QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
QUESTION: As a Christian wife, am I to be submissive to my husband as the head of my home? I thought a marriage was supposed to be a partnership, and not a dictatorship?
ANSWER: I sense by your question that you have submission issues. If you are ever going to be happy in your Christian marriage you have to ask God to help you become the humble and submissive wife your husband needs. There is no getting around the biblical fact that God ordained the husband to be the “head” of the Christian home. The Christian wife is not the head, but second in charge.
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” – Ephesians 5:22-23
I realize that in some cultures there has been abusive behavior by men towards their women, and I don’t agree with this at all. But you must not allow these erroneous examples to influence your attitude regarding the proper submission to your Christian husband. A good Christian husband, who is himself submitted to Jesus, should be loving and gentle towards his wife and children. But at the same time he must also be a good leader. The Bible gives him the authority to be the final decision maker and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the home. Contrary to popular opinion, the Christian home is not a democracy (governed by popular vote) – it is a theocracy (governed by God’s hierarchy of command). It is not run by mutual consensus but by everyone submitting to God’s order and design for the home. God ordained the man to be the head, then the wife, and then the children. I find that in America, feminist attitudes have infiltrated the churches of Jesus, and many Christian homes are sometimes run by a domineering wife, a weak or passive husband, and disrespectful, rebellious children. God cannot bless this kind of mess. It’s no wonder that Christian divorces today are higher than non-Christian ones.
Ask your local pastor about this, and I am sure that if he is a man of God (not a feminist, as many American pastors are today) he will agree with me.
What if your husband instructs you to do something unethical or sinful? What is the Christian wife suppose to do; should she be obedient to her husband and do whatever he says anyway?
No. When a husband is breaking God’s laws and thereby abusing his authority, the wife is not obligated to become his accomplice in wrongdoing. In such cases, the wife is to “obey God rather than man”
“Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
She is then justified in disobeying her husband and refusing to submit to his lead. However, she should go to the Scriptures and lovingly point out what her husband is doing wrong and try to reason with him. Hopefully, he will be dissuaded from taking the wrong course of action and thank his wife for pointing out his error.
What if the husband is being verbally or physically abusive; should the Christian wife submit to this type of treatment?
Simple logic would dictate that a husband who is verbally or physically abusive towards his wife and children is not living according to Christian principles. Therefore, he is abusing his authority as the head of the home and not worthy of submission. In that event, the wife should first take the matter to the elders of the local church and seek their godly counsel. The pastors or elders will most likely try to meet with the husband and persuade him to change his abusive behavior. If he refuses to do so, then the wife is justified in seeking a temporary separation. If separation does not solve the problem, then ultimately the wife should consider the finality of divorce, in my opinion, when all other means have been exhausted.
Only in rare circumstances of extreme physical abuse or danger should the wife resort to civil law enforcement. Too many marriages have been damaged because the wife rashly called the police and had her husband imprisoned, instead of first taking the matter to the elders of the church. The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian Christians for using the secular civil courts instead settling disputes among themselves:
“I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another–right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?” – 1 Corinthian 6:5-7
In effect Paul was saying, “Isn’t there anyone wise enough in the whole church capable of settling disputes between yourselves? And on top of everything, you bring your lawsuits [or marital problems] before ungodly civil judges and policemen who probably have a big laugh afterwards and joke between themselves, ‘These people are Christians? What a farce!” In other words, Christians should try to solve their problems, as far as possible, inside the church, and not air their dirty laundry in public where it gives unbelievers occasion to mock and blaspheme the name of Jesus.
Any difficulties in a marriage should first be resolved by the church. If this doesn’t work, then civil enforcement should be the method of last recourse.
If the husband is not submitted to God what should the Christian wife do?
If a Christian wife is married to a non-Christian husband, she should still try to be submissive to him (within biblical boundaries) as the head of the home. The apostle Peter addressed this in his first epistle:
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Your beauty should not come from simply external adornment, such as braided hair, the wearing of gold jewelry and beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves also with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of greater worth to God.” – 1 Peter 3:1-4 (JCV)
As a man, I can relate to the great wisdom in these words. As much as I may like the outward good looks of a woman who dresses well, puts on pretty makeup, manicures her hands and feet, etc., I am also drawn to a woman who has inner beauty as well – what a man considers “the ornaments of the heart.”
A man’s happiness depends on the inward beauty of woman as well as the outward. He is attracted by a loving and kind disposition, by gentle words, by a modest and patient spirit, by a heart that is calm in trouble, and that is affectionate and pure.
A wife, therefore, if she is to please her unbelieving husband and win him to Jesus, should seek the adorning of the soul in addition to that of the body. She should be attractive to her husband in every aspect, and reflect the beauty of Christ in a way that her husband can love. This is what the apostle Peter had in mind when he said, “that they [husbands] may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
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Dear Pastor Luis:
Thank you very much for taking the time to answers my questions. I know your answers are true and right and it is very much a blessing to me. I know God is preparing my heart to be a Christian wife and breaking the walls down of any resistance to submit to man/authority. I have absolutely no concerns submitting to a husband following the biblical outline you presented above as that is God’s design for the marriage.
As you may have detected, I was in a difficult marriage and did go to my church for direction (at the time it was the Roman Catholic Church) and I did everything you indicated should be the action to take if you are in those types of situations. Unfortunately, my husband did not want to submit to God and our marriage ended in divorce. It was very hard on me because I don’t believe in divorce. Plus, I am very conscientious and wanted to make sure I handled everything biblically. So, I can’t tell you enough how much your answers mean to me and how they are a blessing to me. Thank you!
I hope your answers will bless other woman too, I will pray that it does!