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Daughters of Promise has a mission to equip women to lead healthy lives; develop their voices through creative outlets; and experience freedom as daughters of God and heirs through Christ. We do this through print and online media that is anchored in the Word of God and expressed in conservative Anabaptism.

Trust or Control: Part Two

Trust or Control: Part Two

Trust or Control: Part Two

by Dorcas Stutzman


This article appeared in the May/June 2015 print edition of Daughters of Promise.

In the second half of this two-part series, Dorcas guides women to the root of the issue of control. Where does it come from? How does it manifest in our lives? Sharing her own experiences and wisdom from years of seeking the Lord, Dorcas identifies the matriarchal spirit that is devastating the lives of so many women and their families, and provides answers for healing through Jesus Christ. Click here to catch up on Part One.

In continuing on, please let me attempt to explain to you how this desire for control works in us. Maybe it would be easiest to understand if we look at what the spirit of control is assigned to do in our lives. It is:


This almost goes without saying. If something or someone wants to be in control, then leadership of almost any kind is a threat. This spirit is actually very anti-men. It will strike viciously at a man’s vulnerable spots as a means of control. In extreme cases, nothing is off limits. I have seen this spirit publicly, boldly, and without shame exposing a leader and all of his faults. I have also helped to pick up the broken pieces of the affected hearts and marriages.

I have seen women publicly cutting their cringing husbands down in a circle of friends. I remember one lady who stood up in a gathering and asked for prayer so she could “hang on until my husband becomes the man of God I’ve always wanted."

Another woman would keep interrupting her husband as he spoke, keeping up a running commentary of the details he was either missing or that he had wrong. It was so painful to listen to! Later that evening the woman wondered aloud why her husband had shut down in a corner and wished he could be “more aggressive like your husband.” My carnal self wanted to deck her, but I realized she had no clue what she was doing or what was driving her.

Many times, however, the matriarchal spirit manifests much more subtly. Perhaps there is the look of disgust or the deep sigh that is meant to convey displeasure. Maybe we are simply quiet while someone else does our dirty work, or we mutter skeptical comments about our husbands’ ability to lead or accomplish certain things. Whether we know it or not, all of this is designed to destroy manhood. Just because we have forced it underground does not mean that the spirit is not there.

Most of the time women who have controlling spirits are very nice to be around. As long as you walk the line and do things their way, you will be treated fairly well, but woe to you if you ever dare to confront them or cross their will!

I have watched as a woman manipulated and seduced until it was clearly not working, and then saw her turn into an angry, sarcastic, scornful, and arrogant shell who spit out shame and shredded any remaining ego in her husband. To add insult to injury, she later told me, “It was for his own good.


Through the years I have often thought that surely I have seen all the “whatever means possible,” only to have even more come along. This spirit loves to be seen but hates to be identified! It will preen and flatter you, but if you dare to call it what it is, it will quickly duck for cover. The matriarchal/Jezebel spirit uses seduction, womanly wiles, or sexual means to control men. If those don’t work, it uses shame and sarcasm, scorn and arrogance. This spirit specifically targets the weak and the wounded, the hurt, rebellious and rejected. It uses flattery, smooth words, “prophecies” and tears to seduce these targets out from under authority.


This is a two-part agenda:

1. To destroy femininity, thus making men and woman equal a. In vocation, and b. In role (“equality” in the home). 2. To destroy godly authority a. Finds it necessary to critically tear apart anything or anyone who stands in the way of its being in control b. May also flatter in an effort to control.

I am very alarmed by some of the attitudes coming out of the young girls I interact with. I hear comments like, “Whatever a guy can do, I can do better.” Now maybe that seems harmless to you, but having been there myself, I recognize the snake behind it. What will a statement like that look like in ten or twenty years? And what effects will an attitude like that have on a marriage?

Satan is so subtle, and I really believe he has read the Bible because of the tactics he uses. For example, in our culture it is almost taboo to talk about headship order or women’s submission to men. The first quote I always hear is, “In Christ there is neither male nor female.” Praise God! I exult in that reality every single day when I enter into His presence! But ladies, somewhere, sometime, somehow we also have to reckon with the fact that the same God who in the Spirit made us neither male nor female, did create us by His own design to function best and be most fulfilled when aligned with His order of authority. Now before you begin throwing stones at me, take a deep breath and consider: if God Himself says something, why am I reacting against it? What is churning inside me, and where is it coming from? I assure you that is not a merely human response.


1. Wound the children 2. Destroy the marriage

This is a huge problem in our world today. I was once speaking about the matriarchal spirit at a ladies’ retreat when a woman in the audience interrupted me and began refuting what I had been saying. I was a little taken aback, but since we live in a free country, she had the right to speak, so I simply prayed for direction. I felt very clearly I was not to challenge her, so when she finished I thanked her and continued on. In a very short time she interrupted again, and this time I saw a very clear picture in my spirit of this lady with a bucket of whitewash trying desperately to paint white what I had just exposed as black. She ended by asking me how she would know if she had a controlling spirit. My flesh wanted to say, “My dear lady, you have NO idea!” But what I did explain to her was this: one way you can tell if this spirit is at work in your life is by finding out if your children can feel your love. This spirit is assigned to stand between you and your children and block the love you give them. It does not mean that you do not love them; it just means that they can’t feel your love. I even explained how when you ask your child you will need to push past the initial response of, “Yes, I know you love me,” and ask them if they can feel it. Ironically, this lady believed her children were now the ones trying to control her, and even when she found out her love was not getting through, she refused to look at it personally.

My husband and I have sat in counseling rooms with countless people. Over and over I have seen the devastation this matriarchal spirit has caused. I see it very uniquely targeting males in the home. While both girls and boys are impacted greatly by not feeling love and nurture, there is a very specific need in a little boy to feel that soft, gentle mother’s love. I recently read the results of a study that found the same results we are seeing over and over in working with people. When a little boy does not grow up feeling his mother’s love, he is highly predisposed to form addictions such as pornography or other forms of immorality.

The matriarchal spirit is one that brings intense pain. Resistance and rebellion always bring pain into our lives. I have watched over the last few years as this spirit of rebellion has brought almost incomprehensible pain into young people’s lives, even to the point where they become irrational. Ironically, they blame everyone EXCEPT the enemy for their pain. I have watched as perfectly sweet people get backed into a corner by this spirit. When they finally compromise in defeat, they do get a feeling of relief.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is going. Suddenly, they are in a position where if they disobey God and agree with the enemy they get a feeling of “peace.” And when they take a stand to agree with God against the enemy, they feel pain, turmoil and unrest. If an authority figure in their life even gently corrects them, the slippery snake of control viciously strikes out, causing them pain. Yes, you guessed it; they blame the other person instead of the snake.


Isn’t this spirit so easy to spot in others? But how easy is it to see in ourselves? Jill came to me complaining loudly about her abusive husband who was so angry with her. It sounded awful, and I felt sorry for her! Then I began to find out the rest of the story. Her husband was angry because she and her daughters had just done something he had specifically asked them not to. When, understandably, he became upset, Jill could not seem to understand why. I am not here to defend unrighteous anger in any way, shape or form, but at that point what are the husband’s options? Should he roll over and play dead for the matriarchal spirit when every bit of manliness in him knows it is under attack?

I’ve seen this spirit blind ladies to the point of insanity. Mandy was very upset because she believed her husband was spending too much time with their children’s tutor. This tutor had to be hired because Mandy had left her family while having multiple affairs. The resulting trauma in her children had understandably caused them to fall behind academically. Even though she admitted she had no evidence, Mandy fired the tutor because, “She is too nice to my husband.” Easy for us to see, isn’t it? But Mandy doesn’t see it. The last time I saw her she railed at me for not agreeing that she is the only who is right in this situation. And so the pain continues.

So now that we know that none of us would ever want this spirit to have a foothold in our life, how do we identify it? How did it get there? And how do we deal with it?

Let’s look a little more closely…

The triangle is generally considered to be the strongest geometric shape. Its three sides brace and help to sustain each other. The matriarchal spirit is designed to operate in a similar fashion. It too has three main sides, and yes, they all cover for each other:

Aggressive matriarchal (Control)

•Openly controls and manipulates •Uses stinging, bitter remarks and accusations to keep children and others in line •Resists authority and believes she knows a better way •Always right •Hinders the sweet, gentle, nurturing side of a woman •Inwardly resists the idea of submission •Feels overwhelmed or upset if things do not go as planned

Passive matriarchal (Okayness)

•Covertly controls and manipulates •Makes pain-driven inner vows in an effort to protect herself and control her environment •Rooted in a refusal to deal with and accept life as God allows it to come, thus leading to rebellion •Avoids conflict at all cost •Driven to shield children from any and all pain •Portrays false okay-ness with everything, even sin, to avoid conflict •Makes image and appearance everything

Immoral matriarchal (Jezebel)

•Uses favors and sexual immorality to gain control and manipulate •Seductive •Often dresses and uses her body to seduce and to get what she wants •Uses her body to gain power

Here are some common characteristics of all three sides of this spirit. The Matriarchal spirit, whether aggressive, passive, or immoral:

•Controls through scorn, sarcasm, shame and fear •Accuses others to get the attention off of herself •Thinks the end she is pursuing justifies using whatever means necessary to get there •2 Kings 9:26 speaks of Jezebel taking Naboth’s vineyard by wrongful means; this spirit is willing to rob a man of his inheritance of ministry or faithfulness, destroying him and his sons •Is a very fearful spirit; through fear she rebels against trusting God •Sets herself up as the final “right” authority and bolsters herself with records of past wrongs done by others •Fosters darkened thought patterns that refuse to bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ • Urges her husband to compromise and do wrong •Very selfish, self-centered and Eros-driven. This spirit is the ultimate of flesh in control and life being about me •Rooted in pride; it’s always someone else’s fault. Refuses to take personal responsibility The bottom line is that Satan doesn’t really care in which way we allow the matriarchal spirit to show itself in our life. He just wants us crippled and hindered from fulfilling God’s plan for us.

Most of the time, we will find ourselves acting predominately out of one side of the triangle, but don’t forget that all three sides are connected. While we may be more prone to one side or the other, we will often have crossover traits.

I have hesitated for years to use the term “Jezebel spirit.” I have watched countless cases of spiritual abuse where leaders slung that term around indiscriminately. I want you to know that is not my heart at all. I have no desire to bring you down and humiliate you as a person, but I DO want to expose and bring to naught the slippery snake the enemy uses to defeat us and render us powerless. I am at war with that snake!

The Jezebel spirit is so much more than a seductively dressed woman! As I stated in the beginning, the bottom line in defining this matriarchal spirit is control. But what IS control What does it look like?

Of course there are those women we all know — the kind who will brazenly tell their husbands where to go and how fast to get there. Women who awkwardly interrupt and disagree while the man is talking, and who use biting, hurtful words to keep children and husbands in line. Women who are unashamed to openly challenge and resist church leaders and civil authorities. Women who must have things done a certain way — their way. There is even a television series that plays this up. Ever wonder what kind of marriage those “bridezillas” will have?

Now that the rest of us have given a collective shudder of horror, let’s take a look at the passive side of the triangle. For those of us who grew up in church, we had at least some concept of how wicked it is to be THAT KIND of woman. But here is the bad news: many of us still had this same spirit operating in our lives. We were just a little more careful. And once it is there, no matter how hard we resist, it will eventually show its ugly head.

I could have been a poster child for the passive side of the matriarchal spirit. I carefully protected myself and kept myself in line by many inner vows and bitter-root judgments. Some of those vows were: “I will NEVER hurt my husband,” (as I had seen others do), “I will not be controlling like she is!” or “No one will ever control me!” and the list could go on. Because of the deep inner pain that I carried, I built walls of inner vows to protect myself from more pain. I was so fearful that someday, somehow, I would slip up and get out of line. Fear ruled my life because I was trying to protect myself, since I didn’t believe God could or would protect me.

During those years I carefully, oh so carefully, worked out my “submission” to my darling husband. If you asked him today if I was submissive to him back then, he would grin at you and say yes. He would grin because even though I was so carefully doing the right things, he often felt something that he could never put into words. He has since told me that he wondered sometimes when the “thing” he felt would turn on him.

I remember during those years summoning every bit of will power I had to suppress the desire in me to rise up and control. And you know what? I’m glad I did. I was not living in freedom, but I believe God has since showed me that my obedience (to the best of my understanding) was the catalyst He used to bring me to freedom. Nevertheless, I unknowingly began to shut down the passionate and courageous person God had actually created me to be. I believed that if I tamed and pacified my personality, somehow that would make me less controlling. I did want so much to please God!

While this stronghold was active in my life I was unable to be an effective helpmeet for my husband. To smother those awful, controlling feelings, I would just say, “Yes, Dear,” to whatever he was asking me about. I had an unvoiced fear that if I ever actually tried to tell him what I really felt, I would lose control of myself and say and do awful things. And so I suffered in silence. I suffered not because my husband was cruel (he was not) but I suffered from the pain of bottled up emotions and feelings that I knew were not godly. I had no clue what to do with them other than to keep shoving them down in my box, trying to sit on the lid and forget them. I felt lonely and rejected. And the more lonely and rejected I felt, the more I felt the need to control by protecting myself from further hurt.

When God set me free from this stronghold it was a major reeducation process for me! I began to see how Satan wants to rob us of true power in our life by offering us false power. My eyes were opened to accept that God made me aggressive, passionate, and courageous for a purpose! I began to learn to kindly speak truth as I saw it when my husband came asking for input. I also learned to simply give my concerns to the Father to carry for me.

I was amazed at the increase in productive energy I had when I quit wasting it on worrying and trying to control people. I learned how to take things to God in honesty. Things that hurt me and situations that were out of line could be taken to the feet of the Savior for Him to take care of instead of adding toxic waste to my box of life. And most of all, learning to choose to trust… to trust God and to be vulnerable to others. I was amazed how much Satan had robbed me! When I built walls around my heart to protect it from pain, I was unaware that I was also shutting out the deepest and most tangible joys of life. The joy of living opened up in a whole new way to me!

Today I am probably ten times more assertive and passionate than I was before God set me free from the matriarchal spirit of control. You may be shocked by that, but here is how it played out in my life: for years I resisted and silently rebelled against the way God made me because it stood in the way of my self-protection. I did not want any conflict or hurt, and the best way I knew to accomplish that was to be passive and quiet. Now let me hasten to say that passive and quiet were wrong for ME because God had not created me that way. Today I am free to boldly and aggressively speak His truth wherever I go. I am free to do this because there is no longer that icky compelling “thing” controlling me and pushing me. I can freely share my opinion with my husband and then let it go. I may not like the final decision he makes, but I can trust him and be at peace.

The bottom line is that Satan does not particularly care which ditch we are in; he just doesn’t want us walking on the road. And Christ, our wonderful Savior, longs to walk hand in hand with us on that very road! No, He never promised easy, but He did promise we would be blessed if we choose that road.

How about it? Will you choose the seemingly easier and safer ditches, or will you choose your Savior? I promise you that you really can trust Him.

Want to learn more? Daughters of Promise is pleased to recommend Dorcas Stutzman's book, "Trust or Control", which provides an in-depth look at this important topic. Click here for more information.

Reading: For Knowledge, For Pleasure, With Wisdom

Reading: For Knowledge, For Pleasure, With Wisdom

Trust or Control: Part One

Trust or Control: Part One