Day’s Verse:

For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

1 Cor. 7:22


In my Bible study this morning I ran across a reference to the marriage relationship: Esther 1:17-18, 20 talked about how the king’s wife, Queen Vashti, refused to obey him and so he punished her so other women wouldn’t get uppity and follow her example. After all, “every man should be the master in his own house…” (Esther 1:22). This made me wonder: is this what God wants for a marriage? I didn’t think so; the subject warranted further study. So I went to Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 7 and wrote down what Paul said about marriage.

From Ephesians:

1. The wife should be subject to her husband

2. The husband is the head of the household like Christ is head of the church

3. The husband is to love their wives even to giving his life for her

4. The husband should love his wife as he loves his own body

5. Men and women, when married, become one flesh

6. The wife must respect her husband

From 1 Corinthians

1. Man and woman are to be married if they can’t control their lusts

2. Each partner is to do his or her duty

3. The husband’s body is the wife’s and the wife’s body is the husband’s

4. Don’t withhold sex as a method of controlling; only stop as a means to devote yourself more fully to God

5. Don’t get divorced, even from an unbeliever

It appears that the marriages talked about in Esther—not even between Jews—weren’t the Biblical standard God has for us. The verses in Esther talk about men subjugating women against their consent; about men manipulating women and almost fearing an uprising (“the ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s conduct will speak in the same way to all the king’s princes, and there will be plenty of contempt and anger.” Esther 1:18 One gets the feeling that the contempt will be on the women’s part, while the anger will be on the men’s part.) No; it seems that God designed marriage so that a wife should be willing to obey her husband, but a husband should only ask the wife to do reasonable things. He shouldn’t be a tyrant. As Ian said when we talked about this, “it’s not actions, it’s attitude.”

I’ve always been a strong-willed person, and haven’t ever been very clear on what it means for a wife to “obey” her husband: after all, if a wife did, who’s to say her husband wouldn’t ask her to do stupid or dangerous or embarrassing things? Men are human too, for all they’ve been called to be like Christ in marriage. The church is subject to God’s will because we know that God has a loving plan for us; He’s God and “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) That, then, would be the epitome of how a husband ought to relate to his wife. He should always be looking out for her best interest, and, knowing that, what woman wouldn’t be willing to do what her husband asked? If you knew sure as the sun rises that whatever your husband asked of you is for your own good, wouldn’t you be willing to obey even some outlandish requests?

Ian brought up “Taming of the Shrew,” my least-favorite Shakespeare play. He said that, really, it’s all about the last scene in which two couples are married unhappily because their wives acted good to catch a husband but really had their own agendas; but Kate and Petruchio are happy because Kate’s learned to obey her husband. She says that she’ll do whatever her husband wants, and instead of taking advantage of her, Petruchio takes her hand and raises her up—making her equal with him and showing that he won’t take advantage of the willingness his wife just expressed. Ian said that’s what the Bible is talking about when they tell wives to submit to their husbands. Submitting to somebody you know won’t take advantage of you—who loves you, as Eph. 5 says, as much as he loves his own body—that’s not being a weak woman. It takes more strength to trust somebody else and be able to say, “OK, even though I may not always see your reasons, I believe that you mean the best for me.” That’s what we do with God as a church, and hard though it may be, I think that’s how wives are to relate to their husbands.

– KF –

14 thoughts on “On A Wife’s Role In Marriage

  1. Esther and Mordecai are such a good analogy for the modern people. I mean, what?

    Remember, the word Islam means “submission”. Do Moslems “submit” to Allah cause they want to be dizominated? Well, actually that depends on who you ask. And so it goes with this (and any interpretation) of the act of “submitting”.

  2. Oh, and:

    “The makers of Friendster are suing the publishers of the Bible to change one of the book names. From now on, the Book of Esther will be known as the Book of Est.”

  3. Just make sure the car has gas in it, and you don’t wake the dead. That goes for both sides. I’m afraid I don’t have much to give about being a good wife, even after viewing The Astronaut’s Wife, The Preacher’s Wife, The Butcher’s Wife, and The First Wives Club, then listening to The Who’s My Wife, Natalie Merchant’s Beloved Wife, Vonda Sheperd’s Newspaper Wife, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Wife

  4. Don’t worry, it all sounds so good on paper when in reality… things don’t change too much (except for Ian occasionally plaintively asking, “Aren’t you supposed to submit to me?” and me saying “You’re just imagining things, dear,” to end the discussion.)

    As my Mom told me: “I give your Dad all these choices to make him feel good, but when it comes down to it I do exactly what I want to. If he can’t stand it two months later, I change it. Usually he stops noticing anything after a few weeks.”

  5. Well, even if it’s not said explicitly in the Bible, you can still in your own marriage have the husband submit to the wife as well. One doesn’t have to dominate alone.

  6. But seriously, this is one of those cases where I feel like “If there’s a God, and he really feels women should submit to men, or even just wives submit to husbands, then God is wrong and I am right.” Come on, fuck Him girls. You’re people too.

  7. Eric, you totally missed the point. First of all, I’ll thank you for not being disrespectful of my beliefs on my site. You’re welcome to write what you like on your own blog, and you’re welcome to dissent here on my blog, but I don’t appreciate the “fuck Him” comment.

  8. Second, we’re not talking about anybody “dominating,” here. The man doesn’t become the Supreme Master, Maker of All Decisions while the wife is relegated to Subservient Slave Pregnant, Barefoot Maker of Sandwitches in the Kitchen. *Most* decisions made in marriages are through negotiation and compromise; but sometimes, a compromise can’t be reached. It’s those times I’m talking about, when the wife – knowing her husband places her well-being above her own – is willing to step back and believe that his motivations aren’t totally domineering and selfish.

  9. The point is that a husband respects and loves his wife so much that she knows he’ll put her welfare ahead of his — even up to his giving his life for her. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t any woman want to be in a relationship where the man loves her more than he loves himself? That’s what we’re talking about here. And I don’t see anything wrong with asking women to take a leap of faith on the part of their husbands’ motivations occasionally.

  10. And, ignoring the actual subject of the debate for a moment, if the Christian God does exist as laid out in the Bible then that means that it really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks is fair or reasonable. He created the universe and everything in it, which in my mind means that He gets to set the rules.

  11. I don’t know how that got posted twice, my bad. Oh, refresh probably. Stupid refresh crap. Anyway.

    Everything you say about what the wife should want from the husband is completely true, and in the sense you have defined obey, I see no problems. I just think it should apply in the reverse, the husband should believe his wife isn’t being manipulative or selfish or whatever.

    Moreover, I’m not disrespecting your beliefs by disrespecting a God you didn’t create. I’m not disrespecting your choice to abide by his laws, I’m just saying I think his laws are crap, and if his laws are distinctly unfair to two equal genders, then he is incorrect by my own standards, which are the standards I hold highest. After all, in theory it’s the same for you…your choice to believe in God was made because he met your own personal standards and continues to. We’re just the same.

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