Tag Archives: husband

What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband?

The answer you receive will depend on who you ask. Evangelical Christians living in the United States generally fall into two camps when it comes to biblical gender roles: Egalitarians and complementarians.

Both egalitarians and complementarians believe in submission; however, each group defines submission differently. Egalitarians believe that biblical submission means mutual submission. Husband and wife are to lovingly and respectfully defer to one another. They cite Ephesians 5:21 (nlt) as the key verse: “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is an organization that represents the main tenets of Christian egalitarianism.

Complementarians believe that biblical submission means that a woman should have the disposition and inclination to yield to her husband’s leadership and guidance.  They disagree with the egalitarians’ reading of Ephesians 5:21–33. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) represents the basic beliefs of complementarians.

Within these two camps, there is no consensus on the specifics of gender and gender roles. Subtleties, differences, and even sharp disagreements exist even among those within the same camp. Again, the answer to your question depends on who you ask within these groups.

If you’re married, a good first step is to have a conversation with your spouse. What do each of you think about submission within a marriage relationship? Have you both studied Scripture and the primary resources written by both egalitarians and complementarians? We cannot make a well-informed decision if we haven’t studied the grounds for each view ourselves.

My personal belief is that husbands and wives ought to submit to one another with the utmost love and respect. Each of us is to ask God for the ability to selflessly love the other with a 1 Corinthians 13 type of love. If a wife has gifts in an area that a husband does not have, he should intelligently submit to her gifting and expertise, and vice versa. For example, some husbands who have gifts of hospitality are married to women who have gifts of teaching Scripture. Each should freely practice his or her gift as unto the Lord.

When there is a disagreement, I do not think a wife must automatically acquiesce to her husband just because he is a man. They need to work through it, and if they cannot, they should seek outside counseling that takes both of their views into consideration.

There are equally lovely, intelligent, orthodox, and committed Christ-followers who have the highest view of Scripture who disagree on this issue. Both complementarians and egalitarians make ample use of Scripture to support their positions. Consequently, we cannot demonize our brothers and sisters who hold different views.

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Will We Still be Married in Heaven?

Jesus made it clear that no one will be married in heaven: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30 NIV).

But this doesn’t mean that we won’t know each other or will cease cherishing our earthly relationship. The rich man recognized Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, even though he was in a different place and separated by a “great gulf” (Luke 16:19-31 NKJV). The disciples recognized Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration, even though these two men had lived many centuries before (Matthew 17:1-5). Finally, we recall the striking promise made by our Lord to the repentant thief in Luke 23:43, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise” (NIV).

The apostle Paul said we will have more knowledge in heaven than we have now (1 Corinthians 13:12). This implies that we will know and recognize people more fully in heaven than here on earth. He also said it was “far better” to depart and to be with Christ than to remain in the body on earth (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:22-23).

In all of these passages, heaven is depicted as a place of greater experience than we now know on earth and a place where we will have more knowledge and understanding. This would lead us to believe that we will recognize other members of our family, even though we will not live in family units. Instead, all believers in this age will be united in the bride of Christ and in fellowship with our Savior as the heavenly Bridegroom (Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 19:7,9).

Scripture leads us to believe that we will enjoy such a state of wonderful intimacy with our glorified brothers and sisters that there will no longer be a need for the exclusive relationships that protect us from loneliness and despair in a fallen world. This does not mean, of course, that we will not know and share a perfect love with those with whom we have been especially intimate in our earthly lives. However, all of the joys and ecstasy of marital and family love will be far surpassed by the joys of perfect intimacy and trust in heaven.

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How Can Our Stepfamily Be a Happy One?

All families struggle at times to be happy, but blended families

1 often have bigger obstacles to face than others. For instance, the quality of the relationship between the stepparent and the stepchildren has a big impact on the level of happiness in a blended family. Loyalty issues with the biological children and knowing how to discipline also add major complications.

To meet these challenges well, a husband and wife must make their relationship to each other the top priority ( Genesis 2:24 ). All efforts toward a happy home are useless if you don’t consider your spouse’s feelings and make decisions together. A spouse whose feelings are ignored will begin to feel neglected, insecure, and unloved, which creates unhappiness. It’s important for spouses to discuss everything and make decisions only after they have come to an agreement.

It takes a lot of time to build loving relationships in a blended family. Emotional bonds don’t happen overnight, and it’s unrealistic to think that a stepparent and a stepchild will automatically hit it off. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, it takes years to develop a more normal parent-child attachment. Be patient when it comes to developing close relationships with your stepchildren ( Proverbs 19:11; Colossians 3:12 ). Also be realistic enough to recognize that sometimes the kind of affection you long for never develops. Nevertheless, stepparents need to respect and accept their spouse’s children, not seek to force an immediate close relationship. That respect and acceptance often turns out to be the foundation of the relationship you desire.

As your husband or wife gets to know your children, they will begin to see things in them that you may have overlooked. Be open to your spouse’s judgment about your children. You may feel threatened to hear something negative about them, but listening to your spouse shows respect. Valuing these insights indicates that you respect your spouse’s important role in the family. Honoring his or her opinion may even help solve some of the discipline or relationship problems you may have with your children. It’s natural to feel protective; but those protective feelings could lead you to reject valuable observations, which can in turn lead to heated disagreements over the children ( 2 Timothy 2:22-26 ). When that protective instinct is turned on, admit it to your spouse and talk about it. If you are open about your feelings, you can develop deeper trust and intimacy with your spouse ( 1 Corinthians 13:6; Ephesians 4:15; James 5:16 ). Remember that it’s not you against your spouse; it’s you and your spouse, together, trying to find the best way to raise the children that God has given you ( Proverbs 1:8 ).

Both the natural parent and stepparent 2 are responsible for the guidance of the children ( Proverbs 13:24; 23:13; Ephesians 6:1,4 ). If you love your children (or stepchildren) you will lead and train them. Neglecting to help prepare them for life is a failure to love. Biological parents, in their own way, need to make it known to their kids that the stepparent has equal authority so that there is a strong united front. It’s vitally important for the kids to know that there is agreement between you, and that each of you has the same authority over them.

Blended families have just as much hope for happiness through good relationships as traditional families. They need to recognize that their unique situation has unique challenges, and that those challenges are best met when they have built a strong, God-honoring marriage. (See the ATQ article Who Should Come First in My Stepfamily: My Spouse or My Children?)

  1. A blended family is one where one or both spouses have children from previous relationships.Back To Article
  2. Stepparents can have a positive influence in their stepchildren’s lives. While stepparenting is difficult at times, especially with older children, it is an important role because they are looking to you as a role model James 5:10-11. Back To Article
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What Does It Mean for a Wife to Submit to Her Husband?

Some believe that being submissive means to simply obey and to deny personal feelings, desires, expectations, and dreams. They think a wife is not submissive if she shares her opinions with her husband.

Worse, countless women have been sent back to their homes and told to submit to abusive husbands — in some cases without anyone ever speaking to him about how he treats her. Some even believe that wives who are abused cause the abuse by their lack of submission.

This false concept of submission is often used to manipulate and control women. It advocates quiet obedience and subservience, and denies a woman’s irreplaceable value in her marital relationship. It also ignores the potential for a man to be heavy-handed and unloving in his attempt to be the “ruler” of his home.

Unfortunately, some Christian leaders have contributed to this false concept of submission by overlooking the husband’s obligation to love his wife. This is an extreme misrepresentation of Paul’s intent in Ephesians 5:22-30 .

Others have accused the apostle Paul of being a male chauvinist, one who didn’t respect women or see their value. If we consider what Paul wrote within his culture, however, we see that Paul had a high view of men and women. He understood how they can best work together in marriage to reflect Christ’s love for us.

In a day when men married for money, Paul strongly stated that husbands were obligated to love their wives (see also Colossians 3:19 ). Paul’s words to husbands were revolutionary in Greco-Roman society. Most men married not for love but for financial gain. Marriages were usually arranged, and the father of the bride provided a dowry — a portion of money, clothes, jewelry, and possibly slaves.

Paul’s instructions for marriage were a breath of fresh air. His thoughts were not those of a man who degraded women and wanted to “keep them in their place.” Quite the opposite — he elevated women to a place where they are to be loved as Christ loves the church. That is pretty radical thinking!

It is significant that Paul compared a husband and a wife to Christ and the church. He regarded marriage so highly that it is used as an analogy of Christ and His relationship to the church. If the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the church, we can safely draw conclusions from the comparison of Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church.

Christ loves His bride and is her Savior. Christ gave His life for her. Likewise, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves His church. A husband’s love should be sacrificial, nourishing, cherishing, and protective. A man should love his wife in the same way he loves his own body ( Ephesians 5:25,28 ).

The same level of devotion as required of the husband to love is required of the wife to submit ( Ephesians 5:22 ). Before looking at submission unique to a wife, though, we need to remember that Paul advocates mutual submission between believers ( Ephesians 5:21 ). No one is to demand or force another to yield; submission is voluntary. The Bible doesn’t say that it’s a husband’s responsibility to see to it that his wife submits to him.

A wife’s submission to her husband is in response to her love and devotion to the Lord first. She submits to the Lord out of a humble and grateful heart, not because she is a slave, but a servant. Likewise, biblical submission in marriage is servanthood, not enslavement. A godly wife is motivated to submit to her husband, not out of fear, self-interest, or self-protection, but out of love ( 1 Peter 3:6 ).

Scripture does not define submission as mindless obedience to a husband’s every wish or demand. Nor is it avoiding an argument at all cost. Instead, submission is a deep commitment to a person. It is choosing to work with one’s mate in a way that promotes oneness. A married couple becomes one flesh and must work as a team ( Genesis 1:26 ). Constant fighting and arguing works against a couple trying to become unified.

To illustrate, a team player must submit to the guidance of his coach. A good coach guides the team in strategy and utilizes the strengths of the players for the success of the team. A gifted player may debate a point with his coach, but there comes a point when, if they continue to disagree, the player must submit to his coach. Likewise, the wife, at times, must put aside her disagreements and follow the lead of her husband, whom God has placed in her life as the head. (Sometimes, it is not in the best interest of either the wife or the husband to submit, as in the case of abuse.)

Marriage, according to God’s design, is a relationship that returns love for love, service for service. Husbands and wives love and sacrifice for one another differently. Husbands love their wives by protecting, cherishing, and serving them. Wives submit to their husbands out of respect and love. Both the husband and the wife are given vast opportunities to show Christ’s love to one another. It is not always easy, but marriages can best reflect God’s redemptive work in our lives by following the principles of Christlike love and submission.

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What Are Some Unrealistic Expectations About a Remarriage?

All couples have dreams for the way they want their family to be. But some set themselves up for failure by holding on to unrealistic hopes. Here are a few of them:

We’ll have instant family happiness. It’s unrealistic to think that family happiness will happen overnight and without some struggles.

In a stepfamily, building a happy home takes longer. Losses associated with divorce, loyalty to biological parents, no shared history, and a lack of time together are just a few of the factors that can slow stepfamily bonding.

There’s no set timeframe for family cohesion. And it helps to remember that even intact original families must work to be happy. Like the church, it takes time, effort, and reliance on God for a spirit of unity and peace ( Romans 15:5-7 ). It’s the consistent application of gentleness, humility, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, love and patience that build unity (Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12-14 ).

Children will automatically welcome a new parent in the home. While single parents appreciate the added parental support in remarriage, children may not be as eager to tolerate the new authority figure. Feeling jealous or threatened by the new marriage partner, many children become either distant or aggressive in their relationship with the stepparent.

To defuse conflict, couples need to clearly define the stepparent’s role. As disciplinarians, stepparents shouldn’t be too heavy-handed or too permissive ( Ephesians 6:4 ). Talking with the children about the stepparent’s new role in the home, including them in setting house rules, and fair discipline can ease some of the turmoil. Spending time with the stepchildren and getting to know them can ease tension and build positive relationships.

The past won’t affect how we operate as a family. Some wish that they could erase the painful past of a family break-up. They fear that ex-spouses, money matters, and emotional pain will barge through the door of their new home and become regular unwanted boarders. So they pretend that these problems don’t exist.

Visitation schedules, child-support issues, and unresolved emotions should be discussed as they come up. Realistic acknowledgment of these problems is best.

Focusing on loving others can help us overlook some of the inconveniences of stepfamily life ( 1 Peter 4:8 ). We can also allow the difficult moments to teach us about patience, generosity, and focusing on others’ needs ( Philippians 2:4; Psalm 38:17-22 ). Facing the past and accepting certain realities of stepfamily life can encourage personal growth and healthy family relationships.

Our premarital counseling will prepare us for all that we’ll encounter as a stepfamily. Just as medical training in the classroom can’t fully prepare a doctor for work in the emergency room, premarital counseling is limited in what it can do to get couples ready for remarriage. There are intense emotions that arise and unhealthy ways of coping with the stress that can surprise us. It’s only in the challenges of stepfamily life that we become aware of some of the areas that need special attention.

While premarital counseling is important, it is equally good for stepcouples to continue to educate themselves about stepfamily life. Reading literature on remarriage and stepfamilies1 , networking with other blended families, and staying connected in a strong community of believers through church involvement are crucial to the success of stepfamilies (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25; Galatians 6:2 ).

The desire of most couples entering remarriage is to create a safe, secure, loving home for their children and themselves. But if we tightly hold on to unrealistic expectations, we can unintentionally put our stepfamily at risk. Instead, stepfamilies can help themselves by taking an honest look at their expectations, adjust them according to biblical standards, and trust God to help them redeem the painful past and meet the needs of their new blended family.

  1. While RBC Ministries does not necessarily endorse all the concepts raised in the following books, they can be helpful for remarried couples and stepfamilies:
    The Smart Stepfamily by Ron L. Deal (Bethany House, 2002.) The Blended Family: Achieving Peace and Harmony in the Christian Home by Edward and Sharon Douglas (Providence House Publishers, 2000.) 7 Steps To Bonding With Your Stepchild by Suzen J. Ziegahn, Ph.D. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.) Merging Families by Bobbie Reed, Ph.D. (Concordia Publishing House, 1992.) Back To Article
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