Since today is my husband’s birthday, it seemed a fitting time to address how to interact with our husbands.
If you follow my blog, you know that I believe in submission –but I don’t believe as some people do that submission gives all the power to the man leaving the women hopeless and vulnerable (see this and this article which explains more about my position).
There are very few commands given to couples in scripture, and, while some pastors seem to like to preach in excess about the wife’s responsibilities, continually reminding women of their duty, I think that the reason few verses are given about marriage is because the entire New Testament is a guideline for spousal interaction.
Let me explain what I mean.
When I first got married, I was told by other women that wives had a separate set of rules, that how they interacted with their husbands was completely different than how they were to interact with other Christians or unbelievers.
This never made sense to me.
Some authors, teachers, and local church members use submission as a method to basically make women into second class citizens.
A) According to them, women were supposed to teach kids only. They can’t even teach other women until they were elderly.
B) According to them, women didn’t need to study theology or explore scripture because having women knowledgeable about the Bible was dangerous.
C) According to them, all women needed to do was ask their husbands questions and have them answer them, because it was in the best interest of women to remain uninformed and unopinionated so that they could more easily submit.
D) According to them, an opinionated, informed woman would never submit to her husband.
Let’s see what scripture says about that.
A) First, we are all given gifts by the Spirit.
Although the task of training younger women (discipleship) is specifically given to older women, scripture doesn’t say how old you have to be (a 30 year old could discipline a 20 year old for example), and this doesn’t mean that a women with the gift of teaching can’t use it until she’s elderly. We are also commanded to use our gifts.
Women aren’t supposed to teach men or be preaching from the pulpit, but there are plenty of things that a woman can do to biblically use her spiritual gifts.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers or addicted to much wine,
to be self-controlled, pure, managers of their households, kind, and subject to their own husbands,
so that the word of God will not be discredited.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man
I Timothy 2:12
B) We, as Christians are commended to grow in Christ and increase in our knowledge. This command is not simply only given to men.
Women are the primary teachers in their home, raising an entire generation. If we want the next generation to know God and be biblically educated we better be educating those mamas in the Word and encouraging them to grow in their knowledge of Jesus.
Men should want their women to follow Christ’s command to grow in grace and knowledge. They should want their women to be strong.
If you look at the women of scripture who were remembered, even the ones who were praised for submitting to their husbands, these were strong women. They were not weak, pitiful, ignorant women.
Sarah’s strong personality got her into trouble on at least one occasion (like when she laughed at God).
Abigail was called intelligent and many of the things she was known for doing, the things that impressed King David, would be seen as unsubmissive and out of line by many proponents of extreme submission. See the whole story in 1 Samuel 25.
The Proverbs 31 Woman, who many women resent because of the misinterpretation of the passage, is anything but weak. If you doubt me, take a look again at the chapter.
Although it’s best if we make wise choices and temper our tendency toward extremes and allow God to soften our rough edges, God doesn’t call us to abandon our distinctive personalities and pretend to be weak and spineless.
God doesn’t want us weak. He wants us to be strong women following hard after Him, making Him the highest priority in our lives.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years.
The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying,
“After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham,
“Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’
Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you,
about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves
[with internal character not external things], by submitting to their own husbands,
as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children,
if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
1 Peter 3:5-6
C) Scripture does say that a women should ask her husband at home and should not interrupted the church service to ask questions, but it doesn’t say that women should be uninformed.
It is true that uninformed people, men or women, are more easily controlled. So, any time someone wants you to stay uninformed, you need to consider their motivation.
I’ve been at churches where the entire congregation is not taught the truth of scripture so that they would not challenge or question what they were told.
I know men who treat their wives and daughters that way.
It’s not biblical.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.
1 Timothy 2:12
If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home
[rather than disrupting the church service].
1 Corinthians 14:35
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,a not under compulsion,
but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3
D) A biblically-educated, godly women will choose to submit to her husband out of respect to God.
If pleasing and following God is our first priority, we will be able to interact with our husbands in a respectful way.
No manipulation or coercion is necessary.
Submissions is voluntarily choosing to follow the decisions of another person. Submission cannot be forced. Forced submission isn’t submission. It’s coercion.
It’s important to mention here that respect and submission are the two commands given to wives. So, if you can’t be respectful to your husband, you’re not honoring God.
Respect means to treat someone with high or special esteem.
It doesn’t mean that the person has earned that respect. The respect is given as because of the position, not the actions of the person holding the position.
God placed our husbands over us in a position that requires our respect. Just like a police officer. Just like the president or Queen (depending on your geographical location). Whether I agree with the president or police officer, it would do me well to be respectful because I’m actually interacting God’s representative.
Unlike an officer or queen or king, I have a personal relationship with my husband, and he has responsibilities and commands to treat me correctly, with kindness, deference, and love.
No such reciprocal responsibility exists in other relationships in God’s hierarchy of authority.
The police officer who pulls me over for speeding is not required to love me. My husband is.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority except from God,
and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed
and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?
Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid,
for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God,
an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
We have established that we are biblically responsible to address our husbands with respect but that we are not commanded to be weak, spineless or abused. Tomorrow I will address how to bring problems to our husbands without being disrespectful.