Why God meant for people to be clothed

Why God meant for people to be clothed

I believe that it was God’s intention for man and woman to be clothed whether or not Adam and Eve ever sinned – the proof is that we will be clothed in the eternal state.

Humans have no natural protection from elements

We as human beings in our natural state are exposed, and thus we are meant to be clothed. Clothing protects our skin from extreme temperatures (hot and cold), and from being cut and scraped. This why we wear clothing and shoes.

Symbolic Purposes for Clothing

It is clear from the Bible that God loves symbols. Marriage while have practical purposes in this life, is also a symbol of the eternal relationship between God and his people. Yeast was symbolic of sin. Boaz redeeming Ruth was a symbol of Christ’s redemption of all mankind. There are countless symbolisms in Scripture, and clothing is no exception. While clothing has practical purposes that we have previously pointed out, clothing also has symbolic purposes.

Being clothed separates mankind from all other creatures

God could have designed people with a super durable and protective exterior to the extent that we did not need clothing, but he did not. The reason was that he wanted to separate us out as special from all his other creations. Every other creature on this planet does not need clothing, but they are given custom clothing by God himself. Birds have feathers, bears, dogs and cats have fur. Some creatures have scales, while others have extremely thick skin. Turtles have shells.

In the Scriptures God made a man to be like an animal for sinning against him:

“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.”

Daniel 4:33(KJV)

King Nebuchadnezzar sinned against God, and God made him go about as an animal for a time, because of his sin. The phrase “his body was wet with the dew of heaven” is acknowledged by many commentators as meaning he was naked. He replaced his clothing with excess body hair, in the same fashion as an animal, or more specifically like eagle’s feathers.

As we saw in the first section, the temporal reasons for clothing are practical ones.

Clothing is symbol of righteousness, while nakedness is symbol of shame

In Revelation chapter 19 we see that clothing is a symbol of the righteousness of the saints:

Job shows us that his righteousness was a clothing:

“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” – Job 29:14(KJV)

John tells us in the book of Revelation that clothing was symbolic of the righteousness of the saints:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” – Revelation 19:7-8(KJV)

In Revelation chapter 3 we see that clothing covers the shame of nakedness:

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” – Revelation 3:18(KJV)

Clothing is a symbol of salvation:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10(KJV)

While clothing has many positive symbolisms in the Bible, nakedness is often associated with poverty or shame:

Christ spoke about nakedness as symbol of poverty:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” – Matthew 25:35-36(KJV)

The scripture also see nakedness as symbolic of shame:

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” – Revelation 16:15(KJV)

Conclusion

In this third second article in our “Biblical Nudity” series, we have established why God always meant for mankind to be clothed (even if the fall had never happened). We can see that unlike other creatures in God’s creation, man was not made with a natural and durable covering to brave the elements and protect his body from damage. We can see there is great symbolism in man being clothed, and it separates and distinguishes us from all the rest of God’s creation on earth.

Clothing, for the most part, has a very positive symbolism in Scripture being symbolic of things like righteousness, salvation and prosperity. Nakedness on the other hand, is often associated with shame, disgrace and poverty.

In our next article in this series, we will discuss “Why nudity is not always shameful”.

See these other related posts in this series “Biblical Nudity”:

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?

Is it wrong for Christians to pose nude, or paint and photograph nudes?

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?

Whynudityshame

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Was it because they realized what sexual attraction was? Was it because of the potential for lust that God clothed them? Or were there other reasons that God clothed Adam and Eve, and nakedness became a shame after Eden?

There was no shame about nakedness before the fall

The Bible says this about Adam and Eve right after they were created by God:

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25(KJV)

Shame felt for the first time

In Genesis 2 – God had told Adam not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Then we read in Genesis 3 that sometime after God created Eve for Adam, and brought them together in the first marriage, Eve was deceived by the Devil. He promised her this “knowledge” that God was hiding from her and told her that she and Adam could become gods by eating the fruit.

Eve ate the fruit, convinced her husband to eat it and the Bible says:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden… And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” – Genesis 3:8-11

The Bible tells us “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” and they sewed leaves together to cover their nakedness. They instantly knew after eating the fruit that they were naked, and needed to be clothed.

The reason for Adam and Eve’s shame

The source of Adam and Eve’s shame was not some new knowledge about sex or lust as is many times presented by various theologians and writers. The source of their shame was not even knowledge of evil, but it was in fact a new and expanded knowledge of what is good.

What is often overlooked is the fact that the tree was not just a tree of the knowledge of “evil”, but also of “good” (Genesis 2:17 & 3:22). Most people only think of the tree giving Adam and Eve knowledge of sin and evil, but the fact is, it also gave them a more complete knowledge of what is good.

When we see little one and two year olds running around the house naked and unashamed, we call them “innocent”. But we know Biblically that children are born sinners, and they sin just as adults do, just in different ways. Little children lie, steal and hurt one another. What we really mean when we call that naked two year old running around “innocent” is, that they are “ignorant” of the fact that as human beings we are not meant to be naked at all times, but we are meant to be clothed.

Just as babies and one and two year olds are ignorant of their nakedness, and the need for clothing, so too Adam and Eve were ignorant of this need for clothing as well, this why they felt the shame they did about their nakedness.

If nakedness were truly a symbol of innocence, then when we get to heaven and when we dwell with God for eternity, we would again be naked. But look at what God says in the book of Revelation regarding clothing:

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9(KJV)

In the eternal state, we will be clothed in white, not naked. We will once again be completely innocent from sin, yet we will not be naked.

Who told you that?

What was God’s first response to Adam and Eve’s knowledge of their nakedness?

“Who told thee that thou wast naked?” – Genesis 3:11(KJV)

Let me give an example to illustrate from a parents point of view. Imagine you have a 6 or 7 year old child, and they find out at school from some kid in their class about sex. Any parent would reasonably ask “Who told you about that? It’s not that the knowledge of sex is bad thing, it is simply that it was not yet time for the child to have this knowledge. This is exactly what happened in Eden.

Make no mistake, God was angry at the way Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of their nakedness through sin, and not in the way he intended for them to find out, from him and in his perfect time.

God did not clothe Adam and Eve because of the presence of sin. He did not cloth them because of some new knowledge about sex or sexual lust.

He clothed them, because they were always meant to be clothed.

This has been the first article in our series on “Biblical Nudity”. In this first post we talked about the shamefulness of nudity, in other posts in this series we will cover topics such as “Why God meant for people to be clothed”, “Why nudity is not always shameful”, “Can Christians pose for and paint nudes?” and other related topics to Biblical nudity.

What is the Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16?

couple female in pink and male in red

What does the Bible mean by “the lust of the eyes”? Is it wrong for us to look at anything and desire it? Or does this mean something else? Recently I was sent this article – http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/lust.html – to review from one of my blog readers, it is an essay by Pastor Steven Anderson, the Pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Temple AZ.

The phrase “the lust of the eyes” occurs one time in the Bible, and it comes to us in the first epistle of John.

“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

I John 2:15-17(KJV)

I don’t mean to say that just because the phrase occurs only one time that it is not important. There are many great truths in Scriptures that occur in only one or two passages. But the key is to understand what this phrase means.

Let’s be clear from the start, the Bible never defines what “the lust of the eyes” is.

So this brings us to Pastor Anderson and his sermon – “The Lust of the Eyes”. I also want to say that in no way am I questioning Pastor Anderson’s salvation, or his genuine desire to please God. But just as Paul withstood Peter to his face, sometimes we must confront the false teachings of other believers.

Let’s start off with where I agree with Pastor Anderson, before I have to stand against the false teachings that he has mixed with the truth of God’s Word.

Pastor Anderson states his definition of “Lust” as it occurs in the Bible:

“The word “lust” means a very strong, intense desire. It is usually talking about a desire that is out of control, a desire that you can’t control is what lust is or just a very intense, extreme desire.  Covetousness is a word that has to do with lust.  If you study Romans chapter seven Paul teaches that in the Bible.”

Pastor Anderson’s definition of lust, is actually pretty accurate, especially when he recognizes how Paul ties it to covetousness (Romans 7:7).

So if we take his definition and understand what Lust is, we can also understand what is not lust.

Desiring something, whether it is our favorite food, or perhaps a car we want to buy, or a home we want to buy is not lust.

Pastor Anderson then moves from his definition of general lust, to a more specific definition of “the lust of the eyes”:

“But I think most people understand what the lust of the flesh is. That could be an appetite for food that is out of control. That could be an appetite for fornication. That could be an appetite for committing physical sins of pleasure with your body. But I think many people fail to understand that there is a difference between the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. And just what is the lust of the eyes?

Well, look down at your Bible in Proverbs chapter six as we are reading this in verse 24. It says, “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.” And then look at the next statement. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”

Now think about this for a moment. Here God is saying not to lust after the beauty of a strange woman, of a wicked woman, of an evil woman.

Now, beauty is a visual aspect. Ok, we are not talking about the flesh here. We are talking about the eyes. We are talking about a man lusting after the beauty of a woman. That is what it says. Look down at your Bible. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids…

Now, what is this talking about? Lust can be defined, again, as coveting something, desiring something that doesn’t belong to you or, in the case of the lust of the eyes, it is coveting and desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.

This is where my disagreements with Pastor Anderson begin. He basically says that Proverbs 6:24 says that God says you cannot even look at the beauty of a woman “strange women” (i.e. a whore or prostitute). The verse says we should not “lust after her beauty” in our hearts.

Let me point out a very important truth here:

LustingLooking

Pastor Anderson has just made the jump from “Lust” being in his own words “a very intense, extreme desire. Covetousness“ to desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.”

Lust in the Scriptures is always a strong and insatiable desire to possess something, or someone that you could not possess, or should not possess.

Proverbs 6:24 is NOT saying men have to walk with their eyes pointed at the ground every time they see a beautiful woman. It is not saying every time that a man sees a beautiful woman on television that he must avert his eyes.

Proverbs 6:24 IS saying we are not to desire to possess the beauty of a wicked and loose woman (whether she be a wayward wife or a prostitute). Can someone possess beauty? Absolutely! Do you realize some men marry women only for their outward beauty, knowing they may never have a close relationship, knowing the woman is a viper on the inside?

But I also think it is highly likely that “beauty” here in Proverbs 6:24, is simply a symbol of the woman herself, to possess her physically, and bodily.

Again the word “look” is nowhere in this passage – remember that fact, the word is “lust” (an insatiable desire to take possession of something or someone we cannot).

Another thing to point out is, “the lust of the eyes” is not simply talking about sexual lust. Other examples of “the lust of the eyes” is when we lust after things that other people have. Whether it is the home they have, or perhaps their car, their furniture or artwork they have in their home. For ladies “the lust of the eyes” might be looking at other women’s clothing with an intense desire to possess the clothing they have.

Are there some things we should not even look at?

Even though I disagree with Pastor Anderson’s interpretation of Proverbs 6:24, I don’t disagree with the Biblical concept that there are some evil things we should not set before our eyes. I just don’t see Proverbs 6:24 as teaching that we can’t even look at a beautiful woman, and even appreciate the beauty of a woman, unless she is our wife.

The right verse (which he also mentions in his post) speaking to looking at evil things is from Psalms:

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

Psalm 101:3

So I have just argued that it is not a sin, and it is not lust simply to look at the beauty of a woman, even the beauty of a wicked woman. I would even argue that it is not a sin to look at the beauty of a good woman who is single or another man’s wife.

Sin happens comes when we go from looking to lusting, when we have an insatiable to desire to physically possess the beauty of a woman that we have no right to.

But there are some things we should not even look at. An example would be pornography. We should not be looking at images that depict sexually immoral acts. Another example might be Satanic books and books about sorcery and witchcraft (we see in Acts 19:19 that believers brought these kinds of books and burned them).

What about Job 31:1?

Pastor Anderson talks about nakedness but I am going to leave that for a separate upcoming post. I want to close this post by looking at his reference to Job 31:1:

“Job said it this way. He said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes.” He said, “I made a deal with my eyes.” “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes and said, ‘You are going to look at what I tell you to look at. And you are not going to look at women that are dressed indecent. You are not going to look at another man’s wife. You are not going to look at these images that Hollywood and TV will portray for you.”

Job says nothing about the way a woman is dressed, he says nothing here about looking at another man’s wife. He says nothing about looking at images of women (in his day it would have been paintings or sculptures). He does not state any of these things Pastor Anderson mentions.

In Job 31:1 the word “think”, could also be “to perceive and look at”. So then some might say “ha – he is saying we can’t even look at a young women!” Can anyone say with a straight face they think Job was saying he never looked at any young women, that every time a young woman came by that he averted his eyes? Such an idea would be ridiculous and we find no such example in the Scriptures.

The fact is that nowhere in all of Scripture do we see the Bible condemning a man for simply looking at a woman. We also never see sexual arousal being condemned in Scripture. What is condemned is lust, which is covetousness. It is what we do after we look, even after we may be aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman. Do we begin to contemplate in our heads how we can get that woman to have sex with us outside of marriage?

What Job was NOT saying

Based on the totality of the Scriptures Here is what we know job was not saying.

1. We know Job was NOT saying it was a sin for him to look at a young virgin.

2. We know that Job was NOT saying it was sin for him to be aroused by the beauty of a young woman. In fact it would not even be wrong if he wanted to marry a young woman.

What Job WAS saying in Job 31:1

That leaves us with only one possibility of what Job was actually saying about his thoughts regarding young virgins:

He would not think about how to seduce a young virgin into having sex with him outside of marriage (as so many men around him probably did).

Speaking of virginity, people often wonder why God was so serious about a woman’s virginity in the Bible, and they often look at it as God being harsh toward women. No! God was protecting women from men who would take advantage of them. One of the many reasons God wants men and women to wait for sex in marriage, is so that a woman is protected, and any children that might come from her having sex would be protected and provided for. Our society is paying a heavy financial toll for ignoring God’s commands regarding virginity and premarital sex.

Conclusion

Lusting is not the same as looking – please remember that truth. Men are visual creatures, much more so than women typically are. As men, God has given us our sexuality, and even our visual sexuality, as a gift. No Christian man should be ashamed of the fact that he receives pleasure every time he sees a beautiful woman.

Please here me out Christian man. Examine the Scriptures for yourself. God did not give you your eyes and a male brain that is capable of appreciating and receiving pleasure from the sight of female beauty, only to tell you that you must look away in shame every time you feel pleasure at the site of a beautiful woman.

He did not give your eyes to appreciate only one woman, that being your future wife. Not one passage of Scripture ever states this concept, no matter how many times Pastors repeat it over and over, and many Christian authors repeat this mantra in their marriage books.

As I have said multiple times on this site, God designed men as polygynous beings and that is why we are naturally attracted to a variety of women. I know that conflicts with our modern monogamous-only marriage society, but regardless, it is the truth. Look at the articles on this site, detailing the polygyny of the Biblical patriarchs.

In upcoming articles, I will address some of the other issues he raises such as the topic of nudity, mixed gender swimming, what we watch on TV and male gynecologists.

Lawlessness, God’s Law and Tradition – Which one do you and your Church serve?

historic white church on the hill, bodega, california

In many Christian Churches today, we see one of two extremes. We see churches preaching against traditionalism (or legalism as it often referred to today) but not preaching against lawlessness. We also see churches preaching against lawlessness, but many of these same churches fail to preach against traditionalism (legalism). It is becoming less and less common in our culture to see Churches that neither go to the left nor the right of God’s law.

Do not turn to the right or to the left

This subject of not going to the right or left of God’s law seems to be a very important theme in the Scriptures.

“Be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left.”

Deuteronomy 5:32 HCSB

This phrase of not turning to “the right or the left” of God’s commands is repeated 7 more times in the Scriptures(Deuteronomy 17:20, Deuteronomy 28:14, Joshua 1:7, Joshua 23:6, 2 Kings 22:2,2 Chronicles 34:2,Proverbs 4:27).

God also uses another phrase to express this same sentiment:

“You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you.”

Deuteronomy 4:2 HCSB

This same phrase of “not adding or taking anything” away from God’s law is repeated in Deuteronomy 12:32.

So in total, 10 times, count them – 10 times God says he does not want us to go the left of his law, or to the right of his law, he does not want us to add to his law, or take away from his law.

When we go to the left of God’s law, and we take away from God’s law, we get lawlessness. When we go to the right of God’s law, we add to God’s law and we get tradition.

LawlessnessGodsLawManslaw

Jesus Christ himself reserved some of his most vehement scolding for Jewish teachers of the Law who added to God’s laws and taught their traditions as being equal to God’s law when he quoted from Isaiah:

“In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,

but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,

teaching as doctrines the commands of men.””

Matthew 15:6b -9 HCSB

The Apostle Paul, when fighting against a new false teaching that added rules to God’s Word spoke these words:

“8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ… 16 Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. 19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God.

20 If you died with the Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: 21 “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? 22 All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are commands and doctrines of men. 23 Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.”

Colossians 2:8 & 16-23 HCSB

The Three types of spiritual slavery in the New Testament

In the passage we just quoted from Colossians 2, Paul talks about human tradition taking us captive. He has used this concept of captivity with lawlessness as well when he states:

“19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

2 Peter 2:19 HCSB

Paul talks about another type of slavery, a positive type of slavery:

“16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. “

Romans 6:16-18 HCSB

So we have three masters we can serve, Lawlessness, God or Tradition. Being a captive of Lawlessness or Tradition are both equally sinful activities.

Examples of the difference between Lawlessness, God’s law and Tradition

LawlessnessGodsLawManslaw2

What if I or my Church practice some of these traditions, am I sinning?

Please don’t misunderstand me. We all have some rules for ourselves, or as parents for our children that may fall into some of the categories I have mentioned above. Even some Churches may have some rules that are not found in the Bible.

It is one thing to have a rule or standard for one’s life, one’s family, or even for Church activities, and another to teach these things as doctrines of Scripture that all men must follow, else they are sinning.

For instance, if I personally have a rule for my family that we won’t drink alcohol in our home, there is no sin in that. But if I teach that the drinking of any alcohol is wrong for all people, and sinful for all people – then I am being a slave to tradition and I am sinning by adding to God’s Word. God’s Word condemns drunkenness, not drinking.

Perhaps you believe that God wants you and your family to tithe, to give 10 percent of your gross income to your local church. There is no sin in this belief, as long as you understand that it is not sinful for others give less than 10% to their local churches, because tithing was never instituted as a method of giving for the New Testament Church. Anyone who teaches this as a doctrine for the New Testament Church is being a slave to the traditions of men, and is adding to the New Testament which clearly says with New Covenant, we are no longer under the old law.

I could go on, but you get the point. There is nothing wrong with having traditions that you follow, as long as those traditions do not cause you to violate the commands of God, and as long you never equate those traditions with the commands and doctrines of God’s Word.

So the question is what master will you serve? Lawlessness? God or Tradition?

This has been the first in series of posts I wanted to write relating to traditionalism. In this first post I wanted to compare and contrast following lawlessness, God’s law and the traditions of men. This is not just some theoretical exercise, I grew up in Churches that believed in many of the traditions I listed, and they held strong convictions that anyone who did not embrace these traditions as the commands of God, were in fact sinners under the judgment of God.

Many times on this blog I have been accused of being a traditionalist myself, because of my strong convictions regarding Biblical Gender Roles. But the major difference between mine and millions of Christians who believe in Biblical Gender Roles and these traditions I listed above is – there are ample Scriptural commands that teach Biblical Gender Roles, there are no Scriptural commands that teach any of the traditions I have shown above. They are built on conjecture, and opinion, not on clear Scriptural commands.

In upcoming posts I will be reviewing actual doctrinal statements from a church website that one my blog readers referred to me where this Church teaches many of these traditions as the commands of God, rather than the traditions of men.

 

Is Christian marriage a master – servant relationship?

masterservant

The obvious answer to this question is absolutely not! Right? Marriage is a loving relationship of two equal partner’s right? This what we are told time and time again, even in many Christian marriage books. Even in some more conservative Christian marriage books that teach about male headship, they always seem to qualify a man’s headship role over woman in marriage, by saying something like “this is not a master and servant relationship, but simply an order of priority”.

But the Bible speaks very differently on this matter than what our modern society accepts.

The Bible states that the husband is the “head” of his wife:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 NASB

Ephesians 5 tells us that marriage is to be a picture of the relationship of Christ and the Church. The husband is to model Christ in his love, leadership, provision and protection of his wife and the wife is to model the Church in her serving of her husband, and she is to be “subject” to him in “everything”.

One could argue easily from Ephesians chapter 5 that the relationship between Christ and the Church is in fact a master-servant relationship, rather than a partnership of equals. How could anyone argue that Christ and his Church are equal partners from this or any other passage?

But the Bible even doubles down on this idea that the husband-wife relationship is indeed a master-servant relationship in I Peter chapter 3:

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

I Peter 3:1-6 NASB

The Bible in I Peter tells women that they ought to model to their submission to their husbands on Sarah’s behavior with Abraham when she called him “lord”. The English word translated here as “lord” is a translation of the Greek word “Kurios”.

According to Thayer & Smith’s Bible dictionary the definition of Kurios is:

“he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord

  1. the possessor and disposer of a thing

    1. the owner; one who has control of the person, the master

    2. in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor

  2. is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master

  3. this title is given to: God, the Messiah”

The word Kurios most often is translated as “Lord” with a capital “L” indicating a direct reference to God. But in many other places it is often translated as “Master”.

In the Old Testament a husband of a wife was referred to in many places as her “baal” which literally meant “Lord” or “Master” or “Owner”. This same word was even used as the master of owners of slaves.

Proverbs 31:10-11 & 23 & 27-29 NASB

10 An excellent wife, who can find?

For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband [BAAL (Master/Owner)] trusts in her,

And he will have no lack of gain…

23 Her husband [BAAL (Master/Owner)] is known in the gates,

When he sits among the elders of the land…

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,

And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her;

Her husband [BAAL (Master/Owner)] also, and he praises her, saying:

29 “Many daughters have done nobly,

But you excel them all.”

What does the Master-Servant aspect of marriage mean for husbands and wives?

I don’t know how any person could look at the Scriptures and see anything less than a Master-Servant relationship between a husband and wife, as opposed to a partnership of two equals. But if you are a woman reading this, before your think I am advocating for men walking all over their wives as selfish dictators let me draw your attention to a word I just used – “LESS”.

Biblically speaking the relationship between a man and his wife is no less than a master-servant relationship, but it is in fact much more than that. A master is not commanded to love each of his servants as his own body as husbands are told to love their wives in Ephesians chapter 5. A master is not commanded to honor his servants and live with them according to knowledge, as a husband is commanded to do with his wife in I Peter chapter 3. A master is not commanded to have sex with his servant as he is commanded to have sex with his wife in I Corinthians 7:5 and Exodus 21:10.

This Biblical truth that marriage is indeed a master-servant relationship can be abused, and many men throughout history have done just that. But when we understand that this is just one aspect of marriage, and not the totality of how marriage works, this can make marriages stronger.

If you are a wife reading this, you might wonder how such a teaching, that your husband is your master, and you are his servant can make your marriage stronger. It makes it stronger because it removes the contention in marriage. It removes the competition. You each have your role to play. Your husband leads, and you follow.

But shouldn’t husbands serve their wives as Christ served his disciples?

There is no doubt that a husband ought to exercise the servant leadership that Christ did. A man ought to be humble enough to serve his wife by helping with making dinner or helping with the kids when she gets overwhelmed. Really this what a good boss, or master does when his employees (or servants) are overrun, he steps in to make up the difference.

But while Christ washed the feet of his disciples, Christ did not spend the majority of his time serving plates of food and washing feet. He spent the majority of his time teaching and leading, as a man should do.

Conclusion

While a husband ought to be humble enough to serve his wife and family where he sees needs arise, his primary concern should be that of leading, providing for and protecting his family. The dominate trait of a wife should be that of a servant. She is not tasked with leading the home, so all of her efforts can focus on serving the needs of her husband, her children and her home.

Obviously the economic reality of some families today sometimes means that a wife may have to serve her husband and family by working outside the home. But this does not change the core principle that a husband is called to lead, and wife is called to serve.

Peace truly comes through living the way our creator designed us to.