I’ve never been a fan of beets. Then again, I’ve never tried them. They smell nasty and look unappetizing. I believe in eating healthy foods to take care of my body. They would be good for me, to add variety and more vegetables to my diet, but I just don’t like the idea of those beets.
Figuratively, I’m ready to eat beets. God’s beets. Confused?
As someone passionate about God and wanting to express my love through obedience and trust, I cannot be selective about the “good-for-me’s” in His instructions. It’s not like my ticket to heaven will be revoked if I don’t; I want to continue growing in my relationship with God.
I have regarded the instructions for the biblical role of a wife as being distasteful, like eating beets. I’ve briefly visited the applicable Scriptures on previous occasion, discussed the topic at a Bible study, and made some weak efforts, but never made it a priority to fulfill the role God’s way.
What triggered my new appetite is that I was listening to a Christian radio station – BOT Radio – and a pastor I had never heard before (Ed Young) was talking about Jesus’ instructions in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands”, and the biblical roles of the husband and wife that continue through Ephesians 5:32.
My first instinct was to turn to another station. I did not want to hear it, although I already knew that submitting does not mean becoming a slave, a doormat, or an inferior person. I continued listening as I admitted to myself and to God that I need to add another notch to my belt of obedience (obedience=love for Christ). Like any other teaching, I must remember the instructions for our marital roles are for our own good, to have the best life possible. To have the most harmonious marriage possible.
My relationship with God and with my husband are quite strong, but there’s always room for improvement.
Some ladies might be tempted to quit reading here. Ephesians 5:22 is such a misinterpreted verse, and it is followed by important instructions for husbands. Keep reading. Here are a few definitions for clarification:
Submit: To give over or yield to the power or authority of another. To present for approval, consideration or decision of another.
Love God: To obey His commands. To not ask why, to realize that His standards are for our own good so that we can have the best life possible, living closely with Him. To trust Him and act on that trust.
To take out of context: To form an opinion or belief without reading further or considering the whole picture. In other words, we need to read past Ephesians 5:22.
A Little Wifely Background – When Mitch and I got married, during our premarital meeting with a pastor (at a church we did not attend), I insisted that our vows stated ‘husband and wife’ instead of ‘man and wife’. An older (non-Christian) woman once told me to never let a man dominate me. I had always thought it was a reasonable motto until I graduated from the baby Christian phase.
In the school of biblical correctness as a wife, I would place myself in, oh, the fifth grade, partially based on my personality. I’m not a control freak or a high maintenance person, or at least I don’t think so. I have my opinion and my moods, especially when there is money or clutter involved. The finances and most of the housework fall primarily to me. As far as decisions, I’m not usually stubborn, so I haven’t been one to stand my ground, which is different than saying, “Honey, you’re the head of the household. Whatever you decide.”
Submitting to one another. The pastor on the radio described how he and his wife each have their particular strengths and duties, and they really submit to one another (Ephes 5:21), depending on which party is responsible for the related issue. If they have different opinions on a neutral issue, the husband makes the final decision. As I listened, I thought, well that sounds reasonable. It makes sense.
Read through the verses below to get a picture of what a marriage looks like by God’s design. I‘ve bolded what I consider to be the key verses.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
More verses can be found at Peter 3:1-7 and Proverbs 31:10-31
THE WIFE’S ROLE
Being a submissive wife does not mean we are inferior compared to men. We were made to be equal but different. A common problem in marriages is two people both wanting to be leaders, which only leads to power struggles. Women sometimes find that manipulation through emotions or favors will get them what they want, and that is not the way to go.
**Jesus himself demonstrates the role of a wife in that he submits to God as the authority. And we are to love our husbands as the church loves Christ.
A couple of our “don’ts” that come to mind are: Don’t criticize. Don’t make anything other than a small decision without consulting your husband.
Note: Women, being submissive does not mean you are controlled. Or that men can lord over or govern their wives. And it is NEVER acceptable for a husband (or a boyfriend) to mistreat you either physically or verbally.
Recently during a Bible study in our women’s small group, our outline called for a response of what we might tell someone who believes that God is restricting our freedom by expecting us to follow his commands as outlined in the Bible. Our general response was that it is just the opposite. Depending on God and following the teachings of His Son allows us to be free. One of the women, who I’ll call Rachel, said that following God’s design allows her more freedom. I’ll explain this later in this post.
Rachel is a college graduate. She works part-time in the health field. Upbeat, confident, intelligent, assertive, and friendly, she is not what I might have expected if I read the words from Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands”, and stopped there. I might expect someone that couldn’t think for herself or who resembles June Cleaver.
Rachel considers her husband to be the head of the household. Now, some of us might say this, but we don’t really believe it or convey it through our actions. She’s not like that. She acts on her conviction. When there is a decision to be made, they discuss it, but ultimately, if they have different views, she says, “You’re the head of the household. The decision is yours.” She also tells their young daughter that her dad is the head of the household. Maybe she can coach me.
THE HUSBAND’S RESPONSIBILITIES
The reason I mentioned “taking out of context” earlier is that I know how it sounds to some women that we must not be the boss. In some marriages, the wife seems to be, or strives to be, the boss. Have you ever seen the movie, “Wild Hogs”? The Martin Lawrence character allows his wife to be the boss, and you can see that it doesn’t work. Husbands must be the leaders.
In other situations, the wife doesn’t want to be the leader, but feels it is forced on her because the husband is not committed to God’s teachings. This seems particularly true when both parties work outside the home and more so if you are parents, and the husband contributes insufficiently at home. Role confusion results. Some wives who are mothers end up feeling as if they don’t need their husbands, because the man has not promoted that need.
Guys, nowhere does God say that women cannot work outside the home or that men should not cook or clean. God’s plan for harmonious marriages is about actions and attitudes that come from mutual love and respect as we trust in and love God through obedience.
God’s instructions for husbands say: “Love her as you love your own body.”…. This means serving her, making sure she does not feel overwhelmed, asking her what he can do to make things easier. This is particularly important if the wife works outside the home, because her responsibilities often exceed those of the husband.
Husbands, cherish your wife. Loving her as Christ loves the church is a big responsibility. There is sacrifice involved in fulfilling the role God designed for you.
This is what my friend Rachel means when she refers to freedom through God’s Word. Husbands are supposed to be the providers, the stronger gender physically, the leaders, and they must show their love in various ways.
SUMMARY – Notes from a past church message:
- We are all equal before God.
HUSBANDS: Love your wife.
- Listen to her.
- Keep her best interests at heart.
- Serve her.
WIVES: Submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.
- Listen to him.
- Allow him to lead.
- Admire him. (intelligence, job competence, physical strength, appearance)
The Ten Commandments for Husbands – I love this, except for the ‘thee’s’ and ‘thy’s’. http://www.bible.ca/marriage/f-10com-husb.htm (There’s a link in this same webpage to the Ten Commandments for Wives.)
Regarding working wives: http://www.marriagemissions.com/working-wives/#comments
Biblical Roles in General: