EVERY COUPLE WILL HAVE ITS OWN UNIQUE BRAND OF RESPECT/BIBLICAL SUBMISSION/LOVE
There is not one specific “right way” to respect your husband and to cooperate with his leadership. Every couple will have their own style and methods of doing this. I am going to give some examples just to give you a baseline to think and pray about. And to possibly talk with your husband about – respectfully, of course!
DECIDING ON A CHURCH
Many couples do not agree about where to go to church. The wife prefers one denomination or one worship style and the husband prefers another. Or there is disagreement about what place of worship is the best fit for the children in the family or what kind of music or preaching everyone likes. Sometimes a wife just goes off on her own and goes to the church she likes and refuses to go to church with her husband. I don’t believe this is generally wise – especially if the husband is not ok with that arrangement.
I believe that a wife should share her feelings, opinions, ideas and desires about what she would like in a church home and where she wants to go and doesn’t want to go. I think that husbands need their wives’ perspectives in order to make the best possible decisions for the family. Husbands are called to be leaders, but they are not mind readers. It is our responsibility to use our “influence authority” in marriage wisely to advise our husbands of what we believe is best.
But if the husband and wife do not agree, then I believe it is the husband’s God-given responsibility to decide which church the family will attend. And I believe that a wife in that situation would show respect and submission by cooperating joyfully and willingly with her husband’s decision. She does not have to agree with him.
But she can say something like, “I want to go to X church. Here are the reasons why. I don’t want to go to Y church. Here are my reasons. But I know that you will stand accountable to God one day for this decision, not me. So I will support whatever decision you believe is best and I pray God will give you wisdom to lead us in His ways.”
Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:4-5
Please catch this! When Christian wives do not cooperate with their husbands’ leadership (unless the husband is asking the wife to sin), the Word of God is maligned. This is MUCH bigger than just about me and my marriage. This is about the reputation of God’s Word and Christ Himself. My refusal to follow my husband’s God-given leadership hurts the gospel message and makes it unappealing to others. That is HUGE! And scary.
** If your husband is asking you to go to a cult – then the authority of God’s Word trumps the authority of your husband. But unless your husband is asking you to sin in his choice of church – then, I believe you honor God and honor your husband by joyfully going with him to the church he believes is best.
PARTICIPATING AT CHURCH
Lots of issues can come up that can cause strife in a marriage related to decisions at church
- Your husband doesn’t want you to sing in the choir – and would rather you sit with him.
- Your husband doesn’t like a certain Sunday School teacher and doesn’t want to go to that class.
- Your husband wants to go to the early service and you are not an early morning person.
- Your husband wants to be involved in a certain ministry and would like you to help him.
- Your husband wants to sit in the back of the auditorium but you like to sit in the front.
- Your husband likes contemporary music and you like traditional worship music.
- Your husband wants you to keep the baby in the nursery but you would rather the baby stay with you in the service.
- Your husband wants to change churches but you are happy where you are.
There is no limit to the number of situations that can cause division for a married couple at church.
I would like you to consider approaching these things prayerfully, humbly and trusting God’s sovereignty to lead you through your husband, that you might say something like:
“I want to do X. But if this is really important to you, I will do what you prefer and I trust you to make the best decision for us.”
“I would like to do X. But whatever you think is God’s best for us is ok with me.”
“I prefer to do X. But I respect that you want to do Y. So I will support your decision.”
“I really don’t want to do that. But I will if you think it’s best.”
When your husband feels the weight of the whole decision – it inspires him to REALLY seek God’s voice and to try to make the best and most selfless decision he can for the family. When he doesn’t hear your voice constantly telling him what to do – he is so much more able to tune in to God’s voice!
And then, usually, you probably won’t bring it up again (or only rarely), and you will cheerfully and joyfully honor your husband’s decision and see what God has in store for you and your family. It’s funny how when a wife approaches things like this, God often works in mysterious ways. Husbands minds sometimes change. Or sometimes, God had something much better in mind than the wife could ever have imagined. And many times, it is in little things like this, where our faith is tested and we grow and mature and become more humble and servant-hearted and God uses these situations to mold us into the beautiful image of Christ.
HANDLING DISAPPOINTMENT WHEN YOU DON’T GET YOUR WAY
- Pray and ask God for His will and His glory not your will to be done (follow Jesus’ example of submission, “Not My will, but Yours be done!”)
- THANK GOD and thank your husband if he takes you to church. Many husbands will not go to church with their wives and children at all. (If your husband won’t go to church with you, I Peter 3:1-6 is your assignment. He can’t hear your words about God. But he will notice your respect and joy and faith in Jesus. Thank him if he allows you to go to church. Don’t try to force him to go with you.)
- Focus on all the wonderful things there are about this church and situation you have to be grateful for. Philippians 4:8
- Thank God and your husband for your husband’s leadership.
- Wait on God, give him the desires of your heart and trust Him to do what is ultimately best for you and to accomplish His purposes and His will.
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength. Your heart attitude is more important than if you get to sing in the choir or have the kind of music you prefer or what denomination you attend. Make sure you have your heart set completely on Christ and that nothing is more important to you than Him. And make sure that you don’t allow little issues to become more important to you than your marriage or your husband.
COMMENTS FROM A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND
As a husband, I think this is one of the most important aspects of any Christian marriage. it is foundational. Unfortunately, it is not viewed that way by many, including my wife of 20 years. From a male’s perspective, I will try to be as objective as I can in explaining my reasons for this.
1. Going to separate churches is just bad for the whole family, especially for the kids. It shows them disunity and paves the way for them to do the same in their marriages. Also, if there are major doctrinal differences between mom and dads churches there will be some degree of confusion in teaching the children.
2. Dads ability to be the spiritual leader will be greatly compromised in many areas. Children, for the most part, tend to gravitate to mom’s way of doing things if there is difference between the parents.
3. For men, going to church alone when it is known that you have a family is a source of great embarrassment and discomfort. People may not speak of it, but they will always wonder “well why is his wife or family not with him?” This is especially true if a man is in a leadership position in the church. many churches will not approve a man for ministry if his family is not with him.
4. temptation is a big issues for men in the workplace, at the mall, in the street, etc. it’s no different in church. I would dare to say that it is worse in church because in most churches women far out number men. So if a man is going to one church and his wife another, this opens up a tremendous amount of temptation for the man. This is real life and it happens.
I just wanted to provide a different perspective on this topic. Hopefully it will be thought provoking for those who read it.
With love, empathy and prayers for all who are dealing with this issue.
PS – if you are new to my blog, here is a bit of background for you!
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 5:23
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. I Corinthians 11:3
God designed a system and structure of order in families and society. He gave authority for certain positions so that there would be proper protection, provision, safety, order and harmony. God gave us governments, teachers, pastors, church leaders, police officers, judges, bosses/managers, parents and husbands. Our culture has largely lost respect for God-given authority. But God’s design is still in effect. He commands believers to submit to God-given authority – to cooperate with our leaders – unless they ask us to violate His Word. The authority of the Word of God trumps human authority. That is why the disciples could not obey the government when they were commanded to stop preaching about Jesus. They said, “We must obey God rather than men!” But unless a God-given authority is asking me to sin or violate God’s Word, I honor God and submit to God by cooperating with the human God-given authority. God can and will lead me through human God-given authority when I trust Him.
It is possible for humans with free will to abuse the position of authority they have. That is NOT God’s will and God is grieved when people lord their authority over others or abuse those under their care. God will bring about justice for these people either on earth with His vengeance or on judgment day in heaven. If you are suffering abuse or your husband has an addiction, a serious mental disorder that is not under control or is committing infidelity or there are major problems – please find a godly Christian counselor, pastor or godly, experienced source of help immediately! Those kinds of situations are way beyond the scope of this post and this blog.