8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

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. 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.

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. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 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)

Conclusion

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”.

Why Christian Women Should Wear Head Coverings

The photo above features a veil like the one that I bought for my daughter a while back from the site VeilsByLily.com. So the question is why did I purchase this veil for my daughter? Was it simply a fashion accessory? Or something more?

For all of Christian history up until the 1960s with the advent of second wave feminism women wore some type of head covering whenever they went to church for worship. The practice of women wearing head coverings is not simply a Christian tradition, but it is actually commanded in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5(KJV):
“4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

Many Christians today argue that Christian women do not have to wear head coverings any more. And believe it or not, there were Christians even back during the Apostle’s time that were arguing against the requirement of women wearing head coverings as is seen in I Corinthians 11:16 (KJV):
“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

And the great irony is that many Christians today have taken Paul’s rebuke of those who were arguing against women being required to wear head coverings and they attempt to use his rebuke to say women don’t have to wear head coverings! It really is enough to make your head explode if you let it.

In I Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul answers three very important questions about head coverings for women. He answers WHY women must wear head coverings, WHAT head coverings are, and WHEN head coverings should be worn.

Click here to listen to my 3 part podcast series “Why Women Should Wear Head Coverings”

WHY God Wants Women to Wear Head Coverings

Paul gives the reason why woman must wear head coverings as an introduction to the conversation on head coverings in I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV):
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

So, the reason women must wear head coverings is because “the head of the woman is the man”. Head here refers to man’s authority over woman.

Egalitarian Christians claim that “head” in verse 3 refers to man as the “source” of woman. The problem with that interpretation is it would then make God the father the source of Christ and that is heresy according to John 1:1-3 (KJV) which tells us the following:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

The context of I Corinthians 11:3 is not the source of man or woman, but rather the authority structure God has created.

But after showing the Egalitarian argument to be faulty, we must now address the Complementarian argument. Complementarians believe in male headship but they limit it to the home and the church. They do not believe male headship over women extends to all areas of society.

The problem for Complementarians is that nothing in the language of verse 3, or the entire discussion of male headship in I Corinthians limits the man’s headship to just the home and the church. It is a broad and sweeping statement of man’s headship over woman.

Is God the Father the head of Christ in all things? Is Christ the head of man in all things? How then can Complementarians claim that men are only the head of women in the home and in the church but not outside those two areas?

And then we must consider the practical implications of the Complementarian attempt to limit man’s headship over woman to just the home and the church. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:24 (KJV) “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. So, this presents a problem for Complementarians who believe women may take authority over men as long as it outside the home or church.

Let’s take a man and his wife. His wife runs for mayor of their town and she wins. So that means if he were to go to a town hall meeting where his wife is presiding, she now becomes his authority in that sphere. But yet God calls her to submit to her husband in everything. That means in every part of her life. The only exception to her submission to him is the rule the Apostle Peter gave us in Acts 5:29 (KJV) that “We ought to obey God rather than men” if our earthly authority is violating God’s law in what they are asking us to do. The same would go for if his wife was his boss at work.

This is the conundrum the Complementarians run into when they attempt to limit the headship of man over woman to just the home and the church.

For a larger discussion of why women should not be in politics see my article “Does the Bible allow for a woman to be President of the United States?

But I Corinthians 11:3 is only one part of the Apostle Paul’s answer as to why women should wear head coverings. Later in this passage Paul actually dives into a deeper “WHY” question.

WHY is Man the Head of Woman

God does not always tell us why everything is the way it is. But sometimes he does tell us why some things are the way they are. And in this case of head coverings God caused Paul to fully explain why man is the head of woman in all areas of this life.

Paul writes the following statements just a few verses down in I Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV) after telling us man is the head of woman and he now explains why man is the head of woman:
“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.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in Complementarian churches’ where they basically take the attitude of “Well God had to put someone in charge, so he picked the man and we just have to accept that”. God did not flip a cosmic coin to decide if man was the head of woman or woman was the head of man. Man being the head of woman was God’s design before he ever created man or woman!

This passage I have just shown from I Corinthians 11:7-10 tells us why man is the head of woman.
Man is the head of woman because man is “the image and glory of God” and “neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”. This is a simple and yet profound truth that will change the direction of every man and woman that reads it if they will only accept it and apply it to their lives.

Man was created to image God by living out his attributes and thereby bring him glory. Woman was created by God for man to serve man and bring man glory and in doing so she serves God and brings him glory as well.

And it is “For this cause”, because man is God’s image and glory and because of that woman’s head, that woman ought “to have power on her head because of the angels”. The “power on her head” is the head covering Paul is talking about in this entire first half of I Corinthians 11.
When a woman wears a head covering, she is proclaiming to the world that she fully accepts God’s authority over her life and the fact that God has placed her under man’s headship in all areas of life whether that be in the home, the church or elsewhere. Such a woman who fully accepts what her head covering means would never seek to be in any position that would place in her in authority over a man.

Now that we have fully covered the Apostle Paul’s explanation of why women should wear head coverings, we will now dive into what the head covering is that he is referring to.

WHAT is the Head Covering for Women?

Paul gives his answer to what the head covering is in I Corinthians 11:5-6 (KJV)
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”

The English word “uncovered” in verse 5 and the phrase “not covered” find their root in the negative form of the Greek word “Kalupto” which means “to hide or to veil”. So, Paul is saying when woman does not veil her head, she dishonors her head.

Paul goes on to use a cultural norm that the Corinthians would understand. For a woman to have her hair cut short (shorn) or have her head shaved would be for her to dishonor herself. Paul then goes on to explain where this cultural norm originated in I Corinthians 11:13-15 (KJV):
“13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”

Man did not invent this cultural norm, but rather it came from the human nature God designed in man and woman. God put this knowledge into our original nature as human beings to know that long hair on a man is a disgrace, but long hair on a woman is her glory.

Paul talks about this original human nature, our original programming, which tells us right from wrong in Romans 2:14 (KJV):
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves”

In the garden of Eden God created Adam with a perfect male human nature and he created Eve with a perfect female human nature. These nature’s had God’s law directly written into them. Their original human natures told them things like assault, murder and theft were wrong. Adam’s original masculine human nature instinctually told him he needed to lead, protect and provide for his wife. Eve’s original feminine human nature told her she needed to submit to and serve Adam as his subordinate helper.

But both Adam and Eve did not listen to the perfect natures God gave them which told them what to do – instead they went against the perfect human natures they were given and they sinned against God.

From that point forward both human natures, the masculine and feminine, became corrupted by sin. Yet even in its corruption, our human nature can still tell us when something is right or wrong according to God’s law.
Now before anyone misunderstands me – I am NOT saying our human natures (either masculine or feminine) are always right and that we can always trust them.

To know where our natures are right and where they are corrupt, we must look to our owner’s manual which is the Word of God. It tells us where our nature is wrong and has been corrupted by sin and where our nature is functioning as God designed it to.

The same thing goes for our culture. If what our culture condemns matches up with what God condemns and if what our culture promotes matches up with what God promotes then we can follow those things in our culture. But if what our culture condemns God approves and what our culture approves God condemns then we must disregard what our culture teaches in that area.

A Woman’s Long Hair is NOT the Covering

The woman’s long hair is “a covering” but it is not THE covering God requires when women pray or prophesy. Let’s apply the “long hair” argument to the passage we have already looked at below:
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth without long hair dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman has not long hair, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her have long hair.”

Now let’s apply some basic logic.

A woman without long hair = a woman shorn (with short hair) or a woman with a shaved head.

Now let’s apply this to the passage again:
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head shaven dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be shorn, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her have long hair.”

You can’t make a comparison by comparing something to itself. It is like saying “Eating ghost peppers is like eating ghost peppers”. But rather if you wanted to tell someone what eating ghost peppers is like, you might say “Eating ghost peppers is like putting gasoline in your mouth and lighting it on fire”. The comparison of lighting gasoline in your mouth might be a little exaggerated – but it communicates the point of what it is like when you eat ghost peppers.
This is why we can confidently conclude that the veil that Paul exhorts women to wear while praying and prophesying is NOT a woman’s long hair. Paul is speaking of two coverings. One is the natural covering (veil) God wants women to wear which is their long hair and the second is the additional physical covering (veil) God wants women to wear over their natural covering when they are praying or prophesying.

Now that we have discussed why God wants women to wear a head covering and we have shown it to be a separate veil in additional to their natural veil we will now show according the Bible when women are to wear this second veil as a spiritual symbol.

WHEN Does God Want Women to Wear a Head Covering?

Before we give the answer as to when women should wear head coverings we need to have a discussion about prophesy since this along with prayer is a central theme of this passage on head coverings.

The English word prophesieth is a translation of the Greek word “Propheteuo”.

Propheteuo is one of those words that you really have to pay attention to the context it is used in. In certain contexts, it refers to someone supernaturally foretelling the future like Christ did in the Gospels or the Apostle John did in the book of Revelation and like the Apostle John these prophets were also ordained by God to speak and write his Word.
But in other contexts, propheteuo simply refers to someone teaching, reproving or admonishing others based on the truths of God’s Word.

The Apostle Peter spoke of the prophecy of Joel being fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on Christians in Acts 1:16-18 (KJV):
“16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”

Peter is addressing both types of prophesy in this one statement. He talks about the young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams. That is exactly what happened to the Apostles and they wrote about the visions they had in the New Testament. But he also talks about “daughters” and “handmaidens” prophesying. So, what does he mean by this?

In I Corinthians 14:3 (KJV) we read the following statement about prophesy:
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

Before I explain this passage, I want to make two points. The first thing I want to say is that I love the KJV because even though it has a very old form of English, it is often the most literal rendering of the original text. But like any other translation of the original texts, it sometimes is either confusing because of the old English or it is not as precise as it should be. The second thing I want to say is that I can’t stand all these gender-neutral translations of the Bible. The fact is that the Bible is written in a very masculine tone because God’s nature is represented by the masculine human nature and translations should be faithful to that tone.

But sometimes in the Bible the language used is gender neutral and I Corinthians 14:3 is actually one those passages.

First, where the King James version says “he” as in “he that prophesieth” the Greek Word which is “ho” is actually gender neutral and it would be more accurately translated as “the one”.

Secondly when the KJV refers to hearers of the prophesy it calls them “men” but that is not as precise as it should be when used together with the gender neutral “ho”. The Greek word that is translated as “men” is “Anthropos”. This word can be translated as “man”, “men”, “mankind” or as “people” or a “person” depending on the context it is used in. It is a less precise word than the Greek word “Aner” which is specifically used to refer to male human beings in the Bible or to “gune” which specifically refers to female human beings in the Bible.

With all that being said I believe in this rare case the NIV actually is actually closest to the original meaning with one minor correction:
“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”

Where I think the NIV is wrong is in their use of the word “strengthening” where the KJV and other translations like the NASB translate the word as “edification” which is a better translation of the Greek word “Oikodome”. Even Thayer’s Bible dictionary states that Oikodome which literally means “the act of building up” also is used metaphorically to mean edifying or edification. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of edify means to “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge”.

So, what is I Corinthians 14:3 saying? It is saying that “the one” (man or woman) that prophesies speaks to people (men or women) using the Word of God to instruct them, exhort them and comfort them.

The next verse, I Corinthians 14:4 (KJV) actually mentions the church:
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”

Again we have the gender neutral “Ho” for which is translated as “He” and the gender neutral “Heautou” which can be translated as “himself, herself, itself or themselves” depending on the context it is used. And since it is used with the gender neutral “Ho” once again the NIV is the most accurate translation of this verse where it says:
Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”

And on this subject of prophecy I want to mention one more verse which is found in Acts 21:8-9 (KJV):
“8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

So here is the point I have been building to with all these passages on prophesy. We who believe in the doctrines of Biblical gender roles cannot deny that God gifts some women with the gift of prophecy. And I do not mean the “foretelling of the future and writing God’s Word” kind of prophecy. I mean the kind of prophecy that edifies, exhorts and comforts people and edifies the church as the Scriptures say.

Acts 21:8-9 shows this to be true and the central passage we are talking about here – I Corinthians 11:5 which exhorts women when they prophesy to wear a head covering proves this to be true.
I know that many Christian wives have been led astray by false female prophets of God only to see their marriages destroyed. I have had many men write me emails testifying to this fact. Far too many. And it would be easy to say women can never prophesy in any form or venue because we are afraid of false teachings. But gentlemen let me remind you all that women don’t have a monopoly on being false prophets. There are many male false prophets out there today as there have always been.

The Scriptures tell us that God gifts some women with the gift of prophecy so the question then becomes where can they use this gift to edify, exhort and comfort?

Some would wrongly say because I Corinthians 14:4 (NIV) says “the one who prophesies edifies the church” that women can instruct and exhort men in the Church. But such an interpretation ignores clear prohibitions against women teaching men in the Church such this one found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 (KJV):
“11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

And in the same chapter of I Corinthians that we have just mentioned with gender neutral language about people prophesying to the church we find this restriction on women once again in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV):
“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 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.”

So how do we explain this? We are told in the Scriptures that prophesy edifies, exhorts and comforts all people and it also edifies the church and we are told that God gives this gift to both men and women. He even tells women when the prophesy to wear a head covering. Yet he tells women to remain silent in the church and learn from their husbands at home.

The answer my friends is found in Titus 2:3-5 (KJV):
“3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

When we combine the fact that Bible says some women have the gift of prophecy which includes edification, exhortation and comfort along with this passage we have a clear picture of God’s vision for women.
God gifts some women with the ability to be able to edify and exhort other 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” and to comfort them when they are in difficult situations.

Before I show you the final answer as to when a woman must wear a head covering according to the Scriptures, we need to understand one more point. When the Scriptures say “the one who prophesies edifies the church” this is not limited to a local church assembly of men and women together in a worship service.

The church, the body of Christ, is both universal and local. When you go down the street and see a physical church building and see Christians meeting there on Sunday mornings for worship that is a local manifestation of the body of Christ coming together for worship and instruction in the Word.

But then we have the universal body of Christ which includes all saints. There are many ministries which minister to the church on a universal level. A Christian radio show is an example of a ministry which ministers to the universal church. This blog ministry, BiblicalGenderRoles.com, is another example of a ministry which ministers to the universal church. And in this same way Christian women can have blogs which minister to the universal church and are specifically tailored toward women. Even on a local church level woman can have ladies Bible studies or ladies Sunday school classes where women with the gift of prophecy can exercise their gift within the bounds of God’s law.

But as I have said before on this blog – all ministries which are conducted by women, even by those women who have the gift of prophesy, must be done under the headship of man. If it is a single woman with no family that might mean she operates under the authority of the Pastor of her local church. If it is a woman with a Christian father and no husband then she operates under the spiritual authority of her father. And certainly, if a woman has a Christian husband then she operates her ministry to women under the spiritual authority of her husband.

And now we can finally answer the question of WHEN women are scripturally required to wear head coverings.

A woman should wear a head covering, a veil of some sort, during worship services because she certainly should be silently praying together with her local church during worship. Secondly, if a woman is prophesy to other women such as through a podcast or in person in a Sunday school class or a ladies Bible study, she also should wear a head covering.

Now prayer unlike prophesy, can occur within or totally outside any type of church ministry setting. But because the commands for women to wear head coverings for prayer are not qualified by a statement saying something like “in the church” or “the house of God” then it must therefore be treated as an absolute command for all occasions. See my note at the end of this article explaining my change or “sharpening” on this position about head coverings for prayer.

The “All Times” Argument

Before I conclude I wanted to address the “All Times” argument as to when Christian women should wear head coverings. There are some Christians like the Amish, Mennonites and Anabaptists and others outside those denominations that believe women are to wear head coverings at all times.

There argument is that the prayer Paul is referring to is not limited to that which occurs in the context of church ministries like worship services or other women’s ministries outside the worship service setting. And they point to 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV) which exhorts all Christians to “Pray without ceasing” to say that since Christian women should be in a constant state of pray that they should always have their head coverings.

The Biblical command to “Pray without ceasing” is like the Biblical command for us as Christians to be “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” in Hebrews 10:25 (KJV). In the same way the call to not forsake assembling within our local church bodies does not mean we must be at church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so too the call to pray without ceasing does not mean we must pray 24 hours a day 7 days a week at all minutes of the day.

Taken together these commands are telling us not give on the regular practice of meeting together in our local churches or of praying. We as Christians should have regular habits of praying and going to church. This the command of the Scriptures.

Otherwise if we took “pray without ceasing” the way some of these groups have tried to portray it – we could never talk to anyone else because we would be constantly talking to God and if we applied that to forsaking not the assembling of ourselves in the church we would never leave the church building or stop praying. That is not God’s will for our Christian lives. God simply wants prayer and church attendance to be a regular habit for all Christians.

Conclusion

I hope this study has been a blessing to you, I know it was for me as I studied this out again. I have believed in women wearing head coverings within the context of church ministry for many years but God really fined tuned this for me as I studied his Word on this subject once again.

So, we answered here from the Scriptures the three important questions when it comes to Christian women wearing head coverings. We answered the why, the what and the when.

The reason why God wants a woman to wear a head covering is because it is a public acknowledgement by that woman that man is the image bearer of God and man has been designated by God as the head of woman in all areas of this life. It is a testimony to all the people who see her as well as the angels who are watching that she acknowledges the male headship that God has placed her under and she would never seek to take authority over a man.

What is the head covering which God requires when women pray or prophesy? It is the second veil which God requires women to cover their heads with when praying or prophesying. The first veil God requires women to have is the one he naturally gives them the ability to have – and that is their long hair.

When should women wear their head covering or a second veil? Any time a woman prays or prophesies including if she prophesies outside a local church setting like with a podcast or having a ladies Bible study group at home. And she should wear a head covering any time she prays even outside a ministry setting.

As I conclude I just want to give one more “why” answer.

Why did the church abandon the teaching that women should wear head coverings? Why have so many pastors and other Christian teachers and writers gone to great lengths to say it was a “temporary cultural requirement” Even if they agree it is still required, they make the argument I have shown to be logically false that the woman’s long hair is the only covering Paul was talking about.

The answer is that Christian men over the last century or so gradually abandoned their God given headship over the women in their lives. And this leadership vacuum allowed for a poisonous ideology called Feminism to form. And Feminism since its inception has decimated God’s institution of gender roles and marriage and it brought the divorce rate from 3 percent to 45 percent causing more than 60 million divorces. Feminist ideology has also led to the deaths of over 60 million babies in abortion.

Whether it is their wives, their daughters or the women under their ministries in their churches most Christian men have neglected their duty in this regard. They now seek to appease women in their churches or marriages. They are more concerned with making the women in their lives happy than pleasing God.

If you are a God fearing, Bible believing Christian man or woman I ask you to pray for the men around you that God will give them the strength and courage to lead the women in their lives even it that may cause some momentary or even long-term unhappiness for them. I also ask you to pray for the women in your lives that they will have the courage to take a stand and if they do not have the two head coverings God requires for women (long hair and a veil for church ministry) that they will make this right before God and start doing what is right.

Update 5/5/2018 – My Change or “Sharpening” On When Women Should Wear Head Coverings For Prayer

Since originally publishing this article the Lord has led me to make a change on my position on head coverings. And “change” might not be the right word, as that might imply to some a 180 degree turn, which is not the kind of change I am referring to. I think a better word might be “sharpen” as in God has led me to “sharpen” my position on women wearing head coverings.

Let me just say before I introduce this change that no Christian should ever think they have arrived and perfectly interpret or apply the Scriptures. The Scriptures tell us as much in the following passage:
“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)

We will never be perfect in this life in how we live or in our interpretations or understanding of the Word of God. But Christ gives us the Holy Spirit of God and also brothers and sisters in Christ to help us along the way. While we may never be perfect, or even perfectly unified as believers in our understanding of the Scriptures – we are to progressively strive for that each day of our lives.

This means we should always be willing to entertain the possibility that we can be wrong in either our interpretation or our application of the Scriptures. Sometimes the Holy Spirit can show us something all on our own but other times the Holy Spirit may use other Christians to show us his truths. It might be something our Pastor says in a sermon on Sunday. It might a something we hear from a preacher on a radio. It might be something we read from a Christian writer in a book or blog. And sometimes it might be from a comment that someone places on your blog.

The Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 27:17 that Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” and that is what Tyler Bryant has done for me on this subject of women wearing head coverings.

For all of my adult life I have believed in women wearing head coverings for worship since I attended a Plymouth Brethren church with my parents when I was a teenager for about a year before we returned to a Baptist church. My mother for a time started wearing a head covering while we attend that church and my father showed me from I Corinthians 11 why the church believed women should wear head coverings.

I have since that time held the position that since prophesy can only be exercised in a church ministry setting (either within the local church or in some parachurch or universal church capacity) that the absoluteness of the statement was applying only to prophesy and the prayer portion was pertaining to that which was done with prophecy which is done in church ministry.

Tyler is 100 percent sure that the prayer mentioned is NOT limited to that which is done within the context of church ministry (either in the local church or outside as a universal church ministry).

The struggle I have had since Tyler’s comments is that I am not 100 percent sure that the prayer mentioned IS limited to just that which is done in the context of church ministry (like alongside of prophesy). But before I give my change or “sharpening” on this subject of women wearing head coverings for prayer I want to give a little background on qualifications about things done “in the church” which Tyler alluded to in his comments.

There are some passages like I Corinthians 14:34-35’s admonition for women to be silent that specifically qualify the statement with “in the church” so I can 100 percent say this is not applying to outside of church ministries. And then I further 100 percent know it is talking about mixed gender settings because women are exhorted to teach other women and we are told women can prophesy to other women (Acts 2:17 ,1 Corinthians 14:3-4 & Titus 2:3-5).

There are other statements like this one from 1 Timothy 3:15 which qualify all of chapter three that came before it as well as half of chapter 2:
“14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

In this passage above Paul is end capping his discussion on general behavior rules within the assembled church as well as the qualifications for church officers – he started this discussion in the previous chapter in I Timothy 2:7 where restates his authority as an Apostle of Christ and then he starts telling men and women how to conduct themselves within the assembled church. He mentions a very similar statement about women being silent in verses 11-12 and this is qualified later by his statement that this is “how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God”.

My point I am trying to make is that sometimes the qualification does not occur right alongside the command but it occurs later in the discussion as an end cap to many commands. But with this case of women wearing head coverings while praying – there is no qualifying endcap anywhere related to the discussion of head coverings.

I Corinthians 11 is an interesting chapter because Paul begins with speaking about prophecy which is a church ministry, but it is one that can be exercised toward the church either on a local church level or universal church level and then he switches gears and begins speaking of a church ministry, that of communion, which can ONLY occur within the local church with them all coming together in I Corinthians 11:17-18 (KJV):
“17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”

So here is my change or “sharpening”

Since the discussion of head coverings for prayer is not qualified with the command itself like I Corinthians 14:34-35 and it also does not qualify the command about head coverings for prayer as part of a list of many commands like 1 Timothy 3:15 then we cannot know with a 100 percent degree of confidence that it is only speaking of prayers done in the context of church ministry. Therefore, I believe in the absence of either of these types of qualifications we must regard the command for women to wear head coverings for prayer as absolute. This means women should wear head coverings for prayer whether it is during a a church ministry or even in a private setting outside of church ministries.

What Are Your Goals as a Husband for 2019?

As we approach the new year what do you see as areas where you see that you need to improve as a husband? In Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. Below are some suggested areas where we as husbands may need to improve.

Ten Duties of a Christian Husband

  1. Provide for HerEphesians 5:27-28 tells us that husbands are to “nourish” or literally provide for the physical needs of their wife as they do their own bodies. Are you providing for your wife’s needs to the best of your ability?  Remember that a man’s provision for his wife’s needs is a picture of God’s provision for his people.  If your wife is the primary provider, you are breaking the model God meant for you to display.  It is one thing if you are disabled or ran into some unforeseen financial crisis necessitating that your wife be the provider, but this should be the exception and not the norm.
  2. Protect HerEphesians 5:27-28 tells us that husbands are to “cherish” their wives. This does not mean what our modern “cherish” means which is to put your wife on a pedestal and worship her. It means to protect her.  God says that husbands should protect their wives as they do their own bodies.  That means we keep her safe from all kinds harm – both physical and spiritual.
  3. Discipline Her Ephesians 5:25-27 tells husbands that they are called to wash their wives’ spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God just as Christ does his Church. This is the reason men are told to give themselves up.  Many men today give up their leadership for their wife’s happiness, when God calls them to lead which sometimes requires sacrificing their own and their wife’s happiness in the process.  In Revelation 3:19 Christ speaking of himself as a husband to his churches stated “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.  No woman is perfect just as no man is perfect.  That means if you never find yourself rebuking and chastening(disciplining) your wife then you are not loving her as Christ does his Church.
  4. Teach Her In 1 Corinthians 14:35 we read that women are to be taught in spiritual matters by their husbands in their home. Do you take an active and intentional role in teaching your wife the Word of God? This goes beyond the washing of the word for discipline.  This is taking a whole encompassing approach to teaching the whole counsel of God to your wife.
  5. Rule Over Her In 1 Timothy 3:4 we are told that men need to rule well their own homes. Are you the ruler of your home? This is about much more than being the discipliner or even teacher of your home.   The Ruler gives a vision and sets rules and policies in the home.  Your wife needs a clear vision from you so that she can help to manage your home around that vision.  For instance, some men delegate the paying of the bills to their wives and that is ok.  But you cannot delegate your responsibility to give your wife principles and policies by which to pay the bills.  You need to set the policies for how much will be saved, how much will be given to the church or other charities and how much will be used to pay off debts.
  6. Show Her Grace In Psalm 86:15 we are told that God is full of compassion and grace. We as men are called to image God in the lives of our wives.  Grace is unmerited favor. In marriage it means doing kind things for your wife not because she deserves it, but because in spite of the fact that she does not.  Compassion is showing sympathy for your wife’s sufferings and misfortunes even if sometimes she has brought these things on herself by her own bad decisions or wrong behavior.
  7. Show Her MercyIn Psalm 103:8 we are told that God is plenteous in mercy and slow to anger. Mercy means not giving someone the punishment or discipline they deserve. Maybe you have no problem ruling over your wife but are you are not so plenteous in mercy and are quick to anger with your wife. God calls us to picture his mercy in our wife’s life.
  8. Know Her In I Peter 3:7 we read that husbands are to live with their wives according to knowledge and if we don’t God will not hear our prayers as husbands. Do you take the time to know your wife? You cannot know her without speaking to her on a regular basis.  And you cannot wash her or teach her or rule over her without knowing her. If you will not hear your wife’s petitions God will not hear yours.  That does not mean we have to give our wives what they want just as God does not give us everything we ask for.  Also, knowing her is not just talking to her, but it is also having sex with her.  The Bible actually uses the same word “to know” for both knowing someone spiritually and emotionally as well as as sexually – see Genesis 4:1.
  9. Honor Her In I Peter 3:7 we read that husbands are to honor their wives and in Ephesians 6:2 we read that children are to honor their mother. Do you show proper honor to your wife? Do you make your children honor your wife as their mother?
  10. Praise Her In Proverbs 31:28 we read that the husband of the virtuous wife praises her and her children do as well.  Do you set the example for your children in praising your wife when she does something well? For instance, do you praise her for meals that are well cooked? Or when she redecorates the house do you notice? Do you praise her for being a good mother to your children? Do you praise her for doing well in the marriage bed? No woman is perfect and some are far less perfect than others. And we are not talking about praising her for doing nothing but breathing and taking up space.  If she is lazy in certain areas don’t praise her for things she does not do.  But many women at least do some things that are praiseworthy – do you find ways to praise your wife.

What about a husband loving his wife?

Someone might ask after reading the list above, where is the duty of a husband to love his wife?  If you read Ephesians 5:25-29 you will have your answer:

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 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.

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”

These ten things I have just shown are the very definition of the love of a husband toward his wife according the God’s Word.  You see the problem we have today is that we only see love in one way, and that is in one person showing affection or kindness toward another.  Now affection and kindness are certainly not bad things and husbands should show love toward their wives in these ways as well.  But the Bible never defines affection as the definition of a husband’s love toward his wife.   A husband’s love for his wife is supposed to flow from his sense of duty, it is a love based in a conscious choice of the will, not one based in emotion.

So What Are Your Goals as a Husband for 2019?

Having read each of the 10 duties above – where do you see that improvement on your part needs to be made?  Maybe you are great at ruling, disciplining and teaching your wife but you are light on the mercy and grace side? Other Christian husbands might think they are great at showing mercy and grace but what they are really doing is failing to discipline and rule over their wives.  Too much discipline and ruling(control) can lead to tyranny but too much grace and mercy can lead to dereliction of duty and apathy.

Maybe you rule well over her, discipline her and teach her but you fail to ever praise her for anything that she does well.  Or maybe you allow your children to speak to her in disrespectful ways thus failing to honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.

Maybe you are a great provider but you never take the time to know your wife.  So because you don’t know her current struggles you cannot properly teach her or wash her with the Word.

Maybe your family is harsh and unloving toward your wife.  Do you protect your wife from nasty relatives?  Maybe you live in a dangerous area where you should have a firearm in the home to make your wife feel safer.  Maybe on the spiritual front you need to protect your wife from harmful influences from friends or relatives? Maybe you need to protect your wife from herself? Perhaps she has some self-destructive tendencies?

Here Are My Goals as Husband for 2019

To help my fellow brothers in Christ get ideas for improvement I decided to share my list for this coming year. I have asked God to search my heart and this is what I came up with.

  1. I provide for my wife (we are a bit tight right now, but I can say I work as much as I can with all my responsibilities).
  2. I protect my wife by having a fire arm (locked in a safe of course), protect her from certain family members and also protect her from herself (she some anxiety and depression issues).
  3. I discipline her in correcting and rebuking her when she disrespects me or contradicts me in front of my children or other groups. I sometimes remove some free time I would have spent with her when she really gets out of line.
  4. I teach her the Word of God on a regular basis. Sometimes she feels it is too much, but she can’t say she does not learn about many parts of the Bible from me regularly.
  5. Ruling over her is an area that has been a continual need of improvement especially in the financial area. This is an area where I have not strictly enforced our weekly and monthly budget and that is one of my goals for 2019 to get our debt under control.  Some of it we cannot help because of her medical issues but we can do better.  I also want to give more to the church this year.
  6. Grace is one that may be just right or needing a little improvement. I do show my wife a lot of grace by doing things for her despite her lack of submission and sometimes just utter contentiousness. And no I don’t just mean doing things around the house.  I mean buying her things she does not need (but just wants).
  7. I think I show her a lot of mercy. If I took my wife to task for every disrespectful word or un-submissive attitude she displayed I would be disciplining her just about every day several times a day.  Let’s just say my wife is a strong willed, critical and stubborn person many times.  And believe it or not I am the one that everybody says is easy going and very patient and forgiving.  I know my detractors won’t believe that but it is the truth.
  8. In the area of knowing her I think I do that pretty well even if she would always like more of my time to veg with her. Wednesday night is date night for us.  It just works out good that way for me with my work schedule.  We often stay home because my wife does not like to go out as much as she thinks she does(LOL).  But even when we stay home it is us spending 4 to 6 hours alone in our room just watching shows and talking.  We also talk on other nights of the week as well, but it’s not as long and not just us as we will have my children around.
  9. In the area of honoring her I think there could be some room for improvement. You have to be careful though with honor as it can become a loaded term especially for Christian feminists.  Christian feminists will say if you rebuke your wife you are dishonoring her when that contradicts what the Bible says.  But where I see need for improvement is with my children.  One of my teens (he is autistic) has a real problem with my wife and is very disrespectful to her as his step mother sometimes.  I do take him to task and punish him from time to time.  The problem is that my wife sometimes just riles him up.  Also my wife is also hyper sensitive about disrespect from my kids.  This is a running joke between her and I where I have told her “If I was as sensitive toward your disrespect of me as you are at our teens you would never hear the end of it”.   But alas – I think I could be a bit harder on the kids about this.
  10. In the area of praise, I suppose there is always room for improvement. I do praise my wife when she does cook and tell her in detail what I liked about the meal.  I also praise her when she cleans the house.  I certainly praise her when she does well in the bedroom.  But I think sometimes I miss when does nice things and forget to praise her.  The problem with my wife is that she is disabled so I end up doing a big part of the laundry and cooking and other household things.  It also affects our love life as well more sometimes than others.  So sometimes it is very hard to find anything to praise her for when she has literally just laid around for days or a week and I have done most everything.  And it is hard to find opportunities to praise her for her performance in the bedroom when nothing has happened in a while or when the last few times were just phoned in. But again, this is an area that I as her husband can always improve on.

I look forward to hearing what you as Christian husbands are struggling with and where you think you need to improve.  As the Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend”.

 

Is the Wife the Holy Spirit of The Home?

During a revival meeting I was recently in at my church, the guest Pastor said “the wife is the Holy Spirit of the home”.  This Pastor had been married for more than 20 years and had previously talked about times in his marriage where his wife stopped him and corrected him when he was going down some wrong paths or about to make some wrong decisions.   He then went further after his statement and asked the men of the church to raise their hands to affirm that they agreed that their wives were the Holy Spirit for their homes.

Needless to say, my children looked at me when the Pastor said this and they knew where I stood on this and they knew such a statement was highly unbiblical and it actually was heresy.  My hand was glued down to my chair as many hands from other husbands went up across the auditorium.   I was pleased to see that many other men did keep their hands down though.  I could not see if my Pastor lifted his hand or not.

Let me just say that besides this statement and his having the men raise their hands about it everything else this Pastor taught both before and after it was very Biblical.  He taught a perfect message on the Gospel and he taught on holiness and us living our lives in a holy way in which we would not be ashamed when Christ returns.

I truly believe this Pastor loves the Lord, believes the Bible is the Word of God and believes the same Gospel I do.  He preachers hard against sin.  But like so many Pastors, even conservative Bible believing Pastors, he has had his thinking poisoned by the feminist ideals that have infested our churches.

Let me make something abundantly clear. The Scriptures never compare the wife to the Holy Spirit.  Such an analogy is borderline blasphemy.

The Bible Compares the Husband to God, Not the Wife

The Bible compares man to God in I 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.”

Because man is God’s direct image bearer and woman is not, this is why God is very concerned with there always be a distinction made between men and women.  This is the reason that God condemns cross-dressing and transvestism in Deuteronomy 22:5:

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

In Ephesians 5:22-24 the Scriptures tell us that in marriage man represents Christ and woman represents the Church:

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

The Scriptures here are clear that the husband is the head of the wife AS Christ is the head of the church and that AS the church is subject to Christ in everything so to wives are to be subject to their husbands in everything.  In fact, the husband wife relationship is the only human authority relationship where God commands the one under authority to submit to their human authority “as unto the Lord”.

But Men Are Not God!

It is interesting to me that this Pastor and many Christian feminists would have no problem hearing a person say “the wife is the Holy Spirit of the home” but if you were to say “The husband is the Christ of the home” they would go nuts.  This is due in part to the misandry that we have allowed to fester in this nation since the start of second wave feminism in the 1960s.

Am I saying Husbands are Christ? Absolutely not! Men are God’s direct image bearers and in this world husbands symbolize Christ in the home but that does not mean they are Christ. Husbands are not sinless, all knowing or all powerful as Christ is.  Husbands do not have all the attributes of God as Christ does.

But men, and by extension husbands, have more in common with God than women do. And this is not by chance, but by the design of God.  This is why God is always referred to in the masculine sense.  This is why God is referred to as a husband, father and son and never as a wife, mother or daughter. The masculine human nature is a reflection of God’s nature and feminine human nature is not.  The feminine human nature was created to compliment and serve the masculine nature, not to image the nature of God.

The Husband is the Ruler, Leader and Guide to Wife

The Scriptures tell us in I Peter 3:1-2 & 5-6

“1 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: 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.”

The Scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35:

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 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.”

And in 1 Timothy 2:12 the Scriptures tell us:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

These passages smack our modern feminist ideals right in the face. But it is the Word of God.   God does not tell husbands to go to their wives to learn how to lead their home or understand the Word of God.  On the contrary it teaches women are to seek spiritual guidance from their husbands.

Should Husbands Listen their Wives?

In Genesis 3:17 the Scriptures tell us the first sin man ever committed:

“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”

If you ask most Christians “What was the first sin that man committed?” most will answer “eating the forbidden fruit”.  But Genesis 3:17 tells us the first sin man actually committed was listening to his wife when she was wrong.  Adam’s first failure was a failure of his duty to rule over his wife by rebuking her sin and then refusing to participate with her in it.  But he was more concerned with keeping her love and affection and so he listened to his wife when he knew she was wrong.

Job in many ways was the “anti-Adam”.  In Job 2:10 we read that when his wife asked him to sin against God he responded as Adam should have to Eve:

“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.”

But the question is, are there times when husbands should listen to their wives? The answer from a Biblical perspective is yes.   In Genesis 21:12 the Scriptures tell us:

“And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

In Genesis 21:12 we see a situation where Abraham did not feel right about sending Hagar and Ishmael away as his wife was asking him to do.  And it was her advice to try and have an heir through Hagar that got him in this mess in the first place so I am sure he was at a point where he felt he should not listen to her.

But God knows Sarah is trying to clean up the mess she had made.  She knows there will be contention over the inheritance and leadership of the tribe between Ishmael and Isaac when Abraham dies if Ishmael is still there.  So, God intervenes and speaks to Abraham telling him in this particular case to listen to Sarah.

There are other stories in the Scriptures where we can see that husbands should have listened to their wives as in the story of Abigail and her husband Nabal in 1 Samuel 25 as well as the story of Pontius Pilate and his wife in Matthew 27:19.

The Scriptures tell us of the virtuous wife in Proverbs 31:26 that “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness”.  What that means is that a wise wife is meant to be asset to her husband, not a burden.  But she is to offer her wisdom to her husband and others in a kind and gentle way that is appropriate for women of good character.

The unfortunate truth is that often times intelligent women are more of a liability and burden to their husbands because they do not use their intelligence in a kind and respectful way with their husbands.  Instead they use it to badger and disrespect their husbands and often to try and usurp authority over their husbands.

So, the answer to the question “Should a husband listen to his wife?” is – it depends on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   Sometimes the Holy Spirit will prompt us to follow our wife’s advice in a certain situation and other times he will tell us her advice is wrong and we must then go against her advice and in some cases it might actually require a rebuke toward her.

Should a Man’s Wife’s Advice Carry the Most Weight?

Many Christians including Christian feminists and even some complementarian Christians believe that the concerns and advice of a man’s wife should carry more weight for him than any other advisor in his life.  The Christian feminists argue this from their belief that marriage is a partnership of equals and therefore the husband and wife have equal say in all family decisions.  Many Christian complentarians while teaching male headship in marriage teach that a man’s wife’s concerns and advice should carry the most weight because he is in a one flesh relationship with her.

Some would argue that this passage below from I Peter 3:7 teaches that husbands should give the most weight to their wife’s advice:

“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.”

It is for these reasons above that many Christian wives are mortally offended when their husbands seek the advice of others and even follow that advice over the advice of their wife.

The question is what does the Bible say about this? Should a man’s wife’s advice carry the most weight in is decision making?

Before we answer this from the Biblical point of view let’s make something clear.  Contrary to what many Christian feminists teach we who believe in Biblical gender roles do not believe husbands are all knowing and that wives know nothing.  Such an attack is straw man argument.  The argument basically goes, if you believe a husband is the head of his wife and that a husband does not always have to listen to his wife then you believe husbands are never wrong, never make bad decisions and that they know all.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Bible exhorts men to seek the counsel of their parents in their old age as well as other men both older and the same age to get different points of view and learn from the experience and spiritual knowledge of others:

In Proverbs 23:22 the scriptures tell us this regarding a man’s mother and his father:

“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.”

And in Proverbs 13:20 we read:

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

And finally, in Proverbs 27:17 the Scriptures state:

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

The Scriptures are clear from the passage we discussed earlier in Ephesians 5:22-24 that marriage is not an equal partnership between a man and a woman.  The Bible says the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church – are the church and Christ equal partners? The answer is no.  The Church is subject to Christ.  And as the Church is subject to Christ so too the wife is to be subject to her husband.  Therefore, Christian feminism does not have a Biblical leg to stand on.

But what about the Christian complementarian argument that because a husband and wife are in a one flesh relationship and the husband is to dwell with his wife according to knowledge (I Peter 3:7) that this means her advice should carry the most weight in his decision-making processes?

I Peter 3:7 does not teach men that their wife’s advice or concerns must carry the most weight in their decision-making processes.  When it warns of a man’s prayers not being heard, this is a warning to the husband that he must know his wife and at least hear her concerns.  He should hear his wife’s concerns the same way he wants God to hear his.  God is telling husbands – “if you won’t listen to your wife’s petitions, I won’t listen to yours”.

But let’s think of how prayer works.  Does God always do what we ask in our prayers? The answer is no.  Often his answer may be “no” or “wait”.   Sometimes we ask for things we should not ask for.  Sometimes we don’t realize we are wrong in asking for the things we are asking for. It is the same way with a husband and wife. Sometimes a husband’s answer to his wife will be “no” or other times it will be “wait”.  And sometimes women ask for things that are completely wrong or against the will of God.

Finally let’s address the “one flesh” argument for husband’s giving the most weight to their wife’s advice. Who is the head of this “one flesh” relationship? The man or the woman? We know from Ephesians 5:22-24 that the husband is the head of the “one flesh” relationship otherwise known as marriage.  That means the wife should be molding herself to and following her head.  The unity of the husband and wife is most dependent on a wife submitting to her husband even when he does not follow her advice or grant her wishes.

So, no the fact that a husband and wife are in a one-flesh relationship does not mean a husband must give the most weight to his wife’s advice.  What it means is that the wife after giving her advice must humble herself and realize she is but one of her husband’s many advisers.  It means she must humble herself and follow her husband even when he goes against her advice.  It also means that she needs to mold herself to her husband’s views over time.  Biblically speaking, a husband and wife become one as the wife molds herself more and more to her husband and his thinking.  As long as his thinking in any given area does not directly contract the Scriptures, the wife is to mold herself to her husband.

In other words, biblically speaking there is nothing wrong with a woman “loosing her identity in her husband”, but rather Biblically speaking that is exactly what a wife is supposed to do.   That is why wives are to take on their husband’s name and leave their father’s house behind.

“Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;” – Psalm 45:10

Conclusion

The wife is not the Holy Spirit of the home.  But rather Christian husbands should listen to the true Holy Spirit of God and follow his guidance and he will guide husbands as he did Abraham as to when they should or should not listen to their wife’s advice or grant their requests.   Also, husbands should not feel that their wife should be their only advisor or that her advice must always carry the most weight.  Husbands don’t know everything just because they are men and neither do wives because they are women. It is good for men to have a multitude of counselors, especially other Christian men both older and of the same age who can offer spiritual advice and life experience.

The Husband’s Call to Love Is A Call to Rule

Are men never commanded to lead their wives in the Bible? This is the recent conclusion that Cane Caldo has come to.  Cane Caldo has been a warrior against Christian feminism for many years. But recently he has come to the belief that he fell into a trap in response to Christian feminist arguments on this subject and that he now realizes he was “fundamentally wrong” in telling men that the Bible calls them to lead their wives.

In his article entitled “CoE V: I Am Not Called to “Lead” in the Bible” Caldo states:

“Our age’s focus on a husband’s leadership is a clever redirect away from the Biblical command for wives to submit and obey. Every instance of Biblical instruction to husbands and wives say the same thing: Wives submit to and obey your husbands. Husbands love and care for your wives. That’s the instruction in 1 Peter 3, Titus 2, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3; in every instance where the Christian home life is addressed

I’ve written many posts and comments about a husband leading his wife, and I was fundamentally wrong. Over the years it has come to be that the liberal progressives proclaim the right thing for the wrong reasons and the traditionalists fight back with nonsense, and I fell into it also. Christian Feminists (both overt and those undeclared and unwitting) are quick to point out that it is a wife’s duty to obey and not a husbands right to force her to submit. Traditionalists have tried to fight this by demanding husbands lead better, and by stealing the glory of obedient women for themselves; such as when a man says his wife follows him because of his good leadership.

And all of it–the progressive tactics and the traditionalist response–is meant to tangle us up so that a wife’s temptation to rebel and abandon is never the topic of discussion; so that no one says, “Wives, obey your husbands.”

 

Building on what Caldo said here, Darlock on his blog wrote in his article “Headship Sleight of Hand” the following comments:

“When I first read this it was obvious that Cane is right.  But I initially struggled to put all of the pieces together.  Scripture says the husband is the head of the wife.  We can then deduce from this that if he is the head, then he has an obligation to lead.  The Bible doesn’t state that husbands have this obligation, the husband’s stated obligation is to love his wife, and the wife’s stated obligation is to submit to her husband.  But leaders clearly have an obligation to lead.  The specific nature of this obligation is another question, but the basic deduction is solid.  However, modern Christians don’t stop there.  Next they turn the deduction around and run it backwards:

If the husband leads, he will be the head.

The reversed deduction is then substituted for the plain meaning of Scripture.  This is a masterful sleight of hand. From here, submission is likewise reworked:

If the husband leads well, the wife will submit.”

 

Darlock then displays a nice graphic which basically shows this progression:

The husband is the head; the wife is to submit to him becomes leaders have an obligation to lead.

Leaders have an obligation to lead becomes if the husband leads, he will be the head.

If the husbands leads he will be head becomes if the husband leads well, the wife will submit.

I Understand Where Caldo and Darlock Are Coming From

Let me first say that while Caldo, Darlock and I would have some disagreements in various areas we are all three would agree on the need to fight against the scourge of feminism and specifically Christian feminism in the churches.  In this regard I consider both these men brothers in arms and I have respect for their work.

And I can see where they are coming from on this topic.  Darlock painted the Christian feminist twisting of headship perfectly and showed how they arrive at their false conclusion that a wife only needs to submit to her husband if he leads well.

Caldo also was absolutely right when he about a husband’s call to love his wife being unconditional where he states “Likewise, a husband cannot be thwarted from loving his wife. Even if she does not obey him that is no bar to his God-given ability to love and care her despite her wickedness. If he loves and cares for her, and she refuses to obey he is clean. He did not fail to lead.”

Amen Caldo, Amen.

The Call to Love is a Call to Rule

Caldo points out that in every instance of the Scriptures where the husband wife relationship is addressed (1 Peter 3, Titus 2, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3) that we find the formula of “Wives submit to and obey your husbands. Husbands love and care for your wives”.  And again, he is right in this regard.

But what he and Darlock are failing to see is what kind of love husbands are called to?

Each and every time the Bible calls husbands to love their wives it uses the word “Agape” in the Greek.  This is a love which originates in the will is not based on emotion or affection as “Phileo” love is.  Men are not supposed to base their love for their wife on their affection for her at any given moment, but on the basis that God has given them a duty to their love their wives.

But this agape love that a husband is called to have toward his wife is not just any agape love.  It is NOT the same type of agape love that we are to have toward our fellow church members, or even our children.  It is specifically defined for us in Ephesians chapter 5:25 when the Apostle Paul writes “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…”.

The key word in that sentence is the tiny word “AS”.  This tells us what kind of agape love husbands are to have toward their wives.  The model for the love of a husband toward his wife is found in looking at how Christ loves his Church.

So, in this critical passage of the Scriptures Paul goes on to show us what is entailed in the agape love a husband toward his wife:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  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.

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 5:25-29 (KJV)

So here are key attributes of how Christ loves his Church that are given to husbands as a model in how God requires them to love their wives in Ephesians chapter 5:

  1. The call to love one’s wife is a call to sacrifice one’s self for one’s wife.
  2. The call to love one’s wife is a call to wash one’s wife, to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God.
  3. The call to love one’s wife is a call to provide for(nourish) her physical needs.
  4. The call to love one’s wife is a call to protect(cherish) her.

It must be pointed out that the first two attributes in this list are tightly coupled together as the last two items in this list are tightly coupled together.

Christian feminists love that husbands are called to “give themselves up” for their wives as Christ did his Church.  Myriads of Christian feminist books and blogs have built false doctrines around the phrase “and gave himself for it”.  Basically, they twist this phrase into saying Christian men should give up any desires or ambitions they have in a life long quest to make their wives happy.

But what they fail to do is realize that God describes WHY Christ gave himself up.  It was to wash the spiritual blemishes, spots and wrinkles of his wife, the Church, to make her holy, not happy.

In fact, in the book of Acts we find out more about why Christ “gave himself up” for the Church”:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Acts 20:28 (KJV)

Christ did not “gave himself up” to appease or make happy his bride, the Church, but rather to purchase her with his own blood so he could then wash her and make her the glorious bride he intended her to be to him.

Now one of the mistakes that Caldeo makes that a lot of people make on both sides of this issue is that he confines the definition of the role a husband to “where the Christian home life is addressed”.  That is an exegetical mistake.  When Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church” this tells we can look to any part of the Scriptures where Christ is interacting with his church or churches to understand how a husband’s love and interactions are to be with his wife.

To that end let’s now look to the book of Revelation.  Here we find Christ rebuking and threatening to discipline(chasten) six of his seven churches for disobedience in various areas.  At the conclusion of his rebukes and threats to chasten his churches he makes the following statement:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (KJV)

This passage is directed to his churches.  This is a depiction of Christ’s love for his Bride.  Therefore, it is absolutely correct to say that the call for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved his Church is a call for husbands to rebuke and discipline their wives.  Christ was literally washing his wife with the Word of God in the previous passages in Revelation just as he implores men to love their wives by washing them with the Word in Ephesians 5:26-27.

This washing with the Word, this rebuking and chastening of one’s wife as Christ did is his Church is in fact a call to rule one’s wife.  Only a person in a ruler can discipline someone or attempt to modify their behavior by imposing punishments for bad behavior.

The Bible even says that a man is to be “one that ruleth well his own house”:

“4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)… 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”

I Timothy 3:4-5 & 11 (KJV)

This passage above clearly states that God expects men to rule well their own homes and if a man cannot rule well his own house how can he rule the church of God?  The wives are mentioned separately below.  Some have wrongly inferred that only because the children are mentioned in the first part that wives are free of a husband’s rule and he has no responsibility to rule over them.  This would make absolutely no sense.  Are wives not part of a husband’s home? Are there people in the church that are not under the rulership of church elders? Such an interpretation is absurd to say the least.

Therefore, we can rightly conclude based on Ephesians 5:25-27, I Timothy 3:4-5 & 11 and Revelation 3:19 that the husband’s call to love his wife which is recognized by both Caldo and Darlock is also a call to rule one’s wife.

What is the Difference Between a Leader and A Ruler?

In my original version of this article I only used the word “leader” because I was trying to use the language Caledo and others were using.  But I have explained on this blog many times that there are different types of leaders.

There are leaders who people voluntarily follow who have no authority or disciplinary power over those they lead.   Then there are leaders who have authority over others and with that authority comes disciplinary powers.   A leader with authority and disciplinary powers over those under them is a ruler.

Another way to convey this truth is that while all rulers are leaders, not all leaders are rulers.

A ruler does not simply offer guidance, but they actually institute rules for those under their authority and use discipline for the breaking of those rules.  In some cases rulers actually own those under their authority as well and this is how the Bible presents the husband wife relationship where the husband is called the “baal” or master/owner of the wife throughout the Old Testament.   See my article “Is Christian marriage a master – servant relationship?” for more on this subject.

Conclusion

I want to return to Darlock’s process of where he thinks Christian feminism has added to God’s Word:

This first statement is absolutely Biblically true:

The husband is the head; the wife is to submit to him becomes leaders have an obligation to lead.

The husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to submit to him.  It is both IMPLIED in the husband being the head of his wife and EXPLICIT in a husband’s call to love his wife as Christ loves his Church, to wash her with the Word of God and chasten her that he is called to rule her.

But Darlock’s next statements is where feminism adds to the Word of God:

Leaders have an obligation to lead becomes if the husband leads, he will be the head.

If the husbands leads he will be head becomes if the husband leads well, the wife will submit.

Christian husbands absolutely have an obligation to lead their wives as Christ lead’s his Church.  However, those Christians who say a husband’s headship is contingent on his follow through of his duty to lead are in direct contradiction to what the Scriptures say about the basis for a husband’s headship.  The husband is the head of his wife whether he is rules as Christ does his church or utterly fails to model Christ’s leadership of his church.   This is the explicit teaching of the Word of God:

 “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; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (KJV)

So, unless a husband tells his wife to sin (Acts 5:29) she must obey him in ALL he commands her to do. The passage above leaves no gray area.  And no, it is not just talking about submission to non-Christian husbands who are disobedient. Later in this same conversation the Apostle Peter says the following of this kind of submission from wives toward their husbands:

“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)

Was Abraham a believer? You bet he was.  So, this means whether a woman’s husband is a believer or non-believer even if he is living a life that is disobedient to the Word of God and even if he utterly failing to love his wife and lead his wife as Christ does his church wives ARE TO SUBMIT.  Period.