J.C. Ryle warned, “It is only too true, that thoughtlessly entering into marriage is one of the most fertile causes of unhappiness, and too often, it may be feared, of sin.”
A chorus of henpecked husbands and divorced men say, “Amen!” Marriage is full of risk. It shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Many are the victims of an ungodly woman. In Proverbs 7:26, Solomon warns, “numerous are all her slain.” Most warnings about immoral women are written off as the babble of bitter men. But Scripture is the words of the Holy Spirit. We do well to heed its warnings.
Now, there are many who think the risks of marriage outweigh the benefits. I don’t belong to that group, but I understand how men have came to that conclusion. It’s difficult to find a woman who hasn’t been brainwashed by feministic nonsense. Family law is clearly biased against men in despicable ways. Worse yet, many churches allow and even recommend divorce on unbiblical grounds. Such an environment does discourage marriage. So I get it.
But marriage is the normative state for most people. According to Christ, lifelong singleness is exceptional (Matt 19:11–12). The norm is a life of marriage, sex, and children. This should be pursued—but, as Ryle cautioned, not thoughtlessly.
The dangers of a bad marriage can be greatly mitigated by understanding the biblical purpose of marriage, and finding a wife who will join you in the pursuit of that purpose. In the previous part of this series I focused on how to filter out bad candidates for a wife by looking for immodesty. Here, I’ll continue to consider the attributes of a bad woman, but will also circle back around to the purpose of marriage.
Ungodly women advertise their sexual availability through their clothing. They use it like a lure to draw in “young men lacking sense” (Pr 7:7). Think of an angler-fish’s glowing lure. It bedazzles for the purpose of consumption. Such is the purpose of a woman who dresses like a harlot. She is on the prowl.
Hence, ungodly attire should function as a sort of aposematism—the bright coloration of animals to advertise that they are dangerous. Brightly colored snakes, frogs, and bugs are often poisonous. They’re beautiful to behold, but deadly to touch. Thus, the wise man carefully avoids scantily-clad ladies.
But not all predators are easily spotted. Many are experts at hiding or using camouflage. Such is the case with many other immoral women. They don’t dress provocatively. At first glance they look like modest women—but this is a mere cloak. Their dress is quite the opposite of their character.
The biggest warning sign of all
This brings us to what I would consider the clearest indicator that a woman is a bad candidate for a wife: she is loud.
She is loud and stubborn;
her feet do not stay at home. Proverbs 7:11
This is a woman you must avoid. She will destroy you.
A loud woman is not necessarily one who speaks with too much volume. The Hebrew word can also be translated as boisterous or tumultuous. It speaks of turbulence or commotion, and is meant to bring to mind the roaring wind of a storm. Therein we find a good metaphor for a loud woman.
Like a storm, she is full of unruly energy
She yields only to her own purposes.
This definition of a loud woman comes further into focus when we consider how “loud and stubborn” is paralleled against “her feet do not stay at home.” This woman has a husband. She is supposed to be submitted to his mission. It’s his home she should be caught up in the work of building. However, she is off doing her own thing. She refuses to be “chained down” to the home of one man.
Matthew Henry put it well:
By her place, not her own house; she hates the confinement and employment of that; her feet abide not there any longer than needs must. She is all for gadding abroad, changing place and company. Now is she without in the country, under pretense of taking the air, now in the streets of the city, under pretense of seeing how the market goes. She is here, and there, and every where but where she should be. She lies in wait at every corner, to pick up such as she can make a prey of. Virtue is a penance to those to whom home is a prison.
The loud woman hates the home because the home represents submission to a will besides her own. Therefore, she prowls for a fool who will help her achieve her ends. Commenting on Proverbs 7:10—the verse just prior—in their excellent Old Testament commentary, Keil & Delitzsch explain the motives of this brazen woman:
…she is of a hidden mind, of a concealed nature; for she feigns fidelity to her husband and flatters her paramours as her only beloved, while in truth she loves none, and each of them is to her only a means to an end, viz., to the indulgence of her worldly sensual desire.
The loud woman swings from man to man like a monkey swings from branch to branch. Men exist to serve her mission. They are useful in so much they allow her to fulfill her desires. Sheryl Sandberg is a great example of a loud woman. In Lean In, she writes:
When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.
What makes a good husband according to Sandberg? It’s a man who doesn’t get in the way of his wife’s ambitions. This is why the commanding “alpha males” of her youth won’t do. They’ll buck against her demands and manipulations. Sandberg, like all loud women, eventually settles on a compliant “beta” who knows who’s in charge.
This, of course, is an inversion of the biblical pattern. Manhood is ultimately about a man building God’s house by building his own. This work can’t be fulfilled alone. It requires a woman. Hence, God brought Eve to Adam as a helper. She is a necessary complement to the mission of the man—but she isn’t the mission.
The loud woman will not submit herself to such a situation. In time, she will look for a way out, and in doing so tear down her house with her own hands (Pr 14:1). This is why the Queen warned her son to not give his strength to promiscuous women. These women destroy kings (Pr 31:3). He is to instead look for a woman who will multiply the work of his hands (Pr 31:10–31). This woman possesses a beauty that never fades (v. 30). Peter calls it the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
How do you spot a loud woman? Sometimes it’s a no-brainer; she is brazen, brash, unruly—there is no hiding such things. But sometimes she is more subtle; she has learned to make the pretense of being demure, to fit into her Christian surroundings. So here are three helpful questions to ask:
- Does she respect her father?
- Does she desire independence?
- Does she respond to leadership?
I honestly think the last question is the most important one. I’ve seen career-driven women with terrible fathers drawn into the orbit of powerful male leaders. These women tossed aside the emptiness of building the “house” of some faceless corporation to build the house of the man they loved. Thus, the big question is whether she will respond to your leadership.
There are very simple ways to assess this as the relationship progresses.
Early on in the dating phase, I recommend that guys at least occasionally contradict her requests. For example, let’s say she wants to go to a particular burger joint. Don’t. Suggest somewhere else instead. Don’t be jerk about it. Just say, “Well, if you think that is a good burger you are going to love this place. Trust me.” This, of course, assumes that really do know a better place to get a bite to eat.
This is simple way to see what happens when you two wills conflict. Does she like a man taking the lead? Does she have to her way even in small things?
As the relationship progresses, make it clear that you expect that she will join your church and move to your city. This is huge. She is to come into your “gravity well”—not vice-versa. She also has to be willing to take your name. She is submitting herself to the work of building your household. She is not an object, but she is yours by marriage, in the same way the church is Jesus’ (Eph 5:23). A wife who will not take her husband’s name is as much an oxymoron as a believer who will not call themselves a Christian.
There are a ton of other ways to test responsiveness. You probably have some that are better than what I’ve briefly listed here. The main thing is to test a woman’s willingness to follow before making any commitment. A home can have only one leader, and you must be that leader. If she is willing to happily follow, you should probably snatch her up. A quiet and submissive woman is worth far more than jewels (Pr 31:10).
Remember, Proverbs 11:22 says, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.” Pretty women with bad attitudes are waterslides that go down to the chambers of death. Avoid loud women.