In Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, there is no word for husband. Instead, the Bible uses two words to refer to husbands and these words can refer to men that are not husbands as well.
In the Hebrew of the Old Testament husbands are often referred to as “ish” which means “a male human being” and the New Testament also uses the Greek equivalent word for male which is “aner” to refer to husbands. In other words, one of the ways to refer to a woman’s husband in ancient times was simply to refer to him as “her man”.
The second word which the Bible uses to refer to a woman’s husband is very offensive to modern ears. The Hebrew word “baal” is used 15 times in the Old Testament to refer to a woman’s husband. The Hebrew word “baal” means “master/owner”. There is also an adverb use of “baal” which means “owned”. The word is used to refer to masters, home owners, a pagan deity and to husbands.
The following passage from the book of Exodus illustrates the use of baal where it is not a referring to a woman’s husband.
“7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.8 If the thief be not found, then the master [BAAL] of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it:11 Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner [BAAL] of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner [BAAL] thereof.”
Exodus 22:7-12 (KJV)
Notice in the passage above that baal is translated as “master” in verse 8, then as “owner” in verses 11 and 12. The reason for this that baal in the context of a house meant the head of household or literally the master of the house. But in the context of goods being held or exchanged, baal referred to the owner of the goods.
Now let’s look at the following passage refers to a husband’s mastery and ownership over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married [BAAL used as verb] to an husband [BAAL used as noun], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)
The phrase “a woman married to an husband” is most literally translated from the Hebrew as “a woman owned by an owner”.
In the Proverbs 31 regarding the virtuous wife, the Bible refers to her husband not as her “ish” (her man), but rather as her “baal” (her master):
“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband [BAAL – master] doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil…
23 Her husband [BAAL – master] is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land…
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [BAAL – master] also, and he praiseth her.“
Some Christians, unwilling to accept the Biblical teaching that a husband is the master and owner of his wife, have tried to claim that since “ish”(meaning man) is used more often than “baal” to refer to a woman’s husband that this is how God wants a wife to see her husband, as her man and not as her master. These Christian’s see a husband’s mastery over his wife as a result of sin and something God only temporarily allowed.
Some have even tried to point to the following Old Testament passage to say God’s preference is for women to see their husbands as their “man” and not “master”:
“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.”
Hosea 2:16 (KJV)
In the passage above God was not giving up his mastery over his wife, Israel. But rather he saying he wanted her to see him as BOTH her man and her master. Ishi was the tender and affectionate way that women sometimes referred to their husbands. In essence, God wanted his wife Israel to say to him “You are not just my master, but you are my man”.
The passage below from the New Testament, settles once and for all whether or not a husband’s mastery over his wife was a result of sin or his design from the beginning of creation:
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord [Greek KURIOS – “master”]: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
1 Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)
The fact that the Apostle Peter commands women, Christian women, to follow the examples of Old Testament women like Sarah who called their husband’s “lord” (master) confirms for us that a husband’s mastery over his wife was God’s design from the very beginning of creation.
How Masters of Wives Became Husbands
Many centuries after the New Testament was finished, English, like other languages came up with a new word to refer specifically to the master and owner of a wife. Originally husband meant “master of the house”. So the early English translations of the Bible translated “baal” as “husband” instead of master as they believed it helped refer to a specific kind of master, the master of a wife.
In no way was the translation of a master of a wife as “husband” meant to weaken a man’s authority over his wife. English common law, following Biblical law, recognized a husband’s full ownership over his wife and children. When it came to his wife, a man could override any of his wife’s decisions and had complete control over her life, again in keeping with Biblical law (see Numbers 30, Ephesians 5:22-24:).
American Society Rejects the Mastery of Husband Over His Wife
The term “master” in our American society is seen as a very negative term and evokes images of slave masters acting cruelly toward their slaves. But in the Bible, the term master was not automatically associated with slavery or cruelty. It recognizes that there were just slave masters and cruel slave masters.
The Bible also recognizes a concept that we as 21st century Americans cannot understand. That to be owned and master by someone does not automatically make you a slave. In other words, while a husband is his wife’s master, meaning that he does own her and control her life, that does not make her his slave.
The Bible shows that husbands as masters of their wives have far greater responsibilities toward their wives than masters of slaves. In Ephesians 5:25-29, the Bible commands that husbands are to be willing to give their lives to protect their wives, they are to lead, teach, provide for and care for their wives as Christ does his church.
The Bible is clear that God wants Christian women to recognize their husband’s as more than their “life partners” or “friends” and even more than their leaders. God wants wives to recognize their husband’s as their earthly masters who have full control over their lives.
Full acceptance of the Biblical teaching of a husband’s mastery over his wife requires both a Christian husband and a Christian wife to reject the belief in the full autonomy of women. This modern belief that women have the same rights and freedom as men is enshrined in our American laws. But these laws giving women the same rights and freedom as men are null and void in the eyes of God and we as Christian husbands and wives must consider these laws null and void as well if we are to have marriages that are faithful to God’s design.
It will require great courage for Christian men to reclaim their birthright and responsibility of mastery over their wives in this post feminist era. And it will require great humility on the part of Christian women to fully embrace their husband’s mastery over them.
Let us pray for a courageous generation of Christian men and a humble generation of Christian women to return our society back to God’s design for marriage.
“We are to live under a different system, where neither husband nor wife exerts power over the other. Our God was not a “servant leader” but an actual servant. The difference is huge.
Imagine a king who chooses to live among his subjects. He works with them, eats with them, and shares conversation with them. But he can’t be one of them, because he has power they don’t. He can change his life—or theirs—on a whim, and they can’t. He and his subjects can appear the same, but they can’t be the same as long as this power differential exists. The only way he can change this is to give up the crown. That’s what Jesus did. And that is what Paul calls husbands to do in Ephesians 5.”
This is what the Devil does. He takes some bit of truth and then twists it into a lie to fit his purposes. Is it true that Christ said leaders should serve those under their leadership? Absolutely. But he did not teach or do the things that Egalitarians say he did in the statement above.
To expose this heresy that Egalitarians teach we will look at what Christ actually said and what he actually did in comparison to their assertions.
Christ’s Teaching and Example of Servant Leadership
In Mark 10:42-45 Christ made the following statement:
“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
This is probably the greatest statement Christ gave on serving. But to fully understand Christ’s Words in Mark 10:42-45 we must contrast them with another statement he made to the Jewish leaders in Matthew 26:63-64:
“But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
The Jewish leaders knew exactly what Jesus was alluding to when he said he would come on “the clouds of heaven”. This was a reference to what the prophet Daniel said in Daniel 7:13-14:
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
In Jesus’s first coming, he did not yet come to establish his earthly kingdom, but instead he came to be the suffering servant. He came to do for us that which we could not do for ourselves. He came to pay for our sins and to purchase his church, his bride, with his blood (Acts 20:28).
But one day he will return to establish his earthly kingdom. And in that kingdom, he will compel all nations to serve him. And if they do not, they will be punished with drought and plagues as Zechariah 14:16-19 shows.
Christ Was Not Just a Servant, He Was a Servant Leader
The egalitarian assertion that Christ, “Our God was not a “servant leader” but an actual servant” is demonstrably false.
Jesus did NOT lay aside his crown or kingship, he was still king of heaven but he had not yet established his earthly kingdom as he stated in John 18:36:
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.“
When Christ drove the money lenders from the temple, that was an exercise of his authority and power in John 2:15-16:
"And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."
Only a leader can issue commands to others, and that is what Christ did with his Apostles in Mark 6:7-8:
“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse”
Christ “commanded” his twelve disciples and only a leader can do that. He gave them power over unclean spirits and once again only a person with power can give power.
Christ spoke as “one having authority” as the people saw in Matthew 7:28-29:
“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
He gave a great commission in which he first asserted his power then gave the following commands to his Apostles in Matthew 28:18-20:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
No, my egalitarian friends – our God, Jesus Christ, was not just a servant, he was indeed the ultimate servant leader!
Christ Was Correcting Earthly Authority, Not Abolishing It
Christ made the following decree through his Apostle Paul in Romans 13:1-7:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
And in Hebrews 13:7 Christ made the following statement through the writer of Hebrews regarding obedience to church authorities:
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”
In 1 Peter 3:1-2 & 5-6 Christ tells wives through his Apostle Peter:
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear…For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
And in Ephesians 6:1 Christ tells children through his Apostle Paul:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”
So, as we can see from the passages above, Christ was not abolishing human authority or saying it was wrong for human authorities to exercise their power over those under their leadership. But rather, he was showing us how human authorities at all levels should conduct themselves. He was showing us the difference between good and bad leadership. The difference between a selfish leader and a servant leader.
Selfish leaders only think of themselves and not the good of those whom they lead. A Christ-like servant leader thinks of the good his people. He is willing to step in and do any job when his people cannot do it for themselves even to the point of giving his life for his people as Christ did. But as we can see from the fuller picture of Christ’s leadership, a servant leader still compels the obedience and service of those under his authority.
Servant Leaders Compel Their People to Fulfill Their Mission
Christ had a mission, and so does every leader. Civil leaders have the mission of protecting the rights of the people by punishing evil doers and praising those who do well. Church leaders have the mission of spreading the Gospel, discipling believers and disciplining those who bring shame on the church by their public sins.
And husbands have the greatest mission of all earthly authorities. This mission is seen in 1 Corinthians 11:7:
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”
A man’s life mission is to live out the very attributes of the masculine God which we serve and thereby bring God glory. A part of his mission is for him to image God as a father to his children in teaching them, disciplining them and preparing them for the roles which God has given them in this life.
One of the most crucial aspect of a man’s mission is his leadership of his wife. This leadership is to imitate God’s leadership of his people. The requirements of this part of man’s mission are seen in Ephesians 5:25-29:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
Men have the awesome responsibility of washing their wives’ spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God, just as Christ does his church. The purpose of this washing is to help a wife to reach her full potential as a wife, to be the glorious wife God wants her to be.
And what does it mean to be a glorious wife? That is also revealed in this same chapter of Ephesians in verses 22-24 and 33.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing…Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
A glorious wife according to these Scriptures is one who submits to her husband as she would to God with the exception of if her husband asks her to do something which violates God’s law (Acts 5:29). A glorious wife submits to her husband in everything, not just things she is comfortable with or feels like doing. And a glorious wife reverences her husband with a deep and profound respect.
It is not a coincidence that there are two things’ men desire most from their women – submission and respect. Because this desire in men directly represents the image of God in man.
Another part of a man’s washing of his wife requires that he also follow Christ’s example with his churches in Revelation 3:19 where said “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” So, a man washes his wife with the Word of God and he rebukes and chastens her all to bring her to the point of being the glorious wife she should be.
In addition to his responsibility to wash, rebuke and discipline his wife he also has the responsibility to nourish (provide for) and cherish (protect) his wife as he would his own body.
All of these acts together constitute a man’s service and his love toward his wife. His leadership of her is his service to her. His teaching her the Word of God and washing her spiritual flaws to make her a better a wife is his service to her. His discipline of her is his service to her. His provision for her material needs and his protection of her to the point that he would be willing to give his life for hers is his service to her.
A Wife’s Service to Her Husband Looks Very Different Than His Service to Her
While it is absolutely Biblically true that a husband and wife ought to serve one another, this does not mean that their service looks the same. In fact, the way they should serve one another looks very different according to the Bible.
God has called wives to serve their husbands by bearing and caring for their children. In 1 Timothy 5:14 the Bible calls on women to “bear children” and in Titus 2:4 the Bible calls on women to love and care for their children.
God has called wives to serve their husbands by managing the domestic affairs of the home. In 1 Timothy 5:14 the Bible calls on women to “guide” the domestic affairs of the home and in Titus 2:5 it tells women to be “keepers at home”.
God has called wives to serve their husbands by freely and willingly offering their bodies to their husbands for their sexual use and satisfaction. In Romans 1:27 the Bible calls sex “the natural use of the woman” and in Proverbs 5:19 it commands men to “satisfy” themselves with their wife’s body.
God has called wives to serve their husbands by bringing them glory. In Proverbs 12:4 the Bible says that a “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband” and in 1 Corinthians 11:7 we read that “the woman is glory of the man”. A woman brings her husband glory by serving him faithfully in submitting to his leadership, in her mothering of his children, in her keeping of his home and in her satisfying his sexual desires with her body. She brings him glory with both her inward beauty and her outward beauty.
Egalitarianism is nothing less than complete rebellion against God’s establishment of patriarchy, male headship, in all areas of society including the family, the church and civil government. The lack of male leadership in any of these spheres leads to chaos and destruction. God spoke about this in Isaiah 3:12 when he said “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths”. And this is what we are witnessing today in our equality obsessed western nations.
Jesus Christ never gave up his heavenly kingship when he came to earth. But rather he asserted it many times while he was here in his earthly ministry. He was not just a servant, but truly he was a servant leader.
Christ taught us that a servant leader does not use his leadership only to fulfill his own desires. But rather he works with and helps the people under his leadership to work together to fulfill the mission he has been given or that he has set for himself. He develops the people under his leadership and seeks to help them reach their full potential. He steps in wherever help is needed and sacrifices himself for his people, but he also pushes his people to do what they ought to do and disciplines those under his authority to help them to do what they ought to be doing.
The truth we find in the Bible is that while God has called husbands and wives to serve one another, he has called them to serve one another in very different ways. The husband serves his wife as her head, while she serves him as his helper. He uses his headship to make her the most glorious wife she can be by God’s standards, and she helps him by bringing glory to him in all that she says and does.
“I have read your site for some time, but this is my first time writing you. My wife and I have been married a year. She is 18 and I am 24. Now I am trying to get my wife to follow her role as I begin to assume my role as leader. I am six years older than her, but that seems to just make it worse. She keeps saying “You are not my father!” She was raised in a strict family and I guess she thinks now that she is married, she is free from all authority. I have recently put both of us on a budget. I have created a budget and I keep my side, but she keeps overspending on hers.
I read your article on 7 ways to discipline your wife and you recommend taking away her debit card. I know I could do this, but in my view, that should be the last option. I am considering starting spanking her. I have mentioned it to her, not on the budget, but in general and she is against it. She thinks spanking is treating her like a child.
I read your warning about a wife reporting a husband for spanking her and my wife would not do that. She was taught to resolve family issues inside the family. She complained to her mom about something in our marriage a few months into our marriage and her mom told her she did not want to hear about it; “You and your husband need to work that out” is what her mom told her.
My question to you is, do you think I am making a mistake trying to incorporate spanking as a form of discipline in our marriage? Should I just take away her debit card and give her some limited cash?
We are very early in our marriage and I know this is the time when we will set the pattern for the rest of our marriage and I really would appreciate your guidance in how to do that.”
What you just read was an email I received from a young Christian husband calling himself Robert.
Whether or not he realizes it, what Robert is really asking is “How can I as Christian husband groom my young wife?”
Grooming is Sinful in Humanism but Sacred in the Bible
Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the verb definition of groom as “to clean and maintain the appearance of (an animal), to make neat or attractive, to get into readiness for a specific objective” and this fits with the traditional understanding of this word.
But humanists see grooming as one person conditioning another person to allow them or someone else to abuse them. The term is often associated with pedophiles preying on children, sex traffickers conditioning women for prostitution or husbands conditioning their wives to allow them to abuse them.
According to SecularHumanism.org, a core tenant of humanism is the freeing of “the individual from traditional controls by family, church, and state, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life”. This is why the concept of one person exerting control over another is heresy to a humanist while conversely consent is sacred.
And this is why “grooming” is a trigger word for humanists.
But from a Biblical perspective, grooming when used in the sense of a husband conditioning his wife to be in complete subjection to him and molding her behavior to his preferences is not evil or immoral. But rather, these actions are righteous, holy and required of husbands by God.
Remember that Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary definition of grooming was “to clean and maintain the appearance of (an animal), to make neat or attractive, to get into readiness for a specific objective” and now let’s compare that definition to what the Bible calls husbands to do toward their wives in Ephesians 5:25-27:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Look at the striking parallels between the way God requires husbands to love their wives as Christ loves his church and what grooming actually is. So, we can rightly say as Christians that the Biblical call for husbands to wash their wives with the Word of God to present their wives to themselves in a glorious fashion is a call for husbands to groom their wives.
And one thing I want to mention for my humanist friends out there that are in major trigger mode right now. Some of them may be hung up on the word “animal” in the definition of grooming. If you look at the definition here you will see these examples of grooming “an impeccably groomed woman,was being groomed as a presidential candidate”. So no, this term is not exclusively used of animals.
Important Prerequisites to Grooming Your Young Bride
Now that we have established that it is not wrong, but actually a man’s God given duty to groom his bride as Christ grooms his Church we need to talk about the prerequisites that should be met before a Christian husband attempts this grooming process with his wife.
Prerequisite #1 – You and Your Young Bride Must Both Be Believers
While there are certainly unbiblical and worldly ways to groom a young bride for her husband, the steps given in this guide are based upon the Biblical view of marriage as God designed it. They will only work for a Christian husband and a Christian wife. See my article “What is the Gospel” for more on what it means to be a believer in Christ.
Prerequisite #2 – You and Your Wife Need to Be Biblicist Christians
There are two kinds of Christians today. Humanist Christians and Biblicist Christians. Humanist Christians only believe the parts the Bible that do not conflict with the morals and values of humanism. They rationalize this by saying they believe many parts of the Bible are “cultural” and were not meant for all peoples and all times. Other humanists attempt to play the words of Christ in the Gospels against the words of the Apostle Paul not realizing that these words are equally the Word of God.
But for this grooming guide to work you must be Biblicist Christians. You and your young bride must believe what 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. And you both must believe that God commands you to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Prerequisite #3 – Grooming works best with young wives
Even if you are both Biblicist Christians, age is a major factor in a man grooming his wife. In my experience, the grooming of a bride has the most success in women under the age of 25. After that the chances of success radically fall, even with believing wives. But with that said, I have seen instances where husbands and wives married more than two decades have been able to make these changes. It really comes down to husbands finding their courage and women humbling themselves before God and their husbands.
7 Steps to Groom Your Young Bride
Now that we have discussed the prerequisites to being able to groom your young bride, we can now discuss the steps you as a Christian husband need to take.
Step #1 – Un-learn What Your Culture Has Taught You
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
God calls us to un-learn the false teachings of this world that we have been conditioned with our entire lives. This will require a radical world view change for both you and your wife. One of the hardest changes to make for many couples is the rejection of the “adult/child” paradigm. Our modern culture teaches us that there are only two primary social classes, adults and children. Children have limited rights until they reach adulthood and then they have full autonomy. The Bible does not recognize the adult/child paradigm but rather it specifies three primary classes of people within society and those are men, women and children. Under God’s law, the social class of men are the only ones who have full autonomy. Women are to be under the authority of men in the home, the church and society at large. And children are to honor and obey their fathers and mothers.
It is impossible to fully embrace the teachings of the Bible concerning gender roles without a husband and wife first being willing to fully reject the modern teaching of the adult/child paradigm. When a Christian wife comes to reject the adult/child paradigm, the whole “you are not my father” and “you are treating me like a child” will quickly disappear.
Step #2 – You Must Learn and Embrace Biblical Gender Roles
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
An understanding and full acceptance of the doctrines of the Bible concerning gender roles is a critical first step for you as a husband to begin the grooming process with your wife. You can find the Scripture references for all these doctrines on my main “Biblical Gender Roles” page.
Step #3 – Seek out a Male Spiritual Mentor
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)
Finding a wise and godly man to mentor you will be crucial to helping you as you seek to groom your young bride.
Step #4 – You must teach your wife Biblical Gender Roles
“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home…”
1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
God calls you to be your wife’s primary spiritual teacher. Once you have fully absorbed and embraced the teachings of the Bible concerning gender roles, you must then teach each of these doctrines to your wife. I would suggest you use the order I give on my Biblical gender roles page, as each doctrine builds on the previous one given. You should also seek advice from your mentor as to how to approach each of these important doctrines with your wife.
Step #5 – Get Your Wife A Female Spiritual Mentor If You Can Find One
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 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 Bible does not just support the concept of female mentorship, but it actually commands it. You may hear some horror stories from older men whose wives were actually led astray by ungodly advice from their girlfriends at church or elsewhere. But mentoring by good and godly women who fully embrace and live out Biblical gender roles can have life changing effects on women.
Unfortunately in our post feminist society, it is extremely difficult to find a good Christian female mentors. Even among many traditionalist female bloggers, they do not fully teach the complete mastery of the husband over his wife and often in sexual areas will give women “outs” so that they do not have to fully submit to their husbands in this area.
Having said that there a couple of female bloggers on Instagram who offer daily messages for women teaching them how to be godly wives and those are thetransformedwife and biblicalfeminitybootcamp on Instagram. I don’t agree with these ladies on everything and both do not speak about wives receiving the discipline of their husbands – which is a big gap in their teaching. But on general submission issues and day to day struggles for wives they are pretty good.
Having said all this about female mentors, I do not want you as a husband to think if you can’t find a female mentor that you can’t groom your wife on your own, because you certainly can. A female mentor who supports Biblical gender roles including the critical aspect of a husband’s discipline of his wife, is a gem and makes it much easier, but you can do it without a female mentor.
Step #6 Mold Your Wife into the Glorious Wife You Want Her to Be
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
Christ did not give up his life for his wife’s happiness. He gave up his life to purchase his wife (Acts 20:28) so that he could groom her into the wife he wanted her to be. And this is what God has called you as a Christian husband to do. In 1 Corinthians 11:7 the Bible tells us that “…the woman is the glory of the man” and in Proverbs 12:4 we read “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband…”. In 1 Corinthians 11:9 the Bible says “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”. These Scriptures teach that God created your wife for you, to bring you glory and when your wife brings you glory this brings God glory. So, you as a man bring glory to God by your submission and service to him and your wife brings glory to God by her submission and service to you.
What this means practically speaking is that you need to begin to mold your wife to your preferences for her behavior. You should never feel guilting in desiring your wife’s submission and service to you, but rather you should enjoy this as God enjoys our submission and service to him.
So, what are some practical ways that you can groom your wife into the glorious wife you want her to be?
You can make her modify her clothing style to the styles you prefer. You can make her learn to cook the foods you enjoy. You can make her watch the TV shows you like to watch. And in Proverbs 5:18-19 we read one of the greatest ways a husband is actually commanded to groom his wife:
“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”
While husbands are commanded not to deny sexual relations to their wives in Exodus 21:10-11 in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, the Bible never commands wives to make their husbands satisfy them sexually. It does however command men to do just that in the passage above.
A Christian wife’s grooming, her God ordained subjection to her husband, is never complete until she has been groomed to be loving, pleasant and completely sexually satisfying to her husband.
Step #7 – Discipline Your Wife
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
The verse above is Christ speaking to his churches after having just rebuked them and threatening to discipline them if they did not repent. Christ associates his rebuke and chastening with his love for his churches. In Ephesians 5:25 the Scriptures tell us “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. So, if a husband is loving his wife as Christ loves his church, then he will rebuke and discipline his wife. Otherwise he is not loving her as Christ loves his church. Discipline from you toward your wife is crucial for the grooming process to work in the life of your wife.
There are many ways to discipline your wife.
Ten years ago, I would have been against wife spanking as the concept was so foreign to me. I did not know any Christians who engaged in it. But since I started this blog back in 2014, I have had the opportunity to interact with many Christian couples who engage in wife spanking which is commonly referred to as Christian domestic discipline or CDD for short.
I have also had the opportunity to interact with some Christian husband/wife mentor teams who help teach husbands how to spank their wives and also teach the wives how to accept and embrace this kind of physical discipline from their husbands.
Based upon what I have learned and seen over these last few years I can now say the following.
I used to be against wife spanking, then I was neutral to it as I could see no condemnation of it in the Bible and now over the last couple of years I come to see it as the most effective tool a husband can use in his role as a human instrument of sanctification in the life of his wife. And this is not a newly invented disciplinary tool of husbands, but rather wife spanking was fairly common throughout history before the last 50 years or so.
Whenever I speak on wife spanking, I must issue the following cautionary note.
While it is a husband’s God given right to use spanking as a form of discipline on his wife (with or without her consent), a husband should be wise in regard to the hostile culture we live in. We live in culture which denies almost all the rights that God has given to a husband including his right to discipline his wife. That means that if you do not have your wife’s consent to spank her and she calls the police on you, you may go to prison for domestic abuse.
Some of the women who have contacted me over the years were raised in homes where their father spanked their mother and they expected it and even embraced the concept as they entered into their marriages. Others learned of the benefits of CDD for their marriage from other wives and embraced this practice later in life.
But then there are wives who are conditioned to accept and receive spankings from their husbands through my podcasts on discipline for wives on bgrlearning.com. I have separate podcasts for men where I teach them about how to apply discipline in their marriage and then podcasts for wives teaching them how to properly receive and learn from the discipline of their husbands.
And whenever I teach on wife spanking, I always get asked if I spank my wife. The answer is no. And the reason is because my wife comes from a moderate feminist background and she is in her mid-40s which makes her a far less moldable wife. She will never submit to wife spanking. Again, this is not to say that we as Christian husbands cannot or should not engage in discipline toward our wives even if they are older and far less moldable than younger wives. It just means we have to use a different set of non-physical disciplinary tools with our wives. I outline some of these tools in my article “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife”.
Robert’s question of how to handle his wife’s statement “You are not my father!” will go away quickly once she begins to understand based upon the Bible that she must reject the entire adult/child paradigm that our culture has taught her. When she replaces that with that knowledge that her husband’s authority over her is actually greater, not less than what her father’s authority was things will fall nicely into place.
And Robert’s concern of the six-year age difference is also a result of modern cultural conditioning. Before our post-feminist society, a man being older than his wife was considered an asset, not a liability. It made it easier for him to exercise his authority over her and it made it easier for her to submit to him and respect him.
Another great asset for Robert is his wife’s parents. Too many parents today undermine the authority of their daughter’s husband. But thankfully this is not something Robert will have to worry about.
On the question of whether to pull her debtor card or spank her. I have recently had this question come up from another husband and my answer to him was “both”. While I think that spanking is the most effective disciplinary tool husbands can use with their wives, that does not mean husbands should dismiss other disciplinary tools. Especially when the infractions are financially related, taking away the debtor card is a punishment that truly does fit the sin the wife has committed.
Finally, any husband reading this needs to accept the possibility that his grooming attempts will be met with complete rejection by his wife. Even if she claims to be a Biblicist Christian and even if she is young. This is because sin corrupts us all in different ways.
The feminine human nature that God designed was a submissive one, one which desired to be dominated by the masculine human nature. But sin corrupted both the masculine and feminine human natures that God designed. And sin corrupts these natures in many different ways. Sin can sometimes corrupt the feminine nature making it more dominant than submissive while at the same time it can corrupt the masculine nature making it more passive or submissive rather than dominant as God designed it to be.
All women have their God given submissive natures corrupted to one degree or another. But some have their natures so corrupted that there is little to nothing left of the sweet and submissive nature God meant for women to have.
So, if you find after years of attempting to groom your wife that you are running int a brick wall with her should you just give up on trying to incorporate Biblical gender roles in your marriage? The answer is NO.
You as the man are responsible before God to do everything you can do on your end. If your wife will not submit to spankings as a form of discipline then you move to non-physical forms of discipline like removing the debit card and credit cards while still providing for all her basic needs. You call her out when she disrespects you even she does not receive this. You limit her access to your free time. You lead even if your wife will not follow.
But one thing you never do is surrender to her desire to control your marriage.
And do not fall for the lie of partnership marriage. No marriage is ever a true partnership. Marriage is always a patriarchy or a matriarchy. It might be a soft patriarchy or soft matriarchy where no one explicitly acknowledges being in charge, and the one in charge might actually allow great freedom to the other. But make no mistake, someone is ALWAYS in charge in a marriage. Power vacuums are never left unfilled.
And if you have to dig in for a real spiritual battle with your wife, you must be prepared for the weapons she may attempt to you use against you. You can find out more about that in my article entitled “3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands“.
If you study the Bible and look at Biblical principles of marriage there is one word that is noticeably absent regarding how to have unity in marriage. And that word is compromise.
In humanism, compromise is a sacred tenet of any relationship, especially in marriage. The reason it is sacred is because of humanism’s beliefs in individualism and equality. For individualism and equality to flourish, compromises must constantly be made. A marriage where one person calls all the shots on moral issues and big decisions of the family is considered “toxic” in the humanist view. This is because they believe marriage is an equal partnership.
But the Bible presents a very different view of marriage.
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives”
1 Peter 3:1 (KJV)
The Bible shows in the passage above from 1 Peter 3:1 that God did not design marriage as a partnership, but rather as a patriarchy. And in the passage below from Ephesians 5:23 we can see that not only is marriage a patriarchy, but it was intended by God to be a direct reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church.
“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.“
Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)
So the question is does Christ compromise with his church on his will, his plans and his moral decisions? The answer is absolutely not. And neither should husband’s compromise with their wives in these areas.
The first recorded sin of a male human being, Adam, was when he compromised his moral beliefs and listen to wife.
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life”
Genesis 3:17 (KJV)
Adam’s compromise of his morality to please his wife brought sin into the world. Job shows us what Adam should have done when his wife asked him to compromise his morality:
“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
Job 2:9-10 (KJV)
When a man compromises his moral beliefs to please his wife he breaks the picture of Christ and his church and he exposes his family to possible consequences of that decision.
Now don’t get me wrong – when it comes to things that have nothing to do with morality compromise in marriage is a good thing. Like when we choose where we go to dinner that is not necessarily a moral decision. How much is spent on dinner is a moral decision, but whether we have a hamburger or pizza is not.
But I think in most cases what we call compromise on these non moral things is just us being selfless and putting the other person first and that is a good thing.
But when it comes to moral decisions, including financial decisions, career decisions, what church is attended, religious beliefs, discipline and teaching of the children, decisions about sex and other things like this there can be no compromise. A husband is always called by God to do what is he believes is right before God.
How should a Christian wife handle it when her husband abandons his Christian faith? How should she deal with her children in regard to their father? Recently one of my regular commenters, a woman who goes by the handle livinginblurredlines, wrote the following about her husband who once professed faith in Christ:
“hubby has decided to become a philosophical Odinist….meaning he doesn’t believe Odin and all the other Norse gods actually exist, but that there is an All-Father that encompasses all faiths that believe in a high deity, and he follows modern Odinism philosophies that embrace strength of self, traditional families, helping your fellow, and nationalism. So, he has no desire to find or attend a church, anymore. So, what shall I do concerning this and our children? When I married him 20 years ago I never thought I’d be faced with this issue!”
What follows are answers to several important questions that Christian wives who find themselves in this situation may be asking.
Can I leave My Unbelieving Husband?
The answer to this question is found in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16: “And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”
So, as you can see from the Scripture above, if your unbelieving husband wants to stay in the marriage with you, God wants you to stay with him. And the Bible tells us that in staying with him, you may actually win him to Christ.
Regarding the case of a woman whose husband has left the faith he once professed. We must realize that a true believer can never leave the faith as they are kept by the power of God. In 1 John 2:19 we read the following of those who made professions of faith and then abandoned them: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
So, in this way as a Christian wife, you must forget your husband’s past participation in church or other Christian activities. Do not dwell on it. Wipe the slate clean in your mind and deal with him as you would someone who has never dawned the doorstep of a church.
Does God Still Want to Me to Submit to My Unbelieving Husband?
The answer to this question is found in 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
So, the answer to this question is yes, God absolutely wants you as a Christian wife to submit to your husband who is disobedient to the Word. You win a husband, whether he be an unbelieving husband or a Christian husband who has some areas where he is disobedient to God in some way. You win him without a word, without preaching at him, nagging at him or complaining at him. You win him with your actions and your life before him. You win him with your submission, your pure life and your reverent attitude toward him.
My mother is a living example of 1 Peter 3:1-2. My mother became a Christian while married to my father. She completely changed her ways toward him. She submitted to him, lived a different life in front of him and reverenced him. And these actions by my mother brought him to Christ and this enabled me to be raised by both a Christian father and a Christian mother. My father would go on to study the Word of God and become my mother’s teacher. This can work ladies!
Can I still teach my Children the Gospel?
In Acts 5:26-29 we read the following story about the Apostles: “Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
We can see from the story above that even if your husband forbids you from teaching your children the Gospel you can and should still do that. I would suggest you do this in private settings with your children. But you can show them you love and respect their father, but that this is something that goes beyond your relationship with their father and that having a relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in this life.
What If My Husband Forbids Me from Taking the Kids to Church?
If your husband forbids you from going to church, you can privately seek the teaching of God. While he is at work, watch sermons from Bible teachers online. And you should privately read your Bible and pray. Let your children watch Bible teaching when Dad is not around. Have them watch Christian movies and shows that teach them about God.
But Isn’t It Wrong to Keep Secrets From My Husband?
A tenant of humanism is “complete transparency in any relationship”. No secrets. None at all. But this is not how God sees things. God keeps secrets from us, and sometimes it is necessary for us to keep secrets from each other.
In Proverbs 28:13 the Bible says “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”. But then in Proverbs 27:12 we read “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished”.
And then in Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus made the follow statements: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Jesus reveals that it is not wrong to do good things in secret. Whether it is doing good for others or even good in obedience to God. It is only wrong to do evil things in secret or to try and cover something that is a sin against God.
The humanist atheist and the humanist Christian would both find the advice given here to be absurd because they hold individualism as the highest ideal. Nothing is more important than each individual being able to live their lives out in the open, exactly as they want to live it (as long as that life style does not violate humanist principles in any way of course).
Humanists love the word “transparency” and regularly apply it to relationships. They don’t like secrets. Whether it is the government keeping secrets from its citizens, husbands keeping secrets from wives or wives keeping secrets from husbands.
Of course, humanists always have some exceptions to their rules. For instance, humanists have no problem with women not being transparent with their husbands about murdering their unborn children. But I digress.
So, the humanist would say “If the husband and wife cannot find a way to openly live out their beliefs with one another and tolerate their differences then they should just divorce. But by no means should the wife have to live a secret life as a Christian or keep these kinds of secrets from her husband”.
But for us a Biblicist Christians, we know that there are more important things than our individual wishes and desires. We know that the institution of marriage is more important than the individual happiness of either the husband or wife. We know that marriage is based on a covenant, not total transparency. And we know that we can also find joy in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.
In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus tells us that being totally transparent in regard to our thoughts or actions is not always the best thing. In fact, he tells us that doing good things toward God, for God or for others in secret can be virtuous. And in Proverbs 27:12 we read that it is “prudent” to sometimes hide ourselves or our actions.
It is utterly disappointing for any Christian wife to hear from her husband that he has left the faith and he is not the believer she thought he was. But God can still greatly use such a Christian wife in the life of her unbelieving husband. And she can still have a vibrant personal faith and have an impact for Christ on her children and on others.
God tells Christian wives in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 that they must remain with their unbelieving husbands if the husband is willing to stay.
And yes, it will be more challenging in the area of submission. But God makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that wives still have to obey unbelieving husbands and he says that wives may win their husbands by their submission, pure lives and reverent behavior.
Christian wives who find themselves married to unbelieving husbands may have to practice their faith in secret. But Jesus shows us in Matthew 6:1-6 that not only is it not a sin to do good toward God and others in secret, but that such actions can be virtuous.
Some Christian wives abuse the Acts 5:29 principle that “We ought to obey God rather man” in order to openly defy their husbands at every turn. But as a Christian wife married to an unbelieving husband, you should make every effort to not have to openly defy your husband.
While the Bible tells men to “leave” their father and mother when they enter marriage it uses a different word for women when they enter marriage. In Psalm 45:10-11 we read “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him”.
Psalm 45:10-11 is widely recognized as a prophecy concerning Christ and his church. But it is also very practical and applicable to marriage between men and women. Ephesians 5:23 tells us “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”.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had haters of the Bible’s teachings on gender roles say “You think men are gods and that is wrong!”. Each time I hear a variation of that statement I chuckle a bit to myself and remember 1 Corinthians 2:14 which states “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.
The Bible does not teach that men are gods. There is only one God. Men are not God, but God did create men to represent him in this world. This is the clear teaching of the Bible found in passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. So, when we understand this concept as Christians, we understand that women are not to worship their husbands or regard their husbands as their savior. We have one God and one savior whose name is Jesus Christ.
But after we set aside the last part from Psalm 45:10-11 concerning worship, what comes before that is very applicable to women in marriage.
The call to the young woman to regard her new husband as her lord is mirrored in 1 Peter 3:5-6 where the Bible states “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement”.
Now we can zero on what is different in the call to women when they enter marriage. While men, in multiple Bible passages like Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7 and Ephesians 5:31, are commanded to “leave” their father and mother when they enter marriage women are told in Psalm 45:10-11 to “forget” their people and their father’s house.
A woman’s forgetting of her father’s house is a critical part of the process of her becoming one with her husband. Her father may have taught her differently and conducted his home differently than the way her husband will conduct his home. And if she clings to the way her father conducted his home and constantly compares that to her how her husband leads his home there will be problems in the marriage.
How many women today refuse to follow this Scriptural admonition to forget their father’s house? How many women today even refuse to give up their father’s last name or hyphenate their last name? How many women respect their fathers more than their husbands? A woman who refuses to forget her father’s house, to clear the slate and let her husband redefine for her how their home will be conducted will never have the kind of unity in marriage that God calls for.
A final note to fathers. As Christian fathers, we should want our daughters to marry godly men and it is our God given right according to Exodus 22:17, to “utterly refuse to give” our daughters in marriage to men whom we do not approve of. But our culture no longer respects the rights of fathers and has given young women freedom to ignore the spiritual authority of their fathers in this regard. This is why it is so important for us as Christian fathers in this post-feminist culture to cultivate close spiritual relationships with our daughters to the point that they would never want to disappoint us.
My daughter is within 2 years of the time we have agreed she will begin courting, not long after she graduates high school. I am excited to see what God will do in her life. She is not perfect and has her flaws like we all do, but I am happy that God has blessed her with a meek and submissive spirit when it comes to the men in her life whether it be me or her grandfathers. But when it comes to other women, she is a warrior for God and stands on the front lines fighting against abortion and feminism.
I would never bless her marriage to a man who was not a Christian, a Biblicist and a firm believer in Biblical gender roles. However, I realize the man she marries may have many differences with me outside of these areas. And I have told her as much throughout the years. I have told her when she marries, she needs to forget my interpretations and applications of the Bible and how I conducted our house and instead fully embrace her husband’s leading in these areas.
After addressing the submission of wives to their husbands in 1 Peter 3:1-6 the Apostle turns his discussion toward husbands and the treatment of their wives in verse 7 when he states “Likewise, ye husbands”. He then caps the commands toward husbands with a warning to them of what will happen if they do not treat their wives as he has just stated when he says “that your prayers be not hindered”.
Before we discuss how the Apostle Peter, writing under the inspiration of God, tells husbands to treat their wives, we must first address whose prayers are being hindered.
Whose Prayers Will be Hindered?
Mathew Henry in his famous commentary stated the following about verse 7 of 1 Peter 3:
“The reasons are, Because she is the weaker vessel by nature and constitution, and so ought to be defended: but then the wife is, in other and higher respects, equal to her husband; they are heirs together of the grace of life, of all the blessings of this life and another, and therefore should live peaceably and quietly one with another, and,if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered, so that often “you will not pray at all, or, if you do, you will pray with a discomposed ruffled mind, and so without success.”
The key phrase in Matthew Henry’s statement above is “if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered”. The “they” and “their” he is referring to is both the husband and wife.
Matthew Henry was taking the position that this phrase “and as being heirs together of the grace of life” was addressing both the husband and wife and therefore the warning “that your prayers be not hindered” was addressed to both husbands and wives.
But this is where we must remind ourselves that no commentator, no matter how famous or respected, is inerrant in their interpretation or application of the Scriptures.
I have read writings of many of the great men of the reformation like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. I loved reading the commentaries of Spurgeon as a young man. But a realization I had to come to was, none of these men were more inerrant than any Christians before them or after them except for those men who spoke and wrote the very Word of God. Only the Old Testament Prophets, Jesus Christ and his Apostles after him were inerrant in their writings and understanding of God’s will.
This blog is in essence an online commentary, not unlike that of Matthew Henry or Charles Spurgeon. I could be wrong in my interpretation and applications of the Scriptures just as Matthew Henry or Charles Spurgeon could be wrong in theirs. Each of us must look at the Scriptures, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, use our knowledge of the original language of the Scriptures as well the historical and grammatical context in which various passages are written to come to what we believe is the correct interpretation and application of the Scriptures.
Some have argued that Matthew Henry’s interpretation is correct because of the Greek word “hymōn” or “Humon” (transliterated) that is in the phrase “that your [Humon] prayers be not hindered”. They argue that since humon is always used in a plural sense to speak to a group, that it is talking to both the husband and the wife.
While it true that humon is always speaking to a group, we must look to the context to know what group it is speaking to. In the same passage we are discussing, the apostle Peter begins his conversation on marriage by first speaking to wives in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
“Likewise, ye wives [gynaikes], be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your [humon] chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
The English word “wives”, is a translation of the Greek word used to address women in the plural sense which is “gynaikes”. From the passage above, whose “chaste conversation couple with fear” is the Apostle addressing? It is clear from the context that it is that of the wives.
Peter uses the Greek word which refers to men in the plural sense “andres” to refer to husbands, when he writes the passage we are looking at:
“Likewise, ye husbands [andres], 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 [humon] prayers be not hindered.”
There is nothing in the language of 1 Peter 3:7 which would indicate the prayers being hindered are anyone other than that of a husband’s prayers in the same way that the chaste and fearful behavior of verse 2 is referring strictly to wives in reference to their husbands.
Therefore, we can rightly conclude that 1 Peter 3:7 in its entirety is speaking to husbands and not both husbands and wives.
So, Peter is saying that if husbands don’t do the things, he commanded them toward their wives, their prayers will be hindered. Now let’s look at how husbands are commanded to treat their wives.
Three Things God Commands of Husbands Toward their Wives
“dwell [sunoikeo ] with them according to knowledge[Gnosis],”
Sunoikeo refers to domestic association, people living together but it also was commonly used as euphemism for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. And the Greek word gnosis means exactly what is translated as – knowledge. It is to know about something or to know someone intimately depending on the context. So, we can see the Apostle is saying “Husbands as you live together with your wives in this intimate and sexual relationship, do so according to knowledge”. So, the question is what knowledge is he talking about? Is it just a general knowledge of God and His Word? Is it also knowing your wife’s strengths and weaknesses and where she needs spiritual instruction? And could it also be knowing her fears, her concerns and her requests? I will give the answer after we finish looking at the last two parts of this verse.
Peter then moves on to tell men two ways in which they must give proper honor their wives. The first way is mentioned below:
“giving honour unto the wife [gune], as unto the weaker [Asthenes] vessel [Skeuos],”
The Greek word Asthenes means “weak, infirm or feeble” and Skeuos literally refers to vessels like household utensils including bowls or pitchers. Skeuos is a common euphemism for the human body in the New Testament and our souls are seen as indwelling our vessels.
What this means is that husbands are to give honor to their wives as is appropriate for their station as the weaker vessel. But why would we honor someone for being weaker?
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9:
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
If we remember that God created men to image his attributes, including his strength, and woman to image mankind and our weakness and dependence upon God then this makes perfect sense. In the same way that we should glory in our weakness and need of God’s strength, so too women should glory in their weakness and dependence upon man’s strength. And thus, we as men should not demean women who demonstrate their need of our strength, but instead we honor women for doing this.
The honoring of the weaker vessel also means we honor women for fulfilling the complete role that God designed the weaker vessel to play. In Proverbs 31:28 after showing all the wonderful ways in which the virtuous wife serves her husband, his children and his home the Bible tells us the following:
“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
Now that we have covered the first way men are commanded to honor their wives, we can now move on to the second way men are commanded to honor their wives.
“and as being heirs together of the grace of life”
Wives are to be accorded the honor that is due to fellow believers and husbands should never forget that their wives are not only their wives, but sisters in Christ. In Romans 12:10 we read the following of how we are to treat our brethren in Christ:
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”.
So, we see three things men are commanded to do toward their wives:
Live with them in an intimate and sexual relationship according to knowledge.
Honor them for the part in God’s master design that he has designed them to play as the weaker vessel.
Honor them as fellow believers and sisters in Christ.
What knowledge do men need to have with their wives?
In 2 Peter 3:18 we read “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen”. There is no doubt that first and foremost the goal of every Christian should be to grow in the knowledge of Christ and then apply that knowledge to everything we do in this life including how we conduct our marriages.
But 1 Peter 3:7 does not say “dwell with them according to the knowledge of God” or “dwell with them according to the knowledge of Christ”. It simply says dwell with them according to knowledge. And since the treatment of wives by their husbands is the subject Peter is addressing it strongly suggests that knowledge is indeed a husband’s knowledge of his wife.
And this idea of a man needing to know his wife on a spiritual level is seen in Ephesians 5:25-27:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
How can a man wash his wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles if he does not know his wife’s mind? Again, in Ephesians 5:28-29, we read the following of husbands toward their wives:
“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
How can a man know his wife’s needs without knowing her mind? Without talking to her?
And finally, our greatest indicator of what “knowledge” husbands are supposed to have as they live with their wives is found in the warning given to husbands:
“that your prayers be not hindered”
In 1 Peter 5:7 the Bible tells us “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. We are called to cast our cares, our concerns and our fears upon God because he cares for us. Is that not a huge part of our prayers to God?
So as husbands if we want God to hear our cares and concerns why would we think we can do so while turning a deaf ear to our wife’s cares and concerns?
God Sometimes Will Not Hear Our Prayers and so Too Husbands Will Not Hear Their Wives
Now the principles I have just laid out from the Scriptures about men needing to hear their wife’s concerns in the same way that they want God to hear their concerns could certainly be abused. In fact, it has been abused by the modern church today which has been infested with feminism.
If we remember that man images God in the life of his wife then we must also remember that God sometimes will not hear our prayers because of our sin. In Isaiah 1:15, God says to his wife Israel, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood”. Because Israel was in open sin against God, her husband, he hid himself from seeing her needs and he would not hear her requests. In the same way, when a wife is acting in unrepentant sin against her husband, she cannot expect that he will hear her requests.
In James 4:3 we read “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”. So, when we ask God with wrong motives or ask with selfish ambition, he will not hear such requests and in the same way if a husband sees his wife asking for something with wrong motives or from a position of selfishness, he has every right to turn down such sinful requests.
Finally, in John 5:14 the Bible states “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us”. Just as husband should know his wife’s mind, so too a wife should know her husband’s mind. And a wife should never ask her husband for something she knows goes against his will on a matter just as we should never pray to God for something we know goes against his will especially as recorded in the Bible.
1 Peter 3:7 is written to husbands, not husbands and wives. The prayers that will be hindered are not the prayers of both the husband and wife, but of the husband alone. God tells men they must dwell with their wives according to knowledge, honor them in their station as the weaker vessel, and honor them as fellow believers and sisters in Christ. If a husband fails to do these three things, God will not hear his prayers.
When we look at God’s command of husbands in Ephesians 5:25-27 to wash their wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word, we know that part of the knowledge Peter alludes to in 1 Peter 3:7 is of a man knowing his wife’s spiritual character. He cannot wash what he does not know.
When we look at God’s command of husbands in Ephesians 5:28-29 for them to love and care for the needs of their wife’s body and protect her as they would their own body then we also know that part of the knowledge Peter alludes to in 1 Peter 3:7 is a man knowing his wife’s requests for her physical needs.
In 1 Peter 3:5-6, which directly proceeds the passage we have been studying, the Apostle Peter writes “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement”. A woman, if she is following the example given to us by God of the women of old is to regard her husband as her lord.
The Greek word kurios translated as “lord” in 1 Peter 3:6 can also be translated as “master” as it is in Colossians 4:1 where the Bible states “Masters [Kurios], give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master [Kurios] in heaven”. In many ways 1 Peter 3:7 repeats this same concept of Colossians 4:1 with husbands toward their wives. We as husbands must remember that just as we are a master to our wives, we also have a master in heaven who watches how we treat her.
This does not mean that if a man’s wife is divorcing him or other bad things are happening that it automatically means he is not living with his wife according to knowledge or not honoring her as the weaker vessel and as a fellow sister in Christ. We must remember that wife’s can and do act in evil ways against their husbands just as Israel acted in evil ways against her husband who was God. In Isaiah 1:15 God hid his eyes from Israel and closed his ears to her prayers because she was in sinful rebellion against him.
No wife can expect to have her husband’s ear while she stands in rebellion against him.
Also, God makes it clear in John 5:14 that we don’t get everything we request from him, but only what is in accordance with his will. And this is no different with a husband and wife situation. A husband hearing his wife’s requests and granting them are two very different things. And once a woman knows her husband’s mind on something, she ought not to continue asking for that same thing knowing it goes against his will.
The Scriptures warn us in Proverbs 4:27 “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil”. And on this matter of the treatment of wives, like most other moral subjects, there is a far left and a far right position that are both wrong and the Bible stands in the middle of the two.
On the one hand, a man knowing his wife’s spiritual mindset, her cares and her concerns is not the same as him having to run all family decisions through his wife first. Nothing in the Scriptures gives this requirement of men. Marriage is not a partnership, but rather a patriarchy. When the Scriptures refer to a man dwelling with his wife according to knowledge, it is in regard to him knowing her personal spiritual and physical needs, not him getting her vote on family decisions.
On the other hand, A man knowing his wife’s spiritual condition, knowing her mind, knowing what her physical needs are, hearing her cares and concerns, honoring her station as the weaker vessel and honoring her as a fellow sister is not him putting his wife on a pedestal. It is him obeying the Word of God. And if he does not obey the Word of God on these matters God will not hear his prayers. This is the express teaching of 1 Peter 3:7.
God said to Cain in Genesis 4:7 “sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him”. He was telling Cain that his sin nature desired to control his actions and to make him do things which violated God’s will for his life.
In our modern society where humanism and feminism dominate the culture, the word “control” is often seen as swear word while “consent” is seen as a holy and sacred term. Yet even humanists and feminists must engage in controlling actions when it suits the humanist agenda. Just take a look at the censorship by all the major tech giants, as well as colleges and universities which are dominated by all the various forms of humanists including feminists, globalists, socialists and environmentalists. They have no problem exercising control over what opinions may or may not be voiced on their platforms or in their classrooms or on their campuses.
Socialist humanists have no problem with governments controlling wealth distribution by engaging in theft of private property from upper and middle economic classes and redistributing that to lower economic classes. Environmentalist humanists have no problem controlling what people eat, what cars they may drive or how much energy resources they may use.
The reality is that humanists don’t really have a problem with themselves exercising a great amount of control over all elements of society. They just don’t want to submit to God’s order or control in their lives.
And this is why humanists utterly hate and consider evil the control which God called men to exercise over the lives of their wives in Genesis 3:16 when “Unto the woman he said… thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”.
Genesis 3:16 uses the same language structure as God used when talking to Cain in Genesis 4:7 about sin trying to control him. Sin attempts to control our actions. The sin nature will attempt to get us to do the very opposite of whatever God commands. If God says to do something, the sin nature will try and get us not to do that thing. If God says not to do something, the sin nature will tell us to do that very thing.
And here is a very important truth that every Christian man must take to heart.
In the same way that God has ordained husbands as human instruments of sanctification in the lives of their wives, sin attempts to use wives as human instruments of temptation in the lives of their husbands. We see this in the very first act of sin committed by Eve when she gave Adam the forbidden fruit.
Man was ordained by God to rule over woman from the very start of creation. Man exercised his authority over woman when he named her just as he named all the animals God created before her. And we know, contrary to Christian feminists’ claims, that man’s rulership over woman was part of God’s design to picture the relationship of himself to his people. To call man’s sacred trust to rule over woman a result of sin is to call Christ’s rulership over the Church to which it is directly compared to in Ephesians 5:23-24 a result of sin as well.
But man’s rulership became that much more important after the fall. Now his rulership or his control of his wife would be far more difficult. This is what God was saying when he told Adam his wife’s desire would be to him. He was not saying she would have some lovely desire just to be by his side as the Christian feminists so wrongly claim. He was saying that sin would corrupt his design of the feminine nature causing women to act in opposite ways of which God designed them to act. God designed the feminine nature to be submissive, dependent, cooperative and to seek be under the control and dominance of man. But sin would corrupt the feminine nature making it rebellious, independent, contentious and it would ultimately drive women to seek to control and dominate their husbands.
Humanists of all stripes have no problem controlling what opinions people may voice as long as they are the ones doing the controlling. Humanists have no problem controlling what people eat, what people can spend their money on, how much energy people can use, where people can live or how people can defend themselves. Again, they have no problem with control, as long as they are the ones doing the controlling.
But humanists have a big problem, a colossal problem, with any one trying to exercise any control over the “personal” decisions of women. Nope don’t go there. If women want to have all kinds of sex with different men outside of marriage men better just shut their mouths and stop “slut-shaming” women. And if women want to murder their unborn babies in their wombs, often a result of their whoring around, no one can control that. If wives want to commit adultery with other men there should be no negative consequences or shaming of such women. If women don’t want to have sex with their husbands, men better not coerce them into having sex in any way otherwise that is “marital rape”.
But God calls men to exercise control over their own sin natures as well as well as the human instrument of temptation that sin often uses, which is a man’s wife.
Christ wife do you still hold the “I am not comfortable with that” card in your Christian marriage? If you do you need to get rid of it. Let me explain what I mean.
You might consider yourself to be a wife who believes in submission to your husband. You may even be able to show proof of your belief by showing times where you and your husband have disagreed on financial decisions or decisions regarding his career where you have simply followed him.
But then you hold on to the “I am not comfortable with that” card especially when it comes to you being asked to do things by him you are not comfortable with. And we are not talking about things that are clearly outlined as sinful in the Bible like him asking you to commit adultery with another man or to murder someone or steal from someone. We are talking about things he is asking you to do that are outside your comfort zone.
For instance, what if he decided it was ok for your young teens to watch a TV show or movie you did not think they should watch? What if he allowed them to play a game you think they should not play? And he wanted you to allow them to do these things even when he is away.
On a more personal level, what if he asked you to wear certain clothing in the bed room? What if he asked you to wear certain clothing in public (think going on a date or going to the beach)? What if he asked you to change your makeup? What if he asked you to do something uncomfortable in bed?
Do you pull out the “I am not comfortable with that” card as an exception to God’s command to submit to your husband “in everything”? Or have you convinced yourself that you not feeling comfortable with something equals that thing being sinful? If you have done this you need to remember that God has made your husband your spiritual authority and instructor in his Word. The Scriptures say to wives in 1 Corinthians 14:35 that “if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home”.
Christian wives, Ephesians 5:24’s command for you to submit to your husband “in every thing” means throwing out your “I am not comfortable with that” card.
Webster’s dictionary defines a slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another”. The word ‘chattle’ refers to a human being that is owned by another human being. By our modern definition of slavery, we cannot comprehend the concept of a person being owned by another person without that owned person not being a slave.
On one side of this debate about the Biblical treatment of wives we have Christians who claim that there is absolutely no similarity at all between the husband/wife relationship and that of a slave owner to his slave while on the other side we have atheists and other humanists who claim that the Bible makes women into slaves. What do both of these sides have in common? Jesus said it best in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
Matthew 22:29 (KJV)
The truth is that the Scriptures teach us that is possible for one person to own another person without that owned person being considered a slave. In other words, from a Biblical perspective while all slaves are owned by other people, not all people who are owned by other people are to be considered slaves.
Wives and Children Designated by God as Property and Slaves Allowed as Property
The Bible shows us that God designed two social classes of human beings that were to be considered the property of men. He allowed a third social class of human being that could also be taken as property as well under certain circumstances.
In the 10th commandment God mentions a man’s wife, along with his male and female slaves amongst those things which are his property:
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
Exodus 20:17 (KJV)
In the following passage we see that God gives children to their fathers as property:
“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)
The English word “heritage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Nachala” which literally means “inherited property”.
God authorized Israelite fathers to sell their daughters as indentured servants for a period of no longer than six years. This is shown in the following passages:
“7And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.”
Exodus 21:7-8 (KJV)
“And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.”
Deuteronomy 15:12 (KJV)
The passages above show that neither male nor female Hebrew indentured servants could be kept indefinitely unless the male Hebrew willingly wanted to stay and serve (see Exodus 21:5-6) or the woman was taken as a wife by the man who purchased her either for himself or one of his sons. Otherwise after 6 years male Hebrew indentured servants had to be freed and female Hebrew indentured servants had to be allowed to be purchased back by their male relatives or by another man wishing to take them as a wife.
And for those who think these daughters sold as maidservants could be used for sex outside a covenant of marriage, I would refer the reader to the following prohibition against fathers selling their daughters for this purpose:
“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”
Leviticus 19:29 (KJV)
So, it is clear that God did not allow Hebrews to sell or buy their fellow Hebrews as slaves. They could only could only purchases the services of fellow Hebrews as indentured servants for a limited window of time. However, it is equally clear that God did in fact allow the Hebrews to purchase the children of foreigners within their land as slaves or they could purchase slaves from the nations around them.
“44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”
Leviticus 25:44-46 (KJV)
And in the New Testament Paul gives the following command to slaves:
“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;“
Colossians 3:22 (KJV)
The word “servants” in the KJV passage above is a translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which actually means “slaves” and this is how most of the modern translations translate this verse.
This brings us back to wives. We have already shown from the 10th commandment that it includes wives with male and female slaves as the property of men. But the ownership of a husband over his wife is seen even clearer in the original Hebrew language of the Scriptures. The noun form of the Hebrew word ‘baal’ which means ‘owner/master’ is used eleven times in the Old Testament to speak of a husband’s relationship to his wife. The word ‘baal’ is used an additional 11 times in verb form to refer to a woman coming to be ‘owned’, or married, to a husband.
The passage below from the book of Deuteronomy uses both the noun and verb form of the Hebrew word baal to illustrate a husband’s ownership over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an [verb ‘baal’ ‘owned by’] husband [noun ‘baal’ ‘owner’], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)
In the New Testament the Apostle Peter refers back to this concept of a woman being owned by her husband when he admonishes wives to follow the example of the women of past generations like Sarah who “obeyed” her husband calling him “lord”:
“5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)
Now having proven from the Bible that wives are actually considered by God to be property just as slaves are, we will go on to show that the responsibilities of owners toward these two types of human properties are very different.
8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves
As we have previously shown from Exodus 20:17 and Leviticus 25:44-46, wives and slaves are both considered by God to be the property of men. And both wives and slaves are commanded by God to obey their masters in everything as Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:5-6 tells them to do.
But this is where the similarity between wives and slaves ends and the differences begin. Below are eight Biblical distinctions between wives and slaves.
1. Slave owners don’t have to sacrifice themselves for their property – husbands do.
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it“
Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)
2. Slave owners don’t have to teach God’s Word to their property – husbands do.
“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.“
1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
3. Slave owners don’t have to act as human instruments of God’s sanctification in the lives of their property – husbands do.
“26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:26-27 (KJV)
4. Slave owners don’t have to love and care for their property as they do their own bodies – husbands do.
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church“
Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
5. Slave owners don’t have to give their bodies to meet the sexual needs of their property (nor should they) – husbands do.
“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”
I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)
6. Slave owners don’t have to honor their property – husbands do.
“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)
7. Slave owners don’t have to give their property the fruit of their labors – husbands do.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.“
Proverbs 31:31 (KJV)
8. God did not design men to be the property of other men. God did design women to be the property of their husbands.
“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.“
1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV)
We have shown conclusively from the Bible that contrary to modern humanist notions of equality, God has actually designated wives and children as the property of their husbands and fathers. And again, contrary to modern egalitarian views of what marriage should be, God commands wives to regard their husbands as their masters and like slaves to be obedient to their masters in everything. The obvious exception for both wives and slaves in their obedience is if their masters command them to sin against God. It is only in this case that they can and must disobey their masters as Acts 5:29 tells us.
The truth from the Scriptures is that there are indeed some similarities between wives and slaves but there are also significant differences between wives and slaves.
God created the relationship between a husband and wife to mirror the loving relationship between himself and his people. A wife is to be regarded as her husband’s most precious possession, one that he cares for and would protect with his very life.
Another significant difference between wives and slaves is husbands as their wife’s owner and master are required by God to give their wife the fruit of her labors as Proverbs 31:31 states. A slave is not entitled to enjoy any fruits from his labors.
Now this principle must be taken into account with the entire witness of the Scriptures. In Ephesians 5:24 wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in “everything”. And yes, that would most certainly include finances. Every dollar that comes into their home comes under the spiritual authority of the husband whether that is income from his work, his wife’s work or inheritances that either of them may acquire. Even if the wife does not work outside the home but instead is a keeper in the home her work there has great value.
What this means is that whether a wife works outside the home or is a keeper of the home the husband should allow his wife to have fruits from her labor. Practically speaking that means allowing her some discretionary use of money to buy things for the house or herself personally that she would like to buy.
Finally, on the topic of slavery. It is only because of the effects of sin in the world that God allowed for the practice of slavery but he commanded it to be done under humane conditions. For a more in-depth look at the reasons and conditions under which God allowed for the practice of slavery see my article “Why Christians Should Not Be Ashamed of Slavery in The Bible”.