(It has been a busy week at our house – a new kitten on Friday, last day of summer break yesterday, first day of school today, and my schedule is quite full the next few days. I am not sure how available I can be right now for comments. Y’all are welcome to comment as much as you would like to. I will comment when I am able to. Ladies, please help me out and encourage, bless, pray for and support one another! I know you will! That is one of the things I love best about this group! Much love!)
I think that it is possible for us to get a bit confused at times with the various commands God gives us as believing women in Christ. So, let’s break a few things down together and have a discussion. 🙂 I am not saying I have a perfect handle on all of this or that I know what each wife should do in every situation. I know I do not have that kind of wisdom myself! But I do believe that God is completely able to give us the wisdom each of us needs as we seek Him, trust Him and ask Him for wisdom and direction. (James 1)
- Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
- Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. I Corinthians 13:4-8
God commands us all as believers to love other people. All other people. This is an unconditional “agape” love. It is the love with which God loves people. It is a perfect love that is completely fueled by the love and character of God not by what a person does or does not do. It does what is best for the other person. It is selfless. It is the kind of love that loves its enemies and prays for those who persecute it. It is the kind of love found in Romans 12.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 14:14-21
If I am a believing wife, submitted to Christ, God always desires me to love my husband with His love. Without exception. No matter what my husband is doing or not doing.
- Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to 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
The word for “love” in this passage is the word “phileo” which means “to affectionately love.” So, not only are we commanded to love our husbands with God’s agape, unconditional love, God also wants us to love our husbands with a friendly, affectionate love.
If I am a believing wife, God commands me to respect and honor my husband unconditionally. This is because of God’s Spirit living in me and my desire to submit to and reverence Christ. It has nothing to do with what my husband is or is not doing.
- Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (emphasis added)
Notice that the command to husbands and the command to wives are unconditional. It is not, “husbands love your wives IF they respect you or you feel they deserve it.” And it is not “Wives, respect your husbands IF you feel loved or if you think they deserve it.”
It is just very simple. Husbands are commanded by God to love their wives. Period. And wives are commanded by God to respect their husbands. Period. My job is to obey the command God gave me.
Because God knows that wives need love and husbands need respect. His commands help to correct our sinful tendencies as husbands and wives and help to restore the intimacy and oneness that God designed marriage to have before sin entered the picture. Husbands and wives BOTH need love and respect. But husbands tend to need respect the most, and that tends to be where we as wives are weak in our sinful nature. And wives tend to need love the most, and that tends to be where husbands are weak in their sinful nature.
We have many definitions for the English word, “respect,” today. But the command God gives us to respect our husbands is a much more narrow definition. At this link (www.biblehub.com) you can find a link to a page that shows a number of translations of Ephesians 5:33 that may be helpful. The word “respect” may also be translated “reverence” or “fear.” This verse is about a wife showing honor to her husband’s God-given position as head of the marriage (I Corinthians 11:3). She is commanded in Ephesians 5:22 to submit to her husband. This passage about a wife understanding and honoring her husband’s headship.
We are NOT commanded to respect or honor sin. We respect our husbands because we respect Jesus. Just like we respect the president no matter if we agree with him or not because he is in the office of president and God commands us as believers to honor those in positions of God-given authority over us. Romans 11.
God commands believing wives to submit to their husbands:
- Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
- Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18
- so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:4-5
- But 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
This word “submission” is a military term that describes how a military officer places himself under the authority of those higher in the chain of command. It has nothing to do with a person’s value! The one who submits to the one in authority has equal value as a person as the one in authority. We are all image bearers of God (Genesis 2) and we are all equal in the eyes of God (Galatians 3:28).
Honestly, for a believer, submission always begins with Christ. Jesus submitted to His Father, though He was God and was equal to God the Father. He submitted to the Father’s authority over Him because He loved God the Father. As believers, first we submit f
ully to Christ. We cannot skip this! Then, out of reverence and submission to Jesus, we as believing wives submit to our husbands in order to bring glory to God and to display the power of the relationship between Christ and His church through our marriage (in our families and to a watching world).
We submit unconditionally to Christ as Lord. All believers do this. We submit to our husbands in obedience to Jesus.
There can be exceptions when we cannot submit to our husbands if they are asking us to clearly disobey God’s Word. Submission to our husbands is not unconditional. We submit “as to the Lord.” If they ask us to have an abortion, to steal, to commit murder, to commit idolatry, to renounce Christ, to actually hurt our children, etc… then we must respectfully refuse to submit. But for a wife to refuse to submit to her husband, she must be sure she is honoring Christ in that decision. We will answer to Him for our submission to our husbands. It is a very serious thing to disobey God’s Word. Again, for more on this topic, please check out Spiritual Authority. If a husband is not in his right mind, addicted to drugs/alcohol, involved in unrepentant infidelity, physically abusive, etc… there may be times a wife must seek godly counsel and may not be able to submit to her husband in a way that would be fitting in the Lord. She will need God’s wisdom for such a situation and great sensitivity to His Word and His Spirit. But, most of the time, the right thing to do is to cooperate with our husbands’ leadership. This is obedience to God’s Word and it brings glory to Him. The exceptions are, hopefully, very rare.
Jesus commands all believers to forgive others their sins against us in all circumstances. Forgiveness is unconditional. Forgiveness is about our heart being right with God. It is not about the person who sinned against us.
- “This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:9-15
No matter what sin my husband (or anyone) may commit against me, God commands me to forgive him.
- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
Forgiveness means that I don’t hold something against that person anymore. It means that I know they hurt me. They owe me. They did wrong against me. But I choose to cover that offense with the same grace that God uses to cover my sins. I choose to apply the blood of Christ to that person’s sins in my life and not demand revenge. I choose to trust God with that person and to pray for him/her to be made right with God. I choose to love that person with God’s love instead of desiring to hurt that person. I choose not to resent. I choose not to become bitter. I can only do this through the power of God’s Spirit working in me.
If I forgive someone, that does not mean he has no earthly consequences for his sin. It also does not mean I must trust them if trust has been broken.
This is where I believe sometimes we get confused. We think that if we must love, honor, respect and forgive our husbands, that we must trust them even if they continue in unrepentant sin against us.
God commands us over and over again in scripture to trust Him alone. He admonishes us NOT to trust in man many times.
I wish we could all trust our husbands all the time. But husbands are sinners, just like wives. I long for us to have relationships where we trust our husbands. Now, I do trust Greg very much. But ultimately, my trust needs to be in Christ alone, not in Greg.
- But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. Psalm 52:8
Here is an interesting word study to do this week in your quiet time if you want to. Look up the word “trust” or “trust in God” in a concordance or at www.biblegateway.com or www.biblehub.com and look up the phrase “trust in man.” See how MANY times we are commanded to trust God and how many times we are commanded NOT to trust in man.
If a husband is involved in unrepentant infidelity, active addictions, is mentally unstable, is physically abusive or not in his right mind – there may be times we cannot trust our husbands even though we may want to be able to trust them. If you are in such a serious situation, please seek godly, wise, biblical counsel. But most of all, seek Jesus and His Word and truth with all your heart! Don’t take advice that does not square up with sound scriptural teaching.
If we cannot currently trust our husbands, hopefully, we can at least communicate that we WANT to learn to be able to trust them again and to work together to rebuild the trust. If trust has been severely violated, you may need help to rebuild it. And your husband will have to be willing to help rebuild the broken trust, too. You cannot do that part completely on your own.
But we must also be careful, because sometimes we don’t trust our husbands because of our own lack of faith in God. Sometimes we could and should trust our husbands but we don’t (that was me for many years in our marriage). And sometimes we really and truly shouldn’t trust our husbands if they are living in unrepentant sin. In some cases, it would be foolish to trust them. I have a video that goes into a lot more detail about that on my Youtube channel here.