Preparing to be a godly wife
Want to get married? Want to be a godly wife, have your marriage last through the years, honor God, and showcase the grace of God to the world? Awesome. In order to prepare to be a godly wife, we need to know what role wives are called to in God’s design for marriage. In general, God designed and gifted women to be helpers. In marriage specifically, God calls wives to submit to and respect the authority and leadership of their husbands.
“Submit” is not a popular word, but it is a biblical word. God calls wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22). In context, it is not oppressive or degrading, but rather holy, honorable, and joyful. While many now consider submission in marriage outdated or archaic, we cannot simply dismiss the idea of submission as inherently bad because it is actually essential to the Christian faith in general.
“In context, it is not oppressive or degrading, but rather holy, honorable, and joyful.”
ALL CHRISTIANS SUBMIT
To be a Christian, by definition, means submitting to Jesus and others:
- Christians must submit to Jesus and confess him as Lord (Rom. 10:9).
- Christians are called to submit their whole lives to God (Jas. 4:7).
- Christians are called to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).
- Christians are called to submit to our spiritual leaders (Heb. 13:17).
- Christians are called to submit to government authorities (Rom. 13:1).
There is nothing more joyful than submitting to Jesus, and all Christians are called to submit to others in various ways for the good of our souls, for building up of the church, and for reaching the lost with the gospel. It is important to clarify thatÂ we never submit to the point of sinning. If someone commands us to sin, we say with the Apostle Peter, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
“It is important to clarify that we never submit to the point of sinning.”
Not only is submission necessary for Christianity, but it is essential to the nature of our Trinitarian God. Even in the equality of our three-in-one God, there is authority, submission, and roles.
Jesus submitted to the Father – Jesus, the Son of God, is equal with God the Father and yet he submitted to the Father in everything, even to the point of death on a cross, and was pleased to do so (Php. 2:6-8, Jn. 5:30). In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says that “the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Jesus Christ is in submission to God the Father, and husbands are called to submit to Jesus as their head, and wives are called to submit to their husbands as their head.
Submission in Equality – Understanding the submission of Jesus to the Father, and the equality of Jesus and the Father as fully God (Jn. 5:18, Php. 2:6), we can see that submission does not necessarily mean one person is more valuable or important than the other. And we know that both men and women are made in the image of God, and bear God’s image, with equal dignity, value, and worth. So the call of wives to submit to their husbands does not mean that wives are less valuable or important to God, or to the world. Husband and wife are equal in value, and the wife’s role is essential for the husband to flourish under God, and for the marriage to display the gospel to the world.
“Husband and wife are equal in value, and the wife’s role is essential for the husband to flourish under God, and for the marriage to display the gospel to the world.”
WIVES AND HUSBANDS
Submission in marriage – With all that considered, we cannot throw out the idea of submission. Instead, we ought to pursue the vision of headship and submission that is given to us in God’s word: Husbands who sacrificially love and lead their wives, and wives who joyfully submit to and respect their husbands. This is God’s design for marriage. This kind of complementary relationship displays the sacrificial love and leadership of Jesus for his church, and the joyful submission of the church to Jesus.
Submission doesn’t mean silence – Paul describes the relationship of a husband and wife like the relationship between a head and a body. How do heads and bodies work? The head receives and processes signals from the body, then makes decisions on how to satisfy the needs of the body to grow healthy and strong. The husband is the head, given authority and leadership responsibility, and the wife is the body, submitting to her husband’s leadership and communicating with him to help.
Respect in marriage – Submission is what the wife is called to do, and respect is how the wife is called to do it (Eph. 5:33). If a husband and wife are like a head and a body, it would be crazy to disrespect your husband and lash out against him. That would be like a body lashing out against its own head! Angry insults, passive-aggression, and stinging sarcastic comments are analogous to attacking your own head, which is crazy. Instead, you are called to honor your husband, using your words to build him up and affirm his efforts toward godly leadership.
“Angry insults, passive-aggression, and stinging sarcastic comments are analogous to attacking your own head, which is crazy.”
HOW TO PREPARE
So, single ladies wanting to get married, here’s how you can start preparing for marriage now!
Who not to marry – Do not marry and submit to a man who is not submitted to Jesus. If he does not love Jesus, live like Jesus, love like Jesus, listen to Jesus, obey Jesus, and submit whole-heartedly to Jesus, don’t do it. Don’t. Do. It. No matter how much he loves you, and how lonely you might feel, you never want to be under the authority of a man who is not under the authority of Jesus.
Who to marry – Marry a man who, though imperfect, loves Jesus and is whole-heartedly submitted to Jesus, and it will be a joy to submit to that man, because he will try with all his might to love you and lead you like Christ loves and leads his bride, the church. More than that, he will point you to Christ, who is ultimately the only man who can truly satisfy the deep longings of your soul for eternal joy and peace.
“If you marry a man who submits to Jesus, it will be a joy to submit to him.”
Who to be – You need to submit to Jesus. If you don’t submit to Jesus now, not only will you lead a purposeless life, but you will end up bringing misery into your marriage and destroying your husband. Also, you need to put to death every desire in you, or every habit you’ve formed, to use your words to tear others down. If you consistently talk to your husband that way, you will crush him. Your words will tear him down, when he needs you to build him up. Put those habits to death, and learn how to build others up and bless others with your words.
If this all seems overwhelming, that’s good. It is. You need Jesus. You need his grace, you need his forgiveness, you need to believe in him and have faith in him, and believe he’s risen from the dead. And he offers all that to you for free. If you build your life on that truth, you will set yourself up well for a marriage that honors God and is full of joy through all the ups and downs of life.