The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, They stay in the strongholds; Their strength is exhausted, They are becoming like women; Their dwelling places are set on fire, The bars of her gates are broken.- Jeremiah 51:30
“You fight like a girl.” “Stop acting like a woman” “The effeminate will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The scripture above is an insult to the Babylonian army. Their strength is weak and they are fighting like a girl. They are becoming like women. This is an insult to the mighty men. But is it an insult to women as well? Should women be offended when a man tells another man to stop acting like a woman.
The temptation is to think that this is sexist or to think that this is demeaning to women. But the scriptures are the word of God, the God who created both male and female and called them very good. So no, this is not an insult to women. And here is the reason why?
God made men and women with a common purpose, to love God and love their neighbor. Yet he gave them different ways to carry out this same purpose. That is he gave them different traits that would enable them to love in ways that are uniquely male or uniquely female. Men are by nature bigger, stronger, more apt to think in terms of cold facts and reason, and even rougher skin. I know someone will point to an exception here or there where a woman is bigger than a man. But we are speaking in generalities which are true. Women by nature have softer skin, bodies designed less for fighting and more for giving-life, and are more emotionally intelligent, that is they often think more in terms of relationships. All of these traits in men are meant to be used to love God and neighbor in particular by leading their homes, churches, and states, protecting those underneath their charge, and fighting the enemies of God both spiritually and at times physically. They are to use their strength, their hardness, their bodies and minds for others. Women also too are to use their design for love of God and love of others. They do this by giving-life, being nurturing, strengthening relationships, and beautifying things around them. What is often our strengths are often our weaknesses. A woman’s softeness is a weakness when it comes to fighting and other things that a man is supposed to be equipped for. Its not morally wrong for a woman to not be as strong as a man. Nor is it really a deficiency because her weakness is what enables her to be soft and nurturing. All of this is good and part of God’s design.
But when a man refuses to live up to his duty and starts taking on feminine traits, he is rejecting God’s design for him. Actually it is a bit of a misnomer to say a man takes on feminine traits. Because a man cannever be a woman he cannever truly take on femininity. But he can attempt to mimic it. He can be soft, focused on the emotional, and ect. But when we mimics these traits, he is distorting the feminine. He is distorting because he is trying to take on something not given to him and he is doing so not in order to love God and love others as he was created to do. A man who is effeminate is distorting femininity for his own self interests and lusts. It’s a mockery of femininity. It’s a parody. It’s a gross distortion. The same would go for a woman who attempts to take on masculine traits. A butch woman takes on these traits as a distortion. She most often does it for her own self-interests and self-preservation.
Now bringing this all back around to when the bible says that these men are becoming like women. It is simply saying that they have become weak in such a way that unlike men who are made for war, these men are acting more like women who are not designed for war. Its an insult for sure to the men. No man wants to be called a woman, because he was not made a woman. He was made a man and to be called a woman is to say that he isn’t capable of being what he has been created for. It’s a shame to him. On the flip side, to call a woman a man is of the same kind of insult. To say she is manly, is to say that she has left behind her created calling and isn’t capable of doing what she was created for. It is an insult that stings because God designed us to want to be what he made us.
But none of this is an insult to women. Its not an insult to a woman to say she can’t fight in a war as a soldier anymore than it would be insult to the owner of a nice porcelain coffee cup to say that they shouldn’t use that as a hammer. No godly woman would want to be a soldier.
Proverbs 15:1-4 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
As you read through the book of proverbs, there are several themes that appear over and over again. You can see one theme take shape in the four verses above. The book of proverbs teaches us that a wise person diligently seeks wisdom and as they grow in wisdom, wisdom will flow from them. Wisdom will fill their heart and then flow outwardly through their speech. In other words, a wise person will guard their speech. Their speech will be like a tree of life. Whereas the fool in the book of proverbs loves to spout off about what they don’t know and uses their words carelessly or harmfully. This same theme is picked up in what is often called the Proverbs of the New Testament, James 1: 19-20 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
There is much to say about how this applies to you specifically as women. What immediately may come to mind is how the scriptures say that godly women have a chaste and respectful demeanor with their husbands that reveals an imperishable quality of a gentile and quite spirit which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 1) as opposed to a brash and loud nagging spirit that is associated with the foolish harlot in scripture. It is pretty obvious from all the instruction in the New Testament that women should cultivate a gentle and quite spirit and that Satan, the world, and your flesh will fight against this.
Today I want to specifically apply this instruction to you as you discipline, instruct, and care for your children. As a mother, you must remember that a soothing tongue is a tree of life. Your words in the lives of your children will have a major impact. When you get frustrated with your sons or daughters, how you speak to them will either move them to life or push them to death. The words of a mother are powerful. I can still remember things that my mother has said to me at different points of my life that God has used to mold and shape me. Your words mothers are power and can be either good for building up or tearing down.
When you are frustrated, you are going to be tempted to say things like “why do you always do that” or “you are a troublemaker” or “why are you being such a ….” You are going to be tempted in your frustration to lash out. When you say something like “you always” or “you never” you are communicating more than just your frustrations, you are say to your child to them that they won’t ever succeed in that particular situation. This is tearing down rather than building up. Furthermore, saying they never obey is a lie. Clearly, your child has obeyed at least once before. It would be much better to say something like “Son you have disobeyed by doing _______ and this is the consequence. I think you can do better in the future.” Now you are thinking, sure I should say something like that but you try doing that when your children have frustrated you. And I do know what is like to be frustrated. But we must remember what the book of James tells us. The anger of man (yes, women you are included here) does not achieve the righteousness of God.
With that in mind, let me give you some things that might be helpful when you are in this circumstance. The first thing is to get prepared before you are in the moment. As Mark Cox says we sweat more in training so we bleed less in battle. We have to be prepared. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 12 “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Your mouth speaks from what is stored up in the heart. That is what you are preparing with is what will come out. This is why I said at the beginning, the wise person is filled with wisdom and then flows forth with wisdom. Therefore, the first piece of advice I have for you is that you be constantly filling your heart with wisdom. Preparation for dealing with frustrations looks like:
1. Being in God’s word. Meditating on and memorizing verses like Proverbs 15:1-4.
2. Be praying that God will give you strength when dealing with your children. Before the children wake up, say a prayer for them. If one of them is the one you most struggle with losing patience, make sure to pray for them often. Cultivate a love and even a pity for them.
3. Pray with the children when they wake up in the morning and throughout the day. If one is having a difficult day obeying, sit them down and pray with them.
4. Make a list of what you will say when disobedience or even childishness happens. Don’t be caught off guard and just wing it. You know the times and circumstances that are most likely to happen. Make a list even if its just in your mind of how you will react and what you will say. Write down some of the things you are tempted to say and then reword them to be words of exhortation. When you make your list, make sure to include some godly rebukes. A rebuke is a good thing scripture teaches. But a rebuke is founded on truth and has a purpose other than venting your frustrations.
My second exhortation is that you make sure that you are disciplining on the first time. Don’t wait till you are at the end of your rope to discipline. Gently correct the first time there is disobedience. This is hard for you to do because you are not usually frustrated the first time and so you will be tempted to let it slide. But know that when you let the disobedience slide by without correction and discipline, you are not being fair to yourself or to your child. You are setting yourself up for failure.
My last exhortation for you is this: You are not alone. We have a gracious heavenly Father who loves to give his children the Holy Spirit. He has also given you church family that loves you. Where you have failed here and we all have, we must repent and seek the forgiveness of God. We must pray for his enabling to do better. We also must not be afraid to reach out to each other for encouragement, accountability and help. If you are at your wits end with a child or anyone else, send a text to one of the other women. Don’t be ashamed to get help or advice. The church exists for a purpose and we are to carry each other’s burden.
Now the application I have made today as been aimed at you mothers with young children but this same application can apply to those of you with older children or who don’t have children at home. You still need to guard your words and speech when you are dealing with your husband, people in the church, your neighborhood, or wherever you are. Your gentle and quite spirit is precious to God and it will be used by God to win others to the kingdom. Older women you need to be checking in on the younger women who have young children. You know what it is like to be in their shoes. They need you to teach them to love their children. You who have wisdom need to pour that out to those who need it.
Proverbs 7:11 She is boisterous and rebellious, Her feet do not remain at home...
The book of Proverbs gives a great picture of the difference between a godly woman and a wicked woman. One of the characteristics of the godly woman is that she "looks well to the ways of her household. (Proverbs 31:27) A godly woman's primary focus is homeward. It is not that she is a slave to the kitchen or always cooped up in a house but her primary focus is to the home. The industrious work that she does as a helper to her husband is in care of the household. She is a quiet, submissive, and diligent woman so that her husband can trust her while he is away taking dominion over the earth.
The wicked woman is not so. She is boisterous. She is rebellious and she does everything she can to be away from the home. Her focus is outward even if she makes a big show of being homeward focused. She is given to malicious gossip, scorn for authority, and superstition. (Titus is supposed to instruct the older women to avoid these things and teach the younger to be workers at home. Titus 2). Her husband should not trust her.
Now we are all aware of the blatant ways that our culture has encouraged woman to place their focus anywhere but the home. But even for women who are not pursuing the career ladder there is a temptation to not have their feet remain at home.
Years ago that temptation was through day-time soap operas. Women could leave the home without ever leaving the home. They could get caught up in the manufactured drama, gossip and rebellion of the Bold and the Beautiful. They could live vicariously Young and Restless rebellion through the Days of their Lives. But now Day Time Soaps ratings are plunging. Some media outlets have called Soap Operas "a dying genre." Why is that?
Well, why watch manufactured drama when you can be a part of real drama on social media? You can keep your feet far from home while sitting in your living room on your cell phone. Some women can make a big show about being at home, while spending all their time on facebook spreading malicious gossip, creating facebook pages mocking pastors, older women, and other leaders and going from comment thread to comment thread blasting anyone who they disagree with. You can be a boisterous and rebellious regiment with your feet far from home on the internet. You can live the young and restless for real. That is the way, however, of the wicked.
The wise woman can use social media in a way that maintains her gentle, quite, and diligent spirit. She can show respect to and for authority. She can use social media in a way that honors God and causes her husband to say “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” She can use social media in a way that does not result in her feet constantly on the roam.