"A MASCULINE RELATIONSHIP WITH WOMEN"

Proverbs 31.3

INTRODUCTION:

1. 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."

2. This verse 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 likely a serious problem in your Church, but a noticeable lack of masculinity is a problem that has reached the crisis stage in most denominations and Churches.

3. 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.

4. Rather than explain these characteristics to you in detail, let me at this time refer you to four sources which have arrived at the same conclusions that I have.

5. 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 that report 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.

6. Next, Credenda Agenda. A very conservative Presbyterian periodical that was first introduced to me by Gary Isenberger, Credenda Agenda devoted an entire issue not long ago to one facet of this problem, with one article decrying the lack of distinctive masculinity among pastors. That magazine 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. And, sad to say, I agree with that complaint.

7. Third, there is a book I read not too long ago, 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 which 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.

8. Finally, if those sources don't convince you, let me read to you just a few of the workshop titles I was recently invited to attend in Dallas about six months ago: "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."

9. And that's just a partial listing of the titles. But from those titles, and the number of people who will attend those workshops, it is clear that there are a number of pastors who are 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.

10. Folks, 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. And 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. 

11. 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 have two uncles on the other side of the family, one who is now a retired preacher, and the other who was a preacher for a brief period of time, who both struck me as weak and effeminate men that I wanted no part of and had no interest in being like.

12. As well, on those few occasions when we did attend Church, when I was a teen, we attended a Church whose pastor I knew to be cheating on his wife. So, all in all, I imagined Christianity to be the surest way of divesting one's self of manliness and integrity that I could imagine.

13. 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 sissy Christians 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.

14. It wasn't 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. Now Christianity was starting to look like something fulfilling to me.

15. 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. And the literature that's being published these days now serves to convince others as much as I've always been convinced.

16. Let me tell you something. There is a reason why more women attend Church than men. There is a reason why teenage boys stop going to Church as soon as they can. And it's a reason that's in addition to the natural tendency of a sinner to turn away from the things of God. 

17. Somehow and in some way those boys and men have been convinced that they can't be men, not real men anyway, and be religious. Many perceive interest in religion to be a threat to their masculinity. But how is this notion reconciled with the fact that more men are involved in Islam than women, 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. 

18. I'm here to tell you that they are wrong. They are as wrong as wrong can be. And there are some men here who I think 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, I suspect, in this Church.

19. It's a fact that the vast majority of Churches are increasingly effeminate. But this is not the result of real Christianity. I think this is due to the encroachments of feminism into Christendom. But 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.

20. The real problem, in my opinion, is twofold: First and foremost is this decisionism which leaves so many who have professed Christ to, in fact, be unregenerate. So many men 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.

21. But that's 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. And I think we pastors need to remedy the problem.

22. 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.

23. And don't you see? Here is the key to dealing with the problem of masculinity in men. Once a Church knows how to effectively 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. And by masculinity I am not talking about foolishly resorting to violence or adolescent demonstrations of bravado. I'm referring to genuine manhood as it is portrayed in God's Word.

24. And 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 the 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.

25. So, where do you start as a Church? A long time ago, when I arrived as the pastor of my Church and announced to the congregation that this was going to be a man's Church, and when I saw that the women of this congregation eagerly backed me, I knew that we were well on our way to reestablishing our New Testament Church as a place for growing men who were really men and women who were really women.

26. That said, the Holy Spirit provided for us a real key to showing our newer and younger men, and our boys, how to be masculine, particularly in their dealings with the women in their lives. I think you will find this key to be equally enlightening. Just 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.

27. Let's read our text again, 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 your 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.

28. Three main points I'd like to develop.

1A. 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 don't have an agenda for your life you should. But in any case, I promise you that each of the women with whom you have to do has an agenda. That's 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.

Now, please do not ever get 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.

1B. I Would Remind You That This Problem You Are Faced With Is An Ancient Problem

1C. 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. Now, 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.

2C. 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. But 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 and Ishmael was born, giving rise to the tension between the Arabs and the Jews that troubles the world to this day. But 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.

3C. 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. But 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. And 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.

4C. 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. But Tamar's husband died without issue when God killed him. As well, God killed Judah's other son, Onan. To pacify her, Judah then promised her his third son, who was very young. But 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. And it was great sin.

5C. 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. And however inconsistently he was fulfilling his divinely appointed agenda, Delilah cleverly lured and 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. But don't blame Delilah. To be sure, she was an evil and deceitful woman. But 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. Amen? The blame for the tragedy of his life is his and his alone.

6C. 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. But did she have an agenda? Oh, yes. "But David was the king, and his position and his power made it impossible for her to deny his desire." Thank you, dear feminist. But according to God's Word she should have cried out, Deuteronomy 22.24. And 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. But 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. But I do not blame her for that. All of the blame is David's. All of it.

7C. 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. And 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 agenda of hundreds of beautiful women.

8C. Now, 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. 

9C. Moses refused to alter his agenda when his wife, Zipporah, was clearly displeased with him concerning the circumcision of his sons. But he obeyed God and went on to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

10C. 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.

11C. 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.

12C. 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, and then in Matthew 12. Let me read the passage: "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.

13C. So you see, this problem we have of women seeking to persuade men to set aside their agendas 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. And the Lord Jesus Christ set wonderful examples for us in this regard. 

2B. But 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.

1C. First, place yourself in a pre-Christian setting. 

1D. Imagine yourself to be somewhere in North or South America long ago, in a civilization, perhaps even an advanced civilization, but one that is untouched by the Gospel. What would the relationship be between a man and his woman among the Aztecs, or the Incas, 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?

2D. 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.

2C. Along comes the Gospel and the Christianized husband or the Christianized wife finds that God's will is for the functional relationship that existed previously to remain exactly the same in the home. 

1D. 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.

2D. 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. And this was the way it was in the thirteen colonies in our country when the Gospel strongly influenced early American culture.

3C. But we now live in a post-Christian world. 

1D. 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. 

2D. But as the Bible is removed, our society's willingness to continue implementing God's functional plan of men leading and women following their men has been cast aside. So, now you have men and women valued as equals, but they are also now struggling for functional dominance by means of new laws, by means of law suits, and by means of the imposition of cultural restrictions on men.

3D. 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. 

4D. But for how long do you think this struggle for functional dominance will continue without the conflict being resolved? Do you honestly think our society can survive without some guidelines? For now, each man and woman in a family engage in their private personal conflict to resolve who will be the leader and who will be the follower in the home. Such an unstable society has never in the history of mankind existed.

5D. Imagine getting into a car and driving, but with each person you meet on the street having to decide whether to pass on the left or the right, because society has decided there will be no convention, no general pattern to follow. My friends, people would be nervous wrecks, and worse, if each highway encounter, each car you met on the street, required that you establish 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.

4C. 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.

1D. And 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.

2D. So, what happens when they 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 size, strength, and capacity for violence? 

3D. My friends, we're not there yet. But 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. 

5C. We now live in post-Christian America. There is an undeniable struggle taking place between men and women for dominance in our culture. And 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 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.

1D. In some cases you see sissy boys who prefer the company of girls to boys their own age. Now, these fellows will strongly protest that they are sissy boys. But such preference of girls instead of boys is something seen in no other kinds of cultures. And such preferences for girls over boys is not usually exhibited by boys with powerfully masculine personalties. Rather, they tend to have rather weak and effeminate personalities. Are these candidates for homosexuality? Not always. Almost certainly not usually. But 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.

2D. In other cases (and there will be considerable overlap in these examples I mention to you) there will be a surprising amount of aggressiveness by girls. And this will be seen by their tactics of bullying their boyfriends and bossing them around. Now, 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. But more and more you will find it's just because boys are becoming more and more passive in the face of more aggressive behavior by girls. 

3D. A third type of case is the momma's boy, who just won't grow up. Now, he may or may not be promiscuous. But 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 doesn't want to become what he thinks a man is. Folks, Ricky Nelson was this way. When he was more than forty years old he was still saying that he didn't 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.

4D. 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. But 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 wants 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.

5D. And then, 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. But 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. But in both cases they are men who are like computers whose hard drives have locked up.

6D. 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. So 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 doesn't 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.

6C. Now, I realize that these examples are oversimplifications. But 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. And 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?" And all of this in reference to their relationships with the women in their lives.

2A. 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.

1B. First, I Want You To Notice The Parallelism Of This Prohibition

1C. Let me give you a handout to enable you to see the parallelism so typical in Hebrew poetry, and which helps us to understand what is communicated here.

"Give not thy strength unto women nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings."

2C. The Hebrew word translated "give" means to "bestow," or to make a gift of something. In other words, this is a reference to something that 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.

3C. What is "strength?" It's virility. It's power. And it's really contrasted with the woman here, since the word for "woman," means the soft one, the delicate one. So, the prohibition is "Do not surrender your strength to a woman." "Do not turn over your virility to a woman." "Do not get soft and let her get hard."

4C. But that's 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, your actions. This word fits nicely into my use of the word "agenda," earlier on in this message.

5C. 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. And did not women destroy Solomon, who wrote most of Proverbs, though not this portion?

2B. Having Seen The Parallel, Let Us Take Notice Now Of The Principles Of The Prohibition

1C. 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?

2C. 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 and a good husband and a good king.

3C. 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. And 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.

4C. 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.

5C. Good Lord, what would happen in the United States of America if so-called Christian men stopped giving their strength to women, and if they stopped giving their ways to that which destroyeth kings?

6C. And 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's a wimp? Because that woman, if you are not careful, will have the same effect on you that wine has on a man. And what effect does wine have on a man? 

7C. 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, like liquor does to a man who is about to die or a man who is depressed, because it's an anesthetic, a drug., verse 6. Like liquor, she causes you to forget, verse 7.

8C. Now, for an unsaved man it's bad enough. He doesn't really have a spiritual agenda. He has no intentions of serving God. He just lives from day to day, going to work and going home, seeking to accomplish and fulfill his fleshly agenda. But the Christian man's life is more important, is more significant. So, 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.

9C. "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, 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.

10C. I think of George Washington, the father of our country. He was more well 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 daughters he raised. While Ronald Reagan, who did give his strength to his wife, was a good president, but not a great one, who failed as a father. Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton all gave their strength to women, either their wives or to other women. But Churchill did not, and he was a towering figure. 

11C. But even these great men, who gave not their strength to women, had no spiritual agenda. They had no spiritual direction to speak of. And no man has real spiritual strength to accomplish anything for the cause of Christ so long as he rejects Christ and despises Him.

12C. But 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. And Carey succeeded in India, despite a wife who went mad. How so? How could they do it? 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.

13C. But 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. And he can have an agenda to fulfill. And we have seen interesting examples of men who succeeded wildly, in part, because they did not give their strength to women. But 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?

3A. WE FINALLY COME TO THE PROVISION FOR OBEDIENCE

While it is obvious that the responsibility 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, is your pastor's, there are other means by which this proper relationship to women should be taught to men and to boys.

1B. Throughout Childhood You Must Train A Boy For This Time In His Life

1C. The primary instructor in the boy's life in this regard is, or should ideally be, his father. And 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."

1D. 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. And he should show by his example and by his instructions how a man relates to the women in his life.

2D. If he sees his boy hanging around girls all the time, catering to females all the time, he should rebuke him and 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.

3D. And when a man watches dirty movies, or 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.

2C. 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. And mom ought to warn her son about giving his strength to women, as we saw in Proverbs 31.3.

1D. 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. 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?"

2D. You see, your mother's law is supposed to shed light on the subject, to illuminate your understanding. What a stupid son who won't listen to his mother's warnings about a woman. Mom sees things about women that her boy won't see, until it's 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.

2B. 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.

1C. Proverbs 7.1-27 [Read]

2C. Second Timothy 2.22: "Flee also youthful lusts."

3C. First Corinthians 6.18: "Flee fornication."

4C. First Thessalonians 5.22: "Abstain from all appearance of evil."

3B. Then, Finally, The Young Man Marries. Now, 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? 

1C. Notice that in Proverbs 31.4-9 liquor and the wrong kind of woman are compared in their effect on a man. As a matter of 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.

2C. But not all women are like liquor. Not all women boss their boyfriends 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.

3C. 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's the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.10-31 [Read].

4C. As I read over this portion of Scripture, there is one phrase that literally jumps off the page at me. Why? Because this is the phrase that shows, in my estimation, whether or not the woman has been given her husband's strength, whether or not she is fulfilling her own agenda or he is fulfilling his.

5C. As you read you will see that the proper relationship between a husband and a wife should not stifle her creativity, or 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.

6C. But 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."

7C. Sir, your success as a man will be judged by your friends based on the conduct of your wife. 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.

8C. Now, 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.

9C. Men, it's up to you. It's 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.

CONCLUSION:

1. Want to know what's amazing? Some men are never so manly as when they get mad at the preacher for urging them to be manly. But 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.

2. 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, turned into glorified sissies. And 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.

3. How little do those unsaved men understand that the very opposite is true. As I discovered to my everlasting delight about 26 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.

4. 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.

5. 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. But 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.

6. Christian man? Find out what God wants of you. Establish an agenda for your life, a course, a direction. And 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.

7. "But where do I go, pastor? What shall I do?" Follow your pastor as he follows Christ, and do what he shows you in God's Word what 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.


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