Today I want to think about the role of a Christian wife in a Christian marriage, as outlined in scripture. There are many different references to wives in the bible and it would be impossible for me to use them all, so I have chosen I few which I think will be of benefit to us in the study.
Proverbs 19 v 14 reads ‘..a prudent wife is from the Lord’. In the dictionary, ‘prudent’ has a few definitions:-
- Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
- Careful in regard to one’s own interests; provident.
- Careful about one’s conduct; circumspect.
- wise or judicious in practical affairs; sagacious; discreet or circumspect; sober.
As wives, we want to meet the standard which God has set for us. Being ‘prudent’ may not be the way we behave naturally, because of the hold the old nature has on us. However, we are instructed in many different parts of scripture that we should be prudent and serving in how we behave, particularly towards our husbands. This may mean that we need the Lord to help us become that type of person. It is very easy in the sin-cursed world that we live to become selfish and caught up in what the world would have you do as a wife. Being prudent means that we don’t have a nagging attitude towards our husbands, but a respectful and calm relationship where problems can be discussed rather than argued about. It means thinking about the best interests of you both as a couple rather than of you as an individual. For example, if you fill your week nights with lots of social activities, most of which don’t involve your husband, are you going to be able to find time to spend together in prayer or study or just having fellowship and talking? Good communication and a frequent prayer life is the key to a healthy marriage, and it requires both people to make time to spend together.
The world will tell us that this is sexist and that we should be living our lives to please ourselves, not our husbands, and we are being old-fashioned by using the bible as guidance on how to live our lives. But as a Christian, we must have a desire for serving other people, not just ourselves. As friends, neighbours, employees, and spouses, we have a duty to care for others and copy the example of Jesus in serving others.
One of the most well known verses about wives and their relationship with their husbands, is found in Ephesians 5 v 22 ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.’ The topic of submission is sometimes treated with distaste and resentment, even amongst Christians. I believe this is partly due to the way in which the world influences our thinking about how marriages and relationships in general should function.
The sinful and fleshly nature which we all are cursed with, always makes us think about relationships in terms of what we can get out of them for our own good. In terms of marriage this may be using your husband to have children or having someone to look after you financially or just filling a void in your life because your lonely. A marriage should be based on what we can give each other, because we love each other and the Lord. It should not be motivated by the thought of what we can achieve for ourselves. We are exhorted in many parts of scripture to serve one another, and follow the example of the way Jesus lived when he was here on earth. He was humble and served others, he did not look to have friendships with people so he could exploit or use them. In this way, husbands should not seek to use their wives based on the idea of ‘submission’. Submission is a godly act of yielding to the decision of your husband on spiritual matter on which you cannot agree. It is not a ticket for stamping authority over every area in your wife’s life.
We need to read on in Ephesians ch 5 to see the full picture of how a marriage should be. Verse 25 reads, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ This type of love that husbands are to give their wives, is based on the most perfect and wonderful standard of love that has ever been shown throughout all of history – that of Christ for the church. If we think about it, Christ’s love was humble, serving, caring, sacrificial, protective, and made provision for the church to have a way of salvation. How many men can say that they honestly love their wife in this way? Or are even trying their best to reach this standard?
If a man is fulfilling the God given duty of loving his wife in the way that he should, it seems logical that he will have a very healthy and happy marriage. If a wife is living her life well before the Lord and fulfilling her role as a Christian, then submission wont be seen as something she has to do as a rule or restriction on her freedom, but it will be seen as a way of managing the spiritual matters in their marriage. As I have said previously, having spiritual headship and responsibility in the home is not something to be taken lightly or as a perk of being a man.
The Song of Solomon is a scarcely preached book of the bible, and many Christians may not be familiar with the instruction that can be found there. It is a love story and although it can also be used metaphorically as a relationship between Christ and the church, it has a lot of practical lessons that can be learned, especially for married couples who want to improve their marriage and follow God’s teaching in this area of their lives. I feel that for me to try and explain many of the lessons found in this book, would not do it justice, but I encourage you to read it and maybe use a commentary as well, so you can gain some depth in the study. I have learned a lot from the Song of Solomon.
Equality is a popular buzz word in the society in which we live. I am all for equality and have no fear of being vocal when I see sinful discrimination taking place. However, men and women have been created differently for a purpose, and in terms of marriage, God has instituted the structure of Christ, then husband, then wife. This is a spiritual hierarchy and as Christians we must practice it and accept it as God’s law. I believe and am an example of how living in accordance with this teaching can lead to a happy and blessed marriage. Although we have so much to learn, and no doubt will continue to learn through making mistakes, there is a calming peacefulness that comes with knowing God is leading and guiding a marriage that is trying to live by Godly principles. I encourage you to leave a comment if you have any thoughts on this topic or any experience or wisdom you would like to share with others.