The Christian wife and mother must do a great deal of sighing nowadays. It is inconceivable that any dedicated wife and mother who knows the teaching of Scripture concerning her place in the home, should join the raucous cry of the women’s lib movement. The entire movement adds insult to injury for the Christian woman.
What has this to do with the strength of youth? A great deal! You covenant young people are forming your ideas concerning the role of men and women in society, not only, but also in the home. You are bearing the brunt of the present day attack upon the traditional Christian values. As young people you cannot brush this subject aside and say it doesn’t concern you, for it does. Presently you are going to set up your own home and then you face the practical question concerning your idea of the proper role of husband and wife in the home. You do well to read and think concerning the issues.
Kate Millett is outspoken in her role as leader of the women’s lib. Her most well known book is entitled, “Sexual Politics,” and in it she writes concerning the plight of modern women, “Two leading myths in western culture are to blame, the classical tale of Pandora’s box and the biblical story of the fall.” Both, in her estimation, prejudice men against women and subject her to discrimination. The spirit of her movement is to elevate women on a level with men, or one gets the impression, to exalt women over men. This has many practical implications for marriage. It is suggested that trial marriages are good, the idea being that compatibility can be determined without the legal entanglements of marriage. If one marries, the couple should determine whether they want children. Perhaps it would be for the good of the wife and husband that no children be born, but that each be permitted to develop his own career. If children are desired, the couple should decide who will stay home and care for the children. It is seriously suggested that many men are more qualified to care for children than many women and therefore in such cases the woman should continue her career and the man care for the children at home. The idea is that men and women are not confined to certain roles by virture of their sex, for sexual identification has nothing to do with it. Each must be judged on their individual interests and abilities.
This we suggest is an attack upon the Scriptural role which God gives to the husband and wife within the bonds of holy marriage. In our last article we suggested that the formula for the Christian home may be found in Eph. 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” If we truly have the fear of God, we will receive God’s specifications for our respective roles in the home.
THE HEADSHIP OF THE HUSBAND
According to Eph. 5:22-24, the role of the Christian wife is to submit herself to her husband. The reason for this is also given, the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church. This is not the only place in Scripture where this is indicated; consider I Cor. 11:3, “But I would have you to know that the head of the man is Christ and the head of woman is the man and the head of Christ is God.”
What is included in the headship of the husband over the wife. Let’s notice the following elements. (1) Headship involves rule. In a very real sense the husband is the king of the home. His calling is to exercise the law of God as it is applied to the domestic scene. To do this he must determine what is right and wrong, promote the right and forbid the wrong. (2) This law which gives the husband the right to rule is the law of love. This emphasized in verse 25, “Husbands love your wives.” The rule of the Christian husband is to take God’s law of love and in the way of love, apply it to the daily needs of the family. Hence a Christian husband is not a tyrant, a law unto himself. As Christ rules the Church, so a husband must rule his wife. (3) The power of this rule is not inherent in the man, but is given to him by Christ. It is not a question of the supremacy of the man over the woman in natural terms; rather, it is a question of divine assignment! The role of husband is a calling given to him by Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christ must sustain and enlighten every man who is thus called to this responsible task. The guide for the husband is not human opinion, but the Word of God. The law of God is spelled out in detail in the Bible and it is the calling of the husband to know this and enforce it in the home. (4) The husband must give account for his conduct to God. With every responsible position is also accountability. The husband is accountable to God for the things of the home, even as the elder is in the church and the rulers are for the government of the nation.
A further question comes to mind. Why did God make man the head of the home? Notice carefully the form this question takes. We assume by this question that God is the one who made man the head of the home. We disagree entirely with the position of the women’s lib that man assumed this position to himself. By the language that some proponents of this movement use, you would think that man by hook and crook grabbed this position away from the woman. This is wrong. God appointed man to the position of head. We ask why?
The answer is two-fold.
First, the relationship of marriage demands only one head. It is folly to speak of two bosses at work, two teachers in the class room, two presidents of the country; likewise it is folly to speak of two heads in the home. The nature of marriage itself, as well as home life, demands only one head. This is demonstrated for us in the original marriage. God made Adam first, then Eve as helpmeet. Eve’s creation was not independent of Adam; rather Eve was taken out of Adam, her life was derived from the man and therefore subordinate to him. God made only one head of the human race: that man was Adam and Eve was to assist him. This principle carries through the whole of Scripture. I Tim. 2:12, 13, “For I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence, for Adam was first formed then Eve.”
Secondly, God made a natural difference between men and women, a natural difference that aids each one in his God-defined role. God gave the man the natural gift to be ruler and head of the home, God made the woman to have the natural gifts of homemaker and mother. Thus we read in I Peter 3:7, “Give honor to the wife as the weaker vessel.” Read the beautiful description the Holy Spirit gives of the Christian wife and mother in Proverbs 31. God made her for this domestic role in the home.
I realize that by nature we may not like our God-given roles. There are many men who do not want the responsibility of headship, there are many aggressive women who want to usurp it. The reason for this is not due to the lack of clarity in the Scriptures; rather, fallen man rebels against God’s assignment. Sin did not obliterate these roles; rather corrupt man violates his responsibility concerning them. It is only when we recognize the truth of Eph. 5:21 that we will say in the fear of God: this is my calling. Anything else will only bring confusion and every evil work as we see it before our eyes today. One cannot rebel against God without reaping the consequence of such sin, which is death. This we also see today in the chaos that the women’s liberation movement produces in our land.
THE WI FE’S SUBMISSION
A wife is to submit herself to her husband as the church is subject to Christ. We can delineate four things.
First, the church must recognize Christ’s lawful place as its head. We read, “as Christ is head of the church, and he is the savior of the body,” verse 23. The idea is this: Christ is Savior, therefore he is head. Remember Christ secured the marriage-license through the shedding of His blood on the cross. We are betrothed to Him and the wedding will take place upon His return. God exalted Christ by making Him the head of the church. Therefore the church must recognize Christ’s lawful place. So it is true for the wife in relation to her husband. Marriage opens the way for man, the husband, to assume his responsible place over a woman, the wife, not only, but the entire family that may come forth from such a union. If a wife is to be subject to her husband, she must recognize her husband’s God-given place.
Secondly, the church must listen to Christ. Because Christ is the Lord of the church, he has the say over her. All the church professes to believe and all she is called to do is determined by what instruction Christ gives to her. So also a husband must give instruction to his wife and a wife must listen to her husband. She must be devoted to him, assisting him in carrying out the law of God as it applies to the home.
Thirdly, the church must obey Christ. Notice carefully, this means that we must do more than listen, we must act upon the instruction of Christ. This eliminates “Sunday Christians.” If we, as the bride of Christ, listen in obedience to our husband, we will implement in our daily lives what He tells us. This obedience is one of love. So with a wife in relation to her husband, she must obey him. The marriage vow emphasizes this in distinction from the vow of the husband. If a faithful wife listens carefully, she will also do what her husband says. The law of God will not be scorned; it will be furthered by her.
Finally, the church gladly gives the glory to Christ her Lord. This is proper: since the word of love and gospel of grace comes to the church from Jesus Christ, she gladly calls him Lord and honors Him for His position. Thus God receives all the glory eternally. And so it must be with the wife. The joy of the Christian home is enhanced when the wife responds to her husband and gladly recognizes that her place is to make him truly happy in the Lord, thus enabling him to fulfill his task in the world.
By mentioning this, we do not imply that there is no sharing of the responsibilities of life between husband and wife. How wonderful it is when both talk together concerning the important things of life. Remember the formula: Submitting yourselves one to another. This both husband and wife must do as each must seek spiritual wisdom from God. A Christian wife is a good influence upon her husband as a husband is upon his wife. They must discuss their most intimate desires. It is not proper for a husband to say, “I leave it up to my wife how many kids she wants. “No, they must prayerfully consider this together. Finances are considered together in the fear of God. Responsibility in the church must be discussed and decided upon mutually. The care of children and problems that result must be discussed together.
The point is that the final decision must be made by one, and that person is the husband. And in all lawful things, the wife is to subject to him in this decision. No, she does not sell her soul to him, she must be subject to him as they together are subject to Christ.
This produces harmony in the home.
You see why we need the fear of God in order to be willing to accept this God-defined role in life. We must truly know Him and stand in awe before Him if we are to bow and say, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
May God give us hearing ears and willing hearts, and the peace of God will rest upon our homes.