The Bible tells us that Ruth laid at the feet of Boaz(Ruth 3:7-8) and it calls on women to follow Sarah’s example who called her husband ‘lord'(I Peter :6). There are still parts of the world today where women bow before their husbands and even kneel before their husbands each day to put his shoes on before he goes out to work. The Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord” in Ephesians 5:22.
All of the Biblical passages on a wife’s submission to her husband leads us to this very question that was recently asked by one of my readers:
“Is it wrong to worship my husband? I love him and want to please him in a way that worship is the only way I can describe it.”
I can’t tell you how many emails I have received from people over the years saying that I am telling women they must worship their husbands. In this article I will give what I believe the Biblical answer to this question is.
What does “worship” mean?
Here are three definitions of “worship”:
“: the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshipping God or a god
: excessive admiration for someone”
“ 1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage:
They attended worship this morning.
3. adoring reverence or regard:
excessive worship of business success.
4. the object of adoring reverence or regard.
5.(initial capital letter) British. a title of honor used in addressing or mentioning certain magistrates and others of high rank or station (usually preceded by Your, His, or Her).”
“the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”
So we can see in these definitions from three dictionary sources that worship has to do with reverence, adoration, and deities. I personally believe Google’s summary definition of “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” most accurately reflects the correct understanding or our English word “worship”.
Does the Bible command wives to reverence their husbands?
“reverence” is defined as:
“: honor or respect that is felt for or shown to (someone or something)”
1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
2. the outward manifestation of this feeling:
to pay reverence.
3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.
4. the state of being revered, or treated with respect tinged with awe.
5, (initial capital letter) a title used in addressing or mentioning a member of the clergy (usually preceded by your or his).
“1.deep respect for someone or something.”
As we can see our English word “reverence” has to do with “deep respect”, “awe” and “veneration”. It is pictured by someone bowing down to another. You would show reverence when you meet the President or a governor. People coming before a King would do so in reverence.
So the answer to the question “Does God call women to demonstrate reverence as we have just seen it defined toward their husbands?” is YES.
“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Ephesians 5:33 (KJV)
God tells wives to reverence their husbands in Ephesians 5 where he has just finished explaining that marriage symbolizes the relationship between God and his people, between Christ and his Church. In the beginning of his discussion on marriage he told wives this:
“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)
Paul tells wives they are to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord”. While the Greek word is “kurios’ in the original text of the Scriptures is “lord” the reference here is not to “a lord” as in an earthly master. The reference is to “THE Lord” as in God himself. So it is would be entirely correct to say Biblically speaking wives are to submit to their husbands as they would to God himself.
There is no other human relationship, whether it be the parent/child relationship, servant/master or citizen/governor that calls for this type of submission. The submission of a wife to her husband is the most powerful and all-encompassing submission of any human relationship God designed.
The casualness of marriage today
Reverence and respect are foreign words today in marriages and in homes in general. Children no longer respect their parents and wives no longer respect their husbands. We have very casual way in which we now approach one another – whether it be in how children approach their parents or in how wives approach their husbands.
The result of this is that children often talk to their parents in very disrespectful manners and wives often talk to their husbands in disrespectful manners. To put it bluntly – both women and children have forgotten their place.
People in favor of a more casual approach to God as well as to marriage will often point to passages like these from the Bible showing that God calls us his friends:
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
John 15:14 (KJV)
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
James 2:23 (KJV)
What they do not realize is the concept that there are friends that are equals, and friends that are not equals.
“He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.”
Proverbs 22:11 (KJV)
If you are friends with a coworker or fellow student at school then it is a friendship of equals. In this type of relationship you can be more casual because of your equal positions. But if you are on friendly terms with your boss at work, your teacher, or even your governor, President or King this is not an equal friendship and this must always be kept in mind by those under authority.
This is the continual balance that must be kept between those in authority over others and those under authority.
Today when people say “I want to marry my best friend” – most often what they are really saying is they do not want a patriarchy style of marriage but rather a partnership style of marriage which is a violation of God’s design for marriage.
Am I saying it is wrong for a wife to call her husband her best friend or husband to call his wife his best friend? No.
I think it is possible for a Christian couple to fully practice the Biblical Patriarchal form of marriage and also consider each other to be friends. The Bible calls us friends of God so I see no reason why a wife could not be a friend of her husband.
But in that friendship it must never be lost on a wife that her husband is more than her friend – he is her superior and her authority. That means sometimes he will have to correct her, discipline her and do things that she will not like or agree with.
What this means in practice is that a wife should treat her husband as her king.
Can she be friends with her king? Of course. Can she respectfully give advice to her king? Certainly. Can she respectfully bring her grievances before her king? Definitely. But in her relationship with him she never forgets her position or his.
So now that we have established that the Bible does teach that wives are to reverence their husbands we will now move on to the subject of wives adoring their husbands.
Does the Bible command wives to have adoration toward their husbands?
“adoration” is defined as:
“: strong feelings of love or admiration”
“1. the act of paying honor, as to a divine being; worship.
2. reverent homage.
3.fervent and devoted love.”
“deep love and respect.”
I think Webster’s dictionary definition of “strong feelings of love or admiration” for adoration best describes it.
So does the Bible say a wife should have deep feelings of love and admiration for her husband? YES.
“3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Titus 2:3-5 (KJV)
The English phrase “to love their husbands” could also be translated as “lovers of their husbands”. This is deep and passionate love that a wife has toward her husband.
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”
Proverbs 12:14 (KJV)
A wife is not only called by God to passionately love her husband, but she is also called to be his crown. A crown brings a king glory as it adorns his head. A wife is called to do the same for her husband. This is why God says “the woman is the glory of the man.”(I Corinthians 11:7).
So we can see clearly from the Scriptures that God commands women to have adoration for their husbands.
So if women are to have reverence and adoration toward their husbands then should they worship their husbands?
Now we come to the answer to this question of wives worshiping husbands. As we have seen from the definition of worship in most cases it involves three things – reverence, adoration and a deity. Yes wives are to reverence and adore their husbands. But the Bible is clear that we are to worship God and God alone:
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 19:10 (KJV)
The context of Revelation 19 is that an angel of God had shown John all these wonderful things and I am sure the angel was a glorious sight so he bowed to worship him. But he was forbidden from doing this and reminded that worship is reserved for God and God alone.
It is Biblically accurate to say that a husband’s position and authority over his wife is in fact the closest human authority to God’s authority over all mankind. But while a husband’s position may closely resemble God’s authority – it is not identical to God’s authority. God’s authority has no limits while every sphere of human authority does have it is limits – including the authority of a husband.
Should a wife submit unto her as unto God as the Scriptures exhort her? YES.
Should a wife show reverence toward her husband? YES.
Should a wife show adoration toward her husband? YES.
Should a wife worship her husband? NO.
God and God alone deserves our worship.
Is it wrong for a woman to bow to her husband as shown in the picture?
Now that I shown from the Scriptures that women are not to worship their husbands do I believe what the woman in the picture at top of my article was doing is wrong? NO.
Women should have that kind of respect and adoration for their husbands that they could bow before him and not feel like this is wrong. Bowing before an authority, whether it be a king of a country, or the king of your home is not an act of worship. It is a deep sign of respect.
When women in some countries kneel before their husbands each day to put his shoes on before he goes to work this is a sign of deep respect.
But doesn’t a wife bowing before her husband dishonor her?
No it does not. The Bible does call on husbands to honor their wives, but this honor is given relevant to her subordinate position.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
I Peter 3:7 (KJV)
There is an interesting contrast in Scripture that most Christian teachers and preachers miss today.
Wives are called to submit themselves unto their husbands in this way:
“as unto the Lord”
Husband are called to give honor unto their wives in this way:
“as unto the weaker vessel”
Now I want you to stop and think about that contrast. Literally what the Bible is saying is a woman should give her husband the same type of submission as it would be appropriate to give to God. Where a husband is called to give his wife honor that is appropriate to her subordinate position as the weaker vessel.
So yes husbands should honor their wives as the husband of Proverbs 31 did that praised his wife for her accomplishments in his home. But a husband ought not to give his wife honor that is above her position as some men do today.
Today the biggest problem we face is not women wanting to worship their husbands as this reader’s question might suggest. The biggest problem we face in our modern culture is very much the opposite.
Today instead of husbands giving honor unto their as wives “as unto the weaker vessel” they now give honor unto their wives “as unto the Lord”.
Just look at a random selection of romantic cards for women in a card shop and tell me I am wrong. Look at the lyrics to most romance songs today and tell me I am wrong. Watch a typical romance movie today and tell me I am wrong.
So yes women ought not to worship their husbands. But it is equally true that husbands ought not to worship their wives and this is by far the greater problem we face in our world today.
14 thoughts on “Should a Christian Wife Worship her Husband?”
You’re correct that God wants wives to reverence their husbands, but not worship them, and that its no sin to bow down to their husbands out of reverence and respect for their position and authority, the picture at the top of this article looks very much like a woman worshiping her husband since her hands are clasped together, as if in prayer. Just a tiny thought that hit me. Otherwise, awesome article!
But how can a woman worship her husband? Like what are some ways? Since she shouldn’t pray to him like he is a god.
he’s not saying worship your husband show him respect. worship is reserved for God only.
Women today seem to take great pleasure in husband bashing. It isn’t unusual where ever you find more than two women, be they Christian or not they soon start in on all the things their husbands do wrong. It happens in online groups or in public. I think it’s so disrespectful and won’t be part of it.
I agree, worship is for God alone but a wife is to respect her husband at all times. That includes how she speaks to him as well as how she speaks about him to others. How she presents herself in public, she is a reflection of her husband in all she does. So how she dresses, how she treats others, everything she does shows how much or how little she respects her husband I believe.
I am disgusted by you saying that women should “bow” to their husbands. We are not slaves to our husband, we’re their wives. A man may be king, which makes his wife the queen.
My husband and I have been Christians for quite some time. I don’t bow to him, nor do I call him “Lord” (I do call him by his name) but just because I don’t do either of those things I mentioned, doesn’t mean I obey him any less or that he is any less the head of our household. In fact, my husband is the greatest husband a woman could ask for, he respects me, loves me, and even wishes to hear my opinions, because sometimes a wife’s judgement is better than her husband’s (as in the case of Abigail and her husband). It’s because of his love and respect for me that makes it easier for me to actually want to obey him and make him happy too. Not that I wouldn’t otherwise, but just saying. He doesn’t demand stuff from me, he just asks for it. He’s a great guy. He doesn’t treat me like a slave, nor does he act superior, he treats me as his equal, like he should and women are NOT inferior! He takes great care of me, and he’s strong, yet gentle, and I love him dearly. Do you hate women or something? Because I see you talk about women as if they’re inferior and of less value when nothing could be further from the truth. Women are of equal value, and we bear your children.
Also, husbands and wives are intimate, it’s not the same thing as calling your parents “mum and dad”. This is different. My husband knows and loves me for the woman God made me to be, and I love him so much. Of course, I obey him, and I cook the dinner for him, and woman may have a natural desire to follow but not what you’re saying. I think you’ve taken it too far. It’s like saying a wife will go to hell if she doesn’t do those things, when really we’re only saved by God’s grace and the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t like how you twist scripture, and then use God to justify demeaning women like that. While I agree with many things you say on other topics, this isn’t one of them. Again, wives are not daughters whom man can boss around, you’re commanded to love your wife as Christ loves the church. My husband is a confident man, secure in his position as the head of me and the house, and I think a that husband who wants his wife to bow to him and called him by a title rather than by name is an insecure man, that’s all. God bless
I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I have to say. While you’re correct on what God wants men and women to be, You’re missing something in a lot of your articles. Something really important and something fundamental to Christianity.
Now, I’m not saying that you aren’t correct in almost everything you say here. Everything you say about the Biblical Gender roles and the commandments given by God is true.
But, I’ve noticed (Unless I’m mistaken) that almost nowhere, do you preach the ultimate gospel. The fact that these works, these Biblical Gender Roles, all of these correct statements that you’ve made are EXTRA. They are not required for someone salvation. All that’s required for someone’s salvation is to have undying Faith that Christ will save them from eternal hellfire (John 3:16).
That’s a very important part of the gospel to spread my brother. The free gift of salvation. If you headed all of your posts like that, I don’t think so many people would object with you. And you’d do able to save a lot more people than saying “Men Love your wives and wives, quit disobeying your husbands.”
But, to reject that gospel and to say that we have to do all of these works and that these works ALONE will get us into Heaven, is rejecting Christ. Christ is love, and Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven! If you want to encourage males and Females to go back to the times of old and to follow God in the correct manner, fine. I support it. In fact, I encourage it. That’s why I love your blog so much and why I do the same thing in my own household! Both of us will be rewarded greatly for obeying God in such a way. But, we are ALL sinners and condemned and without Christ, these works are for naught.
May Christ be with you always, and may God continue to bless you and lead you and all who read your blog down the right path. I love you all.
I thank you for your concern about the giving the Gospel and making sure people understand that adhering to Biblical gender roles will save no one in the same way being kind to your neighbor will save no one. It is only by the blood of Christ that we are saved. The commands God gives whether it be regarding gender roles, family, church and just general Holy living will not save us – on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross will do that. But that does not mean God does not care if we follow his commands because he certainly does – while we will not loose our salvation for not following his commands we face other consequences in this life and we may loose rewards in the next life.
See these posts I have written on Salvation:
Here is an example of one of many comments where I elaborte on salvation in other posts not specifically related to salvation:
When I think of the word “compete” in regard to a wife competing for her husband’s affection(as opposed to his agape love that is unconditional) I am talking about it in the same way that Paul spoke about the Christian race. We do not run for our salvation – that is given to us freely and unconditionally by God when we believe much in the same way your husband pledged his unconditional love to you on the day you exchanged marriage vows and entered into that sacred covenant before God.
The race we run in this life is not a race against other Christians. In fact God gives us each our own race to run. As I said in a previous post – while some rules of this race are the same for all of us(both men and women), there are some different responsibilities and obstacles that God has given to men and women depending on their gender. When we run this race we are competing for God’s affection and for his reward but not for his love.”
@Anne There is nothing wrong, or slave-like about a wife bowing or kneeling to her husband in reverence as its a sign of deep respect for him and his authority and position as her husband(Abigail did that for David, even before he was her husband out of humility and respect, by the way). Its a sign of humility as well, humbling oneself before God and man. Nothing to be ashamed of. As to being equal, your only your husband’s equal in terms of Salvation, humanity, and in your purpose and love by God as you were both created to bring God honor and glory and are both equally loved by Him and saved. You may not be less in God’s eyes, but your subordinate to your husband, who has absolute and, short of inability, unconditional authority over you in all unsinful matters. Its not a matter of inferiority, its a matter of Divine Order. And BGR says nothing about women being less or any such thing as you have implied, just that their role is beneath that of man as they were created for man and intended to be man’s help-meet. Thats all. Also, wives who are saved don’t go to Hell for rebellion or disrespect, but they will still pay for it in loss of rewards and in this world possibly. BGR has likewise said nothing of the kind. He says Salvation is only by Jesus, and is eternal.
The more sexually obedient I am to my husband, the more reverence I have for him. It’s weird, but submitting to sex with him on his terms and timing make me feel more humble in his presence. I don’t really understand the phenomenon.
I also feel the same way towards my husband in regards to sexual obedience. It’s almost as if I feel completely powerless to his authority but in the most positive natural way. Being completely submissive to men’s authority is something that women should not fight. It’s how we were designed, we are the weaker sex and I don’t find anything shameful or negative about that. I think more women should embrace this, they would be surprised how much happier they would be. Another benefit with having sex whenever your husband wants it is the better it gets and the more you will want it. At least that’s my experience.
D, you are spot on here. I think we do women (and men, too) a great disservice by teaching submission as something that sucks but is how God designed relationships. A lot of times I feel stressed it’s because I’m taking responsibility for things that God never intended for me to bear. It’s true that my husband delegates things to me differently than a lot of men here do, but ultimately the responsibility isn’t mine and I should have a more trusting submissive attitude towards him. We just had a talk about that this evening and I’m feeling free as a bird right now!
Thank you! If women just stopped trying to be better than or even equal to men and just surrendered to them, I think all men and women would be so much happier. It’s not about giving in, it’s about doing what comes natural, how we were meant to live together. At least that’s my opinion.!
You are absolutely right that submission is meant for our benefit, not to crush us or beat us down. Notice I used the word “us” because both men and women are to be submitted to God and his will for our lives. Even as men we sometimes take on worries that we should not – things that belong to God. Christ tells us(both men and women) not to worry but to trust in his provision and protection:
Matthew 6:27-34 (KJV)
This passage has been especially precious to me in the last month. I found out at the beginning of August that I was being laid off from job where I have worked for over 10 years. I thank God that I had a great relationship with the company and they gave me this much notice to be able to find another job. I have not been writing much on this blog in the last month because I have put all my energies into seeking another job. I am happy to report that God provided and I start my new job next week! So I am hoping in the next week or so after starting my new job to get back on the horse and start writing again. I may be able to slip something in sooner but who knows.
But taking this full circle back to submission. Submission is truly meant for our benefit, not our detriment. At my job there are things that I need to be concerned with and things that I leave to my manager and are not my concern. In my church I submit to my pastor and trust him to guide our church – it is not my job or concern. And yes in marriage as you have pointed out there are certain things God never meant for you to bear but instead meant for you husbands shoulders to bear. Yes in a sin cursed world women sometimes have to bear things because their husbands are not there or cannot for other reasons. But in God’s perfect design – there were some things you as women were never meant to shoulder. When you realize this you have peace and true freedom from these stresses.
BGR, That was mostly what my husband was telling me yesterday about how both genders submit in life and how it’s linked to trust. I’m so glad you found a new job! I started a new job last week after coming off maternity leave. It can be rough, but much better than being unemployed!