THIS is a subject that I find VERY difficult! I found myself hesitating as I was preparing for this week, and feeling myself resisting doing my readings to prepare for the group/study. I know that probably doesn’t ‘sound’ very good, but I figure it’s important to be transparent and honest about how I feel when I consider the subject ‘The Respectful Wife’.
To be honest I don’t really struggle as much with the term ‘respectful’, it’s more so the area of ‘submission’ that goes hand in hand with respect for a husband (in the Word) that becomes a bit harder to swallow. I realize it is hard for me to embrace to subject of submission given the day and age I live in. Society sends the message that I as a woman I am ‘independent’ and ‘liberated’, so it makes the topic of ‘submission’ seem oppressive and archaic.
Well in spite of how I ‘feel’ and how society sees things, I want to walk in obedience of what God’s word says in the Bible, even if it challenges, confuses, and even frustrates me at times. I realized in working on this study that there needs to be MORE dialogue on this subject, and I have got to take on the responsibility of understanding more of what God says on this subject in His word!
The passage we focused on for our study was Ephesians 5:21-33
Ephesians 5:21-33 – Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband
In this passage we are called as wives to:
- Submit ourselves to our husbands
- We are told that our husbands are the ‘head’ of the wife
- And we are to submit ourselves to our husbands in everything
- We are told that we are members of Christ’s body
- We are told that ‘two become one flesh’
- We are instructed to respect our husbands
In this passage there seems to be so much more asked of the husband than the wife, (just look at how much of the passage is directed towards the husbands), yet personally I feel like what is being asked of the wife seems harder.
I realize however (even though it seems ‘harder’) this is not God’s intention (to make things harder for the wife, or the husband). It seems hard for me (as a wife) because it is not in my nature to ‘submit’. If God were asking me to ‘love’ my husband as Christ loves the church, and be willing to give up my life for him, I can honestly say that would be way more natural/easy for me to do. It doesn’t take much for me to love, and as a group we discussed how natural our love for our husbands has come.
So this I believe speaks to the challenge and sacrifice, because we are being asked to do something that is not typically ‘second nature’ to us. As we read in the passage however, in Gods perfect ‘design’ when you have a wife that is submitting and a husband that is loving as Christ loves the church and literally putting his life on the line for his wife, it would make submission (for the wife) and loving (for the husband) a lot easier. But we are ALL struggling to do what we’ve been called to do. Husbands AND wives are dropping the ball, and we find ourselves in a ‘stuck’ place not wanting to budge until we see the ‘other’ person stepping it up and doing a better job at their ‘role’.
Well I am not about arguing over my role vs. my husband’s role. God has designed a specific role for a wife, and a specific role for a husband, and in spite of how difficult it seems at times to embrace our differences, I believe we have so much to gain by allowing God’s design in marriage to be fulfilled through our mutual submission to the mandate He has placed over our lives.
Instead of looking at what my husband is doing and judging if he is doing a ‘good enough job’ in his role to determine if I can ‘submit’; I choose to focus on what I believe God has called me to do, which is respect and submit to my husband. I will also focus on daily prayer for my husband asking God to develop and grow my husband into the man and husband He has created/called him to be. I then place ALL my hope and trust in the Lord to allow my marriage to grow into a strong and healthy place that will honor and give glory back to God.
A couple of passages from the book we focused on this week are below:
Book – Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together by Mark & Grace Driscoll (Chapter 4 – The Respectful Wife)
Respect starts in our heads and includes our minds and thoughts. Disrespect also starts in our heads and can begin with a very subtle temptation that over time affects our hearts and hands….. Disrespect starts when we think things like: That was a dumb decision he made; I can do better than that. I wish he were more like ______. I’ll just fix all the things he does wrong. I hope the kids don’t grow up to be like him. When he is out of town, life is easier. Pg. 67
If your husband isn’t working on his part of loving, you are still called to work on your part of submitting, knowing that God hears your prayers and honors obedience. This doesn’t mean if there is abuse or harm you are to endure it.* But, as a helper on mission, you are supposed to respectfully discuss how he can be loving and ask how you can be respectful. Biblically these go hand in hand, and you are to help each other understand how to live out what love and respect mean. Pg. 84
- What are some of the initial thoughts and feelings that come to mind when you hear the word ‘respectful wife’?
- What are some barriers that get in the way of you respecting/submitting to your husband?
- What scriptures help you understand how to grow in your ability to respect your husband?
- How can we begin to shift the ‘head’ and ‘heart’ disrespect that slowly creeps into our lives?
* It is important that we discuss the very disturbing reality that there are husbands who are engaging in violent and abusive interactions with their wives. Let me be VERY clear in saying that I believe when there is any form of violence and or abuse and a woman is unable to be assured of her safety this calls for immediate intervention and immediate removal from the environment that is unsafe. It is impossible to work on improving a relationship when abuse and violence is ongoing. The safety of all parties is priority #1 before considering how to go about working on relationship issues.
If you are a woman who is currently in an abusive marriage or relationship you need to remove yourself and other vulnerable individuals (i.e. children) from harm’s way immediately.
Leaving a situation where abuse is taking place is not an easy thing to do and it is important that you gain supports to help you make a plan to safely removing yourself and other vulnerable individuals. Enlisting the help of a pastor/spiritual leader, counsellor or crisis support worker are all viable options to consider. Below I have listed 2 agencies that specialize in supporting women in abusive situations that need help.
Assaulted Woman’s Helpline
Toll Free: 1.866.863.0511
Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse
Phone: (905) 282-9792