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.
It may surprise many Christians to know that while the Bible speaks a great deal on marriage it never actually gives any examples of marriage vows. But the Bible does give us principles and teachings about marriage that can help us to construct Biblically based marriage vows.
For many engaged couples writing marriage vows can be a very scary thing for a variety of reasons. One is that it is hard for some people to express their feelings or put their feelings into words. Another might be that they are afraid they might say something that offends people at the wedding. Still another is that they may feel pressure to promise or say they something they know they can’t or won’t keep in the future.
My goal in this article is to help alleviate these concerns for you and help give you some Biblical principles to help you write your vows and also provide you with some real examples. I encourage you also to keep an open mind to what the Scriptures have to say on marriage. There will probably be many things in this article that will challenge your preconceptions about marriage. But as you read the Scriptures presented here I encourage you to remember what the Bible teaches us:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
My prayer is that after you finish reading this article that you will come away with a renewed passion to not be conformed to our culture’s view of marriage, but rather to conform yourselves as a Christian couple to God’s view of marriage as presented in his Word.
Is it “marriage vows” or a “marriage covenant”?
First let’s clear up some confusion. You may read Christian articles online or you may have even heard a pastor in your church say “Marriage is not based on vows, it is based on a covenant!” But what many Christian teachers fail to recognize is that while not all vows are covenants, all covenants are vows. The Scriptures prove this when God pictures his marriage to Israel:
“Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.”
Ezekiel 16:8 (KJV)
We can see here that when God entered in his covenant marriage with Israel – he swore unto her. That he vowed unto her this covenant.
So then the answer to the question of “Is it “marriage vows” or a “marriage covenant”?” is that it is BOTH!
The conclusion I came to in that article regarding vows was that Christ was taking on the corrupt system the Jewish leaders setup allowing people to get out of their oaths based on what they swore the oath upon. Christ was saying our word is our bond – if we make an oath then we must keep it. We should swear by nothing on this earth, but only by God as the Bible commands. We should always consider our vows carefully and not easily enter into them. And above all – we should never ever make a vow that we know up front we cannot or will not keep.
What type of love are Biblical marriage vows based on?
There are three types of Biblical love that may occur between a couple seeking marriage and then later these types of love should occur within marriage.
Phileo– Affectionate, feelings based loved – this is the love that is based on emotional attachment to another. It is usually very strong in the beginning phases of a relationship especially during the engagement period and the first year or two of marriage.
Eros– Sexual love. This is the love that has to do with physical attraction and desire toward one another. Again as with Phileo love, this love is usually very strong at the beginning of a relationship and through the first year to two years of marriage. And contrary to those Christian teachers who say this has no part in Christian marriage this type of love has an entire book of the Bible dedicated to it in the Song of Solomon. But this love is one that must be contained and controlled until a couple enter into the covenant of marriage. We see this warning in Song of Solomon 2:7:
“I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.”
Agape– Choice love. This love is not based on feelings toward one’s spouse, and it is not based on sexual attraction toward one’s spouse. Instead it is based in the choice a person made when they entered into a covenant of marriage with their spouse. In choosing to enter into that covenant, they have committed to performing certain actions toward their spouse regardless of their feelings or sexual attraction at any given future time. This is why in addition to calling Agape a “choice love”, it is also a “commitment love” and an “action love”.
Biblically based wedding vows should never be made with reference to Phileo or Eros love. This is not because these two types of love are bad. Christian marriage can and should have both these types of love in it if it is to be everything God intended it to be. But the foundation of Christian marriage is Agape love because it will weather the storms of life and will remain in those times when Phileo love and Eros love may wane.
If you are a young Christian couple reading this – you may think your affection toward each other (Phileo love) and sexual attraction (Eros love) will never fade. You are convinced of it! But don’t just take my word for it – ask five other Christian married couples that have been together at least 10 years or more.
The reason I ask you to ask five couples is because most likely you will get one or two that simply lie to themselves and others to put on a show. But if you ask five married couples who have been married for a longer length of time most of them will admit to you that there have been many times in their marriage where their Phileo and Eros love toward each other has waned and the only thing that kept them going was their Agape love toward one another as Christians. It was the commitment they made to each other before God when they entered into the covenant of marriage that helped them weather the storms of life.
One last part I want to add on this subject of love in marriage vows. I am not saying a couple cannot say words of affection toward each other and express their Phileo love toward one another at their wedding ceremony. You certainly can do this. But these words of affection should come before or after the marriage vows and should never be mixed into your vows. Your vows should be based purely in Agape in love.
Do marriage vows have to include all the duties of marriage?
Nothing in the Scriptures say you have to reference all the various duties of husbands and wives toward one another when you enter into a covenant of marriage.
Your vows could be very concise and they need not be verbose. In fact your vows could be as concise as the groom saying “I take you as my wife” and the bride saying “I take you as my husband”.
Nothing needs to be said about a covenant, the duration of marriage or the duties of husbands and wives to each other in marriage. There does not need to be a priest or pastor present, nor does it have to be done in a church. It does not even require a state marriage license.
On caveat I would add is that while the man needs no permission to enter into marriage from his parents if the woman is not a divorced or widowed woman and “being in her father’s house in her youth” then she and the man she wishes to marry must have her father’s blessing to marry. In fact if they marry in secret and he finds out and disapproves a father has the spiritual authority to annul any of his daughter’s vows in including a vow of marriage – see Numbers chapter 30 for more on this.
However, just because marriage can be entered into so easily does not mean that it SHOULD be entered into easily.
The Scriptures tell us this regarding vows made to God (and vows of marriage would be included in this):
“2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
Ecclesiastes 5:2-5 (KJV)
It is foolish and wrong to hastily enter into any vow and to hastily enter into a vow of marriage is the perhaps the most foolish of all.
Let me mention something else on the “easiness” of entering into the marriage covenant. In Biblical times not only was the father’s permission required for marriage, but a bride price was required. For some men this was a half a year’s wages. Men were required to prepare a home for their bride to be able to demonstrate to her father he was ready to take her as his wife.
The idea today of two young people who just randomly decided to get married without the man being able to provide for his wife in one way or another was rare and not the normal practice.
Some might say “Well we are not compelled to live by examples in Biblical times of marriage customs”. That is true if the statement regarding marriage is descriptive, rather than prescriptive. If a command is given that would impact marriage then this still stands. A father’s ability to override his daughter’s vows while she is in his house still stands.
Also Exodus 21:10-11 and Ephesians 5:29 show that a man is required to provide for the physical needs of his wife. If a man seeks marriage to a woman but cannot yet provide for her then he must wait to enter into the covenant of marriage with her until he can provide for her.
One last thing on the subject of “concise vows”. Make no mistake, even if the groom simply says “I take you as my wife” and the bride simply says “I take you as my husband” you are still entering into a covenant of marriage together whether you say the word “covenant” or not. It is God who defines the parameters of marriage not man. Even though you are not mentioning any of the duties or purposes of marriage they still apply as much to you as if you had mentioned them in your vows.
Ignorance of God’s laws regarding marriage it is not an excuse for breaking God’s law regarding marriage.
That is yet another reason why couples should not hastily enter into marriage and should consider their vows carefully before making them.
We need to take great care with more verbose wedding vows
If you choose to have more verbose wedding vows that “I take you as my husband” or “I take you as my wife” then great care needs to be taken as you utter these words before God.
Verbose marriage vows should be an affirmation of what the Bible says are the distinct purposes, responsibilities and rights of the husband and wife in the marriage covenant. Nothing should be added or taken away from marriage as the Bible defines it. In fact not only is it sinful to add to or take away from what God has established regarding marriage, but any vow which adds or takes away what he allows or commands regarding marriage is null and void in God’s view. For example, to say “until death do us part” without quantifying that with God’s allowance for divorce in the case of certain sins is by definition taking away from marriage as God has defined it.
Now let just put a word in here on divorce. I know there many good Bible believing Christians who disagree on God’s allowances for divorce. If you are truly convinced before God that there is absolutely no allowance under any circumstances for divorce and with this conviction in mind you add “until death do us part” with no caveats then in my view this is not an intentional sin, but a sin of ignorance as I believe the Bible clearly does give allowances for divorce.
But if you see certain allowances for divorce in the Scripture as I demonstrate in my articles on that subject and then you add “until death do us part” without the Biblical allowances for divorce that is a greater sin in my view. And this brings us to our next principle regarding the construction of Biblical marriage vows.
And now I want to share another crucially important principle in when it comes to making verbose marriage vows.
If you are going to write verbose marriage vows and you want them to be Biblically based you must account for sin in marriage just as God accounts for sin in marriage in the Bible.
If you are a woman – you must come to the realization that the man you so passionately love now is the same man you will sin against in the future. There are going to be days when you do not submit to him as the Church submits to Christ. There are going to be days that you do not reverence him as you should and there will be days when you are contentious and angry with him.
If you are a man, you may not always have the passionate feelings of love that you do now toward your wife to be. There are going to be days when you do not love her as Christ loves his Church. There may come a day when in a moment of cowardice you do not protect her from others or even protect her from herself. There may come a day when you dishonor her and do not dwell with her according to knowledge as the Bible commands.
Please don’t fall for the lie that your heart tries to tell you that you will never fall short of your God given duties in marriage toward your spouse. Because in one way or another you will. The Bible tells us “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Your vows need to take into account the very real possibility of sin on your part as well that of your future spouse.
This is why in the example vows I will give I mention the sin nature and the inability for us to perfectly love our spouse as God would have us to. This why we need to avoid terms like “always” and “never” in our wedding vows but instead we can use words like “try” or “endeavor” as we submit ourselves to the Lord on the daily basis.
Another important point to make is if you are going to have verbose marriage vows you need to reference the Biblical teaching that marriage is to be a model of the relationship of Christ to his Church. This is a foundational principle for Christian marriage.
Critical components of this model include the duties of men to be a head and the leader of their wives as Christ leads his Church. Not only should references be made to Christ loving his Church and giving himself for her, but also the reason he gave himself for her to wash her spots and wrinkles and present her to himself a glorious church.
It is a husband’s sacred duty to wash his wife with the Word of God as Christ washes his Church with it and that involved him teaching her the Word and correcting her with the Word.
But we must not forget that husbands are to show grace and mercy to their wives as Christ shows grace and mercy to his church.
The duties of a husband to love his wife as his own body and thus protect and provide for his wife as Christ does his Church should be referenced as well.
In regard to the wife – even though it is extremely politically incorrect to do so – a great emphasis needs to be placed on her submission to him as her head and her reverence for her husband. The Scriptures teach this time and time again toward women and any Christian marriage vows that omit the requirements of submission, obedience and reverence of wives toward their husbands while speaking to the duties of a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church are telling half truths about Biblical marriage.
If you will not speak to the duty of the wife to submit to her husband in marriage your vows, then you cannot speak to the husbands love for his wife as Christ loves the Church either. These are two sides of the same coin.
And again as I said before regarding concise marriage vows even if you don’t mention it in your marriage vows – these things are all required by God in marriage. And with that being said below are is summary of everything we have discussed up to this point in regard to making Biblically based marriage vows.
7 Principles for Making Biblical Marriage Vows
While all vows are not covenants, all covenants are vows. Marriage is based upon a vow or set of vows which together forms the covenant of marriage.
The marriage covenant, like all other vows, should not be easily entered into it. It should only be done with contemplation and consideration before God.
The Bible does not command that verbose marriage vows be made, nor does it require clergy to officiate, church authority or state authority in the form of marriage licenses. The only authority that may be required for a man and woman to enter the covenant of marriage together is that of the father of the bride if she is still young and living in her father’s house. However, even if only concise vows are made this does not free the couple from all the responsibilities, rights and purposes of marriage.
If a couple chooses to make verbose vows, then these vows should only affirm the teachings of the Bible regarding the purposes and distinct duties of husbands and wives toward one another in marriage. Christian marriage vows cease to Biblical and binding when they add or take away from the rights, responsibilities and purposes of marriage as defined in the Bible.
When making verbose marriage vows, the sin nature of both the groom and bride should be taken into account in the vows. That means words like “always” and “never” should be avoided. Instead words like “endeavor” or “try” should use when referencing the couple’s commitment to perform the duties of marriage toward one another.
When making verbose vows, if you are going to add a phrase like “until death do us part” then great care needs to go into this. Unless you truly deny the Biblical allowances for divorce both in the Old and New Testament you need to add this to any statement about remaining together until death.
When making verbose vows you should reference marriage being a model of the relationship of Christ and his Church. It is critical to mention not only Christ loving his Church and giving himself for her but also the submission of wives to the headship of their husbands as the Church is subject to Christ.
Examples of Biblical Marriage vows
Below are three examples I put together based on the principles we have discussed. The first example of concise vows we already mentioned but I will put it here again for reference.
Example Vows #1 – Concise Biblical Marriage Vows
I take you as my wife.
I take you as my husband.
Example Vows #2 – Moderately Verbose Biblical Marriage Vows
Below is what I would call a “moderately” verbose set of marriage vows that build on the principles we have discussed. Each set of vows below (one for the groom and one for the bride) are just under 200 words. Not too long, but definitely more expressive than the concise vows I showed in the first example.
I, [insert groom’s name], swear before God to enter into a covenant of marriage with you, [insert bride’s name] and by this covenant I take you as my wife.
I will endeavor to love you as Christ also loves his Church by leading you, giving myself up to wash you with the Word of God as well as showing grace and mercy towards you.
I will endeavor to love you as I love my own body by providing for you and protecting you and I will give my body to you in the marriage bed.
I will endeavor to dwell with you according to knowledge and honor you as my wife.
If you do not break our covenant of marriage I will remain by your side until death takes me.
On this day, I leave my father and my mother and cleave to you as my wife and we will no longer be two, but one flesh.
I, [insert bride’s name], swear before God to enter into a covenant of marriage with you, [insert groom’s name] and by this covenant give myself to you as your wife.
I will endeavor to reverence you as my head as Christ is the head of his Church.
I will endeavor to submit to you and obey you and as the Church is subject to Christ so too I will endeavor to make myself subject to you in everything.
I will endeavor to look well to the needs of our house and be the help meet and homemaker you need and that God has called me to be.
I will endeavor to love you and ravish you with my body in the marriage bed.
If you do not break our covenant of marriage I will remain by your side until death takes me.
Today I leave behind my own people and my father’s house and will become one flesh with you as my husband.
Example Vows #3 – Very Verbose Biblical Marriage vows
Below is a very verbose example of vows I have written. Again this is just an example and you could add or take away as you see fit as long as you are following the 7 principles we discussed. Also in this example set of vows I have included Scripture references next to most of the statements so you can further study those passages to see the principles of marriage that I am referencing.
Each of these sets of vows (one for the groom and one for the bride) are about a one page if you print them out. I have seen couples use one page vows they have written so I don’t think these are two long if you want to have more verbose vows.
I, [insert groom’s name], swear before God to enter into a covenant of marriage with you, [insert bride’s name] and by this covenant I take you as my wife. (Ezekiel 16:8)
Even though at this moment it is my heart’s desire to perfectly love you as your husband I know that because I am a sinner, like my forefathers before me, I cannot make such a pledge because God forbids me from making vows that I cannot keep. (Ecclesiastes 5:2-5)
I can only pledge to endeavor, to try as I surrender myself daily to God’s will for my life and as I lean on him for his grace and power to love you in my own imperfect way. (Romans 7:18-25)
I will endeavor to love you 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. (Ephesians 5:25)
I will endeavor to present you to Christ and myself as a glorious wife, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but to help you to be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26)
I will endeavor to be gracious, compassionate and merciful toward you as God is gracious, compassionate and merciful toward his people. (Psalm 86:15)
I will endeavor to teach you the Word of God in our home and to be the spiritual interpreter of the Word to you that God calls me to be. (1 Corinthians 14:35)
In my endeavors to wash your spiritual spots, blemishes and wrinkles I will endeavor to rebuke and chasten you from a place of love for you. (Revelation 3:19)
I will endeavor to love you as I love my own body by providing for your physical needs and protecting you as I would my own body. (Ephesians 5:29)
I will endeavor to provide my body to you as a kindness that is due toward you. (I Corinthians 7:3)
I will endeavor to dwell with you according to knowledge, giving honor unto you as my wife and remembering that you and I are joint heirs of the grace of life. (I Peter 3:7)
As I end my vows of marriage to you I must acknowledge the possibility that in the same way I may sin against you in the future, you too may sin against me as well.
And while it is true that love covers a multitude of sins there are some sins a wife can commit which can break her marriage covenant with her husband. (1 Peter 4:8, Isaiah 50:1, Ezekiel 16:59, Jeremiah 3:8, Revelation 2 & 3)
It is for this reason that I must give to you a solemn warning like God gave to both Israel and his Churches regarding his covenant of marriage to them.
I swear before God to remain in this covenant of marriage with you for the remainder my life as long as you remain faithful to me. If you break this covenant by committing any type of fornication including defrauding me of your body or giving yourself to another or if you abandon me or seek to bring physical harm or death to me I reserve my right before God to end this covenant. (Matthew 19:9, I Corinthians 7:15, Exodus 21:26-27)
But I am hopeful of better things for us and I believe that in you I have found a good thing and also favor with God. I look forward to rejoicing with you and living joyfully with you for the remainder of our days together as the Lord wills. (Proverbs 5:18, Proverbs 18:22)
On this day, I leave my father and my mother and cleave to you as my wife and we will no longer be two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:7-8)
I, [insert bride’s name], swear before God to enter into a covenant of marriage with you, [insert groom’s name] and by this covenant give myself to you as your wife. (Ezekiel 16:8)
Even though at this moment it is my heart’s desire to perfectly submit to you and love you as your wife I know that because I am a sinner, like the women who came before me, I cannot make such a pledge because God forbids me from making vows that I cannot keep. (Ecclesiastes 5:2-5)
I can only pledge to endeavor, to try as I surrender myself daily to God’s will for my life and as I lean on him for his grace and power to submit to you and love you in my own imperfect way. (Romans 7:18-25)
I will endeavor to remember in my thoughts, words and actions that God made me for you and not you for me. (I Corinthians 11:9)
I will endeavor to remember that I am not my own, but that I belong to you as the Church belongs to Christ. (Acts 20:28)
I will endeavor to remember that I am not your equal any more than the Church is Christ’s equal but rather I will reverence you as my head in the same way the Church is to reverence Christ as its head. (Ephesians 5:23 & 33)
I will endeavor to submit to you as I do unto the Lord and make myself subject to you in everything as the Church is subject to Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
I will endeavor to obey you as Sara obeyed Abraham calling him Lord. (I Peter 3:6)
I will endeavor to meet your desire for me to make myself beautiful as God desires the beauty of his people not only through my outward appearance but also by having a gentle and quiet spirit. (Psalm 45:11, I Peter 3:3-4)
I will endeavor to satisfy you with my body and ravish you with my love. (Proverbs 5:19, Titus 2:4)
I will endeavor to be the homemaker God has called me to be and look well to the ways of our household. (Proverbs 31:27, Titus 2:5, 1 Timothy 5:14)
I will endeavor to submit to and seek out your guidance as my spiritual head in all matters of life and living including marriage and family issues. (1 Corinthians 14:35)
I will endeavor to share my advice with you not in a contentious or angry way, but rather with discretion, kindness and reverence. (Proverbs 9:13, Proverbs 11:22, Proverbs 21:19, Proverbs 31:26, I Peter 3:1-2)
I will endeavor to not shame you either with my words or actions but rather I will endeavor to be your crown and glory. (Proverbs 12:4)
As I end my vows of marriage to you I must acknowledge the possibility that in the same way I may sin against you in the future, you too may sin against me as well.
And while it is true that love covers a multitude of sins there are some sins a husband can commit which can break his marriage covenant with his wife.
It is with these sins in mind that I swear before God to remain in this covenant of marriage with you for the remainder of my life as long as you do not break the covenant of marriage you make with me today. As a wife I reserve the right given me by God to consider myself freed from our marriage covenant if you defraud me by willfully refusing to provide me with food, clothing and your body in the marriage bed or if you seek to bring physical harm or death to me. Also, if you abandon me either by divorcing me or by some other means I will no longer consider myself bound to this marriage covenant I make today with you. (Exodus 21:10-11 & 26-27, Deuteronomy 24:1-2, Romans 7:2-3, I Corinthians 7:15)
But I am hopeful of better things for us and I look forward to rejoicing with you and living joyfully with you for the remainder of our days together as the Lord wills. (Proverbs 5:18, Proverbs 18:22)
Today I leave behind my own people and my father’s house and will become one flesh with you as my husband. (Psalm 45:10, Mark 10:7-8)
“Real men provide Real women appreciate it” was a simple message posted on a billboard in Forysth County, North Carolina. 60 years ago such a sign would have been lauded by our communities. But now in our post-feminist culture this message is considered “a sexist comment”.
Molly Grace, a woman who organized opposition to the sign, made this statement:
“The very notion that there should be a man to provide and that no matter what a woman should just plain accept it and appreciate it, is a sexist comment,” said Grace, who is an outspoken critic against the billboard.”
She wants the anonymous person who paid for it to be posted to come to a local panel and “explain why they think the way that they do and try to shed some light on it for us”.
Some people thought the anonymous person who posted the sign was targeting men, not women.
“Donald Amos says he likes the sign and said he believes it’s directed toward men who are not fulfilling their promises.
“A lot of times, women have to go on their own and do this and take the role of a man and a women and it’s not right, but it happens and I think men ought to step their game up. Really they ought to and become men again instead of shoulda, coulda, wannabes,” Amos said.”
Perhaps it would have been considered less “sexist” to feminists if the sign had simply read “Real men provide”. But because the sign implied that real women appreciate men that can provide for them – that cannot be allowed to stand.
Why do some people think that real men should provide and real women should appreciate it?
If you are a person that thinks like Molly let me “shed some light” on this issue for you from the source that some Americans still hold dear and that is the Bible.
The man’s providing role is referenced in multiple passages of the Scriptures.
In Genesis after Adam and Eve sinned God said he would make both Adam and Eve’s primary roles more difficult:
“16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Genesis 3:16-19 (KJV)
Woman would experience great pain now in child birth – one of her most important duties in her help meet role to man. It would not so easy for man to provide for his family, but instead he would have to work hard to get what he needed from the earth.
In addition because of woman’s new sinful nature she would make his other very important role, that of leading the home, much more difficult as she would seek to control him and the home instead of submitting to him as God had designed her to do.
But even though God made the man’s duty of providing and the woman’s duty to give birth more difficult he also provide them both with the gift of joy from the pain they had to endure in their labor:
“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”
John 16:21 (KJV)
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24 (KJV)
In the Law of Moses a man’s provision for his wife was deemed of such critical importance that if he failed to do so his wife could seek a divorce:
“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
The New Testament reaffirms and strengthens the distinct roles of man and woman
The New Testament tells us that a woman’s primary role is to be the bearer of children and the keeper of the home:
“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)
God reiterates his call for men to be providers and protectors to their wives in the Epistle to the Ephesians:
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”
Ephesians 5:28-19 (KJV)
Husbands are called by God to provide for the physical needs of their wife as they would the needs of their own body. They are also called to protect their wife as they would their own body.
Was the Proverbs 31 woman a career woman?
Many Christians have tried to point to Proverbs 31 to show a defense of women having careers outside the home. There is no doubt that Proverbs 31 shows the woman going out to plant a field or sell in the market. But here is what people miss.
The Proverbs 31 wife did not leave anything undone in her home so as to go outside the home and provide. It tells us of her husband “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” (vs 11) and that she “She looketh well to the ways of her household…”(vs 27).
Proverbs 31 in no way paints the modern career women we see today. With the schedules that modern career women keep being gone from their home anywhere from 40 to sometimes 50 hours a week there is little to no chance they are also doing 100% of what they should be doing at home. Their duties to their home will slide or be neglected.
But can’t a woman and her husband just split the roles of provider and the duties of the home?
Well if we want to throw out the duties God has assigned to man and woman as well as then entire picture of marriage with man symbolizing God as the leader, PROVIDER and protector of the woman and woman submitting to her husband and serving him by bearing his children, caring for them and caring for the home then sure – it does not matter and husband and wives can split these roles.
But what if the man can’t work?
Because we live in sin cursed world husbands get sick, get disabled or lose their jobs. Sometimes because we live in sin cursed world unforeseen financial events occur where a man must ask his wife to work to provide additional income for their family to survive. These are not the kinds of situations we are talking about in this article. God understands this type of situation.
But what we are talking about here are young couples that marry and PLAN to have the wife be a career woman. We are talking about a man and woman literally agreeing to the fact that she will purposefully not devote herself entirely to her duties to bear children, care for them and care for the home.
These couples actually PLAN to split the duties of husbands and wives between themselves in direct contradiction to God’s design and his commands. There is no excuse for such plans of men and women which go against the very commands of God.
Real men provide
If you are a young man reading this I hope that it will help to show you that our culture has sinned against God in abandoning the gender roles he designed. I hope that you will purpose in your heart that you will not seek marriage to any woman until you can provide for her so that she can dedicate herself fully to the role God has given her as the bearer and nurturer of your future children and the keeper of your future home.
I am not saying you have to be rich when you get married. Please don’t misunderstand me. But you should be able to provide a modest life – with food and shelter. You don’t have to provide brand new cars and a big fancy house. If you can provide for her the basics of life so she can be the homemaker God wants her to be then you are doing what is right before God.
As a young man you should have a plan to further yourself anticipating that as your family grows so too the expenses will grow. This means that while you may be able to marry based on a certain wage you make – you need to plan on how you will provide more in the future as your family needs it.
And in the future should you ever lose your job – asking your wife to work outside the home should be your last resort. If you have to work two jobs to provide –then you should do so.
Real women appreciate a man who will provide for them
If you are one of these young women that were raised by your parents to be independent and not have to depend on a man you need to throw that thinking out in the trash. Your parents may have felt they were doing right by you and just looking out for you in case you don’t find a husband or in case your husband were to divorce you or die.
Yes because of sin in this world we are not always able to live up to God’s design for men, women and marriage. But we should not plan for the failure of God’s plan in marriage due to sin on our part or that of our spouse or the sinful circumstances of this world.
Instead we should plan for success.
As a young lady your goal should be this very goal given to you directly by God through the Apostle Paul:
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
1 Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
Will you follow the world’s pattern or God’s pattern?
To young men and women. You must decide before you seek out marriage. Will you follow the world’s pattern of partnership marriage and gender neutrality when it comes to the roles in your family or will you follow the pattern God has established for men and women?
The Bible tells us not to follow our culture when it conflicts with God’s design:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
Will you ask God to renew your mind today? To make you the man or woman he has called you to be? To play the role he has called you to? I hope that you will.
And let me tell you something – it will bring peace to your marriage if you follow God’s pattern especially in this area of the man being the provider for the home.
You see God has placed a desire in every man to provide for his woman and his family. For some men it is buried far beneath years of conditioning by our culture, but make no mistake it is there. That is why many men cannot marry a woman who makes more than them. It is not a pride issue, it is a God given man issue.
Its time to blunt about this
Sinful pride and ambition blinds us. When we are ambitious for what God has called us to do as men and women that is a great thing and blessed of God. So when a young man has career ambitions and ambitions of not only having a family and providing for them but also making his mark on the world that is from God himself and it is good. When a young woman has ambitions of marrying a godly man that can fully provide for her and her future children and she has ambitions for caring for those children and her home this again is from God and it pleases him.
But what about men that have ambitions to marry a woman who can provide for them as a man so they can care for the home and children? This ambition is a sinful one because it violates God’s design. What about a young man who has ambitions to marry a career woman knowing he will not be able to fully provide and knowing she will not be able to fully dedicate herself to their home as God wills? Again such an ambition is a sinful and selfish ambition.
Let me conclude with this warning to young couples who want to follow the path God has set forth in the Bible.
You have two choices in this life. You are either called by God to a life of celibacy in his service or you are called to seek out marriage. There are is no choice in between. Now notice I said “seek out marriage” because not everyone will find someone to marry. But if we are not given the gift of celibacy, we are called to seek marriage.
To young men:
If you have not been given the call of God to celibacy in his service and you have a desire to seek out marriage then you cannot seek out a career path that will never be able to fully provide for your future family. If your future plans for marriage involve your future wife having to work to help provide then your future plans are WRONG. Perhaps the career path you are thinking about will eventually be able to provide for a family but at first it will not be able to. Many men pursue apprenticeship jobs in fields that do not make enough to provide for a family but eventually they will. That is ok. But then you must wait for marriage until your career plans come to fruition and you are able to provide for your wife and future children.
And finally to young men – not only should you be able to provide but you should seek out a Christian woman that wants a man that believes he should be able to provide for her. You want a woman that appreciates this conviction and your desire for yourself and your future wife to follow God’s design for men and women.
In other words – don’t marry a career woman. And you know how to NOT fall in love with and marry a career woman? Don’t date one.
To young women:
If you have not been given the call of God to celibacy in his service and you have a desire to seek out marriage then you must not seek out a career. It is one thing to work and save money while you are seeking your future husband. In fact this could be a blessing to your future husband. But you must be able to drop whatever work it is you are doing the moment you find the man God has for you so that you can fully dedicate yourself to serving him in the role God has given you as his helper.
There is no sin in you as a young woman going to college while seeking that man that God has for you. But make sure that this will not saddle your husband with great debt. So that might mean going to a community college where it is more affordable and you can work a part time job and pay off the schooling as you take it. If your parents can pay for a better school while you look than that is fine as well as long as you will not be passing this debt to your future husband.
Your goal whether you go to college or just work a job while looking for him is to come into the marriage with little or no debt or perhaps a small savings from your work that you can bless your husband with as you enter the marriage together.
Seek out a godly man that can also provide for you as God wants every man to do for his wife and children. This is not a matter of “either or” as if you must choose between finding a godly man or a man that can provide for you. If the man you seek to marry truly understands God’s word and wants to live that out he will not want to marry you until he can provide.
I thank God for whomever anonymously paid for that message board. We will need more of those around our country to stir up this conversation and to help bring people back to the design that God has for men and women.
I know you might be scratching your head right now asking “Isn’t premarital sex and pre-wedding sex the same thing?” Biblically speaking the answer is no they are not the same. These are two separate and distinct things.
This topic is crucial for young Christian couples who are dating or engaged to consider in this age where sex before marriage has become so common that a couple is considered weird if they do not have sex before marriage.
Does sex automatically make a couple married in God’s eyes?
Some Christians have tried to argue that there is no such thing as “premarital sex” because they believe the act of sex automatically makes a couple married. They reason based on this logic that the Bible does not condemn something that is impossible to happen.
But the Bible does not support this notion.
We will show here from the Scriptures that there really is such a thing as “premarital sex” and the act of sex itself does not automatically constitute marriage. Later in this article we will distinguish “premarital sex” from “pre-wedding sex”.
So if sex does not automatically constitute marriage what does?
Biblical marriage may be constituted in one of four ways.
Marriage Method #1 – A man seduces a woman into sex and her father consents to marriage
“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endowher to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” – Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)
One key word in this passage as it relates to the “does premarital sex exist” debate is the word “endow”. This occurs AFTER the man has seduced the woman into having sex with him and BEFORE she actually becomes his wife (is married to her).
So we have just proven from Exodus 22:16-17 beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is indeed such a thing as premarital sex in God’s view of sex.
In this passage God was saying that if a man seduced a virgin who was not betrothed to another man and he had sex with her that he had to pay her father the bride price and her father would decide if he would allow the man to marry his daughter. The father had the power to refuse him even after the man seduced his daughter but he still had to pay the bride price because he violated the father’s property rights regarding his daughter.
But then the question must be asked – what is the lasting moral law here in Exodus 22:16-17 and what is the temporary civil law that applied only to Israel as a theocracy? There are two moral law parts in this passage and one civil law part in this passage.
The first part of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found here in this phrase:
“And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her”
Whether the woman is a virgin or not – God only honors sex AFTER the covenant of marriage has been established between a man and a woman:
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)
All other sexual relations between a man and woman outside of marriage are either whoremongering or adultery.
The second part about of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found in this next phrase:
“If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him”
In Numbers 30:3-16 we see that the only way a woman had the power to make vows of her own (which would include marriage) that could not be overridden by her father or her husband were if she was a widow or divorced:
“But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.” – Numbers 30:9 (KJV)
A father’s authority over his daughter is further reinforced by the general principle of the headship of man over woman (not just a husband’s headship over his wife):
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” – I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
This passage above was not talking about marriage but rather that general authority of men over women and why women should wear head coverings in worship as a sign of women being under men. The marital status of the woman was irrelevant.
Under God’s moral law, a father transfers his ownership and authority over his daughter to her husband in marriage. If the woman’s husband dies or he sends her away in divorce then the chain of authority is broken and she is free to marry whom she will.
What is no longer required is that a man be forced to marry a virgin he has sex with. This was a civil punishment as part of the law given to Israel a theocracy and the New Testament tells us that God’s Old covenant law with Israel a theocracy has been replaced by the new covenant that God has made with the Church(Hebrews 8:13)
This leads us to the second Biblical method of a man and woman entering into marriage.
Marriage Method #2 – A widow or divorced woman could consent to or seek marriage on her own
“And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” – Ruth 3:9 (KJV)
We see this situation occurring with Ruth who approached Boaz to see if he wished to marry her in Ruth 3:9. Since Ruth was a widow she had to the power to enter into marriage without seeking the consent of her father.
In the story of Ruth we see Levirate marriage being played out. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 describes the process of Levirate marriage where a brother or near kinsman was required to marry the wife of the dead relative to raise up an heir for his dead relative’s estate. Ruth had every right as the widow of a relative of Boaz to propose marriage to Boaz.
The only consent she needed was Boaz and then he confirmed with a nearer relative that he could in fact marry her.
Marriage Method #3 – A man rapes a woman and her father forces him to marry her
“28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (KJV)
This is a very controversial passage of the Scriptures that atheists and others who hate the Bible, hate the Jews and hate the Christian faith love to use to try say the Bible promotes immoral activity. The argument basically goes “How could a loving God force a woman to marry her rapist?”
The problem is those who want to accuse the God of the Bible of issuing immoral commands are not looking at this from the perspective of the culture in which the command was given. In the time period this was given a woman’s virginity was her most prized position. Once that was taken she would have had a very difficult time getting married. In a Biblical world view the greatest crime the rapist committed was not in forcing himself upon her against her will – but rather in taking her most prized possession. In a way rape was form of theft.
Remember this same woman who had been raped could have been forced to marry this SAME man before he raped her by her father. Then she would have been compelled to have sex with whether she wanted to or not.
Some say there is no mention of the father’s consenting to marriage and that it must automatically happen. But we must remember that no passage of Scripture stands on its own. This passage does in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 must be understood in light of Exodus 22:16-17 which clearly shows a father must always consent to any marriage his daughter enters into (unless she is a widow or divorced).
So a father forcing the man to marry his daughter whom the man raped was a punishment against him and restitution for his daughter. The man had to care for her the rest of her life and he could not divorce her for ANY reason.
Now this does not mean a father HAD to have his daughter marry her rapist – it was his discretion.
The real problem people have with this passage is NOT that a woman might have to potentially marry her rapist. The real problem people have is the fact that God gives such power of a father over his daughter that he could force her to marry her rapist.
But again considering the culture of the time a father could be looking out for his daughter’s best interests. In their culture the worst thing that could happen to a woman was not being raped, but instead not being able to get married. If we understand this then we understand this is not something immoral that God is commanding.
Marriage Method #4 – Men could take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife
10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.” – Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)
This is another favorite passage of atheists and people who hate the Bible. God allows men to take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife.
A few things to mention about this. It was actually a mercy that these men would take back some of these women as wives considering all the men and their families had been wiped out in war. They had nothing and they would probably have died on their own.
Can we guess again what the atheist’s biggest problem was? It was men forcing women to be their wives against their consent. But God does not give people (including women) the same rights we do in our modern civilization. And God is ALWAYS right.
Does this mean we have to take captives when we go to war and force them to be our wives? Of course not. This passage allows the taking of captive wives – it does not mandate it.
5 principles we learn from Biblical methods of entering into marriage
A man may not marry a woman without seeking her father’s consent if he is still alive unless the woman is a widow or divorced.
A woman may not consent to marriage without her father’s approval unless her father is dead, she is a widow or she is divorced.
Based upon the 2 previously proven principles of God’s moral law sex by itself DOES NOT constitute marriage. So it is possible to have premarital sex which is a clear violation of Hebrews 13:4 where God says the only sexual relations he honors is between a man and woman in marriage.
A father may force his daughter to marry a man without her consent based on his headship over her.
Men may force women to marry them when they are captured during war. Again this is not something we are required to do by the Scriptures – it is only an allowance to do so.
What we don’t see in the Bible about entering into marriage is also very important
Some very important things we don’t see are any requirements to have clergy or judges conduct marriage ceremonies, requirements for marriages to occur before witnesses, or for couples to seek the approval of the government or a church.
Contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and laws of the United States or most western countries neither the church nor the government have any authority over marriage. God created the intuition of marriage long before the formation of governments or the church.
The authority to enter into marriage has always fallen under the authority of the family – and specifically that of the father, then the husband and only a woman if she is divorced or widowed and not a captive of war.
So is pre-wedding sex a violation of the Scriptures?
We have shown here conclusively from the Scriptures that premarital sex is a violation of God’s moral law. But what about “pre-wedding sex”?
Most of the time people enter in marriage at their wedding so we often confuse the too. But a couple’s covenant of marriage and a couple’s wedding may be two separate events. In fact a couple may enter into a marriage covenant without a state marriage license and without a wedding and the marriage may be considered binding and valid before God.
The only way such a “spiritual marriage” would not be valid is if the woman was not windowed or divorced and her father was still alive with her being under his authority.
So what this means is it would be perfectly Biblical if a man sought and received the consent of a woman’s father for marriage if the couple felt they could not wait for the wedding for them to enter into a covenant of marriage before God privately and then have sex BEFORE THE WEDDING.
Once the father has agreed to his daughter marrying a man the wedding date is only a formality. At the moment of betrothal the woman is free to enter in a marriage covenant with her husband in private – just between them and God and then they may freely have sex. The wedding at this point is only a formality to show the world their commitment to one another. But the couple could choose not even to have a formal wedding.
Are there dangers in pre-wedding sex even if it is not unbiblical?
Yes but only if the man and woman do not see their vows made in private as just as binding as those that would be taken before witnesses. But if a man and woman don’t see their marriage vows made in private as binding what makes us think they would take their vows made in public any more serious?
Premarital sex even amongst Christians today is at an all-time epidemic level. I believe we should look for all ways possible to take away temptations to premarital sex. Previously I have talked about Biblical courtship and couples not allowing themselves to be alone together before marriage as a major method of preventing premarital sex.
But because our culture balks at courtship and limitations of being alone together I think that this option of “pre-wedding sex” which is made right before God by a couple entering into their covenant of marriage privately after they are engaged is a valid option that Christian couples should consider to avoid the sin of premarital sex.
Why should a couple put themselves under this pressure once they are engaged? A wedding is simply a date and a celebration of marriage. It is not something that should hang over a couple’s head and possibly tempt them to sin because they think they have to wait to exchange vows until that day.
What does the Bible say about dating? How can you as a young Christian man or woman date in a way that pleases God? Are their Biblical principles that can help young people find the right spouse?
Before we seek to answer these questions we need to look at how young men and women used to enter into relationships.
“Dating” as we know it today did not exist before the last century. Men did not have to romance women to get women to marry them. Men did not need pickup lines or any of the other tricks of getting women to show interest in them. Women did not need to “put out” before marriage to give the man a “taste of the goods”.
The two ways men acquired wives in pre-modern times
First let me address the word “acquired” which is a word usually associated with getting property. It is a well-known fact of history that women were considered the property of their fathers (or other male relative if the father was dead) and these property rights were transferred to husbands in marriage.
So it is historically correct to say that in the vast majority of cases men did not “win” their wives (by romancing them) but rather they acquired them by purchasing them from their male relatives.
The first way was the marriage was arranged by the parents when the man and woman were children and they were betrothed but the marriage was not consummated until the man had the ability to support the woman and had a home established for her. Sometimes the arranged marriage was not from the time of the man and woman being children but was a quick arrangement when two sets of parents realized they had two adult children who were not yet married and they would have them to marry.
The second way was if a man found a woman attractive he would NOT approach the woman directly – instead he would approach her father, her brother or other male relative who was responsible for her. He would then demonstrate his ability to provide for the woman and then these two men would agree upon a bride price.
While a woman’s male relative might take her opinion into account of whether she wanted to marry a man often time’s women had little say in whom they married.
A third but rare way that men acquired wives
A third and very rare case would be if a woman had no male relatives in charge of her (no father, grandfather, brother or uncles). Only in this rare condition would a man have to deal directly with the woman herself to see if she would be interested in marrying him.
Even in this last rare case – the idea of dating did not typically happen because it was socially unacceptable for single women to entertain men who were not their husbands. If they did they might be seen as a prostitute or a whore.
There often was little to no romance involved even in the case of a man approaching a woman directly who had no male relatives in charge of her. He simply demonstrated his ability to provide for her and she would decide if she wanted to marry him.
My point in all this is, before the last century the vast majority of marriages were formed because of economic and political necessity – they were not formed based on men romantically pursing women as we see is the case today.
For these reasons you won’t find any reference to anything close to what we call dating in the Bible – it simply did not exist in pre-modern times.
The randomness and chaos of modern dating
As I have previously shown, in times past marriage was a very ordered ordeal. Parents or others elders that were looked up to often helped young people to find suitable spouses that would benefit one another economically or politically.
Today however, instead of marriages coming together on the grounds of spiritual, economic or political reasons – most marriages in the Western world come together because of pre-marital romantic feelings that a man and a woman share for one another.
Most young people enter what we now call “the dating world” without a clue of how to find a prospective spouse. They wonder aimlessly at school, college, work, church or other social functions hoping to bump into that right person.
Even when a person does “bump into the right person” or so they think – dating itself today is far from how God’s Word would have it to be.
Men pursue women by buying them gifts and make all kinds of romantic gestures to show their affection for the women they are with. They continually have to come up with romantic words to flatter the women they are with.
Women often feel pressured to give sex not long after dating to “keep him hooked” on them.
In many ways modern dating and romance has become a form of idolatry. Listen to romance songs on the radio or watch romance movies. Are the things that these people say to each other often times not a form of worship and idolatry toward one another?
Even if a Christian couple has committed to not having sex before marriage often times our ideas of modern dating put Christian couples in very tempting positions with little to no safe guards against sex before marriage.
But there is a way to bring order to the chaos of modern dating and the answer is found in God’s Word.
12 ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating
Here are several ways to apply Biblical principles to the modern concept of dating to bring it into line with God’s Word and it may also help you to find the right spouse that God has for you.
Dating is for marriage – not for sex or fun
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – Psalm 25:7 (KJV)
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)
“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” – I Corinthians 7:2 (KJV)
It is not wrong for a young person to desire to find a spouse and be married one day. In fact this is a noble and right desire and should be encouraged by all parents. When you as a young person desire to be with someone whom you know you would never marry – that is by definition a “youthful lust”. When you desire to possess something that God did not intend for you to have that is lust.
So unless you see someone as a potential spouse – you have no business seeking an intimate (emotional or physical) relationship with them.
Follow your spirit not your heart
The world will tell you the very opposite thing – “listen to your heart” is the theme of many romance songs and movies. But it has no basis in Bible.
Yes – God tell us to love him with all our heart:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” – Matthew 22:37 (KJV)
But God also tells us that our hearts can deceive us:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)
So instead of going with your heart which can lead you astray, instead you need to follow the spirit of God in your dating.
Test the Spirit by the Word
The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit of God will lead us in “all the truth” and that includes who we should date.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” – John 16:13a (KJV)
But just as we can be lead astray by our hearts, we can also be lead astray by false spirits.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” – I John 4:1 & 6 (KJV)
When the Bible refers to “false spirits” it is not restricted only to evil and demonic spirits. It is also referring to false teachers and those who would give us bad advice or advice that does not line up with God’s Word.
So how do we know if it the Holy Spirit leading us or some other false spirit or bad influence? It is by listening to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God will never lead us in a direction that is contrary to God’s Word.
It is amazing to me how many people, whether it is in dating or even religious practices who are doing things that are completely contrary to the Word of God and then claim “but the Spirit of God lead me to do this and gave me peace about it so it must be right”.
My response to these folks is – “Yes you were led by “A spririt”, but not “THE Spirit”.”
Young people you need the follow THE Spirit of God as you seek the spouse God would have for you.
Only date Christians
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” – II Corinthians 6:14-16 (KJV)
Contrary to popular belief – the Bible does NOT teach the concept of evangelistic dating. We are not to date or marry unbelievers.
This goes back to the previous points about not following your heart and testing the spirits. You heart and other false spirits will tell you – “It’s ok if they are not a believer in Christ, you can help them to be one”. Other false feelings you may have are “but they are such a good and kind person, surely God wants me to be such a good person”.
But the truth is the Bible says “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
Prove that they are indeed a Christian
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)
I tell my children the first two things they should ask about a person before they would ever consider dating them should be – “Are you a Christian?” and “Where do you go to Church?”.
Obviously each one of those questions needs more detail.
Does the person really understand what it means to be a believer?
Do you sense the Spirit of God upon their life?
Are they a faithful member of their church or do they only attend a few times a year around the holidays?
Guard your heart
So up to this point you if you have followed the previous steps you placed boundaries on yourself and made yourself accountable to your parents or other godly Christians in this dating process. You have determined that dating is for marriage, not for fun. You have sought to be led by the Spirit and not by your sinful heart. You have a found a person who claims Christ and faithfully attends Church.
But it is not yet time to let yourself “fall” for this person, or let your guard down.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)
The phrase “keep thy heart” could also be translated as “guard your heart” as the NIV translates it. We need to be careful of whom we allow into our hearts. When we open our hearts to someone we can make rash decisions that we later come to regret.
The young woman who gives her virginity away to the man with flattering lips who promised to marry her but later leaves her after he gets what he wants will have many sorrows.
The young man who overlooked the fact that a young lady did not believe in God’s roles for Christian women but was simply captivated by her beauty will one day come to regret his decision.
Once a person passes the initial screening processes you need to truly investigate them. There is an old saying that “A man is known by the company he keeps” and the Bible has a similar statement to this:
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20 (KJV)
Does he or she have wise and godly friends? When you talk to their friends what do they reveal about the character of this person you are dating?
Guard your body
Ok the cat is really out of the bag now. When I say “dating”, I am referring to a relationship between a man and woman that could potentially lead to marriage and I am referring to what is known as courtship. Now this is one even my teens have a very hard time swallowing because of the culture we live in.
Those who have read any of my posts on Biblical sexuality know that I do NOT believe we must suppress our sexuality even before marriage. Our sexuality is a gift from God meant to be experienced and enjoyed before marriage and after marriage.
I just read on another Christian site that young Christian men should avoid learning too many details about sex until just a few days before they are married for fear that they might have sexual fantasies about their wives to be.
What a ludicrous statement to make!
Yet many Churches all across America and the world teach this unbiblical philosophy of about sexual fantasy and sexual imagination.
HOWEVER– while we might be able to enjoy our sexuality before marriage through sexual imagination and even masturbation (which the Bible does NOT condemn) we are forbidden from pursing any kind of sexual relationship with a person before we have entered into a covenant of marriage with them. That includes cybersex, phone sex or any other kind of sexual activity.
People such as myself and others that embrace the idea of courtship believe that young people should not be allowed by their parents or themselves to be put in a position where they might sin sexually with one another.
I can hear all the teens and young college students yelling at me at this point.
But the Bible says we should not put ourselves in a position where we know we could possibly be tempted to sin:
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” – Romans 13:14 (KJV)
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” – I Corinthians 6:18 (KJV)
I think the best policy is for parents and young people to agree that they will always be in a group setting, whether it is with a church youth group or college and career group or a least around a larger group of Christian friends or relatives at all times.
Agree on Biblical marriage roles
“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.” – Ephesians 5:22-27 (KJV)
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
There are many people who truly believe in Jesus Christ and are saved and regularly attend their churches but reject all the Bible’s teachings on God design of gender roles. They believe these teachings are outdated and were not meant for all time.
Listen to me young man. Listen to me young lady.
You can find the nicest person in the world, even a Christian who regularly attends church.
But if you do not agree on the doctrines of Gender roles as taught in Scripture you will be in for a lot of heart ache!
Seek your parents blessing
“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22 (KJV)
If your parents are believers – you should have their blessing before proceeding in marriage. Even if they are not believers – they may still have some helpful advice.
In most cases your parents are the ones who know you better than anyone else in this world. Even if everything seems to match up – your father and mother may see some incapability between the two of you that you did not notice.
In fact because Samson did not listen to his parents advice about a woman it ended up costing him his life in the end (Judges 14:3).
Now there are some cases where parents are wicked and unbelieving people. So please don’t think I am saying parents ALWAYS have to give their blessing. But I do think in most cases you should have your parents blessing before marrying someone.
Seek other Godly counsel
Before agreeing to marriage with this person seek wise and spiritual advice from those around you.
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)
Bring the person you are dating around your Christian friends and then ask them afterwards privately what they thought of the person.
Pray and ask God to show you the right spouse
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Last but certainly not least you need to pray! This should be the first thing you do before you set out to date and it should be the last thing you to do before you open your heart to a person and let them in.
Even if you apply all these other Biblical principles there are so many variables when it comes to choosing the right spouse that God has for you. There are different types of personalities and differences in preferences. Pray and ask the Lord to guide you to that right person.
Premarital counseling with a Pastor is CRITICAL!
I know this is really tough – but even up this point you must still continue to guard your heart. I know of many Christian men and women who discovered things about their soon to be spouse in pre-marital counseling but they felt they were too invested with a wedding planned and the time they had spent with this person.
Please listen to me young person. It is NEVER too late to back out of an engagement. You may find in pre-marital counseling that your spouse does not really believe in Biblical gender roles. You may find out that they do not have a Biblical philosophy of sex in marriage. These are critical things that will affect you for the rest of your life.
So after reading all these 12 ways to transform the chaos of modern dating into Biblical dating the question you are probably asking is “When can I stop guarding my heart?” I believe the answer to that question is after you have completed premarital counseling and have determined that this person is a spiritual match for you in all the important ways I have mentioned here then you can begin to let your guard down.
But really I think until the day you are married and have entered in the covenant of marriage with this person – you need to be careful with your heart.
Even after marriage – do you realize how many people have allowed their spouses to lead their hearts astray from God? We must never allow that.
But after we are married that is when we can fully give our hearts and bodies to our spouses while still remembering that God must always be first in our marriage.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There is no perfect person out there. There is no person with whom you will agree on all things. There is no such thing as your “soul mate” – sorry to burst your bubble. But there are good Christian people out there who love the Lord more than anything including you and that is why they will always love you because of their commitment to God.
There are no perfect people, but there are men and women who truly believe in Christ and his Word and they embrace Biblical gender roles and want to live their life by the God’s Word. If you can find a person like that – this is the person you want to marry.
In some upcoming articles I will give some more gender specific things to look for in Biblical dating. But everything I have said here I think Biblically speaking applies to both men and women.
As Christians who embrace God’s Word as the guide for our lives, we know that the Bible condones sex ONLY within the bounds of marriage. But unfortunately, since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s our culture has embraced the idea that pre-marital sex is the norm, and that we actually need to try out the person sexually before we are married to make sure that we are sexually compatible.
Our culture’s acceptance of pre-marital sex has been one of the major contributing factors to the decline in marriage, and the rise in cohabitation rates.
Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?
This phrase was coined to reflect the reality that when you make sex outside of marriage culturally acceptable, less people will marry, and the statistics today prove it. The most literal and historical meaning of this phrase meant “why marry a girl, when she will give you sex without marriage?”
I remember growing up in my Church youth group, hearing speakers sometimes say this phrase about the milk and the cow. Obviously they would always start with the Scriptures that forbid fornication – which includes (but is not limited to) sex outside of marriage. But then they would follow up the Scriptural commands, with some practical reasoning, especially to the young ladies, exhorting them to “make these crazy hormone driven boys to wait for marriage” before giving up “the milk”.
I can hear it now – “What about those boys! This is not fair that all the pressure is on the women”. Yes the Scriptures command BOTH men and women to not engage in sex before marriage, and yes they did speak to us as young men about being godly men of integrity, about being gentlemen. However, if you examine the Scriptures closely, you will see that God places the greater burden on the woman to refuse the man. In the Old Testament law, a woman could be executed for not being a virgin when she was married, whereas there was no such punishment for a man that was not a virgin. I realize this goes against our modern “gender equality” ideas, but the Bible supports no such notion.
But once you have bought the cow, you ARE supposed to get the milk for free
One of the problems we face today in the Christian community (but it certainly is not limited to Christians) is that often times, even after we have waited, and “bought the cow” (married our wives), our wives expect us to “buy the milk” as well. I recently wrote a post responding to a Christian teacher’s false belief, that in marriage men do in fact have to “buy the milk”(earn sex), even after “buying the cow”(marrying a woman).
A quick word on the “cow analogy” before we continue – in no way am I meaning disrespect toward women, or saying that cows are somehow equal to women, or that women are less human than men. But Biblically speaking, a wife does belong to her husband (men paid a “bride price” and one the terms for husband in the original languages of the Bible is “baal” which means “owner or master” (e.g. Proverbs 31). I Peter 3 says “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord[master]“.
The fact is, in marriage, neither the husband, nor the wife, should have to earn sex. While husband’s denying their wives sexually is a problem sometimes, the vast majority of the time it is the wife denying her husband. Ask any pastor (and I have many pastor friends) and they will confirm this. Ask any marriage counselor, and they will confirm this as well.
But there is a difference between flat out denial, which some wives are guilty of, and a woman making her husband earn sex (but both are equally wrong). I once knew a Christian couple, where the only way the man got sex from his wife was when he did the dishes and picked up the house. For other men, it might be buying flowers for your wife, or taking her out to dinner. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it wrong for a husband to do these kinds of things for his wife, but these things should NEVER be a prerequisite to sex.
The sinful sexual pattern of modern women
Husbands listen to me, engaged men please hear me. There is a pattern that takes place in a lot of Christian marriages (and non-Christian marriages). At the beginning of the sexual relationship between a man and woman (which should begin after marriage, but sometimes it sinfully starts before marriage), women will give their husbands all the “free milk” they want. She lets him “taste the goods” so to speak.
But not long into the marriage, the milk is no longer free of charge, it now comes at a cost. That cost looks very different from woman to woman, but there is a cost of some sort. For some Christian men, it might simply be household chores, for others it is buying jewelry or other gifts. For other husbands, it is making a decision the way their wife wants it, but they do not think is best.
What all these different prerequisites have in common is, they require a man to transfer his God given authority over his home, his children, and his wife and yes even his wife’s body to his wife. Only if they do the bidding of their wife, will she give them “the goods”.
How to stop this wicked pattern
For you engaged men, or newlywed husbands it will be much easier if you spot this change in your wife and nip it in the bud right away. If you allow this pattern to go on for years of marriage, it only becomes harder (but not impossible) to break. Whether you have been married 6 months, or 6 years, the fix is still the same.
When your wife tells you “If you do ___________ for me, then I will do that for you”, you need to sit down and take out the Word of God. You must see this as God sees it, as an act of rebellion against your authority over her (and her body), and by extension as an act of rebellion against God himself, because he has given her to you. You need to rebuke your wife’s sinful behavior.
Take her to I Corinthians and read the Word of God to her:
“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5(KJV)
The Bible places absolutely NO preconditions on sex between a husband and wife within the bounds of marriage (contrary to what many Christian books and teachers teach today). In fact the only mutual agreement a couple is called to is, when they STOP having sex for a given period.
As the head of your home, and the authority of not only your children, but also your wife, you will be called from time to time to confront a sinful attitude or behavior in your wife, just as Job confronted his wife’s sinful behavior.
“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” – Job 2:9-10(KJV)
I remember one time in Church my Pastor referenced this passage, and he said “Sometimes we as husbands need to call out our wives sinful behavior, but it might be a good idea to back up a bit before you do, I think Job might have.”
What about the aftermath?
This is a form of discipline, and discipline is never pleasant, but all authority figures must discipline those who are under their authority from time to time. Before anyone goes nuts here, I am not talking about physical discipline here, but there are other forms of discipline that are not physical.
After you confront your wife’s rebellion (not only towards God’s command to her, but by extension the authority he has given you) – she is not exactly going to be in the mood, if you know what I mean. It may feel as though you have been unloving to her, but you are in fact loving your wife when you call out her sin, and call her to repentance, just as God calls to all of us.
In what is often called “the love chapter” of Scripture, where love is defined by God’s standards it says this:
“Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.” – I Corinthians 13:6(HCSB)
Your wife’s rebellion against your sexual authority over her body is by definition “unrighteousness”. You would in essence, be “unloving” to your wife, from God’s perspective, if you allowed her sinful attitude to go unchecked.
But should you still have relations with your wife after such a confrontation?
I believe the answer is yes, if she yields to you (even with the wrong attitude). When I first had to confront my wife with these types of issues, I would confront her, and then just leave the sex to happen another night, because after all, I like most men don’t prefer to have sex with my wife when she acts grumpy about it.
But I realized that the sex still needs to occur, that sex is not about being in the mood, and it is not about feelings, it is about doing what is right. I agree whole heartedly that the best sex a Christian couple can have is when they are spiritually, emotionally and physically connected all at once. But the truth is there will be many times when we don’t have all that in place, but we must still have sex. God wants us to do the right thing, even when we don’t feel like it.
This probably won’t be a onetime thing
As a Christian husband, and really just as a Christian, we must realize that we all from time to time slip back into patterns of sinful behavior. Please don’t think that if your wife seems to submit to your sexual authority over her body after confronting her with the truth of God’s Word, that this rebellion will never seep back up again in her life. This has definitely not been a onetime thing with my wife, and I have also talked with other Christian men who have told me it is the same with their wives as well.
Whenever we see sinful behavior crop backup, whether in ourselves, or wives or children we need to address it.
We as husbands must also realize that, there will be less of a chance of re-occurrences of rebellious behavior by our wives and children when they see that we ourselves are submitting to God’s authority over us. If we are keeping our families in the Word, and in Church this can greatly help to keep the “flare ups” from happening as often.
But if you are husband trying to submit to and follow God’s will for your family, don’t think everything should just fall in place. Your wife may have had a very different upbringing, and there may be some very bad habits and attitudes that are deeply ingrained in your wife’s person, that she has to battle with the help of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Can my Christian wife ever say no to my sexual advances?
This is the logical question you as a Christian husband (or engaged man) might ask after everything we have just looked at. The answer to this question is a Christian wife should never give her husband a flat no, BUT she can humbly and gently ask for a delay. There may be legitimate physical or other issues that might prompt your wife to ask you for a delay. But this must be done humbly and respectfully, and always with the attitude in mind that her body does belong to her husband. But a Christian wife should ALWAYS make good on her “rainchecks” with her husband. Also these “delay requests” from wives should be the exception, and not the normal response to a husband’s sexual advances.
This has been part 3 of our series “How to be a godly husband”. In the next parts of this series we will address the topics of “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” and “How to handle your wife’s sexual refusal”.
Christian husband – the Bible clearly states that you are the head of your wife and your home. But did you know that the Bible calls your wife the “manager” of your home? These roles do not conflict, but instead they complement one another.
For those who don’t know the Bible’s teaching on male headship over women here is a small primer:
God has established the headship of man over woman
“But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.” – I Corinthians 11:3(HCSB)
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:23-34(HCSB)
“One who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity.” – I Timothy 3:4(HCSB)
The Scriptures are clear here, as well as in multiple other passages (both Old and New Testaments), that a husband has authority over his wife and his family (contrary to popular teachings of our Egalitarian and Christian Feminist friends).
You are to be the head of your home, but your wife is to be the manager of your home
“Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us.” – I Timothy 5:14(HCSB)
“Encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.” – Titus 2:4-5(HCSB)
The phrase “manage their households” in I Timothy 5:14, is an English translation of the Greek word “Oikodespoteo”, which comes from two Greek words “oikos” (house) and “despoteo” (to rule). This literally means to “to occupy one’s self in the management of a household”. The King James Version translates this as “a guide to house”, which is also an accurate translation.
Titus 2:4, a companion passage to this subject of women and the home, calls women to be “homemakers” (translated as “keepers at home” by the KJV). This is a translation of the Greek word “Oikouros” which literally means “watcher or keeper of the house” or “caring for the affairs of the house”.
Proverbs 31 shows a wife taking care of all the affairs of the home while her husband Is away.
7 Ways to let your wife manage your home
So up to this point we have established two foundational truths about the home that are taught in Scripture. The husband is the head of the home, but the wife is the manager of the home. The wife being manager of the home, is a delegated authority from her husband, but it is an authority that God wants men to give to their wives. Below are ways that you, as a Christian husband can encourage, and delegate the management of your home to your wife.
Your wife picks the appliances, you fund them and have them delivered.
Your wife picks the paint color for the house, you fund it, and put it on the walls where she wants it.
Your wife picks how the walls of your home are decorated, again you fund it, and hang it till she thinks it looks straight on the wall.
Your wife decides the style of all furniture, your job is to fund it and get it in the house where she wants it.
You can make dinner requests, but don’t ever tell her how to cook – that’s her domain.
Your wife picks out the clothing for the members of her house, you are simply there to fund said clothing, and hold the bags as she shops.
While you are the ultimate decider of the discipline policies and other things regarding the teaching of your children, a wise man will always hear what the mother(and manager) of his children has to say before making any determinations.
I will just say one thing about “funding”. Husband, as the head of your home, it is your job, and it is a moral responsibility for you to set the funding policies of your home. Your wife comes to you with a need in the home, you discuss the need, and determine the appropriate level of funding. Many men have spent themselves and their homes into financial ruin by not setting any spending limits on themselves, or their wives, and this ought not to be the case in a Christian home.
But having said all that – if you as a Christian husband will simply stand back and let your wife manage your home(without trying to interfere and micro manage her as she does this) you will find that God has naturally equipped your wife to make your home the best it can be. The concept that “a home is not truly a home without a woman’s touch” is not only a true statement, it is also a Biblical one.
This has been the second part of our series “How to be a godly husband”. Check back for more updates to this series.
What does a successful Christian marriage look like?
Some people say any marriage that does not end in divorce is a successful marriage. Still others say it is more than just not divorcing. Some say it is when two different people come together, and over time they become as one. But even this “oneness” in marriage is defined in many different ways.
Some say it is when a couple become best friends, when they barely if ever fight anymore and they become the very picture of unity. Still others say that not only is longevity a sign of a successful marriage, but a successful marriage is one that has passion and romance throughout its time.
Before I get into what the Bible shows is a successful marriage, let me give an illustration.
Let’s imagine that you are a servant of a king. He asks you to go and build him a beautiful house off in a faraway land he has a purchased. He gives you detailed plans for this house, and tells you that after you build this house, he wants you to live in it and take care of it for him until he comes to take possession of it one day. He says if you build the house according to his plan, and maintain it and keep it up for him, he will reward you greatly when he comes.
You reach the land the King has given you to build on, and you find that some materials he has requested are much harder to find than others. You also find that some parts of his design, are just very difficult to build in the fashion he has requested.
So you decide to alter his design, you build with different materials than he requested and you alter the design where it seems too difficult to build it the way he has requested. But eventually – you build what you believe to be a stable house, what works for you, and you begin to live in it and take care of that house.
Twenty years go by before the King finally comes to see this home you have built for him. You hear he is approaching, and you quickly go around and clean the house – ready and proud to show him this house you have built. This house has stood strong for 20 years, what else could he ask for right?
The King comes to your home, but instead of a look of delight, he has a look of sorrow. He asks “why did you not follow my design?” You respond “because my King, some of the materials were hard to find, and some of your designs were too hard to build”. The King responds – “I did not ask you to take the easy way out, I asked you to do the hard work, and to build the house exactly as I requested it”. You respond “but lord, this house has stood strong for 20 years, is that not good enough?” The King responds “each part of the house, each material and design, was meant to symbolize different things that are important to me – you have broken those symbols”.
When it comes to marriage – God does not care if a marriage just “works”, or that a couple never gets divorced. God had a very specific design and purpose for marriage.
So what does God consider to be a Successful marriage?
Let me first say what God does not consider a successful marriage (based on his Word).
A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, simply because it does not end in divorce.
A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, because a couple love one another, act in unison and rarely fight.
A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, because a couple have passion and romance in their marriage.
The primary (spiritual) purpose for which God design marriage is found in Ephesians 5:22-33.
“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body.”
31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”
God meant for a husband and wife to model the relationship between God and his people, in the New Testament this represented as the relationship between Christ and his Church. But even in the Old Testament, God’s relationship with Israel was often pictured in prophesy as the relationship between a husband and wife.
Christian Feminists and Egalitarians say marriage is a “partnership of equals”. I don’t know how anyone could read Ephesians 5:22-33 and come away with such an absurd idea. In the model of Christ and the Church, are Christ and his Church equal partners? Or is Christ the head of his Church? It’s a very simple question, with a very simple answer.
God cares about how we build our marriages, he cares how we model the relationship between Christ and his Church. That is why God wants man to model his leadership, his protection and provision in his relationship with his wife. It is also why God wants woman to model the submission, and servant attitude that he asks of his people toward himself.
It is not enough to say “well this works for our marriage”. Is it modeling what God has purposed for marriage? Is your husband following God’s distinct model for him? Is your wife following God’s distinct model for her?
The Secondary purposes for marriage
A companion and helper for man
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”
There are definitely some secondary (temporal and physical) purposes for which God made marriage. God made woman as a companion and helper for man. Some have tried to make much to do about the “helper” “ezer kenegdo” saying it usually speaks of God helping.
The fact is God was not made for us, we were made for him. So in the context of Genesis 1, ezer kenegdo takes on a different meaning, because Eve was CLEARLY made for Adam, not Adam for Eve.
The New Testament confirms this interpretation when the Apostle Paul states “And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.”(I Corinthians 11:9).
A lover for man
“encourage the young women to love their husbands”
The phrase “to love their husbands” is a translation of the Greek word “Philandros” which literally means to be “lovers of their husbands”. This is not the Agape (love of the will, love of duty) that men are commanded toward their wives. This is a different kind of love, the Philandros love that women are commanded to have toward their husbands. This is an affectionate love, it pictures a woman showing affection, both physically and emotionally toward her husband.
A mother for man’s children, and caretaker for his home
“Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households”
I Timothy 5:14
In addition to creating a companion and lover for man, God also created in woman a mother and home manager for man. In very much the same way that we as believers go and make disciples for Christ, so to women make children for their husbands. In the same we follow Christ’s leadership in teaching young believers, so to a mother is meant to teach her children, as she is follows her husband’s leadership.
Woman – a person to be loved and cared for
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
I Peter 3:7(KJV)
God purposefully created woman as the “weaker vessel”, so that man would have someone who would need his leadership, his provision, his protection and his love. God knew that men need a purpose, something to strive for, and something upon which to exercise their gifts. So God gave women to men, and he purposefully made them to need a man’s leadership, provision and protection. In the same way that God wants to be our hero – each husband should want to be his wife and children’s hero.
But what about romance and friendship in marriage?
Romance and friendship are wonderful things in marriage. But romance and friendship in God’s view are to marriage what in-ground swimming pools and central air are to homes. They are nice to have, they definitely make our homes more enjoyable, require a lot of maintenance, but are not ultimately required.
Don’t get me wrong, romance and friendship are wonderful goals to pursue in marriage – but if we pursue them at the cost of the primary purpose for marriage, our marriage will not be a success in God’s eyes.
This is why we have such a huge amount of divorce today – even in the Christian community. Because Christians are being led by their feelings, and not by the Spirit of God.
And as far as romance and friendship goes, very often what women find is, if they model the wife that God calls them to be, if they are submit to their husbands, respect their husbands and are affectionate lovers to their husbands – they will get at least some of that romance they desire.
We as believers, in America and around the world, need to return to God’s purposes for marriage, both the primary, and the secondary reasons. We need to keep each in their order of importance.
So how will you build your marriage? Will you build it upon the foundation of the Word of God? Will you build you marriage based on the model that God has given us in Ephesians 5:22-33? Or will you do “what you feel is right” or “what works for us”?
Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, played the role that God gave him to play as the Savior of mankind. It was not easy, but he played his role just as his father willed him to do. Are we today so wrapped up in our modern American ideas about equality, that we are too proud and too arrogant to play the roles that God has given to us based on our gender?
I leave you with the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3:11-15 to mediate upon:
“11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.”
All Scripture passages unless otherwise stated are quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
“…all things were created by him, and for him” Colossians 1:16(KJV). All of us, both men and women were made for the glory of God. As a woman, you were also made for another “him”, for your current or future husband, unless you are one of the few women God has called to life of celibacy in his service.
Just as mankind was made for the glory of God, so to you as a woman were made for the glory of man.
“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.”
I Corinthians 11:7(KJV)
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
I Corinthians 11:9(KJV)
The fact that you were made for you husband answers all these “why” questions:
Why do I have to submit to him? Because you were made for him.
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Why do I need to follow him if his job moves him to a new city? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to follow his rules for discipline with our kids, whether they are stricter or more lenient than I would like them to be? Because you were made for him.
Why do I not get an equal say in all decisions of the family? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to have sex with him even when I don’t feel in the mood? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to wear the clothes he likes me to wear, or keep my hair the way he likes it? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to stay home and care for our children? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to obey him? Because you were made for him.
Why do I have to respect him? Because you were made for him.
Whether you are engaged, a newly wed, or have been married for many years, this principle, that you were made for your husband can and will change the way you approach your marriage. You won’t find yourself fighting for control, or your fair share in the decision making processes of your home, you will instead find peace.
Please don’t misunderstand me, this is not to say a wife should never tell her husband what she thinks, because she should. Proverbs 31:26 tells us the virtuous wife “openeth her mouth with wisdom“, and a husband should be able to listen to his wife’s wisdom. But on the other hand, we all know that there are many instances in the Bible where husband should NOT have listened to his wife. A Godly man will judge his wife’s advice by God’s Word, and by his own judgement and exercise proper leadership.
Happiness is found when we live the way God designed us to. If you go throughout your marriage and you follow the principle that you were made for the glory of God, and God made specifically made you for your husband, I can promise you that you will have a wonderful marriage. This comes straight from our owner’s manual – the Bible.