any woman, no matter how godly she may be thought to be. “Why is it destructive for a man to give his strength to a woman, pastor?” Because his strength, his virility, his agenda is his to fulfill. His “ways” are his ways. They are his undertakings, his actions, and his course of life, not hers. You see, God’s plan is for the Christian man to be the leader in his home, and once he has reached adulthood he is to never, ever, surrender that leadership position to a woman. Never.

I think of George Washington, the father of our country. He was better thought of than Benjamin Franklin, who was much brighter, a genius really, but who gave his strength to women, while Washington did not. Abraham Lincoln did not give his strength to women, though his wife would have crushed a lesser man. Though a flawed president, Richard Nixon achieved some great things because he did not give his strength to women, and look what kind of impressive daughters he raised. Ronald Reagan, who did give his strength to his wife, was a good president, but not a great one, but failed as a father. Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Bill Clinton all gave their strength to women, either their wives or to other women. Even these great men, who gave not their strength to women, had no spiritual agenda. They had no spiritual direction to speak of. No man has real spiritual strength to accomplish anything for the cause of Christ so long as he rejects Christ and despises Him.

Despite no support or great opposition, both George Whitefield and John Wesley were giants for God. Having a wife who did her dead level best to oppose his ministry, Wesley nevertheless succeeded. I am given to understand that Whitefield’s wife gave him little support. William Carey succeeded in India, despite a wife who went mad. How so? How could those men do what they did, by God’s grace? In part, because they gave not their strength to women. They wavered from their divinely appointed agenda not one bit, despite the problems associated with their wives. However, so many men have no idea how to pull this off. How are they to learn? Let us not forget that they will be clueless unless they know Christ. Oh, a guy can be the strong leader in his home even if he is lost. He can even have an agenda to fulfill. We have seen interesting examples of men who succeeded wildly, in part, because they did not give their strength to women. However, our concern is how a Christian man is to pull this off? How do you grow a lad into this kind of man? How does a man get transformed into this kind of man?

WE FINALLY COME TO THE PROVISION FOR OBEDIENCE

While it is obvious that the responsibility is primarily mine to train Christian men to obey God, and to teach them, provoke them, encourage them, rebuke them, exhort them to never give your strength to women, there are other means by which this proper relationship to women should be taught to men and to boys.

Throughout childhood, you must train a boy for this time in his life. The primary instructor in the boy’s life in this regard is, or should ideally be, his father. His father performs this function by both direct instruction and the example of his life, First Thessalonians 2.10-11: “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.” Dad should teach that boy how to walk like a man, talk like a man, posture his body like a man, develop a personality befitting a man. He should show by his example and by his instructions how a man relates to the women in his life. If he sees his boy hanging around girls all the time, catering to females all the time, he should rebuke him, caution him, and warn him that he is setting himself up to give his strength to women and that if he does it could be his ruin. When a man watches dirty movies, looks at dirty pictures, or is unfaithful to the boy’s mother? That man, too, is giving his strength to women. Men who give their strength to women are losers who end up training their sons to be losers, as well. Though dad is the primary instructor of the boy, mom obviously plays a tremendously important role also. Women can warn their sons about women such as men cannot. Mom ought to warn her son about giving his strength to women, as we saw in Proverbs 31.3. Notice, also, the mother’s role spelled out in Proverbs 6.25-28: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 0 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” You see, your mother’s law is supposed to shed light on the subject, to illuminate your understanding. What a stupid son who does not listen to his mother’s warnings about a woman. Mom may see things about that woman that her boy will not see, until it is too late. Oh, for the mother who trains her boy not to be a sissy, to be strong, to be masculine, and to not give away his strength to any woman; not even, when he is grown, to her.

There seems to come a time in a boy’s life when he finds listening to his mother more and more difficult. As he begins to enter young manhood he needs to exercise wisdom on his own, and there are warnings from God’s Word that he must heed if he is to avoid giving his strength to any woman. Proverbs 7.1-27:

1      My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

2      Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

3      Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

4      Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

5      That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

6      For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,

7      And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,

8      Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

9      In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

10     And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

11     (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

12     Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

13     So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,

14     I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.

15     Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.

16     I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.

17     I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

18     Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.

19     For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:

20     He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

21     With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

22     He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

23     Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

24     Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.

25     Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

26     For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.

27     Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

Second Timothy 2.22: “Flee also youthful lusts.”

First Corinthians 6.18: “Flee fornication.”

First Thessalonians 5.22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Then, finally, the young man marries. If he marries well he will marry a woman committed to not seeking the fulfillment of her agenda at the expense of his. If he marries well, he will marry a woman who knows that God’s will is for her agenda to be the fulfillment of his agenda then hers, not hers at the expense of his. What kind of wife is that? Read Proverbs 31.4-9:

4      It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

5      Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

6      Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

7      Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

8      Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

9      Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Liquor and the wrong kind of woman are compared in their effect on a man. In fact, whenever you see booze in Proverbs you see it associated with the wrong kind of woman. Not only are loose women always around where there is booze, but liquor and the wrong kind of woman always have the same kind of effect on a man. However, not all women are like liquor. Not all women try to boss their men around. Not all women strive to be manipulative with the men in their lives. Not all women take advantage of a passive husband by whirling around him and running every feature of his life by default. There is one kind of woman who builds up her man, who wifes him instead of mothering him, who elevates his status in the eyes of other men, who is busy and industrious and accomplishes much, but not at his expense. What kind of woman is that? It is the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.10-31:

10     Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11     The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12     She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13     She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14     She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15     She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16     She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17     She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18     She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19     She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20     She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21     She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22     She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23     Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24     She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25     Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26     She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

27     She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28     Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29     Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30     Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

As I read over this portion of scripture, one phrase literally jumps off the page at me. Why? Because it is the phrase that shows, in my estimation, whether or not the wife has been given her husband’s strength, whether or not she is fulfilling her own agenda or he is fulfilling his. As you consider the passage, you will see that the proper relationship between a husband and a wife should not stifle her creativity, her entrepreneurial energies, or her genius. Properly occupying her role relative to her husband causes her to blossom like a beautiful flower, not shrivel and die. However, if that man is not giving his strength to her, if she is not sapping him of his strength, of his virility as a man, how is that best told? How is that seen? Verse 23: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” Your friends based on the conduct of your wife will judge Sir, your success as a man. If you are married to a marvelous Christian woman, and if you do not give your strength to her, and if you will not allow her to set your course of life, and if you will not abandon your agenda for hers on those rare occasions when she seeks to advance her agenda at the expense of yours (she is human, after all), then you will be judged well and highly esteemed. Understand that the responsibility for being a masculine man and husband is all yours, sir. No woman can take your strength from you. You have to give it to her. So, do your wife a favor and commit yourself to denying her your strength, so she will have the liberty to live her life with you as God would have her to, thereby becoming a virtuous woman. Men, it is up to you. It is your strength to give to a woman, not hers to take. What kind of a man are you? It will be seen by your relationships with the women in your life.

Want to know what is amazing? Some men are never as manly as when they get mad at the preacher for urging them to be manly. However, never is a woman so sheltered, so protected, so free to be who God wants her to be, as when she is married to a man who will not give to her his strength and will actually function like a man. So many men are afraid to come to church, afraid to consider the claims of Christ, because they envision themselves being feminized, made into wimps, and turned into glorified sissies. No wonder, when you look at the average pastor and the average man in the average church. Or when you see how few men there are for the woman in the church.

How little do those unsaved men understand that the very opposite is true. As I discovered to my everlasting delight about 37 years ago, the only man who is fully a man is a Christian man. Oh, there are real men who are not Christian men, but they are not fully men. There is something missing from their masculinity. All other men are either wimps and weenies, like little kids who are afraid to take the lead in their homes and insist on acting like overgrown children, or bullies and thugs who insist on being the boss but who have no capacity for sacrifice, no capacity for moral courage, no capacity for spiritual direction in their lives.

There is, thankfully, wide variation in God’s plan for men’s personalities in the Christian life. There can be quiet men and loud men, confident men and even timid men, strong men and weak men, articulate men and inarticulate men. However, there is no room in Christianity for a man who will not lead his wife, who will not lead his family, who surrenders his agenda to any woman. That, my friends, is intolerable. Christian man? Find out what God wants of you. Establish an agenda for your life, a course, a direction. It will be connected to this church, I guarantee you. That done, expend yourself fulfilling your God-given agenda, allowing no lovely woman in your life, whether it be wife or mom or daughter or sister, to distract you from the fulfillment of that agenda.

“But where do I go, pastor? What shall I do?” Follow me as I follow Christ, and do what I show you in God’s Word that He would have you to do. Get that down okay and you will do all right as a man, as a masculine man, so different from the men of this world or the men in most churches. “But I know guys who do not like it here, pastor.” Yes, and, sad to say, they are guys who seem so frequently to fall far short in this matter of not giving their strength to women. Oh, how good we are for those guys, if only they will commit to letting us show them how not to give their strength to women.



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