He was a very skillful motivational speaker. Clearly, he was making the most of his expertise in psychology as he worked the packed arena of women whom he knew were sick and tired of being sick and tired. You could tell why he was the opening act of the two and a half day conference. It was masterful.
He told them, “In your home, you are the candle and your man is the candle holder.” “Alright, alright!”, affirmed many in the crowd as he held above his head a beautiful pillar candle in one hand and a strong, ornate candle holder in the other.
“Now remember,” he continued, “a candle is a complete and whole candle with or without a candle holder” — “Amen!” — “and a candle holder is still a candle holder with or without a candle.”
Then he said, “Now, the role of a candle is to light up the room” — “Say that!” — “and the role of the candle holder is to support that which is designed to give light.” The women knew where he was going with this and they were more than happy to be taken for the ride. ” ‘Cause when you put the two together,” which the speaker then proceeded to do, “the candle holder lifts up the candle, putting her on the pedastal she deserves!” Thousands of women were on their feet with that one, as the speaker dramatically rested the candle on the candle holder, walked over to a tall table, and positioned the pair at center, right under a glorious spotlight. “Yes! Thank You, Jesus!”
But he wasn’t done.
Next thing you knew, the entire arena went dark. After a moment, you saw a small flicker of light; the speaker had a lighter in his hand. As he slowly brought the flame closer and closer to the candle to ignite it, he explained that the flame represented the Holy Spirit, and now that the candle and her dutiful candle holder were in proper position, the Holy Spirit could then come down and impart light upon her so that the whole home could be blessed.
Wow. Well done. Women were literally dancing in the aisles, shouting their Hallelujah’s.
Who can blame them? Finally, women’s empowerment takes center stage. Finally, it’s out of the shadows and into the light — no more obscurity from being overlooked, under-appreciated, and taken advantage of. Finally, a man “gets it.” As one young lady said at the end of that first night, “I’m not here to learn about God. I just want to know how to deal with that man!”
Women are rightfully fed up. We’ve had to give so much to our men (if they stick around) and our kids for what seems so little in return. So, we are ripe for this kind of recognition. And this speaker and the televangelist behind the conference knew it. The best way for me to describe it: they knew how to hit their “spiritual G-spot” for women who, as I said, are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Too bad these women had just been lied to.
Understand my heart. Just because it speaks to your frustrations, just because it resonates with your worn-out spirit, just because it goes along with what you think already, just because it makes you feel better about yourself, does not make it true, right or even good for you. Maybe, just maybe, it does all those things for the very purpose of manipulating your emotions so that you’ll keep spending money on conferences, books and dvd’s. In exchange, you’re learning a false hope that causes you to appreciate your man less while you expect him to appreciate you more, which in turn only perpetuates the cycle of discontent.
This conference is a quintessential, real life instance of what 2 Timothy 3:6-7 describes about the perilous times to come in the last days: “For of this sort [see verses 1 through 5] are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers [various] lusts, Ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
“I’m not here to learn about God” — even though the word “God” is in the title of the conference — “I just want to know how to deal with that man!”
Please, my precious sisters! Don’t be silly!
Let me explain with the Bible how what the speaker was saying was a lie (whether he realized it or not):
Firstly, God specifically created woman to be a suitable helper to the man, not the other way around (Genesis 2:18,20). Our men certainly can and should help, support and honor us (e.g., 1 Peter 3:7), but not to the point of flipping God’s perfect script on marital roles. As 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.” We need to see the value of our special God-given role, not resent it.
Secondly, in a Christian marriage where both spouses are believers, the Holy Spirit does not bless the home exclusively through the wife. Of course, there are moments in any marriage when the wife is more receptive to the Spirit when her husband isn’t. But the reverse occurs a lot, too. To imply that the Holy Spirit guides or imparts wisdom to the Christian home primarily through the wife is completely illogical given all the Scriptures that say the man is the head of the home, husbands are to teach their wives to be holy and blameless before the Lord, and wives are the ones who are to yield (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:3ff; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-6; etc.).
Lastly, this sort of recognition borders on idolatry (Galatians 6:3), where you nurture your frustrations and lusts for recognition more than you nurture your growth as a daughter of the Most High. Besides, one of the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman (verses 10 through 31) is that her husband is well-known in the community (verse 23). Sounds like that old adage, behind every good man is a good woman. Perhaps that’s what verse 31 means when it says that her own good works will bring her praise, because she contributes to her husband’s good reputation. In any case, she should be content to receive praise from her own family (verses 28, 29), and by all means they should be sure to give it to her. But her biggest priority, one that is most praiseworthy and therefore far more important than her feminine appeal, is her fear of the Lord (verse 30).
My heart truly and deeply grieves for women who get taken captive by titillating words that appeal to our egos as well as our hardships. These speakers know women’s hot buttons and are happy to tell them what they want to hear instead of what God truly wants to give them, because putting you up on an idolatrous pedastal is much more financially lucrative than teaching you to willfully submit to your husbands.
I’ll close with this final observation about this conference: I was there myself (for research purposes), at its Los Angeles stop one year. On the second day, one of the speakers gave an excellent talk, based on her equally excellent book, about single Christian women finding completeness in their relationship with God. I later mentioned to her during her book signing afterwards — well, I kind of blurted it out, admittedly — that so far her presentation was the only one that used Scriptures in proper context. I meant it to encourage her, but I was too blunt for the setting (it’s okay on my blog, just saying!) and so I don’t think it left the kind of mark I honestly intended.
Later that afternoon the main attraction, the televangelist, gave a climatic presentation about labor pains, giving birth to your dreams, ditching unsuccessful people, increasing your status, and fulfilling your destiny. That previous speaker must have told him what I said to her because, once he had worked up the audience to yet another emotional frenzy, as his commanding presence went back and forth across the stage anticipating the ebb and flow of squeals, this Christian televangelist made this out-of-nowhere statement: “If you came here thinking this conference was about God, you’re wrong!”
Well, despite the conference title, he certainly got that one right.