TRUE BIBLICAL MARRIAGE
“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything
to work toward something good and beautiful when we love
Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”
As the above scripture in Romans 8:28 of the Voice Translation says, we must live according to God’s plan in order to have “something good and beautiful” in our lives, including, of course, an exciting and fulfilling marriage.
The problem is that very few professing Christians understand what this entails, specifically, the divinely appointed roles of husbands and wives. In fact, in a poll taken among professing Christians only 19 per cent of the respondents believed the Bible’s teachings on the subject are “very clear and plainly understood.” This ignorance helps to explain why the divorce rate for professing Christians is as high as non-Christians — if not higher! It’s become quite obvious that something is radically wrong with today’s Christian marriages. So it is no wonder that a large percentage of professing Christians believe that their leaders need to speak out on proper roles for men and women.
Today, the role of a truly Christian woman is often thought to be very submissive and entirely focused on being an obedient wife to her husband, almost as if that was her one and only duty. Not surprisingly, the husband’s role as the “head” of the wife is often thought to be very strict and domineering — considered by some to even have unlimited authority over their wives (based on Ephesians 5:24). These false notions of a true biblical marriage are based upon a very shallow reading of the scriptures, combined with very poor translations of God’s Word, and most important, a failure to examine ALL of the scriptures relating to marriage. Biblical doctrine is much like a jigsaw puzzle because without getting all of the pieces together we will have an incomplete picture. Then too, God’s Word really doesn’t say very much about marriage, especially when compared to modern books on the subject by professing Christian authors. So what God does say should be very closely and thoroughly examined, for it is extremely important for a proper understanding of this subject.
In this study of marriage we endeavor to unashamedly rightly divide God’s Word (II Timothy 2:15) by correcting the above deficiencies and thus arrive at the true biblical marriage. With God’s leading it is really not that difficult — certainly not rocket science — but quite simple to arrive at the truth. It really is. Unfortunately, many professing Christians see only what they expect to see, what they want to see, what they’ve been told to see, what conventional wisdom tells them to see — rather than what is right in front of them, quite plainly in some cases. As someone has said, “It is very difficult to see what is right in front of one’s eyes.” Actually, it often takes a miracle from God.
And anyone who does uncover what the Bible actually teaches concerning God’s ideal marriage will find it so ‘radical’ by today’s standards that they may, understandably, hesitate to believe it, much less apply it to their marriage. Indeed, you the reader may ultimately end up not agreeing with my conclusions, but even so you will have to concede that I have offered much evidence in support of them, something that people frequently do not do. Ultimately, all of us have nothing to lose and much to gain by learning God’s truth and applying it to our lives.
God’s Ordained Roles for Husbands
An important part of the husband’s role in marriage should be obvious when we look at the assignment that Adam was given by God. For rather than creating Adam and Eve at the same time, which God could well have done, He first created Adam and explained to him the need to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, intending Adam to pass on this commandment of God to his wife. In other words, Adam, not Eve, became the first preacher of God’s word, for he told Eve that she shouldn’t even touch this tree (Genesis 3:3). Clearly, from the very beginning man was assigned by God to be the woman’s spiritual leader, i.e., her spiritual head as God’s spokesman. This involved not only teaching to his wife the Word of God, but living it by being a proper example, to “proistemi” (I Timothy 3:4,12). The Greek word “proistemi” is used 8 times in the Bible and is often mistranslated as “rule” rather than “lead” or “set a right example.” God means for husbands to take the “lead” in spiritual matters in the home and in the church through their teaching and their godly example. That is a major role of a husband and according to the apostle Paul it is indicated to be his role because he was created first (I Timothy 2:13) and he is less likely than the woman to be deceived (verse 14).
Secondly, Christ repeatedly emphasized that men were to have the disposition of servants — not rulers — but servants, even as Christ came to serve and to give (Mark 10:45; see also Mathew 20:25-28). He is a man’s perfect example! Likewise, the apostle Paul taught that “Those (men) who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 3:13; NIV). In closely examining verses 12 and 13 in the original language, one sees that Paul is speaking of service to one’s “own household,” not to a church as a deacon. Indeed, as many Bible expositors have rightly said, men are to be servant-leaders. (See also Mark 10:42-43.) Naturally, servants do not give orders, except of course to fellow servants below them or their children. However, in the Bible wives are never encouraged to take the role of servants.
The third major role of the husband, perhaps most important of all due to its emphasis by the apostle Paul, was for him to love his wife (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33; Colossians 3:19). Be her lover, even think of her (and others) as “superior” to yourself (Philippians 2:3; Concordant version). In describing love we read in the Bible that “love does not insist on its own way” (I Corinthians 13:5; RSV), meaning that a man filled with God’s love is submissive, he defers to others. This is what made King David so great, for he was willing to do everything that God wanted him to (Acts 13:22). Likewise, a godly husband will defer to his wife’s desires out of love for her. For if you love someone, you will do what they tell you to do (John 14:21,23). One could of course describe such a husband as being “meek,” which describes our savior Jesus Christ as well (Matthew 11:29), for he too was submissive and obedient. In fact, this important character trait, though denigrated by the world, characterizes God’s holy spirit (Galatians 5:23). One should also note the words of a famous philosopher who said, “when you love someone they do not belong to you, rather you belong to them.” This truth explains why Adam early on, speaking of his wife, said he was “her man” (Genesis 2:23; original Hebrew). But while a man is indeed commanded to LOVE his wife, Adam as we all know took it much too far by obeying her rather than God, which is not uncommon.
The Surprising Roles of a Godly Wife
Unlike husbands, wives are never encouraged in the Bible to love their spouses as that is not one of their primary roles. They are only instructed to be “fond” (phileo) of their husbands (Titus 2:4), which is based on their husband’s deportment. Nor are wives ever encouraged in the Scriptures to function as a servant in their home. That’s not their role either. Surprising, but true.
But what we find in the creation account concerning Woman’s creation is that God placed her and her husband in a position of authority over all the animal life, over every living thing of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26,28) — and it suggests that God gave her authority over her husband as well. The evidence for this lies in God’s progressive order of creation, which was from the inanimate, less important and less complex, to the most important and most complex things (Genesis 1:3-26). The first 2 days of God’s creation involved making non-living things. The third day involved His creation of living matter, grasses, trees, seeds, and so forth. The forth day involved His creation of the sun, moon, and stars. On the fifth day He created all manner of ocean creatures and birds. On the sixth day He created all manner of mammals and crawling creatures. Thereafter, on that same day, He created the first man. And then on that same day — last of all — God created His last and what might, therefore, be considered His greatest creation, a woman. In any case, with her being created even after Adam there is that strong suggestion.
Further evidence in Genesis of a woman’s preeminence is the fact that it was the woman — not the man — who first gave the orders. Eve essentially commanded her spouse Adam to obey her rather than obey God (Genesis 3:17). And he obeyed! Does this sound like the woman is the weaker sex? Yes, a man does have greater brute strength (I Peter 3:7), but that aside, the woman was, and arguably is, more powerful due to her captivating beauty and sexuality. The truth is, a woman is the most beautiful and pleasurable creature upon this earth! And she was created to be the man’s love object, the “glory of man” (I Corinthians 11:7), meaning his chief pleasure. All of this gives her tremendous influence over the opposite sex. As someone has wisely said, “The stronger sex is the weaker sex because of the weakness of the stronger sex for the weaker sex.” And God Himself is responsible for this, for not only making a woman (in many ways) the stronger sex, but for making her desirous of having control over her husband. From the very beginning this was God’s plan, as God Himself testified to Adam’s wife in Genesis 3:16:
“….and you will desire to control your husband” (see the New English Translation, the New Living Translation, and the Expanded Bible; also http://www.challies.com/articles/her-desire-his-rule) .
This is most remarkable and it bears repeating! From this verse we learn that it is normal for a woman to have a desire to control and subjugate her husband. This desire is from God! So it’s not at all evil, but rather we shall see that this desire of a woman is for a man’s GOOD as his Helper! It’s also quite normal for a husband to submit to his wife’s dominance. Indeed, if he truly loves his wife he will want to do whatever she says (assuming it is lawful). However, our mother Eve took her natural inclination to rule over her husband much, much too far. Her God-given authority did not extend as far as teaching God’s word and usurping the man’s spiritual authority, an edict that is especially true in church meetings (I Timothy 2:12), but flagrantly ignored today by many men and women. So both of our original parents — Adam and Eve — missed the mark by going to extreme, neither one of them giving evidence of having God’s holy spirit. The fact is, they didn’t have it. It wasn’t given out yet.
And as we look closely at what transpired, there is no reason to believe that Eve’s desire to get her husband to obey her was somehow implanted in her by Satan. Satan only suggested that SHE eat the forbidden fruit — nothing was said about her husband — only that she would not die from eating it (Genesis 3:4), which was a lie. But then in verse 5, Satan goes on to tell Eve the truth, “God knows that if you” (Eve) “eat the fruit from that tree, you will learn about good and evil and you will be like God” (not “Gods” as some translations read). Using the superior intuitive powers that God had given her she was able to confirm that what Satan told her was indeed true, that “the tree was good for food” (i.e., not poisonous, see verse 6), and that her eyes would be “opened” (which was true also, see verse 7)! Even what Satan said about her becoming godlike, “knowing good and evil,” was true (verse 22).
The point is that Satan never once encouraged her to get her husband to disobey God. No, that was entirely Eve’s idea and her doing, the result of her intuitive ability and her dominant personality — all from God and foreknown by God (Acts 15:18).
Of course this command Eve had given to her husband to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:17) was evil since she caused him to disobey God. After all, we all are to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Thus Eve was punished with increased pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) and along with her husband she was expelled from the Garden (Genesis 3:23-24). Adam no doubt reasoned that since he was not deceived (I Timothy 2:14), he never would have eaten the forbidden fruit except for Eve’s insistence, so he looked upon the whole thing as being her fault. Now when Adam first met his wife he was totally in awe of her and absolutely captivated by her. As we saw, he even felt like he belonged to her, announcing that he was “her man” (Genesis 2:23; original Hebrew), and initially demonstrated that he was more than willing to do whatever she said. He appeared, at least, to be the true “submissive sex,” which one could argue are males. But when God punished him for eating the forbidden fruit and cast them out of the Garden, Adam lost much of his love for Eve and not only blamed her, but perhaps God as well (Genesis 3:12).
So, like so many husbands do after marriage, he lost his passion and ardor for his wife and ceased to be a loving, submissive husband. Of course, Eve did not lose her God-given desire to be dominant in her marriage. So God informed Eve (in Genesis 3:16) that her husband would now be angry and domineering, focused primarily on his wants and needs rather than hers. In other words, a role reversal had come about and a battle of the sexes had begun with her the loser.
“…he will rule over you” (same verse).
God explained this to Eve because her husband’s autocratic rule in domestic matters was quite contrary to the true biblical marriage (Matthew 20:25-26). As we saw earlier, men were not to arrogantly “rule” over others, but to humbly teach, serve, and set a right example, which was, by the way, true in church affairs as well (I Peter 5:3). God only took her to task for eating the forbidden fruit and merely acknowledges in Genesis 3:16 that while she has this dominant nature, from this point on it would largely be dormant and inactive because Adam would no longer be the loving submissive husband that he had been previously. Being physically stronger, he was going to throw his weight around and rule over her (same verse). So with her no longer having much if any say in her marriage, Eve was left unhappy and frustrated, as many wives are in their marriages. Nevertheless, given the opportunity — by again having a submissive husband — she could of course regain her rightful position and more effectively become her husband’s helper.
A Man’s TWO Helpers: His Wife and His Creator
It is common knowledge among Christians that God created the first woman to be a “help” or “helper” for the man (Genesis 2:18, 20) and this term is commonly thought to be a subservient position — which, true enough, it often is in our society. But in God’s usage the opposite is true. The Hebrew word for “helper” in these verses is “ezer” and it is said to be used 21 times in the Old Testament and 15 of those times it is used to describe no less than God Himself! So the word “Helper” in the Bible suggests strength and authority — even sovereignty — certainly not a state of being weak, inferior and servile. The standard definition of the word “helper” in relation to one’s wife might have a great appeal to us lazy husbands who want someone to wait on us, but we have to look at things from God’s point of view. It makes much more sense that God means “to help” in the sense of rescuing, improving, even as we read in a dictionary:
“To contribute to the effectiveness or improvement of (something or someone); to improve or advance.”
After all, that is what salvation is all about, God is in the business of creating us, teaching us, correcting us, and building character in us. Why cannot God use women as well as men in this process? God in fact started this process back in the Garden through a woman, Eve (Genesis 3:22), using primarily her to make mankind more godlike, and “capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil” (Genesis 3:22; the Message). Of course, when one looks at the state of man and the condition of the world today, one sees a tremendous need for improvement. In fact, one could argue that men need to improve, in some ways, even more than women do. Concerning this subject of man’s improvement through a woman we have a scripture reference in the New Testament that focuses on this very thing: I Corinthians 11:9-10. Here is how these verses read in the better translations, in this case the Common English Bible:
“and man wasn’t created for the sake of the woman, but the woman for the sake of the man. Because of this a woman should have authority over her head, because of the angels.”
Note that a woman (as his wife and Helper) should have authority “OVER” her spiritual head (see also the Jubilee and Concordant Bibles). Note also that the woman was created “for the sake of the man.” And the meaning here of “sake” is “out of consideration for, or in order to help someone.” The chief reason for her existence is not as his personal assistant or servant, one to make his meals and wash his clothes. Rather she is principally for his character development by ruling over him (I Timothy 5:14) in such a way as to improve him, as well as to perpetuate the human race (same verse). Therefore the apostle Paul goes on to say in the better translations of verse 10 that “because of this a woman ought to have authority over her head” (her spiritual head being her husband of verse 3). And this makes perfect sense, since one in authority can accomplish much more in improving others than one without authority. Authority promotes compliance and harmony. This is why, for example, that God has given civil servants authority. But in the case of wives it’s domestic authority. God, as the Supreme Subjecter, desires to use women as well as men in His plan to teach humility and ultimately bring all of humanity into subjection (I Corinthians 15:28).
When you stop and think about it, there are an endless number of domestic decisions that have to be made every day in the home that have nothing whatsoever to do with God’s Word per se. These domestic decisions are to be made by the woman in a man’s life, by his wife. Therefore God has instructed us in His Word that women are to “marry, bear children, rule their households” (I Timothy 5:14; RSV). The Greek word translated “rule” is “oikodespoteo” and a great many translations and reference works I could name define it to mean “rule the household.” Furthermore, Weymouth’s version of this verse rightly paraphrases this verse to read “rule in domestic matters.” In other words, a wife is to be the “mistress of the house” (same verse; Rotherham’s and Young’s versions) concerning domestic affairs in the home. This is her sphere of authority and, by the way, this authority extends to sexual matters as well, as we read in I Corinthians 7:4: “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” (New American Standard Bible).
The above instruction in regard to the husband’s sexual authority over his wife must be understood in light of God’s repeated emphasis that a husband is to LOVE his wife, abiding by her feelings and wishes, and not his own. After all, a marriage is primarily a love relationship. So in this respect, a husband’s authority over his wife regarding sex is quite limited, unlike the wife’s authority over her husband, which is only limited by God’s instruction in His Word regarding sexual matters (to not commit adultery, incest, etc.). This scripture leaves no doubt that regarding sex “the husband is not the boss of his own body. It belongs to the wife” (same verse; New Life Version). She, the wife, is to be the source of all of his sexual pleasure and stimulus, and all forms of self-pleasuring is forbidden in a true, biblical marriage. Interestingly enough, the Bible’s Song of Solomon indicates that it is normal, perhaps even preferred, for wives to take the lead in sexual matters.
But plainly, a wife should obey her husband “in everything” applicable in God’s Word, as we read in Ephesians 5:24. In fact, this often overlooked scripture is the only verse in the entire Bible that essentially defines a husband’s sphere of authority, which is quite similar to that of Christ (verses 23-24). His authority lies in the written pages of God’s Word, even as Adam initially obeyed God’s word by ‘preaching’ to Eve! That is where a man’s authority lies, in repeating God’s Word. On the other hand, out of love for his wife a husband needs to submit and obey her in all domestic matters. Indeed, a wife has the authority to tell her husband that it’s time for him to take out the trash, help with the dishes, or to even paint their house pink. All of these and a multitude of other domestic affairs are under her realm.
A Biblical Example
God has not left us without a biblical witness as to how a true, godly marriage is to be run. A wife’s rule over her husband as well as her submission to her husband is demonstrated in Abraham’s marriage. While his wife Sarah was obedient to him in spiritual matters (I Peter 3:5-6), she was clearly dominant over him in domestic affairs — in one case even to the extreme of ordering him to “cast out” his son (Genesis 21:10). Being in the habit of obeying his wife, Abraham considered obeying her even in this — though her command was seemingly contrary to the best interest of his son (verse 11) and contrary to God’s law of love. With Abraham troubled by it all and not certain as to what to do, God intervened and revealed to him that Sarah’s desire (though appearing to be evil) was actually in harmony with God’s will and thus Abraham was to do as she said (verse 12). So in the end, this is a classic case in which obedience to one’s wife is obedience to God.
Mutual Submission as Master and Mistress
Indeed, “Sarah accepted Abraham’s authority when she called him master” (I Peter 3:6; Common English Bible), but God has commanded that you as a Christian husband are to “likewise submit by living with your wife in ways that honor her” (verse 7). And to honor one’s wife it would truly be perfectly proper for a husband to address his wife as “mistress,” as she is called in I Timothy 5:14 in the Young’s and Rotherham’s versions. This practice is even popular with some non-Christian husbands who have no knowledge whatsoever of the Scriptures. But they instinctively know things “by nature” (Romans 2:14), such as that it is quite appropriate to address their wives as “mistress”! And in doing so they are good examples for us. The bottom line is that if we as Christians fail to give the honor due to our wives by acknowledging and submitting to their authority, it could mean that God will not hear our prayers (I Peter 3:7). We need to understand that the principle of mutual submission between a husband and wife is taught more than once in the Scriptures, as we not only see it in a proper translation of I Peter 3:7, but as we also see in Ephesians 5:21, in which the context is likewise marriage:
“Submit to each other out of respect for Christ.” (Common English Bible)
“Yield to obey each other as you would to Christ.” (New Century Version)
“Place yourselves under each others’ authority out of respect for Christ. (God’s Word Translation; Names of God Bible)
“Be willing to obey each other. Do this because you respect Christ.” (International Children’s Bible)
Yes, out of our love for Christ we must be willing to “obey each other”! For mutual submission was taught by both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter, and we see in the Bible that “the witness of two people proves the truth about something” (see John 8:17; NIRV). That settles the matter!
Thankfully, putting this command of God into practice is not complicated, it’s just a matter of “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15); that is, distinguishing the wife’s domestic authority from the husband’s spiritual authority. In most cases it’s quite simple to do. But it does take some humility on the part of both husbands and wives to obey God by obeying their spouses (and thus terminating the battle of the sexes).
The Importance of Humility
Having humility is a huge subject in the Bible and — in God’s eyes — it’s of extreme importance. It is a character trait that we all must come to possess if we are going to have a true, biblical marriage. Even more importantly, we need a good supply of humility, just as an infant has, if we are going to obtain salvation (Matthew 18:3) and become “great” (verse 4)! But rest assured, God is able to humble everyone ultimately for we read that “all walking in pride He can abase” (Daniel 4:37). “He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man or woman” (same verse in The Message) and He uses EVIL in the process. Yes, that too is of God; indeed, “all is of God” (II Corinthians 5:18), including all the evil we see around us (Isaiah 45:7). God has given “an experience of evil … to the sons of humanity to humble them by it” (Ecclesiastes 1:13; Concordant version). Ever wonder why there is so much evil and suffering in the world today? There is your answer. In conjunction with this evil, God has given us a “body of our humiliation” (Philippians 3:21; Young’s version). So a major part of our experience of evil is to experience humiliation! In order to humble us!
Humility is something professing Christians do not always have and, frankly, don’t particularly want. You have probably never heard a sermon on the subject despite its extreme importance in our lives. Women, for example, upon learning of their domestic authority over their husbands in I Corinthians 11:10 may, as a result, become quite proud, for knowledge puffs up (I Corinthians 8:1). And such knowledge can indeed make a woman puffed up with pride. So the apostle Paul immediately reminds wives in the very next verse, verse 11 of I Corinthians 11, that “in God’s plan women need men and men need women” (New Living Version). In other words, women, like men, are not to think too highly of themselves. While not commanded to love (agape) their husband, they are commanded to “fear” their husband (Ephesians 5:33), meaning to have a very high regard for him because if he is a man of God he speaks for God using the scriptures, declaring what God has said. To defer to such a man takes humility on the part of a wife — more than Eve had.
Likewise, for a grown man to be as a servant or slave to his “little woman” takes a high degree of humility as well, more humility than many men have. This is particularly true if they are the tough, macho type of man. Furthermore, as reported in Christianity Today, misogyny tends to be prevalent in Christendom as well in our society. Even a famous evangelist considered it an “indignity” (his word) for a man to take orders from his wife, and, presumably, by a female boss on the job. Perhaps an even greater “indignity” is to lose one’s life at the hands of a woman (Judges 9:53-54), or to be disciplined and punished by a woman! On the other hand, in some religions and Christian circles it is considered quite acceptable for a man to punish his wife. However, would it really be right for a servant/husband to PUNISH his mistress/wife? Absolutely not! There is no biblical justification for that and it is totally unacceptable to God. God says that He will “repay” (Romans 12:19). “My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them” (same verse; New Century Version; the Expanded Bible). Indeed, punishment is in God’s hands. God repays.
As man’s Helper, God “punishes everyone He loves. He whips every son He receives” (Hebrews 12:6; New Life Version. They receive “lashes” (Luke 12:48). But a man’s wife, we must remember, is a man’s Helper as well. Thus she “watches over the affairs of her household” (Proverbs 31:27); she has domestic authority over her entire household, including her husband (I Corinthians 11:10); and she “rules” over her household (I Timothy 5:14). Believe it or not, having been designated by God as her husband’s Helper, God has given a wife authority over him that no other woman, man or organization has, and it includes a broad authority to “repay” (punish) her husband (Proverbs 31:12; New English Bible)! Aside from civil authorities, this is the very thing everyone else is forbidden to do! God commands us to NOT repay others, yet a wife can do this very thing!
The highly accurate Concordant version of the Bible puts it this way, she “requites” her husband (same verse). The Hebrew word here is shub and it is used in Genesis 50:15 where we read that Joseph’s brothers were fearful that Joseph would “requite” them for the evil they did to him! This word “requite” is connected with retribution, punishment and fear! Here is how Proverbs 31:12 reads in full in the Concordant version:
“She requites him with GOOD — and not evil — all the days of her life.”
The GOOD, The BAD and The UGLY
Today it’s not at all uncommon for a wife to requite (punish) her husband’s bad behavior with BAD behavior of her own — by complaining and being argumentative — which is often fruitless and most certainly contrary to proper conduct within a marriage. This bad behavior God highly disapproves of, among husbands as well as wives (Philippians 2:14). By not requiting their husbands with what God’s Word calls GOOD, many a wife allows their husband’s unloving actions to build up frustration, resentment and anger within her until she explodes and does some serious harm to her husband and their marriage. This is the “evil” requital spoken of in Proverbs 31:12. And it can get really UGLY.
Then there is the “good” requital. The “good” requital spoken of in this verse involves punishing her husband in a manner as God does. Remember, a wife has been designated by God as a man’s Helper just as God Himself is a man’s Helper. And God “punishes everyone He loves” (Hebrews 12:6) in various ways, according to the circumstances. He can, and often does, use physical pain. Likewise, when a wife punishes her husband by causing him physical discomfort or pain she is requiting him with GOOD, it’s GOOD because “physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart” (Proverbs 20:30; in the New Living Translation). Thus she will do it “all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12). In a most profound way she is imitating God, believe it or not! And on the husband’s part, when he submits to his wife’s discipline he is imitating Jesus Christ, his supreme example (I Peter 2:21). Unknown to many professing Christians is that suffering is an important part of a godly man’s calling (same verse). To experience suffering from some form of discipline from one’s wife, be it severe or mild, is actually a honor to be welcomed by a godly husband. And it is quite popular today even among many non-Christians. In fact, they sometimes put professing Christians to shame.
(#1) So the first reason for a wife to discipline her husband — in a manner of her choosing — is simply to mollify her when she is angry or resentful at her husband’s failings. And it is a good and a proper retribution. She does him “good” (Proverbs 31:12).
(#2) There is another reason within God’s Word for a wife to discipline her servant/husband. We read of it in Proverbs 29:19, which reads, “For a servant, mere words are not enough — discipline is needed. For the words may be understood, but they are not heeded” (New Living Translation). Yes, God says “discipline is needed”! There must be rules for both the husband and for the children. Establishing these rules in the home and enforcing them through various punishments is an essential and important part of a godly wife’s role as the ruler of the home and as her husband’s Helper. A wife’s family, including her husband, can learn obedience through suffering — after all, even our Savior Jesus Christ “learned through His sufferings to be obedient” (Hebrews 5:8).
We husbands need to recognize that while our wife is a “weaker vessel,” we need to dwell with her, as the apostle Peter says, “according to knowledge” (I Peter 3:7), knowledge that God has given her authority over us, and that we need to gain knowledge of all of her personal likes and dislikes in order to be pleasing unto her. This is most important! For failing to honor our wife in this manner may well result in God not hearing our prayers (same verse)!
(#3) The third biblical reason for discipline is to discourage extramarital affairs and keep the family together: “The reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman” (Proverbs 6:24; Revised Standard Version). This command from God concerns evil influences OUTSIDE of the home and an explanation here is needed: Let’s step back for a moment and consider the world in which we live. Who is the greatest influence on the world’s inhabitants? Is it God and Christ? No, definitely not. The greatest influence on the world is Satan the devil, the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), who works by using his “angels” (or “messengers”) as he doesn’t work alone. They influence our government leaders, religious leaders, leaders in medicine, in entertainment, on down to the common street walker. In other words, “the whole world is under the power of the devil” (I John 5:19). Their influence involves the attainment of power, piety, health, wealth, and pleasure — including drugs and sex. Satan’s angels are involved in all of these things and more, and they are powerfully persuasive, especially when coupled with a beautiful woman. We read that “many strong men have been slain by her” (Proverbs 7:26). To protect the family from such a woman and her Satanic influence, the apostle Paul writes that a wife ought to have authority over her husband “because of the angels” (I Corinthians 11:10). Armed with this authority, a wife is able to discipline her husband regularly, if need be, and have greater influence over him than the world and its evil angels.
CASE IN POINT: Had the ancient King David of Israel a dominant wife who “watched over the affairs of her household” (Proverbs 31:27) and practiced corporal punishment on a as-needed basis, no doubt he would never have been led astray by Bathsheba. But being King and having wives that were probably more his servants than anything — and probably none of whom he greatly loved — he had the freedom and latitude to do pretty much as he pleased. The sight of a naked or near naked Bathsheba bathing greatly aroused him, so much so that lust and a demonic influence took hold of him for a period of approximately a year, during which time he committed adultery and murder. Here was a King of Israel, a valiant man of God, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and a man who loved God’s law (Psalm 119:97). Now how could such a man become so hopelessly ensnared by a woman for such a lengthy period of time, except “because of the angels”? This has to be the best explanation. Nevertheless, as the apostle Paul has revealed, a highly influential and dominant wife that has God-given “authority over her husband” (I Corinthians 11:10) can protect her husband and her family in a way no one else can — including from the evil “angels” and demons of this world (same verse). Similarly, a godly, spirit-filled husband can protect his wife and family from “doctrines of demons” by giving them proper instruction in the Word of God by teaching them what it really says rather than merely following traditions.
“The Spirit says clearly that in later times some believers will desert the Christian faith. They will follow spirits that deceive, and they will believe the teachings of demons” (I Timothy 4:1; God’s Word Translation). “These people will speak lies disguised as truth” (verse 2).
“But the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some in the church will turn away from Christ and become eager followers of teachers with devil-inspired ideas” (same verse; The Living Bible).
(#4) Actually, in God’s Word there is even a fourth reason for a wife to discipline her husband. And it’s a biggie. It’s the same reason that God had Saul blinded for three days (Acts 9:8-9); the same reason the apostle later received a “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7); it’s the same reason that all the males of ancient Israel, young and old, had to be circumcised to be accounted a member of God’s church in the wilderness. Through this painful process the males were, symbolically at least, no longer considered “stiff-necked” (Deuteronomy 10:16; Acts 7:51), meaning they were no longer stubborn and arrogant, but now accounted as submissive and humble. And who made the males submissive and humble by means of this painful operation? In many cases, if not most cases, it was the women in their lives (e.g., Exodus 4:25). This is further indicated by a comparison of Joshua 5:8 with Mark 10:13. In both of these scriptures the word “they” logically refers to women and/or mothers! It was through the pain and suffering these women inflicted upon their males that the males were humbled. In fact this is an important principle of the Bible: to be “afflicted” is to be “humbled”! It’s the exact same Hebrew word (anah). For example, we read that when Delilah began to “afflict” Samson (Judges 16:19; KJV), she began to “humble” him (same verse; Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible). It’s the same thing in God’s eyes! Likewise, when a wife is disciplining her husband she is humbling him!
In fact, when you stop and think about it, all of the suffering of humanity throughout the ages has its origin, humanly speaking, in ONE person — a woman! For it was a woman named Eve who caused first her husband — and then everyone else — to know through experience both good and “EVIL”! And it truly seems that of all humans, God has principally intended a man’s wife to teach him humility, this extremely important character trait. Establishing her dominance and control in the home through various forms of deprivation and corporal punishment are among her methods to achieve control of the home, as well as her lovemaking and maternal love.
MORAL OF IT ALL: “The wise woman builds her house on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives. But the foolish one who lacks spiritual insight tears it down with her own hands by ignoring godly principles” (Proverbs 14:1; paraphrased in the Amplified Bible). And it is the wise husband who properly teaches “the wise woman” to properly build her house and make it a truly Christian home.
We all know this.
We all know that in all segments of society, whether one works in a factory, an office, a store, whether for the government, for a commercial enterprise, or for a private party, there has to be someone in charge. There also must be consequences for slackers and misbehavior, perhaps even including a loss of employment. Common sense, therefore, should tell us that the most important segment of our society, being a family — particularly a Christian family — should have a spiritual leader (or “head”) and a domestic ruler (such as the wife). It too should employ some form of discipline for all of the members of the family. Otherwise, how can such a “ruler” successfully “rule” her household as commanded in I Timothy 5:14? A wife, therefore, must take over where her husband’s mother left off, which not only means loving him, but employing either some form of corporal punishment to her husband, or, at the very least, limiting her husband’s privileges.
” Taking over where her husband’s mother left off “?
The above principle is not specifically stated in the Word of God, but it certainly appears to be part of the ideal marriage God wants us to experience. For much like a boy’s mother, a wife has been given domestic authority over her husband in which she can teach, command, and discipline him. And he in turn is obligated to submit to her, “cling” to her (Genesis 2:24), and even be nursed by her (Proverbs 5:19; original Hebrew). It truly is much like a mother/son relationship. It’s also interesting to note that no less an ‘authority’ than Freud felt that mothering “is probably a necessary ingredient in any successful marriage.” And we read in “What You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Sex,” by Dr. David Rueben, that “for a man, the closer his wife comes to being his ‘ideal mother’ the happier he will be” (page 212). Now a man might object to submitting to all of this feminine control and influence by thinking it “unmanly.” After all, has not the apostle Paul urged us males to be “manly” in I Corinthians 16:13? But manliness in the Bible is defined as to “Stand firm in the faith” and “Be staunch” (same verse), and do everything “in love” (next verse). So quite clearly, Paul’s exhortation to be manly has nothing to do with traditional macho qualities. In fact, in some respects quite the opposite is true. We read in Matthew 18:3 how Christ stood a child in the midst of his disciples and warned them — and all of us — that unless we become as such a one (in humility) we cannot enter His kingdom.
“The truth is, you must change your thinking and become like little children. If you don’t do this, you will NEVER enter God’s kingdom.”
“By no means,” the Concordant version reads — no, not if you want to live and reign with Christ in His Kingdom. And to emphasize this uniquely valuable character trait, Christ went on to say that “the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child” (Matthew 18:4; Good News Translation). “Humbles himself and becomes like this child”? “This child” that Christ spoke of was an infant! It was so young that its gender was unidentifiable and could not even stand up by itself! Notice also that God’s people are likewise compared to “newborn babes” (I Peter 2:2; Matthew 11:25) and it is to these “babies” and “infants” that God reveals His truths to (Matthew 11:25)! But the main thing that characterizes these “new creation(s) in Christ” (II Corinthians 5:17), these “babies,” is as Christ said, humility. Humility is the fundamental and indispensable character trait for the conversion of men and women and it is the necessary ingredient for all husbands and wives to have for the best possible marriage, the true biblical marriage. Now if God can humble Himself (Psalm 113:5-6), and Christ can humble Himself (Philippians 2:8), cannot we also?
“I have made everything; that’s how it all came to be. I, the Lord, have spoken. The people I treasure most are the humble — they depend only on me and tremble when I speak” (Isaiah 66:2; Contemporary English Version).