Mable met Biff when she was seventeen. He seemed to be the perfect guy, at least to her. Biff showed love to her, and she liked the idea of someone loving her. Within a year of dating, they were having sex. She realized her “value” to him, but dismissed his selfishness as a “guy thing,” never realizing that his devaluing of her would manifest in many other ways.
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Mable was not a confident person, which created insecurity that prohibited her from saying “no” to his advances. In her mind, she “needed” someone to love her, and she was willing to give in to Biff’s lusts. It’s analogous to a girl allowing the next-door neighbor boy to abuse her favorite ragdoll. The girl did not value her doll, to the point where it did not matter what the boy next door did to it.
Tragically, Mable grew up and married the next-door neighbor boy only to find out that he devalues wives too. Biff used Mable to satisfy his lust, and the “devaluing problem” compounded as she became the object of his anger.
Biff’s sin is not Mable’s fault, but there is an insightful question that somebody needs to ask a girl like Mable long before she commits to such a selfish person as Biff: why did you marry him? I going to interact with this question, hoping it will dissuade many young girls from making an unfortunate mistake.
If a guy does not value you enough to abstain from fornication and you willingly give yourself up to him, why are you surprised that he mistreats you after you marry him? Don’t you know that the boy who “abused the doll” does not fundamentally change after he becomes an adult? Though he does not throw dolls across the room for kicks any longer, the heart issues that motivated him to do so are still present.
The difference between the boy and the man is how he manifests his selfishness. He no longer devalues dolls; he devalues his wife. The objects of his sin are different, and the consequences for his sin are exponentially worse, but he’s still the same kid—only in a grown-up body.
Don’t Go Here – As I unpack this case study, let me reiterate what I’ve already mentioned because I want to make it clear: If someone is devaluing you, it is not your fault. You may be at fault for making a wrong decision by marrying a jerk, but you are not the cause of his sin.
Too many women heap the guilt of their spouses on themselves. And they further punish themselves for a problem that has many layers of complicatedness. I’m going to move through these layers, but one of them is not self-imposed guilt for another person’s evil. Be free from this kind of thinking.
To take on another person’s sin leads to more self-devaluation, which leads to more unfortunate relational choices. The girl wrapped in guilt begins to think “lousy guys” is all she can get. Because she feels terrible about herself, she complicates matters by choosing these sorry guys.
Here are a few typical causes of a woman who ends up marrying a man who refuses to nourish and cherish her (Ephesians 5:29). I’m going to begin where the problem starts and work to the result, which is the devaluing. Then I will bring some solutions.
Born to Fail
Though God made Mable in His image, she came into the world broken. All babies enter the world with a functional deficit, called “total depravity.” Mable was not what God intended her to be (Colossians 1:28). She was born like the rest of us: guilty before God (Romans 3:10-12). She was a spiritually, broken baby.
Every person is born in sin, guilt, and shame. We all sense and know there is something wrong with us. Though no kid can articulate the internal awkwardness in their souls, they know something is wrong with them. Even the Gentiles, who are not in a Christian environment, know there is something wrong with them (Romans 2:14-15).
Biblical parents come alongside the child to instill in them a better way. Parents lead their children to God, the one who ultimately can restore her to His intended purpose. If God does save the girl, she will experience transformative restoration of the soul. This initial restoration is called regeneration. From there, the child enters a process of sanctification for a complete repair. This “part of their salvation experience” is called progressive sanctification.
If the parents do not do a good job, the deficit this girl feels in her soul widens. She will grow progressively needy, which will tempt her to look for love in all the wrong places. There are many ways a parent can fail their child by making things worse than when the kid first arrived into the world.
- They could have a miserable marriage, one of the most effective ways to ruin a child.
- The dad or mom could be angry, critical, and neglectful.
- They can withhold love and encouragement.
- They can be dismissive, preoccupied, or generally self-centered and self-serving.
Any of these attitudes or behaviors can heap more ruin on an unregenerate child, which creates more complicatedness in her soul. From a poor parenting model, she will begin searching outside the home for community and connectedness.
Self-worth and God’s Image In Conflict
With the image of God in worse shape than ever, she will not value who she is—a person made by God. Note how God thinks about image-bearers in James. The Lord esteems His creation so much that He frowns on anyone who messes with His creative acts.
With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so (James 3:9-10 ).
James is talking about a person who uses abusive language toward another image-bearer. He rebukes anyone who speaks harshly to another human. His reasoning for why this is wrong is because God made us in His image. The ESV says, “In the likeness of God.”
Because Mable was not cared for correctly, not only did her parents devalue her by their poor parenting, but she never learned to value herself. I’m not talking about the world’s version of self-worth, which is self-esteem. That teaching is godless, as it devalues the Creator and exalts the creation. Self-worth recognizes the “value of the painting” only because of the importance of the painter. We would have no value if God were not so magnificent.
You are a person made in the image of God, and your goal should be to get to God so you can fully realize all He can do for and through you, which is mainly to put Him on display (1 Corinthians 10:31). This kind of image of God teaching never occurred to Mable. Rather than having a God-centered view of who she was and what she was supposed to be, she began to devalue herself. Why not? Her parents did not cherish her.
Mable began looking for someone to love her. This tactic is the world’s version of self-worth—do something to make yourself feel good about yourself. Whenever a person seeks to do things to make themselves feel better, and they do not have a gospel-compass, their pursuit will be self-centered.
Boys: Hormones In Tennis Shoes
Guess what? Mable began dating boys at fifteen. She was naive and not prepared for this new adventure. With parents fundamentally disqualified from parenting and Hollywood as her tutor, she entered the adult world of romance.
She did not know how to value herself as a woman made in the image of God, so Biff began to make advances toward her, she interpreted it as a good thing. Biff’s desire meant she had value. Of course, she manipulated the narrative by presenting herself in such a way to allure Biff’s native instincts and lusts. She did this because her understanding of self-worth was from a worldly model.
Biff did not value her according to how God valued her. Both of them were selfish and misguided. They called it love. God called it sin. From there, they got married, and within one year of marriage, she was angry because he did not value her. The question is, why would he value her now? He never did.
But Biff was not the only person who did not like Mable. Her parents did not appreciate Mable. And Mable did not like Mable. Nobody, past or present, has ever valued her. The mysterious irony here is that she does not understand why Biff would mistreat her.
Why Is Mable Angry?
Being mad at Biff is not the proper response. Biff is being Biff. He has been what he has always been—selfish. Too many girls do not understand what I am saying, or they don’t want to acknowledge their culpability for how they got to where they are.
Relationship Tip – Premarital sex or physical, romantic involvement is the first clue you are about to marry a selfish person. This kind of behavior is a clear sign that a person will diss God, devalue you, and seek to satisfy their self-centered lusts.
Only the grace of God can change a person like this. If the boy next door is devaluing your ragdoll, do not be surprised if he devalues his wife. If God does not supernaturally change him, he will not transform, and selfish is what he will always be.
This problem is one of the biggest dangers to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon from a few years ago. Any woman who does not think enough of herself to devalue what sexuality is supposed to be, should not be surprised when she lands in a self-centered romantic relationship.
This “50 shades romantic craze” of women is the reverse-effect of a guy in porn. A guy who looks at porn is devaluing women, much like the ragdoll illustration. You become what you want. There are millions of guys who would love to find a woman who likes mommy porn. This sexualized response from a woman would be the ultimate score for a guy.
If a woman does not care about her image of God and how God thinks about her, she will more than likely find herself in a bad relationship. Let me be more direct because this problem is that severe: If you don’t mind filling your head with a load of manure, don’t be surprised if a load of manure shows up on your doorstep, in the form of a guy who would love to get his hands on you.
God Made You
You are a woman made in the image of God. Guard this treasure. If a guy wants to take God’s image and devalue it, you should run as fast as you can from such a person (2 Timothy 2:22). If you don’t, the end for you will be a buffet of bitter herbs.
There are hundreds of women reading and attesting to what I’m saying. They did not think about being God’s creation—choosing instead to let someone define and defile them. Many of these women feel stuck in their silent prisons of relational regret.
If you are not married, you do not have to do what they did. You can guard God’s treasure, which is the person God made you to be. Think about your life like the ragdoll in my illustration. If a guy does not treasure your doll, you quickly disqualify him from receiving a more fabulous prize, which is you. You have value because God made you.
A Call to Dad
My appeal here is a sober call to dads, which is where it all begins. Dad, you are stewarding a treasure made by God Almighty. Be careful how you steward this gift. You received this gift in a broken condition (Romans 5:12), but God has called you to be part of His Restoration Team (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Don’t defile God’s image. If you do, you will set her on a course that will become progressively worse. She will think about herself the way you do, which is poorly. Then she will seek “worldly means” to fill the gaping hole in her soul. This process will not end well for her.
Cry Out to God – Pursue a Community
Only the grace of God can change this course, and it can change at any time. Here are a few ways it can happen.
- Dad can change and begin to restore his child to God.
- The girl can become saved and earnestly pursue God in her progressive sanctification.
- The teen can repent of her sin, be free from her guilt, and pursue God in her sanctification.
- The married woman can repent of any sin she has committed, be free from it, and pursue God.
- The agonizing trouble for the married woman is complicated because she cannot get out of her marriage. There is (probably) no biblical warrant for divorce. She will have to live with the consequences of her sinful choice of marrying the boy next door.
- She needs to surround herself with God’s community to experience nourishing and cherishing while becoming a sanctifying witness to her husband (1 Peter 2:18-3:6). Of course, there’s more. God’s gospel community means many things.
- The most obvious is the local assembly of believers. An older and wiser woman in the church is a big plus too. Prayer and the Word of God are obvious choices, along with solid gospel-centered music.
- She must create gospel-tributaries that can rescue her mind from ensnaring warfare. This battle calls for God’s community to come to her aid (Matthew 18;15-17). The hope is God’s people can not only persevere with her but appeal to her husband to change.
- Though Mable may not have the life she dreamed, she can experience an incredible life with God and His community as she worships Him out of her weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9-10).