Q&A with J: “How Does Satan Target Women?”

A commenter recently asked:

J writes: “[porn] is everywhere, and Satan knows exactly how to target men. (He’s got other ways of targeting us women too.)” … How does Satan target women? And what do women do regularly that Christians call out frequently as sin?

Blog post title + arrows flying at target, with one bullseye

I could give you a long list of ways I believe Satan tries to sink his crafty claws into the hearts of women. But the focus of what I do on this blog, and the context of this commenter’s question, is in the area of sexuality.

So the question really is: How does Satan target women regarding sexuality?

Get ready, ladies, I’m going to give you to you straight.

Image of Betty Davis with "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."

All About Eve (1950) – Bette Davis

I mulled over several options. Are we ladies targets in the area of erotica? Yes, to some extent. Gate-keeping and sexual refusal? Yes, for some women. Immodesty? Yes, we can have that problem. Emotional affairs? Yes, some women are easily drawn in.

But those don’t apply to women largely. They are struggles wives definitely have, but not with so much frequency and generality that I can confidently say, “This is where Satan has our number.”

Rather, as I thought about the wives I’ve heard from who are harming their marriage bed, and as I delved deeper into the Word of God for the biblical answer, here’s where I concluded women on the whole have a big sin problem: We’re naggers. Complainers. Whiners.

Just look at what Proverbs says:

  • “Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.” (21:9, HCSB).
  • It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” (21:19, NLT).
  • It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a contentious wife” (25:24, NRSV).
  • “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand” (27:15-16, NIV).

Truth is, we ladies are wired to notice when things aren’t how we think they should be and then to speak up about it. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but we can put this inclination on overdrive. We can easily become nagging wives. Even, and sometimes especially, in the area of sexuality.

All my life, I’ve heard complaints like:

  • “All men are perverts.”
  • “Men only want one thing.”
  • “He doesn’t care about romance, just sex.”
  • “I can’t even undress in front of him with being ogled.”

Or maybe the tables are turned, and she‘s the one with the higher drive. So the complaints become about him not satisfying her needs, not being like other men, not being manly (what a dig to a guy already struggling with low libido).

Many wives complain when sex isn’t done her way: the timing she wants, the atmosphere she wants, the initiation she wants, the activities she wants, etc. Such that sex itself becomes an area in marriage where he’s walking on eggshells, and you’re judging his performance like the Simon Cowell of sexual intimacy.

Some of you are now saying, “But I’m not a big complainer.” You’ve still likely had your moments. I certainly have.

Even the sex-positive wife in Song of Songs had a short fit of complaining when she was sound asleep and her husband arrived home wanting to make love:

I slept, but my heart was awake.
Listen! my beloved is knocking.
“Open to me, my sister, my love,
my dove, my perfect one;
for my head is wet with dew,
my locks with the drops of the night.”
I had put off my garment;
how could I put it on again?
I had bathed my feet;
how could I soil them? (5:2-3).

I can just hear the whine in her voice as she says, more or less, “Seriously? I just took off my robe, and you want me to put it back on and open the door for you? You want me to get my feet dirty to let you into my bed? I want to sleep, not have sex. Can’t this wait until morning?”

And it’s not just about sex itself. In various areas of our marriage — household, parenting, finances, relationship, religion, you name it — we think we know what’s what and then let our husbands know with disrespectful words, critical tones, and grumbling attitudes.

We become prickly.

And our quills-out approach might be the very thing killing our sexual intimacy. Because, frankly, who wants to make love to a porcupine?

Porcupine saying, "What do you mean I'm not sexy?"

It’s a battle we have to fight, because it includes our physical makeup. Even from young ages, females express emotion more than males, although some of that is certainly social conditioning. However, in research studies, women consistently report experiencing negative emotions, such as fear and anxiety, more than men.

So we’re more emotionally expressive and more anxious. Now add in our biology of the hormonal highs and lows that come with menstruation, pregnancy, and eventually menopause, and you have a recipe for a Big Nag Sandwich.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we women don’t have legitimate concerns. I absolutely hate when you bring up a reasonable issue to some guy and he asks, “Is this ’cause you’re ‘on the rag’?” You want to reply, “No, it’s because you’re a jerk!” But at same time, let’s fess up and admit that our hormones can increase our intensity.

And just like Satan is happy to use male biology to dangle the temptation of porn underneath men’s noses, he’s more than happy to twist our biology for his ends. If he can take our fear, our anxiety, our expressiveness, and our hormones and fashion that into a quarrelsome, nagging, contentious wife who tears apart her house and marriage bed with her own hands…he’ll do it.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1).

By contrast, Proverbs 31 describes the role model wife this way:

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
  and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
  and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (31:25-26).

Yeah, that woman is not a complainer.

Today’s question included this: “And what do women do regularly that Christians call out frequently as sin?” I have to admit that we don’t call this out often enough.

It’s certainly in the New Testament as well:

  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15).
  • “Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9).
  • And do not grumble, as some of them did — and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:10).

This clearly makes husband-bashing a problematic pastime. We gals might be surprised when our ladies’ circles get visited by the Destroying Angel.

I’m feeling uber-convicted right now myself, wondering where I’ve fallen short in my marriage. How have I made our sex life more difficult with my nagging attitudes? Have I nagged specifically about sex? Have I become prickly?

And have we ladies been letting each other get away with sin? I really hope there isn’t a chorus of men saying, “Here! Here!” in the comment section (though I promise to publish reasonably worded comments). Rather, I hope we women will own up and hold each other accountable.

What can we do to avoid being the nagging wife who makes her husband want to retreat to the corner of the roof? How can we change so that our husbands are instead drawn to us into our marriage bed?

26 thoughts on “Q&A with J: “How Does Satan Target Women?”

  1. Jason@SongSix3

    “…and you’re judging his performance like the Simon Cowell of sexual intimacy.”

    Hahahaha! That was great, J! The first thought in my head when I read that was…

    “And with a performance like that, you’re going straight to HOLLYWOOD!”

    As usual, some very thought provoking stuff you’ve penned. Your writing blesses me. I pray this is a fruitful discussion today.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yeah, I’m sure that’s how most husbands read that. Hahaha! “I’m so good, I’m going all the way!” 😉

      Reply
  2. Happily Married

    Wow, I really needed this. Thank you for an awesome post and for sharing scripture to serve as a reminder! I nag out of fear that if I don’t things will somehow fall apart because I notice things way more than he does!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      That’s a great point! Yes, oftentimes we come from a place of fear, which is understandable but doesn’t make our actions helpful to our relationship. I’m reminded of 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love” (HCSB).

      Reply
  3. Shelly

    You hit the nail on the head with this! I’m feeling convicted too. My best friend and I are always talking about how our Christian husbands can’t keep it together- her husband drinks more than he should and mine has a video game addiction and they have both struggled with pornography. We wonder why it’s always the women who help the men along with their problems while we are seemingly “perfect.” But I know she and I are both very guilty of nagging our men and griping when things don’t go our way. Very good truth you pointed out today. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Anony

    Love this article and very timely for me today. I am feeling prickly! I spent the first 5 yrs of our marriage nagging horribly. I don’t know why he put up with me. An older lady at church told me if I didn’t start treating him right he’d find someone who would. She was wise beyond her years. She said if a man didn’t feel like a man at home he would never look forward to walking through that door in the afternoons. I’m not a quiet wife nor do I let things go that demand my attention (presumed or otherwise) but with age I have learned to pick my battles, let things go and choose love first.

    Reply
  5. Ashley

    Good, convicting post today! I hope you don’t mind if I add a “but.” BUT it’s really disrespectful for a husband whose wife is trying really hard NOT to be a nag, to call her a nag anyway, just because she mentions one little thing he doesn’t like. Sometimes it seems like there is a real double standard. If a man asks something, it’s just a request, but if a woman asks something, she’s nagging.

    Reply
  6. seastar

    Wow….this got me, in a good way! I was raped and molested as a child and into my teen years ; everything sexually has been an issue for a very long time and i’m unfortunately one with the higher drive. I’m learning to make time for cuddling (intimacy) and it’s helped fill that “need” rather than just rely on getting all from sex with my husband. It’s helped and during the times he’s just NOT in the mood i’m trying to go off in a quiet place and have the extra intimate time with God.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Oh my! Stories like yours always break my heart. That abuse should have never happened to you. Praying that God will heal and bless you and your marriage.

      Reply
  7. Bobthemusicguy

    J, I’ll wade into the waters here. I’m confident about sharing this because it has all changed, but one thing my wife did for a long time, that I think is right up there with nagging as a destructive behavior, is not letting go of the past. Things that I said or did in college years, before we were married, would get brought up again and again as if I were still the man she knew then. There was no allowance for change. Something that I knew was long gone would be brought up and thrown in my face, and it stabbed like a knife.

    About a year ago, we went through some serious soul searching and allowed God to get our marriage back on track. And some of those things from the past were finally completely laid to rest.

    One other thing that women tend to do is to take generalizations about men, from whatever source, and apply them to their husbands. I would sometimes feel like Ricky Ricardo when Lucy hit him with some accusation from out of the blue. “Wha happen?!” I’ve been married almost 37 years, and I have done more than my share of stupid and thoughtless things that hurt our marriage. Please don’t import imaginary offenses because of something you read or hear, or that another woman complains about. In fact, don’t EVER complain about your husband to another woman. That’s the ultimate in disrespect.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t see grudge-holding as a gender-specific issue. In fact, in my own life, I can think of more men I’ve experienced that with than women. But I agree with you about generalizations. That’s something humans all do as a quick way to discern how to react to their environment (e.g., if wasp stings you, you avoid all wasps, which in this case is good). However, our society has promoted some bad generalizations about men that we women might then apply to the individual guy in front of us, when the generalization isn’t true. And that’s not fair.

      Reply
  8. Alicia

    Thanks so much for this post, and for your candor. It’s one of the many things I love about you and your writing. This is definitely the biggest thing I see in women, including myself. I work to control it on a daily basis. My big issue is remembering that just because my husband does certain things differently than I do does not mean he’s doing them wrong. I used to congratulate myself when I got my verbal criticism under better control, except that it still showed in my actions. He noticed that I’d, for example, completely reload the dishwasher before running it, even though he’d already put everything in. Or re-do some other bit of housework he’d already done just because it wasn’t the way I’d have done it. That’s when I learned my nagging could show up in my actions as well as my words. Now God is working with me on it being in my thoughts. Sometimes I’ll think something contemptuous about my husband, and even though there is nothing verbal, or even an action that would betray those thoughts to him, God sees them, and has been working on me in that whole, “Taking thoughts captive to Christ,” bit. This is a good reminder for me to keep pressing into that work. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      You’re right about the nonverbal communication. While we’re confessing, want to know my biggest issue with nagging? My vocal tone. But you’re right that if we take our thoughts captive, make those changes in our minds and hearts, our actions will follow. (Although I’m not opposed to actions first, if that helps our minds/hearts.) Blessings!

      Reply
  9. Wayne

    I like how in-depth you got with this,. I also like what you said addressing other women: “You’ve likely still had your moments. I certainly have”. Well, as a man, so have I. Even if we ourselves aren’t big complainers, men or women.

    I think what women often miss about men – and I have to give my wife full credit for seeing this and helping me see it – is men are not multi-taskers. Now, of course there are exceptions, some women aren’t either, and some men are. I most definitely am not, and she most definitely is. There are women, especially, who talk faster than I think, and I simply don’t relate on that level. She knows this, better than I myself do. I have a good wife; we have a very good marriage.

    But we have both definitely had our moments, and they can affect our love life if we’re not careful. The solution is the same, as the scriptures you mention point out. I think where we have to be careful is assuming one size fits all. Not all men are like that, not all women are like that, though there are characteristics (and stories!) that probably nearly everyone can relate to.

    I can relate to this. Once again, nicely done.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks. And yes, I think you always have to look into your own situation. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, but in different ways.

      Reply
  10. Tom Hillson

    I’m the commenter that had asked this question. Thanks J for addressing it. I was actually not thinking of only the sexual arena – basically, when I wrote the question, I was just feeling (as I often do) that people/Christians/society come down harder on men than on women when it comes to sin. It’s one reason I feel the Christian worldview doesn’t hold up too well.

    And I don’t believe God is responsible for any of the differences we see between men and women, so I don’t torture myself (anymore) trying to reconcile the differences from a theological or sin perspective.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I think there can be a mistake in equating the Christian worldview with our imperfect interpretations in real life. We try to imitate Christ, but we are poor imitations. Thus, our need for a savior.

      Reply
  11. Mike S

    When Satan came to Eve (and not Adam- 1 Tim 2:15), he seemed to appeal to her pride for sure, but it was in the area of her senses-what she could touch and feel. Noticed that she added the phrase “nor touch it, lest we die.” He said she could be like God, knowing everything, and she saw that the fruit was good to serve her desires. It tasted good, and was good to look at, (or decorate with :-)). So from the first woman, she decided that she should be in charge and knew what was best. It’s hard to argue with your feelings – if you feel right, you must be right. Men, of course, do similar things, just in different areas.
    I do think there was a difference though, and it relates to J’s point. Eve was tricked, she really thought she was right, but she wasn’t. And yet she used her powers to persuade the man. God punished Adam for the specific sin of “hearkening to” or “listening to” his wife. Fundamentally this means that Adam abandoned his headship when faced with something that he knew was wrong. And it seems to imply that Eve thought she was right and persisted until he gave in. Both were wrong, he for caving to “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” weakness, and she for persisting.
    This carries over into the general relationship between man and woman. Hs life as head and provider become more difficult because “it is not good that man should be alone,” and she because Adam’s headship remained, yet she would desire and seek his role -“your desire shall be for your husband.” (Gen. 3:16). Many scholars think that the construction of this means something like “you shall desire to be in his place.”
    I think this sets up a struggle in marriages for control, sometimes overt, sometimes passive and sometimes passive aggressive.
    To J’s point, the refusing or gatekeeping wife wants control, sometimes for understandable reasons, but she subverts her husband and herself in so doing. The woman who bypasses her husband for erotica, romance novels, or emotional affairs does the same.
    And, of course, the man who sins by abusing or neglecting to be a head like Christ has his own sin to deal with, with at least as many resultant relationship difficulties. The man’s sins and coping mechanisms are rarely as gentle and pretty as the woman’s. Men are direct, women are indirect.
    Another thing that I have seen in marriages that is more to J’s main point is that wives are often like Eve in that she had all she needed, but wanted “everything.” That is the hook that Satan used. You should have “more,” and she tore down her house in this desire/discontentment.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It’s interesting how you break this down about Eve’s fall versus Adam’s fall. I agree with some of it, though not all. And I’ve jokingly said that it took a “crafty,” talking serpent and sly reasoning to get Eve to sin, whereas all it took for Adam to sin was a naked woman showing up with yummy food. 😉

      Actually, my point there is that I really don’t like getting into the “who was worse” and “what was their big sin” debates. Because there may be truth to them, but both genders clearly blew it and we each need to own up to our own issues. I do believe one result of sin was a power struggle between the sexes. Yet we have different ways of wanting to wrest control from the other. It can be nagging for women, but it can also be domination and even abuse from men (more common for males, though not exclusively them). I suspect a lot of our power struggles would go away if we’d only attend to becoming more humble like Christ (see Philippians 2:1-11).

      Reply
  12. Mike S.

    J,
    I agree completely about the “equality” of Adam and Eve’s sin (and all their descendants), but they did sin differently, or the punishment would have been the same. The question is, was their sin difference based on their gender, and I think it was because of Paul’s usage of these events in 1 Timothy 2.

    I guess my point was partly that there were hints of the weaknesses of both sexes in Genesis 3, and this article did a good job of expanding on them. Do you plan a companion article on men, or is that what lots of articles are about? 🙂

    Unfortunately, men and women have been trying to blame the opposite sex for their own problems ever since, and continue to be blind to their faults. So, yes, humility is the key.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    You know, everyone talks about women nagging their husbands. In my relationship the roles are reversed. I have made a point to keep my concerns to myself, however, the criticism I receive is emotionally crippling. I know that I’m not perfect, but it is so hard when whatever you do is overlooked. This attitude can destroy a wife’s desire for her husband. I have had to pray that God would help me to speak up when necessary and not accept responsibility for unreasonable circumstances.
    Men can have destructive tongues too.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      That’s entirely true. Husbands can also be hurtfully critical. I pray that you can establish some boundaries and remember your worth in Christ.

      Reply
    2. E

      Have you read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I found this book extremely helpful, even just to help me find the language to communicate my ‘needs’ to my husband (who hasn’t read the book.). It also helped me realise all the ways my husband was already showing me love, just in a way I hadn’t recognised before! That was really helpful because then when he did say something hurtful (he honestly doesn’t get how words can hurt me) I could honestly still feel loved because I had all these other reminders of him loving me.

      I did have to memorise some scriptures about my worth in Christ and would sometimes have to repeat (in my head!) a mantra of ‘I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, God loves me, God has grace and forgiveness for me even if my husband doesn’t in this moment’ in the middle of a disagreement where I was feeling attacked. It helped.

      Reply
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