Atheists and other anti-Christian groups love to attack Scripture. It makes sense. They are not Christians so they try to find any chink in the armor to justify themselves and their lifestyles.
One such area they think they’ve achieved this is within Christian marriage, or better yet – how women are treated within Christian marriages. They attempt to set up a straw man that Christian women are oppressed because Scripture teaches women to submit to their husbands.
There are three thoughts intentionally or unintentionally that they leave out. One is when women are called to submit. The second is how husbands are called to treat their wives. The last is the weight of the responsibility of the husband within a Christian marriage.
First, Scripture does tell women to “submit to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-33 carries this verse in the full context. First, let’s discuss “when” a woman should “submit to your own husband, as to the Lord.”
In other words, they are not to listen to or obey everything their husband says. It’s only in the context of obeying God. If a husband tells a wife to rob a bank, she should not submit. She should resist her husband and obey God.
Second, remember the wife has dominion over the “home.” I don’t necessarily mean the family unit, but the old idea of the household. These are hard to split without a longer discussion. I Timothy 5:14 calls women to “marry, bear children, and manage their households.”
As her husband, I oversee the family as a unit. She is managing the household in the sense of home economics, which is a great responsibility as well.
The third thought, which I will break into three parts, is how a husband should treat his wife. Part A: many wrongly believe this means that husbands can dominate their wives; she is just some slave with no opinion in the matter of anything. We have already seen that she is managing the household, which takes great effort, intelligence, and leadership.
Part B of how to treat her: men are to listen to their wives. I am to get my wife’s opinion and take it into account. Husbands are called to “live with your wives in an understanding way. (I Peter 3:7)” I would contend that if you don’t listen to her, you don’t understand her. This is not me reigning on high insisting my wife does everything I say. We work as a team, but the buck stops with me.
Part C is that husbands are supposed to love their wives in an unconditional, sacrificial way. Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
When a wife submits to her husband, it is not so that the husband can lead some great life while his wife is oppressed. The husband is supposed to sacrifice his wants, desires, and even needs to put his wife ahead of himself. The reason he does this is out of love. It’s to duplicate and represent the unconditional, sacrificial love Christ gave to us on the cross.
Does that sound oppressive? It sounds like love. When a husband and wife are functioning in this way, a wife cannot be more loved.
Lastly, a husband who is “the head” must bear a heavy responsibility. While it sounds like some amazing advantage, it means the buck stops with him. He will answer to the Lord for the family. This weight is given to the husband, therefore relieving her of this weight.
When Eve first sinned in the Garden and Adam followed, who did God call out? Adam! Why? Because as leader he bears the responsibility of the family unit. The weight of leadership is not some pleasure-seeking benefit, but a weight at times.
Can you see how a woman could be blessed in this kind of marriage? She really is not oppressed. She should be listened to and understood. She should be lead by her husband, but only in obedience of God which will bring them blessings. A husband is called to sacrificially love her , and lay down his own priorities, wants, and needs. The weight of responsibility doesn’t fall on her , but her husband.
This answers the confusion that so many non-Christians have about Christian marriage and women. These people look at Christian couples who are living out God’s way of marriage and they are confused. They see these women not as oppressed, but included, loved, joyful, and cared for.
Disclaimer: as Tolkien told us, “not all that glimmers is gold.” There are “Christian” relationships that are not living out these values. They believe in the submitting part, but not the loving, sacrificial part. Not all who are labeled as such are such. Be careful not to lump us all together.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.