Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Family Lists: Wives

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5.22

We began this series of “family lists” with a look at the biblical directives for husbands. I began with husbands because, as a husband, I feel like I have a little bit of experience in that area. It occurs to me now that I have been married to a pretty good wife for almost 23 years. I have a good idea about what makes her great and where she could use some improvement. But most importantly, I know what the Bible has to say.

One more disclaimer before we get to the list. There has been a lot of injustice done to women through the years. A lot of the oppression and inequality that women have been subjected to has come from men who are quoting the Bible. I pray that I do not continue that pattern. My prayer is that wives may be liberated by learning the truth of their position in God’s economy.

  • Wives are to love their husbands and be committed to them (Ephesians 5.22). Submission should be understood as voluntarily considering and following the wishes of the husband who loves the wife.
  • Submission is to be only to the husband. This does not mean that women must submit to men.
  • Husbands and wives are to work as a team (Ep 5.30-31). Although their positions and roles are not them same, they are complementary. Wives are not inferior or weaker than their husbands.
  • Wives are committed to their husbands for as long as they live (1 Corinthians 7.39). There is no allowance in Scripture for no-fault divorces. Marriages are to last forever.
  • Husbands and wives are to keep themselves pure for one another. Additionally, there is a requirement that they not withhold “affection” from one another (1 Corinthians 7.2-3).
  • There is a truth here that says, in essence, that husbands and wives are obligated to one another in physical ways.
  • Wives are to lovingly exercise authority over their husbands (1 Corinthians 7.4). Additionally, they are to lovingly receive the authority that their husbands have over them.
  • There is a great image throughout the New Testament that pictures the church as the Bride of Christ. This is a wonderful picture that helps us to understand the intimacy of followers of Jesus with our Lord, and of the love and commitment that husbands and wives should have for one another.

None of this deals with the seemingly problematic passages about women teaching in church, or being responsible for the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Although those are important passages in the context of the topic at hand, they are beyond the scope of this specific list. Another time we will deal with the place of men and women in the body of Christ. For now, suffice it to say that women/ wives are special in the church, in the home and to their husbands.

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