In my time ministering to people in the area of man-woman relationships, I have seen the same kinds of problems manifest in different people. Their stories may be different, their examples may be different but their problems are often the same. One particular problem that we often encounter is that of weak women. It’s not to cause offence. I use the term weak because I could find no other befitting definition other than that which the Apostle Paul describes in 2nd Timothy 3:1-7. Read it below:
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
Paul is describing a certain kind of woman whom I meet almost every week while ministering. She is a woman whom the NIV 2011 translation calls gullible. She is a victim of a certain kind of man whom Paul describes in great detail between verse one and six. While this man is not hard to locate, this woman can easily hide in plain sight. However, I believe that the scriptures in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 give us enough information to unravel her and by the grace of God, help her overcome the weakness that is so often manipulated. I pray this post may help a seeking soul.
But before Paul describes the weak woman, he describes her adversary- the manipulator. The manipulator is a lover of self, a lover of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. If you read those characteristics, you can determine safely that some of the ways the weak woman is taken advantage of by the manipulator is sexually (without self-control, lovers of pleasure), financially (lovers of money), physically (brutal) and spiritually (The appearance of godliness but lacking the power). There are more ways, I’m certain, if you study the list. But I picked out these four owing to the similarity to the cases we encounter in ministry. I will give an example of each.
The weak woman is like any woman; sex must mean something to her emotionally first before it means something to her physically. The manipulator knows this. If the manipulator is a man, he knows that he needs to fill her emotional tank in order to get her to open up her body. Several words of passion are whispered into the ear of this woman. These words are not necessarily lies. In fact, the manipulative man knows that the weak woman has a brain. So he won’t waste time with falsehoods. And if he does speak falsehoods, they are often so cleverly worded and interlaced with bits of the truth; only a really clever soul can pick apart the deception. Thus often, he will speak truths: You are beautiful; you have potential; you are amazing; you are attractive; you are so intelligent, you are so good at…. The trouble isn’t with the words that he speaks. The trouble is what he will do with the effect that these words will have on the weak woman. He uses truthful words, but his motives are not sincere. Such a weak woman, who may have had a deficient supply of emotional uplifting from her father and from her family of origin, sees the man who has called out her gifts and affirms her beauty as a knight in shining armour. The manipulator even crowns the emotionally-starving girl with the stunning three: I love you! What she doesn’t know is that the manipulator only loves her the way a hyena loves a sheep. It isn’t long before this woman (that Paul calls weak) finds herself compromising on her sexual purity in the arms of a man who isn’t walking with God. The weak woman must be aware that the manipulator is a lover of pleasure and not a lover of God. Hedonism is his god and the woman’s body is his altar.
It is becoming increasingly common to find financially independent women. It’s a good thing. A common characteristic of this financially independent woman is that she is well-educated. Notwithstanding, she can still be a weak woman and fall prey to the manipulator who creeps into her house. The story often sounds like this: A lady is fed up with her current boyfriend. He had not found any job since his campus internship (at least not one that he could keep). He suggested that he move in with her as he looks for a job. They cohabit for a few years and in all this time, he has made no personal progress. He occasionally invites his friends to her house and she would have to clean up after them. The man has no ambition so she gives him money to start a business- to give him morale. He “unfortunately” sees a new phone he always wanted and he buys it instead with the business money. She gives him another lump sum of cash to start his business and adds a warning to be responsible. He nods in earnest and takes the money. Three months later, she is getting pseudo-reports of how well the business is doing yet she is constantly denied an opportunity to visit his workplace. When questioned about business profit, he coughs the same miserable excuse: business hasn’t picked up yet. When insistent on seeing the business, she realizes he has used the money in a gambling spree (where he lost obviously) and has been lying all along. She struggles to get over it but figures forgiveness is the way after hearing a sermon in church on unconditional love. When they go on dates, he never pays for even one. She foots all his personal bills and always sends money for credit (that he never uses to call her). When she stumbles on the truth of his affair with a girl from campus, she is bewildered and hurt. She kicks him out of the house. She then goes into a frenzy of emotions which eventually settles as guilt, for kicking him out. The confirmation of her weakness is when she is advised by friends and family to let the relationship go but says she has invested too much time. She is determined to reap where she has sown. She will fight for her man. The campus girl is the enemy and her man is a victim. She even paints a picture of how he has not eaten a decent meal for the last two days since she commanded him to move out. She even defends him by saying he was better than her former boyfriend who used to physically abuse her. The weak woman does not see that her manipulator is only sorry he was caught; he is not sorry for his wrongdoing. She seeks for more advice and everyone is stunned when she asks, “Should I get back with him?”
Physically abusive men are cowards. However, weak women see them otherwise. He is only misunderstood, you will hear them say. I know he beats me, but he has nothing but love for me, another will add. Ironically, all the evidence in the world can’t seem to show the woman in this case that she needs to leave. For every punch, she conveniently remembers the moment they had a romantic lunch date. The violent man does not struggle to say he loves the woman. He needs to keep her in her place using deception. And too often it is too late for the woman and we have another funeral to attend.
This one is by far the most common in our country. The manipulators only need to have a form of godliness to attract the weak woman. They feed on the desperation of the woman and lure her into cults, blatant deception and false doctrines. The manipulators here can be fellow women too. I have heard of several weak women lured into mysticism and strange teachings and doctrines by their fellow girlfriends. Their manipulative girlfriends often approach the weak woman with messages that start like this, “God told me to tell you…” The manipulators often take pride in being the only ones through whom God talks. And the weak woman often does not have the will power to even question why God wouldn’t speak to her directly concerning the issues of her own life. So these weak women are fooled by the spiritual manipulators that God said they should marry so and so, that they should break up with so and so, that they should start speaking in tongues every time when they pray etc. The weak women fall just like their mother, Eve, who fell into the spiritual deceit of the enemy. But the spiritual manipulators can be men too. A friend told me of a certain lady neighbour of his who lost her house after failing to keep up with the rent. The origin of her woes was not financial trouble but rather, spiritual trouble. The pastor of her church had implored the congregation to sow into the life of their spiritual daddy by getting him a grand gift for his upcoming birthday. By sowing the financial seed they would be guaranteed financial abundance due to their generous tithe. She pledged a huge amount of money. The church required her to demonstrate her faith by signing against her name in a certain piece of paper. She did. Little did she know she had signed a bank form pledging to be guarantor for an asset that the pastor had already acquired through a church loan. She was most surprised when the bank started following up on her security as a guarantor when the loan was defaulted. She borrowed money from her sacco and cleared her pledge. She remained with some extra cash from the sacco money. She used it to sow another financial seed to the pastor. She blamed herself for not reading the document she signed. Soon, her entire salary was being sown. Why? To prove her faith was strong because the pastor said her level of faith was small based on the amount she gave. She was expecting a financial breakthrough. Needless to say, she is still waiting. A weak woman taken advantage of by a man with a form of godliness yet lacking the power.
Buy why do these women fall for these traps? The Apostle Paul tell us why:
- These women have no emotional intelligence and self-awareness
V6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women…
The scriptures indicate that the manipulators creep into the lives of these women and successfully capture them. Women are generally emotionally more self-aware than their counterparts, men. However these women seem unsuspecting of the men who are coming into their lives. They unfortunately believe in the goodness of man. The word that Paul uses, “capture”, suggests that a trap has been laid and the women have fallen for it. We have heard scores of stories of men who have been trapped by women into marrying them, getting pregnant and even owing money. Here, however, the tables have turned. The manipulator slides up the life of the weak woman and soon captures her to get along with his selfish needs. We know they are selfish because the manipulator is described to be exactly that in the preceding verses. In fact the first characteristic of the manipulator in verse one is lovers of self. A woman who is not emotionally intelligent and self-aware is a primary prey to this manipulation that Paul talks about.
- These women are overwhelmed by personal sins
V6a …burdened with sins
The scriptures tell us that the women are burdened with sins. This suggests that they are either not regenerate (not born-again) or are still struggling to understand the simple message of the gospel- that God became a man (Jesus) and took up their sins’ punishment on the cross. Because they are not free from their sins, they are still enslaved and anchored from making any self-progress. These women must understand that it is possible to overcome the struggles of their flesh once they put their hope in Jesus Christ. He took our burdens on Calvary and gave us his yoke that is light. The weak woman needs the gospel.
- These women have no self-control
V6b …and led astray by various passions,
The lack of self-control could be testament on the woman’s unregenerate spiritual condition. She may still be spiritually dead. But it could also mean that she is gullible, as some newer Bible translations describe her. She gives in to romanticized myths of life and hence she is led astray. One of the biggest myth-dispensing sources of our time is pop culture entertainment, starting with Hollywood. The weak woman is enslaved to this fantasy. She expects men to be like Alejandro. She does not believe she is beautiful until she looks like Kim Kardashian. The term that Paul uses, “various passions”, also suggests that she is unsteady in her devotions. This is because pop culture is always changing. Today she wants to be a model; tomorrow she wants to be an activist; the next day she wants to be a corporate hot shot. Marry unsteadiness and being led astray because of no self-control and you have a woman who is confused about her purpose in life.
- These women know spiritual truth in their heads but can’t seem to understand it with their hearts
V7 …always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth
Perhaps the most bewildering thing is that this woman is interested in spirituality and that she takes time to imbibe spiritual truth. However, Paul tells us that she can feed spiritually but she will never gain a pound from her diet because the truth enters her head but never goes down to her heart. She will listen to enough podcasts from men and women of God, she will watch enough YouTube sermons and she will attend every revival conference in town but her life will remain the same. She can even give spiritual advice from what she has read and learned from the scriptures but she is blind to the fact that she needs to act on the very advice she gives.
I believe God loves the weak woman and he has good plans for her. And since God desires that all people are saved and not just some (1 Tim 2:4) and also since he does not delight in the death of those that do not know him (Ezekiel 33:11), we can say that there is hope for this kind of woman. She will overcome by turning to the Saviour Jesus for salvation. If she has already come to faith and is born-again, then she will overcome by surrendering fully to him. Only then will the Lord fill this woman with:
- The spiritual gift of discernment to be self-aware
- Grace to overcome personal sins
- The Holy Spirit to have self-control
- Spiritual wisdom to understand biblical truth and identify false teaching
The weak woman can be a strong woman!