In this second article in our series on domestic discipline, we will be looking at the 19th century suffragette (feminist) view of domestic discipline. To do this we will look at two primary sources. The first is the Declaration of Sentiments which was issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.
The second source we will be looking at is a book entitled “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861”, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage in 1881. This book is also a valuable resource in understanding the historical view of domestic discipline. Less than 20 years before this book was published, state courts in America were still upholding a man’s right to use corporal punishment with his wife. It was only in the 1870s that courts began striking down this common law right and later states would begin enacting laws against it.
The Declaration of Sentiments
The Declaration of Independence was America declaring its independence from England and the Declaration of Sentiments was women declaring their independence from men. Below is a portion of the Declaration of Sentiments issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848:
“The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.”
As Bible believing Christians, we can and should recognize the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments for what it was and still is today. A declaration of war on God’s institution of patriarchy. And the sad truth is, that more than 170 years later that war has been mostly won by feminists. Those who still hold to God’s design of patriarchy have been forced into hiding, with their only option to fight a spiritual guerrilla warfare against those who seek to eradicate the last pockets of resistance to the reigning humanist regimes.
“In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband”
The common laws of the land in this case were strongly aligned with the Word of God as seen in Titus 2:4-5:
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, OBEDIENT to their own HUSBANDS, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
In fact, we can rightly say that the Declaration of Sentiments complaint against women being compelled by common law to be obedient to their husbands was blasphemy against the Word of God.
The Husband is “to all intents and purposes, her master”
Again, the Scriptures are crystal clear on this point calling women to regard their husband’s as their earthly lords (their masters) in 1 Peter 3:5-6:
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
The Greek word used in 1 Peter 3:6 is “kurios” which means master. It is used in reference to kings, governors, slave masters, husbands and to God himself in the Bible. All of these masters were authorities instituted by God over different spheres, but God is the LORD and master of all. The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek kurios is “baal” which means “owner, lord, master”.
In Deuteronomy 22:22 we see the following example showing the husband’s ownership over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married [‘baal’ used as verb] to an husband [‘baal’ used as noun] , then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
The passage above demonstrates that under God’s law a married woman is an owned woman, and her owner is her husband.
The Husbands power “to administer chastisement”
The power to chastise is a critical element of authority. If a person can tell others what to do, but they have no means of enforcing what they have commanded then they really are not an authority. And this is why the early woman’s rights movement targeted the common law recognition of the husband’s right to chastise his wife. If they could remove his power to chastise her, they knew they were effectively removing his authority over her.
History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861
The women who wrote “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861” lived in the era when wife spanking was still widely practiced and culturally accepted so their perspective is valuable in the historical sense, even with their moral position on the rights of women and husbands chastising their wives being completely unbiblical and wrong.
In pages 88-89 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“In those early days a husband’s supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper – as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner…The laws made it his privilege – and the Bible, as interpreted, made it is his duty.”
If you go to the average Christian today in the average Christian church, even most conservative evangelical churches, and you started talking about domestic discipline they would have no clue what you are talking about. I know if you would have mentioned it to me 7 or 8 years ago, I would have been one of those people with a blank look. And if you mentioned “wife spanking” they would look at you like you are crazy. I know I would have.
But I am happy to have been challenged on this subject. Because it caused me to really have to research this out. I already showed in my first article in this series on domestic discipline, “The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline”, that the Bible fully supports two important concepts.
First it supports the concept of corporal punishment for both children and adults. Secondly, it supports husband’s chastening their wives as we see God chastening his wife Israel in the Old Testament and Christ chastening his wife, the church, in the New Testament.
But then we come to the historical side of this. Before the 20th century, most Christians believed according the Bible that husbands had a right and duty to chasten their wives using corporal punishment. The common laws of the land supported this right. And except for the left-wing feminists of the 19th century, Christian women fully accepted this too.
Chastisement Was Seen as Good for A Wife’s Moral Development
On page 599 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“By the common law of England, the spirit of which has been but too faithfully incorporated into our statute law, a husband has a right to whip his wife with a rod not larger than his thumb, to shut her up in a room, and administer whatever moderate chastisement he may deem necessary to insure obedience to his wishes, and for her healthful moral development! He can forbid all persons harboring or trusting her on his account. He can deprive her of all social intercourse with her nearest and dearest friends. If by great economy she accumulates a small sum, which for future need she deposit, little by little, in a savings bank, the husband has a right to draw it out, at his option, to use it as he may see fit.”
A husband chastising his wife was seen as a healthy and moral thing for a marriage. But his powers of chastisement were not limited just to corporal punishment. But he could also literally ground his wife as a parent grounds their child and send her to her room. This was the normal accepted practice under common law.
Domestic Discipline Outlawed in the Late 19th Century
On page 792 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“Wife-beating is still so common, even in America, that a number of States have of late introduced bills especially directed to the punishment of the wife-beater. Great surprise is frequently shown by these men when arrested. “Is she not my wife” is cried in tones proving the brutal husband had been trained to consider this relationship a sufficient justification for any abuse.”
“Chastisement” did not have enough sting to it. In fact, even in the late 19th century, the word “chastisement” in America was seen as a positive word. So then feminists went from speaking about husbands chastising their wives to calling men “wife-beaters”. That had a much better ring to it. And they declared that a husband chastising his wife in any form was “abuse”.
Now to be sure, there were some men who took their right to chastise their wives too far causing serious or permanent injuries to their wives. And this of course was the case throughout the history of mankind and was by no means unique to America. But the exact same thing could also be said for parents, whether they were fathers or mothers who chastised their children, that some abused their God given authority to administer corporal chastisement.
But that fact that some husbands abused their power to exercise corporal chastisement did not give civil governments the right to remove this God given power from husbands. What they should have done was deal with those extreme cases on a case by case basis.
In this second article we have shown that the early feminists declared war on Biblical patriarchy from the very beginning of their movement in 1848. They utterly rejected God’s design of male headship over women.
These early feminists or “suffragettes”, knew they had to play on the emotions of the American people to win their cause. And they did exactly that. They found the most extreme and outlandish cases of abuse they could find to bring before courts and state legislators to prove that all men were potential abusers or “wife-beaters” and the only way to protect women from the abuses of men was to completely strip men of their power of corporal chastisement over their wives.
But we also learned something else in this article. Something that husbands and wives of today needed to see. This idea of a husband using corporal punishment to chastise his wife is not some recently invented behavior by some far-right Christians. It is not just some kinky BDSM thing. But rather, before the late 19th century it was the protected law of the land and Christians believed husbands had a Biblical right and duty to exercise corporal chastisement on their wives for the good of their wife’s moral development and the health of their marriages.
So apparently there has been a rumor going around on reddit and other places that says I, Larry Solomon (aka BGR), am actually Pastor Steven Anderson. Pastor Steven Anderson is the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. He also founded the New Independent Fundamental Baptist movement in 2017.
Do Pastor Anderson and I have many things in common? Yes. But we also have significant differences in our teachings as well.
Beliefs Steven Anderson and I have in Common
What follows are several similarities between my teachings and beliefs and those of Pastor Steven Anderson.
1 – We agree on the most important doctrine in the Bible
Pastor Steve Anderson and I both believe salvation is by faith alone, through Christ alone.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Romans 10:9 (KJV)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 (KJV)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
2 – We agree on the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy
The second most important thing Pastor Anderson and I have in common is that we both believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and we are to live our lives by it:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”
Matthew 4:4 (KJV)
3 – We both are Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFBs)
A third thing Pastor Anderson and I have in common is that we both come from IFB churches.
My parents raised me in IFB churches for most of my life. And as an adult I attended and raised my children in IFB churches. I attended and graduated from an IFB Christian school. Some of my class mates in high school went on to become IFB pastors or IFB missionaries.
4 – We agree on Biblical gender roles
Pastor Steven Anderson is one of the few preachers out there that is actually still preaching the neglected doctrines of Biblical gender roles.
In a sermon he preached on March 22, 2015, entitled “Women Working in Light of the Bible”, Pastor Anderson made the following statements which very much align with my teachings based on the Biblical doctrines concerning gender roles:
“The main thing that I want to preach about this morning is the subject of women working outside the home, and the husband not providing and being the breadwinner of the home, but rather both husband and wife working. This has become the norm in our society today. It’s not biblical. It’s not God’s will. It’s not something that is the standard that the word of God says…
What the Bible teaches is that it’s man’s responsibility to provide for his him, and to provide for they of his own house, and that the woman’s job is to be a keeper at home, to be good, to be obedient to her husband, and to raise the children and guide the house and keep the house. I’ll submit to you that that is a full-time job.”
I have said from the beginning of establishing this blog back in 2014, that God had called me to speak on a particular area where I saw a great gap in churches today. That gap exists even within many IFB churches today. And that gap is regarding the teaching of Biblical gender roles.
Most churches today have abandoned the basic Biblical doctrine that marriage was created by God to be a picture of the relationship between God and his people Israel in the Old Testament and between Christ and his church in the New Testament. We find this picture presented to us in the Scriptures below:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Ephesians 5:22-33 (KJV)
The Scriptures above tell us that it is “for this cause”, the cause of picturing the relationship of God to his people, of Christ to his Church, that we as men and women are to seek out marriage.
In marriage, men are to picture God’s love through his leadership, provision, protection, teaching and discipline of his people. And conversely, women are to depend upon the leadership, teaching, provision and protection of their husbands and submit to and reverence their husbands as the people of God are to do these things toward God.
Certainly, God places within us the drive for human companionship, sexual pleasure and the drive to have children as well and those are some of the other purposes for which God created marriage. But we must never loose sight of the primary purpose for which God created marriage, and that was to picture the relationship between himself and his people.
The sad truth is that most churches today teach an abridged and bastardized version of what the Scriptures state about marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33 as well as many other passages. If they teach anything from the passage above, it is only to tell men that they are to “give themselves up” for and “cherish” their wives. They of course falsely interpret this as husbands needing to live to make their wives happy and worship the ground their wives walk on.
How many churches today teach that wives are to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord”?
How many churches today teach “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church”?
How many churches today teach “as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing”?
How many churches today teach wives to “reverence” their husbands?
The sad answer to all these questions above is very few. But Pastor Anderson is one of the few left still preaching these Biblical doctrines concerning gender roles.
5 – We agree that LGBTQ behavior is wicked and an abomination before God
Like Pastor Anderson, I too believe that the behaviors of LGBTQ persons are wicked and an abomination before God. The Scriptures are clear on this point:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)
“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.”
Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”
Romans 1:26-27 (KJV)
Pastor Anderson and I also have in common that we both reject Dispensationalism and believe in a post tribulation rapture and we also both reject Calvinism.
On the political front we both are avid Second Amendment advocates.
So yes, Pastor Steven Anderson and I have a lot in common, probably more than most people. But we also have several major doctrinal disagreements.
Disagreements I Have with Steve Anderson
What follows are several disagreements I have with Steven Anderson what set me apart from him.
1 – I am not KJV Only and Steven Anderson is
The 1611 King James Bible was actually preceded by 9 English translations of the Bible before it. Those earlier editions were the Wycliffe Bible (1382-1395), the Tyndale Bible (1523), the Coverdale’s Bible (1535), the Matthew’s Bible (1537), the Taverner’s Bible (1539), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop’s Bible (1568) and Douay-Rheims (1610).
In addition to that, there were several revisions of the KJV and one of most commonly used today is the 1873 Scrivener edition.
When Steven Anderson and I both state that we believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, we are basing that belief on different versions of the Bible. My belief is that the Bible is inerrant in its original writings in the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages. While no two ancient manuscripts of the Bible agree word for word, I believe that by taking the sum total of those ancient manuscripts that we can arrive at the complete Word of God. And no doctrine of the Bible is lost based on the differences between these ancient manuscripts.
The position of Steven Anderson and those hold the “KJV Only” position is that the 1873 Scrivener edition of the KJV Bible is the inerrant and preserved Word of God by which all other translations whether in English or any other language before or after this edition must be judged as accurate. They even believe that if the KJV has wording not found in any ancient manuscript (majority or minority texts), that God providentially wanted it to be there.
In contrast with Steven Anderson, I hold the “KJV Preference” position. I quote from the KJV the majority of the time on my blog because I admire its literal translation and its historical value as a world-renowned version of the Bible. But I also use the NASB from time to time because it is the most literal modern translation of the Bible in English and sometimes it is actually more literal to the original texts of the Bible than the KJV.
To those outside the Biblicist community of Christians, this might seem like a silly difference. But I have seen many IFB churches split into different churches based on this KJV Only issue.
2 – The IFB church I attend is NOT part of the Steven Anderson’s New IFB church movement
IFB churches originated in the late 19th and early 20th century as a reaction to modernist views which had infiltrated many churches, including some Baptist churches in America. It was also a reaction to the overreach of Baptist conventions like the Northern and Southern Baptist conventions.
This is where the term “Independent Fundamental Baptist” came from. “Independent” meaning a church not part of a convention (i.e. Southern Baptist Convention). “Fundamental” as in a church that teaches the fundamentals of the faith such as the Trinity, salvation in Christ alone by faith alone, the inerrancy of the Bible, the reality of miracles and a belief in a literal 6-day creation account. Historically, IFBs have also been some of the strongest adherents to Biblical gender roles. And finally Baptist, in holding to the historic Baptist beliefs of believers baptism by immersion, the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of the believer, communion and baptism being the two ordinances of the church, only two church officers those of pastor and deacon and membership in the church being only those who have been made public professions faith and have received baptism by immersion.
Another core tenant of the IFB movement was an utter rejection of all forms of ecumenicalism and that is why until the last decade or so you would never see any IFB church doing joint ministries with any church except another IFB church.
KJV Onlyism was also a core tenant held by most IFB churches.
Many IFB churches also had added some additional rules not found in the Bible including prohibitions against using play cards, attending movie theaters, mixed bathing (going swimming with members of opposite), women wearing pants or shorts, smoking, drinking alcohol and gambling. When rock and roll music came out, the IFB churches added prohibitions against their members listening to any music with a “rock beat”.
As of 2020, there are an estimated 6000 IFB churches in America.
The IFB churches I grew up in, as well as the IFB high school I attend, had all these rules.
As a teenager in my IFB Christian school, I had a great love of studying and discussing the Scriptures. My history teacher once said to someone who asked about me- “I predict that Larry is going to be either a pastor, a programmer or a politician”. He was referring to the passion he saw in me for the subjects of theology, computer programming and history. In the end I chose the programming route, but I was able to teach Sunday school in IFB churches over the years and then I was able to start this ministry 6 years ago to further use my God-given gifts for the kingdom of God. So, thanks to God and his providence, I have been able to pursue all three God given passions the Lord has laid on my heart since I was a young man.
But while I greatly admired the IFB legacy of a zeal for living by the Bible and its adherence to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, I came to reject some of the more traditional IFB beliefs which I found to be lacking in Scriptural support.
I started having some of these differences with my IFB upbringing as early as my late teens, while many others I came to in my early to mid-20s. Some I did not come to till much later in life well into my 30s.
I came to reject the IFB traditional rules against using play cards, attending movie theaters, mixed bathing (going swimming with members of opposite), women wearing pants or shorts, smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling and listening to music with rock beat. I found that all these rules lacked clear Scriptural support. And the biggest change for me was coming to reject KJV Onlyism after an extensive study I did on the history of the making of the Bible when I was in my early 20s.
Eventually I knew I had to leave the IFB church I attended and move to one that was closer to my position on these issues and I found that in the IFB church I have now attended for more than a decade. I still have some differences with my current Pastor, but far less than I would with some of these other IFB churches.
Just this last Sunday, my Pastor was telling me before the service that he found an old sermon that a previous pastor of our church had preached many decades ago against play cards. He actually did a whole series against playing cards! We both laughed.
My pastor and I agree that many of these older IFB rules are what Colossians 2:22 refers to as “the commandments and doctrines of men” rather than the commandments and doctrines of God.
When I first came out with my differences on these positions more than 20 years ago, some of my IFB friends called me “liberal” even though I still strongly believed in the fundamentals of the faith and Baptist church practices. Eventually though, during those same two decades, many of my IFB friends, as well as their churches, changed their positions on some or all of these issues.
And that brings us to Pastor Steven Anderson. Pastor Anderson did not agree with these moves away from traditional IFB rules of “holy living” and especially the move away from KJV Onlyism and this prompted him to create his “New IFB” church movement in 2017.
In 2020, there are about 30 IFB churches that have joined his movement.
3 – I don’t believe the government must have the death penalty for homosexuals, Steven Anderson does
Steven Anderson has said in so many words on more than one occasion that he would like to see gays put to death. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he means the government doing it, and not Christians running in the streets randomly killing gays. He bases that belief on the following Old Testament passage:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”.
Leviticus 20:13 (KJV)
When we look at the Old Testament, we must be careful to separate the moral law from the civil penalties imposed for breaking God’s law under the theocracy of Israel which God instituted. The New Testament church is not a physical nation, but rather a spiritual nation made up of believers from all physical nations of the world. The church has no civil authority to execute punishments like these imposed for the theocracy of Israel.
So no, the United States government is not Biblically obliged to execute homosexuals as Steven Anderson believes. But there is a difference between executing homosexuals, and approving of their behavior as the American government now does.
The Scriptures tell us the role of all civil governments:
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well”.
1 Peter 2:13-14 (KJV)
All civil governments have a God ordained duty to condemn behavior which God condemns in his Word. God condemns activities like prostitution, premarital sex, incest, adultery, men having sexual relations with men and transgenderism. Therefore, the civil government by the command of God has an obligation to punish these “evildoers”.
The punishments of course are not defined for any civil government outside the theocracy of Israel which no longer exists, therefore the punishments are left by God to the discretion of the civil authorities.
Someone might ask “Ok, so Leviticus 20:13 does not mean all civil governments for all time must execute men who have sex with other men. But does it allow civil governments to do this if they wanted to?” The answer to that question is YES. Now to the humanists (Christian or atheist) reading this, they may see this as a distinction without a difference. But it is a very big difference between me and Steven Anderson. He believes the government is compelled to execute men who have sex with other men, while I believe the civil government is only compelled to condemn this action and may punish this behavior in other non-lethal ways.
4 – Steven Anderson and I would strongly disagree on Biblical sexology
If the people spreading rumors that I was Steve Anderson had really done their homework, and simply searched for “Steven Anderson” in the search bar of my blog, they would have found an article I wrote way back in 2015 refuting Steven Anderson’s position on what the Bible says about lust. The article is entitled “What is the Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16?”. I had it slated for migrating over to my new blog BiblicalSexology.com, but I will leave it here for a while longer although I have turned off the comments for it.
I teach that Matthew 5:28’s prohibition against a man looking on a woman “to lust after her” can only be understood by the Biblical definition of lust. The Biblical definition of lust is given to us in Romans 7:7 when the Apostle Paul states “for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet”. After being told that lust is covetousness and a violation of the 10th commandment, we must then look to the 10th commandment. In Exodus 20:17 the Bible states “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”.
So, this leads us to the following conclusions regarding lust. If lust was merely desire of any kind, then all real-estate transactions would be sinful. You don’t buy someone’s house without first finding it desirable, and then going through the process to purchase it.
What Exodus 20:17 teaches us is that covetousness (aka lust) is when we desire to use or take something or someone in an unlawful manner. In the context of sexual lust, that would mean a man desiring to entice a woman into having sexual relations with him outside of marriage.
Lust is not merely a man finding a woman sexually desirable. It is not a man enjoying the view of a woman’s body or even him having sexual fantasies about her. Lust is not normal heterosexual desire.
It is only when we desire to entice someone into having sexual relations outside of marriage that we have committed the Biblical sin of lust in the sexual sense of the word.
Also, Steven Anderson and I would disagree on the subject of Biblical polygamy. He does not see it as allowable for the New Testament age and I do.
For more on these topics regarding Biblical Sexology, please go to my new site BiblicalSexology.com. And if you want to discuss these topics on sexuality, I would ask that you comment over on that blog on the relevant topics which you can easily find right on the home page of that site.
I am not Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.
Anderson would call me a “KJV denier” for not being KJV Only.
Anderson would call me a “worldly man” because I play Texas Holdem with my friends and family, because I love movies and have a massive DVD and Blu-ray collection of sci-fi, horror movies and action films. Because I let my daughter wear all kinds of pants and shorts and because I let my daughter go “mixed bathing” (aka swimming at beaches).
Anderson would also consider me an “ecumenical” because I associate online with other conservative Bible believing Christians of all denominations who embrace the Biblical doctrines of gender roles. Pentecostals, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics – Oh my!
And if he ever read my views on BiblicalSexology.com he would deny that I am even a Christian, let alone an IFB Christian.
So no, I am not Pastor Steven Anderson. Nor would I encourage any of my children, family or friends to join his church or any of the new IFB churches.
“How does a father provide for his children when his [ex] wife abandoned him? She returned to live with her mother. She took the kids without the father’s consent. Both the children and husband were deceived. She did not leave her parents and cleave to her husband, who moved the family, so he could best provide for his family. She didn’t like moving from her mother, and returned to her, thus abandoning and taking the children. My question is, does he pick-up from his stable career and leave his job, which provides for his children, to find employment near his children? He is struggling because he can better provide in an area where affluent jobs are abundant. Whereas if he returns to the area where his children, he is forced to find employment well below his earning potential (very rural America). What does God want the father to do? Is it more important for the father to be present in the children’s lives or more critical for him to be the provider for his children? Her abandonment turned the family upside down. Now the husband is being forced to make decisions, as the leader, to return to an area where gainful employment is scarce. There was no abuse, gambling, etc. from the husband. Please advise with relevant scripture, so that I do God’s will, not mine.”
This comment was recently sent to me by a man calling himself Darrin.
The sad reality of a post-feminist world is that the scales are massively tilted toward women. Our modern society no longer recognizes a man’s God given ownership over his wife and his children. So, in this sin-cursed and upside-down world what is a Christian man to do? Below is my answer to Darrin and other good men who face this type of wicked situation.
Should You Give Up Your Career for Your Children?
The first thing you need to do is focus on is why God created you. The purpose for your creation as a male human being is shown in the Scripture below:
“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.”
1 Corinthians 11:7-9 (KJV)
You were created by God to image him and thereby bring him glory. Your masculine human nature is meant to picture God’s nature. And one of the ways you image God is in your career.
A Man’s Career Is A Defining Aspect of His Masculinity
Your competitiveness and your desire to make your mark on the world in your career is part of the masculine image of God within you. The Bible says the following things about a man and his work:
“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.”
Psalm 104:23 (KJV)
“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”
Psalm 22:29 (KJV)
“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”
Ecclesiastes 5:18 (KJV)
“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.”
Proverbs 24:27 (KJV)
A man’s career is a defining aspect of who is he is as a man. That is why the first thing men ask each other is “What do you do for a living?” Our careers as men define us. They give us something to strive for, something to be diligent in and compete in. But they also give us the ability to do something else that is crucial for us as men. Our careers give us the ability to provide for our families.
I know the couple times I have been laid off from my job were some of the most miserable times in my life. As men it hurts us to our core when we cannot properly provide for our families. And that is by God’s design that we are so driven in this area.
Our provision as men for our wives and our children pictures God’s provision as a husband to his wife and as a father to his children as seen in the following Scriptures:
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
Ephesians 5:29 (KJV)
“9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
Mark 7:9-11 (KJV)
It is not the man who is called to be a keeper at home, but rather the woman
It is not your place as a man to spend the vast majority of your time in your home or with your children. God has given that role to women.
“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Titus 2:4-5 (KJV)
A man is called to rule over and teach his children, not spend all his time with children:
“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity”
1 Timothy 3:4 (KJV)
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)
Darrin, you can still be a presence and have a relationship with your children without physically being there all the time with them. I have known some men in your same situation, the wife took the kids back to the home state and the father could not leave the state he was in or they would all be impoverished. So, these men see their kids for 4 weeks in the summer and fly to see them a few times in between like around Christmas and other holidays. But here is the very important part. While they are not physically with their children, they are regularly, multiple times a week calling them on their phone and doing video calls with them.
And in this way, they are able to talk with their children about their daily lives and pour spiritual advice into their lives. They also regularly send their children gifts and make sure they are properly provided for.
For mothers the quantity of time in their children’s life is crucial especially at a young age. But for fathers it is not the quantity, but rather the quality of the time spent with their children that is so crucial.
A woman’s mission from God is her husband, her children and her home. But for a man, his wife, his children and his home are only a part of his larger mission.
The Scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 11:9 “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” and in Psalm 127:3 we read “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward”.
You as a male human being were NOT made for your wife or your children. You were made for God to bring him glory by imaging him with your life (1 Corinthians 11:7).
So, the answer to your dilemma is you continue in your career where you are while at the same time using all your available resources to have as much of a presence as possible, even if virtual, in the lives of your children.
In the Gospel of John there is an incident where John is leaning on Christ’s chest as Jesus tells his disciples about the future. In John 21:21-22, we read “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me”.
What was Jesus saying to Peter? He was saying “Don’t be concerned about what I have for him to do in his life, only be concerned about what I have for you to do in your life”.
Is your knee jerk reaction as a Christian woman, when you hear tough Biblical teaching toward women, “What about him?” Or more specifically “What about the men?” This mindset comes not from God, but rather the feminist and humanist culture you have been brought up in. And more often than not, this response is a cover for your own conviction of sin as a woman. You feel that conviction and want to deflect as quickly as possible to the men.
If this is your reaction as a woman, you have a major spiritual defect in your thinking. The Bible commands us as Christians “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God“ in Romans 12:2.
Don’t worry about the men. Leave the men to other men and to God. Only be concerned about what God has for you to do in this life as a woman.
God has given men and women different roles to play in this life and thus different races to run. And one of the critical differences between the roles of men and women is that God has given men spiritual oversight and responsibility for the women in their lives. So, men must be concerned not only with how they fulfill the role God has given them as men, but they must also be concerned with the instruction and discipline of women under their spiritual authority as well.
This same thing cannot be said for women. Women should only be concerned with the role God has given them as women and leave the men to other men and ultimately to God. Heed Christ’s words to Peter “what is that to thee? follow thou me”.
How should a Christian wife handle it when her husband abandons his Christian faith? How should she deal with her children in regard to their father? Recently one of my regular commenters, a woman who goes by the handle livinginblurredlines, wrote the following about her husband who once professed faith in Christ:
“hubby has decided to become a philosophical Odinist….meaning he doesn’t believe Odin and all the other Norse gods actually exist, but that there is an All-Father that encompasses all faiths that believe in a high deity, and he follows modern Odinism philosophies that embrace strength of self, traditional families, helping your fellow, and nationalism. So, he has no desire to find or attend a church, anymore. So, what shall I do concerning this and our children? When I married him 20 years ago I never thought I’d be faced with this issue!”
What follows are answers to several important questions that Christian wives who find themselves in this situation may be asking.
Can I leave My Unbelieving Husband?
The answer to this question is found in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16: “And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”
So, as you can see from the Scripture above, if your unbelieving husband wants to stay in the marriage with you, God wants you to stay with him. And the Bible tells us that in staying with him, you may actually win him to Christ.
Regarding the case of a woman whose husband has left the faith he once professed. We must realize that a true believer can never leave the faith as they are kept by the power of God. In 1 John 2:19 we read the following of those who made professions of faith and then abandoned them: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
So, in this way as a Christian wife, you must forget your husband’s past participation in church or other Christian activities. Do not dwell on it. Wipe the slate clean in your mind and deal with him as you would someone who has never dawned the doorstep of a church.
Does God Still Want to Me to Submit to My Unbelieving Husband?
The answer to this question is found in 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
So, the answer to this question is yes, God absolutely wants you as a Christian wife to submit to your husband who is disobedient to the Word. You win a husband, whether he be an unbelieving husband or a Christian husband who has some areas where he is disobedient to God in some way. You win him without a word, without preaching at him, nagging at him or complaining at him. You win him with your actions and your life before him. You win him with your submission, your pure life and your reverent attitude toward him.
My mother is a living example of 1 Peter 3:1-2. My mother became a Christian while married to my father. She completely changed her ways toward him. She submitted to him, lived a different life in front of him and reverenced him. And these actions by my mother brought him to Christ and this enabled me to be raised by both a Christian father and a Christian mother. My father would go on to study the Word of God and become my mother’s teacher. This can work ladies!
Can I still teach my Children the Gospel?
In Acts 5:26-29 we read the following story about the Apostles: “Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
We can see from the story above that even if your husband forbids you from teaching your children the Gospel you can and should still do that. I would suggest you do this in private settings with your children. But you can show them you love and respect their father, but that this is something that goes beyond your relationship with their father and that having a relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in this life.
What If My Husband Forbids Me from Taking the Kids to Church?
If your husband forbids you from going to church, you can privately seek the teaching of God. While he is at work, watch sermons from Bible teachers online. And you should privately read your Bible and pray. Let your children watch Bible teaching when Dad is not around. Have them watch Christian movies and shows that teach them about God.
But Isn’t It Wrong to Keep Secrets From My Husband?
A tenant of humanism is “complete transparency in any relationship”. No secrets. None at all. But this is not how God sees things. God keeps secrets from us, and sometimes it is necessary for us to keep secrets from each other.
In Proverbs 28:13 the Bible says “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”. But then in Proverbs 27:12 we read “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished”.
And then in Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus made the follow statements: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Jesus reveals that it is not wrong to do good things in secret. Whether it is doing good for others or even good in obedience to God. It is only wrong to do evil things in secret or to try and cover something that is a sin against God.
The humanist atheist and the humanist Christian would both find the advice given here to be absurd because they hold individualism as the highest ideal. Nothing is more important than each individual being able to live their lives out in the open, exactly as they want to live it (as long as that life style does not violate humanist principles in any way of course).
Humanists love the word “transparency” and regularly apply it to relationships. They don’t like secrets. Whether it is the government keeping secrets from its citizens, husbands keeping secrets from wives or wives keeping secrets from husbands.
Of course, humanists always have some exceptions to their rules. For instance, humanists have no problem with women not being transparent with their husbands about murdering their unborn children. But I digress.
So, the humanist would say “If the husband and wife cannot find a way to openly live out their beliefs with one another and tolerate their differences then they should just divorce. But by no means should the wife have to live a secret life as a Christian or keep these kinds of secrets from her husband”.
But for us a Biblicist Christians, we know that there are more important things than our individual wishes and desires. We know that the institution of marriage is more important than the individual happiness of either the husband or wife. We know that marriage is based on a covenant, not total transparency. And we know that we can also find joy in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.
In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus tells us that being totally transparent in regard to our thoughts or actions is not always the best thing. In fact, he tells us that doing good things toward God, for God or for others in secret can be virtuous. And in Proverbs 27:12 we read that it is “prudent” to sometimes hide ourselves or our actions.
It is utterly disappointing for any Christian wife to hear from her husband that he has left the faith and he is not the believer she thought he was. But God can still greatly use such a Christian wife in the life of her unbelieving husband. And she can still have a vibrant personal faith and have an impact for Christ on her children and on others.
God tells Christian wives in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 that they must remain with their unbelieving husbands if the husband is willing to stay.
And yes, it will be more challenging in the area of submission. But God makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that wives still have to obey unbelieving husbands and he says that wives may win their husbands by their submission, pure lives and reverent behavior.
Christian wives who find themselves married to unbelieving husbands may have to practice their faith in secret. But Jesus shows us in Matthew 6:1-6 that not only is it not a sin to do good toward God and others in secret, but that such actions can be virtuous.
Some Christian wives abuse the Acts 5:29 principle that “We ought to obey God rather man” in order to openly defy their husbands at every turn. But as a Christian wife married to an unbelieving husband, you should make every effort to not have to openly defy your husband.
While the Bible tells men to “leave” their father and mother when they enter marriage it uses a different word for women when they enter marriage. In Psalm 45:10-11 we read “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him”.
Psalm 45:10-11 is widely recognized as a prophecy concerning Christ and his church. But it is also very practical and applicable to marriage between men and women. Ephesians 5:23 tells us “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body”.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had haters of the Bible’s teachings on gender roles say “You think men are gods and that is wrong!”. Each time I hear a variation of that statement I chuckle a bit to myself and remember 1 Corinthians 2:14 which states “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.
The Bible does not teach that men are gods. There is only one God. Men are not God, but God did create men to represent him in this world. This is the clear teaching of the Bible found in passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. So, when we understand this concept as Christians, we understand that women are not to worship their husbands or regard their husbands as their savior. We have one God and one savior whose name is Jesus Christ.
But after we set aside the last part from Psalm 45:10-11 concerning worship, what comes before that is very applicable to women in marriage.
The call to the young woman to regard her new husband as her lord is mirrored in 1 Peter 3:5-6 where the Bible states “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement”.
Now we can zero on what is different in the call to women when they enter marriage. While men, in multiple Bible passages like Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7 and Ephesians 5:31, are commanded to “leave” their father and mother when they enter marriage women are told in Psalm 45:10-11 to “forget” their people and their father’s house.
A woman’s forgetting of her father’s house is a critical part of the process of her becoming one with her husband. Her father may have taught her differently and conducted his home differently than the way her husband will conduct his home. And if she clings to the way her father conducted his home and constantly compares that to her how her husband leads his home there will be problems in the marriage.
How many women today refuse to follow this Scriptural admonition to forget their father’s house? How many women today even refuse to give up their father’s last name or hyphenate their last name? How many women respect their fathers more than their husbands? A woman who refuses to forget her father’s house, to clear the slate and let her husband redefine for her how their home will be conducted will never have the kind of unity in marriage that God calls for.
A final note to fathers. As Christian fathers, we should want our daughters to marry godly men and it is our God given right according to Exodus 22:17, to “utterly refuse to give” our daughters in marriage to men whom we do not approve of. But our culture no longer respects the rights of fathers and has given young women freedom to ignore the spiritual authority of their fathers in this regard. This is why it is so important for us as Christian fathers in this post-feminist culture to cultivate close spiritual relationships with our daughters to the point that they would never want to disappoint us.
My daughter is within 2 years of the time we have agreed she will begin courting, not long after she graduates high school. I am excited to see what God will do in her life. She is not perfect and has her flaws like we all do, but I am happy that God has blessed her with a meek and submissive spirit when it comes to the men in her life whether it be me or her grandfathers. But when it comes to other women, she is a warrior for God and stands on the front lines fighting against abortion and feminism.
I would never bless her marriage to a man who was not a Christian, a Biblicist and a firm believer in Biblical gender roles. However, I realize the man she marries may have many differences with me outside of these areas. And I have told her as much throughout the years. I have told her when she marries, she needs to forget my interpretations and applications of the Bible and how I conducted our house and instead fully embrace her husband’s leading in these areas.
When we think of a woman being “dirty” outside the literal meaning we will usually think of a woman acting in a sexually inappropriate manner. And while there certainly are whorish women who do act in whorish ways there is another type of dirtiness in women that has nothing to do with a woman acting whorish.
When a woman speaks disrespectfully to her husband or does not show proper deference to her husband, that is her acting in a dirty way toward her husband. When a wife refuses to submit any part of her life to her husband’s spiritual leadership that is her acting in a dirty way. Sometimes it may not be her actions, but it may in fact be her attitudes and beliefs that are dirty.
Christian husbands, to love your wife as Christ loves his church requires that you wash her spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes with the Word of God. You are to wash her dirty attitudes, beliefs and actions with the Word of God.
You could liken this to how you might wash your car. You look over that car and make sure every dirt spot and blemish are gone and that it shines so good you can see your reflection in it. It is the same idea with your wife spiritually. After you wash her, her views and behaviors should be a reflection of the things you have taught her from God’s Word.
The washing of your wife requires a combination of knowing her, listening to her, teaching her, correcting her and yes disciplining her. The washing of your wife will sometimes require great sacrifice on your part as the washing of his wife required great sacrifice on the part of Christ. Sometimes it means temporarily sacrificing the peace in your home to rebuke your wife. It might mean sacrificing time you might have spent doing things that were more enjoyable. But it is a sacrifice that is necessary on the part of every Christian husband.
After addressing the submission of wives to their husbands in 1 Peter 3:1-6 the Apostle turns his discussion toward husbands and the treatment of their wives in verse 7 when he states “Likewise, ye husbands”. He then caps the commands toward husbands with a warning to them of what will happen if they do not treat their wives as he has just stated when he says “that your prayers be not hindered”.
Before we discuss how the Apostle Peter, writing under the inspiration of God, tells husbands to treat their wives, we must first address whose prayers are being hindered.
Whose Prayers Will be Hindered?
Mathew Henry in his famous commentary stated the following about verse 7 of 1 Peter 3:
“The reasons are, Because she is the weaker vessel by nature and constitution, and so ought to be defended: but then the wife is, in other and higher respects, equal to her husband; they are heirs together of the grace of life, of all the blessings of this life and another, and therefore should live peaceably and quietly one with another, and,if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered, so that often “you will not pray at all, or, if you do, you will pray with a discomposed ruffled mind, and so without success.”
The key phrase in Matthew Henry’s statement above is “if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered”. The “they” and “their” he is referring to is both the husband and wife.
Matthew Henry was taking the position that this phrase “and as being heirs together of the grace of life” was addressing both the husband and wife and therefore the warning “that your prayers be not hindered” was addressed to both husbands and wives.
But this is where we must remind ourselves that no commentator, no matter how famous or respected, is inerrant in their interpretation or application of the Scriptures.
I have read writings of many of the great men of the reformation like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. I loved reading the commentaries of Spurgeon as a young man. But a realization I had to come to was, none of these men were more inerrant than any Christians before them or after them except for those men who spoke and wrote the very Word of God. Only the Old Testament Prophets, Jesus Christ and his Apostles after him were inerrant in their writings and understanding of God’s will.
This blog is in essence an online commentary, not unlike that of Matthew Henry or Charles Spurgeon. I could be wrong in my interpretation and applications of the Scriptures just as Matthew Henry or Charles Spurgeon could be wrong in theirs. Each of us must look at the Scriptures, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, use our knowledge of the original language of the Scriptures as well the historical and grammatical context in which various passages are written to come to what we believe is the correct interpretation and application of the Scriptures.
Some have argued that Matthew Henry’s interpretation is correct because of the Greek word “hymōn” or “Humon” (transliterated) that is in the phrase “that your [Humon] prayers be not hindered”. They argue that since humon is always used in a plural sense to speak to a group, that it is talking to both the husband and the wife.
While it true that humon is always speaking to a group, we must look to the context to know what group it is speaking to. In the same passage we are discussing, the apostle Peter begins his conversation on marriage by first speaking to wives in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
“Likewise, ye wives [gynaikes], be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your [humon] chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
The English word “wives”, is a translation of the Greek word used to address women in the plural sense which is “gynaikes”. From the passage above, whose “chaste conversation couple with fear” is the Apostle addressing? It is clear from the context that it is that of the wives.
Peter uses the Greek word which refers to men in the plural sense “andres” to refer to husbands, when he writes the passage we are looking at:
“Likewise, ye husbands [andres], dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your [humon] prayers be not hindered.”
There is nothing in the language of 1 Peter 3:7 which would indicate the prayers being hindered are anyone other than that of a husband’s prayers in the same way that the chaste and fearful behavior of verse 2 is referring strictly to wives in reference to their husbands.
Therefore, we can rightly conclude that 1 Peter 3:7 in its entirety is speaking to husbands and not both husbands and wives.
So, Peter is saying that if husbands don’t do the things, he commanded them toward their wives, their prayers will be hindered. Now let’s look at how husbands are commanded to treat their wives.
Three Things God Commands of Husbands Toward their Wives
“dwell [sunoikeo ] with them according to knowledge[Gnosis],”
Sunoikeo refers to domestic association, people living together but it also was commonly used as euphemism for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. And the Greek word gnosis means exactly what is translated as – knowledge. It is to know about something or to know someone intimately depending on the context. So, we can see the Apostle is saying “Husbands as you live together with your wives in this intimate and sexual relationship, do so according to knowledge”. So, the question is what knowledge is he talking about? Is it just a general knowledge of God and His Word? Is it also knowing your wife’s strengths and weaknesses and where she needs spiritual instruction? And could it also be knowing her fears, her concerns and her requests? I will give the answer after we finish looking at the last two parts of this verse.
Peter then moves on to tell men two ways in which they must give proper honor their wives. The first way is mentioned below:
“giving honour unto the wife [gune], as unto the weaker [Asthenes] vessel [Skeuos],”
The Greek word Asthenes means “weak, infirm or feeble” and Skeuos literally refers to vessels like household utensils including bowls or pitchers. Skeuos is a common euphemism for the human body in the New Testament and our souls are seen as indwelling our vessels.
What this means is that husbands are to give honor to their wives as is appropriate for their station as the weaker vessel. But why would we honor someone for being weaker?
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9:
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
If we remember that God created men to image his attributes, including his strength, and woman to image mankind and our weakness and dependence upon God then this makes perfect sense. In the same way that we should glory in our weakness and need of God’s strength, so too women should glory in their weakness and dependence upon man’s strength. And thus, we as men should not demean women who demonstrate their need of our strength, but instead we honor women for doing this.
The honoring of the weaker vessel also means we honor women for fulfilling the complete role that God designed the weaker vessel to play. In Proverbs 31:28 after showing all the wonderful ways in which the virtuous wife serves her husband, his children and his home the Bible tells us the following:
“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
Now that we have covered the first way men are commanded to honor their wives, we can now move on to the second way men are commanded to honor their wives.
“and as being heirs together of the grace of life”
Wives are to be accorded the honor that is due to fellow believers and husbands should never forget that their wives are not only their wives, but sisters in Christ. In Romans 12:10 we read the following of how we are to treat our brethren in Christ:
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”.
So, we see three things men are commanded to do toward their wives:
Live with them in an intimate and sexual relationship according to knowledge.
Honor them for the part in God’s master design that he has designed them to play as the weaker vessel.
Honor them as fellow believers and sisters in Christ.
What knowledge do men need to have with their wives?
In 2 Peter 3:18 we read “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen”. There is no doubt that first and foremost the goal of every Christian should be to grow in the knowledge of Christ and then apply that knowledge to everything we do in this life including how we conduct our marriages.
But 1 Peter 3:7 does not say “dwell with them according to the knowledge of God” or “dwell with them according to the knowledge of Christ”. It simply says dwell with them according to knowledge. And since the treatment of wives by their husbands is the subject Peter is addressing it strongly suggests that knowledge is indeed a husband’s knowledge of his wife.
And this idea of a man needing to know his wife on a spiritual level is seen in Ephesians 5:25-27:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
How can a man wash his wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles if he does not know his wife’s mind? Again, in Ephesians 5:28-29, we read the following of husbands toward their wives:
“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
How can a man know his wife’s needs without knowing her mind? Without talking to her?
And finally, our greatest indicator of what “knowledge” husbands are supposed to have as they live with their wives is found in the warning given to husbands:
“that your prayers be not hindered”
In 1 Peter 5:7 the Bible tells us “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. We are called to cast our cares, our concerns and our fears upon God because he cares for us. Is that not a huge part of our prayers to God?
So as husbands if we want God to hear our cares and concerns why would we think we can do so while turning a deaf ear to our wife’s cares and concerns?
God Sometimes Will Not Hear Our Prayers and so Too Husbands Will Not Hear Their Wives
Now the principles I have just laid out from the Scriptures about men needing to hear their wife’s concerns in the same way that they want God to hear their concerns could certainly be abused. In fact, it has been abused by the modern church today which has been infested with feminism.
If we remember that man images God in the life of his wife then we must also remember that God sometimes will not hear our prayers because of our sin. In Isaiah 1:15, God says to his wife Israel, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood”. Because Israel was in open sin against God, her husband, he hid himself from seeing her needs and he would not hear her requests. In the same way, when a wife is acting in unrepentant sin against her husband, she cannot expect that he will hear her requests.
In James 4:3 we read “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”. So, when we ask God with wrong motives or ask with selfish ambition, he will not hear such requests and in the same way if a husband sees his wife asking for something with wrong motives or from a position of selfishness, he has every right to turn down such sinful requests.
Finally, in John 5:14 the Bible states “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us”. Just as husband should know his wife’s mind, so too a wife should know her husband’s mind. And a wife should never ask her husband for something she knows goes against his will on a matter just as we should never pray to God for something we know goes against his will especially as recorded in the Bible.
1 Peter 3:7 is written to husbands, not husbands and wives. The prayers that will be hindered are not the prayers of both the husband and wife, but of the husband alone. God tells men they must dwell with their wives according to knowledge, honor them in their station as the weaker vessel, and honor them as fellow believers and sisters in Christ. If a husband fails to do these three things, God will not hear his prayers.
When we look at God’s command of husbands in Ephesians 5:25-27 to wash their wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word, we know that part of the knowledge Peter alludes to in 1 Peter 3:7 is of a man knowing his wife’s spiritual character. He cannot wash what he does not know.
When we look at God’s command of husbands in Ephesians 5:28-29 for them to love and care for the needs of their wife’s body and protect her as they would their own body then we also know that part of the knowledge Peter alludes to in 1 Peter 3:7 is a man knowing his wife’s requests for her physical needs.
In 1 Peter 3:5-6, which directly proceeds the passage we have been studying, the Apostle Peter writes “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement”. A woman, if she is following the example given to us by God of the women of old is to regard her husband as her lord.
The Greek word kurios translated as “lord” in 1 Peter 3:6 can also be translated as “master” as it is in Colossians 4:1 where the Bible states “Masters [Kurios], give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master [Kurios] in heaven”. In many ways 1 Peter 3:7 repeats this same concept of Colossians 4:1 with husbands toward their wives. We as husbands must remember that just as we are a master to our wives, we also have a master in heaven who watches how we treat her.
This does not mean that if a man’s wife is divorcing him or other bad things are happening that it automatically means he is not living with his wife according to knowledge or not honoring her as the weaker vessel and as a fellow sister in Christ. We must remember that wife’s can and do act in evil ways against their husbands just as Israel acted in evil ways against her husband who was God. In Isaiah 1:15 God hid his eyes from Israel and closed his ears to her prayers because she was in sinful rebellion against him.
No wife can expect to have her husband’s ear while she stands in rebellion against him.
Also, God makes it clear in John 5:14 that we don’t get everything we request from him, but only what is in accordance with his will. And this is no different with a husband and wife situation. A husband hearing his wife’s requests and granting them are two very different things. And once a woman knows her husband’s mind on something, she ought not to continue asking for that same thing knowing it goes against his will.
The Scriptures warn us in Proverbs 4:27 “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil”. And on this matter of the treatment of wives, like most other moral subjects, there is a far left and a far right position that are both wrong and the Bible stands in the middle of the two.
On the one hand, a man knowing his wife’s spiritual mindset, her cares and her concerns is not the same as him having to run all family decisions through his wife first. Nothing in the Scriptures gives this requirement of men. Marriage is not a partnership, but rather a patriarchy. When the Scriptures refer to a man dwelling with his wife according to knowledge, it is in regard to him knowing her personal spiritual and physical needs, not him getting her vote on family decisions.
On the other hand, A man knowing his wife’s spiritual condition, knowing her mind, knowing what her physical needs are, hearing her cares and concerns, honoring her station as the weaker vessel and honoring her as a fellow sister is not him putting his wife on a pedestal. It is him obeying the Word of God. And if he does not obey the Word of God on these matters God will not hear his prayers. This is the express teaching of 1 Peter 3:7.
We are told in Ephesians 5:25 that husbands are to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and in Revelation 3:19 Christ after rebuking his churches says “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”. This shows us as Christian husbands that an indispensable part of us loving our wives as Christ loves his church is that we rebuke and discipline our wives.
A husband who will not rebuke or discipline his wife for sinful behavior is no better than a parent who will not rebuke and discipline their child for sinful behavior.
And no, a husband disciplining his wife is not him treating his wife as a child, it is him treating his wife as a woman and women are under the authority of men in God’s order. And no, God does not recognize the modern invention of the “adult” social class. So, the notion we hear so often in churches that “he is an “adult” and responsible for himself before God and she is an “adult” and responsible for herself before God” is completely unbiblical. The humanist invention of the “adult” social class is a perversion and attempt to give women the same rights, responsibilities and privileges as men, something God never did.
For more details on the how a husband can go about disciplining his wife in a way which follows Biblical principles for discipline see my article “7 Ways To Discipline Your Wife“.
Christian husbands, God says you must know your wife, and not just in the sexual sense of the word. You are also called to know her on a spiritual and emotional level. This does not mean you have to become an emotional being like a woman, or “get more in touch with your feelings”. It simply means talking to your wife and listening to her fears, her concerns and her requests in the same way you want God to listen to your fears, concerns and requests when you bring them to him.
Does listening to your wife mean you will always do what she wants? Of course not. God listens to our prayers but he does not always grant our requests or do things in the way we would like him to do them. Sometimes God corrects us and shows us later that what we were asking for was not right. And sometimes after a husband listens to his wife, he may need to correct her thinking, just as God corrects our thinking through the Holy Spirit and through his Word.
And finally, husbands, remember that if you will not hear your wife’s fears, concerns and requests God will not hear yours. So, if you sense that you are being shut out by God, perhaps you are doing the same thing to your wife.