Marital Roles

Every year our church has a theme that we focus on.  This theme is something that our pastor prays about and waits on an answer from God before it is chosen.  This years theme deals with relationships: our relationship with God, our children, our spouse, our family members, with friends, with coworkers, I think he has hit them all and it’s only been half a year.  I have to say that I’m really feeling it.

I recently celebrated 13 years of marriage.  It hasn’t always been roses and rainbows (that’s pretty obvious, we separated for a year), but we have committed to making our union work.  Lately, I’ve wanted to do a study (bible study) on the roles and relationship of man and woman as it pertains to marriage.  I actually shared a really good online article about the role of mothers, but I wanted to see what I could find that more specifically addressed husband and wife roles.  My search yielded some very insightful information. 

One of the reasons why I wanted to do this bible study was because I wanted to make sure that I was living according to Gods word as a wife and I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t expecting something outside of Gods will for my marriage.  You see, I strive to be an exceptional wife and mother.  I know that I may make mistakes, but if I have the right intention and motivation, than I’m doing my best.  So here is what I found.

It seems that biblically speaking the roles of husband and wife come from eight key scriptures (I’m sure there are many more, but these seven really spoke to me), the first of which is Ephesians 5:23-32.  This passage of scripture gives detailed roles of the husband and wives.  I’ll paraphrase it: husbands are to be the head of the household and wives are to submit to their husbands.  If you go by this paraphrase, it doesn’t sound too good.  Another scripture, 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells the same thing.  Reading that husbands are the head and wives are to submit – this would give many the impression that men rule and women have no say.  This is not what that means and boy am I glad to know this.  These passage of scriptures does not give a husband the right to say that “I’m the head and what I say goes”, nor does it wives need to be doormats to their husbands and become his servants.  One of the articles I read on the roles broke down this passage very nicely.  It said,

1. God has given the husband the leadership role for the good of his wife, not as an excuse for him to be proud or selfish, and not as an excuse to treat her as a servant.

Some husbands do not seem to understand that yelling for food or beverage service while they are watching a sports event on TV and while their wives are scrubbing the kitchen floors on their hands and knees does not reflect biblical truth in balance.

2. God has not said the husband must, or should, make all decisions in his family. If a husband wants to please God, and if he loves his wife with agape love, he will delegate some decision-making to her–she has brains too.

3. God has not said that the husband must make decisions without obtaining input from his wife–she has brains, too.

4. God has not said that the husband must make decisions according to his wishes, nor even according to his wisdom. Instead he must make decisions that are best for his wife.

If the husband is not proud, he will not think that he is always right–his wife has brains, too. If the husband is not proud, he will seek her input before making decisions– she has brains, too.

If the husband is not selfish, he will not want his way, but instead will desire to please his wife.

God has not made him the leader in the family to feed his ego, or to satisfy his selfishness, but for her good.

5. If husband and wife disagree, if he is not proud, and if he is not selfish, he will be willing to go along with her ideas and her desires–unless it would hurt her or someone else spiritually, emotionally, or physically, or unless what she wants is prohibitively expensive.

6. However, again keeping biblical truth in balance, if she is not proud, and if she is not selfish, she will not think that she is always right, and she will not want her way.

7. If the wife considers the leadership role that God has given her husband, she will recognize that God wants to give her husband the insight and wisdom that he needs to lead the family–she will look to her husband for leadership.

8. Obeying God and loving his wife with agape love includes the husband assuming his God-given responsibilities and shielding his wife from emotional and physical loads that are too heavy for her.

9. If a husband understands God’s Word in biblical balance, if he loves God, and if he loves his wife with agape love, he will not abdicate his God-given responsibilities to his wife, nor for rearing their children.

Oh man does that put a new and exciting perspective on our roles. 🙂 When I looked at it this way, I learned that by my husband loving me as Christ loved the church, that my submission doesn’t put me in a role of weakness, but one that is respected and cherished.  My thoughts and ideas don’t come second, but should be foremost in my husbands mind.  This made me a little lot happy. 🙂  I’m not giving up anything by submitting. 

Now while my husband is loving me in all ways he is supposed to be what else am I to do besides submit to him?  Ephesians 5:33 tells me that I’m also to honor or respect my husband.  I wanted to know what that meant and found that this was more of  respecting that as “my head”, my husbands decisions for our family are based upon what he feels is good for us.  They are not something that is for his good alone, but for the good of ALL of us.  If he does what he is supposed to be, there should not be any need for me to oppose his decision.  The bible states that a child should “honor their parents”, we take that to be that they need to respect us and understand that the decisions we make regarding their lives to be for the best of them.  We should show this same honor and respect to our husbands.  On the same token, 1 Peter 3:7 tells the husband to respect their wives and treat her as his equal (Galatians 3:28).  My pastor is always saying that you should “honor your spouse”.  He says that by being considerate of his/her needs, their feelings, their opinions and their likes/dislikes you honor them.  If you do those things and put their needs above your own, you will not be in a tug-o-war in your relationship because if we have each others best interest at heart things will go smoothly. 

As a couple, we are to love each other according to 1 Corinthians 13.  And finally a woman should strive to be a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31), doing things that will take care of her husband and family.  Making a good home for her family, looking out for their best interest, taking care of herself so that she can be pleasing to her husband and herself.  A man is to provide for his family not just financially according to 1 Timothy 5:8, but emotionally and spiritually.

I didn’t write this to preach a sermon, I’m not a preacher by any means.  I had questions, I did some research and I got answers.  I felt they were something that I should pass along.  It’s no different from me giving you a great recipe for a cake, or sharing with you pictures of a cabinet that I’ve refinished.  I forwarned you that I would sometimes get a little deep. 

I would love to know your thoughts on what I’ve shared, though; so drop a comment or two.  If you have more knowledge that you would like to share, I would greatly appreciate it as well, as I said I’m studying this and I could always use more research material.

I liked to acknowledge MARRIAGE ROLES IN BIBLICAL BALANCE by Wendell E. Miller as a source for the nine points contained in this post.

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