Does marriage ever get any easier, you wonder? Does godly submission and obedience to your husband ever come as naturally as a flower bud blooms in the spring or rain falls from a leaden sky? (You ask this after tripping over the same marital rocks you thought you’d overcome a year or decade ago.)
No, it doesn’t get easier because you and your marriage are not static. There’s never a place up ahead where you and your husband “arrive” and can sit back and bask in the spotlight as a finished work of art.
As you grow past painful challenges, new ones sprout up like tenacious weeds that demand ever more of you as a wife.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
It takes courage to be a godly wife.
Submission to a husband as unto the Lord does not placate or coddle your feminine self but forces you in directions you’d rather not go. There’s nothing easy about it.
Once we get out of our heads that being married should be easy as pie (whoever coined that phrase clearly never made one!) and realize that marriage is a covenant bond that requires prayer, tenacious dedication, and strength that only comes from God, then, and only then, can we handle the inevitable conflict and flaring of anger (that no husband and wife is immune from) with grace.
Welcome to Christian Wife 101
This series is meant for all wives, newly married and decades married, living the oft-times difficult journey of marriage who want to rediscover the blueprint for joy and peace that God made possible and laid out in His word.
I’m in no way an expert on godly marriage nor am I a perfect wife—far from it. But thanks be to God’s merciful Spirit, He has taken my past mistakes and opened my eyes to how I was sabotaging my desires for a peaceful life. When we try to rewrite God’s design, we will fail every time. But, oh, that illuminating moment when we finally get it: only God’s way works!
Christian Wife 101 is about getting back to the basics of what God says marriage is. Getting back to what God says a “help meet” is. Christian Wife 101 is a study for wives who want to thrive (not merely survive) in their role as a Christian wife.
Christian Wife 101
Marital conflict doesn’t get any easier until you change the way you respond to it.
We commonly deal with our conflicts, marital or otherwise, from a place of self-preservation ingrained from childhood.
I want this. I want that.
I’m right, you’re wrong.
You can’t have it. It’s mine.
Leave me alone.
I, me, my, mine.
But God asks of us diametrically different things than the world does. Selflessness, forgiveness, and love. Not the easy love that takes no work, but the dirt-under-your-fingernails kind that hurts.
Marriage is dynamic—a living entity molded by our heavenly Father to flex with the conflicts and strivings of two fallible people. It grows more complex and rewarding, like rare garnet wine, as you rely on the Spirit of God to hone your reactions to heartache and disappointment, to shape your responses to injustice and blame, to chip away your self-absorbed thinking, bit by sharp-edged bit.
And, like a chiseled and polished gem, you begin, dear wife, to radiate righteousness from the rubbing and your marriage glows a little brighter each day.
As a Christian wife, you agree to let another guide you. You acquiesce to the how and the what and the where of your husband’s steering. If that isn’t courageous, I don’t know what is!
God requires strong, intelligent, capable you to yield to your imperfect man’s direction. This is never easy. Our first inclination is to balk and to squirm and to question God.
“Why do You require me to give up so much, God?”
“How am I supposed yield to my husband in everything?”
“Don’t You realize what this could mean?”
(I speak as a woman—like Paul asked his questions—Romans 3:5; 6:19—to a questioning Roman church.)
When we put our fears ahead of an omnipotent God, questioning our God-given role as a wife, we are believing He doesn’t love us completely or that He didn’t think through the ramifications of what He was asking us to do. Foolish thinking, true, but I think we’ve all allowed these fears to cross our minds.
But this powerful quote from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Passion and Purity brings these fears to a stand-still. “We are always held in the love of God. We are never wholly at the mercy of others—they are only ‘second causes’ and no matter how many second or third or fiftieth causes seem to be in control of what happens to us, it is God who is in charge, He who holds the keys, He who casts the lot finally into the lap. Trusting Him, then, requires that I leave some things to be decided by others. I must learn to relinquish the control I might wield over somebody else if the decision properly belongs to him. I must resist my urge to manipulate him, needle and prod and pester until he capitulates. I must trust God in him, trust God to do for both of us better than I know.”
This is truth.
You may not agree with how your husband handles a particular decision or where he chooses to lead you down the path of life together, but nothing is left to chance. God is in change.
Everything you endure, whether directly the result of your husband’s misguided hand or not, is sanctioned by a holy God. He holds the keys.
Your husband, as a “second cause”, is under the headship and authority of Christ as he governs you and the family God gave him. He is held accountable for his choices, yes, but it is God who allows the choices to be made. And, most importantly, the outcome of those choices. He casts the lot.
So, take courage, dear wife. There is nothing that you suffer that God does not see. Whatever trials or hardships God has allowed to fill your humble life is drawn from the deep well of His love for you and is meant to bring you—and your husband—closer to the image of Christ and to an eternity spent with Him.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17
God’s Spirit, which the Father has lovingly given, enables you to lay down your life, your choices, your worldly sense of fair play, and put yourself under someone else’s rule without fear. We can be at peace knowing God is ruling the universe in righteousness and orders the orbit of our smallest circumstance with the very same righteousness.
Christian Wife 101
When we submit to the governance of a fallible man, we remain securely governed by an infallible God.
Love your husband . . .
The Titus 2:4 instruction for older women to teach the younger to love their husbands seems simplistic, at first glance.
“Love your husband.” Hmm. But I do that every day. Love?—that’s what I’m good at. Affection, speaking sweet words, serving whenever I see a need. Hearts and kisses, that’s me. And your man appreciates all of this, I’m sure.
But respect is the better part of love. Without respect, love has no weight.
You can do all the fluffy, love stuff and not respect your husband.
- Respect accepts your husband’s position of authority.
- Respect lets the man be a man.
- Respect allows for mistakes without berating.
- Respect trusts in God.
And that’s the crux of the matter. Trusting God.
Each strand is weaved together with the next in an inseparable cord. If you pick out the strand you don’t like—the whole cord unravels.
God, who made the institution of marriage and the concept of headship (Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3), knows better than us. But this is hard to accept when we’ve been schooled in the world’s ideology by mothers, sisters, or friends looking out for themselves who never trusted in God, even if they say they do.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16
If you harbor resentment for ANYthing God declared as very good, you will never find the peace and joy you long for in life, let alone marriage.
Many women say that their husbands don’t deserve their respect or that they have to earn their respect. But respecting your husband is less about the man standing in front of you (with all his obvious flaws) and more about the position God gave him to stand in.
Do you reverence him?
“Nevertheless let every one of you [men] in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
Other translations use the word respect (which means regard or highly esteem) in Ephesians 5, whereas the KJV uses the word “reverence”.
What does reverence mean in this verse? “To frighten, to be alarmed, to be in awe of, revere, (be) afraid, fear (exceedingly).” Hmm, really? Are we supposed to tremble in fear in the presence of the man God graciously gave us? Not at all. God specifically tells us not to be afraid multiple times in His word and specifically here in 1 Peter 3.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Peter 3:5–6
What we are to fear is disrespecting the role God gave husbands in marriage. Unfortunately, many women do this instinctively. They put themselves in a fearful place by judging what God said was good from the beginning as not good. This is alarming, frightening, and exceedingly fearful behavior. And they do it, foolishly, under the guise of self-respect.
When you reverence your husband, you reverence God who created the role he’s filling. This is honorable, holy, and brave, dear wife.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
Trusting God makes you a strong and courageous wife. You have nothing to fear in godly marital submission because God is with you whithersoever you go.
Abiding in the Vine,
To stay up to date on the Christian Wife 101 series, consider signing up for my Abide & Blossom newsletter for the weary Christian woman in the form below. Thank you!