The following are our notes from a bible study on the Biblical Role of Husbands and Wives. It is good place to start for understanding God's awesome original plan for husbands and wives.
Commonalities between Born-Again Husbands and Wives:
- Born again husbands and wives have equal standing in Jesus Christ:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:28-29*
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17
All who are born-again, men and women, husbands and wives, are born-again with the same spirit of Life that is in Christ Jesus. Spiritually they are equal because they are both in Christ, and in Christ there is no male or female. The Word of God further admonishes husbands concerning this truth:
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
The Word of God is admonishing husbands what while their wife may be the weaker vessel (speaking of the physical body), they are heirs together of the grace of life which is the born-again nature and eternal life in Christ.
- Husbands and wives are both called to serve and submit in marriage:
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:3
- Husbands and Wives are both called to Love, honor and Respect their spouse:
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children… Titus 2:4
Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another…Romans 12:10
Clearing up some Misconceptions
There are some misconceptions in the Body of Christ concerning the roles of husbands and wives in marriages. Most of these misconceptions have to do with what it means for a husband to be the head of his family and what it means for a wife to submit to her husband in the marriage relationship. Wives indeed are instructed by the Lord to submit to their husbands:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Colossians 3:18
The word “submit” and the concept of biblical submission has been misused and mis-taught by many and has resulted in the abuse and neglect of women in marriages and in the church.
Headship of the husband and submission of the wife does not mean:
- It does not mean the wife is slave to the husband
- It does not mean that the wife must do whatever the husband says or wants
- It does not mean that the husband can do whatever he wants
- It does not mean that the husband makes all of the decisions
- It does not mean or imply that the wife is in any way inferior to the husband
- It does not mean that the wife’s spiritual gifts are any less important or needed than the husbands
- Headship = Responsibility. “The buck stops here”. The husband is ultimately responsible for what takes place in the marriage and in the home. This does not mean he is responsible for all of his wife’s decisions, but he is responsible for leading in Love with a servant’s heart and creating an atmosphere in the home where Christ can rule and reign.
- Submission = Support and voluntary alignment to the direction the husband is leading the family in, as long as the husband is following God. Even if the husband is being disobedient to God, the wife is called on to submit (but not to the point of sin), that through her submission and godliness, she may lead her husband back into right relationship with the Lord. (See 1Peter 3:1).
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2: 5 – 8
The husband is to be a servant leader in the home, following the example of Jesus Christ. Seeing our need as sinners, Christ preferred us over himself, emptied himself of self-reliant power and willingly submitted himself to the will of God the Father. He was the Son of God, but made the choice to be a serving son, to redeem humanity and bring us back into spiritual union with the Godhead. Likewise the husband is to submit his will unto God for leadership and direction, and then lead his wife and family with humility and strength and a servant’s heart.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5: 25 – 31
In incorporating and involving his wife (which any wise man should do! See Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 18:22, Proverbs 31:10-12, 26-28), the husband is leading his wife and his family with the Love of Christ, acknowledging the gifts and wisdom that God has bestowed upon her, and is thereby also loving himself. He is acknowledging that he and his wife are One Flesh. The wife is to respect and honor the husband’s leadership as unto God, recognizing that his position of leadership is given to him by God, and not fight against it or take advantage of his heart of servitude.
Both are Valuable and Essential to a Successful Kingdom Marriage
While the Word of God outlines different roles in marriage for husbands and wives, it is very clear that husbands and wives are spiritual equals, and are to work together in fulfilling the calling that God has placed on their marriage and family.
Each husband has been given the great responsibility to lead his home and the support of his wife is key to the husband’s and family’s success. The husband needs the wife’s cooperation and support for the family to be all that God has called it to be in Christ. God created woman as the “help-meet” for the man. God has put within each wife what her husband needs for his God-given vision. In loving his wife as Christ loved the church, the husband will draw those gifts out of the wife, and in turn the wife draws the husband’s gifts out of him. The result is a true Kingdom marriage that reflects on a smaller scale God’s perfect will for the Body of Christ:
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4: 15-16
Additional Instruction for Husbands
Since born-again husbands are called to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the Church”, we can also draw some parallels from the marriage vows God made to humanity in Hosea 2:19-20 for ways in which a man is called to love his wife:
And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20
- Forever – A man’s love and commitment to his wife and the marriage relationship should have no earthly end. We are not married in eternity, but from an earthly perspective we should see our marriage as having no end.
- In Righteousness – A man loves his wife “in righteousness” by first recognizing that she is God’s daughter first, that she is the righteousness of God in Christ, and that her relationship to God through Christ is the most important relationship in her life. He also loves his wife in righteousness by acknowledging that there are God-ordained and God-given gifts and callings upon her life that God wants fulfilled, and by doing his part in helping her grow and mature in those gifts and callings.
- In Judgment – A man loves his wife “in Judgment” by loving her in truth and honesty, and in mercy and forgiveness. Part of loving in Judgment is looking beyond “the small stuff” and seeing the big picture, just as though we may miss the mark from time to time, God sees the big picture of who we are in Christ and is quick to forgive us when we repent.
- In Lovingkindness – Tenderness, affection, compassion, loving care and concern, understanding.
- In Mercies – Not just mercy. The root word is also translated “compassion”, “womb” and “bowels”. This gives the imagery that loving our wives in mercies also implies a deep level of intimacy in relationship, or the husband seeing his wife as part of himself.
- In Faithfulness – A man loves his wife in faithfulness by committing that she alone is the one whom he will desire and long for, physically and emotionally. That she alone is the one with whom he will share the intimate details of his life, his deep inner thoughts, dreams, desires etc.
*All scriptural references are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
© Cameron and Kristal Boone 2015