|Vol. 14 No. 7 July 2012||
We have already discussed the definition of terms “subject,” “submission” and “role” in last month's article. A clear understanding of these terms is required to comprehend God’s plan for men and women. As a reminder – subject and submission have the same basic meaning, “To be in subjection or to be in submission is to allow someone to have control and authority over another.” The term “role” is synonymous with “responsibility.” So, what has the Bible outlined as the “responsibilities of wives in the home?” I use the term “wives” since a single woman, living by herself, is the head of her home as she is the only individual living there.Scriptures Discussing Wives' Role within the Home
Genesis 2:15-25 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
In the beginning, God created a perfect world. After Adam named all the animals, a helpmeet was not found for him (Genesis 2:20). God created a special companion for Adam from one of Adam’s ribs. God planned from the beginning that man should have a counterpart or mate to help him along the way. It is significant to note that Eve was created from a rib in Adam’s side. She was not created from a bone in his foot to be trodden upon or from his head to rule over him, but from his side where he could protect her and she could help him.
Genesis 3:16 "To the woman He said: 'I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’”
After Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, God pronounced punishment to each of them. Adam was told that he would sweat to grow his food among the thorns and thistles, and God banished them from the Garden of Eden. Eve had additional punishment. She would experience pain while giving birth to her children. In addition, the relationship of her role to her husband was reemphasized; she would answer to the desires of her husband. Adam was to rule over Eve. These stipulations carry over to each generation from that time forward as long as the earth remains. All women from that time forward are to be in submission to their husbands.
Ephesians 5:22-6:5 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; … Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.
The apostle stated that just as Christ is the Head of the church, and the husband is the head of the wife. With this relationship, the church must obey Christ and the wife must obey her husband. Paul continued this analogy while correlating the love Christ has for the church with the love a husband should have for his wife. Typically, men care for and nourish their own bodies, and Paul stated that a man who properly loves his wife will treat her as he treats himself. He will nourish and cherish her as he would himself. When a man treats his wife as he should, she will lovingly and willingly follow God’s command to be obedient to her husband.
Unfortunately, some men forget to apply these verses to themselves and mistreat their wives, making it difficult for the wife to have the proper reverence for her husband. Nevertheless, a wife is still obligated to obey her husband even if he does not treat her as God has commanded. The only exception to this God-given rule is when the husband demands the wife to do something that is contrary to the laws of God (Deuteronomy 13:6-8; Matthew 19:29; Matthew 10:37; Acts 5:29). Even though we do not live under the Old Law, the principle has not changed. God will not accept the excuse on the Judgment Day, “I had to obey my husband.” Nor will He accept the excuse, “My husband was unreasonable, harsh and cruel (or any other negative characteristic).”
As a wife, woman is more than a mate. She is a partner with her husband in their mutual quest for earthly and heavenly goals, through separate roles. A subordinate and dutiful wife deserves love and kind treatment from her husband (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). Aquila and Priscilla are a noble Bible example of a husband-wife team worthy of contemporary emulation (Acts 18:24-26; Romans 16:3-5).
Ephesians 5:22-6:5 unmistakably declares that wives are to be in subjection to their husbands. This is the same as the church being in subjection to Christ. To have the proper relationship, husbands must love their wives, just as Christ loves the church. Children are to be in subjection to their parents. Parents, fathers in particular, are commanded to treat their children fairly and lovingly teach them the ways of God. Employees are to work for their employers as if they were working for Christ.
Titus 2:5 "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."
Titus Chapter Two outlines the characteristics and responsibilities of Christians. Verse 1 instructs elders, Verse 2 older men, Verses 3-5 older women, Verses 4-5 young women, Verse 6 young men and Verse 9 servants (today’s application would be workers). In this context, older women are to admonish the young women to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands.” The word Greek word “sophronizo” (so-fron-id’-zo) translated “admonish” in the NKJV and “teach” in the KJV means, “to make of sound mind, i.e. (figuratively) to discipline or correct:” Older women cannot teach these qualities to the younger women if they do not understand nor have the characteristic in their lives.
The culture of the marriage practices, during the writing of the Book of Titus, was arranged marriages. Young men and young women did not have the luxury of choosing their mates; their parents bargained for a spouse for their child. Knowing this gives one a better understanding as to why the older women were to instruct the young women to love their husbands and to love their children.
Let us take a closer look at the characteristics of Christian women as outlined in these verses.
These are just some of the qualities all women, young and old, should strive to develop in their lives. When one practices these characteristics in their daily living, the home will be a loving, peaceful haven separate and apart from the evils of this world.
1 Timothy 5:14 " Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully."
The context surrounding this verse deals with the responsibility of caring for widows. The church is instructed to care for older widows with no family to care for them, if they meet certain criteria. The church was not to care for the younger widows, since doing so would allow them to be idle, offering greater areas of temptation to sin. Although this passage is directed to widows, the instruction can be applied to all women.
Younger widows are encouraged to marry. Paul taught that it is acceptable to marry or remain single in 1 Corinthians 7:7-40. In verse 34, Paul stated that the single woman can focus on the work of the Lord, while the married woman will focus on pleasing her husband. Neither the married nor the single woman is condemned.
Women are encouraged to have children. There is a big difference between giving birth to a child and being a mother! Ephesians 6:4 instructs fathers to bring their children up in the nurture and admonish of the Lord. Mothers should assist in this instruction. Deuteronomy 11:19 reads, “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Biblical teaching is an all-day, everyday occurrence. This teaching is not only in the classroom setting, but includes throughout the day during ordinary activities. Talk to your child about the God of creation as you walk outside and see the wonders of this world. Talk to your children about godly ways to interact with others when a disagreement between friends arises. Show your children love and kindness by including them in the preparation and delivery of food to the sick, bereaved and shut-ins. The wise man Solomon taught, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Training is more than teaching – it is putting into practice the truths taught in the Bible. We must teach our children Bible knowledge and help them to put that knowledge into practice. We cannot train our children to be faithful servants of the Lord if we fail to be faithful servants of the Lord!
Not only must mothers assist fathers in teaching God’s Word to their children, they must assist with the discipline of their children. An undisciplined child has no respect for authority. Children must learn to respect the authority of parents, teachers, the law of the land, the elders and other church leaders, and God. Solomon declared, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Proper discipline is both positive and negative, and it must be adjusted according to the age and temperament of the child. Sometimes a stern look is all that is needed to adjust a child’s behavior while at other times or with another child more drastic measures are required. What worked for one child may not work for another. Positive reinforcement for good behavior will go a long way to help a child learn self-control.
Teaching and discipline must begin at birth. Behavior that was acceptable yesterday and that is unacceptable today only brings confusion and frustration to the child. It is never too early to begin to train our children in the Lord – that training includes biblical knowledge, practical application of that knowledge and self-discipline!
Paul acknowledged the accomplishments of Lois and Eunice when he told Timothy, “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy’s great faith came from his grandmother and mother. It was their teaching that led him to be a strong, faithful servant of the Lord in his youth.
Women are to guide the home. The American Standard translates the word “guide” as “rule.” The New King James uses the word “manage.” The wife is to be in charge of the home. It is her responsibility to see that the family is properly cared for. This verse does not contradict other passages that teach the husband is the head of the home and the wife is in submission to him. Rather, this verse gives additional information. While the husband is the head of the home, it is the duty of the wife to see to the daily needs of the family. The woman has the right and power to make decisions concerning the responsibility to rule, manage or guide her home! A wise, godly husband will encourage his wife to make the decisions that affect the day to day operations of the home. He will seek the advice of his wife in all matters that affect the family. A wise, godly wife will tend to her duties in the home, consulting her husband before making major decisions. She will be knowledgeable about the affairs of the home and the world so that she can wisely discuss the affairs of the family with her husband. A godly wife will willingly submit to the decisions of the husband even when she disagrees with him.
1 Peter 3:1-6 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
This is another passage – this time written by the apostle Peter – instructing wives to be subject to their husbands. Peter further instructs that even if a husband is not a Christian, the wife must remain in submission to him. When the wife puts God first in her life, is subject to her husband and acts like a faithful child of God, there is a greater likelihood that the husband will obey the Gospel. Christian women must be more concerned with what is on the inside than what they are wearing on the outside. The amount of time and money spent on hairstyles, jewelry and clothing can be closely linked to where the heart is. Peter did not condemn wives who dress to make themselves attractive to their husbands. He is making a contrast between those who are more concerned with the outward appearance than with godly behavior. Our clothing should not be the first thing others notice about us. Sometimes, as we strive to exhibit Christ-like qualities while in public, we mistakenly think that no one will notice if I let my behavior slip a little in the home. Never forget our husbands and our children are always watching! In the context of these verses where the husband is a non-Christian, it is extremely important that our godly behavior is displayed in the home.
Sarah called her husband lord. Please consider these points with reference to the phrase “calling him lord.”
What do you call your husband? The way you speak to and about your husband shows others your feelings toward him. Can others see the love and respect your husband deserves by your words and actions, or do they see apathy, indifference, disdain or hatred? This would apply to not only to husbands, but to all with whom we have a close association (children, parents, close friends, etc.).
All women should show love and respect to their husbands and children. When women have the proper love and respect for their family members, caring for them will be a joy and not a burden. It is the woman’s responsibility to manage and care for the home. A well maintained home will be clean and orderly. Not necessarily spotless with nothing out of place – it can look “lived in.” However, it should not have weeks’ worth of dirt and trash everywhere and tables overflowing with papers, magazines, etc. One should be able to walk through the house without stepping on toys, clothes, etc. It is the woman’s responsibility to assist in rearing the children to be faithful servants of God. Mothers should teach their children to respect older individuals, and children ought to respect their own peers, too. Children should be taught to be responsible for their actions and possessions.
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2006.