The Vexing and Contentious Woman

Well, here I go: describing what most women devolve to when they aren’t being “gentle and quiet” (see an interpretation of that onerous phrase in A Phrase That Makes Me Gag: Gentle and Quiet Spirit ).

At the NextStep conference I attended several years ago (discussed here: The Journey to My Holiday ) and again on a CD, Larry and Rachel Crabb both shared with me that the opposite of the Gentle and Quiet woman was the Vexing and Contentious woman of Proverbs 21: 19.

To make sure I agreed, I did my own study of this passage and a few related passages.

I have to say:  I agree –

Vexing & Contentious  not equalGentle & Quiet

Here’s the passage in question (NASB version):dessert

It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman. Proverbs 21: 9

angry babyVexing is also translated ill-tempered, angry, fretful, and irritable.

Although it’s not clear that the “vexing” woman is angry at God, it’s possible that ultimately that’s where her anger is directed. However, she’s likely angry with the people and circumstances in her life.

In any case, a vexing woman is probably not “gentle” in the sense of trusting God with her life, resting in His good will. She is instead fretful and frustrated.

Contentious is also translated quarrelsome, brawling, discordant, or bitter-dripping faucettongued.

Five, count ’em, 5 Proverbs talk about the contentious woman! In addition to 21: 9, above, here are the rest in all their glory:

…  the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping. Proverbs 19: 13broof corner

It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.  Proverbs 21: 19, repeated in 25: 24

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike.  Proverbs 27: 15

naggingThe woman in these Proverbs is  not “quiet” in any sense 0f the word – not vocally nor by means of having an inner tranquility that does not disturb others. Perhaps her anger leads her to being contentious, but whatever the case, she is a nag, an arguer, a pain in the neck.

So where do I spend most of my time?

Sadly, I think I am more vexing and contentious than gentle and quiet…

It just seems so, hm, natural for me to drip, drip, drip (and, hey, occasionally it works!).

But I do want to move more towards being gentle and quiet (at least the way I think it’s accurately defined).

How do I get there? How do I learn to rest in God and ooze contentment  towards groundworkothers, allowing them to NOT be who I want them to be?

That’s the subject (in part) of the next few posts. But, first, I have to lay a bit more of the theological groundwork beneath my journey towards being female in Christ.

The next few posts are therefore entitled:

Why Am I Contentious? (Why Am I a Nag?)  A study of the fall and what’s behind being vexing and contentious

Controlling? Who, Me? How all women in one way or another try to control others (even if not in the outward, nagging way)

The Essence of Femininity  What the Bible says about femininity and how it is the opposite of being controlling

What are We Afraid of? Larry Crabb posits that there’s a fear which drives all women to control their circumstances. What is it? And how do I relate to it?

Then, I’ll get into a very personal journey that’s still underway.


10 thoughts on “The Vexing and Contentious Woman

  1. I love my wife dearly. I have tried repeatedly thru-out our 18yrs of marriage to say to her, sometimes lovingly-sometimes not, that the contentiousness is like a huge mill stone just grinding everything to dust. Just unbearable.
    She feels like she is being judged and that if she didn’t stay on top of everything and “just ask questions” that I would simply burn it all down somehow it seems. Please pray for me that I can love her as Christ longs for me to and that he will quieten her heart and give her peace in him and not in her “control & questioning”.

    • Hi, Kent: I have been away from this site for about a year, so missed your post. I will pray. The trick for her is to somehow learn that God’s gift of circumstance is good, including his gift of YOU!

  2. Hi Jerry. This clearly is not for you. While it may seem like a “bigfoot” sighting to you, many of us have a problem. it is called “feminisim”. It has and continues to destroy Christian marriges. I pray daily for a relationship like yours please dont demean me or those like me just because you are so richly blessed. Please pray for my home and family if you can. Thank you for listening. Andy

  3. My God, no one is addressing the Gorilla in the room. Namely, WHY are there so much scripture devoted to pointing out the woman’s faults and short comings in a relationship (or Marriage), and none pointing out the less than desirable traits of a MAN in a marriage?!?

    Lets see, how many can there be? Physical spousal abuse, alcoholism, womanizing, neglect, cruelty and disrespect, out an out slavery, etc. etc.

    I’ve been married forty years, and it’s a crock to say the woman in a relationship needs all the correction, yet almost all the Old Testament (when addressing the subject) concerns itself with the woman being corrected and keeping her place. Even the New Testament carries a good bit of that philosophy.

    I prefer to treat my wife as my best friend, my equal, and with the respect she deserves.

    This isn’t the BRONZE AGE.

  4. Hi.

    You are right on accurate. Speaking as a man, I can tell you that we (all the men—not the males) would give our lives for the woman in our life, and even the ‘women out there’ if they would just keep their mouths shut. They don’t have a clue as to the damage they do when they ‘wave their arms in the air,’ and go through all the ‘drama’ that is so unnecessary. If they only knew!


    Paul, a happily married (45 years) man, with a sweet non-contentious woman.

  5. “Why Am I Controlling? Larry Crabb posits that there’s a fear which drives all women to control their circumstances.”

    I’ve heard it said that the people who are most controlling do so because they feel they are out of (or lack) control.

    For instance, in raising my son as a single parent I often found myself getting controlling. (In a way, I don’t even know who this person is…because it’s not my style in my interactions with others.) I think it was fear driven.

    And I have also heard it said that controlling people felt they had little control over their lives in childhood. And for myself, I felt really helpless to control my circumstances as a child.


  6. I think some of the answer lies in learning to tune in to what’s going on inside, learning to know when the heart is at rest (gentle) vs. all stirred up and giving in to a selfish need. I don’t think it’s easy. In fact, I think it sometimes takes the intervention of another person or suffering and certainly the Holy Spirit to learn that the voice which once sounded so “normal” is indeed fed by the spring of distrust.

    I’ll be drilling down into my own journey to learn my heart as I continue posting. I just need to set up the scene before I get more personal.

  7. I have been thinking about this, a little indirectly. I think I can be quite merciful and compassionate, able to understand the other side of things and people that others judge. I am also extremely judgmental — sometimes towards the same things and people. And towards myself as well.

    I have some hope of being able to make progress in taming my tongue. But it sure would be easier if my heart would change.

    How does one love mercifully and graciously, and still in truth? Without denying or dismissing the reality of sin and evil? How does one love without approving? How does one know when to be the gadfly, speaking truth that is unwelcome but necessary, and when to let things slide, give the benefit of the doubt, wait for God to convict, etc?

    And yeah, I bet it has at least a little to do with praying more consistently, and with repenting, too.

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