Sometimes violent, ungodly husbands attempt to twist my words and the Bible to justify their sin and abuse against their wives. That is NEVER ok with me and I NEVER condone any kind of abuse or sin against anyone – neither does God! God holds people accountable and punishes those who abuse their positions of authority that He gave them to take care of, nurture, provide for, and protect others. (For a good definition of abuse, please check out this post.) When I see this kind of thing happening, I try to address it right away – which is what I am doing in today’s post. So, I am talking today about husbands who seriously threaten their wives’ lives or health or who do things like demand their wives worship them as God. This is the kind of “abuse” I am talking about right now. Very serious abuse. I want wives to know that this is not ever okay!
Scripture never commands husbands to violently force their wives into biblical submission and never permits or condones abuse or any kind of sin or harm to one’s spouse or anyone else. Even our enemies – we are to treat kindly, to pray for them, to minister to them, and to bless them and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21). How much more should spouses treat each other well with the very love of God (I Corinthians 13:4-8)!?!?
Biblical submission is something a wife first gives to Christ as her ultimate Authority – just like all believers do. Then a wife voluntarily and intelligently decides to honor her husband’s leadership out of her love and reverence for Christ. Jesus is the absolute authority, not a husband.
The husband is a delegated human authority who will answer to Christ for every aspect of his leadership.
God doesn’t command wives to make their husbands love them. And He doesn’t command husbands to make their wives respect or submit to them.
The Bible teaches Christlike, selfless, sacrificial male headship/leadership – not abusive, violent, hateful, selfish, prideful, tyrannical male domination. There is a big difference between the two! Husbands are to seek to do what they believe God desires them to do according to the Bible more than what their wives want them to do. Their wives ideas, opinions, needs, concerns, and suggestions are very important – but ultimately, husbands answer to God for their decisions and should do what God desires them to do even if their wives disagree.
God gave us each free will. He doesn’t override it. He is sovereign at the same time in a mysterious way that we can’t fully comprehend. But we don’t have the right to try to control other people. We only control ourselves.
- Husbands don’t get to force their wives to do things with threats of violence, real violence, or by demanding that their wives worship them instead of God (Yes, I have seen that happen several times).
- Wives don’t get to force their husbands to do things with threats of violence, real violence, or by demanding that their husbands worship them instead of God.
- We are responsible to obey God ourselves and we can trust God to work in other people’s hearts to change them. We can only control ourselves if we have the Holy Spirit working in us.
- Husbands and wives may address sin in their spouses’ lives.
If a wife is not safe with her husband and he is threatening to kill her or their children – she needs to leave for her own safety and seek outside, appropriate, experienced help ASAP. (The same is true for husbands who are not safe with their wives. If a spouse is threatening to kill you – please get out and get somewhere safe as soon as possible! Keep in mind, that sometimes if a violent spouse realizes the other spouse is trying to leave, that can be a very dangerous time. Please research options discreetly before making a move if possible. And pray for God’s wisdom!)
A wife’s submission is NEVER slavery or oppressive in Scripture! No one is to be unsafe in marriage or in a family!
God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to be gentle with them (Eph. 5:22-33, I Peter 3:7) – without qualification. He commands wives to respect and submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph, 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-2). This does not mean a husband cannot be firm. He may need to be firm at times.
A husband may ask his wife to follow his lead – if she will not – and he is not asking her to sin or condone sin – she will answer to God for her disobedience to Him. He may confront his wife’s sin if she is sinning – according to Matt. 7:1-5 and 18:15-17 – just like a wife may confront her husband in a godly, humble way with pure motives. But he has no right to try to use violence or threats of violence against her. He may need to give some consequences if his wife is in sin, but that does not involve hatred, sinful anger, or violence. He may need to say, “I believe you are sinning against me and against God right now because of your attitude/behavior. This needs to stop.” A wife may not threaten her husband with violence either, even if she may need to give consequences if her husband is involved in serious, unrepentant sin.
If a husband tries to lead his wife in ways that are against God’s Word and that are violent or clearly sinful, then a wife is to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). And she may need to seek godly, biblical help – or even police help – depending on the situation. If a husband is involved in unrepentant serious sin like adultery, abuse, drug/alcohol addictions, or is not in his right mind… it may not be safe for a wife to submit at that time until a husband gets these issues handled and is able to be in his right mind again. Trust will need to be rebuilt over time and probably with outside appropriate help in such cases.
I plan to have a follow up post about what a husband’s appropriate leadership looks like and how there are many wives who claim “abuse” when their husbands are actually trying to lead in a godly way. I have a preview of that post in the comments on this post.
For more on these issues, please check out:
– Spiritual Authority – a foundational post by a minister at my Southern Baptist church for all believers about God’s design for spiritual authority in every arena of our lives. He talks about what authority is and isn’t and about what it means for Christians to submit to God-given authorities, as well as the times we must refuse to cooperate with those in positions of authority in our lives in the government, the church, work, and the family.
– Do I Condone Abuse?
– Husbands Are Never the Absolute Authority
– My Beliefs (The Danvers Statement)
And please search my home page for all the posts about:
RESOURCES FOR HUSBANDS AND WIVES:
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – free download edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper, there are several chapters that describe godly male leadership in great detail. Chapter one is a great place to start. It also describes godly femininity and a godly wife’s role, as well. Fantastic resource for men and women!
Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood – Wayne Grudem
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – David Platt Secret Church
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