A great many people get mad these days if you start quoting the Bible. I had a woman insisting to me recently that the Bible was written in the seventeenth century by some church people appointed by the king who were creating a book with which to oppress the people! She said that even if there were any original texts they were long-since lost and that it was all just made up. Another said to me that the Bible was cobbled together by some evil church people in the fourth century who deliberately missed out the real books which should have been in there (by which they are referring to what are known as “pseudepigrapha” — books written by false teachers using the names of the apostles and disciples of Christ to give their own wayward teachings some authority).
Dear friends, if my mention of the Bible or any text in it annoys you or gets your hackles rising, then I urge you to stick with me rather than run away, because I guarantee that if you do then you will feel very differently. Due to reading hostile writings by angry people with an antichrist agenda, there is a phenomenal ignorance of so many about what the Bible really consists of. If one quotes certain texts in the Bible these angry folks will become completely apoplectic, triggering their baggage-issues bigtime. One such text on the farthest end of the spectrum of apoplexy-incitement is the saying of the apostle Peter that a woman should have “a gentle and tranquil spirit”. Oh boy! I have found that quoting those words is like throwing an exploding firework into a crowd, virtually making me into a terrorist! 😃 And this is precisely the text I am going to deal with today. It is a text which needs dealing with, not only because it is hugely misunderstood but also because it is truly a text for our times, going as it does against the grain of the modern manufactured socially-engineered female mindset. Here is the complete text in its proper context, in my “dynamic equivalence” translation from the Greek original, addressed as it is to women:
“Your beauty should not be primarily observable on the basis of mere outward ornamentation such as fancy hairstyles, covering yourself in gold jewellery or the wearing of fine clothes, but instead should be based on the hidden ‘inner-heart-person’, that is, the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight” (First Letter of Peter, chapter 3, verses 3-4).
I remember very well the first time that I read the words, “a gentle and tranquil spirit”, in relation to the model of an ideal woman. Honestly, they danced off the page and completely gripped my soul. I was feeling it with every part of my being, exclaiming, “Yes! That is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a woman!” That was more than twenty-five years ago… and I’ve been looking for it ever since! Back in those days, “a gentle and tranquil spirit” was hard enough to find in a woman; but these days, it is as difficult to find as a single seam of gold hidden somewhere in a vast mountain-range. For those words utterly fly in the face of everything that the average woman today is striving for (or has been taught to strive for through peer-group pressure and social conditioning). In these feministic times of political correctness — when Truth is being inverted in a satanic surge of hubris — I just hear a vast, confused cacophonic dissonance coming from the restless collective unconscious of the female soul on this planet. Many women today even revel in a quality they refer to as their “wildness”. It is as if they have deliberately developed — in opposition to the spirit of gentleness and tranquillity — a demonic spirit of seething turbulence and rage. Later below, we will discover the source of that spirit.
“A gentle and tranquil spirit”. Just let those words roll around in your heart for a moment. Can you be objective enough to read on? There is so much misunderstanding about those words and I receive many aggressive kneejerk reactions from people when I say them. It is extraordinary how so many supposedly liberal social justice people who claim to believe so passionately in democracy and free speech will strive to close you down if you dare to say with love and tenderness that what is missing in the vast majority of women today is “a gentle and tranquil spirit”. It is as if those words make women start “gnashing their teeth” at you! They are a big emotional trigger for them today, and even for the many emasculated men who have been conditioned to call themselves “feminists”. No doubt there will be many who will be triggered by this article. So let’s crack this text wide open and see if we can create some alchemy with the transformation that comes from self-discovery and spiritual growth.
First, I want to clear up some of the popular misrepresentations of this text.
I. CLEARING UP MISREPRESENTATIONS OF THIS TEXT
This text has suffered from a number of serious misunderstandings due to it being falsely represented by those with a vested interest in doing so. One can gauge some of these misunderstandings in the typical reactions of people to the text. For example, recently, a friend asked me how I would describe my ideal woman. My reply was, “One who has a gentle and tranquil spirit”. Straightaway, she quipped aggressively, “You mean someone who just shuts up and never says anything back to you?” Other similarly typical responses are: “You just want to hold women down!” or “Oh, so you want ‘a little lady’ who stays in the kitchen and keeps quiet”. Instead of saying, “Oh, that’s interesting. What do you mean exactly?”, most women instantly assume that “a gentle and tranquil spirit” is somehow a “sexist put-down of women”. So triggered are women today by these words that they cannot see the purest beauty in them because of their own hang-ups and baggage-issues and because of their socially-engineered conditioning processes. The truth is that it is not that these words suppress women but that most of them have entirely forgotten that this gentle and tranquil spirit is their real feminine birthright which has been suppressed! The only women who would view these words as a “sexist put-down of women” are those who — through ignorance and the opaque veil spread over Truth by unresolved issues — resist and suppress their true feminine nature.
So let’s have a look at some of the misrepresentations of this text. One typical misrepresentation of it is the assumption that it is saying:
1) Outward Beautification with Accessories is Wrong & Unspiritual
When Peter says: “Your beauty should not be primarily observable on the basis of mere outward ornamentation such as fancy hairstyles, covering yourself in gold jewellery or the wearing of fine clothes…”, he is not specifically condemning those three things in and of themselves. Unfortunately, some uptight people calling themselves “Christians”, using this text, have promoted the idea that braiding one’s hair and wearing jewellery and fine clothes are somehow forbidden for women. This is simply not true. A woman who is freed by Christ from the forces of darkness is free to wear whatever she wishes (though she would never choose any garb which makes her look whorish and of corrupted morals, for that would show she has no respect for herself or her loved ones and contradicts the purity of “a gentle and tranquil spirit”, as I will show below).
Peter is recognising the fact that there were women of all classes and levels of society who were becoming disciples of Christ at that time (mid to late first century) and it would be insensitive for those who were able to afford to deck themselves out in the grandest finery to turn up to meetings flaunting it in front of everyone. So these words are a timely reminder that the true beauty of a woman is not to be found in such external trappings as hair, jewellery and clothes but instead, as the text says, “in the hidden ‘inner-heart-person’, that is, the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight”. Gold and designer clothing may be precious to humans but not to God, who sees the preciousness of a woman as being in the hidden inner-heart-person of her gentle and tranquil spirit. As Christ Himself said: “That which is highly prized in society is utterly detestable in God’s sight”. Knowing very well that an undeveloped woman has an extreme tendency to narcissism, vanity and attention-seeking — Peter is saying that the beauty of a woman is not to be found in her external features but in her inward ones. Once one understands this, it will correct the above misrepresentation of the text.
A second misrepresentation of this text is that:
2) A Gentle & Tranquil Spirit Just Means Women Should Shut Up
The prickly, defensive, reactionary women of today just assume that the text is a put-down designed to force them into a state of submission and repressed quietude, a mute wallflower who “never says boo to a goose”, as the English saying goes. This is again based on a reading of the text as referring to something external. It isn’t. It is not referring to the need for a woman to be gentle and tranquil in the exterior sense but in the interior one. It is a gentle and tranquil spirit which is involved here. Obviously, a spirit of gentleness and tranquillity is a refined internal quality which has huge implications for the manner in which a woman comports herself outwardly. But to try and exercise gentleness and tranquillity merely on an external basis is not what lies behind this text. What does lie behind the text is what I will develop in detail below. But I will say right now that this text has nothing to do with shutting women up or repressing them. On the contrary, it is about a woman finding her true centre and therefore having no more need for bluster or gratuitous emotional reactions. If I could put it like this: It is about a woman finding true “empowerment” — a word which is so misused today. For, as I have written extensively elsewhere, the true empowerment is not about becoming a “strong, independent woman” through attending “goddess” women’s groups or expensive feminist assertiveness workshops (for that is merely more external tinkering); but it involves nothing less than being energised from the inside by the power of the Spirit of God in the one who is aligned with the will of God. The cultivation of the gentle and tranquil spirit is therefore a supernatural process rather than a humanly-generated one.
That deals with the two main misrepresentations of this text. An important teaching of this text involves…
II. GETTING OUR PRIORITIES RIGHT ABOUT THE SOURCE OF A WOMAN’S BEAUTY
At the heart of this text is the idea that who a woman is and how she should be viewed must be centred primarily on her inner “incorruptible” beauty rather than on any mere outward attractiveness, for the latter will inevitably degrade with age and will eventually crumble into dust. Let’s face it, a huge number of women spend an awful lot of time developing their external attributes, preening themselves, using makeup, dressing up, and hoping to attract people on that basis. In so many areas of life, this is what is emphasised; whether it is in the modelling scene, the music “industry”, the huge number of women’s magazines, the hairdressing trade, the makeup industry, clothes stores, Hollywood and the “movie industry”, dating sites, or social media — the emphasis is always on external attributes as being the primary source of a woman’s beauty. Most women spend umpteen hours per week in front of a mirror plying themselves with creams and pencils, potions and lotions to ameliorate their appearance. Such outward enhancement easily slips over into vanity, resulting in a woman concentrating on her outward image to such an extent that her “hidden inner-heart person” becomes seriously neglected, and even completely ignored and left to atrophy. In view of the easy manner in which so many women make themselves into “sex objects” to be outwardly admired, is it any wonder that so many of the baser sort of men judge a woman purely on that basis — “objectifying” them, as many women so love to complain.
Unfortunately, the mass of men really are solely influenced by what a woman looks like from the outside and thus they validate the woman’s narcissistic habits. Such men are so superficial that they are seduced by the external attributes and ornamentation of a woman without any reference to her heart and soul. One sees it all the time in films: A coquette walks into the room and some ditzy bloke starts swooning, saying “I’m in loooove!” yet he has no idea what kind of a woman she really is on the inside. (The “Marilyn Munroe Effect” is a typical example of the superficial seduction of shallow men by equally-shallow women). Then she can lead him about by the nose like a pet. In fact, in some Hollywood musicals, in a dance number, one sees the woman pull the besotted guy around by his tie, like a beta-male idiot whose tongue is hanging out at the prospect of being overcome by some sex-pot female! And she would accept no protestations from him either, once she’s got her teeth into him, as no doesn’t mean no for someone like her who could never accept that a man would truly object to a woman’s sexual overtures. I even saw one feminist quote on social media recently, saying — as an apparently jubilant sign of women’s liberation: “Women fuck who they want; but men only fuck who they can”. So much for equality! The feminist idea that only men are sexual predators is completely false. When women, even those calling themselves “feminists”, want to “get their man”, they are not at all shy about using their “feminine wiles” in order to do so. But the text which is the subject of this article flies in the face of all that by asserting that when a woman has “a gentle and tranquil spirit”, then it is from there that her true beauty emanates rather than from her hairstyle, jewellery and clothes. However, this “hidden inner-heart person” is the part of the woman that only a real man can see (or even wants to see). A real woman loves that part of her to be seen. Therefore, a real woman will always only love a real man who sees the real woman in her; and vice versa.
I remember an occasion in my twenties when I was in a hairdresser having a haircut and the barber suddenly stopped and looked out of the window, saying, “Fwoar! Look at the tits on that!” He had obviously spotted an outwardly-attractive woman walking past the shop. Then, turning to me, he said, “What are you then? A tit man or a bum man?” I was absolutely mortified! No one had ever asked me such a question before in my life. I had to take a few deep breaths. Then I said, “Neither. I’m a face man, actually”. Total conversation-stopper! Well, that wasn’t too bad for a twenty-year-old. 🙂 However, if I was asked that same crude question today, I would say, “Neither, I’m a soul man, actually”. But at least being “a face man” is some of the way there as there is infinitely more of the true character of a woman in her face than in her breasts or buttocks; and it has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. But, yes, I am indeed a “heart man” or “soul man”, in the sense that those are the parts of a woman in which I am most interested. To me, the outward aspects of a woman are merely “icing on the cake”. In any case, a woman who has the “hidden inner-heart-person” of “a gentle and tranquil spirit” will always seem to be very beautiful from the point of view of a real man, even if she is not outwardly “classically beautiful” in conventional terms. A so-called classically-beautiful woman who does not have the “hidden inner-heart-person” of “a gentle and tranquil spirit” will generally be extremely shallow, fickle and gallingly vain — not someone with whom a real man would want to spend any quality time.
Classical beauty, external physical attributes and types of physical adornment (hair, jewellery, makeup, clothes, etc.) can very often be a snare, a trap, for the undeveloped man. For she can easily seduce him with that outside beauty as it is almost as if he is drugged by it (which indeed he is, because his untransformed hormones will be all over the place, making him behave like a complete dork!). This is what so-called “femmes-fatales” and “cougars”, Loreleis, sirens, seductresses and Mata Hari types rely on. They use their external attributes to inveigle their way into an undiscerning, immature man’s heart. For those external attributes are all that a woman is taught to develop in terms of attractiveness. This is precisely why Hollywood has become such a vast enterprise and is so successful. It is purely about external attributes and outward “roles”. In fact, educators about media such as Neil Postman have shown clearly that the moral degeneration of society into a dumbed-down mass of ignorance and superficiality as been hugely accelerated by the seduction of the eye through visual media such as films and television which destroyed the creative imagination necessary when perusing the written word. [See Postman’s great 1985 work, “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business”].
So this text we are looking at is exhorting women to get their priorities right through the development of a “gentle and tranquil spirit”, which can then serve as the only true litmus test for female beauty rather than all the corruptible external qualities, many of which can be artificially fabricated, as in a so-called “makeover”. All of which leads very nicely into the next lesson of this text…
III. THE NEED TO DEVELOP THE “INNER-HEART-PERSON”
Remember, our text specifically says that “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit” is the equivalent of “the hidden ‘inner-heart-person’”. This refers to something which is not subject to death or any kind of decay or corruption (as opposed to outward beauty or ornamentation, which very much is subject to that). Let’s remind ourselves again of the text:
“Your beauty should not be primarily observable on the basis of mere outward ornamentation such as fancy hairstyles, covering yourself in gold jewellery or the wearing of fine clothes, but instead should be based on the hidden ‘inner-heart-person’, that is, the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight”.
So, the beauty of the woman “should be based on the hidden ‘inner-heart-person’”. That is my translation of the Greek in which it was written in the original first century manuscript, literally like this: ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος, ho kryptos tēs kardias anthrōpos, the hiddenness of the heart-man. This is plainly an inner quality and obviously the word “man” is being used in a generic context to refer to the “hidden inner heart person” which should reside within any woman who wants to be “precious in the sight of God”. So what kind of “a hidden inner-heart-person” are we talking about?
Well, clearly, the inner-heart-person is a spiritually-developed supernatural female quality. This is a fallen world and each person is born with a fallen nature. A genuinely gentle and tranquil spirit in all its fullness and glory is not part of the woman by nature. One can cultivate it in an exterior manner to a certain extent through the suppression of emotion and the practise of various psychological exercises. But that is something which is being imposed from outside (which is not the context here) rather than it being a natural outgrowth of what is on the inside, which is infinitely preferable to what can merely be cultivated with some smart exercises, autohypnosis and self-control. For we are not speaking about mere self-control here but self-mastery at the level of the spiritual rather than the merely psychological. This is a very important distinction.
One can see that the context of the “gentle and tranquil spirit” concerns “holy women”, a term used in the verse following our text; and the entire letter is addressed to those “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit”. So this “hidden inner-heart-person” which is the “gentle and tranquil spirit” is not a feature of all women by nature, and it cannot be cobbled together by just anyone through some fancy techniques or exercises. In fact, this text is showing very clearly that the hidden inner-heart-person is what naturally develops in women who are holy and who are chosen by God and set apart (sanctified) by His Spirit.
This hidden inner-heart-person is the equivalent of what the apostle Paul calls “the new self”, which is generated in those who are being transformed as disciples of Christ. The particular “hidden inner-heart-person” in the context of this passage is special to women and it involves “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight”. A woman who is a genuine disciple of the Christ cannot possibly be without this “inner-heart-person” with “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit”; for this is the very nature of a woman who belongs to Christ and who is dedicated to Him. It is the true birthright of every woman born into the world, were she to be in an unfallen state. But in the fallen mass of women this birthright is void and unattainable. However, in the disciple of Christ this birthright is being restored as part of the beautiful glory of the woman. This is the message for women which lies at the heart of the Bible. A real woman’s true beauty can never be found in her external attributes (which is what this fallen world mistakenly glorifies) but in whether or not she has the “hidden inner-heart-person” of “a gentle and tranquil spirit”.
One further question remains to be asked…
IV. WHAT IS THE TRUE MEANING OF “A GENTLE AND TRANQUIL SPIRIT”?
Let’s first discover the meanings of both “gentle” and “tranquil” in their contexts here, then we will get the overall picture. They may seem to be passive, yet they are anything but that.
1) The True Meaning of the Word “Gentle” in this Context
“Gentle” here is not what you may at first think it is. This “gentle” is not about a kind of lily-liveredness or cringing reticence. For this gentleness is rooted in Divine strength. Such a spirit is what happens when one gets out of one’s own way and let’s God do the leading and feeding. There is strength in true gentleness because, in our weakness, God’s strength is made perfect. The same Greek word translated in our text as “gentle” is used in the phrase which is often translated as “Blessed are the meek”, in Christ’s well-known Sermon on the Mount. The implication of the Greek is that the gentleness is not the kind which most people might imagine. As one scholar puts it, speaking of the root of the Greek word, πραέως, praeōs, which is here translated as “gentle”:
“This difficult-to-translate root means more than ‘meek.’ Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control — i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness. [The English term ‘meek’ often lacks this blend of gentleness (reserve) and strength.]”.
Understanding this gentleness is key. It is not the kind of over-compensatory “gentleness” which would be exercised by someone who was suppressing a pile of anger because of early-life trauma. It is more than the kind of gentleness with which a first-time mother would handle her newborn baby. It is not the kind of gentleness with which one would treat a detonator while making a bomb! It is a gentleness born out of spiritual love, which is not schmaltzy and sentimental but realistic, compassionate, empathic and always dedicated to Truth. This gentleness is the gentleness of Christ — who could be filled with utter compassion one moment then, in the next, be fired up with the necessity of exposing hypocrisy. Thus, we can see why Christ said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. This meekness or gentleness isn’t passive and ineffectual. It is Divine power working through the gentle strength of transformed hearts which will one day populate the “new heaven and new earth” in the new aeon of the future. Above all, this meekness or gentleness can be brilliantly summed up by the word “humility”, for that is the subtle engine which works behind it, about which I shall say more below.
2) The True Meaning of the Word “Tranquil” in this Context
Then there is the word “tranquil”. This is a translation of the Greek word, ἡσυχίου, hēsychiou, which means tranquil, in the sense of being peaceful or settled, having found its place of the heart,its stillness in the midst of this fallen world. It is far more than merely “quiet”, which is how the word has sometimes been translated. “Quiet” merely means the absence of noise; but “tranquil” means serene and composed with refinement and poise, so that there is an inability to be disturbed unnecessarily. In a woman infused with this tranquil quality there can be no self-centredness or histrionics, no whining or moaning, no cavilling or nagging, no complaining or carping, no reproaching or scorning. She has moved way beyond any of those twisted egocentric qualities. She does not see herself as the centre of attention, neither would she want to be, for the will of God and her love for Christ come before any desires which could be called her own. Thus, the idea behind this word tranquil is encapsulated in what today one might call “centred” — having found her centre in Christ. She has found the key to her life and no longer needs to go running around in a state of insecurity, joining darkly-fabricated social movements such as feminism with a mass of emotional issues which get triggered left, right and centre. She can see that world solutions cannot be found in social engineering but in spiritual regeneration. This is yet another aspect of the “spiritual self-mastery” which I mentioned earlier which typifies the “hidden inner-heart-person” in the life of the woman who has been liberated through the power of the Christ.
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So, while the gentle aspect of the spirit of the “hidden inner-heart-person” of a woman involves the qualities of the sensitive empath who through Divine strength coming from her God and Creator is unfazed by anything in this life, the tranquil aspect involves a mature centredness which brings wisdom and exudes peace. These qualities are what lies behind the real empowerment of a woman — not that phoney empowerment of modern feminism in which a woman revels in herself as being “strong and independent”, but the humble empowerment (or empowered humility) of a woman indwelt by the Holy Spirit and liberated by Christ. Thus, a gentle and tranquil spirit in a woman is the absolute epitome of female beauty — infinitely more than any external trappings which she may try to conjure up with fancy hairstyles, glittering jewellery and fine clothes collections. A real man’s knees go weak at the very thought of such a woman; but such women are few and far between today and go completely against the grain of popular agendas of socialisation and human development.
In conclusion, may I say, first, that a woman whose “hidden inner-heart-person” is “a gentle and tranquil spirit” will not be strident or harsh in any of her dealings with others. She will exude a supernatural centredness and calmness which will win over those who are sympathetic to her side (and therefore to the cause of God) without a trace of coerciveness or manipulation. Those opposed to the Spirit of Christ will be fearful of her evident power, composure and spiritual authority. Yet, she will understand the true meaning of submission and the giving of herself to the supremacy of God. She would never “lord it” over anyone but would willingly have her Lord reign over her.
Second, a woman whose “hidden inner-heart-person” is “a gentle and tranquil spirit” will be one who does her heart-work, by which I mean that she will do everything she can to overcome her baggage of issues rather than be overcome by them as most women sadly are today. Thus, a woman whose “hidden inner-heart-person” is “a gentle and tranquil spirit” will make sure that she is impervious to potential emotional or psychological triggers. Her gentle and tranquil spirit means that there is no trace of resentment in her heart. Thus, it is a heart which will not become “offended”, unlike so many women today who jump down throats claiming “sexism” or “objectification” (or even “assault” by a male), at the drop of a hat! The philosopher, Aristotle, in his “Virtues and Vices”, described meekness/gentleness (Greek: πραΰς, praus) as:
“the ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation, and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger, but to be free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquillity and stability in the spirit”.
Quite rightly, this was seen as a desirable state to acquire — not an easy feat without supernatural intervention. But for the woman who has given herself to discipleship in Christ, this “hidden inner-heart-person” — which is not a bundle of triggered reactions and emotional overreactions and would never be associated in any way with wildness and rage — becomes her true nature. Through the Spirit of God, her own spirit becomes one of the incorruptible beauty of gentleness and tranquillity.
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When I compare this gentle and tranquil spirit to the one which is being encouraged in women today by the feminist movement, in which wildness, rage, a vengeful misandry and a strident matriarchy are being touted as the correct way of the woman, I tremble at the direction in which society is moving. These are the lines along which the spiritual battle of this cosmos is being drawn at this time. On the one hand, the forces of darkness (fallen angels, demons, archons) are “empowering” the feminist women of today with a disharmony and aggression which undoes true womanhood completely and leads straight into the devilish development of division which is the province of the “spirit of the Antichrist”.
On the other hand, the powers of God and His unfallen angels are energising the heavenly presence of the holy women of the Christ. Such holy women are a beauty to behold, melting real men’s hearts and acting as a lightning rod for true spirituality. Such women should show themselves openly before the world today, for many women are stuck in a trance of “lost ladetteness” and female anomie, craving inwardly for guidance in how to invoke their true selves wherein a gentle and tranquil spirit becomes the prevailing power rather than the strident and wild one they have been deceived into adopting.
When a woman sees her glory in her “hidden inner-heart-person” (which is always the derivative glory of the Divine — the Spirit of the Christ within, having believed with all her heart in His coming and His light) and in “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”, then she assumes the imperturbable depths of a stormless sea and begins to live as God intended, in love and fertile fruitfulness. This is achingly beautiful to conceive and even more so to behold.
© Alan Morrison, 2018