Acts 17:11 Archives

Husbands Love, Wives Submit?

In answer to a question from a wife concerning whether the Bible teaches if her husband is be the head of the household, and what this means in actual practice; by Dean VanDruff.

When women decide to marry as Christians, they agree to voluntarily enter into a covenant that involves submission. If you did not know this when you got married, or were not a believer then, then you can still get what God wants you to get out of marriage. For women in Christian marriage are to be a "sermon" of the Church in its relationship to Jesus Christ.

Ideally, the wife submits to the husband and the husband "gives his life for the bride" in reciprocation. In other words, your submission to him is not so that he can abuse you, but rather so that he can lead you both into good things. Of the two roles, the one more likely to go wrong is that of the husband, as he has bigger shoes to fill.

Christ is the answer, the model, the example. How is Christ "Lord" over us? Well, He washed feet; showed great love, patience, and endurance; came out of His very nice digs to rough it out with us; and even died in our place for a punishment that was due us. There was (is) no doubt who is in charge, nor who is "Lord", but in Jesus we find someone who is not interested in abusing us when we give Him preeminence, rather someone who blesses us when we submit to Him.

Husbands are always going to fall short of the perfection of Christ, but you should pray that your husband will be transformed by the Spirit and begin to be conformed to His image, along His way. Part of this might be your obedience first, where if he abuses it God will convict/reprove him over time. Nothing like holiness to expose sin, and someone has to go first.

Consider the situation analytically and logically. Person W must submit to person H. Person H must look out for W's interest before his own interest, must pour out his life for W. W need not agree what is best, and might disagree, but W must submit. There is a party, G, outside of this, looking out for both W and W's interest and ready to judge if something goes awry (W does not submit, H does not hold up his end of the deal.) W is you, H is a husband, G is God. Just looking at W and H, W will get what is best for her if H is doing his job. H will not get what he wants, but will make decisions and do what his best for W. This is the mutual submission you mention, where one is clearly "head" without ambiguity, and the other is submitting fully. Jesus is Lord, no doubt, but who gains the benefit? You would rather be W, if you had the choice. It is like picking between being Jesus on the cross vs. those He saved, right?

In any case, if you begin the painful process of fighting your lower unsubmissive nature, then you are pleasing God and He will look out for you. It will be just as painful for you to fight your carnal nature as it will be for him to fight his lower unloving nature; this is a violent struggle towards righteousness and joy and peace. Men are inherently selfish, women inherently manipulative, as a rule. To follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must put to death the carnal nature and all its tendencies and habits and learned responses, and become new creations in resurrection power. The commands of God come right up against the major problem in both wives and husbands, commanding obedience that would not be natural without the word of God to guide us by faith.

What if your husband is not with the program? If he does not go along, and you are at peace with God and in obedience to His direct orders to you, then He will look out for you. It is all about trust: who is worthy of it? Give it to God, for He alone is worthy of your trust, and He will take care of you. But it is no good saying "Lord, Lord", and not doing what He said, and it is no good going halfway. Dive into God, and trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

The letter of the law, if this is his case, is good only for death (2Cor 3:6). But death is good, if it is death to our old selves. Let us "pick up our crosses" and really "follow" Jesus. It is the Spirit that gives life, but to get the Spirit we must, like a seed, be "planted". For you, this means giving up your bargaining chips, manipulation, blackmail, psyching out, etc., and trusting God to "deal with" your husband directly. For him, it means to stop thinking just about himself and instead base his decisions and life on what is best for you before himself, as Jesus did for us. This is very hard, impossible really, for men, just as your assignment is impossible for you. Most attempts are simply cunning stealth and a cover up, aren't they? It takes a death, really, to cure us of ourselves and give us entry into the new and miraculous life of the Spirit by resurrection power. Short of this, it will not work for long, and you will just have to rough it out. But if you are willing to go the distance, and have "counted the cost", throw in with God and see if He lets you down. He proved this "life through death" thing works by leading the way Himself. Will you and your husband follow? Will you, at least?

God is a good friend to have. Better not mess with someone whom God is "in with". Make your peace with Him, obey Him first and foremost, and conduct yourself down here as He ordered, and you can kick me in the afterlife if this is a course you later regret.

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