As we turn our attention to the woman in the marriage relationship, we do so recognizing that what God actually has to say about her position and function within the family has been under tremendous attack. My heart goes out to the godly woman in the marriage relationship – a woman whose price is “far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10). Her invaluable contributions to society are not recognized and appreciated by those in the world and are becoming less and less appreciated by those in the church. She is, however, a woman whom God calls “blessed” and worthy of praise.
1 Peter 3:1-6 tells us, “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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”
The woman’s place in the marriage and in the home can be summarized by the word “subjection.” It is, first and foremost, subjection to the will of God and His will is that she be in subjection to her husband. The husband also must be in subjection to the will of God, and it is His will that the man be the head of the family. In Ephesians 5:22-24 Paul wrote, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” In the marriage relationship the man cannot abdicate his position of headship; nor can the woman usurp that position and still be in subjection to the will of God.
This position of subjection does not mean that the woman in the marriage relationship is secondary to the man. It does not mean that she is less important than the man, less skilled than the man, less intelligent than the man. It does not mean that she is “less” anything in God’s eyes, with the exception of being physically weaker. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:7, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Being physically weaker, it is God’s will that the husband treat her with honor or great care. Shame on any man who would ever raise his hand in anger against his wife and strike her with it!
The position of subjection is one of function. The man and the woman are equal in God’s eyes. Speaking of salvation, of being “in Christ”, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). However, each has a different role to perform.
The true beauty of a woman in the marriage relationship is not seen merely by looking at her physical appearance, although she does take care of herself; it is seen by who and what she is. She adorns herself with that which is truly beautiful, a meek and quiet spirit. Manifesting that meek and quiet spirit, she exerts a tremendous influence for good upon her husband. Oh, that women of today could understand that! Being the godly wife that God desires is not being a mousy nobody who exists for no other purpose than to fulfill every whim of her husband. She is to be a “help meet” for him. She was created from him and for him, and they perfectly complement each other. Peter even made the point that if she should be married to one who is not a Christian, one who has not yet been touched to the point of obedience by the Word of God, he may very well be won for the Lord by the wonderful influence of the good and godly life he sees his wife lead.
As was the case with the husband, so it is with the wife. It is within the marriage relationship that God has placed the blessing of physical intimacy. In 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 the mutual nature of this aspect of the relationship is clearly taught. Paul wrote, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 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. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” The wife has the responsibility to “fulfill her duty” to her husband in this sense, just as the husband has the responsibility to “fulfill his duty” to his wife. This aspect of the marriage relationship must never be used as a weapon by either party.
More to come….