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.
We Are Equally Loved and Valued
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.
We 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!
- 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)
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
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
- 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
- **1050 New Testament Commands for believers in Christ (I am endorsing this particular list because it was the most comprehensive one I could find, however I have not had time to research the rest of the site, so I am not necessarily endorsing anything else on that site.) by CAI.
- How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ
- 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. Test the spirits. Only receive what is biblical and in accordance with sound doctrine.