I have put off writing this.
But Jesus kept gently whispering to me about it. With the sort of things I write about marriage…this is missing. This week, it’s been sooo on my heart that I haven’t been able to get this post off of mind. I had to write about it.
What does it look like to be the kind of wife God asks us to be?
First and foremost – the Word of God is the Bible, and that is the source of objective Truth. I believe this wholeheartedly, and that is therefore the lens from which I will be writing.
If you’re a wife, do you feel…
- Unfulfilled in your marriage?
- Often upset at your husband, but can’t articulate why?
- Caught between wanting to be the “housewife of the 1920s” and the “career-winning, busybody-ing, burnt-out boss woman” of the 2020s?
- Unsure totally of the difference between the husband and the wife, and often caught in a power dynamic struggle?
I believe that Scripture has some encouraging (yet maybe challenging), edifying (yet maybe rebuking), important words for us wives out there today (AND husbands, of course, and single people, of course, although this post will speak specifically to wives).
And before you scoff at the word “submission,” know that husbands are called, in the same breath of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, to “give themselves up for their wives just as Christ did for the church…washing her feet” (Ephesians 5:25-26). But that is for another blog post.
I want to encourage you, if you are a Christian wife, to ask yourself: Have I been scoffing at the Bible’s ethic on marriage and being a wife?
If the answer is yes, could that be because you have been prescribing more to the world’s ethic for marriage than to God’s ethic for it?
As Christians, we believe that God’s Word is Truth. He says some very clear things to us about what it looks like to be a godly husband or wife, and these are beautiful, noble, worthy things.
- A godly wife serves and is selfless. “She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family…She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:15, 20). Proverbs 31, if you didn’t know, is kind of, like, the “wife” Proverb. The “Proverbs 31 Woman” is a common phrase in the Christian world…and I, personally, am so grateful for this proverb. It contains such wisdom for women, and it has pointed me clearly to Jesus many times. This verse reminds me of the importance of investing in others and extending outward, while at the same time focusing inward on my home and serving my family.
- A godly wife is modest. “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4). This is something that God has shown me later in life – “modest is hottest,” if you will. I know this sounds so cliche, but it’s sooo true. I often mourn the over-sexualized world we live in, and I don’t want to contribute to it. I want my body to be for my husband’s eyes only, and so God has taught me to dress not to draw attention to my body. Now, that doesn’t mean wearing baggy clothes you don’t like. I am passionate about fashion, certainly. The way you dress is between you and the Lord, and I believe it is an important thing to seek Him on.
And, let’s not gloss over the real Word that we find in this verse: let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. Wow. I am so grateful for this Word and reminder! The hidden person of the heart with a gentle and quiet spirit is imperishable – un-fleeting – whereas external clothes and accessories are completely perishable and temporary. Where is our heart in these things? Oh, Lord, give us the gentle spirit that is pleasing to You. Help us not to be caught up in what is only external and temporary, but to dwell richly with you in the hidden place.
- A godly wife seeks, trusts, and fears the Lord. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). Ahh. One of my favourite verses! Are we as wives and women focusing on charming others – our bosses, our husbands, other men? Are we focusing on our outward beauty, spending tons of time and money on the right clothes and hairstyle and make-up to please and attract others? Or are we fearing ONLY the Lord?
- A godly wife respects and submits to her husband. “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Oh, it’s another favourite verse! Now, this is where many a person has decided to pick and choose the Bible verses they feel suit them, and leave out the ones that don’t, which often, in my experience, includes this one. And it might include this one because it’s been poorly interpreted or explained to them.
Firstly, we have a command: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” I won’t get into all the details of this verse here, but for a fantastic, readable commentary on it, head to this great article by Bible.org.
Here are some quick Truths and implications we can glean from this verse:
- To submit Biblically to your husband, you must already be in submission to Jesus.
- To submit Biblically to your husband, you must recognize and understand the fact that he is your head. Here is a great article about what headship is and what it isn’t (spoiler: headship does not mean tyrant, oppressor, or authoritarian).
- Submission to Christ, and submission your husband when HE is lead by Christ and leads in and through Christ, is a GOOD thing – a very good thing.
- Submission to your husband is NOT a matter of inequality, passivity, not being equally used by the Lord, not having spiritual gifts, etc. Submission to your husband, while the Bible says submit “in everything,” does NOT, of course, include abuse, cheating, criminal activity, or sin. And, of course, if you are in a marriage in which your husband is implying or even demanding that you do these things, that is a totally different story, and I pray you seek marital counsel and potentially divorce if the Lord leads you there.
I am really only scratching the surface on all there is to be said here. Please, if you are new to understanding the Bible’s commandment on submission, or want to know more about the husband’s role in all this, check out the articles I linked above!
Okay – secondly: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.” Do we have a problem with Jesus being our head? No. Here, we know and can see that Jesus is our Saviour. Of course, my husband is not my Saviour. But, as he submits to Christ, I submit to him – ultimately with Christ as both of our Heads. Why does the wife submit to the husband? Among many good reasons, one is that God’s design for marriage was that it was to bear witness to the relationship between Christ and His Church. Ever wondered about all of the bridal imagery in the Bible, with the Church being Christ’s “bride, ready to receive Him?” As women, God has given us the special role of bride, and men the groom. When we know that the way we live in our marriage brings glory to God’s design for all humanity, it makes a lot more sense.
So, “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Jesus is completely submitted to the Father, yet He is no less important, valuable, completely needed than the Father. We submit completely to our husbands, yet we are no less important, valuable, completely needed than them.
- A godly wife cares for the home. “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness “(Proverbs 31:27). I have been convicted of “eating the bread of idleness.” Like, literally, sometimes I have zoned out when it’s been a particular busy week and eaten some bread while watching some YouTube. I’m not saying this verse is talking about bread or YouTube or that either of those things are inherently bad or wrong, but you get the point. It doesn’t mean that I am called to 24/7 clean and cook and work and serve – I am called to Sabbath, too. When living in and through the Spirit, He will show you when you might be succumbing to idleness.
- A godly wife works hard. “[A wife of noble character] sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” (Proverbs 31:17). Did you think the Bible only called men to work? Not a chance! In these verses we might say it seems clear that the tasks the wife are called to are regarding caring for her home, but the Bible more so clearly expresses the value in and importance of work. This can be attributed to working at home for her children and household, and/or at a job. Neither one is more valuable or important than another – however, I do believe that the nobility of staying at home and working to serve family and kids has been looked down upon in our culture wrongly. Again, this is really between you and the Lord. Regardless, noble wives work hard, work for the Lord, and work with strength.
- A godly wife teaches others what is good. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5). Women teach! We’re not called to be slaves to substances or sin; we’re called to train those under our authority how to love their husbands as the Bible calls us to, how to be self-controlled and pure, caring for the home, submitting to their husbands, THAT THE WORD OF GOD MIGHT NOT BE REVILED.
How often, Christians, are we seeing the Word of God for women REVILED in this day and age? We are seeing women teach other women to be “boss babes” hustling endlessly for their careers, fool around sexually, and drink as much wine as they please. Let this be a call, sister, to come back to the Word, repent, and receive Jesus’ way – which is always better, no matter what the world says about it.
Following God’s Word and His Spirit on what it means to be a godly wife has changed my life for the better, and I pray you might be blessed by this reminder, too.