This is a hard subject to tackle in a blog post, in fact, I’m hesitant to cover it because wives may take it out of context. I feel like I need to put disclaimers all over it! 🙂
Since I’ve recently covered the topic of Biblical Submission by writing A Wife’s Guide to Understanding Biblical Submission and making a video discussing the various aspects of it, this topic has brought me many emails from countless wives who have been living out their command to submit and respect their husbands, but their husbands have not been living out their command to love their wives like Christ loves the Church. These husbands profess to be Believers but they are demeaning, demanding, harsh, and unloving towards their wives.
Here’s a glimpse of a few edited emails regarding this rampant problem amongst Christian marriages.
I feel like my husband micromanages the home. Such as, I can’t hang towels except in a certain spot, one side of the sink has to be empty at all times, the canned goods had to be moved to go together in one spot, the stove can’t have any burned marks on it, there can’t be crumbs on the floor so he can walk barefoot, and that is just in the kitchen! The thing is I want the same thing but if it isn’t done when he looks, it isn’t good enough.
I have tried to lovingly say, “Sweetie I will do these things for you as much as a I can and I would love to, but it makes me feel like you don’t trust me when I forget and you get agitated and angry at me all day.” I can’t even count how many times I have said this and of course over time I can’ t stand it anymore and get upset with him, even asking if he thinks we might need to get some counseling about it, but he won’t even think of that.
Basically he feels every time I forget or don’t have time to fulfill one of his house rules that I don’t care about him, he has said this exact thing more than once, which is hurtful to me because I feel like I am doing the best I can. All of which I have said before. On top of all of this we are having our first child and I am dealing with terrible morning sickness that is lasting most of the day. I can’t keep up with all that he requires.
~a pregnant wife
He takes advantage of me and my longing for love and reassurance, and I am struggling alone with anger and bitterness. Sometimes I am rolling my eyes and making faces behind his back while I serve him. I just get so sick of having to hold up the relationship. But if I tell him I won’t do something, or if I complain, or if I assertively, lovingly tried to say, “Honey, I feel like I have to do these things just to earn my keep with you, or to keep you home with me, or I need more attention from you,…” — he’d just get mad at me for adding to his burden.
He makes all the money, and supports our big family. I stay home. In his mind, that’s love enough.
~holding up the relationship
I have been married for 25 years and have had problems but today they are so big because the first ones were never resolved, is my thinking. He feels that is not his responsibility to pay for the bills. He is very harsh and gets mad at anything I may say. His relationship with the children is getting much worse because they see how he treats me …my problem is so big I don’t think I can type everything that goes on, but I am getting very angry that don’t feel like even talking to him. I feel that we all are abused. He is a christian man who prays a lot daily. And he’s always quoting Bible scriptures of what I am not doing. He can get physically violent too. What can I do?
~married for 25 years
This is just a snapshot of what I mean by unloving and harsh Christian husbands.
Today my Beloved is going to share on what is Biblically appropriate if you find yourself in a similar situation. I think it’s best if my man addresses this topic. 🙂 (Please keep in mind this counsel is given in the context that your husband is a Believer.* Also, if you’re new here, please take the time to read my guide on Biblical Submission or watch my video so you can receive the full counsel given here so this post is not taken out of context.)
Dear Sister in Christ,
Here are the verses that you are probably familiar with:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
This is Truth.
This is Right.
This is Holy.
But there is a misunderstanding not only in the world, but also in the Church (Followers of Jesus) regarding these verses. We get numerous emails about husbands who demand submission from their wives quoting Ephesians 5:22-24 as their trump card requiring their wives to submit to them. Part of the problem is that this is a command given to the wife…not to the husband to control an un-submissive wife.
Many churches teach the following passage as absolute authority for the wife to obey her husband no matter what… “wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Perhaps this may be just misguidance and lack of understanding of the Word, but IT IS WRONG!
A wife’s submission to her husband’s headship does not mean submission to his SIN. But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29 The Bible is very clear that when any authority is in opposition to the Word of God and God’s Holy Commands, YOU MUST OBEY GOD!
Wives be wise… back in the Garden, Satan used God’s Word to deceive Eve and he has been doing it ever since.
Biblical submission does not give a husband license to deal with his wife harshly.
Husband Command #1
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:20
Biblical submission does not give a husband license to ignore his wife’s feelings.
Husband Command #2
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives” 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
Biblical submission does not give a husband license to be unloving.
Husband Command #3
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25
If your husband is caring, considerate, and loving, it is very easy for a Godly wife to submit and respect her husband.
If he is not…he is in sin! So how can you submit to a husband without submitting to his sin… and by the way, we all sin. If you and your husband are believers (Followers of Jesus) not only are you husband and wife, but according to the Bible, you are brother and sister in the Lord. Matt 12:50 And you are “heirs together of the gracious gift of life” 1 Peter 3:7.
Submission to your husband does not mean inequality in the marriage, it means the order of the roles inside marriage as God has designed. As a sister to your brother and heirs together, you not only have a right, but the obligation to a mutual relationship with your husband.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
If your earthly brother treated you harshly, or was uncaring, or did not show you love, would you accept it? You shouldn’t because it is sin. As well, if you respond in like manner, you are in sin as well. Be careful to walk this fine line between being a footstool to his harshness and responding harshly yourself.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Command: Rebuke him.
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3
As a God-fearing, submissive wife…you have the responsibility and command of the Lord to rebuke in love and restore the relationship with your husband. Make sure this is done with respect and love whether you think he deserves it or not. Even then, you may have opposition from him especially if he is a Ruler Husband rather than a Shepherd husband. But never the less it must be done! My wife calls it “sharing her heart.” What a great term! When you share your heart, it is very important to make sure that it is according to the Word of God and not according to your flesh.
Let me define the sin that you are not to submit to:
The Bible says that God looks on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
I would use this as a guideline:
If your husband’s sin is to serve and worship himself, you are not to submit to it. But if he sins due to his good intentions… then follow him.
Let me give you an example:
About 10 years ago my wife received several thousands of dollars as an inheritance from her grandfather. After we discussed the use of that money, I made the decision to use half of it to invest in the stock market. To make a long story short, I lost half her inheritance within about 30 days. I was ashamed and felt foolish. I walked in and told my wife what I had done. Without blinking an eye, she said “it is only money and we can always get more”. She was building up her house by not tearing me down over my bad decision. When we initially received that money I wanted to use it as an investment for our family and she never gave it a second thought about submitting to my headship. She’s a woman I don’t deserve.
Now say for example I wanted to take that money and spend it on a drug or alcohol addiction or something else to serve my own sin. She would be in sin herself if she submitted to that headship. My wife has the authority from the Word of God to rebuke me in love as a brother in the Lord, and when she does so, it is not sin for her, but righteousness.
If you have already rebuked your Christian husband in love and he does not repent, you are then to go to a brother in the Lord in hopes that this will bring your man to repentance and then ultimately restoration.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ ”And if he refuses to hear them, tell to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17
*For wives that are married to unbelievers these guidelines would still apply (minus church discipline). Make sure you extend a greater measure of grace to your unbelieving husband so you may win him over by your conduct.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1,2
Your brother in Christ,
Other posts in the series of, What to Do When a Husband Doesn’t Love His Wife with Christ-Like Love:
- 8 Earmarks of a Christian Husband
- 10 Reasons Why a Husband Isn’t Loving His Wife with Christ-Like Love
- What Does the Bible Say about Abuse in Marriage?
- How to Respectfully Communicate Your Needs to Your Husband
Live a poured out life for Christ,
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