A Voice in the
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything...and let the wife see that she respects [reverences] her husband." (Eph5:22- 24,33;Col3:18)
"Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, as they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear." (~1Pet3:1-6)
I suppose we could introduce this topic by ranting and raving about the ills of our modern world; Women's Lib, ERA, NOW, etc. We could talk about the epidemic nature of divorce as in many cases, women decide they "need to" be on their own, doing "their own" thing. We could talk about the abdication of responsibility for raising children, relegating them to daycare centers to be raised by NewAge strangers. And we could show from Scripture how these days were prophesied to be this way. But we've detailed these things more in other writings.
So, what IS a "proper wife?" A "Christian" wife? What is her heart/mind attitude towards God, her husband and children? What does Scripture teach?
First of all, she is to be submissive to her OWN husband. There are some cult-like churches that subject all the women to the church male leadership. In the more bizarre cults, to the "single" male guru. But as Paul corrects left-overs of paganistic spirit-activities in the Corinthian church, he says the women should "ask their own husbands at home."(1Cor14:35) In other words, as spiritual a place as "church" is, the wife's submission is to her husband, and it is not the business of the church or pastor to interfere or tell the wife what she should do. When the husband "left his father and mother" to "cleave" to his wife, he became her head. The "two [became] one flesh."(Eph5:31) She now belongs to him.
This concept has been so throughout human history. Under Moses' law, the husband had "final say" regarding spiritual matters in regards to his wife and unmarried daughters. "Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it..her husband may make it void." (Nu30:13) Her husband is her "head." "..the head of woman is man.."(1Cor11:3)
So, what IS "submission?" "To arrange under, to subordinate, to subject one's self, to obey, to submit to one's control." A hierarchy of position. Not "importance." In God's eyes, the wife is "equal" with the man in respect to salvation.(Gal3:28) When there is a difference, yielding to the husband without quibbling, whining and nagging...nor complaining to everybody in sight about "how terrible and unreasonable" he is. When the husband commands, obey. And here's the "scary" part..to be under his "control." Whatever he dictates, to yield to it.
As we discovered last month, just as the husband is to be toward the wife as Christ is to the Church, so, the wife is to be to her husband as the Church is to Christ. "Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep His commandments."(1Jn2:3) Get to know your husband. Keep his commandments. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments." (5:3) Do you say you "love" your husband? ..keep his commands.
OK...now comes the really hard one. It's easy to submit and obey when he's being everything he should be, as we considered last month. However, what if your husband abuses you? Perhaps he is not a Christian. Or, he may be a terribly backslidden Christian. Or, he decides something which you "know" isn't right, or that will get him and/or you into trouble. Perhaps he gets into a "drunk" and abuses you both verbally and physically? What does Scripture say about this?
When 1Pt3:1 says "likewise" be submissive, what does "likewise" refer to? When he wrote it, there was no "Ch-3" division in writing. It continued on from what he had been saying about "servants being submis- sive to [their] masters."(2:18) He does not allow for "conditions" by which to be submissive. He says, "not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh."(vs18)
In the culture in which Peter wrote this, the servant was, to many masters, merely "property." As, for that matter, so were wives. This "property" could be treated in some most disgusting, inhumane ways. Beatings, tortures, captivity, deprivation of necessary food and water, dismemberment/s. Supposing you, dear reader, have suffered abuses, this description may help you realize that you don't have it as bad as it could be. Even so, he says "Likewise, wives, be submissive."
Peter goes into a description of what Christ endured for us (2:21- 24) as "an example, that you should follow His steps." Jesus was pure. He did not lash out at His torturers. When He was cursed, did not reply in kind. Did not whine and threaten. But "committed Himself to Him [God] who judges righteously." He died for our sins, and bore "stripes" [excruciating flogging] for us.
Why is the wife to be submissive in this way? Masochistic sadism? Hardly!! But that "even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives" as they see your life. While you may make yourself "pretty" for your husband with your makeup and dress, he needs to see the beauty of your heart. A "gentle, quiet spirit."(3:4)
An example is given of Sarah. Abraham in lapsing faith asked her on a couple of occasions to claim to be his "sister" ...in order to spare, what he thought would be a threat on his life because of her beauty. (Gen12:13;20:2) Yes, it is true. Abraham messed up, and he could have lost his wife to others who would have taken her. But Sarah obeyed, even to the point of being subject to defilement by another man. And what is the verdict? "Whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror."(vs6) He praised her for her submission/obedience, as she called her husband "lord."
Paul writes, "let the wife see that she respects her husband." "Respect" here includes "reverence and fear." So, the ol' boy is a total idiot and a real jerk. God calls you to respect him.
But what about "MY RIGHTS!" Self-respect and self-esteem! God does not call the godly woman to these things.(Phil2:5-8) We are servants of Christ. If you truly LOVE your husband, you will "also lay down [your life for your husband]."(1Jn3:16) God sent His Son to die.(Jn3:16) As God's servant, your life is God's on behalf of your husband. In submitting to your husband, you are submitting to Christ Who said, "whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."(Lk14:27)
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends [her husband]."(Jn15:13)