We humans have a tendency to err toward the extremes, veering to the left or to the right.
1. We want to be licentious and ignore what God’s Word says and just do whatever we want to do whenever we feel like it or pick and choose what we want to obey. That is dangerous.
2. We want to be legalistic and add tons of manmade rules and our own personal convictions and try to make everyone follow our checklists. That is oppressive.
Both of those extremes are hurtful to men, women, marriage, children, family, the church, and society.
When we exalt our wisdom and ourselves as greater than God and His wisdom, we get ourselves into trouble very quickly.
Let’s abandon our pride and humble ourselves, seeking to understand God’s loving heart for us all.
Men and Women Are Equally Loved and Valued
People (men, women, and children) have value because God created us in His image (Gen. 1:27) and because He loves us all (John 3:16). He loves us because He IS love (1 John 4:8).
We all have value because Jesus died for us to make a way for us to be right with God and to have eternal life.
To read about the many ways men and women have spiritual equality in Christ as fellow believers and joint-heirs, please check out this post.
Men and Women Are Not the Same
We have equal worth and value as people. We are equally loved, but…
Husbands and wives are not identical. Masculinity and femininity are not interchangeable in God’s good design.
We have different roles, responsibilities, and types of authority.
But we have the same purpose!
Our differences and different roles allow us to display a living parable of the gospel! (Eph. 5:22-33)
- The husband is to represent a picture of the selfless, humble, sacrificial love of Christ for His beloved Church.
- The wife is to represent a picture of the love, respect, adoration, faith, and trust of the Church for her beloved Christ.
God gives us some parameters for our benefit and protection. He also invites each of us to participate in accomplishing the purposes and mission of His Kingdom—to help bring many to Christ. But there is also space in which we can breathe and have plenty of room to uniquely live, love, and enjoy fellowship with Him and with others.
God’s commands are not burdensome. They are life-giving and fulfilling!
We will focus on the wife’s role today and the husband’s role in a future post. Thanks for understanding.
The Role of the Wife in Scripture
God’s design for wives, husbands, marriage, and family transcends culture, place, and time.
I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Isaiah 48:17-18 ????
Perhaps we can seek to leave our preconceived notions at the door and simply look at what the Bible has to say about the role of a wife without adding to it or subtracting from it. Let’s invite God to help us build our lives and basic understanding of these important concepts on His Word alone.
As we think about the role of a wife or husband, it is always important to keep our understanding of marriage roles grounded in the much wider context of:
- Each person’s identity in Christ as a believer in Jesus.
- Each person’s submission to the absolute Lordship of Christ.
- The commands God gives to all believers**
- Godly masculinity
- Godly femininity
If we take one or two verses and focus only on those and ignore the rest of scripture, we will invariably be in error. We want to prayerfully consider all that Scripture has to say about this—and every— topic.
Also if we choose to reject certain verses, deciding we know better than God, or that we can ignore things we don’t like or agree with, we will end up veering into dangerous territory.
Let’s try to take the whole of Scripture on this topic.
What Does the Bible Say about Wives?
I am attempting to include just about every relevant verse about a godly wife’s general role. I want to get a broad overview of this topic from all of Scripture to give us the wide-angle view.
- A wife is a helpmeet to her husband. This means she is a companion, a compliment, and a blessing to him. She lives in harmony together with him. (Gen. 2:18)
- A wise wife builds her home and marriage and doesn’t tear it down with her words, attitudes, and actions. (Prov. 14:1)
- She is not quarrelsome or fretful. (Prov. 21:19)
- She does her husband good and not evil all the days of her lives. (Prov. 31:12)
- An excellent wife is very rare and extremely precious. Her husband can trust her. (Prov. 31:10-11)
- She is industrious at home and savvy and profitable in her business dealings. She is not lazy. She provides for many of the physical needs of her household. (Prov. 31:13-19)
- She cares for the poor. (Prov. 31:20)
- She is a woman of strength and dignity. She is not afraid or worried about the future because she has planned ahead and provided for many of her family’s current and future needs. (Prov. 31:25)
- She fears the Lord. (Prov. 31:30)
- She speaks and teaches with kindness and wisdom and provides for the spiritual instruction of her children. (Prov. 31:26)
- A wise, understanding and sensible wife is a gift from the Lord to her husband. (Prov. 19:14)
- A wife honors her husband’s God-given leadership out of reverence for and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. (There are limits to a husband’s leadership just like there are limits to any human authority in our lives. He may not lead her into sin and he may not seek to harm or abuse her.) (Eph. 5:22-33)
- A wife respects her husband as a man and as the God-given leader in her marriage covenant. (Eph. 5:33) She can’t respect sin; in fact, she may need to confront sin appropriately and stand against mistreatment or abuse of herself or her children. But she is to approach her husband with genuine respect for the good in him and for the responsibility he carries to lead the family before God. She does this because Christ deserves her reverence and obedience and to avoid maligning the gospel. (Titus 2:3-5)
- A wife understands her power of influence and uses her incredible power for good and for promoting God’s will in the marriage. (Think of the bad examples of Eve and Jezebel and the good examples of Esther and Mary, etc…)
- It is her conduct, attitude, and godliness, not so much her words, which can most powerfully win over a husband who is far from Christ. (I Peter. 3:1)
- A wife is willing to selflessly give of herself sexually to her husband if she is able, unless he is breaking the marriage covenant in some way, they are apart, or she is sick or in pain. (Yes, the reverse is true, as well. Both spouses are to be selfless and generous with the other. We’ll get to husbands in the next post, don’t worry!) (I Cor. 7:1-5)
- She honors the spiritual chain of command in marriage by God’s design that everyone is to honor out of reverence for the Lord: God>Christ>husband>wife>underage children. (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 6:1)
- A wife loves her husband and children, honors her husband’s leadership, and seeks to be “self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind.” (Titus 2:5)
- She focuses on her own home and God-given responsibilities, taking care of her family and household rather than going about from house to house as an idle gossip or busybody. (I Tim. 5:11-16)
- A wife seeks to do what is right and not give way to hysterical fear. She is to have a gentle, peaceful, and tranquil Spirit from God that is very precious in His sight. (1 Pet. 3:1-6)
- She honors the marriage bed and keeps it undefiled. (Heb. 13:4)
- She stays with an unbelieving husband if he is willing to stay (if he is not breaking the marriage covenant in some way) so that she may influence him and their children for Christ. (1 Cor. 7:12-14)
- A wife does not separate from her husband except when he is committing serious unrepentant sin against her like violating the marriage covenant or there are other extreme circumstances. (1 Cor. 7:10-11)
- She does not divorce her husband, with possible exceptions for abandonment, adultery, or some other extreme circumstances. (Matt. 5:32, 1 Cor. 7:10-11)
What the Bible Says about the Role of a Husband
Power and Freedom
The good news is, even though it is quite impossible for us to fulfill these roles and commands in our own power, we don’t have to try to do this on our own. God, Himself, can give us the power we need to be the wives He calls us to be as we trust Him and allow His Spirit to fill us.
It all comes down, ultimately, to the Lordship of Christ in a woman’s life.
When we stumble, we repent to God and to our husbands and children and get back up, inviting God to help us learn and grow to be more like Jesus (1 John 1:9).
Notice that there aren’t specific lists of which chores husbands must always do and which chores wives must always do. This isn’t about culture. It isn’t about the way our parents did things. It’s not about going back to the 1950s, the 1800s, or the 100s.
God’s Word and design apply to every culture in every age.
There is a lot of room for each couple to hammer out their own beautiful way of relating and establishing their own unique marriage in the context of God’s grand and holy design.
Each of us will give an account to Jesus, one day, and no one else.
The purpose is to display the gospel but no two marriages will look exactly alike. We must all hold firmly to biblical principles. But where God’s Word gives freedom, we do not set restrictions on others or demand that everyone follows our own personal convictions.
What do you love about God’s design for wives and marriage?
Does anything seem confusing, upsetting, or strange?
Are there any passages you feel I missed that you want to share?
Additional resources for your prayerful consideration:
- Gender Roles in Marriage by www.bible.org
- Are Men and Women Equal in God’s Eyes? by www.gotquestions.org
- What Does the Bible Say about the Duties of a Wife? (a list of verses) by www.openbible.info
- What Does the Bible Say about the Role of Husbands? by Peaceful Wife
- The Purpose of Marriage by Peaceful Wife
- My Desire for Marriages by Peaceful Wife
- The Peaceful Wife—Living in Submission to Christ As Lord
- Greatness in the Kingdom of God
ABUSE IS ALWAYS SIN and NEVER GOD’S DESIGN
What Does the Bible Say about Verbal Abuse? by www.gotquestions.org
What Does the Bible Say about Emotional Abuse? by www.gotquestions.org
What Does the Bible Say about Abuse? by www.gotquestions.org
What Is a Biblical Perspective on Domestic Violence? by www.gotquestions.org
Note – There are numerous sites, teachers, and authors that claim to promote proper roles for Christian husbands and wives that veer from Scripture one way or the other.
Please be sure to compare any message with the Bible. Including mine! Test the spirits. Only receive what is biblical and in accordance with sound doctrine.
I still struggle with respect. I keep catching myself undermining my husband when he is disciplining the kids. I don’t mean to, I just keep catching myself saying something when I shouldn’t. I have a hard time letting him lead. I find myself trying to take control. I want to be a biblical wife. I just don’t know how. Too many control issues…
This respect stuff does not come naturally for most of us. I feel ya!
Would you like some resources?
Have you been reading here long? Or what books have you read?
Much love! <3
another possible thing (which you’ve touched on) is the Lordship of Christ in relation to the marital roles. Because Jesus & Scripture are the ground work to be laid, but once you’re in the marriage covenant & many unpleasant, unforeseen things are coming at you, seems like if your foundation is easily shaken and you give into the flesh with little determination to get rid of the baggage that Satan wants your marriage to be burdened with, you will be quick to give up & give in to destruction. Maybe this is why singleness isn’t so bad after all, so you can really work with the Lord to uproot a lot of the destructive things we witnessed in childhood. Otherwise Scripture is nothing more than words on a page for many, sadly. His truth still stands whether it’s embraced or rejected. But again when it comes to Lordship, I think that the bigger picture is that if you want to please Jesus in every area, you will freely desire (hopefully mutually!) to offer your marriage covenant as a sacrifice to Him. His ways are so beautiful!
Yes, the foundation of the Lordship of Christ is crucial in our understanding of marital roles. It is all about all of us living in absolute surrender to Him. It is about us dying to self and seeking His will, His glory, and His kingdom first.
When our relationship with God is right and we have Christ seated firmly on the throne of our hearts and we love Him above all else, His Spirit floods through us. Then He gives us the power to love, honor, cherish, and respect our spouse (and others) rightly.
Thanks lady. I think I still, even after a couple years into my healing, underestimate just how much I need Him! So thankful that His treasures & power are so endless & vast, or else I’d be in trouble haha.
I think we are all prone to do that. It’s wise for us to realize we need Him DESPERATELY every moment.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see the vastness of His love, power, wisdom, and all the spiritual treasures He has heaped up ready for us?
I like that mental picture! <3
I totally get the control issues!
I grew up in a home where my mom ruled and still does. I’ve worked really hard at not being bossy and critical like her, but I struggle with other things.
I’m not as good at maintaining our house as I should be. Because we’re both on disability, I bring in more money than my husband does and I have more experience with finances, so I find myself controlling the money. It feels very uncomfortable but I don’t want us to overdraw, either. My husband actually seems to prefer it this way but it’s still a struggle for me.
I’ll tell you what though, this whole concept is an eye opener for me. I was married once before, many years ago, and I admit I was far from respectful to him. With God’s help, I am doing my best to be much better this time.
It is tough to shake off the old familiar destructive examples we witnessed as children. I’m so thankful God can heal us from those things and from the other junk we have picked up and wrong thinking we have embraced along the way.
Praying for God’s wisdom and healing for you both. And for Him to do ALL He wants to do in and through you both for His greatest glory! <3
Please let me know if you are interested in more resources about financial stuff. I have some posts about it.
Hi April, thought I would share with y’all an interesting talk I had with a friend who is a pastor’s wife. We were talking about the idea of the jezebel spirit. I realize this concept is freighted with both true and accurate and false and distorted theological notions. ( as a clarifying aside, I would characterize someone wo has this spiritual problem as a person male or female, whose fear, shame, guilt, insecurity and control issues , value and identity issues, along with whatever bitterness, hate and unforgiveness exists in their heart, has through these things become ensnared by the enemy. Fear is perhaps the tip of that particular poison arrow. It results in getting into and out of relationships for these damaged reasons and also results in never being able to REALLY surrender or trust)
I have struggled with this myself and it was like being on the spin cycle in the devil’s washing machine. There is so much unfinished and uncorrected junk that acts like handles the evil one can grab onto to steer your thinking, actions and life. So my friend and I were talking about the idea of the jezebel spirit and being able to surrender control and allow our husbands to lead, and she said ” Oh, that’s huge”. She struggled with submission in her life as a result of how she grew up. I thought, how she grew up?? I was amazed because I knew her mom was a Christian woman who had lost her husband due to an accident that took his faculties. He remained in a semi vegetative state in an institution. She remained faithful to him and didn’t divorce him, raising her children with grace and devotion to the Lord. Surely my godly and gracious friend with a lovely Christian mother did not struggle with this? My friend went on to say that because of losing her husband, her mom had to become the leader and very strong and independent and my friend had to learn to live without a father.
When you cannot have something you need and even long for, one thing you have to do is shut down the part of your heart that wants this so you aren’t in a state of continually longing and anguish that is pointless. Which may be totally appropriate for that circumstance and time. I have also heard of singles who once they married, struggled to turn from having their sexuality suppressed and shut down to turned on and open, because their whole experience as Christian singles was hearing that ” sex is wrong for you, because you are single and it would be sin”. It was hard for what was impermissible to suddenly feel permissible. So I imagine there is a similarity here.
Even through totally innocent circumstances, this created an unconscious belief for my friend that of course the woman should lead because this is what was normal for her home life. This is what was necessary. She had a hard time learning to allow her husband to lead as a result. The template that had been forced upon their lives by the loss of husband and father through the accident served in extenuating circumstances and God mercifully provided His grace and support but it was not the norm for marriage. My friend spoke of how hard it was to recognize that and unlearn it. It was eye opening because we tend to think only women who have suffered abuse have this problem but there are many ways to come by it and of course our sinful nature can react wrongly to anything. Sometimes it isn’t sin per se but just ignorance of what we have learned and what we have subconsciously believed.
Yes, we all develop skewed beliefs for one reason or another as we are growing up. And for us to find total healing and freedom in Christ, we need to be able to see them, tear them out, and rebuild on the truth of God’s Word alone. His truth will set us free!
I didn’t have any abusive experiences in my own childhood or adulthood. My parents had a pretty strong marraige and my mom was quite respectful of my dad. But for a variety of reasons, I still ended up with a skewed view on this issue. Partly because of circumstances, partly because of culture, partly because of my own misudnerstanding and sinful nature.
Thanks for sharing! Praying for God’s healing for us all!
Hi dear April. Can you please explain what you mean with possible reasons for divorce : abandonment? (Point 24) Would like to understand what you mean. Thank you!
There are a few possible acceptable reasons for divorce biblically. Different Christian groups have different interpretations and understandings of this. Some believe that divorce is never acceptable. Others believe that Jesus permitted divorce for those whose spouse commits infidelity (Matt. 19:1-12). Although, some believe that the word in that passage was actually fornication, and that really, Jesus meant that divorce is only acceptable if you marry someone and then realize they had not been sexually pure before marriage. And then, some Christians believe that abandonment is an acceptable reason for divorce based on 1 Cor. 7:10-16.
I think the most important thing is for us to realize that divorce is not God’s design for marriage. And that, as believers, we do want to try to honor God’s design. There may be times when separation could be necessary. But if we do separate, we are to seek to be able to reconcile if possible. If we believe we should divorce, we want to be very prayerful and we want to carefully study Scripture, seeking to honor the Lord above all else.
Of course, sometimes a spouse divorces the believer and the believer really has no choice. In that case 1 Cor. 7 says to let the unbeliever go.
You are welcome to search my blog for “divorce.” There are also many resources linked to my post The Bible and Divorce that may be helpful. I hope this helps. <3
A believer is never commanded to divorce. And I have seen God do many miracles to be able to heal a marriage that seemed impossible to heal.
If a believer does have to divorce or believes it is necessary and biblical, then there is a whole different question of whether remarriage is acceptable in that particular situation.
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