Anytime God gives us a command, we as humans are tempted to go way too far to the right of the command or way too far to the left. There is this beautiful, godly place in the center where God desires us to be. I think of it as walking on a high tightrope by the power of God’s Spirit working in me. But if I try to do this thing in my own power and wisdom, then I fall way over to one side or the other – and God is not glorified or honored.
My motives MUST be only to revere, honor, please and obey Jesus. My reverence and submission start with my reverence and submission to Christ alone. It is from that place of the Lordship of Christ and dying to self that I may then obey God’s Word for me as a wife. I respect my husband and honor his leadership NOT because he deserves it – but because Jesus deserves it.
(Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3, Genesis 3, Colossians 3, I Peter 3, Titus 2:2-5 – God’s commands about marriage)
***** If there are SERIOUS problems in your marriage – please seek godly help!!!! If there are drug/alcohol addictions, issues with violence, uncontrolled mental health issues, severe unrepentant sin, infidelity, etc… those things go beyond the scope of my blog. Please seek godly, experienced help ASAP! *********
Here are some ways.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS WE CAN BE “TOO RESPECTFUL” AS WIVES?
- if we respect sin and act like it’s ok. “Sure, Honey, bring women home that you find in the street any time. I’ll cook you a fabulous dinner while you two commit adultery in the bedroom. I’ll try not to be too loud with the pots and pans.” I have actually seen women do this – or something similar. No! God does not call us to respect, tolerate and enable our husbands to blatantly sin. I am talking about very clear sin here, not “my husband doesn’t want me to home school our children,” “I don’t feel loved,” “my husband lets my children watch movies I don’t approve of” or “my husband wants us to go to a church that I don’t like.”
- if we put our husband’s authority over the authority of God or God’s Word. God and God’s Word are absolute authorities, human authorities are people to whom God gives positions of authority over others to protect them, provide for them and take care of them. They are not absolute authorities. They are accountable to God for using their authority for His purposes, not their own.
- if we make our husband into our idol and expect him to be Christ/God to us and act like he is infallible and a deity
- if we allow him to lead us astray from the clear truth of God’s Word into a cult or false teaching
- if we tolerate physical/sexual abuse of ourselves or our children
- if we know that he is doing something illegal, but we help to cover it up (the exception being if he is illegally preaching the gospel – then we would support him because he is obeying God.)
- if we go totally silent and give up our influence authority in the family and marriage
- if we idolize “respect” or and and use it to try to manipulate, change or control our husbands instead of out of pure motives because we love and reverence Jesus and desire to bless our husbands.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS WE CAN BE “TOO SUBMISSIVE” AS WIVES?
- if we submit to our husband on something but have very serious reservations and don’t share them. I believe it is important for our husbands to know – “I believe we may want to consider this other option and these are the reasons why. I do not agree with this decision, but if you believe this is best, I am willing to honor your leadership and I trust you and God to lead me through this.”
- if we give up our influence authority in the marriage – if we don’t share our perspective, our feelings, our desires, our needs, our wants, our personalities, our full range of emotions – some women think that becoming subhuman or two-dimensional without feelings, thoughts or a personality is what submission means. NO! Not at all!!!! Our husbands NEED to know our feelings and desires so that they can make the best decisions. How can they make the best decisions for our families if they are missing our valuable perspectives? Our thoughts, intelligence, feelings and desires help to act as a compass for our husbands at times, letting them know how they are doing as leaders. The key is to share respectfully, probably briefly and usually once.
- if we don’t appeal our husband’s decision when he makes a very unbiblical decision. Some husbands demand that their wives obey them 100% of the time absolutely, no questions asked. That is not how Jesus treats the church! He allows us to respectfully pray and share our hearts and ask for what we need. We do this in a spirit of submission – ultimately seeking His will above our own. But God grants us as His children and disciples of Christ access to His royal throne room in heaven. He even allows our prayers to influence His decisions but always in line with His will. “The prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 Greg and I believe that in a healthy, godly marriage – a husband leads in humility and is very interested to hear his wife’s input and ideas. I cannot fathom Greg refusing to listen to me or refusing to allow me to respectfully ask him questions and give my input. He values and cherishes me greatly and is very patient and gentle with me. Greg never yells at me, calls me names or treats me harshly. He treats me with honor and respect. We both need to give and receive love and respect.
- Some husbands demand that their wives must agree with them, not just submit (honor the husband’s leadership). Greg and I do not believe that is biblical. Believers in Christ are called to submit to spiritual authorities over us in the church, God-given authorities in the government, the workplace and the family because God promises to use God-given human authorities to guide us, give us wisdom and provide for us. I know of no command for believers that we must agree with those in God-given authority over us. We as wives are to submit to our husbands “in the Lord.” If our husband (or any God-given human authority) asks us to blatantly sin or very clearly go against God’s Word, the absolute authority of scripture trumps a human’s God-given (non-absolute) authority. If my husband says I have to lie, steal, cheat, not forgive some one, watch pornography, worship him as a god, have an abortion, forge documents, break the law, go to a strip club, join him in a threesome, join a cult, etc… I must respectfully yet firmly resist him – still in a spirit of submission to his authority. I show him I want to honor his leadership – but in this case I must choose to disobey him in order to obey God. I better be SURE that what my husband is asking me to do is VERY CLEAR SIN. I am accountable to God to submit to my husband. This is a very serious decision not to be made lightly. No one answers to me on this issue. We all answer to God – so we better be VERY sure that we are honoring God before we would dare go against our husbands. If my husband is not clearly violating God’s Word – I may be fighting God if I resist my husband’s leadership. Having to respectfully resist our husbands in order to obey God will hopefully be a pretty rare occurrence. Greg has NEVER asked me to go against God’s Word in the almost 5 years that I have been submitting to his authority in our marriage.
- never confront our husband’s sin. There are times when we must confront sin, especially if our husbands are believers in Christ. (Matthew 7:1-5 ) If a man is not a believer in Christ, his greatest need is Christ (see “When My Spouse is Wrong” link below). I must be sure I deal with any sin in my own life and repent to God and my husband before addressing sin in my husband’s life. If my husband is far from God, he may not be able to hear my words about spiritual things. In that situation, my primary directive from God is I Peter 3:1-6 – to win him without words but by my respectful and chaste behavior and my my gentle, peaceful spirit that is full of trust in God’s sovereignty. But if my husband (especially a husband who is a believer in Christ) sins against me, I believe it is my duty to go to him privately, humbly, respectfully and gently and show him his sin, just between the two of us. Then I may need to bring another godly witness with me (maybe a pastor) – if he refuses to repent of serious sin (Matthew 18:15-17). I would not bring in someone else for a minor or even a moderate issue. Some churches still practice church discipline today – and would then bring the unrepentant brother before the church. Most churches don’t do this anymore – except for staff sometimes. Church discipline is often not followed today. If he doesn’t repent at that point, I need to assume that he is not a believer and focus on I Peter 3:1-6. I cannot make my husband apologize or repent. I cannot make him change. But I can respectfully, gently, lovingly, humbly show him his sin and tell him that it hurts me. I can pray for God to work in his heart for God’s glory.
- Blind/absolute obedience without weighing our husbands’ instructions against scripture. This is what Nazi war criminals did, “I was just following orders, so I’m not guilty of murdering innocent people.” God holds us accountable for our obedience to Him.
- Agreeing to do something sinful to someone else, including our children.
How to Make an Appeal to a Spiritual Authority