I’ve explored this concept peripherally in the past, but I want to go back to it since there has been some discussion about it in other Christian and secular blogs. Specifically, Biblical Gender Roles and Rollo. In my opinion, the whole issue is a bit more nuanced than both Rollo and BGR argue back and forth. I will be thoroughly examining it in this post.
For those of you unaware, “dread” is what is termed of in “game” as passively or actively inducing feelings of anxiety, apprehension, or fear in a woman that motivates her to improve the relationship. Typically, such anxiety improves the relationship leading to an increase in frequency of sex or acting more feminine and submissive. However, it does not come without its downsides. Within this are two categories of which are termed “hard” and “soft” (or passive) dread. Rollo discusses dread and soft dread from a secular point of view.
Naturally, most Christian women and even some Christian men upon hearing that dread causes anxiety, apprehension, or fear in women decry it as evil. However, this negative response to “dread” is ignorant of the Scriptures statements on fear.
Obviously, I am not here to validate or invalidate supposed “game” principles. I am here to talk about the Scriptures and what we can learn from them concerned fear. Dread falls under the category of fear, but it is is not all fear. For this posts purposes this should become apparent as I’ll first have to discuss fear in terms of the Scriptures, but I will distinguish the various places it arises. This will lead to showing why it occurs when husband work toward headship, and how to rebuild a relationship.
Rational and irrational fear
Specifically, the Scriptures distinguish between rational and irrational fear.
Rational fear — fearing the consequences of when you do evil — is a healthy fear. This is the fear of God that we all have in our hearts. We should fear and tremble when we commit sin because God is Righteous/Just and abhors sin. Rational fear is an encouragement to do what is right, and to avoid doing what is wrong.
Irrational fear — is unhealthy and to be eliminated. This is when you fear/worry about necessities as Jesus talked about with clothes and food or have an irrational fear about what “may” happen to you in marriage. Irrational fear is a discouragement. It is often to avoid doing what is right and to do what is wrong (such as [being afraid to speak] out for your faith [when in a crowd of people]).
The examples often brought up by those who oppose “dread” are what are termed as irrational fear. The most often example is the one I discussed above. In the Sermon on the Mount preaching in Matthew 6, Jesus discusses the topic of not worrying about what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will wear for your Father in heaven knows all such things.
On the other hand, rational fear is good. Feelings of anxiety, apprehension, or fear that encourage you to do the right thing are not evil. In fact, they are good. Godly fear should stimulate us to do the right thing, especially if we know what the right thing is. James 4:17 therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. It is clear that in the Scriptures sex in marriage is a good thing.
Rational fear is in clearly discussed in the Scriptures. The Fear of the Lord is exhorted all throughout the Old testament and New Testament Scriptures. However, wives are exhorted to fear/respect/reverence their husbands in both Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3. This is derived from the Greek phobeo, and the dual meaning is clear even though most modern translation place it as respect or reverence.
Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects (phobeo) her husband.
1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful (phobeo) behavior.
G5399 — φοβέω — phobeō — fob-eh’-o
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence. Total KJV occurrences: 93
For those of you who have read this blog a long time, all of this is obvious stuff so far because I have discussed it extensively. However, I have not discussed for what purpose the commands are placed. God’s commands for roles and responsibilities are always for a purpose. What is the purpose of a wife fearing her husband?
A wife is to fear/respect/reverence her husband because of the role of the position of the husband. Indeed, a wife is not to respect a husband for the things he does for her or if he is acting like a good husband. She is to respect him for the position. This is why the Scriptural commands about marriage in Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, Colossians 3, Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Timothy 2, and so on are unconditional. Proper fear and respect is given regardless of [insert bad things of the other person or imperfections the other person]. This is the institutional nature of some of the commandments that Father and Jesus have given. This importance of this cannot be understated.
Influence of emotions on behavior
This is why I also use attitude as a proxy for behavior when I can’t examine how a wife treats her husband. A lack of fear and respect from a wife toward her husband will almost inevitably spill over into how she treats him starting with contempt which leads to nagging, emotional blow ups, unhappiness, and the like.
As we know from my previous article on understanding how emotional states play into roles we see that:
Trust + fear/respect breeds submission.
Trust + joy breeds love.
This can be seen clearly below.
A woman that does not fear and respect her husband will have a very difficult time submitting him. Sex, from the perspective of a responsive act from a wife and initiation from a husband, is felt as a submission of her body to him.
This embodies the nature of the desire dynamic which I discussed in a Christian understanding of attraction. A wife who respects her husband will naturally submit to him in everything including sex. A wife who does not respect her husband will naturally find it very difficult to submit to him in anything including sex because it is so intimate.
However, although we want correct order — natural law — we still must choose regardless of how easy or how hard it is to be obedient to Christ.
Irreconcilability of the secular and Christian world view
In the secular model, many including Rollo discuss the desire dynamic in terms of men demonstrating high value which women naturally flock toward. However, this cannot be reconciled in any way with Christianity because of the burden of performance placed upon an individual under a secular worldview. Indeed, once a man fails to be high value under a secular world view his women will often naturally trade up or dump him altogether.
Now, the Christian dynamic is tied intimately with intrinsic value and extrinsic value. Specifically, extrinsic value within a Christian world view is reward by Christ to stewardship (see: Parable of the Talents/Minas again). I discussed how this properly is defined within a marriage in Understanding Godly Value.
Intrinsic value is the value that God has placed on us as human beings. There’s various Scriptures denoting the value that we have as God’s creations. For example, God knew us before He created us in our mother’s womb. All of these verses show that as His creation there is an inherent value that He has placed on us. This is why He desires that all men would be saved through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9). Likewise, husbands and wives are “coheirs” in Christ (1 Peter 3).
Extrinsic value is a bit more clear cut. Extrinsic value is not derived by our status, our money, what we look like, or other early things. Extrinsic value is instead derived from what we do. However, extrinsic value is not derived from a works based mentality rather it is derived through roles and responsibilities.
So too all extrinsic value is measured solely through stewardship of what we have been given. A wife’s stewardship is measured through her role and responsibility as a wife. A husband’s stewardship is measured through his role and responsibilities as a husband. Each of these are different in the Scriptures.
A wife gains nothing through usurping her husband’s roles and responsibility. Indeed, it can be said that by usurping her husband’s roles and responsibilities she neglects her own. Thus, she is being irresponsible with what she has been given in addition to being rebellious.
Intrinsic value embodies what it means to honor others.
Extrinsic value, on the other hand, embodies our roles within the responsibilities to which we are tasked. Each Christian has a role and spiritual gifts with the body of Christ. To those who are given to singleness Paul describes total commitment to Christ in 1 Corinthians 7. Likewise, to those given to marriage come the roles and responsibilities of husband and wife.
Indeed, the main difference between the secular and Christian world view is purpose. If there is no God then there is no purpose behind what the secular does. Those who do not believe in God are just trying to find some form of transient happiness whether within themselves, in women, money, or other material goals including lineage. However, within the Christian world view there is both eternal intrinsic and extrinsic value behind all that we do.
Tying everything back to fear (or dread if you want to call it that)
First, let’s understand what holy fear inspires us to do.
Holy fear of God is tied to eternal extrinsic value. It is not related to intrinsic value because we know that God created us and imbued us with value that cannot be removed. However, as we know in Proverbs the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. What does knowledge allow us to accomplish? Knowledge allows us to use our mental faculties to distinguish right from wrong. When we distinguish right from wrong and act on it then we build self control, then perseverance, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, and then love.
2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral [g]excellence (arete), and in your moral excellence (arete), knowledge (gnosis), 6 and in your knowledge (gnosis), self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
G1108 — γνῶσις — gnōsis — gno’-sis
From G1097; knowing (the act), that is, (by implication) knowledge: – knowledge, science. Total KJV occurrences: 29
G703 — ἀρέτη — aretē — ar-et’-ay
From the same as G730; properly manliness (valor), that is, excellence (intrinsic or attributed): – praise, virtue. Total KJV occurrences: 5
This is why I have no problem with objective science and human nature. Knowledge/science of human nature can be used to further the Christian walk. However, it must be built on a foundation of faith and arete — moral excellence, virtue, manliness — lest we be led astray.
Thus, we have established that the Fear of the Lord motivates us to righteous action given the nature of extrinsic value meeting the commandments of God.
Second, now that we have a proper framework rooted in Scripture let’s examine “dread” or rather fear. The fear, reverence and respect is already commanded of the wife toward the husband in the Scriptures (Eph 5, 1 Pet 3). Therefore, what we must acknowledge now is whether inducement of such fear creates righteous action. If it induces righteous action it can be considered rational fear. If it induces unrighteous action it can be considered irrational fear.
A wife experiencing anxiety of a husband naturally lends itself to increasing her desire to have sex with him more. This is an fact based upon the myriad amounts observational data from both Christian and secular marriages and unions. Hence, we must recognize that “fear” or dread is in fact inducing righteous action of desiring to and having more sex with her husband.
This leads to the conclusion that Christian women stating that husbands should never do anything to cause a wife to fear is false. Feelings and emotions are not the Truth. This highlight the prevalent myth that someone making you feel bad = sin. It is false.
Roles and responsibilities
Although we understand that the emotional feelings and subsequent actions of the wife from fear to have sex are righteous, this does not mean that the way in which a husband carries this out is righteous. Those of you familiar with Koine Greek should understand that eidos is the term used for “idol”:
1 Thessalonians 5:21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every [m]form/appearance (eidos) of evil.
G1491 — εἶδος — eidos — i’-dos
From G1492; a view, that is, form (literally or figuratively): – appearance, fashion, shape, sight. Total KJV occurrences: 6
The reason why I brought up roles and responsibilities is that the nature of a husband’s roles and responsibilities are independent of his wife.
A husband can flirt with other women to make his wife fear him, but that is giving the appearance of evil and not treating her as it was himself. A husband can withdraw affection from her, but then he is not nourishing and cherishing her as if she was his own body. This is why I am against “hard dread” as it were which is overt actions that demonstrate the appearance of or the action of adultery.
The nature of the husband is to be the head in marriage. He is not to become the head in marriage. Neither is he to get permission to be the head in marriage. He simply is the head. The key to understanding this is the knowledge of dysfunctional relationships. A husband changing his behavior to act as the head in his marriage will naturally create fear within the wife. After all he is starting to exert headship within the marriage.
A wife who was naturally implicitly or explicitly in charge before will have built up trust with her husband in this dysfunctional relationship pattern. She is comfortable with being in the head position and thus in control of the relationship. She trusts that her husband is fine in this position. However, this does nothing to change her unhappiness, nagging, and contempt within the marriage itself.
This is naturally the result of dysfunctional relationship patterns that manifest in self reinforcing loops. A wife “may” desire to submit to her husband, but she trusts more in her control over the relationship than to obey God. This leads to an irrational fear loop that keeps her nagging, unhappy, and disrespectful of her husband. She acts as the head because she is afraid of obedience to God’s command. As you can see, this is an irrational fear because her role is not the head.
However, when a husband starts acting as the head in marriage this naturally creates fear within her through two other mechanisms:
- There is a rational fear of authority that is rooted in his position as the head. The rational fear of leadership from her husband results in increased sexual desire for him.
- There is another rational fear of breaking trust of the dysfunctional trust relationship. While breaking trust is normally a bad thing, breaking trust in a dysfunctional relationship pattern is a good thing. This naturally results in additional fear as she “feels like she doesn’t know who her husband is anymore.” However, this broken trust must also be rebuild if you want unity in your relationship.
This it the dual nature of rational fear manifesting itself within correcting a dysfunctional relationship. However, both of these facets must be understand by husbands in order to truly rebuild a harmonious relationship. Going out and flirting with other women naturally builds a rational fear of authority, but it does not rebuild trust within a relationship. Withdrawing affection naturally does not rebuild trust. Likewise, such actions violate not giving the appearance of evil and do not nourish and cherish the wife in love.
G5399 — φοβέω — phobeō — fob-eh’-o
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence. Total KJV occurrences: 93
This is why I agree with “passive dread” that results from the change of the husband acting like the head in the relationship. However, the goal is not “dread,” but the goal is “head.” Dread or fear is just a passive result of this.
Rebuilding trust is difficult. As the Parable of the Talents indicates rebuilding trust takes time and effort in proper stewardship of the roles and responsibilities that we have been given. It means building up a certain amount of capital in terms of extrinsic value. The good news is that the commands of Scripture to the husband are there to rebuild trust. These include:
- She is your helpmeet and not the head (Gen 2).
- Acting as the head within marriage (Eph 5). Be the leader.
- Loving her as Jesus would the Church (Eph 5). Provision, protection, leadership. Teaching, training, admonishing, and rebuking if necessary.
- Nourishing and cherishing her as yourself (Eph 5). Affection is obvious.
- Not becoming embittered toward her (Col 3).
- Dwelling with her according to the knowledge and giving honor to her as the weaker vessel and co-heir in Christ (1 Pet 3).
Treating her as your helpmeet and not the head and acting as the head in your marriage obviously double as rebuilding trust and acting as the authority. The problem is that most men avoid acting as the head and treat her as the head instead of the helpmeet. You lead, and she follows.
Affection is clearly the obvious route to go. If you do care about her then show that you care. Grab her and hold her close. Use your inside jokes with her. Be her rock when she’s emotional (don’t solve the problems, simply listen).
Other non-Scriptural things you can do are become muscular and ripped. The main other one is to have friends and hobbies which are proxies for not putting her on a pedestal showing her that you actually have a life apart from her. Obviously, most men that have issues are idolizing their wife or letting the wife take the lead.
Act don’t talk, but if you talk only talk about yourself to build trust
This phrase pervades the ‘sphere in general but it’s true. The Bible states this. Men are to act as the head. Women are to act as the helpmeet. Even if the husband is disobedient to the Word wives are supposed to win them over through chaste and respectful behavior (1 Pet 3). Talking is often seen as a bad thing. However, it can be used effectively according to certain principles namely only talking about yourself.
Talking about what she is doing is almost inevitably seen as negotiating to her. This is where I’ve changed my stance a bit. Although a man can tell her what she is doing is sin and wrong it only needs to be said once or twice and then left at that. If she doesn’t change her behavior then the relationship is obviously dysfunctional and she willingly will disobey both you and God. Hence, talking anymore beyond this to her is naturally seen as begging and won’t restore a marriage to its proper place. It is generally fruitless. The reason for this is that she places her “trust” not in what you’re saying but in how the dysfunctional relationship has been run. Hence, why it is important to first lead by example.
In this respect, we can see that men need to lead by example. If a wife is frightened by the extrinsic headship behavior of her husband who wants to break the dysfunctional relationship model he should tell her what he is doing to build trust. Often the conversation will start along the lines of her being unfamiliar with the changes:
Her: “I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore” or “You’re changing a lot and I don’t know if I can handle that” or “I’m feeling anxious because I don’t know what is going on with you”
A response should generally only be about yourself and not her in the slightest. The reason for this is because your concern should be first to your roles and responsibilities. If there is a good analogy it would be from the Matthew 7 judging statement: you are taking the plank out of your own eye before pointing out the speck.
You: “I realized I haven’t been acting like the man in the relationship. Lately, I’m focused understanding and carrying out my roles and responsibilities in the family.”
The nature of the change is often a scary one. Wives who understand the nature of the change then they are more likely to want to rebuild the relationship as opposed to wonder if you’re retaking leadership in the relationship and then going to divorce her or sleep with other women. Very few wives except perhaps those filled with malice — hopefully not any supposed Christian woman you will marry — will be against a directional statement like that. In fact, many will wholeheartedly embrace the change.
The main problem I foresee is that most supposedly Christian women who are not respectful and submissive even when it is difficult in the marriage tend to be lukewarm in their faith or may be Christians in name only. This is a difficult situation because even if they do “come around” per se and become respectful and submissive to your headship if you drop the ball they may revert to their previous behavior.
Ideally, this is not the case and you both were just ignorant before of how to build an ordered relationship. However, the good news is that the husband can sanctify the wife (Eph 5) and that wives can also sanctify unbelieving husbands (1 Cor 7). Even if a spouse is lukewarm then it can turn out for good.
- There is rational fear and irrational fear. Rational fear is godly fear. Irrational fear leads to destruction.
- Feelings are not truth. Despite what some Christian men and women claim, fear of the husband is based in the Scriptures and are therefore godly. What needs to be dispelled with the myth that someone making you feel bad = sin.
- The fear, anxiety, apprehension, or dread that wives feel that drives them to have sex with their husbands when they start to act like the head is rational and therefore good.
- Husband and wives extrinsic value through actions are judged according to their fulfillment of roles and responsibilities. Thus, the goal is headship for the husbands.
- Unchaste behavior of husband and wives or potential impropriety in marriage is a sin. Hence, ends do not justify the means. The heart matters. For example, a husband flirting with other women is not good. Not all means are good.
- Dysfunctional relationships have two components of fear: (1) breaking the trust of the dysfunctional relationship and (2) asserting proper headship in the relationship. Fear is a normal part of the transition process and both are rational and godly. The first (1) fear should aimed to be dispelled. The second fear is a natural part of authority due to the nature of fear/reverence/respect.
- Fear is not something you aim for, but it is a part of the process of rebuilding a relationship. The goal is, and will always remain, in roles and responsibilities. In particular for husbands it will be in headship.
- The commands given to each of the sexes within marriage are about action and not words. Do more, talk less.
- Actions rebuild both the headship and trust within a relationship. Words may be required to build trust if your behavior has changed such as acting like the man in the relationship. However, avoid discussing what the other person is doing as that comes off as negotiation or manipulation. Words can help foster trust in this scenario.
Overall, this is a massive post that covers a lot of different Scriptures and topics and unites them as one. The main nuance is that it’s more important to focus on fulfilling your Biblical roles and responsibilities. Let the consequences that come out of that be addressed as they come.
Feel free to comment and discuss any of the content in terms of a Christian point of view. Troll comments will be deleted.