On a street in a certain city there are found three houses and a church. In each of the three houses dwell a husband and a wife. In the church dwells… well, we know who dwells in the church. God’s people dwell there. The article which follows has to do with what goes on between these husbands and wives in these their houses. It will focus on the relationship that exists between them—quite a different relationship as we shall see.
The relationship of the husband and wife in the first house is extremely tragic. The husband is a very proud man. He is a man who thinks a great deal of himself, and, in so doing, goes about his everyday activities, and yes, even his activities in his home, with a very pompous air about him. He views the people in the world with whom he has to do as being inferior to him. He views them as owing him everything, while he who is far superior owes them nothing, And this view, as I have already indicated, he also has with respect to his wife. In his dealing with his wife he is also very proud and very boastful. He is always talking about himself and about the tremendous things that he has done. For after all, remember, he is such a superior man! And his wife? In his opinion she is, right along with the people in the world, not worth much. All that she is worthy of doing is waiting on him hand and foot—getting him this and getting him that. In his opinion she is little more than a servant, a slave, who ought to think it simply the greatest honor in the world that he chose her to be his slave. And sometimes when she does not think it such an honor to be his slave, he even beats her because, after all, that is what you do with slaves!
Such is the relationship of the husband and the wife in the first house. Now, the relationship of the husband and the wife in the second house is slightly different. In fact it is quite a bit different. In this house the wife thinks a good deal of herself. She considers herself to be quite an intelligent person, quite a knowledgeable person, a person with quite a number of talents, which talents she considers it her calling to utilize in the world round about her. She seeks a profession in the world, and does very good at it too. But then when she comes home to her husband, she, who is so enamored with, her intelligence and her knowledge and her talents and her profession, looks down on her husband. She considers herself to be so much better than her husband. And when her husband dares to ask her (not dare to tell her now, but dare to ask her) if she is willing to do something for him, or if he dares to instruct her in some matter that he deems necessary, the wife immediately responds by saying to him, “Who do you think you are? I am just as important as you are. I have just as many rights as you do. And because of my superior intelligence and knowledge I am even more important than you are. You want me to do something for you? Do it yourself! You want me to listen to what you have to say? I don’t need to hear what you have to say! Get with it, husband. We live in the twentieth century, the century of the E.R.A., etc., etc.,!”
Such is the relationship of the husband and the wife in the second house. Now, about the relationship of the husband and the wife in the third house. That too is quite a bit different. In fact it is all together different from either of the relationships that we have described as they existed in the first two houses. For this husband and wife are a God-fearing husband and wife. They are a husband and wife who together, but led by the husband, have searched the Scriptures and have come to an understanding of what the Scriptures have to say concerning their relationship, and have bowed in humble submission to what they say for God’s sake. You do not find in this house a husband who is filled with pride, a husband who considers himself to be far superior to his wife, a husband who looks at his wife and treats his wife as if she were nothing more than a slave. Nor do you find in this house a wife who is enamored with whatever intelligence, knowledge, and talents she may possess, and who therefore looks down on her husband as being less important than she, and who tramples his authority underfoot, refusing to stand in subjection to him. But rather, you find in this house a husband and a wife who understand that God, according to His Word, has made the husband the head of his wife, with all that that implies.
And that implies much! That implies the fact that he is called by God to rule over and govern his wife. He is to rule over her! Not now as a tyrant over a slave. Not in the least! A tyrant he is not and a slave she is not! But head he is—a head who must rule over his wife, motivated in whatever he does with respect to his wife by love. A tyrant is a tyrant by virtue of the fact that he deals with the people under his dominion not out of love but out of hatred. But a God-fearing husband who understands that he is the head of his wife will not deal with his wife in hatred but out of love, and he will rule over his wife in that way. Still more! That he is the head of his wife means that he must teach his wife and instruct his wife. Even as the head of a body is the source of all knowledge, so also has God made this husband, by virtue of the fact that God made him head, the source of all knowledge for his wife. And particularly he is the source of all knowledge as that knowledge pertains to the Word of God. By virtue of the fact that God has made this husband the head of his wife, this husband understands it to be his calling to teach his wife the Word of God, to instruct her in the Word of God, to bring her, day in and day out, to the Scriptures in order to impress upon her the wondrous truths that are found therein. That this husband understands to be his calling—a calling which God has given him. And, too, he understands it to be a horrible shame if he does not do that! If he does not rule over his wife, if he does not teach his wife, and if he does not because he does not feel like it or because he does not possess the knowledge necessary to teach his wife (and that latter because he himself has failed in his calling to search the Scriptures), he understands that to be a horrible shame!
And the God-fearing wife in this house, she looks to her husband as her God-given head. She does not view him in terms of superior or inferior, as better or worse, but she views him to be her head. And she respects him in love as such. Which means that she stands in subjection to his ruling love. That first of all. She understands that even as the body must stand in subjection to the head, so also must she stand in subjection to her husband. Not to do so is not only contrary to nature, but also and above all contrary to the Word of God. But in the second place, not only does she stand in subjection to him, but she also stands ready and willing always to be instructed in the Word of God by him. She is always ready and willing to have her husband teach her what God says. And she is that because she needs to have that instruction! A wife needs to be instructed in the Word of God. Why? The answer to that question is simply that God made her that way. God, creating her as the weaker vessel, made her that way. That is not something to be ashamed about, but rather to rejoice about. We must not be ashamed at the way in which God makes things, but rather rejoice in the way in which our good God makes things. And, even more, we must rejoice in the fact that God gives to wives husbands to supply their God-given need! The wife in this house so does that.
The relationship of the husband and the wife in this house therefore reflects in a most beautiful way the relationship that God’s people in that church on this street experience with Christ. The other two houses on this street do not reflect that relationship. But this house does. And what is that relationship? It is the relationship of Christ, the Head to His bride, the Church. It is Christ’s ruling and governing of His bride the Church—not out of hatred as a tyrant, but out of love as Head. It is the relationship of Christ as head instructing His bride the Church with an instruction which she so sorely needs. The Church, which is the bride and wife of Christ, needs the instruction of Christ, her Head. She simply cannot exist without it. Day after day she needs to hear Christ’s voice as He speaks to her through the instruction of the preached Word. And day after day she rejoices that Christ, her Head, not only rules over her, but also in His love supplies her need.
That relationship between Christ and His Church is reflected in the relationship of the husband and wife in that third house. And the question is, is that relationship the relationship that is reflected in our homes? Do we as husbands understand our God-given place as head of wives? Do we understand it to be our calling to rule over our wives in love, even as Christ rules over His bride the Church? Do we teach our wives even as Christ teaches His Church? Or do we so deal with our wives as tyrants over slaves? Do we fail to teach our wives the Word of God as we ought, and that because we do not know it ourselves? Do we as wives stand in love in subjection to our husbands? Do we understand it to be our calling to listen to them, and listen to them particularly when they teach us God’s Word? Or do we disobey our husbands and not think too much of the instruction which we need and which they give?
It simply will not do for us as God-fearing husbands and wives to do anything other than what God says. The husbands and wives of this world fail to do what God says, which exactly is the explanation for the relationship between husbands and wives in the world today as we found them in the first two houses. May that not be true of us. However, we ought to be aware of the fact, and at the same time confess, that sometimes it is. The relationship that exists between husbands and wives in this world as we live in the last times has a way sometimes of affecting our relationship one to another. We-live in the latter days. It will not be long and Christ, the head of His Church, will come to take His bride to glory. When He comes, what will be the relationship that He sees between God-fearing husbands and wives? What relationship will He see between you as a God-fearing husband and you as a God-fearing wife?