I recently read something recently that caused me to start thinking about not only the role but the behavior of a woman and in particular a wife according to God's plan. Often when this subject is brought up, a lot of people get this visual image of a quiet, timid little woman dressed in gray from head to toe (and perhaps barefoot, pregnant and sporting a bun), who works unceasingly in her home, rarely leaving the kitchen except to clean the house and put the children to bed. She quietly hovers close to her husband, waiting in anticipation to hastily fulfill his commands, his wants and his desires before retreating back into her corner. She thinks only what he thinks. She does only what he says. Her purpose in life is to fulfill his needs and bear his children. As for her needs, her hopes, her dreams, she has none.
I wish I could say that this was not an accurate picture of how some women live and heartbreakingly enough, some of those women are even convinced this is how God wants them to live. They have confused submission with being dominated and downtrodded and it breaks my heart that the very Word of God has been used to justify this brutish behavior toward so many women around the world.
I would like to start out by saying that the Bible does not tell a woman to submit to every man. It tells her to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). In that same passage further on, the instruction is also given to a man to love his wife but more about that later.
In our daily lives, all of us, both male and female, submit to others as well as things. Submission is a choice. We weigh the consequences of failing to submit as well as the consequences of submitting and act accordingly. For example, if your boss tells you that chronic tardiness is grounds for letting you go from your position, you make a decision as to whether or not you want to submit to their rules even if you prefer to saunter in two hours late. If you wish to keep your job, you submit and force yourself to show up on time. If you do not wish to keep your job, you either ignore them and get fired or you start looking for a job that requires you to start at 11 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Submission is a choice.
A wife must choose to submit to her husband and to tell you the truth, this is not a one time deal nor is it always easy. After 34 years of marriage, I can tell you that my husband can make some very bad decisions as well as some very good ones and yes, I defintely can say the same thing about myself. Here is how it is supposed to work.
Wives, we need to first of all be praying for our husbands. You see, God ultimately holds him responsible for all the decisions he makes not only in regards to himself but the decisions that affect the wife and children God has placed under his care. Do we realize what a fearsome responsibility that is? If you don't believe me, read Genesis 3 and note God's reaction when Adam attempted to place the blame on Eve. God did not let Adam get away with pointing the finger solely at his wife. He needed to be a man and take responsibility for his own actions. Husbands desperately need our prayers! How can we possibly expect our husbands to properly care for and provide for us, how do we expect them to make wise decision if we fail to pray for them?
They also need our support 100%. My husband and I know a young man who has done two tours of duty in Afghanistan and not surprisingly he has developed PTSD due to the things he has experienced. Recently I learned that he has been approved for a service dog. One of the things this dog will do is walk behind him. Why? Ever hear the phrase "I've got your back?" He explained to me that in combat it is important for a soldier to know that there is one of his comrades in arms behind him rather than the enemy. The enemy can't just sneak up behind him, he has to go through his friend first who will fight not to just protect himself but for his fellow soldiers as well. A man needs to know that someone has his back and in a marriage that person is supposed to be his wife first and foremost. Yes, it is good if there are other "soldiers" but she is the closest in proximity, she is nearest his heart.
Yes, he may ignore wise counsel. He may make bad choices but at the end of the day he needs to know that no matter how bad things get, no matter how big of a mess he made, there is someone standing next to him who is not going anywhere. She loves him no matter what and she will do whatever she can to help him make it through the storm, pick up the pieces, clean up the mess or whatever. He is not alone. God gave him someone who has his back.
A wife must never, ever bad-mouth her husband. Never. This is not to say that she is blind to his faults. She is aware of them but she is more aware of his strengths. She can discreetly let others who care about him know when he needs extra prayer support but she needs to be wise in who she shares with and careful in what she shares. It must never be done in a critical manner. Never. He doesn't need "friendly fire".
I have an image in my mind that illustrates, for me, exactly who I am supposed to be as a wife. It is the imagine of my husband standing in a room and facing me after he had suddenly lost his job after 27 years. To get the full impact of this, you must understand that over the course of the preceding five years, his wife (me) had been diagnosed with breast cancer, gone through chemo and radiation, been on short term disability, had a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke, lost her job, was declared permanently disabled and we were jumping through all the hoops that go along with getting long term disability. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel and then he lost his job.
All he could think of was me. That was apparent because before collapsing, he had cried out to God in angony. What was going to happen to not him but his wife? The belief that he had failed to protect me was too much for him and that was when he began to fall to the floor. He never hit the floor...
I cry everytime I think or write about this incident because you see, I really do believe that this illustrates God's plan for women, not just as wives but as mothers, daughters, sisters aunts, grandmothers and friends. I flew across the room (no small feat for me) and got between him and the floor. My knees buckled a bit under his dead weight and I had to stand there a few moments before attempting to lift him up again. Then with all of his weight upon me, the two of us just stood there for awhile.
My turn to be held up would come later and they would be far more frequent but in this moment, I understood why I was still alive and why I was not in a nursing home somewhere. In this moment, I needed to be right where I was, by my husband's side.
Being a wife is not behaving like you are a mindless drone doing nothing but household chores day after day, afraid to say or do anything lest your husband be "displeased". It is not about remaining silent when you fear he is about to make a terrible mistake or make a bad choice. It is not about having no opinion or feelings of your own nor is it about never having any ambitions or dreams. It is about having your husband's back, being a help rather than a hinderance and faithfully standing between him and the world. It is about having his back and doing whatever that entails. Yes, that certainly can mean having a physically peaceful and calm refuge for him to retreat to but the emotional support is so much more.
Do women need the same? Absolutely but that is the subject for another blog.
The story about the service dog is just a wonderful example to illustrate your point. That is exactly what is needed.
As for the bad-mouthing - I wholeheartedly agree. Of course, there are times when a woman (or a man) needs to speak out or get out. However, there is a very clear-cut difference between that scenario and the banal, eye-rolling, disparaging remarks which sometimes pass for humour or 'friendly banter'. It really makes me uncomfortable to hear that - you're spot on about the friendly fire, as this can be really destructive. Much more, I think, than folks realise.
God bless, and thank you for this blog
A wife must never, ever bad-mouth her husband. Never. This is not to say that she is blind to his faults. She is aware of them but she is more aware of his strengths.
SHOUT THIS Loudly! And for a long time!
Nothing aggravates me more than women bad mouthing their men. OK, yes, there is one thing that aggravates me more. That is when females bad mouth men in general. Them's fahghtin' words! If you take the Christian out, I'll side with a man every time. Women are awful. Putting Christian back in, there are many women I love. Take it out... I strongly dislike women as a gender.
Excellent blog about a Christian marriage.