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.