The first person in human history to commit premeditated murder was the first person ever born. It’s ironic that when Eve held the little baby Cain in her arms, she hoped that he would be the promised Messiah; instead he was the first man to commit homicide. He was also the first man to murder a prophet of God (Abel).
When we think of human depravity in its most monstrous expression; it is always the male gender that comes to mind. (We can immediately think of men from the last century who orchestrated holocausts; men such as Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin.)
If we compare man’s corrupt nature to a beast; we think of a swine. Its selfishness, greediness, laziness, rudeness, and filthiness typify behaviors we utterly despise in humans.
Other four-legged creatures can be cited as depicting man’s wantonness. The wolverine defiles whatever food it cannot finish eating so that no other creature will find it fit to consume. We think of the behavior of men in the 1800’s who considered it sport to “hunt” buffalo from the passenger cars of locomotives.
Hundreds of thousands of bison were killed and left to rot on the prairie. Such wanton behavior is purely man’s depravity rejecting the divine mandate to be a faithful steward of creation.
The Old Testament has a long list of men who were rapacious. Who can forget Haman -- who due to his grudge against one man sought to execute a genocidal holocaust against the entire Jewish nation.
But sprinkled in the O.T. list of villains are a few women who also are examples of human depravity at its worst. Jezebel certainly tops the list.
By giving us the account of Jezebel; it appears that God is overturning the earth mother myth. The earth mother myth suggests that human depravity has primarily landed upon the male of our species, and to a much lesser degree upon the female.
Some childhood poems contain the myth -- boys are composed of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails; while girls are made up of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Through the lens of the earth mother myth, men are viewed as wanton, impure, knuckle-dragging beasts whose passions make them destroyers of life; whereas the earth mother myth casts women as pure, virgin-like, givers of life, and nurturers of life (and yes, ‘tamers of men’).
Under what conditions does the earth mother myth proliferate? The myth derives its strength from a breakdown of father-son relations. When the sons’ hearts are alienated from their fathers; the female is elevated to a position of adoration; she is lifted to the status of source person (source person is defined as a being to whom we look for our well-being, purpose, affirmation, and fulfillment).
This is the opposite of Gods’ blueprint for the family. God’s plan involves the father imaging the love and authority of God to the children. When the children are able to relate to their dad as their loving, authoritative spiritual teacher; the promise of Psalm 78 is that the children will put their confidence in God (78:7).
Psalm 78 begins with a description of the father’s responsibility to invest spiritually in his children (the Psalm passage alludes to the portion of God’s law that requires the father to teach the Scriptures to his family in every conceivable setting – Deut 6).
When the hearts of fathers and sons are alienated; idolatry (with its inherent earth mother myth) proliferates. This was certainly the case with apostate Israel. The idolatrous Jews adopted the fertility cults of Canaan. Worship of the female abounded; images in the likeness of the female body dotted the landscape (Jer 44:15-19; Judges 10:6).
Although the seventy year Babylonian exile cured Israel of national idolatry; in the years that followed, the Jewish fathers were slow to embrace God’s blueprint of spiritual leadership in the home.
In the last book of the O.T. God announces through Malachi that spiritual renewal and revival depend upon a certain kind of change; the hearts of the fathers must be restored to the hearts of the sons and daughters (Mal 4:5, 6).
If the hearts of the sons remain alienated from the fathers; then the sons will use their masculine strength for the expression of sinful passions; physical and spiritual destruction will result (God says without this restoration taking place between the hearts of fathers and sons, He will smite the land with a curse – Mal 4:6).
God’s plan is for children to learn of God in the relational space of child to father. When godly fathers willingly assume their roles as spiritual heads; it forms a pipeline or conduit if you will of passing on faith in God to the next generation. The love, care, tenderness, truth, and authority of the unseen God of the universe is made tangible in the relationship a godly father has with his children.
But the labor necessary for the advance of spiritual order is resisted by our flesh. In order for spiritual decay to accelerate; all one has to do is nothing. Things unravel spiritually of their own accord. Neglect sends men to hell (Heb 2:3).
The flesh is inordinately spiritually lazy; family heads tend to relinquish their headship. They abdicate the incredible privilege and responsibility that God has given them to image the Heavenly Father to their children.
By contrast, when a man who teaches the Word lives a life of Christian character; he is a powerful instrument in the hands of God. Gordon Dalbey in his book, Healing the Masculine Soul, likens the father’s role to that of a swordsman.
Dalbey states that every believing man has been issued a “sword” by God. Men especially are designed by God to wield the sword of truth. A godly man wields that sword in all his relationships. He is to be a man of principle who loves, speaks, and chooses based upon God’s timeless truths.
Dalbey states that it takes not only a godly life for a man to wield his God-given sword but also a great deal of courage. If a man is controlled by the fear of man (or the fear of woman); he will leave the sword in its scabbard to corrode from lack of use. But if he loves and fears God he will use the sword all the time – because he knows that those in his sphere are instructed, protected, and healed by the use of his sword.
Swordsmanship is especially a male calling. The use of the sword is to be learned from one’s father; and very commonly from a spiritual father if one’s own dad is not available or qualified (by conversion).
Adam was to subdue the earth -- make it fruitful; but his cultural calling also included using his sword of truth in order to raise up, and protect God-fearing communities.
A born again man is wired by God for his calling as a swordsman. When godly men gather, they tend to relate to one another and fellowship together around the topics of theology and biblical principles. There is a clear reason for this; God has called them to be leaders in their marriages, families, and in the church. They must know intimately both God and His principles – they are to be swordsmen who handle accurately the Word of truth.
Swordsmanship is innate to their calling; for it is their business to use constant discernment. They train themselves to discern good and evil in its most subtle forms (Heb 5:14). They are to use the sword surgically – Paul told Timothy to be ready with the Word in season and out of season. In other words; apply the Word to situations even when it is not popular or convenient (MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1880).
Men of God will frequently have to make tough decisions that result in toes being stepped upon. Church discipline is one of those decisions. The necessity for spiritual objectivity means that they will often have to choose fidelity to spiritual principle over a person’s feelings. (Certainly Paul the Apostle had to do this when he publicly confronted Peter’s hypocrisy in Gal 2:11-14).
Just as it is somewhat unnatural for a man to raise and nurture babies all day long; so also it is somewhat unnatural for a woman to judge in the gates all day long. Certainly there are exceptions; but it may be said that generally a man’s calling differs from a woman’s calling at this very point of swordsmanship.
A woman may die to save her child; but it is a man who will die for principles. In our culture it is a rare for a man to be totally committed to the task of faithfully carrying out his God-given role as swordsman. There is a dire need for godly fathers; and for godly mentors who are willing to be spiritual fathers who wield the sword.
Because of a crisis in spiritual leadership, males tend to be estranged from the influence of godly fathers; and are therefore cut off from the relational revelation of God. Add to this problem the fact that the earth mother myth is in full force. Men tend to see the female as source instead of God. (Sadly the fertility cults of Canaan that worshipped sex now have a full-blown form of expression in our country.)
Today’s fashions are designed for the worship the female body. Modesty, which is a statement of fearing God and loving His plan, is all but passé. Males are led about hypnotically by the flaunted sensuality of women; males seem to be nearly defenseless against visual temptation which comes at them from every quarter – including computer cyberspace.
This is precisely why the historic character Jezebel has such current relevance. The Scriptures indicate that Jezebel had 950 men who ate at her table (450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah --1 Ki 18:19). Think of it; she had nearly a thousand men who traded away their manhood in order to adore her.
We must let the travesty of this situation sink in. These Jewish men, appointed by God to be His witnesses and teachers of His law, were willingly controlled by an idolatrous pagan woman from Sidon. What would have to happen in order for the better part of one thousand men to become her loyal followers?
The answer given in Romans 1:25b is that the worship of God has been replaced with the worship of the creature. Creature worship (with one of its expressions in the earth mother myth) is embedded in our very sin natures. No one had to think it up. Whenever the true worship of God is lost; idolatry rushes in to fill the vacuum.
The mother; the female; the person who gave us life and nurture from very substance of her own body is the most natural substitute for God. Earth mother cults are found on every continent. When Satan sought to corrupt Christianity; he turned to the earth mother myth and planted it in Rome.
The woman’s form, beauty, sensuality, nurture, and apparent selflessness all call out to the male as ineluctable reasons for her to be his source person. Jezebel’s “kingdom” if you will was built upon the fawning, obsequious adoration of males who were willingly emasculated for her sake.
It’s interesting to note that the queen mothers of Israel spent so much time commissioning the sculpting of images of the female body to be set up in the land (1 Ki 15:13). There is a reason for this. The more the female body is exposed as an object of desire and adoration; the more the sensual side of the earth mother myth is perpetuated. (In light of this; isn’t it obvious that God has His specific reasons for modesty!)
Without needy, passive, adoring males, Jezebel’s power would have been very limited. She collected dependent males who would perpetuate the adoration of herself. This is the driving force behind all matriarchies because matriarchies feed upon needy males the way hurricanes feed off of warm sea water (the effect cannot exist without the cause).
Jezebel derived her power from the males who saw her as goddess; as earth mother; as source person. This gives us some insights into how human depravity manifests itself in the female of our species.
As one popular singer quipped; men will kill you with a gun; women with murder you with their sensuality. Apparently he wasn’t far off the mark; for it says in Proverbs of the cunning harlot; “Do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” (Prov 7:25b-27).
So let’s review. The monstrous things men do in their depravity are usually much more graphic, direct, and openly destructive than what women do. We can look down through history and recount holocausts and serial crimes perpetrated by men.
By contrast, the depravity in women is expressed more often by control over others, than by a direct exertion of destructive force. Samson became a slave in chains with his eyes put out through the cleverness of Delilah – but she didn’t directly chain him or put his eyes out. What a parable his loss of strength is; he was shorn by the very woman whose sensuality he craved. After shaving his head, she delivered him over to his captors.
Let’s consider additional differences between the sin of men and women. The pride and arrogance that drives male narcissism has caused men to aspire to conquer continents even if it produced rivers of innocent blood.
We could say that the expression of male depravity is a radical perversion of man’s sacred trust as steward of God’s creation. Depraved man at his most destructive wants all he can get; he uses; abuses; then wantonly casts aside.
In summary, the man’s depravity is a perversion of his stewardship – when his stewardship should be expressed in protection, provision, and purity; instead he preys upon others.
Narcissistic pride in a female is expressed in a different manner. The woman’s depravity is more commonly expressed as a desire to possess, to control, to manipulate, to influence, to seduce, to emasculate, and to win adoration and worship.
Jezebel probably did not personally stab anyone to death; but because of Jezebel’s sin, tens of thousands of Israelites died when Baal worship was purged from the land.
The woman’s depravity is a perversion of her nurture gift. Her God-given gift of nurture enables her to sacrificially love and care for her children.
What made Jezebel an immoral monster was her unconscionable driven-ness to corrupt the king and his subjects with wholesale idolatry. The frightening part is she used “nurture” to do so. Jezebel’s magnetismcannot be discounted; her followers were numbered in the thousands.
If we compared her to a creature; it would be a spider that wraps its victim in silk; then injects venom that liquefies the internal organs so that they may be consumed.
Regarding the danger of responding to perverted nurture -- the book of Proverbs warns of the danger of being a naïve man. It is the naïve man (the fool) who sees no aggression or danger when a woman puts forth her sensuality. He is likened to a bird about to enter a snare, or an ox about to be slaughtered (Prov 7:2, 23).
This is the part that goes missed today. Countless college educated men are grossly naïve according to the Word of God. A huge percentage of young men are
‘sensual opportunists’ who see no danger in being responders to a woman’s offer of sensual pleasure.
The woman dressed immodestly who telegraphs her invitation to a man appears to offer affection and sensual delight (nurture) all for free; or without consequence. But the Proverbs, when speaking of the man’s spiritual state, says that his response to her overtures will cost him his life (7:23).
By contrast the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. When a culture sells itself to sensuality; it loses the willpower to remain free. If Jezebel’s influence in Israel would have gone on unabated, the nation would have been quickly enslaved and destroyed (instead God raised up Jehu to purge Baal worship from the land and thus extend Israel’s existence).
Because God has made men the leaders and protectors in society, the vast majority of Scriptural exhortations that are gender specific are addressed to men.
Isaiah 3:16-26 is one of them. It is directed at the pride of the ‘daughters of Zion.’ It’s interesting to observe that in the passage every conceivable accoutrement in that culture that could be used to attract attention and woo with sensuality is mentioned.
God says through Isaiah that the Lord will take away the beauty of these accessories and leave these women to be bound by rope; wearing only sack cloth; dirty, seated on the ground, with plucked out scalps.
The understanding of this passage is that God hates it when women take pride in their power to seduce (3:16). He will judge them.
A second judgment passage directed at women is Amos 4:1-3. The satire is equally biting in this text. God likens the dominant women in this passage to cows. These upper class wives were lovers of luxury. They thumbed their noses at the poor. They dominated their husbands; they demanded to be served by them.
God swears by His holiness that these women will face His judgment. He states that they will be taken away with meat hooks and the last of them with fish hooks (4:2).
The value of studying these sections today is not only to learn from Israel’s history; but also to understand that female depravity is expressed differently than male depravity and that God hates it as much as He hates depravity in men.
One would think that this should be obvious; the problem is that it is not obvious in a culture in which sex and the female body are worshipped, and the biblical roles for men and women are under attack.
The evil one’s plan to rip apart the family includes this attack upon the God-given roles of men and women. In the entertainment industry the role of a man’s headship is laughed to scorn. The husband’s ineffectiveness as a leader is the most popular punch line in sitcoms.
To say anything about the sinful behavior of a woman is considered bullying. Is it any wonder that so many women who profess to be Christians seem blinded to their own female depravity and unable to mourn it and mortify it?
Feminist propaganda has so thoroughly conditioned the thinking of our culture that the subject of male-female differences is commonly greeted with the charge of sexual bias. (The feminist presupposition is that the teaching regarding gender differences is a patriarchal power play. For the feminist, equality is rooted in sameness. According to feminism, roles ought to be a matter of choice and capacity, not the result of God’s created order.)
Wayne Grudem gives the following sobering assessment concerning the attempt to erase the divinely created role distinction between men and women.
Says Grudem, egalitarianism is an “engine” pulling a train of destruction. Some of its effects are as follows: gender identity crisis, a resultant self-hatred, fear of marriage, anger and violence, homosexuality, breakdown of the family, the weakening and feminization of the church, and methods of Bible interpretation that discount the ethical mandates of Scripture that are rejected by culture (Wayne Grudem, Winterim lectures on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at The Master’s Seminary). (Egalitarianism is a term used to describe a view of male-female equality that depends upon the rejection of created roles for man and woman).
The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood gives a parallel warning: “As increasing promotion is given to the feminist agenda, there are accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives.”
The family is under attack. The evil one is using philosophic naturalism (the philosophy of evolution and its companion, humanism) to tear apart God’s blueprint for the family.
The result is like a wrecking ball swinging through our culture leaving broken families, devastated lives, and aborted babies in its wake. Sensuality is not a victim-less crime. The Canaanites sacrificed infants to Molech; Americans sacrifice fetuses to the god of sensuality and immorality.
Now let’s move to an explanation of the title of this paper. The heading, “Jezebelian Egos” refers to the mindset of women who use sensuality and/or nurture to control and manipulate.
In a culture steeped in the earth mother myth (with a growing allegiance to earth mother “spirituality”), it is easy to overlook just how flagrant the effects of female depravity can be. (Consider that in the media, men are all too frequently cast a victimizers and women as victims. The women’s rights movement has been a convenient cudgel to keep men silent in the arena of male and female roles; and to discourage men from leadership in home and marriage.)
We’ve already established that male and female narcissism involves the perversion of a virtue or divine gift. The man is given strength to subdue the earth and rule over it as a faithful steward. When his depravity is given full expression he moves from protector to predator, from caretaker to wanton user.
Female narcissism is much more subtle. We’ve already stated that female narcissism tends to possess and manipulate. Let’s look at how the woman reasons when she attempts to possess and control.
God has given the woman the incredible capacity to gestate life, to give birth, and to nurture so as to help form personhood in another human being. The perversion of this virtue involves the misuse of nurture.
Thus female narcissism has an inflated view of what a woman can do through nurturing others. In her narcissism, she reasons that her love is so powerful she can tame the savage in a man. She can impart self-esteem to others. She can make a project out of a male and then mold him as she sees fit. She can obligate people because she lavishes so much praise and attention upon them. She can influence and control.
All the while, the “love” she is dispensing in her narcissism is intended also to build a coterie of loyal adoring followers. Those who are brought into her sphere; she possesses. She has “collected them;” they are devoted to her. They in turn must sing her praises.
Her goddess dream has its imperious side. If one should prove disloyal; she will destroy their reputation; or heap guilt upon them. The female narcissist can never tolerate disloyalty. She has built a loyal following. She feeds upon their adoration.
What is the cost of this female narcissism in a family? The cost is great. For female narcissism cannot coexist with male headship. This is why “Jezebelian Egos” is not too strong a term. For female narcissism is destructive to God’s plan for the role of husband and wife. (Yes, men commonly abdicate their roles; 1 Peter 3:1-6 was written in part to answer that dilemma.)
Female narcissism has as its unbending agenda the goal of building a constituency of loyal worshippers. It can brook no competitors. Therefore it is impossible for it to avoid eroding the husband’s authority in the home.
After all, a goddess is wise and at least partly omniscient. Therefore female narcissism is expressed in the phrase, “Mother knows best.” The problem with mother knows best is that frequently it means that mother knows best and father doesn’t.
What is the cost of a decade and one half of growing up under mother knows best? For a son, the answer is that he has learned by example how to relate to a woman. He will carry a great deal of confusion; how can a guy confront a goddess? How in the world does confrontation coexist with adoration? He reasons, “How can I ever be right and have the final say if she is always to be right?” “How can I disagree with her if disagreement is disloyalty?”
The effect of mother knows best on daughters is equally pernicious. The daughter will tend to carry a secret hatred of her father’s passivity and her mother’s dominance. The temptation to manipulate as her mother has done will be overwhelming. She will depend upon nurture, guilt, persuasion, manipulation to protect herself and to get her needs met. Like her mother, she will be basically blind to issues of male honor – unable to apprehend God’s chain of honor that flows through the father and husband.
The aim of this author is to identify the problem in order to solve the problem. God’s answer is to call the Church back to the healing power of submission to His Word.
Although Grudem has given a very candid, and serious exposé of the problem in roles, he offers a summary filled with optimism and encouragement: Christ is progressively purifying His Church. The Reformation recovered the grammatico-historical method of interpretation (i.e., literal as opposed to allegorical interpretation) and reaffirmed the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Thus through a proper handling of Scripture, God is perfecting the Church. This process includes a correction of both male oppression and feminism (Grudem, Winterim Lectures).
John Piper also sets forth a return to the biblical roles for manhood and womanhood as the much needed corrective: “[T]he Bible reveals the nature of masculinity and femininity by describing diverse responsibilities for man and woman while “rooting these differing responsibilities in creation, not convention” (Piper, What’s the Difference?, p. 17).
The next generation is watching to see what we as parents and grandparents really believe and practice concerning the roles of men and women. There is a full scale war raging between modern culture and the truth of God’s Word. The battle is pitched at key points of conflict – one of the most pivotal areas in the fight is the subject of manhood and womanhood. Our youth are receiving a garbled message about their roles. The stakes are immeasurably high.
We must affirm the wisdom and beauty and necessity of God’s plan. God takes pleasure in the created differences of male and female. Our differences are good. We need to affirm them and rejoice in them to the glory of God. God’s plan for men and women is best for us. It truly honors men and women. It guards against abuse. It doesn’t suppress women’s ministry gifts, but encourages the use of them (Wayne Grudem).
There are clear advantages of the complementarian view (biblical view of roles):
1.) A new delight in our masculinity and femininity given to us by God.
2.) A new honoring of women as valued partners with valued ministries.
3.) Jesus Christ purifying His Church by means of His plan for biblical manhood and womanhood.
(Note: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently received a correspondence from a woman at Cambridge University. “I want to be submissive to my husband, but don’t know how, can you help me? I am to marry in one month.”)