God’s Design for Marriage

With great interest I’ve been following your website and reading your advice column here.  As a young woman of the same age as you, and with a similar background in acting and upbringing, I’ve felt best able to relate to your story of seeking out a more truly Christian lifestyle and searching for greater meaning and discipline to my life.
 
I was just about ready to “make the leap” and seek out some of the resources you’d recommended, when I read something that made me doubt my ability to blend a Christian life with the convictions of equality I’ve been raised to believe in. Convictions that now, as an elementary school teacher, I try to pass on and stress to my students each and every day as I attempt to help them build their confidence and sense of self.
 
You gave advice to a woman who was trying to come to an agreement with her husband about homeschooling. You wrote that in the end, the husband is the leader of the family and should make the final decision.
 
I was raised to believe that men and women are equals and should act as partners when married. I also believe this demonstrates to children that women shouldn’t be submissive and that their opinions are as worthy as that of males. I know that to suddenly change my way of thinking that my partner’s opinions should be the final ones regardless of compromise would leave me feeling disrespected and unsatisfied, and I would hope through compromise my partner would never feel this way in return, either.
 
If it is true that it is suggested that men dominate the “power” role in the modern family, I’m not sure if my yearning to walk a similar path to your’s is right for me after all, and I feel more confused than ever. I have put acting behind me and am enjoying my career as a teacher, and look forward to marriage.  Will it be possible for me to dedicate my life to Christ if I don’t feel “right” putting my partner on an uneven plane as myself? 
 
Thanks if you are able to help me sort this out.

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Many women in today’s culture struggle with this very thought and subject, so you’re not alone. It is our society that’s got it messed up and has confused us all. Just because you were raised a certain way and brought up to believe certain things, it doesn’t mean they are right. Let’s look at the Bible for answers.

Marriage is an equal partnership in that BOTH roles, husband and wife, are equally important. But, they are not designed to be the SAME role. The Bible says, “For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman: but the woman for the man” (1Corinthians 11:8-9). In Genesis, God created Adam and said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a him an help meet for him”. (Gen. 2:18) See, we were CREATED to be a helper to our husbands.

“Submissive” is not a four letter word. Today’s culture would have us believe it is. That is straight from the mouth of the enemy. Being submissive to my husband in no way makes me feel disrespected or unsatisfied. I haven’t turned into a door mat that gets walked all over. Just the opposite! As a submissive wife, I have a great responsibility and role in my marriage. Yes, I’m the second in command but does that make my role less worthy? No.

Think of it in military terms. You have a commanding officer and a soldier. There is a chain of command. Does that make the soldier’s role less important? Of course it doesn’t. If everyone was a commanding officer, there would be chaos! Same thing in your household. Having two heads of authority doesn’t work by design. Once a conflict arises, you will both stand on your principles until someone compromises, or worse–not, and the other will feel defeated. Most likely it will be your husband who’ll do the compromising because it will be easier to give in than listen to his unhappy wife. This cycle will continue on in your marriage, only to have your husband feel he’s incapable of making good decisions for your family, that you don’t respect him, and ultimately find himself looking for a woman who will. I know that sounds harsh, but why do you think the divorce rate gets higher and higher every year?

I take joy in serving my husband. He does not take advantage of me. I don’t become his slave. I help him because it pleases the Lord, and ultimately, THAT is who I care about most. When I love, honor, respect and help build my husband into the man God wants him to be for our home, he has so much love for me in return. He WANTS my opinion, he trusts me, he takes my advice and asks what I think on just about every subject. This trust has been given because of my attitude when it comes to his decision making. We talk, we share, he knows what’s important to me. He ALWAYS takes that into consideration. I’ll tell you, most of the time, my husband will yield to my direction on the subject because he values it so. But, when he believes a different decision to be right, I allow him to make that final decision and not say anything more about it. I don’t let the disappointment show on my face for the next few days. I don’t whine and complain about not getting my way. And I CERTAINLY don’t rub it in his face if my way would have been the better way! I’m right there by his side to help him make a better decision the next time around. (Trust me… when things like that happen, they’ll listen to you even more next time!)

Ultimately, my husband is responsible for all the decisions made in our home before God. He’ll stand before God to give an account of our family. That’s a weight lifted from my shoulders and yet such a hefty responsibility for my husband. I want to do everything possible to see us succeed together.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1Cor. 11:3) Do you see the chain of command? Even Christ is subject to one higher than himself–God! Why then, should we feel that we deserve to be equal with everyone else? Are we not subject to Christ as well? Again, this is society’s view that’s got us all confused. I choose to allow my husband to lead because I want to do it God’s way. I gave up “my rights” when I gave my life over to the Lord.

I could write pages and pages on this subject, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. This answer is not complicated because scripture is abundantly clear when it comes to the role of being a wife. Read Titus 2. If you are seeking God and His ways…. you can’t pick and choose what makes you feel good or more comfortable. God is a God of Truth and has written His ways and ultimate design for our lives in the Bible. While the subject seems to be a stumbling block for you in knowing the God who created you, it’s clearly an attack to prevent another soul from being saved. Before you give up on a right relationship with God because of this subject, seek the scriptures. They are TRUTH. God can open your eyes spiritually if you’ll ask Him.

My recommended reading for you is: Created to Be His Help Meet by Debbie Pearl and Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

May God give you the clarity you need to know His ways.

2 comments for “God’s Design for Marriage

  1. Amelia
    January 7, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    I enjoy reading your column! Thank you for your perspective and for sharing what has worked in your relationship with God and in your family.

    However, I was disappointed to read you blame our nation’s horrible divorce rate on the lack of submission by wives within marriage.

    My parents, who are among the happiest couples I know, just celebrated their 26th year together – they love each other deeply, and neither of them is religious, nor Christian. I learned quite a bit from watching them make decisions as a team in my childhood and adulthood. They honor one another’s feelings, and tend to decide things together – neither’s word is more final or decisive than the other, and they respect one another.

    Meanwhile, my boyfriend’s parents (both born again, and very religious people who try their best to follow God) divorced after 28 years (many of them unhappy). His mother, a kind and wonderful woman, did (and does) believe that her husband ought to make decisions in the relationship, and his father embraced his role as head of household, but it ultimately did not lead to mutual respect in that case.

    I congratulate you on a happy, loving and reverant marriage, and I hope that my story (or my family’s, I suppose!) can help show that embracing Biblical roles in and of itself simply isn’t enough to make a marriage work, and that it isn’t required for a happy and loving marriage.

  2. September 20, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    It is disappointing that so many believers still promote the pattern of marriage in which a husband is given the “authority” over a wife.

    This message of “heirarchy” in marriage has been taught in the Christian church since the early sixties.. and the results are in. A 50% divorce rate in the church. Misery or “yes, we made it” is the norm in most of our Christian marriages that do make it until “death do us part.”

    There is a much better way – one that we have written two books about and teach worldwide through the books, Weekend Marriage Intensives, Church seminars, Nationwide phone marriage mentoring and a 24/7 online marriage forum.

    We live and teach an “Outrageously Happy Marriage!” It is a marriage paradigm that WORKS! and is 100% biblical.

    Our story in a nutshell: One good year of marriage. Nine bad years of verbal, mental and emotional abuse and to top that off, if that is not bad enough, I (Joel speaking) got into adultery in our seventh year of marriage while we were Pastors of a church. The adultery was in 1991.

    In 1994, after the nine years of misery, God caused us to discover this new way to live marriage and our life began to dramatically change. After living this new way for ten years, we wrote “The Man of Her Dreams/The Woman of His!”

    That was in 2004 – we were immediately thrust into full time marriage ministry. The rest is history. Hundreds of couples lives have been transformed. Probably thousands as the first book has sold over 10,000 copies mainly via word of mouth – but we don’t hear from everyone.

    The second book was written in 2006′

    The problem with marriages in the church? – For the last 50-60 years, the church has conducted what we refer to as “the great social experiment that failed.” This “experiment” was the following approach to marriage:

    1. Wife only submit. She submits to her husband. Husbands submits to Christ, not to wife.

    2. Husband is the leader. Wife is follower, second in command. She is his trusted confidant whom the husband looks to for input but he is responsible before God for final decisions after carefully considering his wife’s views.

    3. Husband is the authority over the wife. If she does not submit to him, she is in rebellion to God, or in rebellion to her calling as a wife.

    4. Husband deserves respect, simply because he is “the man” in the marriage. He does not have to do anything to earn respect, rather his wife is taught to respect him, regardless of his actions.

    5. A wife is not to confront her husband when he is doing wrong – rather she is to voice her concern carefully (like Esther approached the king) and then just pray and trust that God will speak to her husband. She was instructed “don’t play the Holy Spirit” and “you can’t change your husband.” She was told to quit nagging.

    6. A woman cannot look to her husband to fulfill her emotional needs, rather she should look to God for her emotional needs to get met. She was told that her husband is “just a man” and that she was having unrealistic expectations for him to meet her needs – that she needed to look to God for that.

    7. A wife is burdened with the success or failure of her marriage: if she just submits enough, prays enough and loves her husband with agape love enough, the marriage will be good eventually and if it fails, it is because she did not do these things enough.

    We were taught this in Bible school, marriage books and seminars, at church and on radio and TV every time that marriage was discussed.

    Now the results are in. After teaching this message for 50-60 years, the church has a 50% divorce rate, tons of adultery, lots of porn use and more.

    In 1994, God began to teach us a new paradigm of marriage. This paradigm took us from misery to an outrageously happy marriage – and it works 100% of the time when a couple puts it into practice in their marriage. We deal with the worst of the worst marriages on a daily basis – but when couples find us who just have troubled marriages or decent marriages, the principles cause these marriages to skyrocket quickly into a happy place.

    The things that we teach are:

    1. Mutual submission.

    2. Mutual respect.

    3. Mutual honor

    4. Team leadership

    5. A husband initiates the good and accepts responsibility for the bad in a marriage.

    6. A husband is to agape love his wife and she is to only “philandros” love him in return. This is a “responsive” love. I love you because you first love me. I love you because you treat me great.

    7. A husband must lay his life down in meeting his wife’s emotional needs and he must listen to her heart so that he can become the husband that she is yearning for. She has a “marriage manual” in her heart that he needs to listen to when it concerns relationship issues and let her heart cry lead them into a happy place.

    The church is going around the mountain again. In the 70’s, it was “Total Woman” and “Fascinating Womanhood.” Later it was “His needs, her needs.” In recent years it is “Love and Respect” and “Under Cover”. All of these approaches to marriage are simply regurgitating the failed paradigm of the past. The church continues to promote the same failed ideas with the same results. Insanity is attempting to do things the same way and expecting different results, this time! Sadly, we, the church, seem to be quite adept at walking the insane route!

    We invite every couple who would like to learn a scriptural approach to marriage that creates JOY instead of misery, please visit us at our site. http://www.BestMarriage.com

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