We are in the middle of a blog series for the Christian working woman.  You can go back to catch up if you’re a first time reader, and I highly encourage you to do so before reading today’s post.  Just click the links below to read the entries you may have missed.

Introduction – Can a Family Thrive When the Woman Works?
Part 1 – Following Your God-Given Ambition
Part 2 – Stepping into the Eye of the Storm

Today we begin part 3 as we take a look into the biblical role of a godly wife.  Can I be completely candid with you right now?  I do not want to write this post.  It was actually on my outline to be written last week and I chickened out!  Last week’s post was taken from later down the line just because I did not want to write this one.  This is one of those topics that provokes nasty comments and hateful glares.  Yes, even among Christian women.  Especially in todays culture where women reign supreme and men are forced to the sidelines all in the name of liberation and feminism.  My hesitation in writing is not because I struggle with my role or because I don’t agree with the way God has set up the home.  The reason is simply good old-fashioned PRIDE!  It’s the reason I don’t write even half of the things that I want to write about.  I have a really hard time hearing un-due criticism.  I can handle one-on-one constructive criticism, but the comments that I anticipate after a topic this controversial is spiking my heart rate just thinking about it!  My own desires aside, we must discuss our role as wives in order to move forward in this series.

We are going to look at the four major responsibilities a wife has in relationship to her husband.  The Bible is full of passages that give us insight into our role, including practical applications and examples to study and follow.  All of these passages can be categorized back into these four main areas.

  1. Love:  One of the most obvious responsibilities we have toward our husband is to love him.  True, biblical love is a choice we make, not a feeling we hold.  As we grow in Christ and in His love for us, we learn how to love our husband better.  We see this responsibility in Titus 2:4 when Paul instructs the older women to teach the younger women how to love their own husband.  How we show this love has many practical applications and will vary to some degree from one marriage to another.  The Bible lays out a very clear foundation of love as you study the life of Christ and other examples throughout scripture.
  1. Respect: Every book I’ve ever read on marriage and any marriage conference I’ve ever been to has revealed one common truth among Christian marriages:  The number one thing a man craves in the marriage relationship is respect.  I believe the reason so many husbands crave it most is because so few wives give it.  Paul, again, states in Ephesians 5:33 that the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.  I can’t even count the number of times I have witnessed a woman belittle and demean her husband.  It breaks my heart!  Have you ever been at a wedding and when the time comes for the bride to come down the aisle you fix your gaze steadily at the groom?  Watching his reaction as he sees his bride in her gown for the first time is one of the most beautiful sights in my opinion.  I love to see the admiration, love and amazement that he is marrying the most amazing woman in the world.  Next time you see a woman dis-respecting her husband in some way, just watch his reaction.  He might give a sheepish laugh, especially if this has become normal in their marriage.  He will definitely slump a little in the shoulders and often times you will witness this husband completely deflate.  His gaze of affection turns to one of either utter defeat or seething anger.  Neither of these will be healthy for your marriage.  Show respect to your husband.
  1. Submit: You’ll notice that these are getting increasingly more difficult to take.  The idea of submission for most women makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up.  We could do a full study on each of these points, and maybe we will together one day.  For now, we need to understand that God’s word clearly directs wives to submit to their own husbands as laid out in Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18 and I Peter 3:1.  Submission in general carries the idea of yielding your own will to the will of someone else.  We are told as Christians in this same passage in Ephesians to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).  It involves setting aside our own wants and desires in order to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, in regard to our husbands, this word also requires that we acknowledge the authority that God has given them in the home.  Just as we are to submit to God’s authority (James 4:7), and we are to submit to our work authority (Eph. 6:5), and to our government authority (Romans 13:1-7), and we to the authority in the church (Hebrews 13:17), we are also to submit to the authority in the home which is the husband (I Corinthians 11:3; Eph. 5:23).  As a Christian wife we have two choices.  Acknowledge that our husband is the head of the house and that God has given him the authority in the home or live in complete disobedience to God which never ends well.  Again, there is a lot that we could discuss about this but today is not that day so we will just leave this here and go on the most controversial of them all.
  1. Obey: Yup, we have to obey our husbands.  I have had women fervently argue with me over this one, and I expect that will happen again.  If you go back and read the passages that I’ve already listed as well as some of the context around them, you will notice that anytime there is authority given, there is also expected obedience.  The words “submit” and “obedience” are not interchangeable although they definitely go hand in hand.  The easiest way I know how to explain it is that “submission” is accepting and acknowledging that the authority exists and “obedience” is the practical application of this acknowledgement.  Obedience to our husband is most clearly laid out in I Peter 3:6 when it tells us that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him master (in other words, she acknowledged his authority in the home and obeyed him as one who held authority).  It goes on to say that we are her daughters if we do what is right.  The only times God ever honors “disobedience” to authority on earth is if it clearly goes directly against God’s authority and mandates.  For instance, if the government says it’s illegal to meet for church, I do not obey the government in that one area.  God says go to church, so in order to obey God, I must disobey the governing authority.  Again, a topic that we could do an entire series on later.

There is no way around it ladies.  God’s word is crystal clear of what our responsibility is toward our husbands.  So, why do I bring this all up in a blog series about the working woman?  We already saw in scripture a couple weeks ago that there were plenty of godly wives and mothers who worked a job and/or ministry and were found faithful.  We also talked about the ambitions, passions, talents, and gifts that God has given us and how we should explore those to use them for God’s glory.  As we discover how God has shaped us and we develop a heart for certain endeavors, we must pursue them in a godly way and follow His will and timing.  It’s often difficult to know when the right timing is or which things are God’s will vs. our own desires.

Enter the husband: God-appointed head of the wife.  As we love and respect our husband, we open up to him about the things God is laying on our hearts.  As he shows love and respect back to us we discuss these dreams and callings, asking God to lead and guide every step of the journey.  If your husband is not on board right now with a specific task or calling you feel led to, this is a clear answer that it’s not God’s will for you just yet. You need to re-consider what it is you thought you heard God saying.  If he is in complete support, now you can continue down the path together to watch for further confirmation and guidance.  I have counseled many women over the years in regards to taking on a large task such as a full time job or a demanding ministry.  My advice is always to talk it over completely with her husband.  Lay out all the details, let him be a part of the decision making process acknowledging that as head of house this is ultimately his decision.  I also recommend that she make it very clear to her husband that if this new endeavor starts to become a burden to their marriage or their family that he freely come to her and re-evaluate the decision.  It is never healthy in a biblical marriage for the wife to ignore the will of her husband in order to fulfill her own endeavors.

I am so thankful for the leadership of my husband in our home.  There have been many, many…… many times that I wanted to do something a certain way and in a certain timeframe and he has stepped in and said “no” or “not right now”.  At the time, I admit, I didn’t always show the love and respect as I should have but I am so thankful that I have always submitted and obeyed.  Looking back at many of these situations I can see now that he was absolutely correct, and it would not have been good for me to follow through with what I wanted at that time.  There are other situations where I still think he’s wrong, but I have learned to trust God fully.  God has told me to submit and obey, love and respect.  If my husband is wrong, that’s between Him and God.  God will still fulfill His will in my life in His perfect time as I follow His will in my marriage.  If my husband is right and I’m wrong then I’ve been protected from something I wasn’t supposed to do anyway.  Most often, neither of us is right or wrong, but we do the best we can to follow God’s will and do things His way and in His timing.

If this is completely foreign to you, I encourage you to study God’s Word on this issue!  Start with the passages I’ve listed above.  Pray about your current situation and ask God to show you anything that needs to change in your marriage, in your career, in your ministry.  I do realize that many who read this might be in a situation like the client of mine who spurred on this entire series.  You may be married to a Christian man who thinks that his authority is there for him to control you.  Maybe your husband smothers any ambition or dreams you dare to have.  Possibly your husband isn’t a believer and doesn’t share the same heart and mission as you do.  Let me encourage you, as angry and frustrated as that makes me, I know God’s word to be true and He is always faithful and always honors our obedience.  Memorize I Peter 3:1-2 and remember that your job is to obey God, regardless of how difficult that might be.  Pray for strength, pray for wisdom, pray for God to speak loudly to your husband, but ultimately pray for God to change your heart from anger and frustration to love and respect, submission and obedience.  We are never accountable for our husband’s actions, but we are absolutely accountable for ours.  Trust God.  Obey God.  This is more important than any ministry, any job, any calling that we might do.