Responsibilities Of A Wife

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22). The word "submit" or "subjection" (1 Timothy 2:11) conjures up images of slavery, inferiority, and inequality in the minds of feminists. However, only ignorance and misunderstanding of God's design for women in marriage can explain the absurd doctrines of feminism.

Roles, whether of submission or dominion, say nothing about ability or value but, rather, speak only of functions and responsibilities. The wife's role of subjection in marriage is assigned by God and it is not a reflection of her value or significance. With no particular reference to marriage, God says, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:4). Also in verses 8-10 we read: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man; for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels." In another passage, God adds: "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (1 Timothy 2:13-14).

Society could not exist without order and the order God has arranged is best. All relationships need leaders and followers and, in the family, the husband is the "head" and the wife is to be in "subjection". What is "subjection"? The word means "to rank under" and is a military term. It denotes the order of roles: the role of the husband is to rule and the role of the wife is to submit. The wife's submission is compared to the church's relationship to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). Did God not know there would be times a wife would see matters different from her husband? Certainly, and this is true of any relationship of rule and subjection. However, God instructs the wife to be in subjection to her husband in "everything". Therefore, she must humble herself before God, respect His authority, and yield to the rule of her husband. This does not forbid her from contributing ideas, nor does it tell her husband to disregard her views; it only says that, as Sarah "obeyed" Abraham, she must obey her husband (1 Peter 3:6).

The word "obey", in the Greek (from which the New Testament was translated), has a prefix which means "under" and a verb meaning "to bear". Thus, obey means to bring oneself under what is heard. When a husband voices a decision for the family, the wife, according to 1 Peter 3:6, is to listen and submit. The limits of a wife's subjection is found in the statements "as unto the Lord" (Eph. 5:22) and "as it is fit in the Lord"(Colossians 3:18). Since the head of man is Christ, no husband has the authority to rule his wife in conflict with the teaching of Christ for Christ has "all authority" (Matt. 28:18). Therefore, no wife is required to submit to the dictates of her husband when he is violating her obedience to Christ. This is sometimes especially a problem to women who are married to men who are not Christians or are unfaithful. A wife must still submit to an unbelieving husband (1 Pet. 3:1,2). However, if her husband insists she drinks, misses the assemblies of the church, dress immodestly, etc. she must refuse! These things will cause her to violate the law of Christ and a faithful wife is always subject to the Lord first and to her husband second. She must acknowledge the authority of both Christ and her husband so that she will serve reverently and humbly.

A submissive wife is a worthy woman, has accepted a worthy role, is committed to a worthy objective, and is performing a worthy work. She deserves the praise of her family, the gratitude of her nation, and the honor of any civilized society.

The responsibilities of a wife can also been found in Genesis 2:18, 21-23. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him." "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." As a "help" to her husband, the woman's responsibilities as a wife are specifically spelled out. The word "meet" means "to correspond to" or "to be suitable for". There are numerous ways in which a wife is suitable.

To be fruitful. Genesis 1:28 mentions the most basic example of suitability and completes what man cannot do alone. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,..." The woman of faith accepts this as an honorable role with joy and gratification.

For companionship. Genesis 2:18 states: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;..." Man and woman are compatible to be friends, to be companions, and to share life together. Talk to any widower about the importance of companionship. He will not talk about sexual satisfaction, the need of a housekeeper, nor the lack of a cook that makes his days seemingly never end. Instead, he will talk about the emotional bond that blends two hearts and lives together as one. This is the thing that is fundamental to the completeness of man and woman. When a wife fails to be the emotional support her husband needs, she has failed in a basic role assigned by God.

For affection. Older women are to "...teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children," (Titus 2:4). Husbands need love just as little children do. Many women fail to realize how much a man is dependent upon the approval and acknowledgment of a woman. Nothing helps a man more than being praised by a woman and if he receives more praise from another woman other than his wife, this may be the first step toward infidelity. The "love" of this passage is not the "devote care" like the agape love but it is "affection" or "tender feeling" of phileo love. A man wants to be admired. He needs to know his worth. He yearns for esteem from his wife. Compliments from the boss and close friends are nice but nothing can substitute for the compliment his wife might give him.

For sexual needs. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 speaks of "due benevolence" which both the husband and wife are to render unto one another. If these "dues" are not rendered, they defraud and Satan can get an advantage.

To be keepers at home. Two passages in the New Testament which show the suitability of woman to help man are 1 Timothy 5:14 ("guide the house") and Titus 2:5 ("keepers at home"). While man is to work by the sweat of his face to provide for the family (Genesis 3:19), his wife is to be his helper by working in the home.

We cannot help but be reminded of Proverbs 31 and the virtuous woman. She rises early and prepares meals for her family (v.15). She spins yarn that is woven into carpets and cloth for garments (vs. 14,19,22). She looks well to the ways of her household (v. 27). No work is more important or vital to the health of the family than the work God has assigned the woman in the home. Ask any child who is greeted with a kiss and a fresh batch of warm cookies when he come home from school. Ask any husband who comes home from work and opens the door to find the warm aroma of supper being cooked. Why would anyone label this work "demeaning" or "slavery". A wife in the home is a co-partner with her husband in the life of that family. What she provides is of equal, if not greater value, than the money the husband brings home. Both are doing what God has ordained and neither of them should be ashamed. The woman, most certainly, should not feel inferior or that she is some "second-class citizen"

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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