Question

In these fast-paced days of working women, the bible passages (Paul’s letters to the churches) clearly state that wives must submit to their husbands and shall not overrule them. My wife, as many do, has a big problem with this. We both are trying to follow the bible, but she feels that God should somehow make an exception to this rule for today’s working women. 

Answer

If any concept needed to be clarified, this certainly should be one of them. Modern society has brought us not only “new” technologies, but also “new” ideas about how men and women ought to think and behave. Man, in his pride, believes not only that he knows what is best for the physical needs of humanity, but also the moral/spiritual needs of humanity.

Therefore, we are told, even by many who claim to be Christians, that, we live in a different time where the roles of men and women have to be changed in order to accommodate modern society. They say the “old” rules are no longer functional or even morally right in our modern society where men and women both focus on occupational careers and self fulfillment rather than how they can best behave in order to build up the home and one another. Finally, we are also told that there are really very little, if any , differences between men and women. And, that any differences that there might be, have been contrived and implemented by men in order to oppress and hamper women from excelling to their greatest human potential in this life.

Although I have stated this case in fairly general terms, we can definitely see that these ideas have brought tremendous confusion, strain and even friction between men and women, even to those who are seeking to serve the Lord. Rather than continuing with these human ideas, let us turn to the Bible for the true understanding as to how we should behave as men and women, husbands and wives.

First, as to marriage itself. Rather than being a humanly created social convention, marriage was created by God for the benefit of both men and women. Gen. 2:18-25. In marriage the husband is to provide loving leadership while the wife is to provide submissive service in relation to the husband and the home.

Since God is the one who created us and marriage, then He is the One who knows and has the right to determine how we should live in this relationship. 1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:22-33, 1 Tim. 2. But, what exactly is involved in the wife submitting to the husband?

In 1 Cor. 11:3, we learn that all of us, no matter if we’re men or women, must be submissive to God. Further, in the first few verses of 1 Tim. 2, we learn that all of us must be submissive to the government. Further, we read that we must be submissive to our employers. Eph. 6:5-9.

In regard to wives, this is one more level of submission that is given to them. However, this submission, like submission to government or employer, is not “blind” obedience to anything demanded by the one having authority, but it is based on submission to God first. Therefore, if the government, our employers or a husband demand something sinful from the one under their authority, including a wife, then this is to be rejected because of our higher allegiance to God. Acts 5:29-32.

Second, as far as women working outside the home to help provide for family income, the most preferred circumstance would be if she could stay home and give her full time to that most important work of raising and guiding children. Titus 2:3-5. This work must be done and sacrifice must be made in order to accomplish it. We must view this task as being more important than any individual goal on the part of the husband or the wife.

That being said, there may arise circumstances in which it is advantageous for the woman to work in some type of occupation. If this can be done when chidden are older or when they have the home, then that is preferable. Or, if there are no children involved in the marriage, then she might have more time to work in some capacity beyond the home. We do have examples of women who did jobs beyond the work at home. Some of the jobs probably were conducted mostly in the home. Proverbs 3110:31, Acts 16:1-15, 18:1-8.

Again, although we see examples of women working in situations that go beyond their work at home, we must balance this with the grave responsibilities that are given to husbands and wives regarding raising children. Titus 2:3-5, Eph. 6:1-14. If this important work is sacrificed to acquire financial gain, then it is not worth it! With computers and various technologies today, it is quite possible for many (including many women) to do their work at home without having to leave children with others who can never take the place of loving, spiritually-minded parents.

Finally, submission in marriage does not mean that wives should not be looked upon and loved as valued partners in marriage. Eph. 5:22-33. However, when it comes to making final decisions in regard to the home, the final burden rests squarely upon the husband. Any husband however, who loves the Lord and loves his wife, will not seek to mistreat or selfishly disregard her, or his children, in whatever decisions are made. Her input, love and cooperation are needed in order to make a loving marriage and a happy home life.

Although society has drifted far away from this, this is the way God would have behave in marriage. Who else should know or has the right to give us instructions on how we should except Him who has created us?

By Gary Hunt

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