Smells Like Jezebel Spirit: Can We Please Stop Calling Women Jezebel Spirit?

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Abuse, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 23 comments

Some awfully bizarre things happened at the recent Strong Men’s Conference–and Jezebel made an appearance.

I don’t even know where to begin, and I don’t want to talk about the conference itself because so many have already done a good job. To sum up, there was one of those hyper masculinity conferences parading as a Christian conference, and it opened with an act of a sword swallowing performance artist, who had a pole in his act.

The next day Mark Driscoll came up to speak and called out the act for displaying a “Jezebel spirit” by stripping like a woman and acting like a woman who entices men in strip clubs.

(So at an all-male event, with all-male organizers and all-male performers, somehow women still get called out).

Anyway, much chaos ensued, and Rick Pidcock and Kristen DuMez and Julie Roys covered it well. It was a hot mess, and I don’t want to comment on all hot messes. Josh Howerton was enough (oh, and he was actually at this conference too. Seriously, it gets weirder and weirder.)

But I’d like to talk about the idea that there is a “Jezebel spirit.”

This part does relate to what we do here on the blog, and I’m quite passionate about it.

For context, Jezebel was a Queen in Israel whose story is told in 1 Kings. The wife of the evil king Ahab, she was instrumental in persecuting the prophets.

But she wasn’t a spirit. She was a real person.

“Jezebel spirit” is a misogynistic insult that is given towards any Christian woman who dares to speak up for women.

I get called it on social media constantly–so does every other abuse advocate I know. It’s a way to put women in their place.

(we have email chains of women arguing against abuse and for fair treatment of women and children where we console each other–“I see you got the Jezebel treatment again, join the club”.)

And in the American context, it’s especially lobbed against black women (something I learned while talking about this on social media yesterday!).


“Jezebel spirit” is mentioned nowhere in the Bible.

It is an insult used to target women as “dangerous”, in the way “witch” was in the 16th and 17th centuries. Any woman who dares to question male authority is labelled thus.

If the men and fundamentalist women who use the term liberally truly were calling out a “Jezebel spirit” based on biblical text, the closest justification is from Revelation 2, where it does talk about a Jezebel that is NOT the one mentioned in the Old Testament, but more representative of a certain type of person (though STILL not a “Jezebel spirit”, and still referring to a real person).

But, to be consistent, then they would also speak about the “spirit of Balaam”, who is called out for the exact same thing as Jezebel.

Verse 14: Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.

Verse 20: Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 2: 14, 20

But have you ever heard of a “Balaam spirit”? Have you ever heard of a man labelled a “Balaam”? In fact, have you ever heard of ANY spirit named after a man? An Ahab spirit? A Nabal spirit? Nope? Neither have I.

Because it’s not about labelling spirits. It’s about attacking strong Christian women.

And they label us Jezebel when it has nothing to do with fornication (which is the main thing she is called out for in Revelation 2); they label us Jezebel when we say that women are dear to God and should be listened to. They label us Jezebel when we dare to confront power, because “Oh, look, a woman is acting like a prophet, so she has a Jezebel spirit and needs to be cast out!”

It is not a sincere rebuke centered on Christ; it’s a way sexist men (and women) try to silence Christian women who are arguing for justice.

Charismatic people may insist that there is indeed a Jezebel spirit

And I’d like to push back.

If you are concerned about demonic influences in modern society, good for you. Argue for that and call things out when you see them. But just don’t call women Jezebel spirits.

When you name a sin after a woman, you are setting up the idea that women especially have a propensity towards this sin, and that it is mainly seen in women.

Even if you say, “both men and women can have a Jezebel spirit”, that isn’t okay, not when you see how it’s used today. As people in the comments section were saying yesterday, it’s very, very common for sexual abuse survivors to be told they were targeted by pastors, family members, etc because of their “Jezebel spirit.”

This is hurting real people.

It insinuates that women are to blame if they are victims of sexual assault, rather than the men who committed the sin.

Look at how Mark Driscoll used Jezebel spirit to show what I mean

As Rick Pidcock quotes:

“The Jezebel Spirit opened our event,” Driscoll declared. “There was a platform. It was a high place. On it was a pole, an Asherah pole, the same thing that’s used in a strip club for women who have the Jezebel Spirit to seduce men.”

A few nervous claps began to spread through the stadium.

“In front of that was a man, who ripped his shirt off like a woman does in front of a pole at a strip club,” Driscoll continued to describe. “That man then ascended … and then he swallowed a sword.”

Rick Pidcock

Baptist News Global, What happened when Mark Driscoll and Josh Howerton showed up at the Stronger Men’s Conference this weekend

So it’s the women at the strip club who are evil by seducing the men. It’s not the fact that many women who “work” at strip clubs are victims of sex trafficking. It’s not calling out men who pay money to objectify women. It’s not saying, “There is a spirit in this age that entices men to abuse and objectify and dehumanize women for their own gratification, and that traps vulnerable women in terrible conditions.” No, even though stripping only exists because there is a demand for it; even though it is men who pay the money and (mostly) men who often enslave women, somehow it is all about the “spirit” that is attached to these women that is entrapping these poor vulnerable men.

Do you see the problem?

So if you think there are personal, demonic forces that attach themselves to people, just call it the spirit of seduction or the spirit of manipulation, or, better still, the spirit of exploitation and abuse. But don’t call it a Jezebel spirit. Because these sins are not uniquely female.

“Jezebel spirit” has no place in modern discourse and perpetuates the abuse of Christian women.

At this point, Jezebel spirit is a badge of honor

Because it’s primarily sexist and misogynist people who use the term, then when you get called Jezebel, it’s usually a sign you’re doing something right. You’re ticking off the right people.

(I’ve even got “They call me Jezebel” merch in the store because it’s a way to draw attention to the horrible way that term is thrown around).

We’re simply not going to take it anymore. We’re sick of it. It’s a spiritual way of asserting dominance and superiority while simultaneously calling a woman a b****.

It’s not of Christ, it has nothing to do with Scripture, and it needs to stop.

What do you think? Have you ever been called a Jezebel? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    They won’t stop, because it’s effective. And when someone doesn’t have a good argument, all that’s left are ad hominems, name calling, and bullying.

    I wonder if there were some who called Phoebe, or Priscilla, or Mary Magdalene a Jezebel? 🤔

    And for those who need a laugh, I can’t help but think of Ron “They call me ‘Tater Salad’ White.” 🤣 IYKYK!

  2. Rebecca

    So is the problem that the performer immodestly took off his shirt, or that he was supposedly acting like a woman when he did that?

    Sword swallowers have been around forever. They’re traditionally men, aren’t they? Leave it to Mark Driscoll, the man who ruined the Song of Songs, to think of sex when watching a cool carnival act.

    I bet that act was the only fun part of the conference.

    As for the Jezebel spirit, I’ve never gotten that one (though I’ve heard it a lot) but I have been called a feminazi for suggesting women have any rights at all

    • Nessie

      I’ve gotten the fem-nazi comment before because I dared to hold a door for some guys, which is obviously a “man’s” job as a mere female must be too weak to… open a door and hold it open…?

      I think the problem is simply that MD has so hyper-sexualized everything that he needs to misdirect to blaming females for any arousal he may feel. (Arousal not meaning only sexual, but any emotion aroused is probably equated to sexual by his ilk because they haven’t learned to process it as anything else.)

  3. Marina

    Yeah, even though I don’t personally hear christians around me using the term, it doesn’t take long to observe how that term gets used. It is very much the equivalent of a hammer in a conversation, along with “liberal”, “backslidden”, “Eve’s daughter”, ect. I wonder when they will realize that people eventually stop caring what you say if you constantly insult them.
    And this ties into why many main-line denominations (and even countries) have strict guidelines on exorcisms. It’s too easy to throw the undesirables and your enemies into the “possessed” bracket.
    That conference was so bizarre all around, people have been wondering if all sides of that weren’t planned for PR. Any performance act has to be scheduled far in advance and go through several approvals to get in a conference line up, after all.

    • Laura

      From some of the articles I read about this event (via Ric Pidcock and Julie Roys), I get the impression that this whole Mark Driscoll thing was staged. After he gets kicked off the stage, the pastor of that church says something about Matthew 18. This was in reference for Driscoll to come to the pastor in private and not publically which was something Driscoll accused his Mars Hill Church members of doing. It was not okay for people to publically call out Driscoll, but then he gets a taste of his own medicine when he gets booed off the stage.

      I still don’t think flashy performances need any place in a “Christian” conference whether it be a men’s or women’s conference. I guess the performance of the sword swallower was not “masculine” or “macho” enough for Driscoll. Then he has to go and gripe about a Jezebel spirit at a men’s conference. He thinks men have to be a certain way and if they don’t fit the macho stereotype, they aren’t real men.

      Some of my Christian friends on Facebook are singing Driscoll’s praises because he called out a supposedly feminized man for not being man enough. I so want to inform them that Driscoll has been kicked out of his own church, still has not changed his ways, and has referred to women as penis homes. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn’t believe me because he still speaks at “Christian” conferences like XO Marriage. Yep, just slap the word “Christian” on Driscoll and that men’s conference and that’s all that matters to a lot of Christians.

  4. Nessie

    Briefly on the conference: I feel as though it all came about as a staged act, the Matt. 18 curfuffle, etc., just like a WWE show, as if to show that *they* know how to take correction. Also, if the only way a group of men can be encouraged is to tear a people group down, they aren’t doing it right. Not even close.

    “…it’s very, very common for sexual abuse survivors to be told they were targeted by pastors, family members, etc because of their “Jezebel spirit.” Wow, that is a low I hadn’t heard much before (outside of the biblical counseling sphere where a woman was asked how she sinned when m*lested about age 4)! Just how intensely pathetic and deeply sinful are these “men” that they have to insult women to this extent to make themselves feel more powerful and more righteous? To me, anyone saying that to an abuse survivor has just admitted their lust problem. Just… wow!

    When I look at the marriages of public people, I see Christ at work in some; in others, I see a lot more of the devil at work. Sheila and Keith’s marriage is one in which I see Christ at work; I see Sheila creating disciples in the name of Jesus and showing them how a good relationship (both with a husband and with Christ) can and should look (live life abundantly, etc.) When I view some others, I see the very bondage and slavery of spirit that Christ came from which to set us free. I see wives who are strangled in their opportunities to disciple others. It’s so disheartening because I’d wager many of them very much wanted to follow Christ well but became abused and lost their way to Him and sharing Him in truth because of the erroneous teachings of the church and their husbands.

  5. Angharad

    Interesting new take on an old insult. In the 50s, ‘Jezebel’ was an insult aimed at any woman who was thought to be making herself too attractive. Women and girls were expected to dress well and look nice, but take that too far and you were a ‘Jezebel’. (I guess certain other people would refer to this as being ‘offensively attractive’?!)

    But that conference…since when were sword swallowing strippers ever part of a ‘Christian’ conference? And if MD was so upset by it, why did he come back THE NEXT DAY to call it out? If it’s that bad, why not just…leave? I despair at the state of the ‘church’.

    • Gina S

      Just to clarify, the performer in question was in no way a stripper as MD described. Dude was literally an acrobat from Britain’s Got Talent who had his shirt off for part of his act. Was it an odd choice for a church conference? Sure, but so were the monster trucks and literal boxing matches that also took place. I’ve seen so much “justification” online from people claiming that they, too would like for a pastor to object if there was a stripper in their church, which was just not at all the situation.

      • Angharad

        Thanks for clarifying, although my bemusement still stands. Where I come from, Christian conferences are about things like studying the Bible, hearing about mission in various parts of the world, learning how we can follow Jesus better and share our faith with others…why on earth such an event needs acrobats, boxing matches etc, etc, etc is beyond me.

        Also, whatever the issue with the performer, and whether MD was justified or not in his objections, it still doesn’t explain why he came back the next night to rant about it from the platform. Assuming he didn’t know the guy was going to perform in advance (which is pretty unlikely, because most speakers get told who else is doing something at the same conference), he should have raised his concerns with the conference leaders that same night. And/or boycotted the conference. Using a conference stage to complain about other contributors to the same conference is hypocritical (and bad manners even from the viewpoint of the world, never mind being nothing like a Christian should be)

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, it was a performance artist like cirque-du-soleil sort of thing. Still very out of place for a Christian conference, but not a stripper.

        • Marina

          I have the bad feeling that many of the people at that conference wouldn’t care about the distinction. Too many like Driscoll, it’s probably a case of pole=stripper, regardless of the actual performance. It reminds me of how creepy some people can be to dancers in general…in my area I’ve even heard of Christians who are stage magicians who have to market themselves specifically as an “illusionist” to avoid connection to any form of magic. (I mean, illusionist is probably a more accurate term, but the point still stands).

  6. Skittles

    I think it’s interesting how the name has been morphed by the natural changing of language and society. The name ‘Nimrod’ is for a mighty hunter in the Bible, but had been used sarcastically so much that now it is an insult to call someone an idiot (ironically not just for men, but women can be called a nimrod as well). In the same way, the name ‘Jezebel’ has been used as an insult so much, in ridiculous ways, that it is now a badge of honor for women doing the right thing.

    I’ve been called both Jezebel and Nimrod. It took a while to see them as the badge of honor they are.

    First time commenting. I’ve been here for a while in the background, your site and the information here have brought much healing to my life and I am sharing it with many. Keep it up, you are doing kingdom work and it is making a difference in real peoples lives.

  7. CMT

    If you name “a sin after a woman, you are setting up the idea that women especially have a propensity towards this sin, and that it is mainly seen in women”

    But it’s not even one specific ”sin” that is called a “jezebel spirit.” It’s a catch all for “you pissed off someone in supposed authority while in possession of 2 X chromosomes.”

    • Eliza

      If we were accurate, “Jezebel Spirit” would apply primarily to women undertaking shady real estate transactions. 😀

      • Sequoia

        Thanks Eliza, I cracked up at that one. 😂

      • Erica Tate

        LOL! Brilliant!

  8. Kayleigh

    I’ve been labelled a Jezebel before… it does sting and your assessment of how it gets used willynilly in alot of churches correct. I’ll speak as a “charismatic” since I’d probably be included there in the way you’re using the term. There are circles where I’ve heard the term Jezebel used correctly. But these circles also use terms like Haman Spirit, Herodian Spirit, Leviathan Spirit, Python Spirit, etc. So there is more discernment being taught.

    I feel like evangelical, macho style churches twisted the meaning of Jezebel spirit to support their patriarchical authoritarian goals. I’ve been taught it is a high level principality that has hatred for believers, like how Jezebel was a queen and had the authority to kill the prophets of Yahweh. Jezebel was also a witch. So the Jezebel in Revelation was a false prophet and actually using witchcraft (not the power of Holy Spirit) to lure people away from God’s truth. So someone who actually is under the demonic influence of a “Jezebel spirit” is likely fooling with the occult, twisting truths, desiring control, intentionally seducing with their words or appearance, etc.

    Also I’ve been taught to always separate the demonic influence from the person. We don’t fight flesh, and “Jezebel” is not someone’s personality. They are a person loved by God who needs to be set free from a “Jezebellic” influence. So leadership should seek to reconcile the person back to God, not publicly humiliate them or ostracize them. And this has to be done using wisdom from Holy Spirit, not our carnal minds assessing a situation (because we could be totally wrong about a person).

    I hope that helps!

    • Erica Tate

      I used to believe in these spirits myself. Then I started thinking about the foundations for this belief, and some questions arose:

      1. Where in Scripture can one find references to a Haman spirit, Herodian spirit, Leviathan spirit, Python spirit, etc?
      2. Why did Jesus/Paul/Peter etc never mention these spirits by name if they’re necessary for us to know about?

      I’ve come to the conclusion this is a modern version of gnosticism — sounds impressive, and makes the teacher of these things sound like they’ve got some special esoteric knowledge so you should really pay attention to them… but has no Scriptural basis at all.

      • Kayleigh

        My main point was that these macho evangelical preachers seemed to have ONLY taken the “spirit of Jezebel” concept and used it as ammo at women (and sometimes men) they don’t approve of, instead of recognizing the many different types of demonic spirits and principalities exist. Using a person’s name from the Bible simply is a word choice to help define the typical way the spirit operates (ie anti-semetic like Haman, using political clout like Herod, etc). These same circles also use terms like “spirit of Moses”, “spirit of Elijah” or “Deborah/Esther” in a positive sense to reflect Christians using their giftings and annointing from God in a certain way. So honestly it just comes down to differing culture and lingo. (Unless you’re implying that you don’t believe in a demonic realm).

        Anyways, not telling you what to believe. But hopefully that explains the culture differences. I follow teachers like Emma Stark in Scotland, Ryan Lestrange in Atlanta, and Barry Maracle in Ontario. Blessings.

      • Lisa Johns

        Absolutely. I know people who base whole ministries on dealing with these and other “demons,” and I cal BS!!
        Thank you for putting this so well!

  9. Shoshana

    Was Driscoll secretly turned on by this guy? Its easier to shame the all male conference than look at his own sin. And yes, this is strange to have an act like this at a Christian conference where the bible should be center stage.

  10. Laura

    Welp, that’s quite the exciting news of the Christian world this week! I just don’t get why Christian conferences have to have such flashy entertainment. Isn’t having a Christian band play good enough anymore? In the past, the annual Celebrate Recovery Summit hosted famous Christian bands. In 2017, For King & Country played the first night of Summit, but that was as big as it got.

    What I don’t get is how some of my friends on Facebook have been singing Driscoll’s praises and lauding him as a hero because they claim he is the authority on correct “biblical” manhood. Gag. If ony they knew that he referred to women as penis homes, I wonder if they would change their tune. He’s just another self-righteous megachurch pastor who writes, er, plagiarizes books and spouts his opinions more than looking to scripture and its context. I don’t know much about the senior pastor of that church that hosted this “macho macho man” conference. He’s probably the same and I’m not impressed with him either.

    I guess Driscoll is doing all he can to get back into the spotlight especially after Josh Howerton was the big name in Christian news these last few weeks. Enough with the “biblical” manhood and let’s ALL just be more like Jesus.

    • Lisa Johns

      Not to mention that Driscoll has a LONG history of highly problematic behavior and speech. That’s what I’ve pointed out to friends who post in support of him. It seems that not everyone is aware of his history or his character.


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