Women As Wives
God’s instructions to wives are no less profound than those He gave to the husband. In general, the same is taught concerning how the wife is to treat her husband. Respect given often receives respect in return.
So treating each other in the same manner one wants to be treated is a minimum characteristic when it comes to building the type of relationship God expects of us. Wives have stress in their lives, too, and it is just as important that they find a way of handling it in a manner that promotes mutual respect.
Sometimes a tug of war develops between spouses, a contest of wills where neither spouse allows the other to get his or her way. This is displeasing to God, for He gives instruction that, if followed, provides harmony. As both spouses are usually human, disagreements will inevitably arise. The problem is not their occurrence but how spouses handle themselves during them.
Eph. 5:33 indicates that a wife is to respect her husband. In the previous article we established that a husband is to treat his wife with respect -- as he would want to be treated himself. It is truly a test of our faith and maturity to accept this, especially when there are times we must allow the other person to "get their way."
But if husband and wife have the same goals for the family, then these contests of will should be less frequent as personal growth in the Lord occurs. If this is not the case in a family, then likely the spiritual growth is not there.
There are two terms used that relate to how a wife is to demonstrate her love of God in the husband/wife relationship. The term "subject" is used in 1 Pet 3:1 -- "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands." And in Eph 5:22, 24 and Col. 3:18 we find the word "submit."
In Ephesians 5, Paul is teaching us about the relationship between Christ and the church. In this analogy Christ is the husband, and the church plays the role of wife or bride. The church cannot disrespect its head nor take the authority of its head onto itself.
Paul teaches that the husband is to treat the wife like Christ treats the church and, in turn, the wife is to grant the husband the authority in the family. The statements "wives, submit to your own husbands" and "the husband is the head of the wife" can offer fertile ground for disagreement if either spouse does not follow the instructions.
Man has twisted these verses into something evil or demeaning; he wants to rewrite God’s plan for the family. Men often do not accept the role of being the spiritual leaders in their families. Leadership falls upon wives by default.
When these verses were written, they actually had a liberating result on women. Women have their own relationship with God, and their spouses cannot interfere with or impact that. They are saved by their own actions, and so Jesus died for them as well as men.
This open access of a woman to all spiritual blessings had not always been easy to establish and maintain under the law. If these verses are applied as God intended, much of the stress between wives and their husbands will drain.
The Bible is clear concerning who is accountable and responsible for certain aspects of the family relationship. The difference between these two words is important. The husband is accountable (to God) for the spiritual direction and care of the family. The wife is accountable for "working at home" and what that entails.
God tells us who is accountable in these instances. Titus 2:3-5 provides insight to women concerning their accountability to God:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Women are to learn to love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their own husbands. And if they do not possess these characteristics, there is the possibility that the word of God can be reviled or despised. The proper acceptance and discharge of the wife’s role is vital to the overall success of God’s word.
The idea of responsible means while the husband is accountable for the spiritual direction of the family, the wife shares as a responsible partner in that effort. She must be supportive of the spiritual direction and take an active role in its outcome.
While the wife is accountable for things like working at home, the husband shares in this responsibility as well. Men often refuse to accept that there are responsibilities beyond their accountabilities to the family. Picking up a towel to dry the dishes is not beyond their contribution to the smooth functioning of the family home.
Sometimes wives work outside the home and wonder whether this is wrong in God's eyes. It is my conclusion that this subject falls under the situation of accountability versus responsibility.
There does not seem to be room for interpretation concerning the husbands' and wives' accountability to their role in the family. However, there may exist a responsibility that will require additional actions to support the family. Men can "help around the house" and women can "work outside the home" provided they do not forget the role for which God will hold them accountable.
Simply put, the husband should not be a tyrant or dictator, and the wife should not be the head of the family.
Ladies, act under the authority of your husbands as the church acts under the authority of Christ. The church does not seek its authority by another source, and wives are to accept the leadership of their own husbands.