Hello From An Ally!
I realize from the beginning that some may already have their guard up. Today's strongly feminist culture does not exactly lend a hand to the idea of biblical womanhood. It also does not help that many, many men have no idea what it means to be the spiritual head and have biblical authority, thus it has been abused tremendously. In many households there is a real tug of war happening that makes both people miserable and robs God of the glory He deserves.
If you have not read my post regarding the husband's role, I invite you in fact, I beg you to do so as it will clarify for you any concerns you may have regarding my conception of what the man's God-given role is as husband. You can find it here.
You Are Incredibly Valuable!
In hopes that you have let your guard down enough to hear what I have to say, let's get started. First I would like to challenge you and encourage you by saying that as the woman in your marriage, you can be an honorable helpmate or a horrendous hindrance. You have the capacity to make or break your husband in many ways.
God can and does intervene. He certainly will not allow any more hindrance than he has already planned for. I say this because I want you to understand the power that God has given you as an ordained helpmate for your husband.
Proverbs 31:10-11 says, "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."
It goes on to describe the many endearing qualities of a wife who works hard both inside and outside of the home in many different ways to help take care of her family. She is praised by her husband and her children call her blessed. I don't know many woman who do not want that response from their family.
What If You Are Not Valued Appropriately?
Now those results, in my experience, presume that the husband is not only a believer, but is dedicated to being a loving, godly husband and is helping to raise children who will recognize and appreciate the value of their mother.
What about the times when that is not the case? What about those unfortunate times when the wife, maybe mother, has to look to God as her only source of love and adoration. What are God's instructions to the wife of a disobedient husband; whether he is a believer or not? What does God say about how to treat a husband who does not value his wife.
This is a husband who is not loving his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church and is not striving toward making her holy by the washing of water with the word. He is selfish, thoughtless, if not down right insulting, and harsh on a regular basis.
Submission Is God's Idea, Not Your Husbands
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as 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."
Colossians 3:18 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."
Now, before you bug out and begin reacting strongly to the word "submit", let me clarify a couple of things.
1.) Submission is not the same thing as obedience. Nor does it suggest inferiority. Submission speaks simply to levels of authority. Jesus is submitted to the will of the Father but He is in no way inferior to the Father. The church is to be submitted to Jesus but at no time is the church spoken of as inferior. The church is the bride of Christ and He died for her. The church submits to Christ because she loves him and wants to honor his love for her.
2.) Your overarching responsibility is to Christ. Notice both of these verses state submission to your husband being "as to the Lord" or "as is fitting in the Lord".
What Is The Purpose Of Submission When My Husband Is Not In Line With God?
Why should you? What do you care if they are won over? They are treating you poorly. What is your motivation?
1 Peter 2:21-25, has just gotten finished describing that all of us, men and women were like sheep gone astray. When people were hurling insults at Jesus and He was enduring the suffering of persecution and the cross, He made no threats. He did not retaliate. Though we rejected Him, he bore our sins.
Vs. 21 states, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
Though that passage is to both genders, after this passage, Peter then begins his instructions to wives to be submissive, in the same way. Showing sacrificial love in hopes of winning your husbands over.
Once again, as husbands and wives, we submit and selflessly love out of our love for Christ and what He has done for us, regardless of the behavior of our spouse.
Humility Breeds Compassion
In Romans 12:3 Paul states, "For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
I did not use this scripture in my post to husbands, and in it's context, it is not speaking directly to marriage. However, I did make this point to husbands as well. Humility of heart is key in your Christian walk regarding everyone you engage. It should be of special importance in your marriage.
Jesus was humble of heart(Matthew 11:28-30) and He is our example. If we remain continually aware of where we would be without God's grace it will humble us and should create an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude for the grace that saved you from being the wretched sinner that you were and carries through the process of sanctification in which you become more and more like Christ.
This realization should help us to have compassion for anyone that is struggling with any areas of sin. Even if that sin is against us.
This should be the case all the more toward our spouses.
Stick With It...SAFELY!
Perseverance is key in any good marriage. Just like it takes a lifetime for Jesus to get us (the Church) where He wants us to be before He takes us home, it takes a lifetime of God-submitted effort to have an enduring marriage to enjoy.
Yes, there are rough spots. There are sad times and mad times. However, sometimes the mad times can create dangerous times. Most often this is a case of danger for the wife because of a mad, drunk, or high husband with a hot temper whom is inclined toward abuse.
Now, I want to make this point very carefully. Submission does not mean that your husband can demand anything of you that is contrary to God's word. Nor does it mean he can walk all over you.
You are not a doormat and you can say so!
At the same time, scripture also does not suggest that an abusive situation is an acceptable reason for divorce. Many do not agree, but I promise you, it is not in scripture.
There are only two biblically acceptable reasons for divorce. One is adultery. The other is if one spouse is an unbeliever and they choose to leave the marriage, the believer is not commanded to follow. These are allowable, but not mandated. God's ideal scenario would be that we stick it out and love them and pray our spouse through it.
With that said, I do not believe that just because divorce is not condoned in the case of abuse, this means that you have to stay in an unsafe situation.
At this point, family and your church elders need to get involved. They need to provide you safety, and they need to challenge this disobedient, abusive husband.
As the wife, scripture says that even in this scenario, you are to show the love of Christ at every opportunity. If he leaves and insists on remaining unrepentant, then you are off the hook, if you want to be. I have known several women in this kind of scenario that have testimonies of sticking it out, loving their husbands, praying for their husbands, and seeing them get saved and their marriages restored. It can be done. However, it requires a strong relationship with Jesus that is fed by prayer and the study of His word.
When all else has failed and you don't know what to do, pray, pray, pray! "The effective prayer of a righteous person has much power"(James 5:16).
When you think you can't take it anymore and you just want to give up, pray, pray, pray! "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you"(James 1:5).
"Pray without ceasing"(1 Thessalonians 5:17).
"Pray with thanksgiving and praise"(Psalm 95:, Philippians 4:4-7). "Thanksgiving for what?" you might ask. Thanksgiving that even when you feel alone, you are not alone. Jesus is right there loving you and giving you strength. God said he will never leave you nor forsake you and because of that we should have courage.(Deuteronomy 31:6)
And of course the most important example is Jesus who gave us the Lords prayer when asked how we should pray(Matthew 6:9-13).
I hope this has been illuminating, if not helpful. Just as with any relationship, our marriages require commitment, work, and an intimate relationship with a Holy God and a Suffering Savior. One who can identify with our pain and suffering; and has the ability to be strong for us in our weakness.
That is, of course, if we want our marriages to be all that God intended them to be. You have to want it badly. Also, remember that you are a precious, valuable commodity. Part of what makes that so is your God-given gift to be what your husband needs, even when he does not know he needs it.
You are his helpmate. God put you with your husband because he made you to compliment him and strengthen him in his weaknesses. That makes you unbelievably special. As you grow in grace through that experience, you will learn things about yourself that you could not have learned any other way.
It's Not Always Pretty Or What Makes Us Happy
Our success in difficulty also depends on our ability by God's grace, to find satisfaction in God's glory in every situation, even if it means that situation has to be negative for a time. As I mentioned toward the end of the post entitled "How To Suffer Well", when we understand that our greatest satisfaction will be found when God is most glorified in our lives, then we will want to be in God's will in the most biblical way possible.
Keeping God's glory in view helps us to have our aim on something other than our own happiness. This will help drive biblical obedience which will then result in the best possible scenario for our lives. It is in our best interest to honor God's zeal for His own glory because
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"-John Piper.
I will end with Philippians 4:4-7 because it is one scripture that exemplifies the idea stated above, in some ways it defines the whole post. It says,
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
May it be so in your personal walk and in your marriage.
In Jesus name,