As appeared in The Biblical Examiner, March, 1994.
(The rest of the Examiners from that year were lost when a floppy failed. I still have hard copies, but have not scanned them all in yet. Would you scan them in?)
We are surrounded by lasciviousness everywhere we look. The sick "sitcoms" of our day glorify drunkenness, adultery, and fornication. We are bombarded with "Barbie Doll" women seducing "Ken Doll" men. Thus teen-age young women are shown the world's "glories" of seducing young men.
Solomon, speaking from experience, tells us about such seductions, and the Lord tells us the results of those seduction.
And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart [is] snares and nets, [and] her hands [as] bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. (Ecc. 7:26.)
Here we see that the woman caught the man whose heart was not stayed upon the Lord. On the other hand, the man pleasing God with his actions and thoughts was delivered by God from the woman who set a snare for him. When we consider this verse in light of what we see in society around us, it is obvious why women are gaining such tremendous control and authority in every area: family, church, social, occupational, civil, &c.
The Old Testament law established that a man who seduced a single woman before marriage had to pay the father 50 shekels of silver, about three years wages, and, if permitted by the girl's father, marry the girl he seduced. Moreover, the man who seduced the woman and then marries her could never put her away for the rest of his life. (Exodus 22:16, 17, Deuteronomy 22:28, 29. Genesis 34, the evil against Schechem was not Jacob seeking his sons' advice about their sister. The evil was that he permitted them to utterly destroy the city even though the young man wanted to do the right thing. At the very least, Jacob should have allowed the boy to pay the dowry even if Jacob refused the marriage.)
Upon marriage, the seduced woman was not required to submit to her husband's authority, but, obviously, she was still subject to the authority of God's law. In other words, adultery, murder, &c., on her part still required death under God's authority, but she did not have to submit to her husband's authority. She could be rebellious against her husband's authority, and he had no godly recourse but to tolerate her rebellion, but she could not rebel against God. (#1.)
Briefly stated: If the young man could not control his passions before marriage, he had no legal recourse before God to control his family after marriage. If the young man was a slave to his passions before marriage, then he was a slave to his wife after marriage. If the young man failed to exercise proper authority before marriage, God gave the woman the authority. But, obviously, he could work to exercise proper authority in his home after marriage.
No doubt the women of Old Testament times realized the hold they could gain over men by seducing them before marriage. Actually, the hold was much stronger than can be gained by seduction today. For if he succumbed to her advances, no matter how overt, it at least cost him three years pay (dowry of a virgin). But far worse than the cost in silver, God made him a slave to his wife if her father permitted the marriage.
We would be just as foolish to think the enemy of all godliness does not realize how God's law works. Thus his effort to influence the males in society to lose authority over their own spirits and passions. He knows what snares to use. He knows that if he can overturn a young man's authority over his own spirit before marriage, he has overturned a man's proper authority in his family and in society after marriage. The enemy knows how to destroy the foundation. He knows, furthermore, that any effort to correct the "top" without correcting the foundation is futile. In other words, he realizes what we fail to realizethe top is overthrown from the bottom. He has overthrown and is overthrowing society from the "back seat of a car" and through "living together."
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14.)
Ecclesiastes 7:26, above, tells us of a woman who seduces the young man before marriage. It tells us, though, that the young man godly in thoughts and actions will be delivered by God from the woman's seductive actions, but the sinner will be taken by her. God tells us that the young man is always responsible to be in godly authority no matter how ungodly a woman might be before marriage. The young man is always held responsible and accountable though she may be the one making unlawful advances before marriage. If he is in godly authority over his passions, he will remain free of her clutches. If he allows his passions to gain control, he must pay the price. And what a horrendous price to pay for a moment's pleasure.
First, through immorality before marriage, females are placing passionate males under their authority and control. The female is the one in authority in the relationship if the male either is seduced by her or seduces her. The result is that many modern families are currently controlled by the wives. An immoral relationship before marriage placed the husband under her authority after marriage, and she now may or may not lead her husband around according to her will. The husband may deny, both publicly and privately in his own heart, that he yielded his godly authority to her before marriage and that he is now under her authority, but facts speak otherwise. Certainly, all our wives know how to direct things more to their liking, but here we see the woman exercising authority in the realm of worship, occupation, &c. Please note, though, that we are not saying that all marriages in which the wife exerts ungodly authority are the result of the husband's ungodly authority before marriage.
The breakdown of godly authority in the home started with the breakdown of godly authority in the back seat of a car many years ago when the man (or woman) might have said, "Why not? We are going to be married anyway." As a result, not only are fathers' stripped of their godly authority in their families, but society in general is stripped of its proper authority. In both cases of the breakdown of godly authority, the cause is found in the Word of God, viz., the males in society refuse to exercise proper authority over their spirit. Thus they refuse to be men.
Can one gain proper control of his home? Yes! But it must begin by confession of sin and taking godly responsibility for sin. It must start by the husband confessing to his wife: "It was my fault, not yours! It was wrong and I ask your forgiveness." This will permit the man to gain the godly control of his house. Though he may have control already without confession, is it the loving control called for by the Lord, or is it control exercised by fear and terror against his family?
Second, not only is godly authority lost in the home after marriage because it was lost before marriage, godly authority is undermined throughout society. Because the God-ordained roles of authority are reversed by the young man's uncontrolled passions before marriage by submitting to her authority, the female's God-ordained role is also reversed, as the woman moves into positions of society God never meant for her to be in, i.e., the world's work-place. Moreover, no effort short of godly, biblical morality before marriage and/or confession and repentance of sin after marriage (Pro. 28:13, 14) can reverse the trend of females usurping the male's place in society.
Concerning Deuteronomy 22:5, Adam Clarke says:
the instruments or arms of a man. As the word ... geber is here used, which properly signifies a strong man or man of war, it is very probable that armor is here intended; especially as we know that in he worship of Venus, to which that of Astarte or Ashtaroth among the Canaanites bore a striking resemblance, the women were accustomed to appear in armor before her. It certainly cannot mean a simple change in dress, whereby the men might pass for women, and vice versa. This would have been impossible in those countries where the dress of the sexes had but little to distinguish it, and where every man wore a long beard. It is, however, a very good general precept understood literally, and applies particularly to those countries where the dress alone distinguishes between the male and the female. The close-shaved gentleman may at any time appear like a woman in the female dress, and the woman appear as a man in the male's attire. Were this to be tolerated in society, it would produce the greatest confusion. Clodius, who dressed himself like a woman that he might mingle with the Roman ladies in the feast of the Bona Dea, was universally execrated.
Third, rampant crime... crimes of passion and other crimes. The "crime wave" started when the sinner yielded to his passions before marriage. Crime will be "brought under control" only when the males of the society bring their spirit under control. It goes without saying that the proper control comes from conversion and the control of the Spirit of God.
A young man is responsible to be in godly authority at all times no matter what the circumstances, especially over his own passions. When the young man fails in his godly responsibility of authority, the woman is given authority by God. Therefore, godly authority in the home and society must start by young men exercising godly authority over their spirits. Additionally, those already in the compromised position after marrying their "lover," now must accept responsibility for all their actions with their wives before marriage if they expect to be the proper godly authority in their homes and society.
Can we, according to God's Word, expect a wife to submit to proper authority after marriage if her husband could not submit to proper authority before marriage? Ungodly actions must be repented of before the woman can be expected to or required to properly submit after marriage.
Our warfare is spiritual, so the sin problem must be settled on the spiritual level before there can be release from its hold. (2 Corinthians 10:4.) The husband needs to humble himself to his wife, and admit it was his fault for not remaining pure before marriage, and ask her forgiveness. Only repentance of sin can free one of unrighteous holds from the past. (Proverbs 28:14, 15.)
Thus we cannot over-stress the importance of the young man, no matter what kind of pressure is placed upon him by his passions or by a woman, being responsible and pleasing God before marriage.
#1. Cf. Exodus 22:16, 17, Deuteronomy 22:13, 24:1, 2 Samuel 23. The man displeased with his wife could seek something in her worthy of putting her "away." "If a man married a wife, and he put her away with a letter of divorce, because she did not please him any longer... `if the wife does not find favour in his eyes (i.e. does not please him), because he has found something shameful: .. ...nakedness, shame, disgrace... The meaning of this expression as a ground of divorce was disputed even among the Rabbins... Adultery, to which some of the Rabbins would restrict the expression, is certainly not to be thought of, because this was punished with death." Christ said that Moses permitted the bill of divorce, which became flagrantly missused, only because of the hardness of people's hearts, Mat 19:8. Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil-Delitzsch, vol 1, pp 417, 8. De 24:1, "By this God does not approve light divorcement, but permits it to avoid further inconvenience; Mt 19:7." Mt 19:7, "Because political laws are adjusted to allow some things, it does not follow that God therefore approves of them." Mt 19:8, "By a political law, not by the moral law: for the moral law is a perpetual law of God's justice; the other bows and bends as the carpenter's bevel. Geneva.