Biblically, What’s the Role of Women in Society and Marriage?

Biblically What's the Role of Women in Society and MarriageThis is the 6th article in our series about marriage.  In the previous article, we answered the question: Does God View Women as the (Social/Political) Equals of Men?. (We weren’t talking about intrinsic worth; merely their role in society.) We concluded – based on a mountain of passages – that He doesn’t.

But that begs the question: What is the role of women in society?  A closely related question that we’ve been dancing around is “what is the role of women in marriage?

We’ll examine those now.

(Note: We’ll won’t spend much time on the role of men in society and marriage yet because more context is needed.  We’ll look at men in greater detail in the 8th article in this series.)

 

Homemakers Only?

There is a sect of Christians who believe a woman belongs at home and nowhere else.  They say women should be raising children, keeping the home, and doing absolutely nothing else.

However, that’s not quite what Scripture teaches.

In a moment, we’ll examine the primary roles that the Bible lays out for women.  However, just because they’re the primary roles, doesn’t mean they’re their only roles.  The Bible is clear on the primary roles, but equally clear that other (secondary) roles are available to women who want them, assuming they don’t shirk their primary roles.  (And assuming her husband allows it, as we saw in a previous article on Authority and submission in marriage.)

 

The Primary Role of Men and Women According to God

In Genesis, God gives one reason/purpose for creating man, and a different one for creating woman.  Then God gave them both the same command.  Different stated purposes, same command.  (Note: as we already covered in the article on the “Why of submission in marriage, men and women were created to glorify God by imitating Him.  The roles below are how we do that.)

We’ll briefly discuss the purpose God had in mind when He created Adam.  Afterward, we’ll look at Eve’s purpose.  Finally we’ll look at the commands God gave both of them.

 

Adam’s Purpose

In the Garden of Eden – before the fall and Eve’s creation – God gave the man (Adam) one purpose and one command.

Genesis 2:15-18

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

 

God put Adam in the garden “to cultivate it and keep it”.  That’s a statement of purpose; of reason.  That was Adam’s original mandate, given to him before Eve was created.   God placed Adam on the earth to “cultivate it and keep it”, a command God nowhere repeated to Eve.  I suspect that’s because it was Adam’s purpose, while Eve had a different purpose.

Besides glorifying God, “to cultivate it and keep” the Earth is the purpose God intended for Adam.  We’ll go much deeper into Man’s purpose in the article after next.  (We need to discuss some more biology and the interplay between the sexes more before we delve into the husband’s role.)

 

Eve’s Purpose

While God gave Adam and Eve the same commands, the stated purpose for their creation is different.

Genesis 2:18

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

 

Adam’s purpose was to “cultivate and keep” the garden (the Earth).  Eve’s purpose was two-fold:

  1. Make sure Adam wasn’t alone.
  2. Help Adam.

Those two are Eve’s purpose; they are the reason she was created, as we saw in the article on the “why” of submission in marriage.

 

God’s Command to both Adam and Eve

Genesis 1:15-18

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

Here are the commands:

  1. Be fruitful (have lots of kids)
  2. Multiply (have lots and lots of kids)
  3. Fill the earth (Have so many children you fill the whole earth)
  4. Rule over every living thing.

I’d like to point out, God repeated the command to have children three times.  Clearly, having children is important to God.

 

To summarize:

  • Adam’s purpose
    • Cultivate and keep the garden (Earth)
  • Eve’s Purpose
    • Help Adam
    • Make sure Adam isn’t alone
  • God’ command to both
    • Multiply and fill the earth (3x times)
    • Rule over every living creature. (Which we’ll ignore because it’s not relevant to this discussion.)

 

The Three Primary Roles for Women

(We’ll spend more time on the roles for men in the article after next.)

From the list above, we can extract the three primary roles God intended for women:

  1. Make sure man isn’t alone = get married.
  2. Help man = be a good (supportive) wife and help your husband however you can, including taking care of his home and raising his children.
  3. Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth = bear your husband’s children.

I’m not alone in this either.

I’m channeling God’s commands through the apostle Paul.  The context is about what to do with widows, especially younger widows.  I’ve yet to hear an argument that makes this verse inapplicable to other unmarried women.

1 Timothy 5:14 (BOS Bible)

14 Therefore, I strongly desire younger ones to marry, to bear children, to manage their household, and to give the one who opposes us no opportunity for slander on their account.

 

In a nutshell, those are a woman’s primary responsibilities.  Marry, bear her husband’s children, and help their husband however she can, especially by managing his home.

That isn’t the only place the Bible teaches this either:

Titus 2:3-5

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

 

Those are a woman’s primary roles.  However, the Bible never says they must be her only roles.  In fact, It directly infers the opposite.  Yet despite this, the primary roles are clear and should remain primary.

To any women reading this, those three things (marry, bear your husband’s children, and look after his household) should be your primary focus (second to God of course).  If you are a Christian woman who does those thing to the best of your ability, you should be able to look forward to hearing “Well done my good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your master.”

However, just because those things are your primary purpose, doesn’t mean they are your only purpose.

Just like men, women have gifts, talents, hobbies, and interests that they can – and should – pursue.  Never put them before your primary God-given roles, but absolutely pursue them! 

I venture to say most men aren’t after a mindless drone who makes babies.  We want a smart, talented wife who not only works hard, but plays hard and pursues her interests.  Don’t pursue them to the exclusion of your primary roles, but absolutely pursue them.

There are only a couple of requirements on women’s behavior in the scriptures.    As long as a woman falls inside the (broad) guidelines, she’s free to do whatever she wants… as long as she has her husband’s/father’s permission. (as we saw in the last article in this series)

 

Happy Moms

As a side note, at least one study says:

Stay-at-home moms’ happiness factor was another counterintuitive finding. In general, this was a very content group of 558 survey respondents, with one standout: Moms of four or more showed an outsized proclivity to be “very” or “extremely” happy. This was true despite the constant activity four or more children create and these families’ lower-than-average incomes.

 

Ladies, if you’d like to show an “outsized proclivity” to being very or extremely happy, marry and bear your husbands children (at least four).  Shocker: God set it up so women being obedient would lead to them being happy.  It’s almost like He loves us or something… 😉

 

What about working mothers?

Some wives want to work outside the home while taking care of their children.  However, that simply doesn’t work if you’re being obedient.

Titus 2:3-5

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

 

Notice, “workers at home” is specified.  Not outside the home, “at home”.  A wife/mother who wants to have a career isn’t keeping her primary roles primary.

Now, sometimes money is so tight a wife needs to get a job.  I’m not saying a wife should stay home and the family should starve.  I’m saying that wives/mothers who voluntarily work outside the home without a very good reason are being disobedient to God.

In fact, they are being rebellious.

To be clear: career women are failures in the eyes of God.

They are disobedient and rebellious.  They are shirking their primary purpose, and thus – in effect – giving God “the finger”.

And I want to be clear, I am not talking about an unmarried woman who wants to get married, she just can’t find a husband and so needs to support herself.  That’s a different story.   I’m also not talking about when money is so tight a wife might need a job to supplement her husband’s income to keep things afloat.

I’m not talking about that either.

I’m talking about a woman who intentionally chooses to focus on her career, especially when she has a husband and/or children.

Wives who choose to focus on having a career are rebelling against the command of God in scripture.

Women who choose to not even get married “for their career” are being even more rebellious, because then they can’t fulfill their purpose.

(And again, I’m not talking about a woman who wants to get married but can’t find a good husband and so needs to support herself.  That’s completely different. )

Further, there’s a practical issue with a wife working:  someone needs to take care of the kids.  If it’s not the mother, it’s typically daycare.

However, putting your children in daycare is shirking one of your primary duties as a mother: raising the children.

A woman letting someone else (the daycare workers) raise her children is shirking one of her primary roles.  It’s putting what she wants over what God commands. That means “daycare” isn’t a way for women to have a career and a family too.

If all of a woman’s children are grown, then certainly there’s nothing wrong with wanting to work… if your husband allows it.  But mothers of small children, especially toddlers and infants, belong at home raising those children.

(I’d personally argue that sending your kids to public school is letting the State raise your children, which is a bad idea.  They definitely will learn anti-biblical ideas/worldviews, and lately public school is more about political indoctrination that education these days… but I digress.  I absolutely do recommend homeschooling though.  It produces better outcomes for the kids in basically every area.)

 

What Women Must Do

(Excluding shared requirements like seeking God, behaving morally, etc.)

There are three clear requirements for women (wives) in the New Testament: (we covered these in the article on authority in marriage, so I won’t go over the Biblical reasons again.  See that article for explanation/proof.)

Wives must:

  1. Submit to their husbands in everything, just as the Church submits to Christ.  (Yes that means obey, and yes that means with a good attitude.)
  2. Revere their husbands at all times. (Revere means to “treat with devoted, deferential honor”.)
  3. Make her God-given roles a priority over pursuing other interests. (as we just saw)

Those are non-negotiable.

 

What Women Can’t do

Spoiler alert: there’s very little a woman isn’t allowed to do, assuming her father (if never-married) or husband (if married) allows it.  Women have a lot of freedom  As long as their primary roles stay primary and they follow the three rules just above.

However, there are a few things women aren’t allowed to do.

 

#1 – Women Shouldn’t have a position of authority over a man. 

To put a woman in charge of a man violates created order, as seen in 1 Corinthians 11, especially verses 9 and 10.  As we saw in a previous article, women have a “moral obligation” to be under male authority according to Scripture. (If you look at the Greek words; see the article for details.)  Putting a woman in charge of a man violates God’s created order, as you can see in the article on the Why of Submission in marriage.

Further – as we saw in the previous article – a man obeying a woman (Adam obeying Eve) was the sin that condemned all mankind to struggle with sin.  Repeating that would be a very bad idea.

That includes areas outside the church too. 

For example, women shouldn’t serve as elected officials because that puts them in a position of authority over men.  That would probably include her husband, which is a huge no-no.  Therefore, women don’t belong in governmental authority positions either.

This would apply to voting too, because voting is a leadership function in the sense of choosing leaders.  Women are supposed to be under authority, not electing it.  It wouldn’t make sense for women to vote either because they could only double their husbands vote obediently or nullify it disobediently.  Besides, we’ve already seen that women voting ruins a civilization.

In countries where women have the freedom to vote, a woman should ask her husband how to vote and then vote exactly as he instructs… whether she likes it or not.

 

#1.a – Can women be in an authority position in a business? (Or have male employees?)

This is an interesting question. If you look back at the Proverbs 31 woman, it says this:

Proverbs 31:16

16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 

Vineyards are a lot of work, and not the kind of thing you’d do without hired hands. However, there is no authority here.  The owner of the vineyard pays the workers to perform a service.  This is very little different from paying a hairdresser for a haircut. It’s a voluntary exchange: X amount of money for Y amount of work.

That’s not authority.

Fundamentally, what’s the difference between these two:

  • A woman paying a man to skillfully cut her hair
  • A woman paying a man to skillfully cut her grapes (pruning)

They’re both fundamentally the same.

If women can’t hire male employees, then they can’t get their hair professionally cut by a man either.

Remember, an employee is not required to obey.

He is voluntarily trading his time, skill, or services to get something in return.  At any point, he can cease providing the service and forego the pay.  The only exception is if he has a contractual obligation.  However – as we saw in the previous article – a woman’s husband has the authority to nullify his wife’s vows and “obligations by which she has bound herself“, which would include contracts.

Given that, I believe virtually all men would require her husband’s approval when singing the contract because they don’t want it nullified. At that point, contractual work becomes the purview of the husband, not the wife.  Therefore, she still wouldn’t have authority over a man.

(And even then, contracts are voluntarily entered into.)

Further, since the husband has ultimate authority over the wife, it’s the husband who the men ultimately answer to.  That makes it perfectly acceptable in my mind.  (Note: we’re talking about businesses ultimately owned by the husband; not jobs.  A woman being in authority over men in a workplace is very different and not acceptable.)

I see no problem with a woman hiring male workers or running a business…

But the primary roles MUST remain primary.

Any businesses, investments, or other projects shouldn’t prevent a woman from fulling her primary roles of wife, mother, and homemaker.  Many of those are time consuming, and therefore might prevent the woman from properly taking care of the household and children.  If they get to that point, it’s probably time to scale-back or quit.

Further, she must obey her husband in these other things, just like everything else.  So if he doesn’t like it and tells her to shut down her business, she needs to do it. (Even if it’s very successful.)

Again, a wife is free to pursue almost anything as long as she abides by the requirements and restrictions we’re talking about and she obeys her husband.  But again, her primary roles must remain primary.

 

#2 – Women Shouldn’t Teach Men in the context of the public teaching

(Example: a Sunday sermon or Christian conference)

As we will see in point 2.a, this is actually about authority, not learning from women.  As we’ve already seen in a previous article, women teaching men in the context of the church assembly is forbidden.

1 Timothy 2:12 (BOS Bible)

But I don’t permit a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over a man by acting without submission, but to be in tranquil silence.

 

And here’s the footnote on that verse.

“usurp authority…  …by acting without submission” is one word in Greek.  It comes from “autos” (self) and “entrea” (arms/armor).  It literally means to “take up arms yourself” and in earlier usage meant to kill.  1st century usage was more figurative and referred to “taking up arms” in the sense of rebellion against authority.  i.e. acting without submission in rebellion to a legitimate authority in favor of rebellious “self-authority” in the form of improper independence.

 

However, teaching and/or explaining in other contexts isn’t forbidden. I say this because of Acts 18:

Acts 18:24-26

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.

25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;

26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

 

The Greek word translated “explained” here is in the plural form, meaning both Priscilla and Aquila did the explaining.  Nowhere (that I’ve seen) does the Bible say a man can’t learn something from a woman.

I’ve never seen it.

In that verse you have a couple – which included the wife – teaching a man some things he had missed. Now, Priscilla might have been “merely” helping her husband explain and she kept mostly silent.  Perhaps Priscilla did most of the explaining and Aquila mostly kept silent.  We don’t know because the passage isn’t clear.

It simply doesn’t say.

So no sermons on Sunday and no other situations where women are in an official teaching position.  However, explaining/teaching in other contexts is permitted. (Please note this doesn’t apply to teaching boys, who obviously aren’t men yet.)

 

#2.a – “Why can’t women publicly teach men, but can elsewhere?

To be clear, it’s not because a woman can’t have something good to say (see the next point).  However, there is a huge problem in granting de facto authority to (female) teachers.

“De facto” is a Latin phrase that means “in fact”.  It refers to a practice that exists in reality, but often isn’t officially recognized by law, statute, or something similar.  When you put a woman up on stage to teach, what you’re saying is “everyone should listen to what she says.

That grants the woman who teaches de facto authority over everyone, including the men (a big no-no).

You might remember that Adam’s first sin – the sin that condemned all mankind to struggle with sin – was him “listening to” (obeying) Eve.  Having women teach sermons replicates a similar situation. Further, her husband would be in the congregation, granting her de facto authority over him.

Again, that’s a huge no-no. 

It’s okay in other contexts because the power dynamic is totally different. 

For example, if I’m talking to a woman and she’s sharing something she’s learned, there’s no authority conferred. Think of Aquila and Priscilla talking to Apollos.  They sat down with him to persuade.  There was no authority granted and no de facto authority either.

  • When a woman teaches a sermon, she is granted de facto authority. (repeating Adam’s first sin in the Garden)
  • When a woman tries to persuade a man outside of an “official teaching” context, there’s no de facto authority. (And therefore no problem)

Again, it’s about putting a woman in authority over a man. Giving her de facto authority over men by allowing her to teach is to repeat Adam’s first sin.

There’s one last thing we should talk about before we leave this general topic.

 

#2.b – A wife helping her husband by reverently providing him with advice or council is a good thing. 

She must obey (with a good attitude) if he decides not to listen.  But there are examples in scripture of women advising men wisely and being praised for it.

  • Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.  Notice her approach to David.  She didn’t rebuke him; instead she pleaded with sound, logical council in a reverent way.  David blesses her and calls her discerning for this in verse 33.
  • Samson’s mother offered sage council to her husband in Judges 13:21-23.
  • In proverbs 31, it says of a good wife that “The heart of her husband trusts in her”  and later that “she opens her mouth in wisdom“.

Clearly, women can – and should – reverently provide their perspective.

(We’ll talk more about this in a few minutes.)

On a personal level, I’ve learned not to ignore my wife’s sense about the “feel” of a room or situation.  She’s incredibly intuitive and notices things I don’t.  I value her opinion in these areas because I’m far more logical and miss those things.  I’ve learned when something about a situation doesn’t feel right to her, it rarely is.  That’s a great “help” to me, which is partially why women were created (to help men).

 

#3 – Women Must “keep it down” in the church assembly

We talked at length about this in a previous article, The Bible on Authority & Submission in Marriage. See that article for proof and details. (The sections on 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.)  Basically, women are instructed to “keep it down” and “learn with entire submissiveness”.  Instead of being loud, active participants, they should be there to listen and learn.

 

Obey the Biblical Restrictions, But Never Add to Them

As we’ll see in a future article in this series, prohibiting something God hasn’t prohibited is directly responsible for every social problem in the western world today. (Yes it relates to marriage.  It’s the “safeguard” that prevents women from gaining equal rights and thus destroying society.)

The Bible is clear on adding to God’s commands:

Deuteronomy 12:32

32Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

Deuteronomy 4:2

2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

Proverbs 30:5-6

5 Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

 

My personal favorite is a slight paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:4, turning an example into a command:

“Do Not Go Beyond What is Written.”

Don’t do it.

Don’t add to the commands of God.

Ever.

We’ve looked at the things a woman isn’t allowed to do.  The list isn’t long, but it’s important. Assuming she abides by those commands, she can do almost anything else (with her husband’s permission).

Don’t forbid women from doing things the Bible doesn’t forbid them from doing.

Ever.

Period.

Just don’t do it.

Her husband can forbid her from almost anything…

…but only her husband.

Teachers in the church should be careful not to go beyond what is written. A woman’s primary role should remain primary and women do have a handful of requirements/restrictions.  These should be taught in church because they’re clear from scripture. However, many churches put additional restrictions and limitations on women that the scripture doesn’t.  Man – especially the Pharisees – have done this since the Garden. (God said: “don’t eat”; Eve ‘quoted’ Him as saying: “don’t touch”)

Adding to the commands of God is a serious problem.

The church leadership doesn’t get to decide what a woman can or can’t do outside the things which are clear in scripture. If a woman wants to do something that she’s Biblically allowed to do and some church leaders don’t like it; tough. They have no say because that’s her husband’s call; not theirs.  (Though, I suppose they could go to her husband to try and convince him.)

 

What Women are allowed to do

Basically everything else, which is a lot.  We’ll mostly be concentrating on Proverbs 31, but we’ll touch on other verses too.

Proverbs 31:10

10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

This verse sets the tone for the following verses.  The things that follow are examples of what an excellent wife does. It doesn’t follow she must do all these things.  However, on this list are things an excellent wife certainly can do.

Verses 11-12 talk about how she supports her husband:

Proverbs 31:11-12

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

 

Verses 13-15 talk about her role in managing the house. (wool and flax were used to make clothing, which was traditionally the woman’s role before modern times)

Proverbs 31:13-15

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.

14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.

 

Notice the first things on the list are husband and household, which makes sense considering we’ve already discussed a woman’s primary role is centered around her husband, children, and home.  The primary role is kept primary in Proverbs 31.

Afterward, other roles follow.

Proverbs 31:16

16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 

According to God, real estate investment is definitely on the list.  She definitely is allowed to earn money from it because it specifically says “her earnings”.  But I think it extends beyond investing into the marketplace and the world of business.  We can see this because she buys a vineyard, which was – and still is – a business.  Another verse indicates this too.

Proverbs 31:24

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

 

Not only does she invest in real estate, but she also makes and sells things, presumably at the market.  That sounds like an excellent wife can be a bit of an entrepreneur (assuming she wants to be and her husband allows her to be.)

Now, the primary roles must remain primary.

Further, she still must obey her husband.

Notice that while she’s doing investments and running a business, it’s assumed her husband ultimately has control of the money (because she still must obey him).

Proverbs 31:31

31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

Assuming she has permission from her husband (or father if unmarried), the sky seems to be the limit  as long as the primary roles remain primary, she reveres and obeys her husband, and isn’t in authority over men.

 

One of a Wife’s Most Important Roles: Modeling Obedience to The Father

Children are incredible mimics.

They copy almost everything around them, especially their parents.  They learn how to behave by watching how others in their life behave, especially their parents.  This is so self-evident that it’s one of the rare times where I don’t feel the need to cite sources. (If you need proof, have a child.)

Therefore, the way the parents behave on a regular basis is how the children learn to behave.

Consider that in the context of marriage.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Husband Head Wife Neck Gif

^Funny yes, but also unbiblical and the reason the Greek nation lost control of the world to Rome.

The sassy/sarcastic wife is very much in vogue these days.  It’s expected that the wife will “put her husband in his place” when he gets out of line. How about that memorable line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding:The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”  Quotes like that tell children that their mother – not their father – is  in charge.

I certainly thought that growing up.

My mother and father got a set of mugs one Christmas.  My father’s mug said “Rooster: I rule the Roost.”  My mother’s mug said “Hen: I rule the rooster.”

Think about what that tells the children.

Most wives have zero problem contradicting her husband – the children’s father – in a derisive way.  The children see that and in their brains wired to mimic will subconsciously think “Oh, it’s perfectly fine, even expected, for me correct and disrespect my father.

I can barely step outside without seeing a woman treat “her man” with derision.  Everywhere you go – even (or perhaps especially) in church – you see wives giving sassy wisecracks and jokes at their husband’s expense.  Then in the guise of good fun, they jokingly order their husbands around and the husbands comply.

Think about what that tells the children.

The children mimic this behavior because that’s what children are wired to do.  They learn that this sassy, disrespectful and disobedient behavior is normal.  If you wonder why children don’t behave these days, that’s half the reason. (The other half is poor discipline.)

Children must learn how a father should be treated somewhere.

They learn how a father should be treated by watching how their mother treats him.  If she treats him reverently as the Bible commands, they will mimic that. If she treats him disrespectfully or derisively, they will mimic that as well. Mothers provide a crucial example of how a father should be treated.  This example can be positive or negative depending on the mother.

Plus, this has a profound effect on their view of God the Father.

Right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate, children learn about their Heavenly Father by watching their earthly father.

It’s true.

  • If kids see their mother arguing with/ignoring/overruling their father, they’ll subconsciously learn it’s okay to ignore or disrespect their father…  Including God Their Heavenly Father Himself.
  • But if they see their mother obeying and revering their father, they’ll learn they have to obey and revere their father…  Including God Their Heavenly Father Himself.

It’s true.

Showing kids (by example) that it’s okay to disobey, disrespect, or deride their earthly father makes them think it’s okay to disobey, disrespect, or deride their Heavenly Father too. 

Women are actually teaching their children to disobey God when they don’t obey their husbands.  They don’t do it on purpose, but that’s what they’re doing.

But it gets worse.

Think about the derision that wives – even Christian wives – throw at their husbands.  It’s often done jokingly, but that’s even worse.  Women – even Christian women – have made fathers into a completely joke; an utter laughing stock in today’s society.

And they wonder why God The Father is a complete joke; an utter laughing stock in today’s society.

  • All throughout the Bible – Old Testament and New – we are told to revere the Lord.  (It’s usually translated fear, but I think revere is a better translation.)
  • Is it a coincidence that wives are told to revere their husbands… with the same Greek word? (Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:2; see the 4th article in this series for more details)

But it gets worse.

 

Remember: Marriage is a Picture of Christ and His Church

In this picture, the husband is analogous to Christ and the wife is analogous to the Church.

Think about that.

Think about what it says to children when they see their mother (his wife, who pictures the Church) bossing around, disrespecting, and often deriding her husband (who pictures Christ).  Really, truly, deeply think about what they will mimic when they learn that marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride (the Church).

It teaches everyone – especially children who mimic everything – that we can boss around disrespect, or even deride Jesus Himself. (or at least ignore Him)

Is that a lesson you want your children to learn? 

I certainly don’t.

Further, as we saw in the first article in this series, it destroys entire civilizations.  Yes, a woman back-talking to her husband can bring low a civilization not conquered by a million-man army. (The Greeks defeated Persia, but rotted from the inside out when they became egalitarian.)

To any women reading this: please rethink that biting retort the next time your husband says something you don’t like.  I don’t exaggerate when I say the fate of your country and your children’s faith – and thus their fate in the afterlife – may depend on it.

No joke.

 

But What About Abuse?

This is a big topic and one that deserves it’s own article.  Sadly, there isn’t space here for everything that needs to be said.  There will be a full article on divorce and the Biblical reasons for at some point.  For now, we’ll only look at the ones related to abuse, but realize there’s more to be said.

Essentially, this all boils down to one question: “How bad does it have to get before I can leave?

As far as abuse goes, here’s when the Bible says a woman can leave:

  • Her basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing, and sex aren’t provided for; aka Abuse via Neglect. This is based on Exodus 21:10-11 which says exactly that concerning wives.  (Notice, this verse also allows divorce if her husband refuses to have sex with his wife.)
  • He (intentionally) causes serious and/or permanent physical harm to her, or poses a threat to her life. This is based on Exodus 21:27, which speaks specifically of slaves.  However, I see no reason not to apply this to wives because the Hebrew word for “master” can be (and is) also translated “husband”.

So yes, a wife can leave if she’s being neglected in her basic necessities for survival.  Further, if a reasonable person would believe she’s in danger of serious bodily injury or death, she can leave. Additionally, she can leave if there’s actual, real, and serious physical abuse happening. How serious is “serious”?  that’s open to debate and a huge can of worms I’m not prepared to open right now.

(And don’t ask in the comments or via email; I won’t answer.)

However, when it’s not physically serious and there’s no threat to her life, I’ll refer to Peter’s words on the topic.

1 Peter 3:1-2

1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,

2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

 

That passage starts with “in the same way”, so we’ll back up a few verses to see what Peter was referring to.  (and again, this only refers to when it’s not serious or life threatening.)

2 Peter 2:18-25 (verse 25 is the end of the chapter)

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.

19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.

20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

22 WHO COMMITTED NO SINNOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;

23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

 

If a reasonable person would believe the woman is being neglected, abused, or injured in a serious and/or permanent way; and/or there’s a legitimate threat to her life, she can absolutely leave.  God does not require women to put – or keep – their lives in danger.

That said, abuse is a spectrum not a hard line in the sand.  I’m simply not prepared to draw a hard line in the sand on that spectrum and define where “serious” is.  Perhaps in the future, but certainly not now.  (and again, please don’t ask in the comments or via email what my definition of “serious abuse” is; I won’t answer because I’m not prepared to tackle that topic right now.)

 

But What if he tells me to do something that’s morally wrong?

You don’t have to listen.

Acts 4:18-20

18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;

20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

 

The story continues in the next chapter

Acts 5:27-29

27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them,

28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

 

If God says “don’t do XYZ”, and your husband tells you: “do XYZ”, you aren’t allowed to listen to your husband.  Your allegiance should be to God first and your husband second.  Just as all Christians are required to obey government unless they require immoral action, so too wives must obey their husbands unless the husband requires immoral action.

That said, this isn’t an exception you can use very often.

Very rarely will a woman need to choose between obeying God and her husband.  It happens, but not very often.

 

But what if I believe spanking our kids is wrong?

I bring this up because I know some men who get severe kickback (read “rebellion”) from their wives about spanking.  The Bible is clear on this topic.

Proverbs 23:13

Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 13:24

He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

 

Ladies, do you hate your children?

No?

Then stop fighting spanking as a legitimate form of discipline.  True, it can be abused.  However, excess by some isn’t an excuse to ban for all. This is doubly true when the Bible talks about it.

Growing up, my siblings and I got a spanked with a for only 2 things: dishonesty and rebellion.  My parents used a ~3/8″ thick bamboo stick. It hurt like you wouldn’t believe, but never left any injury of any kind; not even a bruise.  Because it hurt so much, dishonestly and rebellion were essentially non-existent growing up, and therefore spankings were very rare. (I can count on one hand the number of times I was spanked as a child. Also, everyone complimented our parents on how well behaved we were.)

Before each spanking, Pa would look me in the eye, calmly tell me what I did wrong, and then reminded me that they’d told me I would get spanked if I lied/rebelled.  Then came the spanking, and they would always hug/hold me afterward.

I never felt unloved because I was spanked.

Never.

Not even once.

Ladies, I know you don’t want to cause your child pain.  However, it’s better they learn with a bamboo stick now than with Law Enforcement later. If you remember from the first article in this series, children who grow up with a father – who is typically the primary disciplinarian – grow up to be better, happier, more productive, and more law-abiding people.

Don’t you want that for your children?

 

But what if my husband wants sex and I don’t feel like it?

You should have sex, but that goes both ways. (sort of).  The only place where God gives women authority over their husbands is sexually.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5

3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

 

So a wife is doubly bound to “fulfill her duty” to her husband.  Once because of his authority in general; twice because of his authority over her sexually.  A husband has every right to expect sex from his wife… just as a wife has every right to expect sex from her husband.

In fact, under the Old Testament Mosaic Law, a wife could divorce her husband if he refused to have sex with her on an ongoing basis. (Exodus 21:10-11)

So if he wants sex, a wife is twice bound to oblige.

Wives, let me be crystal clear: if your husband wants sex, you should oblige him in obedience/submission to both him and to God and have sex with him… with a good attitude… whether you want to or not.

Proverbs 5:18-19

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.

19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.

 

Likewise, a man can’t deny his wife on an ongoing, continuous basis.  However, neither is he obligated to have sex with her whenever she wants. (However, she is obligated if he tells her to.  Again, “wives submit to husbands as to the Lord”)  We won’t even comment on how much is “enough”.  It depends on health, libido, time, etc.  I will only say that husbands neglecting wives is a very bad idea.

 

But what if he wants me to do oral or anal sex?  They’re disgusting and I don’t want to.

Anal sex is clearly prohibited in Romans 1:26 if you read it in Greek. (Most Christians apply Romans 1:26 to lesbian sex when it’s really about men having anal sex with women.)  You can read my complete analysis in my article on homosexuality.  Further, anal sex carries large health risks for both parties, especially the penetrated person, including infection and possible tearing of the colon which could lead to sepsis and death.

Anal sex is specifically prohibited by the Bible.  Therefore, you don’t have to do it. Ever.

Oral sex though…

It’s spoken of positively in Song of Solomon, though euphemistically.  And he mentions both men and women giving/receiving.

Song of Solomon 4:16 & 8:2 (the woman speaking, ESV)

4:16 Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

8:2 would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother— she who used to teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate.

 

The only part of a woman’s body that could be called a “garden” is the area covered in pubic hair.  The reference to pomegranate makes sense if you’ve ever seen one split open; it bears a striking resemblance to a woman’s labia when engorged/aroused.  The “spiced wine” should need no explanation given the context, neither should the phrase “blow on my garden”.

Yeah, there’s stuff in the Bible that would make most Christians blush.

But Solomon doesn’t leave the men out either.

Song of Solomon 2:3 (ESV)

3 As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

 

(Note: some experts say the apple tree was a common euphemism for male genitalia in ancient middle eastern poetry.)

If you look at an apple tree upside down, the resemblance to a man’s penis, testicles, and scrotum are fairly unmistakable (at least in this context). Plus, “his fruit” could hardly be anything but his sperm/semen, of which the woman loves the taste.  The woman speaks of sitting “in his shadow” with great delight.  If a woman kneels to perform oral sex on a man, his shadow will naturally fall over her.

So anal sex, absolutely not. even if you both want to.   But he has the right to expect/command you to perform oral sex on him.  You can certainly enjoy it too if he’s willing.

Some women will say: “But what if he wants me to swallow?  It’s gross.”

Wives, you should swallow, even if you think it’s gross.  You can also reverently ask him not to make you do that.  But if he he tells you to anyway over your objections, then do.  Obey God by obeying your husband.

See the next point.

 

But What if he tells me to _____ (that’s not immoral) and I don’t want to?

You should do it.

Ephesians 5:24

24 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

 

Wives, you can either follow God’s command to obey your husband, or you can follow your own desires.  Following God vs following your desires is your choice, but choose wisely.  Rebelling against your husband is ultimately rebelling against God.

Romans 13:1 (BOS Bible)

1  Let every soul be submitted to the authorities over them.  For there’s no authority except under God, and those that exist were – and are – appointed by God.

 

Intentionally not obeying a legitimate authority is rebellion, by definition.  God is not fond of rebellion.  Perhaps that’s why God said:

1 Samuel 15:23 (NASB, this is Samuel rebuking King Saul)

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.”

 

This is what God thinks of divination/sorcery.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (NASB)

10. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,

11. or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

12. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.

 

And idolaters are in the same category as divination/sorcery.

Revelation 21:8 (NASB)

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

 

Rebellion is a serious sin.

Very serious.

Wives, obedience to your husband isn’t because your husband is perfect (he isn’t).  It’s because God commanded it.  I understand not wanting to obey him, but not wanting to obey God (by obeying your husband) doesn’t mean you can ignore Him without consequences for you and your children.  You are free to do what you want; you aren’t free of the consequences…  both in this life and the next.

Husbands, don’t you dare abuse the authority you have.  Make sure you treat her with honor or you will answer to the Almighty God Himself for your actions.

 

But What if he says we’re going to _____ and it’s a horrible idea!?

Unfortunately, men can be pig headed and get rotten ideas stuck in their heads sometimes (as women can too).  In these cases, scripture is clear:

Ephesians 5:24

24 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

 

Wives, do you know what’s even worse than following your husband into a terrible idea?

Disobeying God.

That’s worse…

…Much worse. (as we just saw)

Now, you definitely should say something in a reverent way.  Follow the example of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.  As we’ve already talked about, women are lauded for giving their husbands sound council.

However, there’s a right and wrong way to do it.

Go to your husband reverently and without an attitude.  Then tell him you’ll trust his decision and follow his lead whatever he chooses.  Then calmly and respectfully explain why you think it’s a bad idea.

(Note: I’m working on an article about how women can speak “male”.  It will help in all areas of communication, but especially this one..)

Men: hear your wives out when she has an objection.

You do not have to follow her advice.

But hear her out anyway.

I’m not saying you need to follow her advice, because you don’t.  However, she is your wife and the loving thing to do is hear her out when she objects.  By “hear her out”, I mean giving her your undivided attention when she’s worried a decision is a bad idea.

She might have a legitimate – and/or brilliant – objection you hadn’t thought about.  She might also have the silliest objection on the planet, or even one based purely on emotion.  Either way, you won’t know unless you hear her out. Further, I can 100% guarantee she will feel more loved – and probably better about the decision – if you hear her out.

Good generals always make time for their advisors and hear what they have to say (even if they don’t change their plans).

Be a good general of your home and hear her out, even – and perhaps especially – when you decide not to follow her advice..

Ladies: if he decides to continue with the idea you think is horrible, follow him with a good attitude and support him however you can.  That’s what God Himself commanded you to do.  You are not responsible for the outcome; that burden lies on your husband’s shoulders.  You are responsible to be obedient to God by obeying your husband.  If you do that, you’ll come out blameless before God, even if your husband makes a foolish choice.

Now, I will add an exception for something which puts lives in danger.  Again, read about Abigail in Judges 31 for more information.  However, in America today that’s a very rare exception.

 

What about when he won’t lead?

Some men won’t take the lead even when it’s offered, or are very hesitant to.  In this case, the solution is rather easy.

Act like he’s the leader anyway.

For example, ask him what he wants to do when there’s a decision to be made.

  • If he makes a decision, great.
  • If he doesn’t want to make the decision and tells you to make it, great.  His decision was to let you decide.  Perhaps not ideal, but obey him by making the decision.
  • If he procrastinates terribly – especially if he’s worried about making the wrong choice – some subtle encouragement can work wonders.  Tell him you trust him to make the decision and will follow his lead no matter what he decides. That can work wonders in a man’s confidence, which is often the problem when procrastination is in play.
    • Also, maybe offer some thoughts/advice/perspective in a gentle, reverent way.  Talk about it with him

A reluctant leader is still a leader.  It’s not your job to make him lead.  Your job is to obey/submit to him even when he’s reluctant to lead.

 

Conclusion

We’ve covered the three primary roles of women and the reasons for them.  To that, we added a few more items based on Scripture.  Women should:

  1. Marry
  2. Bear their husband’s children
  3. Help their husband however they can, especially managing his household and raising/caring for his children
    • Do Revere their husband, which means treating him with “devoted deferential honor
    • Do obey their husband in everything, immoral acts excepted.
    • Don’t be in authority over a man
    • Don’t teach men publicly, as a pastor or speaker might.
    • Don’t be loud or intrusive in the church assembly, but rather “keep it down” and learn

You might notice this list is long on broad generalizations and short on specifics.  There’s a reason for that.  Life is complicated and messy sometimes.  What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for others.  The Bible gives some clear guidelines, but leaves the specifics to us because life is messy and unpredictable.

 

In the next article in this series, we’ll examine what men and women really want in the opposite sex. It flies in the face of everything you’ve ever been told.  However, it makes so much sense and is backed by mountains of data.  It will also explain almost everything you need to know about the relationships between the sexes, and also why nice girls fall for “bad boys” all the time.

It will also provide some crucial context for a man’s role in society and marriage, which we’ll talk about in the article after that.

Stay tuned.

Marriage Series Index:

  1. How Getting Marriage 'Wrong' Destroyed Every Great Civilization in World History
  2. Gender Differences and the Biology of leadership
  3. The “Why” Behind God Telling Wives to Submit to their Husbands in Marriage
    1. Does 1 Corinthians 11 Require Women To Wear "Head Coverings"
  4. The Bible on Authority & Submission in Marriage
  5. Does God View Women as the (Social/Political) Equals of Men?
  6. Biblically, What’s the Role of Women in Society and Marriage?
  7. Follow up articles coming...
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