A 19th Century Suffragette View of Domestic Discipline

In this second article in our series on domestic discipline, we will be looking at the 19th century suffragette (feminist) view of domestic discipline.  To do this we will look at two primary sources.  The first is the Declaration of Sentiments which was issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. 

The second source we will be looking at is a book entitled “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861”, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, ‎Susan Brownell Anthony and ‎Matilda Joslyn Gage in 1881.  This book is also a valuable resource in understanding the historical view of domestic discipline.   Less than 20 years before this book was published, state courts in America were still upholding a man’s right to use corporal punishment with his wife.  It was only in the 1870s that courts began striking down this common law right and later states would begin enacting laws against it.

The Declaration of Sentiments

The Declaration of Independence was America declaring its independence from England and the Declaration of Sentiments was women declaring their independence from men.    Below is a portion of the Declaration of Sentiments issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848:

“The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

As Bible believing Christians, we can and should recognize the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments for what it was and still is today.  A declaration of war on God’s institution of patriarchy.   And the sad truth is, that more than 170 years later that war has been mostly won by feminists. Those who still hold to God’s design of patriarchy have been forced into hiding, with their only option to fight a spiritual guerrilla warfare against those who seek to eradicate the last pockets of resistance to the reigning humanist regimes.

“In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband”

The common laws of the land in this case were strongly aligned with the Word of God as seen in Titus 2:4-5:

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, OBEDIENT to their own HUSBANDS, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

In fact, we can rightly say that the Declaration of Sentiments complaint against women being compelled by common law to be obedient to their husbands was blasphemy against the Word of God.

The Husband is “to all intents and purposes, her master”

Again, the Scriptures are crystal clear on this point calling women to regard their husband’s as their earthly lords (their masters) in 1 Peter 3:5-6:

“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

The Greek word used in 1 Peter 3:6 is “kurios” which means master.  It is used in reference to kings, governors, slave masters, husbands and to God himself in the Bible.  All of these masters were authorities instituted by God over different spheres, but God is the LORD and master of all.  The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek kurios is “baal” which means “owner, lord, master”. 

In Deuteronomy 22:22 we see the following example showing the husband’s ownership over his wife:

“If a man be found lying with a woman married [‘baal’ used as verb] to an husband [‘baal’ used as noun] , then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

The passage above demonstrates that under God’s law a married woman is an owned woman, and her owner is her husband.

The Husbands power “to administer chastisement”

The power to chastise is a critical element of authority. If a person can tell others what to do, but they have no means of enforcing what they have commanded then they really are not an authority.  And this is why the early woman’s rights movement targeted the common law recognition of the husband’s right to chastise his wife.  If they could remove his power to chastise her, they knew they were effectively removing his authority over her.

History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861

The women who wrote “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861” lived in the era when wife spanking was still widely practiced and culturally accepted so their perspective is valuable in the historical sense, even with their moral position on the rights of women and husbands chastising their wives being completely unbiblical and wrong.

In pages 88-89 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:

“In those early days a husband’s supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper – as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner…The laws made it his privilege – and the Bible, as interpreted, made it is his duty.”

If you go to the average Christian today in the average Christian church, even most conservative evangelical churches, and you started talking about domestic discipline they would have no clue what you are talking about.  I know if you would have mentioned it to me 7 or 8 years ago, I would have been one of those people with a blank look. And if you mentioned “wife spanking” they would look at you like you are crazy.   I know I would have. 

But I am happy to have been challenged on this subject.  Because it caused me to really have to research this out.  I already showed in my first article in this series on domestic discipline, “The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline”, that the Bible fully supports two important concepts. 

First it supports the concept of corporal punishment for both children and adults.  Secondly, it supports husband’s chastening their wives as we see God chastening his wife Israel in the Old Testament and Christ chastening his wife, the church, in the New Testament.

But then we come to the historical side of this.  Before the 20th century, most Christians believed according the Bible that husbands had a right and duty to chasten their wives using corporal punishment.  The common laws of the land supported this right. And except for the left-wing feminists of the 19th century, Christian women fully accepted this too.

Chastisement Was Seen as Good for A Wife’s Moral Development

On page 599 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:

“By the common law of England, the spirit of which has been but too faithfully incorporated into our statute law, a husband has a right to whip his wife with a rod not larger than his thumb, to shut her up in a room, and administer whatever moderate chastisement he may deem necessary to insure obedience to his wishes, and for her healthful moral development! He can forbid all persons harboring or trusting her on his account.  He can deprive her of all social intercourse with her nearest and dearest friends.  If by great economy she accumulates a small sum, which for future need she deposit, little by little, in a savings bank, the husband has a right to draw it out, at his option, to use it as he may see fit.”

A husband chastising his wife was seen as a healthy and moral thing for a marriage.  But his powers of chastisement were not limited just to corporal punishment.  But he could also literally ground his wife as a parent grounds their child and send her to her room.  This was the normal accepted practice under common law.

Domestic Discipline Outlawed in the Late 19th Century

On page 792 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:

“Wife-beating is still so common, even in America, that a number of States have of late introduced bills especially directed to the punishment of the wife-beater. Great surprise is frequently shown by these men when arrested. “Is she not my wife” is cried in tones proving the brutal husband had been trained to consider this relationship a sufficient justification for any abuse.”

“Chastisement” did not have enough sting to it.  In fact, even in the late 19th century, the word “chastisement” in America was seen as a positive word.  So then feminists went from speaking about husbands chastising their wives to calling men “wife-beaters”.  That had a much better ring to it.  And they declared that a husband chastising his wife in any form was “abuse”.   

Now to be sure, there were some men who took their right to chastise their wives too far causing serious or permanent injuries to their wives.  And this of course was the case throughout the history of mankind and was by no means unique to America.   But the exact same thing could also be said for parents, whether they were fathers or mothers who chastised their children, that some abused their God given authority to administer corporal chastisement.

But that fact that some husbands abused their power to exercise corporal chastisement did not give civil governments the right to remove this God given power from husbands.   What they should have done was deal with those extreme cases on a case by case basis.

Conclusion

In this second article we have shown that the early feminists declared war on Biblical patriarchy from the very beginning of their movement in 1848.   They utterly rejected God’s design of male headship over women. 

These early feminists or “suffragettes”, knew they had to play on the emotions of the American people to win their cause.  And they did exactly that.  They found the most extreme and outlandish cases of abuse they could find to bring before courts and state legislators to prove that all men were potential abusers or “wife-beaters” and the only way to protect women from the abuses of men was to completely strip men of their power of corporal chastisement over their wives.

But we also learned something else in this article.  Something that husbands and wives of today needed to see.  This idea of a husband using corporal punishment to chastise his wife is not some recently invented behavior by some far-right Christians.  It is not just some kinky BDSM thing.  But rather, before the late 19th century it was the protected law of the land and Christians believed husbands had a Biblical right and duty to exercise corporal chastisement on their wives for the good of their wife’s moral development and the health of their marriages.

The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline

What is the Biblical view of domestic discipline (aka wife-spanking)? What were cultural views of wife spanking in America before the modern era? These are two different questions that we will be answering in this new series.

There are many behaviors and teachings that were the norm from ancient civilizations to just before the modern age that we as Bible believing Christians would disagree with. I have written on my own disagreements with some of the teachings and practices of the early church fathers, the reformers and even traditions of my own church upbringing in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.

In other words, I would be the first to say just because something was taught or practiced in past eras does not make it moral or right. On the other hand, just because our modern culture thinks something is moral or immoral does not make it so. The question then becomes how can we determine the morality of a given belief or practice?

Jesus Christ answered this question of how we can determine the morality of a belief or practice when he said in Matthew 4:4 “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God“.

And the Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.

The Word that God gave to the Prophets before Christ, the Word that Christ himself spoke and the Word of God given to the Apostles after Christ collectively form the Scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.

The Scriptures then are what we are to build our beliefs and practices upon. However, does that mean history has no value? Of course not. We can learn from past civilizations and compare their behavior to moral standards found in the Word of God. We can then see how some past cultural practices which align with the teachings of the Bible helped to keep those cultures strong. And we can also see how past cultural practices which violated Biblical principles or commands ultimately led to the weakening and downfall of those earlier civilizations.

In this first article we will demonstrate how the practice of domestic discipline aligns perfectly with Biblical principles and commands regarding marriage. And then after that we will spend several articles looking at cultural views of domestic discipline in America before the modern age.

The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline

Throughout the Bible, God pictures his relationship with us in one of two ways.  As individuals God pictures his relationship to us as father to his children.  But he pictures his relationship to his people as a group as that of a husband and wife. 

In Isaiah 54:5 God said to Israel “For thy Maker is thine HUSBAND; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”.  And he consistently referred to the nation of Israel as his wife.  When Israel was unfaithful to him, God stated in Jeremiah 3:20 “Surely as a WIFE treacherously departeth from her HUSBAND, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord”.

In Deuteronomy 8:3-5 God speaks of his humbling and chastening of his wife, the nation of Israel:

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.  Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God CHASTENETH thee.”

So, God shows us that a husband chastens his wife as he would his child.  So how does God say a child is to be chastened in the following passages:

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

Proverbs 23:13 (KJV)

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Proverbs 19:18 (KJV)

And now let’s move from the Old Testament to New Testament.

In the Gospel of John we read the following account of Jesus Christ:

13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables”

John 2:13-15 (KJV)

Jesus Christ showed that he had absolutely no problem with the Old Testament commands and practices regarding corporal (physical) punishment, aka beating someone with a whip or rod as a form of punishment.

Later in the New Testament, in Ephesians 5:25 the Bible states “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”.  Most churches today stop at verse 25 and bastardize the Scriptural command to say God wants husbands to “give themselves up for their wife’s happiness”.  This of course plays right into the false doctrine of feminism which so infects the churches today.

It is absolutely true at times that a husband must sacrifice himself for his wife.  But his sacrifice is not for her happiness, but rather his sacrifice is for her holiness.  See the full passage from Ephesians 5:25-27 that most churches today ignore:

“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.”

The Scriptures above are clear. Husbands are to model their love for their wives by how Christ demonstrates his love for his church. That means husbands are to wash their wives spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God.

In Revelation 3:19 we see that this washing involves a husband rebuking and chastening his wife:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Conclusion

In the Old Testament, we read in Deuteronomy 8:5 that God said he chastened his wife, the nation of Israel, “as a man chasteneth his son”. And God tells parents to use corporal punishment on their children in Proverbs 19:18 & Proverbs 23:13.

In the New Testament, we read in Ephesians 5:25 that husbands are to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and Christ says of his churches in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.

The case could not be more clear that the practice of a man using corporal punishment on his wife, also known as wife-spanking or domestic discipline, very much aligns with the teachings of the Bible. A man using corporal punishment on his wife images God’s behavior as a husband to his wife, the people of God.

If you as a husband are interested in learning more about how to implement domestic discipline into your marriage in a safe and effective manner which stays within the bounds of God’s law please consider subscribing to my podcast site. At BGRLearning.com, I have hundreds of podcasts about the teachings of the Bible related to gender roles including the podcast “A Husband’s Guide to Implementing Domestic Discipline” which you may find very helpful. There is also a companion episode for in the Christian women’s subscriptions entitled “A Wife’s Guide to Receiving Christian Domestic Discipline and Rough Sex“.

WARNING

Because of the wicked post-feminist and humanist society we now live in, I must always give this warning when writing on the subject of a husband using corporal punishment to chasten his wife.

First, let me be clear that God’s law no more requires a husband to get his wife’s consent to chasten her than he does a parent to get their child’s consent to chasten to them.

But Jesus Christ also told us as Christians to be “wise as serpents” in Matthew 10:16. This means that we need to be careful in the exercise of our rights as husbands.

Applying this principle of being wise as serpents to domestic discipline means you first need to educate your wife on the Biblical command for husbands to chasten their wives as God chastens his. And only after your wife fully accepts this as part of the Christian faith, and by extension Christian marriage, and consents to you incorporating this into your marriage should you attempt to do this.

If you attempt to do this with a wife who rejects the principle of Christian domestic discipline, you could land in jail.

If you have a wife who rejects the Biblical allowance for a husband to use corporal punishment to chasten his wife, or even if she rejects all forms of chastening, I would refer you to my article “7 Ways To Discipline You Wife“. That article will teach you how to use non-physical means to fulfill your Biblical obligation as a husband to chasten your wife.

Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

“Dear BGR, can you tell me if the Bible says it is a sin for a man to keep secrets from his wife? My wife thinks so and so does the pastor of our church.  Let me give you some more context so you can understand better.  My wife and I are born again, Bible believing Christians and have been married for 8 years and we have three children who are 6 and under.  We met in the church we continue to attend to this same day.

My wife wanted to be a homemaker and I wanted to be a sole provider and we were both Christians and relatively conservative so it seemed to be a good match.   My wife even said she believed in male headship in marriage while we were dating.  But not long after we were married, I discovered that we defined “male headship” in very different ways.  My definition of male headship came right of Ephesians 5:23-24 which says the husband is the head his wife as Christ is the head of his church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything.  Her definition of male headship was that a man leads his wife by his example but he is never a dictator.  All decisions are made jointly with both compromising with one another and only in rare situations where the couple cannot agree then the husband will break the tie. 

She says that is “male headship” but I see “equal partnership with only a slightly senior partner”.

Ever since we were married, I have found out that my wife is absolutely horrible with money.  We would talk each week about the budget and it was very open and transparent.  We would see my check, deduct the bills to be paid, and I would allot a certain amount each week for savings for emergencies and for vacations. We would discuss her allotted amount for shopping for food as well as clothing and incidentals for myself, my wife and the kids.

But time after time she would go over the budget with her ATM card. Each week she would eat up what I had tried to set aside for savings for emergencies and vacations.  She always had excuses but the reality was she was spending money she did not need to spend.  What I realized was she really did not respect or believe in what I was trying to do with budgeting for emergencies or vacations.

So, what would happen when emergencies, unforeseen expenses or vacation times came? We had to go into credit card debt.

About two months ago I finally had enough of what has been going on our entire marriage.  I took my wife to our bank where we had a joint account and had her sign forms with me to close that account.  I told her I was setting up a new bank account that would work better for us.  She signed the forms with me and we closed our old joint account. When we got home, we cut up our old ATM cards together and threw them in the trash.   She assumed she would be on the new account I would setup.  She assumed wrong.

The next day during my lunch break at work I setup a new bank account that does not have my wife’s name on it and I redirected my direct deposit to that bank.  When I got home from work my wife asked me when we were going to setup the new bank account.  I said “I already did today”.  She then asked “don’t I need to come down to sign to be on the account?” and I said “No, you are not going to be on the account”.  You could have seen fireballs coming out of her eyes at me.

She said “This is not right! We are married! What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours! I have a right to see what is going on in our bank and to be on our bank account with you!   You can’t do this!”.  And my response was “I have tried for years to reason with you regarding the money and time and time again you have ignored my attempts.   We have accumulated debt for vacations and other unforeseeable things over the years because you would not let me build any savings account.  Now I am going to fix our finances, pay the debt off and build a savings.  You do not need to see the bank, you need only trust that I am paying our bills and doing what is in our best financial interest as a family.  I will give you a cash allotment each week for groceries and incidentals.  If you need clothing for yourself or the kids, we can talk about that and I will get you more”.

I am happy to say that over the last 6 weeks I have been paying down on our debts and actually built a small savings for the first time in our 8-year marriage!

That is the good news.  The bad news is that my wife has made my life a living hell for the past two months.  She refuses to have sex with me and last week she called the pastor of our church and then he called me to have us come counsel with him.

I explained to him the situation, but he said I was wrong to deceive her into shutting our old joint account and then setting up a new one without her name on it.  The pastor said we are “one flesh” so that means nothing should be separate and she should have equal access to see what is in the account and be able to have an ATM card just like me.   He said we are “mutually accountable to each other”.  He made a brief mention of her overspending like she could just fix that.  I have given her a chance to fix it for 8 years! It was not going to be fixed.

He said my having a separate account that she could not see activity on and had no access to was me “having a part of your life that is secret from your wife.  And God does not allow any secrets in marriage. What you are doing is sinning against your wife.  You need to add her on your new account, give her full access to see its activity and get her an ATM card”.

When I asked him for scriptural support for what he said he arrogantly said “I already gave it to you.  You are not two people; you are one flesh.  That means one bank account. Equal access to all assets.  And absolutely no secrets of any kind from each other, whether they are bank accounts or anything else”.

I googled “biblical gender roles” last week and found your site on the first page. I did a search on your search bar for “finances” and found your post “Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?”.  This was exactly what I needed and confirmed from the Bible what I was thinking was right.  I went on to read your 20 doctrines of Biblical gender roles and many other posts.  Thank you so much for all you are doing here for the cause of Christ.  Your site must be a massive trigger for egalitarian Christians and non-Christians alike.  I am sure you must get a lot of hate mail.

One last thing.  I searched your blog for the larger issue our pastor brought up about husbands keeping secrets.  I could not find anything on that.  Have you written on that? If so, can you please send me the link?”

What you just read was emailed to me last week from a man named Travis.

Travis, the answer to your question is no, I have not previously written directly on the subject of husbands keeping secrets from their wives.  I think I may have mentioned it in passing, but no dedicated articles for it.  So, I guess will remedy that here.   

Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

We are living in a “total transparency” culture where it seems everyone must know everything about everybody.  Think of all the big brother type shows where people allow cameras into their homes and private lives.  Tabloid journalism is built on this entire precept of everyone needing to know everything about everybody.    

When it comes to intimate relationships, whether in dating or in marriage, we are told “there can be no secrets”.

And more often than not, in most intimate relationships it is the woman who is trying to pry every thought, feeling and action out of her man’s head under the guise that he is not allowed to keep anything back from her.  In fact, if you watch TV shows you will often see that one of the biggest reasons women break up with men is because the men were not totally transparent with them in all areas of their life. 

Keeping anything secret from the woman you are in a relationship with, whether you are dating or married, is considered a violation of the 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not keep any secrets from thy woman”.

The problem is that there is no 11th commandment that says any such thing.  So those who believe men can hold nothing back from their women whether in thought or deed must try and find something the Bible does teach, and twist it to say that it means men cannot hold anything back from their women.

To accomplish this goal of convincing men that they can have no secrets from their women, some Christian teachers turn to the “one flesh” concept of marriage that is taught in the Bible.  In Matthew 19:6 Christ said of husbands and wives in marriage “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh”. So, the argument goes, since man and woman are one in marriage, there can be no secrets between them and no thought or deed can be held back from the other.  And if marriage were an equal partnership, that might make sense. 

But in Ephesians 5:23-24 we read “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church”  and 1 Peter 3:5-6 the Scriptures state that women are to be in “subjection unto their own husbands:  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”.   This reveals that marriage in God’s design is not an equal partnership, but rather it is a patriarchy designed to model the relationship of God to his people with the husband symbolizing God and the wife symbolizing the people of God.

In Deuteronomy 29:29 the Bible states the following:

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”. 

In God’s relationship with his people he holds many things back from them.  But it is the duty of his people to live by what he has revealed and leave to God what he has not revealed.

The application of this to marriage is clear.  Women are to abide by and follow those things which their husband reveals to them realizing their husband’s secrets belong to him, not to them.  It is not their business to spy on their husbands or try to find out his every thought and deed.

This tendency in women to want to know their husband’s every thought and deed is actually a core corruption of the feminine human nature that started with the first woman, Eve.  In Genesis 3:6 the Bible says “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”.  She wanted to know everything God knew, she wanted to know the secrets God was keeping from her.  And women to this very day commit this same sin with their husbands trying to learn his secrets and being offended when he holds anything back from them.

Conclusion

Yes, the Bible teaches in multiple places that husbands and wives are indeed “one flesh” in marriage.  And one of those passages is Ephesians 5:31 which states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh”.  And the “cause” for which a husband and wife are called by God to come together as one flesh in marriage is given to us in the preceding verses – Ephesians 5:22-30.  Men and women are to come together in marriage as one flesh for the cause of modeling the relationship of Christ to his church.  Are Christ and his church equal partners? Does the Bible tell us Christ and his church submit to one another? The answers to both these questions are a resounding NO.

Does Christ keep secrets from his church? You bet he does!  In Acts 1:7 Christ said to his wife “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power”.

God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles and to make her the glorious church, he wanted her to be.   And wives are called to submit to their husbands in everything as the church is to submit to Christ in everything. 

Travis is learning what it means to give himself up for his wife as Christ gave himself up for his church.  Travis gave up the peace in his home knowing his wife would probably deny him sex and make his life miserable.  But he knew it was the right thing to do for his family.  Now he needs to get into that washing phase with his wife and correct her sinful lack of submission to him, not just in the area of finances but also in the area of denying him her body and using sexual denial as a weapon to manipulate him.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:36 “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”.  Because we live in a sin cursed world, sometimes the person God meant to be our greatest spiritual ally as men becomes our greatest spiritual foe.  In preparation for this spiritual battle with his wife, Travis should read my article “3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands”.

Finally, to Christian wives reading this.  Do you get upset if your husband holds back his thoughts or feelings on anything? Do you have to track his every movement from work to home? If he were to lock down the finances where you could not see what is going on would that bother you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then your heart is not in keeping with God’s law and his design for marriage.   You need to go to the Lord in prayer and pray what King David did in Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness”.  When you spy on your husband or get angry if he keeps anything from you, you are acting in covetousness just as Eve did when she coveted that forbidden fruit because she wanted to know the knowledge God was keeping back from her. 

A question that I am sure many wives will bring up is “Are you saying husbands are not accountable for their actions?”  And the answer to that question is no, that is not what I am saying at all.  Husbands certainly are accountable to civil and church authorities in areas that God grants these authorities power.  But husbands are not accountable to their wives anymore than their wives are accountable to their children.  There is a clear line of spiritual authority declared by God.   For more on this subject of accountability and husbands see my article “Why Husbands Are NOT Accountable to Their Wives”.

As a Christian wife, once you have totally surrendered your heart to God in this area of having to know everything your husband thinks or does, you will find peace in your marriage as the Scriptures say in Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”.

Why Compromise in Marriage is Sacred in Humanism and Sinful in the Bible

If you study the Bible and look at Biblical principles of marriage there is one word that is noticeably absent regarding how to have unity in marriage.   And that word is compromise.

In humanism, compromise is a sacred tenet of any relationship, especially in marriage.   The reason it is sacred is because of humanism’s beliefs in individualism and equality.  For individualism and equality to flourish, compromises must constantly be made.  A marriage where one person calls all the shots on moral issues and big decisions of the family is considered “toxic” in the humanist view. This is because they believe marriage is an equal partnership.

But the Bible presents a very different view of marriage.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives”

1 Peter 3:1 (KJV)

The Bible shows in the passage above from 1 Peter 3:1 that God did not design marriage as a partnership, but rather as a patriarchy.  And in the passage below from Ephesians 5:23 we can see that not only is marriage a patriarchy, but it was intended by God to be a direct reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church.

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.

Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)

So the question is does Christ compromise with his church on his will, his plans and his moral decisions? The answer is absolutely not.  And neither should husband’s compromise with their wives in these areas.

The first recorded sin of a male human being, Adam, was when he compromised his moral beliefs and listen to wife.

 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”

Genesis 3:17 (KJV)

Adam’s compromise of his morality to please his wife brought sin into the world.  Job shows us what Adam should have done when his wife asked him to compromise his morality:

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)

When a man compromises his moral beliefs to please his wife he breaks the picture of Christ and his church and he exposes his family to possible consequences of that decision.

Now don’t get me wrong – when it comes to things that have nothing to do with morality compromise in marriage is a good thing.  Like when we choose where we go to dinner that is not necessarily a moral decision.  How much is spent on dinner is a moral decision, but whether we have a hamburger or pizza is not.

But I think in most cases what we call compromise on these non moral things is just us being selfless and putting the other person first and that is a good thing.

But when it comes to moral decisions, including financial decisions, career decisions, what church is attended, religious beliefs, discipline and teaching of the children, decisions about sex and other things like this there can be no compromise. A husband is always called by God to do what is he believes is right before God.

My Husband Has Left the Faith, What Should I do?

How should a Christian wife handle it when her husband abandons his Christian faith? How should she deal with her children in regard to their father? Recently one of my regular commenters, a woman who goes by the handle livinginblurredlines, wrote the following about her husband who once professed faith in Christ:

“hubby has decided to become a philosophical Odinist….meaning he doesn’t believe Odin and all the other Norse gods actually exist, but that there is an All-Father that encompasses all faiths that believe in a high deity, and he follows modern Odinism philosophies that embrace strength of self, traditional families, helping your fellow, and nationalism. So, he has no desire to find or attend a church, anymore. So, what shall I do concerning this and our children? When I married him 20 years ago I never thought I’d be faced with this issue!”

What follows are answers to several important questions that Christian wives who find themselves in this situation may be asking.

Can I leave My Unbelieving Husband?

The answer to this question is found in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16:
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

So, as you can see from the Scripture above, if your unbelieving husband wants to stay in the marriage with you, God wants you to stay with him. And the Bible tells us that in staying with him, you may actually win him to Christ.

Regarding the case of a woman whose husband has left the faith he once professed. We must realize that a true believer can never leave the faith as they are kept by the power of God. In 1 John 2:19 we read the following of those who made professions of faith and then abandoned them:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

So, in this way as a Christian wife, you must forget your husband’s past participation in church or other Christian activities. Do not dwell on it. Wipe the slate clean in your mind and deal with him as you would someone who has never dawned the doorstep of a church.

Does God Still Want to Me to Submit to My Unbelieving Husband?

The answer to this question is found in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

So, the answer to this question is yes, God absolutely wants you as a Christian wife to submit to your husband who is disobedient to the Word. You win a husband, whether he be an unbelieving husband or a Christian husband who has some areas where he is disobedient to God in some way. You win him without a word, without preaching at him, nagging at him or complaining at him. You win him with your actions and your life before him. You win him with your submission, your pure life and your reverent attitude toward him.

My mother is a living example of 1 Peter 3:1-2. My mother became a Christian while married to my father. She completely changed her ways toward him. She submitted to him, lived a different life in front of him and reverenced him. And these actions by my mother brought him to Christ and this enabled me to be raised by both a Christian father and a Christian mother. My father would go on to study the Word of God and become my mother’s teacher. This can work ladies!

Can I still teach my Children the Gospel?

In Acts 5:26-29 we read the following story about the Apostles:
“Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

We can see from the story above that even if your husband forbids you from teaching your children the Gospel you can and should still do that. I would suggest you do this in private settings with your children. But you can show them you love and respect their father, but that this is something that goes beyond your relationship with their father and that having a relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in this life.

What If My Husband Forbids Me from Taking the Kids to Church?

If your husband forbids you from going to church, you can privately seek the teaching of God. While he is at work, watch sermons from Bible teachers online. And you should privately read your Bible and pray. Let your children watch Bible teaching when Dad is not around. Have them watch Christian movies and shows that teach them about God.

But Isn’t It Wrong to Keep Secrets From My Husband?

A tenant of humanism is “complete transparency in any relationship”. No secrets. None at all. But this is not how God sees things. God keeps secrets from us, and sometimes it is necessary for us to keep secrets from each other.

In Proverbs 28:13 the Bible says He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”. But then in Proverbs 27:12 we read “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished”.

And then in Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus made the follow statements:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Jesus reveals that it is not wrong to do good things in secret. Whether it is doing good for others or even good in obedience to God. It is only wrong to do evil things in secret or to try and cover something that is a sin against God.

Conclusion

The humanist atheist and the humanist Christian would both find the advice given here to be absurd because they hold individualism as the highest ideal. Nothing is more important than each individual being able to live their lives out in the open, exactly as they want to live it (as long as that life style does not violate humanist principles in any way of course).

Humanists love the word “transparency” and regularly apply it to relationships. They don’t like secrets. Whether it is the government keeping secrets from its citizens, husbands keeping secrets from wives or wives keeping secrets from husbands.

Of course, humanists always have some exceptions to their rules. For instance, humanists have no problem with women not being transparent with their husbands about murdering their unborn children. But I digress.

So, the humanist would say “If the husband and wife cannot find a way to openly live out their beliefs with one another and tolerate their differences then they should just divorce. But by no means should the wife have to live a secret life as a Christian or keep these kinds of secrets from her husband”.

But for us a Biblicist Christians, we know that there are more important things than our individual wishes and desires. We know that the institution of marriage is more important than the individual happiness of either the husband or wife. We know that marriage is based on a covenant, not total transparency. And we know that we can also find joy in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus tells us that being totally transparent in regard to our thoughts or actions is not always the best thing. In fact, he tells us that doing good things toward God, for God or for others in secret can be virtuous. And in Proverbs 27:12 we read that it is “prudent” to sometimes hide ourselves or our actions.

It is utterly disappointing for any Christian wife to hear from her husband that he has left the faith and he is not the believer she thought he was. But God can still greatly use such a Christian wife in the life of her unbelieving husband. And she can still have a vibrant personal faith and have an impact for Christ on her children and on others.

God tells Christian wives in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 that they must remain with their unbelieving husbands if the husband is willing to stay.

And yes, it will be more challenging in the area of submission. But God makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that wives still have to obey unbelieving husbands and he says that wives may win their husbands by their submission, pure lives and reverent behavior.

Christian wives who find themselves married to unbelieving husbands may have to practice their faith in secret. But Jesus shows us in Matthew 6:1-6 that not only is it not a sin to do good toward God and others in secret, but that such actions can be virtuous.

Some Christian wives abuse the Acts 5:29 principle that “We ought to obey God rather man” in order to openly defy their husbands at every turn. But as a Christian wife married to an unbelieving husband, you should make every effort to not have to openly defy your husband.

Wives Forget Your Father’s House

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.

You Are One Flesh, So Be One Flesh

In Mark 10:7-9 we find a familiar passage that is often read at weddings.  In that passage Christ states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

When a husband and wife come together in marriage – this new relationship takes precedent over all other earthly relationships.  Before they were married their greatest earthly relationship was with their parents and now it is with each other.

There are three important concepts about this unity in marriage that Christ talks about:

“And they twain SHALL be one flesh”

 “so then they ARE no more twain, but one flesh”

“What therefore God hath joined together, let NOT man put asunder.”

Biblically speaking in marriage, a husband and wife are one flesh from the moment of their marriage covenant, yet they are to be becoming one flesh more and more the longer they are married and they are not to stop being one flesh as long as they both live.

In a way, this concept of being one flesh in marriage mirrors our salvation.  From the moment, we are saved we receive Christ’s righteousness and are declared justified by God.  But the Bible tells us “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) exhorting us to progressive sanctification.  In essence the Bible is telling us “You are holy, so be holy”.  In the same way, the Bible tells couples in marriage “You are one flesh, so be one flesh”.

5 Steps to Becoming One Flesh in Marriage

Step 1 – A husband and wife are to have sexual relations on a regular basis

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

The act of marriage or the consummation of marriage is sexual union.  This is the most literal meaning of the Biblical phrase “one flesh”.  Sex is to occur regularly in marriage.  An interesting biological fact of sex is that it releases two bonding hormones (oxytocin and vasopressin) which God designed to draw a couple closer together.

On this subject of sexual relations in marriage Christian and non-Christian counselors are usually in fully agreement.  The regularity of sexual relations is the first indicator of how healthy a relationship is. While it is possible to have regular sexual relations but still have disunity in a marriage – it is impossible to have full unity in a marriage without regular relations.

Step 2 – A husband is to know his wife

“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)

For husbands this is the first step in cultivating oneness with their wife. A husband cannot love his wife as God intended without knowing her and this involves him talking with her and spending time with her.  God thought it was so important for a man to get to know his wife that in the law he gave to Moses for Israel he gave this rule for newlywed couples:

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”

Deuteronomy 24:5 (KJV)

God literally forbade men from going off to war or going away on business trips for the first year of their marriage.  Couples literally had a one year honey moon in Israel!

So, this leads us to another question – why does a husband need to know his wife? The answer is found for us in the last part of I Peter 3:7 “that your prayers be not hindered.” What God is basically saying is “Husbands if you do not hear the concerns, needs and requests of your wife God will not hear your concerns, needs and requests”.

God wants all authorities whether they be Kings, governors, parents, masters, or employers to hear the concerns, needs and requests of those under them. This does not mean that a husband must give his wife whatever she wants or makes the decisions the way she wants him to.  Sometimes God answers our prayers with a “yes”, sometimes he answers them with a “no” and sometimes he answers them with a “wait”. It is the same with a man and his wife.

When a man hears the concerns and requests of his wife and truly knows how she thinks, even if he does not act as she would like after hearing her this helps to build unity in the marriage.

Also, when a husband knows his wife he knows her passions and her interests.  As long as those her interests do not conflict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home he should encourage her in these things.  For example, maybe his wife likes to paint or to sing in church. Maybe she has desire to write for a woman’s blog, maybe she likes to write poetry.  Perhaps she has a desire to run in home daycare.  None of these things would automatically contradict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home.

However if a woman has a passion to be a mega news giant superstar and wants her husband to stay at home and take care of the home and kids(like Fox News star Meghan Kelly for example) her passions and ambitions are at direct odds with the role for which God designed her.  This is by definition an example of selfish ambition on the part of a woman.

See “I wanted a wife and so did she – Ex-husband of Megyn Kelly speaks out about his marriage to the FOX News star” for more on this feminist superstar.

Step 3 – A wife is to learn how her husband thinks

“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

Not only in spiritual matters, but in all matters of life a wife is to learn how her husband thinks and what makes him tick. A wife knowing how her husband thinks is critical to building the unity God desires for marriage between a man and his wife.

Step 4 – A wife is to submit to her husband

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

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)

The inevitable result of a woman getting to know how her husband thinks is that she will discover ways that he thinks that she disagrees with.  Now a woman has two choices when she realizes these differences.  One is to try and correct or change her husband’s thinking and the other is to submit.  God calls women to do the latter and submit even when they disagree with their husbands.  As long as a husband does not directly ask his wife to sin she must submit to him everything.

A wife should offer her advice in a kind way, not in a contentious way

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 31:26 (KJV)

In the previous step, we discussed that in order to maintain the unity in marriage that God desires for couples to have a wife must submit to her husband especially when she disagrees with him. But this does not mean that wives are forbidden from sharing any wisdom they have with their husbands.

But the attitude and method in which a woman shares her wisdom with her husband is very important. The Bible warns against wives being contentious with their husbands:

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)

Even if the words of a wife to her husband are wise, if they are delivered in a contentious or angry manner to her husband they will lose their intended effect and will cause the unity in the marriage to decline rapidly.

Also, a woman should always understand the position from which she offers advice.  She is not her husband’s mother, his teacher or his authority. He is her authority and Biblically speaking his authority over her is even greater than that of her father’s.

A woman should view herself as a subject which gives counsel to her King and remember the Scriptures exhortation to wives to be “in subjection unto their own husbands”(I Peter 3:5).

Step 5 – A wife is to be her husband’s crown

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 12:4 (KJV)

The Bible tells us that a wife should be a crown to her husband.  What is a crown? A crown brings glory and honor to its recipient. So, what the Bible is saying is that a wife by being her husband’s crown is one who should bring him glory and honor.  She is to be his greatest cheerleader and supporter. The unfortunate truth is that many wives today are more of a dunce cap than a crown to their husband.  Just as a wife being contentious with her husband breaks the unity of the marriage so too a wife failing to honor her husband for the man that he is will quickly break the unity of the marriage.

But there is another interesting aspect of a crown – especially that of a king. It was very common in ancient times that when a King conquered another land he would take the crown of the conquered King and put it on his head to show his ownership and authority over his newly conquered lands.

But what if a King liked the crown of another ruler and wanted to wear it more often but it did not fit his head well? Perhaps it was two small and would almost fall off his head or maybe it was too large for the diameter of his head and it would slide down in front of his face.  So, what would the King do? He would give the crown to his craftsman and have them resize the crown to fit his head perfectly.  Perhaps he would have them add some additional gems and take some gems away that he did not like.  The point is that the crown would be molded to the King’s liking and made to fit his head perfectly.

In the same way wives need to move beyond mere submission to their husbands in their quest to truly be one flesh with their husbands.

Wives need to mold themselves over time more and more to their husbands likes and dislikes and to his various positions on the issues of life.  They need to support and understand his passions whether it is his passion for his job, his ministries at church or his hobbies. This even more just mere submission – will bring the true unity that God desires to the marriage.

This does not mean that a wife may ever come to love everything her husband loves or hate everything her husband hates.  There are some passions he may have that she will never be able to bring herself to share.

But a wife should pray hard each and every day that God would help her to mold herself and fit herself so that in the same way a crown needs to fit the head of the King who wears it – so to a wife needs to fit herself to her husband.

Do you still hold the “I am not comfortable with that” card?

Christ wife do you still hold the “I am not comfortable with that” card in your Christian marriage? If you do you need to get rid of it.  Let me explain what I mean.

You might consider yourself to be a wife who believes in submission to your husband.  You may even be able to show proof of your belief by showing times where you and your husband have disagreed on financial decisions or decisions regarding his career where you have simply followed him.

But then you hold on to the “I am not comfortable with that” card especially when it comes to you being asked to do things by him you are not comfortable with.  And we are not talking about things that are clearly outlined as sinful in the Bible like him asking you to commit adultery with another man or to murder someone or steal from someone.  We are talking about things he is asking you to do that are outside your comfort zone.

For instance, what if he decided it was ok for your young teens to watch a TV show or movie you did not think they should watch? What if he allowed them to play a game you think they should not play? And he wanted you to allow them to do these things even when he is away.

On a more personal level, what if he asked you to wear certain clothing in the bed room? What if he asked you to wear certain clothing in public (think going on a date or going to the beach)?  What if he asked you to change your makeup?  What if he asked you to do something uncomfortable in bed?

Do you pull out the “I am not comfortable with that” card as an exception to God’s command to submit to your husband “in everything”? Or have you convinced yourself that you not feeling comfortable with something equals that thing being sinful?  If you have done this you need to remember that God has made your husband your spiritual authority and instructor in his Word.  The Scriptures say to wives in 1 Corinthians 14:35 that “if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home”.

Christian wives, Ephesians 5:24’s command for you to submit to your husband “in every thing” means throwing out your “I am not comfortable with that” card.

Husbands Be Angry, But Don’t Be Bitter

be angry and sin not

In Ephesians 4:26 the Bible tells us “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” but in Colossians 3:19 the Bible also states “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them”.  As husbands it should anger us when our wives’ disrespect or disobey us or when they shame us in front our children or others. It should anger us when our wives’ habitually and consistently sexually deny us.   Our masculine natures were designed by God to desire respect and submission from our wives as he desires respect and submission from his people.  Our anger at these sorts of behaviors in our wives is not only righteous, but it is an expression of the masculine image of God within us.

However, our flesh wants to convert that righteous anger into bitterness which is sin.   Bitterness is holding a grudge and being resentful.

Thankfully the Bible tell us how to stop righteous anger from turning into sinful bitterness and that is to “let not the sun go down upon your wrath”.  Don’t hold on to it.  If your anger truly is righteous based on your wife’s sinful behavior, then confront that behavior there and then. Do as Christ does with his church in Revelation 3:19 and “rebuke and chasten” your wife.  Then let go of your anger.

8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

Webster’s dictionary defines a slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another”.   The word ‘chattle’ refers to a human being that is owned by another human being.  By our modern definition of slavery, we cannot comprehend the concept of a person being owned by another person without that owned person not being a slave.

On one side of this debate about the Biblical treatment of wives we have Christians who claim that there is absolutely no similarity at all between the husband/wife relationship and that of a slave owner to his slave while on the other side we have atheists and other humanists who claim that the Bible makes women into slaves.  What do both of these sides have in common? Jesus said it best in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

Matthew 22:29 (KJV)

The truth is that the Scriptures teach us that is possible for one person to own another person without that owned person being considered a slave.  In other words, from a Biblical perspective while all slaves are owned by other people, not all people who are owned by other people are to be considered slaves.

Wives and Children Designated by God as Property and Slaves Allowed as Property

The Bible shows us that God designed two social classes of human beings that were to be considered the property of men.  He allowed a third social class of human being that could also be taken as property as well under certain circumstances.

In the 10th commandment God mentions a man’s wife, along with his male and female slaves amongst those things which are his property:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

In the following passage we see that God gives children to their fathers as property:

“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)

The English word “heritage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Nachala” which literally means “inherited property”.

God authorized Israelite fathers to sell their daughters as indentured servants for a period of no longer than six years.  This is shown in the following passages:

“7And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.”

Exodus 21:7-8 (KJV)

“And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.”

Deuteronomy 15:12 (KJV)

The passages above show that neither male nor female Hebrew indentured servants could be kept indefinitely unless the male Hebrew willingly wanted to stay and serve (see Exodus 21:5-6) or the woman was taken as a wife by the man who purchased her either for himself or one of his sons.   Otherwise after 6 years male Hebrew indentured servants had to be freed and female Hebrew indentured servants had to be allowed to be purchased back by their male relatives or by another man wishing to take them as a wife.

And for those who think these daughters sold as maidservants could be used for sex outside a covenant of marriage, I would refer the reader to the following prohibition against fathers selling their daughters for this purpose:

“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”

Leviticus 19:29 (KJV)

So, it is clear that God did not allow Hebrews to sell or buy their fellow Hebrews as slaves.  They could only could only purchases the services of fellow Hebrews as indentured servants for a limited window of time.  However, it is equally clear that God did in fact allow the Hebrews to purchase the children of foreigners within their land as slaves or they could purchase slaves from the nations around them.

“44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”

Leviticus 25:44-46 (KJV)

And in the New Testament Paul gives the following command to slaves:

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

Colossians 3:22 (KJV)

The word “servants” in the KJV passage above is a translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which actually means “slaves” and this is how most of the modern translations translate this verse.

This brings us back to wives.  We have already shown from the 10th commandment that it includes wives with male and female slaves as the property of men.  But the ownership of a husband over his wife is seen even clearer in the original Hebrew language of the Scriptures. The noun form of the Hebrew word ‘baal’ which means ‘owner/master’ is used eleven times in the Old Testament to speak of a husband’s relationship to his wife.    The word ‘baal’ is used an additional 11 times in verb form to refer to a woman coming to be ‘owned’, or married, to a husband.

The passage below from the book of Deuteronomy uses both the noun and verb form of the Hebrew word baal to illustrate a husband’s ownership over his wife:

“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an [verb ‘baal’ ‘owned by’]  husband [noun ‘baal’ ‘owner’], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)

In the New Testament the Apostle Peter refers back to this concept of a woman being owned by her husband when he admonishes wives to follow the example of the women of past generations like Sarah who “obeyed” her husband calling him “lord”:

“5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)

Now having proven from the Bible that wives are actually considered by God to be property just as slaves are, we will go on to show that the responsibilities of owners toward these two types of human properties are very different.

8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

As we have previously shown from Exodus 20:17 and Leviticus 25:44-46,  wives and slaves are both considered by God to be the property of men.  And both wives and slaves are commanded by God to obey their masters in everything as Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:5-6 tells them to do.

But this is where the similarity between wives and slaves ends and the differences begin. Below are eight Biblical distinctions between wives and slaves.

1.  Slave owners don’t have to sacrifice themselves for their property – husbands do.

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

Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)

2.  Slave owners don’t have to teach God’s Word to their property  – husbands do.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

3. Slave owners don’t have to act as human instruments of God’s sanctification in the lives of their property –  husbands do.

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

Ephesians 5:26-27 (KJV)

4. Slave owners don’t have to love and care for their property as they do their own bodies – husbands do.

“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church

Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)

5. Slave owners don’t have to give their bodies to meet the sexual needs of their property (nor should they) – husbands do.

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

6. Slave owners don’t have to honor their property – husbands do.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

7. Slave owners don’t have to give their property the fruit of their labors – husbands do.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:31 (KJV)

8. God did not design men to be the property of other men.  God did design women to be the property of their husbands.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV)

Conclusion

We have shown conclusively from the Bible that contrary to modern humanist notions of equality, God has actually designated wives and children as the property of their husbands and fathers. And again, contrary to modern egalitarian views of what marriage should be, God commands wives to regard their husbands as their masters and like slaves to be obedient to their masters in everything. The obvious exception for both wives and slaves in their obedience is if their masters command them to sin against God.  It is only in this case that they can and must disobey their masters as Acts 5:29 tells us.

The truth from the Scriptures is that there are indeed some similarities between wives and slaves but there are also significant differences between wives and slaves.

God created the relationship between a husband and wife to mirror the loving relationship between himself and his people.  A wife is to be regarded as her husband’s most precious possession, one that he cares for and would protect with his very life.

Another significant difference between wives and slaves is husbands as their wife’s owner and master are required by God to give their wife the fruit of her labors as Proverbs 31:31 states.   A slave is not entitled to enjoy any fruits from his labors.

Now this principle must be taken into account with the entire witness of the Scriptures.  In Ephesians 5:24 wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in “everything”. And yes, that would most certainly include finances.  Every dollar that comes into their home comes under the spiritual authority of the husband whether that is income from his work, his wife’s work or inheritances that either of them may acquire.  Even if the wife does not work outside the home but instead is a keeper in the home her work there has great value.

What this means is that whether a wife works outside the home or is a keeper of the home the husband should allow his wife to have fruits from her labor.  Practically speaking that means allowing her some discretionary use of money to buy things for the house or herself personally that she would like to buy.

Finally, on the topic of slavery. It is only because of the effects of sin in the world that God allowed for the practice of slavery but he commanded it to be done under humane conditions.  For a more in-depth look at the reasons and conditions under which God allowed for the practice of slavery see my article “Why Christians Should Not Be Ashamed of Slavery in The Bible”.