During the Crusades a Knight was taken captive by Moslem Saladin. The Knight begged for his life, claiming that he had a wife in England who loved him dearly. Saladin commented that soon she would forget him. On second thought, the cruel Chieftan offered to set the man free if the lady would send her right hand as a token of her love. When word was sent to England, she immediately cut off her right hand, and it arrived to Saladin. The husband was released. There is a statue of this faithful wife in one of the old cathedrals of England, she is beautiful, but without her right hand.
A Godly wife and mother will not need to give up her right hand, but she is certainly called to commit herself in noble ways to her husband and children.
The very balance of deep human relationships stems from Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another in the fear of the Lord.” And, the rest of Ephesians 5 expands on this concept. Husbands, will set themselves aside, and make decisions for the good of their wife and children. Wives will follow their husbands for there to be harmony in the home. Children will trust and obey their parents in the Lord. Even workers and employers will work diligently, as unto the Lord, trusting that God will bring about complete equity, in the life to come. In summary, a man or woman who lives selfishly will never enjoy the fruit of relationships. Where as, men and woman who learn to live with others in mind, will secure long and lasting human relationship.
THE WIFE’S ROLE
Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Subject to is a Greek military term, “Hupotasso” which means literally to line up under. Note, that the wife, selects her own husband, and chooses to line up underneath him, because she trusts him, and she trusts the Lord. A wife is not to trust, follow, and support just any man, but the man whom she elects to marry, under the covering of Christ Jesus her Lord. Thus, biblical subjection, is not one of slavery, but one of choice.
Genesis 3:16 set this order in place, when after the fall of Adam and Eve, the Lord said, “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Her “Desire” here refers to the woman’s desire for authority, her carnal cravings to break the God given order and dominate the man’s attentions. Yet, God says that the man will oversee her. This pits her carnal desires against God’s design. And, this is what we see played out on the grand American stage – Men who do not protect, provide, and lead. Women who fight desperately to fill their shoes.
Certainly, God’s design is not popular. But, it was not the Renaissance, French Revolution, Suffrage movement, or Emma Watson speech, that awakened women towards a new dawn of liberal thought. God’s design is unpopular because Satan has been working from the very beginning to thwart the order of God, and lead the earth into selfish chaos. A simple study of Nimrod, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, the Mayans, or Incans, will showcase the consistent assault of earth upon God’s original design for the family, through men and women who crave their own lusts over mutual submission and civil order.
Sadly, Hollywood satirists are more aware of this preposterous role reversal than church pulpits. Reflect on the following television shows of the past century: Dick Van Dyke, Get Smart, Bewitched, Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Munsters, Leave it to Beaver, Mary Tyler Moore, Murphy Brown, King of Queens, Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Married with Children, Roseanne, and many more…
The humor of these shows is based on a man who cannot lead, protect, and provide for his home, and conversely, a woman who will and can. Billions of dollars were made on this internal and subconscious disposition that a wife should not perform the role of the husband. Many women’s Bible studies discuss how to become a Proverbs 31 woman, “An excellent wife, who can find!” And, great encouragement that is. Yet, these studies would also do well to caution women against becoming a “Proverbs 21 woman, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9) King Solomon took time to write that it is better to live on the cold corner of a wind blown roof, than in the warm company of a wife who likes to argue.
THE WIFE’S SOUL
1 Peter 3:1 says, “You wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word…” Peter explains that trust and support isn’t only to be given to the perfect husband but even to the imperfect one. When a husband isn’t in church or reading the bible or spending time with the kids or helping around the house, a wife may be tempted to get upset and go out with the girls or place a note on the TV that says, “Repent reject” but Peter says that she should stay humble and supportive with a clear purpose stated next, “They may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” Remarkably, Peter says that the wife’s commitment to keep loving a disobedient husband, because she loves the Lord, will in the end be the transformation of the husbands soul.
I’ve seen this happen. A man who goes to church one Sunday, suddenly convicted of his sin. Walking the aisle, penitent and changed, by the Word of God, and the decades of Christ-like example, exuded by His patient and loving wife.
1 Peter 3:3 continues, “And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses…” The word, “Merely” surrenders that women will look beautiful, but the Bible commands that her focus not be on the external, but on the internal. Verse 4 continues, “but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Paul’s point is that internal beauty, the elements of listening, not gossiping, being patient, and staying still, are the most admirable traits of a woman.
Paul goes on in verse 5 to give an example of Sarah and the matriarchal heroes of the faith, referencing that they literally, “Met face-to-face” with God. And, his point is that every time a woman looks in the mirror to start her day, God isn’t concerned with her external beauty, He’s looking at her heart. And, the Bible commands Christian women to look in the mirror and ask, “Do I call attention to myself or to the Lord today?”
There has been much made in recent years about how women should dress at church. In youth ministries, girls are told to wear shirts over bathing suits, and many other behavioral items get discussed. Yet, it need not be this way. If a woman simply assesses her heart, to walk, talk, and dress for God’s glory, the rest will take care of itself.
The wrong motive of women is one reason for the high divorce rate and death of the American family. Men and women are now waiting decades to get married. Hoping to fill some void before they finally, “Settle down.” Half of their life is spent dressing up the outside, entertaining selfish dreams, pleasuring personal desires. They are told from the age of 8, “It’s all about you.” Thus, when they get into a marriage, which only works, “If it’s all about their spouse” they haven’t the first clue where to begin.
THE WIFE’S GOAL
Titus 2:3 commands, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women…” Paul commands older women to not gossip or drink and to spend their time teaching younger women. The obvious question is, “Teach them what?” He continues in verse 5, “…To love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”
Mature women are to teach younger women to be husband-lovers, prepared to give up their dreams and desires for their children, and focus their attentions at the home (Oikourgos). Paul then writes, that the pagan society in which they live will notice this behavior, different from it’s own, and not be able to dishonor the Bible.
1 Timothy 5:14 supports this focus stating, “I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.” Here Paul tells even those who’ve lost a husband to get married again, bear children, and work to rule/oversee the home, so that the enemy will not be able to question the faith.
This certainly isn’t a popular concept in 2014 America, but it is what God has prescribed. The Bible commands mom to be home and to focus her attention on the family.
The labor force participation rate for all mothers with children under age 18 was approximately 70% in 2013. Approximately 1 of every 2 mothers with a child under age three now holds a full-time job.
The Bible clearly speaks against selfishness by husband or wife. The most prominent excuses for a mom not home are, “I feel more fulfilled working” or, “We need the money.” The excuse of fulfillment simply means that mom has elevated her dreams over her children’s needs. The excuse regarding money may be a real issue during certain periods of life, but the reality is that most Americans have simply bought into the lie that two cars, a nice home, soccer games, cable tv, and debt, are mandatory.
The Bible clearly speaks for submission. Wives are to focus their energies on loving their husband and following His directives. A wife who works outside the home is no longer soley responsive to her husbands directives but also to the expectations of her employer. Therefore, she must dress differently, think differently, arrive home differently, handle conflict differently, care for the kids differently, discipline differently, even display passions differently.
Is it possible for a wife to obey the role, soul, and goal of a biblical woman in 2014? Yes. Is it degrading. Absolutely not. God designed her for this very capacity. A wife is the compassion control center of a home. Her husband and her children will all rise up and call her, “Blessed.”
What about single women? Should they quit a job and get on welfare? No, but her family should assist so that she can be home as much as possible or the church must help provide solutions. This is the sad part about our cruel society and about feminism. There are countless women who were told they could do it on their own, then they actually need to, and it’s virtually impossible.
Are husbands in sin if they allow their wife work? Sometimes. If his wife works part-time while the children are real young or after they’ve grown, this may meet varied objectives. Or, if his wife works part-time because of a period of financial crisis, that’s okay. But, if his wife must commit to working full-time while the children remain at home, this exists outside the biblical model, and he must prayerfully look to provide more or live on less.
For a More Complete Study
— “The Fulfilled Family” by John MacArthur
— “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper
— “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas