Does the Bible teach “happy wife happy life”?

HappyWifeHappyLife

Husbands or engaged men – you may have heard the phrase “happy wife –happy life”. There are signs and plaques sold all over America, often bought for men to follow this advice as they enter marriage. Many churches have incorporated this idea into their marriage courses and counseling programs.

But the first question that any Christian man should ask is “what would God have me do?”

What does it mean to make your wife happy?

The first truth must understand is that you can’t “make your wife happy”. You can’t “make” anyone happy. People (including you), choose whether they will be happy or not. Some people choose to be happy in what most of us would consider the worst of conditions, while others are never able to be happy, no matter how much money or power or pleasures that may come their way.

Many who believe in the “happy wife-happy life” idea, would acknowledge the truth of what I just said. But they would clarify that what they mean is, “A husband should listen to his wife, and do what she asks. He should study what his wife likes and do those things for her to attempt to please her.”

So what’s wrong with trying to please your wife?

Nothing in and of itself. In fact most men have a natural desire to please their wives, especially in the dating period, engagement period and newlywed period. But for you as the Christian man, you have someone who you need to please more than your wife, and that person is God.

The Apostle Paul alludes to the choice every Christian husband must make in his first letter to Corinthian Church:

“I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— and his interests are divided…

Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.” I Corinthians 7:32-33 & 35(HCSB)

Paul recognized that while marriage has it benefits, it also places a burden on men. Sometimes your wife may be your greatest ally in doing what you believe is right for your family before God. But even the best of wives, can at times cause a man to have to choose between what he believes would please God, and what he knows will please his wife.

A husband who chose to please God rather than his wife

“His wife said to him, “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!”

“You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.”

Job 2:9-10(HCSB)

Job is an example of man whose devotion to God was truly undivided. Job proved that it was possible to please God, and yet be married. He simply had to choose the courage to displease his wife (whose advice was sinful) and to please God.

A foolish wife destroys her home, and so does the husband that seeks to please her

“Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” – Proverbs 14:1 (HCSB)

It is your responsibility as a husband to please God, and in the best interests of your family, to discern whether your wife’s advice, or her wants and desires are foolish or wise. The fate of your home and your family depends on your discernment.

How can a man know if pleasing his wife will displease God?

Every decision a Christian husband makes must always start with God’s purpose of marriage as defined in the Scriptures:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.”

Ephesians 5:22-30(HCSB)

Marriage is meant to be a model of the relationship of Christ and the Church. A wife is to submit to her husband, as the Church submits to Christ. A husband is to sacrificially love his wife, as Christ loves the church.

An important point to remember though is, sacrificially loving your wife does not translate to “doing whatever she wants”. After you have been married many years, you will actually find that sacrificially loving your wife sometimes means sacrificing her happiness, to make her holy. It sometimes means confronting your wife as Job confronted his wife.

When Job called out his wife’s foolishness, he was attempting to “make her holy” as Ephesians 5 calls a husband to do. When a man’s confronts his wife’s sinful behavior, instead of overlooking it, or going along with her, he is sacrificing his own happiness, because let’s face it, no man likes to see his wife unhappy.

Holiness, not happiness, should be a husband’s first concern

The first way that you can know as a husband if pleasing your wife would displease God is by asking yourself this question – “If I do as she asks, or do this thing that would please her – would it break the model of marriage? Would it be unholy?”

But let’s face it, not every situation is spelled out specifically in God’s Word. We must look at the principles and commands of God’s Word, and if we are still not sure, pray and seek his wisdom.

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5(HCSB)

Sometimes God may reveal that you should in fact listen to your wife, or that your wife’s desire in a particular situation would not displease the Lord. But if God reveals that pleasing your wife in a certain situation would displease him, you must have the courage to displease your wife, and do what God has called you to do.

Conclusion

“Happy wife-Happy life” is neither wise, nor Biblical. In many ways “Happy wife-Happy life” is a form of idolatry, it makes a man’s wife’s desires the central focus of his life, taking his focus off God. Adam, the first man, listened to his wife when she asked him to eat from tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and we know that decision did not lead to a happy life for Adam. Samson listened to Delilah and it cost him his life. Solomon was led astray by his wives into idolatry.

Even if you do something for your wife, buy something for her, or make a decision that you believe will please your wife, it will only result in a temporary period of happiness. When the next time arrives that she needs something, or some life decision needs to be made (big or small), again her happiness will hinge on whether what you have done pleases her or not.

But if you instead base your decisions upon what you believe God would have your family do, then sometimes it might please your wife, and other times it won’t. But in the end, true joy comes from pleasing God, not from pleasing ourselves, or even from pleasing our wives.

Christian man, whether you are engaged to be married, or if you are already married, there is nothing wrong with trying to please your wife. Putting her needs before yours, is part of what is means to love her. But remember, pleasing your wife cannot be the central focus of your marriage if you want your marriage to honor God. If you want the true joy that only God can bring, then you must put his will first and foremost.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” – Matthew 6:33(HCSB)

 

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10 ways to know if you are sacrificing your faith for your wife

In our last post, “What does it mean for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church”, I showed that God calls on us as husbands to sacrifice ourselves as Christ did for his Church. I also gave some examples of how a husband should be willing to sacrifice himself for his wife.

I don’t claim that the examples I gave are an exhaustive list of ways a husband can sacrifice himself for his wife. However, our egalitarian Christian friends who reject the Biblical teachings of male headship over women attempt to use this Biblical command that husbands are to sacrifice themselves for their wives in order to convince men that they must give up their faith.

Give up their faith?

Our egalitarian friends might say “who said anything about giving up their faith? We are Christians too after all. We are not asking Christian men and women to give up their belief in Jesus Christ or the Gospel, we just asking them to give up their belief in an outdated Patriarchal system.”

First of all let me point out that that contrary to what many egalitarians and non-Christians teach, there are actually many devout Christian women of all ages who believe in male headship. They don’t all believe this because it is what their parents did, or how they were taught in church. They believe because of their own heart felt convictions after reading many passages in the Bible.

While the Gospel is one of the most important doctrines in Christianity, it is not the ONLY important doctrine in the Bible. The doctrines of the Trinity (that nature of God), Creation, the Church, and also of marriage and parenting are very important doctrines.

The totality of these doctrines, forms the essence of our faith. For Christians who believe that the Bible not only contains the Word of God – but it is the very Word of God, we cannot take scissors out and cut out all the sections of the Bible that clearly show God’s design, and command of male headship over woman.

Egalitarianism’s rejection of Biblical Inerrancy

Many Christians and non-Christians do not understand the concept of progressive revelation. When I say “progressive” I don’t mean “liberal”. “Progressive” refers to the fact that God revealed his law in stages. His moral law never changes but there were temporary civil, sacrificial and cleanliness laws he had for his people before Israel became a nation and after Israel became a nation.

The New Testament tells us that when God gave us the New Covenant of Grace under Christ, the Old Covenant God made with Israel as a nation was made obsolete. But that does not mean there is not much moral law in the Old Testament that is carried forward into the New Testament. Over 350 verses in the New Testament are quotes from the Old Testament. So while we are no longer under the civil, sacrificial or cleanliness laws of the Old Testament, God carried forward his moral law in the New Testament. This is not “cherry picky” this proper Biblical hermeneutics.

What that means for our egalitarian friends is – they can throw all kinds of obscure Old Testament civil, sacrificial or cleanliness laws at those of who still follow and accept God’s design of male headship. But it won’t work, because we understand that we are only under God’s unchanging moral. Part of his unchanged moral law is the headship of man over woman that is not only brought forward under the new law of Christ, but it is elaborated on and expanded upon.

This brings us to the New Testament itself – often times egalitarians attempt to point to the lack of specific language about the roles of husbands and wives in the Gospels. They say Jesus did not teach gender roles. What they miss is the fact that Jesus gave his Apostles authority to write his Word and his commands. He told them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven.

So when the Apostles Paul and Peter wrote very specifically on male headship, it was as if Jesus Christ himself said it in the Gospels. This is why egalitarianism’s very foundation is built on the rejection of Biblical inerrancy. Once you reject Biblical inerrancy, you can then makeup any version of Christianity you want or any version of the Gospel you want because you decide what parts of the Bible you will listen to, and which ones you will not.

True sacrificial love for your wife and following Christ are not contradictory things

As a Christian husband you must understand that while God calls you to sacrifice yourself for your wife, he never calls you to sacrifice you faith for her or anyone else.

Christ said this in the Gospels:

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 KJV

This principle teaches us that we cannot put anyone, not even our wife, before our faith.

So as Christian husbands, our relationship with our wife sits firmly between our call to sacrifice ourselves for her needs and our call to put Christ and his commands before the wishes and desires of our wife.

So we know that if anyone – our friends, a counselor, other Christians or even our wife calls us to sacrifice something that we believe is inherent to our faith then we know it is not a true sacrifice but rather them calling us to reject our faith.

Two guiding principles for knowing when to sacrifice yourself for your wife and when to sacrifice for your faith

Principle 1 – Christ always comes first

With the principle that Christ and his commands come first – then anything our wife (or anyone else for that matter) asks us to do whether in our marriage or outside of marriage, must pass the test of God’s Word.

Principle 2 – You are called to be the head of your wife, as Christ is the head of the Church

The principle of male headship is found from the Old Testament to the New Testament and the best example is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24 KJV

10 ways to know whether you are sacrificing your faith for your wife

With our two guiding principles, following Christ’s commands, and following his specific command that men are to be the head of their home we now apply this to our decision making process with how we handle various issues in our marriage.

Question 1

Are you going against your own judgement in setting your family budget in order to please your wife?

Question 2

Have you gone into debt against your own judgement in order to not upset your wife?

Question 3

Do you allow your wife to spend money without any oversight or accountability in order to not upset her?

Question 4

Are you going against your own judgement in how to discipline your children in order to please your wife?

Question 5

Are you setting rules, or not setting rules for your children against your own judgement in order to please your wife?

Question 6

Are you allowing your wife to speak disrespectfully to you – especially in front of your children or other people?

Question 7

Are you allowing your wife to contradict your application of the Scriptures, your teachings to your children, your rules for their behavior with your children?

Question 8

Are you allowing your wife to routinely deny your sexual advances without legitimate medical or psychological issues? Or do you allow your wife to be a “gatekeeper” where she determines where, when and how sex will occur?

Question 9

Are you allowing your wife to put her career ahead of her duty to you as her husband, her children and her home?

Question 10

If your wife is a stay at home mom, are you overlooking laziness on her part? Does your wife spend her days watching TV, on the phone all day with family or friends, going shopping, or surfing the web while neglecting her home by failing to cook, clean, do laundry and properly care for her children? Do you overlook all this in order to avoid confronting her or upsetting her?

If you answered yes to any of these questions…

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are sacrificing your God ordered headship and your faith in order to appease your wife or appease those around you in our modern American culture that has rejected God’s law and his design for marriage.

You have chosen appeasement to man over obedience to God.

The sacrifice most men today don’t want to make

Many good Christian men today, have chosen to sacrifice what they know is right – that God has called them to lead their homes, in order to maintain peace in their home. They know if they take any kind of leadership in their homes their wife will buck it, perhaps deny sex to them, or in a worst case scenario their wife will threaten to divorce them and take their children.

You can choose to change, you can choose to lead

“…stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – I Corinthians 16:13 KJV

You can choose Christian man, to be the man that God intended you to be.

What to do once you have made the decision to lead

Christian husband – I am not in any way saying here that you should go home, march in and tell your wife off for all the ways she may have done things that are mentioned in the questions above.

The very first thing you need to do is pray. You then need to examine yourself. Look at ways you may have sinned against your wife.

Look over these posts I wrote about knowing your wife, and honoring your wife. If you are asking your wife to follow your leadership, then you ought to be willing to follow God’s leadership – which says you need to know your wife, and honor your wife.

When you speak to her, do so in a respectful way. Confess any wrongs you may have done toward her. Tell her that after prayerful consideration and reading the Scriptures, God has shown you that you have not been the head of the home that he has called you to be.

You can then explain to your wife about what you taking the leadership of your home will look like, and the changes that will affect her.

Realize it might take some adjusting for her, and if she accepts this with a good attitude give her that grace.

What if she refuses to accept your decision to lead your home?

However, you must be prepared for the very real possibility that even if you approach your wife in a gentle and respectful manner about this issue of leadership, she may reject what you are going to do.  Let’s face it in choosing to obey God’s order that you lead your home, you have decided to go against the norms of our culture and take whatever will be thrown at you for following your faith.

In a follow up post I will address how to handle if your wife refuses to accept your decision to lead your home. But let me say this ahead of time, you need to lead whether she chooses to follow or not.

What does it mean for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church?

God tells us as Christian husbands that we are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. This is both a beautiful picture and at the same an intimidating proposition for any Christian husband. God tells us that our relationship with our wife is much more than just any human relationship. Marriage is a symbol, of the relationship between God and his people, and as such, we as men have the awesome and solemn responsibility of modeling God’s attributes toward his people in our relationship with our wife.

The Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of God states:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” – Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)

Not only does Paul tell us as husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the Church, but he follows that statement with the greatest example of Christ’s love for his church, that he “gave himself up for it”.

I would venture to guess that most Christians and even many non-Christians would wholeheartedly embrace this statement of the Apostle Paul. Feminists and egalitarians love this teaching (although they hate the previous statements about submission).

How to did Christ give himself up for his Church?

A lot of people think the only way Christ “gave himself up” for the Church was in dying on the cross for our sins and while I would agree that was the greatest way he “gave himself up”, it was certainly not the only way he did.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Philippians 2:5-8(KJV)

Christ as part of his sacrifice for us confined himself to an earthly body. While he was still fully God and at the same time fully man, he chose not to use all his powers. Christ not only sacrificed himself on the cross, but he also sacrificed himself every day for 33 years by confining himself to mortal human form. Jesus Christ, being the very God who created the universe, humbled himself to the point that he washed his Apostles feet.

Why did Christ give himself up for his Church?

This is a question that many Christians fail to ask, or they will give it a simple answer. Many might answer “He died to pay for our sins” and leave it at that. While it is true that Christ gave himself up for our sins that is not the ONLY reason he gave himself up.

Paul tells us not only that Christ gave himself up for the Church, but he tells us why he did it:

“that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesian 5:26-27(KJV)

Christ did not sacrifice himself only to give us eternal life in heaven when we die. He did this also to sanctify his Church, or to make her holy. He washes her and cleanses her through his word.

When Christ died on the cross he gave us positional sanctification – this makes it as though we never sinned when we die and face judgement – God will only see Christ’s righteousness when he looks at us. But that does not mean he wants us to keep sinning in the here and now because he has purchased our salvation. Instead he wants us to fight against our sin nature and live holy and righteous lives even in these sin cursed bodies, something we can only do through submission to his word and his will, and only with the help of his Holy Spirit – this is called progressive sanctification.

How a Christian husband can love his wife the way Christ loves his Church

So now that we understand how Christ loved the Church – by giving himself up for her, and also why he loved the Church – to make her holy we can practically apply these truths to how a husband can “give himself up” for his wife.

A man sacrifices himself when he marries a woman

I had a friend from high school who dated many women but always ended up breaking up with them. Years later when we were in our thirties, I asked him why he had stopped dating, and he said he realized the reason he kept breaking up with all those women was because he did not want to make the sacrifices that marriage demanded.  He had many hobbies and he was on bowling leagues, baseball leagues and enjoyed his job and being with his friends and family. He felt that he would have to give up a lot of that if he were to get married and would have to sacrifice the things he wanted to do for his wife and kids.

While I might not agree with his selfish reasons for not getting married, I appreciated my friend’s honesty. Many men think they can get married and nothing will change, they can continue with all the same activities they did before they were married, but marriage takes time, sacrifice and work.

With marriage we gain companionship but with these blessings comes responsibility and obligation to sacrifice ourselves for our wives.

Five examples of a husband sacrificing or “giving himself up” for his wife

Here are some real life scenarios where you may be called to sacrifice yourself as a husband:

  1. Your wife has been caring for a sick child all day and the house is a wreck and no dinner is made when you get home from work. You would need to sacrifice yourself for her by making dinner and taking care of the other kids.
  2. Your wife is sick – you will need to sacrifice yourself for her by taking care of the kids, dinner, laundry and all the other things she does, in addition to caring for her physical needs. In addition to these other sacrifices, you will also need to sacrifice you sexual needs for her greater physical needs at this time.
  3. Your wife experiences the death of a close friend or loved one, and this causes a great deal of emotional stress on her. You may need to help out more around the house while she is experiencing this emotional pain, and you will need to sacrifice your sexual needs for her greater emotional needs during this time.
  4. You’re getting ready to plan your hunting trip, taking the calendar and talking with your wife about the week you are thinking of going. She tells you that a church in the area is having a woman’s conference and she really would like to go. You sacrifice yourself by either canceling or rescheduling your hunting trip so that your wife can have her greater spiritual needs met.
  5. You are shopping for new furniture and you have given your wife the budget she has to spend. You see a set you would like, she compares it with a set she would like (and you really don’t like her set), but you sacrifice you preference for furniture for hers, knowing that she as the manager of your home needs to feel comfortable the type of furniture that goes in your home.

Conclusion

In this post we discussed the Biblical principle that God wants us as husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He gave himself up not only to pay for the sins of his Church, but also to make her holy and blameless. As husbands, God expects us to emulate Christ’s sacrificial love for his Church in how we love our wives. God expects us as husbands to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our wife.

Now that we have discussed the Biblical foundation for a husband loving his wife sacrificially as Christ loves his Church, in my next post we will look at principles for Christian husbands to know whether they are sacrificing themselves or their faith for their wife in any given situation.

Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?

I have had this question asked to me a lot lately so I thought I would dedicate a post to this issue.  While a wife is Biblically entitled to be fed and clothed by her husband(Exodus 21:10 & I Timothy 5:8) she is NOT entitled to equal access to his income.

The only “equality” the Bible places in marriage is on the issue of sex, that both the husband and wife have an equal right to have sex with the other(1 Corinthians 7:4). But in the Biblical model of marriage, marriage is NOT an equal partnership, but rather a patriarchy(a male lead hierarchical relationship) that is symbolic of the relationship of God to his people.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Ephesians 5:23-24

Some egalitarians and Christian feminists attempt to try and point to Ephesians 5:21 where it says “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” in order to cancel out the specific submission commands to women in the context of marriage.  They do this in order to try and prop up their false “mutual submission” and “partnership” style of marriage.  But this does not match the context and it makes no sense. If man and woman were equal partners in marriage(with no hierarchy) – this would break the model of Christ and the Church where he is the head, and the church is to submit to Christ in everything.

Another Bible passage egalitarians and Christian feminists point to in order to cancel out the mountain of Biblical passages that support the patriarchal view of marriage is found in Galatians:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

Context is ALWAYS important when looking at the Bible(as well as any other book). In Galatians 3 Paul was not speaking on marriage, but rather on the new entity that God created, the Church .  He was saying that spiritually speaking we as believers are equal spiritually before Christ.   God equally saves men, women, Jews, Greeks, slaves and freemen the body of Christ is made up all these people – this is what Paul was saying.

Egalitarians and Christian feminists would have us believe that Paul literally just canceled out everything he wrote on the submission of wives to husbands,the headship of husbands over their wives and the general headship of men over women(Ephesians 5:23-24,Colossians 3:18,Titus 2:5,I Corinthians 11:3 & I Timothy 2:11).

They would also have us believe that Paul was directly contradicting Peter who also commanded wives to be in subjection to their husbands(I Peter 3).

No where in ALL of the Scripture is marriage EVER portrayed as equal partnership.

Recently I have had many Conservative Christians emailing me privately and some commenting publicly about how happy they are that I am presenting the Biblical view of marriage, despite how it totally conflicts with the modern western view of marriage.  But I have actually received comments and emails from some atheists and those who have left Christian churches.

While these people(atheists and non-Christians) detest the Biblical view of marriage they have actually said they appreciate that I am not trying to do what many Christians do – and read egalitarianism into the Bible.  The Bible and egalitarianism could not be more contradictory, and even non-believers who take the Bible at face value can accept this(and that is why they reject Christianity).

It is sad that many professed Christians continue to refuse to accept this truth and instead continue to try and replace God’s design of marriage with their “equal partnership” idea of marriage even though it directly conflicts with what God has clearly revealed in his Word.

Applying the Biblical principle of male headship to marital finances

So no, Biblically speaking both spouses do NOT have an equal right to what the other makes. The husband is the authority of all income that comes into the home, whether through his wife or himself.

A husband can deny access to his income as long as he is providing the necessities of food, clothing and shelter to his wife. He may do this because his wife spends too much money, or he may use it as a form of discipline for other sinful behavior.

But there may not be any negative reason why he chooses not to give complete and equal access to the family finances.  Some men might do this in order to shield their wife from some of the financial stresses the family may face. Whatever the reason, the truth is from a Biblical perspective a husband does not have to open the family finances to his wife.

However, this truth does not mean he is released from talking with his wife and knowing from her perspective what she thinks are the financial needs of herself, their children and their home.  Out of respect for his wife’s position as the manager of his home and children, and also because a husband ought to know his wife’s opinions, he should regularly inquire of his wife what she thinks the home needs are.

Is there anything wrong with a husband choosing to give his wife equal access to the family finances?

No there is nothing wrong Biblically speaking when a husband chooses to give his wife equal access to the family finances.  Some husbands might choose to delegate the weekly paying of bills to their wife and there is nothing wrong with this.  But these same husbands must realize, that while they can delegate the actual paying of weekly debts to their wives, they can never delegate their responsibility to lead the families finances.

However, a Christian husband is not permitted to have a “hands off” approach to the finances where his wife handles all the money and he has no idea what is going on – this is by definition dereliction of  a husband’s duty to lead his home in this very important area of finances.   A Christian husband should be setting the financial policies of the home and setting a budget(after gathering the needs of the home from his wife’s perspective of course), and planning for things like family vacations and savings for emergencies.

What if the husband refuses to work or improperly spends money?

A wife cannot discipline her husband because she is not his authority. If he is doing something wrong, like not providing for her or their family such as in the case of a lazy husband who sits at home all day, then she can go to his authority in the Church(the Pastor) and have the Pastor deal with her husband’s sin.

This could also apply to a husband who has a gambling problem or a drug addiction and leaves his family with no food, clothing or shelter. In this case a wife does have recourse, because even though she is under his authority, her husband is sinning against her and violating the rights of her and her family to be properly provided for and she can take action by going to those who are in authority over her husband.

In a worst case scenario if a husband refuses to provide for his wife and children after being confronted by his authorities and she has consulted with her Pastor and he agrees, she could divorce him for breach of the marriage covenant which includes his responsibility to provide for her if he is physically able to work.

Conclusion

The scriptures tell Christian wives that they are to submit to their husbands in “everything“(Ephesians 5:24) and this includes in the area of finances.  A Christian husband is to be “one that ruleth well his own house”(I Timothy 3:4) , and he does not have the option to take a “hands off” approach in this very important area.

A husband may choose to give his wife equal access to the finances, or he may choose not to.  He may restrict her access temporarily because of her overspending or because of other issues in the marriage.  There may be no problems in the marriage, but it is still his prerogative as the head of the home whether he will grant her full and equal access to the family finances.

However, a Christian husband’s authority in the financial area carries with it his responsibility toward his wife to talk with her and understand her opinions as to what she, the children and the house need. Only then through prayerful consideration and taking his wife’s concerns into account, can he make wise and informed decisions about the financial direction he will take his family in.

Ultimately, if the finances of a home are in disrepair God holds the husband as the head of the home directly responsible. We need to be encouraging more Christian men to take a more active role in leading their families in all areas of life, and especially this very important area of finances.

And for all those “abuse accusers” out there, this is not “financial abuse” according to our creator and God but rather this is the order and responsibly he has given to Christian husbands to provide for and lead their homes in this important area of finances.

 

 

12 Ways to Honor your wife

The Bible tells us as Christian men to honor our wives. But how do we honor her? In what ways and for what reasons do we honor her? In this next post in my series “How to be a godly husband”, we will explore what the Bible means when it tells us to honor our wives.

In my last post, “10 Ways to know and talk to your wife”, we explored the first half of I Peter 3:7. In this post we will explore the last half I Peter 3:7 and tie it all together for us as husbands.

“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)

What do the words “honor” and “weaker vessel” mean?

The English word “honor” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word Time” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “a valuing by which the price is fixed

of the price itself

of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold

honour which belongs or is shown to one

of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds

deference, reverence”

The English word “weaker” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Asthenes” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “weak, infirm, feeble”

The English word “vessel” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Skeuos” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

“a vessel

an implement

in the plural

household utensils, domestic gear

the tackle and armament of vessels, used specifically of sails and ropes

metaph.

a man of quality, a chosen instrument

in a bad sense, an assistant in accomplishing an evil deed

“Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for “body” since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies.”

In the case of I Peter 3, “honor” has to do with a husband honoring his wife’s position as “the weaker vessel”. This is actually the most literal rendering – “weaker vessel”. Some translations have tried to change it a bit and they will usually add a foot note at the bottom of the page “lit “weaker vessel”.

Why we honor our wives

In a previous post “Why does the Bible call woman the weaker vessel?” I stated this:

“What God is saying is this – “Men I want you to recognize that your wife is not as strong as you, both emotionally and physically. You need to be considerate of those qualities, and appreciate those qualities for the many ways they help her to be a good wife and mother. Don’t belittle her for being weaker or more fragile than you, but instead honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.”

I stand by that understanding, and I believe that we are called to honor our wife’s position as our wife and as the mother of our children. In other words, we honor her position as the help meet to man for which she was designed by God.

We honor the position, not necessarily the person

There are two types of honor or respect Biblically speaking. One is an honor based on position, the other is an honor that is earned, based on what a person actually does with their position.

The Bible tells us to “Honour thy father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2), when we honor our parents, we honor their position as our parents, not necessarily their person. It is the same way with a husband or wife, a wife is called respect her husband’s position, even if his person is not respectable. (Ephesians 5:33). Finally a husband is called to honor or respect his wife’s position, even if her person is not worthy of that respect.

For most of us, while our parents may have been imperfect, they not only deserve to be honored for their “position” as our parents, but they also deserve to be honored for their “performance” as our parents.

I have a close Christian friend, whose mother whored around with different men his whole life, and on top of that she was a drug addict. He has had to walk that fine line his whole life, of honoring his mother’s position, while have nothing but distain for her person because of the horrible things she has done. His mother has not earned any respect, but he must always honor her position as his mother.

The Bible recognizes that many husbands might face this dilemma of having to honor a wife that does not seek to model the role of a Biblical wife and mother:

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4(KJV)

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” – Proverbs 14:1(KJV)

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22(KJV)

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”  – Proverbs 21:9(KJV)

So as husbands we all hope that we find a virtuous woman who wants to model God’s design for a wife and mother, but even if we don’t have such a wife we must honor her position as our wife and the mother of our children, while we may not honor her particular behavior as a wife and mother.

Praise is a primary way that we honor our wives

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her… She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:10-11 & 26-31 (KJV)

Praise is one way that we can honor our wives. But praise unlike honor, is not unconditional. Notice in Proverbs 31 that the wife’s works are what make her worthy of praise. We honor our wives for what they do right, not for what they do not do or what they do that violates God’s Word.

12 Ways to Honor your wife

1. Praise her faith

Praise her living out her faith and teaching it teaching your children about God, tell her how much you appreciate her example and instilling her faith in your children.

2. Praise her use of her talents

If she teaches a woman’s Sunday school class, or runs a Christian woman’s blog, or writes books for Christian women, if she uses her talents for the Lord, remember to praise her.

3. Praise her submission

Praise your wife for her submission to your headship, especially when it is hard to do. You might have to make a decision as the head of your home that she disagrees with, but when she recognizes your authority to so, and follows you even when disagrees – don’t forgot to show your appreciation for that. Don’t take that for granite.

4. Praise her wisdom

Praise your wife for her wisdom, when she give you advice that really helps you make a good decision and praise her when she gave you advice that you didn’t follow, but later you found to be right.

5. Praise her cooking

Praise her for every meal she makes, even if it does not taste good, praise the effort.

6. Praise her care of your home

Praise her, and notice when she cleans the house, even if it is done imperfectly.

7. Praise her organization

Praise her for how she looks out for your family, to make sure everyone has the right clothes and the house is stocked correctly.

8. Praise her efforts to make herself beautiful

Praise her whenever she fixes herself up, when she puts on makeup and nice clothes, never forget to praise her for this. Tell her she is beautiful.

9. Praise her efforts to be sexy for you

Praise her when she dresses sexy for you, or when she puts on lingerie, never take that for granted.

10. Honor her for respecting the importance of sex in your marriage

Praise her when she initiates sex and show her your gratitude. Recognize her when you know she acted selflessly and had sex with you even when she was not in the mood.

11. Make your children respect her position

Respect your wife’s position as your children’s mother and authority. Don’t let your children undermine your wife’s authority, and unless they tell you something immoral or sinful she has done (something abusive or wrong) you need to back her.

12. Protect her reputation whenever possible

If you need to confront your wife about something she has done wrong, try to do this in private. There are some exceptions where confronting her behavior in front of others is appropriate. For instance if your wife disrespects you in front of your children, it is appropriate to call her out on this in front of them so they will understand that type of behavior is not acceptable.

What honoring your wife does NOT mean

Some feminist Christians have tried to take the phrase from I Peter 3:7 – “and as being heirs together of the grace of life” to say that since we are equal heirs of the grace of life, that God sees men and women as equal in all ways and there are in fact no gender roles, and Peter is telling husbands to honor their wife as their equal partner in marriage. In fact the NIV actually changed “weaker vessel” to “weaker partner” in an attempt to appease feminist Christians with the idea that marriage is an equal partnership.

Such an interpretation does not match even the language of this passage, let alone the witness of the entire Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. The literal phrase “weaker vessel” actually displays the inequality of man and woman, not their equality.

Never once in all the Scriptures does the Bible present marriage as an equal partnership, and partner is never used when speaking of a husband and wife relationship. The wife is called a companion of her husband, but never a partner. A companion in the Scripture is not necessarily an equal, but one who goes along aside someone. A master traveling with his servant, would consider his servant a “traveling companion”.

Christian feminists, and even non-Christians teach, that unless women are equal partners in marriage, and have equal social status in all areas of life, that they are being treated as less than human. In their view a person’s humanity is synonymous with their rights, if they have less rights in any area for any reason, then these people are being dehumanized in their view.

The Bible does not recognize such a definition of humanity. We are all human, not because of what rights we possess, but because God created man in his image, and he created woman in man’s image. That is why we are special (both men and women), that is why despite all our inequalities (both physical, and in our roles) we are still equal in our value as human beings.

The consequences of not honoring our wives

Just as there are consequences for not honoring our parents, there are also consequences for not honoring our wives.

“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)

God tells us that if we do not know our wives (talk with our wives) and honor our wives as the weaker vessel, he will not hear our prayers as husbands. God takes it very seriously when a man does not grant his wife the honor that her position is due.

Conclusion

As Christian husbands we have a duty to honor our wife’s position. A primary way we can do that is by praising her when she does things right in various areas.  I know this is hard for us as men to be verbal.  We may think it – but we don’t say it. Praise is not praise when we just think it – praise must be verbalized. I will fully admit as a husband I don’t always praise my wife as a I should.  It takes intentional effort to do this.

On the other hand –  praising one’s wife does not mean we have to worship her or give her false praise for things she has not really done.  If your wife is frigid in the bedroom you don’t have to pretend like she rocked your world when she clearly just phoned it in.  And you don’t have to praise her for her sexual availability if she only allows you to have sex with her once or twice a month.

Remember that unlike the Agape love that is unconditional (love from the will, not based in feelings) that men are called to in the Scriptures to have toward their wives – praise is something that is earned by one’s actions.

A warning to Christian women reading this:

This Biblically based advice is directed at husbands to help encourage them to be the kind of husband God calls us as men to be. But do NOT use this list as something to beat your husband over the head with.  Women send their husbands articles like this all the time trying to “help” their husbands be the husbands they think they should be.  But you are not your husband’s spiritual authority and it is not your job to rebuke him or chastise him into be what you think is a better husband.

In fact if you read I Peter 3:1-2 you will see that you are to behave just the opposite toward your husband even if you are convinced he is mistreating you in some way. You are to win him “without a word” by placing yourself in subjection to him,  showing him proper respect and serving him with a gentle and quiet spirit.

10 Ways to know your wife

Do you really know your wife? Did you know that God commands you to know your wife? What does it mean as a Christian husband to know your wife? These are some questions I will try to answer in this next post in this series “How to be a godly husband”.

One of the best passages in all the Bible that speaks to a husband’s responsibilities to his wife is found in I Peter chapter 3.

“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)

In this post we will tackle just the first part of this verse – “dwell with them according to knowledge”, and in our next post(“12 Ways to honor your wife“) we will talk about what it means to honor your wife.

What does “dwell” mean?

The English word “dwell” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Sunoikeo” (which is only used here in all the Bible) which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

“to dwell together

of the domestic association

of intercourse of a husband and wife “

It was a word commonly used in the Greek language to refer to a man and a woman living in a sexual relationship together, it was used both of men with their wives, as well as men with their mistresses.

What does “knowledge” mean?

The English word “knowledge in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Gnosis” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

“knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding

the general knowledge of Christian religion

the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced

esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians

moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living”

This same Greek word is used 28 times in the New Testament, and I will draw your attention to two of them as I think it relates to this:

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” – II Peter 3:18 (KJV)

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:2 (KJV)

I believe, that in the same we need to grow in our knowledge of our Savior, we also need to grow in our knowledge of our wives. But we must also realize as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:2, that even if we know a lot about our wives, if we don’t have love, then our knowledge of her will be useless.

Previously I wrote a posted entitled “The 12 attributes of marital love” where I explored this wonderful passage of Scripture – which defines love as God sees it, rather than the way we in modern times understand love.

When husbands are commanded to love their wives, it is with this same “agape” love that is defined for us in I Corinthians 13, and it is an unconditional love based in duty, commitment and action.

So what does it mean to live with your wife according to knowledge?

When we put together everything we have seen so far, God is saying this in I Peter 3:

“Husbands as you live in this sexual relationship with you wife, get to know her, talk to her, understand how she ticks and use this knowledge you gain to love her better.”

You can’t know your wife, without talking to your wife

Guys – God is literally telling us as husbands – “you have to talk to your wife”. Communication in Christian marriage is not some “nice to have”, it is essential and commanded by God. Some Christian husbands may have liked in previous posts were I alluded to God’s commands that a husband and wife are to have sex, and they may not deny one another. In many marriages, those commands regarding sex are more difficult for the woman to handle (and much more controversial as the hundreds of emails I got can attest to).

But here is a command that is difficult for us as husbands (and I am sure I won’t have one protest from one wife about this) – that we has husbands must talk with our wives.

And guess what guys – even if our wife is denying us sexually, we don’t have the right to stop talking to her. Two wrongs never make a right. It is a natural and sinful reaction by many men, that if their wives give them the cold shoulder in bed, they give their wives the cold shoulder outside of the bedroom, but this is part of our sin nature and we must combat it. We must talk with and interact with our wives no matter what.

In fact often times we will discover, that if our wives do give us the cold shoulder in bed, it is because they need to talk, that we have not been doing our job in talking to them.

And guess what guys – a secret many men discover is, when you talk to your wife outside the bedroom (and outside the context of sex completely), often times you will find your wife much more responsive to the way you want to “communicate” in the bedroom.

10 Ways to know your wife better(and yes they all  involve talking)

OK so I said it – God commands us a husbands to know our wives and the only way we can know someone is by talking to them. But how do we talk to them? Here are 10 ways to talk with your wife:

1. Talk about your faith

Talk about your faith, and ask your wife what she wants to pray for. I think it is a good habit for couples to get into that they pray each night together before bed. I think that we as husbands can learn a lot about our wives by just asking what she wants to pray about, and she can learn a lot about us by what we want to pray about. As part of this talking about our faith, we should also as Christian husbands and wives be able to talk about what we heard on Sunday in Church, or what we have read in the Bible that week, something online, or maybe in a book we are reading.

2. Talk about your day

When you talk to your wife about your day, make sure to give detail. Most of us husbands when our wives ask us how our day at work went will say “it was fine”. But wives’ often want more detail like “was it busy”, “was it stressful”, they want to know about the interpersonal relationships you have at work – it takes some doing for most of us husbands, especially at the end of the day when we don’t feel like talking, but if your wife wants to know, you need to open that up to her.

3. Talk about her day

Some days she may want to talk about the kids, but other days it might be stuff about her mom or her friends. It might be nothing but stuff she saw on TV that day, but whatever it is, listen and interact. Make sure when you are talking with her that she has your undivided attention. If that means turning off the TV then do it. If that means closing the laptop then do it. If you are in the car and that means turning off the radio, then do it. Sometimes it means getting away from the kids – going to your bedroom and just talking (Nothing more).

4. Talking only for sex is a big no-no

Don’t just talk when you want to have sex. This is a big mistake a lot of us husbands make. We start making small talk with our wives only when we want to have sex – this is a big no-no, and it sets up the idea that you only want talk to your wife when you want sex.

5. Don’t always try to solve problems

Don’t try to solve all her problems, sometimes just listen. Notice I used the key word “sometimes”. That means as men God has made us natural problem solvers, and sometimes we may need to offer some advice, but other times we do not. Sometimes we may even need to offer some constructive criticism as well which I will talk about later in this list.

6. Talk about her wants and needs

Ask your wife for ideas on things she would like for herself AND around the house. Make sure you get BOTH personal info (like the kinds of jewelry or flowers she likes, or trips she wants to take) and household things she wants. Women love getting new things for the house, but when you only get her household items and never personal items just for her, it can cause her to grow resentful toward her home and we don’t want that to happen.

7. Know her hopes and dreams

Know your wife’s hopes and dreams, and within your ability to do so, try to make some of them come true. Many women will just come right out with these kinds of things, and most of the time we as husbands have only to listen, and remember. With some wives it may take some prying, as some Christian women think they are being selfish when they talk about such things, but a Christian husband needs to make his wife comfortable with this kind of talk. We as husbands ought to feel secure in sharing our hopes and dreams with our wives as well, and this helps to strengthen the bond and connection between a husband and wife.

8. Know her fears and worries

Ask your wife about what her fears are, what makes her worry, what stresses her out, and what ways you can do to help relieve her stress, worries and fears. Every husband should know his wife’s fears and worries and he should do everything in his power to alleviate those things, and protect her from those things. Most women have deep longing for security, and when we as husbands listen to her fears and worries, and offer her comfort, we can help to give her that security that she needs.

9. Know what she wants in the bedroom

Have the sex conversation from time to time.  Some men don’t ever want to talk about this – they just want to do it and no words need to be said. Other men talk about it too much.  What I mean is – they are constantly bugging their wives to rate their performance in the bedroom, or tell them what they did wrong or right, and no woman wants that. What I mean by “Have the sex conversation” is as a couple, whether you are comfortable with it, or she is comfortable with it, you need to occasionally talk about you sex life.  Ask her is there anything you could do differently in this department? Are there things she likes that you could do more of? Are there things she really does not like that you do? Does she feel like you are not having sex enough for her?

10. Know her weaknesses

Now this is the one women won’t like and even some men might be uncomfortable with.  As a husband gets to know his wife better by communicating with her he will inevitably come across wrong thought patterns on the part of his wife. All of us, both men and women have wrong thought patterns – ways of thinking that go contrary to the Word of God.

The Bible tells wives how to respond to their husbands have thought patterns and actions which are disobedient to the Word of God:

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

So for wives God wants them to respond to what them to respond to their husband’s disobedience to God’s Word by continuing to be in submission to them and showing them respect.  Win them without a word is the marching order for wives.

However for husbands the situation is very different. Because a husband is his wife’s spiritual authority he has a God given responsibility to try and correct his wife’s wrong thinking and spiritual disobedience in whatever areas it may occur. Some husbands and wives are shaking their heads and saying “where does the Bible say husbands need to call out or try to correct their wife’s weaknesses?” Well I am glad you asked and here is the answer:

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  2That 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 5:25-27 (KJV)

Most Christian women today love Ephesians 5:25’s admonition for men to give themselves up for their wives as Christ gave himself up for his church.  But they would rather do without the verses on submission that came just before that verse and they also don’t want to read the verses that come directly after verse 25 that tell WHY Christ gave himself up for his Church.

Christ did not give himself up for his bride to make her happy or to appease her and give her anything she wanted but rather he gave himself up in order to purchase his Church “with his own blood”(Acts 20:28) so that he could sanctify her by washing her with the word and cleanse her of her spots, wrinkles and blemishes so as to present her to himself as he wanted her to be.

So it is absolutely a duty of every Christian husband to wash his wife’s spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes with the Word of God and he can only do this by getting to know how his wife thinks.

Conclusion

These ways to know your wife are a very tall order for us a men.  My wife reading this list would tell you I often fail at many of these things. But just because something is hard does not mean we as Christian men should not strive to be better.

For some men they may have know problem at all knowing and identifying their wife’s weaknesses.  But as we wash our wives with the Word, we must also demonstrate God’s mercy and grace and not make out wives feel that every word they speak and everything they do is wrong.  We as husbands need to chose our battles.

Also as husbands the frequency of how often we talk to our wives may differ. It is one thing to say husbands need to talk to their wives to know them and it is another to say husbands must spend a certain amount of time every day talking to their wives.

What is the determining factor in how often and for how long men talk to their wives? Is it how ever much time the wife thinks she needs? I don’t think that is the correct answer Biblically speaking.  It us as husbands who as the spiritual leaders of our homes must determine how much of our time we give to our wives. God did not just put us here as men to spend hours on end listening to our wives talk.

He wants us to be studying his Word alone so we can later present it to our families.  He wants us as men to pursue our work outside the home and make our mark on the world.  He may call us to be more involved in the ministries of our church or some other ministry outside the Church(like I do on this blog). And a very important duty we also have is to our children.

But God calls us as men to make these important decisions as to how to balance our lives.  We cannot let any one area of our life dominate us so much that we neglect the other areas of our lives.  We can work too much to the neglect of our wives or we can spend so much time with our wives that we neglect our work.  We can spend too much time with our kids to the neglect of wives or we can spend too much time with our wives to neglect of our kids.

A warning to Christian women reading this

Finally I have a warning for Christian wives reading this.  Many wives might read this as some sort of list to beat their husbands over the head with.  Remember the passage I cited early from I Peter 3:1-2? It is not your job as a wife to wash your husband with the Word – it is his job to wash you with the Word.  Your husband may be doing little to nothing I have written here.  Or he may may do it sometimes, but not consistently as many of us Christian husbands are guilty of doing.  You must leave him in God’s hands and continue to quietly submit to him and show him your reverence and respect.

Also I hope you will review what I have just told the men previously.  You don’t get to demand or determine how often your husband talks to you.  If your husband talks to you for an hour three times a week then you need to be grateful for that. Also while I do think husband’s should hear their wife’s grievances, if 90% of what you talk about are the same complaints over and over and especially complaints directed at him don’t be surprised if your husband does not talk to you as much.

The Bible describes a constantly complaining wife in this way:

“A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;”

Proverbs 27:15 (KJV)

Literally imagine sitting in a room with a leaking faucet.  “drip, drip, drip…” is all you hear.  Would you not want to get out of that room away from that annoying noise? Of course you would! It is the same for your husband.  If you are just sitting their with complaints going “drip, drip, drip” he is not going to want to be around you either.

Might their be a place for occasionally asking your husband for some more of his time to talk – sure there is. But just don’t become a nagging and contentious wife in the process.

 

8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal

How should you as a husband handle it when your wife directly refuses to have sex without a valid reason? Is there anything a Christian husband can do about this?

This will be my last post specifically about sexuality in this series on “How to be godly husband”.

Christian Husbands – let me be crystal clear here. The situation I am addressing in this post is not your wife occasionally turning you down for sex (even with a bad attitude, as opposed to for health or other legitimate reasons). What I am addressing here is the wife who consistently and routinely denies her husband sexually simply because she does not need sex as much or she thinks she should not have to do it except when she is in the mood or she thinks her husband should have to earn sex with her by “putting her in the mood” by doing various things she expects or likes.

Let me also be clear to all the haters(this includes liberal Christians who reject the Biblical view of male headship in marriage, as well as the Biblical teaching of the right of sex, and responsibility of sex in marriage):

I have not, nor would I EVER advocate for a husband to force himself physically upon his wife or to physically abuse her in any fashion.  The issue being discussed is how a husband can confront a wife who chronically or willfully denies his sexual rights in marriage without just cause(be it legitimate health or mental conditions).  He has the right, both under Biblical law, as well as under American law, to reason with his with his wife and try to convince her to willingly(even if grudgingly) yield herself to him, and thereby fulfilling one her most important duties in Christian marriage.

For all of the “Rape Accusers” out there, especially the ones that are hurling applications of domestic violence laws at me – I have written a special post just for you.  It is entitled “The Frustrated Feminist Wife“.

In two previous posts in this series I addressed these key issues:

In “Christian Husbands – You don’t pay for the milk when you own the cow!” we established this Biblical principle:

Neither the husband, nor the wife have to earn sex in marriage.

A wife cannot flatly refuse her husband, she may only ask for a delay (a raincheck) and then she needs to make good on that raincheck as soon as possible.

A husband has the right to confront his wife’s sexual refusal as a sin not only against him, but also against God.

In “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” I elaborated further on this subject of sexual refusal in marriage with these principles:

A husband ought not to feel guilty for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood if she yields, even grudgingly.

A husband needs to use prayerful discernment to discover if her reasons for “not being in the mood” are for legitimate physical or mental health reasons or if the problem is wrong thinking and wrong attitude on the part of his wife. If her reasons are legitimate, then she needs to seek medical or psychological help as soon as possible.

Now in this post we will talk about how to handle the sexual refusal of a wife when it is because she has a wrong attitude and wrong thinking about marriage and sex.

But what about the husband refusing to have sex with his wife?

I have received several comments from people asking why I have not addressed the issue of a husband’s refusal to have sex – yes it is equally clear in these passages that he cannot refuse her. But I am saving that for my series “How to be a godly wife”, once I finish this series “How to be a godly husband”. Far too often in this discussion the knee jerk reaction is for women to say “but what about the man?” – Yes he has responsibilities too (and not just sexual ones), and I will be addressing these in this series.

Also some have tried to say “well if the wife has power over his body too, then she can decide to use that power to say she does not want his body having sex with her”. This is an absolutely ridiculous notion as it goes against the entire context of the passage. The entire point the Apostle Paul was making is that husbands and wives may NOT deprive one another of sex, unless they both mutually agree to a cessation of sex for a limited time.

What about Paul’s “concession” in I Corinthians 7:6?

Also some have tried to take the entire power out of this passage in I Corinthians 7 because of verse 6 where Paul writes “I say the following as a concession, not as a command.“ So did Paul just get done telling husbands and wives not to deprive one another sexually, only to say – “Well this is my opinion on how sex should be, but if you want to deny one another – go ahead”?

“Now in response to the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman.”But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say the following as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one person in this way and another in that way.” – I Corinthians 7:1-7(HCSB)

When we look at Paul’s statement in context, his concession is not about husbands and wives not denying one another sexually.

His concession(or opinion) is about celibacy. He is prefacing the statement he is about to make as his opinion – that he wished everyone could be celibate like he was as there are many advantages to serving God as single person. But he realizes that celibacy is a gift God has only given to a chosen few, while the rest of men and women ought to marry.

What he is stating in this passage is, if you don’t have the gift of celibacy and you do get married, you have a solemn obligation to have sex with your spouse, you cannot deny them unless it is mutually agreed by both of you for a short period of time.

Know the battle you face, before you get into it

The advice I am about to give you Christian husband will require courage. The advice I am about to give you will require you to show your wife tough love.

Let me be clear on something, even if you do follow the steps below I give, this does not automatically mean you will get a change from your wife, or her repentance for her sexual immorality. And yes my friend it is sexually immoral for a wife (or husband for that matter) to deny their spouse sexually unless they have a legitimate physical or mental health grounds for doing so. Most people think of sexual immorality as only someone having sex outside marriage (pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, homosexual sex). But remember that when something is immoral, that means it is sin, and we know that sexual denial in marriage is sin, therefore it is accurate to call willful sexual denial in marriage an act of sexual immorality.

I had a Christian man email me once asking if he should tolerate an affair his wife was having for the sake of saving his marriage. He had confronted his wife about it, but she told him she could not give up her lover, and she told him she loved both he (her husband) and her lover and she needed time to consider both relationships.

This man was actually counseled by a Christian counselor to continue to tolerate his wife’s affair in order to win her back. The counselor invoked the story of the prophet Hosea whom God told to marry a promiscuous woman and then left him and he had to go and get her back. What this counselor misses is – this was not God’s pattern for marriage that men tolerate sexual immorality, it was simply done to illustrate the idolatry of Israel and that God was trying to bring her back to him. Israel never did come back and later God said he gave her a letter of divorce.

In the same way men are often counseled by Christian counselors, Pastors and marriage books to simply tolerate their wives sexual denial – which is just as immoral as if she were to commit adultery. They told to talk to their wives and pray for their wives – which is good advice. But then if their wife does not repent they are told they must simply learn to cope with their wife’s sexual immorality and there is nothing else they can or should do.

I am here to tell you there is something more you can and should do. You need to call out your wife’s sin for exactly what it is – sexual immorality.

Now that you know what you are fighting against you need to know what this fight might cost you. It may end with her walking out and possibly divorcing you. You must be prepared to do what is right, no matter what the cost.

First understand this – sacrificing yourself for your wife, as Christ sacrificed himself for the church does not mean toleration of this kind of sin on the part of your wife. Many counselors throw out the “husbands you just need to sacrifice yourself for your wife like Christ did the church” but they don’t tell you WHY Christ sacrificed himself for the Church.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 (HCSB)

Christ sacrificed himself for the Church, for us, not so we could just live any way we wanted to. He sacrificed himself to make us holy, to conform us to his likeness, and his Word.

As I said in previous posts – God wants sex in your marriage, your desire for sex in your marriage is not a sin, but rather it is a gift from God. My Pastor often says God put a desire in men and a command toward men that they be “intoxicated” or “ravished” by their wife’s body.

“Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:19 (KJV)

Your desire for your wife is not the sin, but instead it is your wife’s sinful sexual refusal that must be confronted.

Before you take any steps to confront your wife’s sin of sexual refusal

Before you embark on this difficult journey, you need to first address any un-repented sin in your own life. You need to pray very hard and make sure you are doing the right thing. You need to confess any bitterness you have toward your wife over this issue before you can confront it. Perhaps there are some other wrong ways you handled it, things you have said or done that need to be confessed to God, and perhaps even to your wife if it directly affects her.

8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal

UPDATE: 1/23/2016 – I have reordered what I believe the Biblical steps are to confront your wife’s sexual refusal based on my understanding of when a man should seek out a marriage counselor and bring the issue to his Pastor.

Biblically speaking the husband is the spiritual authority in his home and he has the Biblical obligation to FIRST attempt to discipline his wife as she is his responsibility.  Only when he has exhausted all forms of discipline and she remains defiant and divorce is looming should he approach a counselor to act as a witness to her sin.

Christ said this about confronting a brother(or sister) that has sinned against you:

“If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.” – Matthew 18:15-17 (HCSB)

Matthew 18 gives us the first two steps a Christian husband must take to confront his wife’s sexual refusal.

Step 1 – Rebuke her privately

Rebuke your wife’s sin to her in private. This assumes you have already on several occasions tried to speaking gently to her about this issue. You have tried time and time again to find out if there is anything you can help her with, and anything you can do different. This assumes you have ruled out health problems, and or other mental problems and she simply has a stubborn and willful attitude toward sex in marriage and she does not think she needs to change.

Step 2 – Stop taking her on dates or trips

If the brother or sister in Christ who sins against you is outside the authority of your home then you would go to witnesses next.  But since your wife, like your children, is under your direct authority – you have a Biblical obligation to discipline her first before taking this outside of your home. These next 4 steps use the two types of discipline that a husband has at his disposal.  Time and Money. For some women money means nothing, but almost all women highly value their husband’s time.

Stop taking your wife to her favorite restaurants. Stop taking her out to those movies she wants to see. Don’t take her on those weekend getaways she wants to go on. I am not saying to stop talking to your wife, or ignore your wife, as that is not an option for a Christian husband. But your wife does not have the RIGHT for you to take her on dates or trips – these things are a privilege that you may remove at any time.

Step 3 – No unnecessary household upgrades

Ordinarily, I am all for a husband funding things like new furniture for the house, or new paint for the walls. Wives will come to their husband’s for these and many other household things. What you need to do as a husband is, unless it is a true family need, and not just an upgrade to something – Do not allow it.

Step 4 – Stop doing the little extra things

You know those dinners you cook, or that vacuuming you do, or those things that really she should be doing for herself, but you have simply been trying to be nice and doing for her – STOP doing them. Stop giving her those nice back and shoulder massages she loves so much.

Step 5 – Remove her funding

This step may only work if you wife does not have her own income. Stop giving her pocket money. Change your bank account so her ATM card becomes worthless. Cancel your credit cards. If she does have a job, stop paying for anything in her name and make her pay for any credit that is in her name. The Bible only requires that you provide her with food, clothing and shelter. It does not say that food and clothing has to be the fancy kind she likes to get.

If your wife has not repented and changed her ways after you these first five steps, you are sure to have a very angry and defiant wife. The little bit of sex there was in your marriage is most likely completely gone.

At any one of these points, your wife could have threatened to leave, or has already already left. You may be separated or in divorce proceedings.

But I want you to understand something, it is not your responsibility to keep your wife in the marriage by any means necessary, and certainly not by giving in to her willful, rebellious and sinful behavior. The Apostle Paul writes:

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases.” – I Corinthians 7:15

Remember that in Matthew, Christ told us to regard an unrepentant professed believer as an unbeliever. There is no sin here for you as a Christian husband to simply let her go, you are no longer bound and are free to marry another woman. My pastor told us that he had to deal with some rebellious times with his own wife, and his translation of “let him (or her) leave” was “there is the door” when she would threaten to leave.

But your wife may have stuck around betting that she can “wait you out” and thinking that eventually you will go back to leaving her alone about “all this sex stuff” and things can get back to the normal life she has come to love.

This is where we begin the final phase of confronting your wife’s sexual refusal.

Step 6 – Rebuke her before witnesses

If she is still defiant after you have tried all forms of Biblical discipline with her take her to a Christian marriage counselor so they can serve as a witness to her sinful defiance. But make it clear as you seek a counselor what your beliefs are to that counselor and that this is not about changing your beliefs – it is about having a witness to your wife’s sin.

Step 7 – Bring her before the Church

If bringing her to a counselor does not shake her defiance after you have tried all other forms of discipline then bring her to your Pastor and his wife to have her sin confronted by church authority.  If she is defiant to them then she needs to be expelled from the church.

What if none of these 7 steps work?

If your wife remains willfully defiant, yet she has not left you, it could be for a variety of reasons. She may not want to lose how she lives with you and she knows that after a divorce her lifestyle will be severely affected, and she does not want to deal with the consequences of divorce. Perhaps she may have some genuine care for you left as well as your children but she simply cannot see the error of her ways and will hold out indefinitely with the hope that one day you will fold and give her back the money, the dates, the trips, the house hold upgrades and she will not have been forced to change her ways.

But you have a final step you may take, one that you need to pray long and hard about before you do.

You have the option to divorce her for her sexual immorality.

“But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:32(HCSB)

Why bother with the first 7 steps if divorce is an option for sexual denial?

Many Christians would ask “If I have the right to divorce my wife for willful and chronic sexual denial, why bother with all these other steps?” The answer my friend, is that God wants us to fight for our wives and our marriage the way he fought for his marriage to Israel as a nation. Eventually he had to divorce Israel as nation, but he fought long and hard to bring her back to him, and we owe our wives and our marriages this fight.

But aren’t these steps a form of manipulation?

Those who oppose this type of confrontation will accuse me of advocating that men manipulate their wives into having sex with them more. But what these same people would fail to understand is, there is a big difference between manipulation, and discipline.

Manipulation is when someone who is an equal (like a friend, a coworker, a fellow student…etc.) or someone in a lower position (like a child, or employee, someone of lower rank) tries to make life difficult for their fellow equal or for their authority figure by doing certain actions in order to get them to do something they want. A union strike is a form of manipulation. A child throwing a temper tantrum or giving their parent the “silent treatment” is a form of manipulation. A wife withholding sex when she is angry at her husband, or giving him the “silent treatment” is also a form of manipulation. Sometimes manipulation is just pure retaliation.

Discipline, on the other hand is very different from manipulation. Discipline is performed by one who is in authority over one who is under their authority. It is action taken by an authority to attempt to modify the bad behavior of the subject of that authority so that they will behave correctly in the future. True Biblical discipline should never be done out of a spirit of retaliation or revenge.

And just to be clear – I am NOT advocating for husbands to beat their wives,smack them around, or physically abuse them in any way.  There are forms of discipline that are not physical.

Blatant willful sexual denial by a wife toward her husband is an act of rebellion against God’s authority first, and then the authority he has given her husband second. If a man denies his wife sexually, it is also an act of rebellion against God, because God has commanded him to give his body to his wife as she needs it (and I will address this in a separate post).

But a husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the Church

I have had many responses since originally posting this article, that these 8 steps are not the acts of a loving husband. Previously in this post I mentioned that God had to divorce the nation of Israel, picture as an adulterous and rebellious wife.  If it were true that a loving husband would never discipline his wife, then God was not a loving husband to Israel. When Israel, who is pictured as the wife of God, rebelled against God – he disciplined Israel and as he disciplined her he told her he was doing it out of love for her to bring her back to him.

Some might respond that in the end God had to eventually divorce Israel, and his discipline did not work – so maybe Christian husbands should not discipline their wives.

But God shows by his example that he would not and could not compromise his holiness even for the nation he loved. In the same way God does not want a Christian husband to sacrifice his faith to enable his wife’s sinful behavior, even if it results in divorce.  See this post that I wrote separately on this issue entitled “10 Ways to know if you are sacrificing your faith for your wife“.

Conclusion

Christian husband, you are not powerless to act against your wife’s sexual refusal. Also you need to remember that this about a lot more than sexual refusal. This is about your wife’s rebellion against a central tenet of marriage and her rebellion against the order God has established in marriage. But you must realize that this may be a long and costly battle. Your confrontation of your wife’s willful, sinful behavior may result in your marriage ending.

In our next post “10 Ways to know your wife” We will move out of this sexual arena and into getting to know your wife better.

Some might wonder why I addressed sexuality from a husband’s point of view first before I talk about “knowing your wife” and “honoring your wife” in following posts. The reason is because Biblically speaking “knowing your wife” on an intellectual, spiritual and emotional level was never a prerequisite to marriage in the Bible, it was something that often times came after the consummation (sex) in marriage.

Some have mistakenly compared the “Betrothal period” of the Bible to modern dating. The fact is betrothal and dating have nothing in common. In dating, the man and woman both choose to come together mutually and decide between themselves based on a physical, emotional and intellectual level if they want to get married (and often times they even have sex during this dating period).

Betrothal in Biblical times was nothing like dating today. Men did not convince a woman by romancing her to marry them as is the typical model of relationships and marriage in modern western culture. Either the parents of both the man and the woman would arrange their marriage, or the man would approach a woman’s father and ask for his daughter in marriage, and they would agree on a bride price (like Jacob asking Rachel’s father for her hand and he worked 7 years to buy her).

They were officially considered married at the Betrothal, and it took an actual bill of divorce to break a betrothal. But during the betrothal period the man was primarily concerned with being able to setup a house and be prepared to support his wife in marriage. When he was ready, he would come to claim his wife and they would consummate the marriage with sex. Many couples saw very little of each other if at all during this betrothal period.

A man really did not know his wife emotionally and intellectually until he “knew” her sexually.

That is why we will talk about “10 Ways to know your wife” and then “12 Ways to honor your wife” now that we have concluded our discussion of sexuality as it relates to being a godly husband.