The Abuser as Jezebel – Women as Abusers
Sermon 18 from the series: The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on November 21, 2010
Sermon Text: 1 Kings 21
Also, let me say that as I re-read this sermon I was uncomfortable in regard to this subject. Why? Because the vast majority of abuse victims I know and communicate with are women. Christian women. I don’t enjoy speaking about women as abusers because I do not want to give any ammunition to those who want to “blame the woman” for the abuse they receive – after all, they “pushed his buttons” you know. However, Jezebel was a real person. And her progeny still exist as enemies of Christ and Christ’s people. So deal with the subject we must.
This morning we want to at least begin a consideration of women as abusers. All through this series we have reminded ourselves that though we use “he” as the pronoun for the abuser (since in the great majority of cases the abuser is the man in the marriage), nevertheless women are sinners as well and women can be abusers. If you have lived on this earth very long at all, you have no doubt met some. Jezebel was a woman, and Jezebel was clearly an abusive, power-hungry, control-seeking abuser who had a profound sense of entitlement and justification to use whatever means necessary to obtain the power and control she believed she was entitled to. Jezebel and her daughters are still with us today. We see that she turned up again in the New Testament church –
Revelation 2:18-23 ESV And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “The words of the Son of God ,who has eyes on a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. (19) I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. (20) But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. (21) I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. (22) Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will thrown into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, (23) and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
A. The Misuse of Scripture
- “I will value fellowship with Christ in suffering as one of the high callings of life even if accused unjustly.” He then cites as a proof-text Matthew 5:11-12, Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…” So, tell the victim of abuse to rejoice and be glad. She is suffering with Christ. Go home and be glad. AND THE CHURCH DOES NOTHING!!!! The church has just joined ranks with the abuser, enabling him to continue in his deception and evil.
- “I will forgive from my heart any time I’m asked to forgive, not analyzing whether the offending person is worthy, has perfect motives, or is adequately repentant.” As Scripture proof – “…how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, …up to 70 times 7.”
B. Boundaries are Vital
When I use the word boundary, I am referring to the limits we have around our bodies and our minds to protect our safety, our integrity, and our privacy. Our boundaries can be thought of as fences with gates in them. At certain times we decide to open the gates and allow chosen people to pass through; at other times the way is blocked, and we have a right to have the limits respected. Certain people we prefer never to let in, and places exist within us that may be open to no one. [Lundy Bancroft, When Dad Hurts Mom].
Annie needs to enforce her right to boundaries.
“Ray, I need privacy in the bathroom. Please do not come in when I am using the bathroom.”
“You cannot talk to me that way ever again. If you continue, then our relationship is going to be destroyed. The next time you speak tomeinthatway,Iamgoingto leave – maybe for a few hours, maybe a few days, but eventually, forever.”
[See Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children by Allison Botke as one example].
C. Things to Remember
- An abusive person is someone who exercises a pattern of coercive control and power in a relationship, with the confident belief that he/she is entitled to that control and power. He or she sees themselves as completely justified in using abusive means to enforce that power – physical violence, sexual assault, verbal abuse, etc.
- Entitlement means that the abuser has the belief that he/she has special rights and privileges with no accompanying responsibility. He sees himself as one who has a special status. The life of his victim(s) is to center upon him and his needs.
- Abusers believe themselves to be superior to their victims. They view their victims with contempt. As objects to be owned and possessed.The abuser is profoundly manipulative and deceptive. He is ingenious with his disguises and successful at duping others into believing that his victim is the real problem.
- Abusers are skilled at psychological abuse – “brain- washing” if you will. They successfully convince their victims that the blame for the abuse lies with the victim and not with the abuser. Abusers are experts at “externalizing responsibility.” That is to say, they are masters at laying blame upon others.
- Abuse is a MINDSET AND ATTITUDE, A MENTALITY . It’s cause is NOT drug or alcohol abuse, or a bad temper/anger. It is not because the victim “pushes his buttons.” It is his mindset of power and control and entitlement. Drug and alcohol rehab or anger management counseling will not be very helpful because they do not address the root mindset.
- Abusers (AND their allies, like US if we are not wise), deny and minimize the seriousness of their abuse.
- The very high percentage of abusers are NOT mentally ill. This is not an explanation for the vast majority of abuse. Neither is low self-esteem, insecurity, or childhood victimization. Nor a lack of skill in conflict resolution.
- The church has not done a good job in this area. Very often, pastors, counselors, and Christians have been and are duped by the abuser and end up enabling the abuse and even participating in the victimization of the victim.
- Finally, and yet of first importance – as Diotrophes (3 John) exercises abuse in his home, so he will exercise it in the church so often. By studying the methods and mindset of the abusive man, we can be much better equipped to be wise to his deceptions in the church, and we will also be wise regarding how to deal with him. Ignorance as to these things is not an option for any of us.
The Woman as Abuser
Although male perpetrators are capable of doing greater harm to women through physical force, female perpetrators can terrorize their husbands with weapons (including fingernails) and words through manipulative attitudes of vengeance and emotional blackmail. Why do women do that? The core issues ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE ADDRESSED WITH MEN – FEELINGS OF ENTITLEMENT AND SUPERIORITY, NEED FOR POWER AND CONTROL.”
The effects on men are very similar to the effects of abuse on a woman victim. Listen again –
- They are ashamed to admit they are being abused by a woman
- They have low self-worth and feel they don’t deserve a better relationship or are not capable of finding another partner
- They compensate for her bad behavior by focusing on the good aspects of the relationship
- They are concerned about the well-being of the children and may feel better able to protect them if they stay in the home.
- There are fewer resources available to help abused men.
[Violence Among Us]
Proverbs 21:9 ESV It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.1 Kings 19:1-3 ESV Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. (2) Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (3) Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
The abusive wife in action, you see. It is ugly.
- Verbal abuse – demeaning and emasculating. Have you ever demeaned your husband for not being “a man”?
- Emotions and blackmail emotional
- Outbursts of anger
- Putting him down to or in front of others
- Physical violence
- Using the children as weapons (many ways to do this)
- Money – far more common now in our day
- Making him jealous by intentional flirting with other men
- Winning allies such as relatives or other women friends over to her side
- Sex, clothing, seduction
“Finding out that you are a verbal [or any other type of] abuser and controller is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole [ie, Alice in Wonderland]. Your entire reality is shaken to the core. To find out that your relationships are broken, that those around you are frightened by you, that something is horribly wrong with you and the way that you view and communicate with the world is a very scary and life changing even…Once you have accepted the truth and begun to walk down the right road to reformation, you will begin to find out that real relationships based on trust, respect, and love are so much more rewarding.” [Patricia Evans, The Verbally Abusive Relationship]
Another Illustration to Learn From
“One of the most difficult admissions for a man to make is to admit having been beaten by a woman. It is not natural…not manly. And it is also very fearful, because who knows what response the admission will provoke. Will it be support? Laughter? Jeering? No one can describe the shame that a man feels.
Snow lived that shame for 12 years until it culminated in a nervous breakdown. Because of the shame and humiliation he felt from the abuse and the subsequent nervous breakdown, he didn’t leave his mother’ s house for 3 months. Fear kept him there and finally motivated him to leave. One afternoon when his mother returned from church she reported, ‘Brother Wiley said that if you do not leave this house, you will NEVER leave this house!’ I believed what he said, so out of fear I left even though I was afraid.
Snow’s own violent response to his wife’s abuse compounded his feelings of shame. He admits, ‘I was no saint either, but I was not physically violent initially. After being struck, scratched, and attacked, I retaliated with physical violence. That made my shame and guilt even worse.’ He understood that his wife’s violence was an expression of her internal pain – but also being spoiled. There were no consequences for her violent behavior (growing up in an adopted home). She was raised by wonderful people, but they never meted out any punishment of any type for her behavior, thus reinforcing it. He recalls an episode, and a turning point for him, that occurred after a group of young people visited them in their home. ‘After they left, she began slapping and hitting me, telling me how much they loved her. This unprovoked attack did not make sense to me. I believe she was trying to say that people loved her in spite of her behavior. I left after that and stayed away for 5 months because I could not keep living in such turmoil.
Embarrassment and shame, however, prevented him from seeking help or speaking up. ‘I did not want it made public that I, a man, was a victim of domestic violence. I was truly ashamed and full of pride and she knew it. I believe she capitalized on it as well. [See the tactic? The abusive woman knows he will most likely never tell anyone]
Many men probably think, like I did, that they will suffer greater humiliation if anyone finds out, so they cover it up.”
Jezebel ranks right up there with any of the most wicked people in the entire Bible. There is no place for Jezebel in the Church. Yet over the years it has been my experience that many (most?) churches have at least one, and often several. They rule and dominate others. They are queens of their domains – tolerating no one encroaching on the power and control they see themselves entitled to.
Danielle’s father was a pastor – a well-known pastor and leader in his denomination. Danielle had her life all worked out, and the life of her future husband. She would see to it that he would go to seminary, become a pastor, and she would have the glory of being “the pastor’s wife” in the congregation.
She married John. John was a nice, Christian man who truly loved the Lord. He was soft-spoken and kind. Somehow, he ended up as Danielle’s husband. She saw to it that he went through seminary, though he was never actually called by the Lord to the pastoral ministry – as time would prove itself out to be the case.
Once seminary was over and some considerable time went by without John being called to a church, Danielle became increasingly unhappy about John’s performance. They had a number of children by now. Danielle began to alienate the children from their father. She announced that she was called by the Lord to launch out into a speaking ministry worldwide, which she did with her male assistant. John and the children stayed home.
And ultimately, after a number of years and more disappointments in his life, John committed suicide.
For additional thoughts on Jezebels in the Church see: Abusive Women in the Church