Should a man risk divorce to confront his wife’s rebellion?

Should a Christian man risk his wife divorcing him to confront her feminist and rebellious tendencies? Or is it an act of sacrificial love for a husband to submit to his wife in order to save his marriage? Should a husband attempt to discipline his wife until she accepts her place in God’s design knowing that she might leave him and take his children?

These are the kinds of questions that are raised by a story I received from a man who identifies himself as “John” in response to my post “Fathers can save our families from feminism”.

John’s Story

“My wife and I married as equals. We were not Christians in a true sense, but had cultural ties to Christianity. I believed in feminism when I married. After we had our first child something changed. Looking into my new daughters eyes awakened something in me. I knew at that point that there absolutely was a Creator God and there was NO WAY this child was a random event. I began searching in earnest for God and He found me and saved me on May 1st 2005.

Any Christian reading this will understand when I say that my journey with Christ has been wonderful, challenging, exciting, and unexpected! Unfortunately my wife, who I adore, had not joined me yet😔. Also I have come to understand the perils of feminism and the benefits of a biblical family structure. When I have tried to lead I’ve been shut down entirely. She has threatened divorce thrice and hired a lawyer once. I believe she is serious about not only not being submissive but about calling the shots as she has also rejected her own ideals of equality.

My lawyer told me she would get the kids and everything. So I’ve submitted to protect my family. I can accept the insinuations on this website that I am weak or pathetic or groveling or whatever. These are just unkind words. But I’m convicted by the thought that I’m disobedient to God in my stance. I’m truly confused now. I accept that feminism is a lie, that the bible is truth, and I’m ready and willing to act in that way and lead my wife. I wish to do so sacrificially and gently by putting her first. Her adamant refusal and willingness to blow up the family gives me pause. Our children will be hurt and taken from me, their father, if this happens. From the frying pan into the fire! Help!…”

John let me say first and foremost that my heart goes out to you and the millions of men who have to deal with this kind of situation you are dealing with in regard to your wife’s rebellion toward you as the authority God has placed over her.

Egalitarian or “partnership” marriages are based on a lie

Your statement:

 “My wife and I married as equals. We were not Christians in a true sense, but had cultural ties to Christianity. I believed in feminism when I married.”

What I think you mean by the phrase that you “married as equals” is that you embraced the modern belief that marriage is an equal partnership. You were feminists and egalitarians.

Your statement:

“I believe she is serious about not only not being submissive but about calling the shots as she has also rejected her own ideals of equality”

Your wife’s behavior proves a truth that I have said many times on this site.  In most so called “equal partnership” marriages the woman is actually the head of her husband and her home.  In a few “equal partnership” marriages the man is actually the head but he is much more subtle about his leadership than men are in traditional or Biblical marriages. Your wife does as you say and “calls the shots”. This makes her the dominant and you the submissive.

Egalitarianism is a lie that many people believe and your wife is one of them. One person will always be more dominate than the other.  This is the nature of human relationships.  She has lied to herself as so many women do and convinced herself that she truly believes in and acts as an equal partner in your marriage when she clearly does not.

A marriage will either be a “subtle” patriarchy (male lead) or a “subtle” matriarchy (female lead) – there is no such thing as true partnership marriage.

The only difference between the subtle matriarchy in most self-proclaimed egalitarian marriages and the overt patriarchy practiced in traditional and Biblical Christian marriages is that the wife tries to convince herself and her husband that she is not really leading the relationship and the family.  But make no mistake she is the matriarch.

Even if true partnership marriages existed – they would exist in direct violation to God’s design of marriage and the family.

Sometimes your Christian faith may cost you your marriage

Your story of the birth of your daughter bringing you to Christ is one I have heard before.  For many it is not until they see the beauty of new human life that they realize there truly is a God and he really does have a plan for our lives.  I am so glad you came to place your faith and trust in Christ.

The Bible tells us that sometimes our faith, especially when we start to live it and put it into practice will make enemies even in our own home!

“34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 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.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:34-38 (KJV)

We can see in the words of Jesus Christ that sometimes our Christian faith will bring us into direct conflict with those closest to us – even those whom we love.  Your wife, the woman you love, has become your spiritual “foe”. Some may object to me saying this about your wife but the words of Christ could not be clearer here.

Now God also wants you to love your enemies and pray for them:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” – Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

But remember what Christ said in verses 37-38 of Matthew 10? Yes you are to love your enemies and pray for them but you are not to love them more than God.  What Christ means here is if you allow your family (and this includes your wife) to cause you to sin against God or not to follow God’s commands for your life then you are not worthy of Christ.  The phrase “worthy of me” does not mean you will lose your salvation as some Christian teachers falsely teach.  It means you are not living your Christian life in a way that is worthy of what Christ has done for you.  Christ is admonishing you to run the Christian race (live the Christian life) in a way that is worthy or befitting of what he has done for you.

Paul speaks of a person’s faith and the impact it has on their unbelieving spouse causing divorce in I Corinthians:

“13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 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.

15 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.” – I Corinthians 7:13-15 (KJV)

Here is the truth – God commands that you lead your wife:

“23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)

He also calls on you to sacrifice yourself in effort to make your wife holy as Christ gave himself to make his church holy:

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

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)

God does not call on you to keep your wife in the marriage at the cost of you disobeying his commands to lead your home. If she wants to depart you must let her depart.  Will it cause a lot of emotional pain to you and your children in doing this? Absolutely it will.  But this is a sacrifice that God has called you to make in obedience to him. If you fail to do this then you are in essence loving your marriage and family more than you love God.

Your children will be hurt in either case

I just spoke about the hurt that divorce will cause your children.  But realize that your children will be hurt in either case.

If you stay your children will be hurt by the bad example they see of their father submitting to their mother. This completely breaks the model of marriage and it goes against the natural relationship that God created there to be between a man and woman.

And no Ephesians 5:21 is NOT talking about husbands submitting to their wives in marriage.  This heresy is wide spread in the Church today but it flies in the face of the Scriptures.

I encourage you and my other readers to read my post “Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?” Where I extensively deal with Ephesians 5:21 in its proper context.

The short answer is this. The Greek word hupotasso which is translated as submit, obedient, submission and subjection in the KJV is a military term meaning to “to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject, put in subjection, obey” and in most cases it is referring to obeying one’s authority. But there are some cases where it used in the sense of “voluntary cooperation” and this is the sense it is used in Ephesians 5:21 when speaking of the relationship between church members in the assembled church.

But it is impossible to see hupotasso having this same meaning of “voluntary cooperation” in the relationship of a husband and wife because God pictures the husband and wife relationship as that of Christ and the Church.  Are Christ and his Church equal partners? Does Christ submit to his Church? The answer from Scripture are clearly NO.

This is why it is the height of absurdity to say that husbands are to submit to their wives in the sense of laying down their authority that God commands them to take in marriage.

Children need to see a strong father who leads his family and a mother who demonstrates what submission to authority looks like. In this way they learn both what proper leadership looks like and what proper submission looks like.

If you stay in your marriage your children will have a very warped view of what masculinity and femininity mean and what leadership and submission are to look like in God’s design.

In essence you are standing your ground with your wife not only because of your higher allegiance to God and his commands for your life but also for the betterment of your children.  Right now and for the next year or so it will be very tough on them.  But eventually they may come to faith in Christ (if they have not already) and come to respect that stand you took for God.

You won’t lose your kids and you won’t lose everything

Your Statement:

“My lawyer told me she would get the kids and everything.”

John if your lawyer told you that then you need to get a new lawyer. There was a time when women used to get full custody of the kids in most divorce cases and Dads only got two weekends a month at best. Thankfully that has changed as men have fought back and law associations dedicated to fighting for men’s rights have come to the rescue. Courts are less likely to award alimony and if they do it is only temporary. Yes you will have to part with half your physical assets but you will be able to start over.

Yes you will have to pay child support but I would fight alimony.  In divorce whoever is the most patient usually wins.  In most cases court appointed arbitrators will try and scare you into a settlement but it is your right to take your case all the way to the judge. Unless they can prove that you would be an unfit parent you can file for joint custody.

I have joint physical and legal custody of my kids and I know several of my friends that also share joint legal and physical custody with their ex-wives.

There are two keys to getting what you want from divorce – patience and steadfastness.  Make sure what you want is realistic and then stand your ground and do not be pressured by your lawyer, her lawyer or a court arbitrator to agree to anything less.

I would suggest you turn your wife’s divorce threat around on her.  Tell her if she divorces you that will mount a “scorched earth” campaign against her if you feel you are being unfairly treated in the divorce.  Tell her a “scorched earth” campaign means if she does not agree to a fair division of the assets and joint legal and physical custody up front you will hire the most expensive lawyers you can find to drain every asset you have.  You are willing to lose your home and everything to your name in this effort.  You will drag this out in court for years if you have to. Turn the tables on your rebellious wife. Be the man that God meant for you to be.

I pray that God will give you the courage to take the tough actions ahead you need to take and to stand firm and like a man.

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 

I Corinthians 6:13 (NASB)

Other related posts:

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