originally written by Anne on August 22, 2008
Today’s picture is of my husband’s very favorite way to make coffee – in a French press. He promises that coffee just tastes better when he uses freshly ground coffee, heats the water to exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and allows it to brew in his French press for exactly four minutes.
Do I agree? Well, yes and no. Sometimes I wish I could just program an electric coffee maker to have my coffee ready when I wake up in the morning. But I must admit that my husband’s coffee is so good that I’d rather stay home than have Starbucks any day. (Yes, any time you’re in town, just come over. We’d love to share!)
If I let it, my husband’s eccentric (to me) coffee-making ways can drive me crazy. But it’s funny, coffee just doesn’t taste very good if I’ve fussed and complained while making it his way. That’s why I’d rather enjoy my morning with him and enjoy the coffee, even if it means I must give up a little of my freedom to do so.
So what if it’s something bigger than coffee? Like theology! Or parenting! What if I know I’m right (and he’s wrong)?
Thankfully, God’s Word has instruction for us wives, and “YHVH will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). For a home filled with love and peace, read on….
Looking at God’s Word…
First, let’s look at some basic principles in God’s Word, then we’ll talk about some specific situations in which we can apply these principles.
- Principle #1 – Submit to his leadership, in the same way that the church submits to the leadership of Christ. How often? “In everything.” Source: Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18
- Principle #2 – Respect is an essential part of submission. In other words, submission is not just an outward action but also an inward attitude. An attitude of respect is the duty of a godly wife. Source: Ephesians 5:33
- Principle #3 – Husbands are “won over” by the behavior of their wives, not by their words. This behavior should be characterized by purity, reverence, inner beauty, and a gentle and quiet spirit. Source: 1 Peter 3:1-4
- Principle #4 – Wives should do what is right rather than give way to fear. Fear is often characterized by nagging, contention, and even anger. Source: 1 Peter 3:5-6, Proverbs 21:19, Proverbs 27:15
Now, the bottom line – Do we trust God? Do we really believe that He is capable of changing our husband’s hearts, without any interference from us? Do we believe God’s Word enough to obey our loving heavenly Father?
Isn’t it easy to say we are believers? Yet Isn’t it tough to act upon our belief?
Question – What do I do if my husband does not believe?
Anne, my husband doesn’t seem to care about spiritual things? I’m so concerned about him. Is there anything I can do?
The Bible says that our husbands can be won over to belief in God’s Word by our behavior, so if your husband doesn’t believe, the first thing to do is check your behavior. Make a list of the types of behavior that are listed in 1 Peter 3:1-4, and bring your list with humility before the Holy Spirit in prayer. Ask Him to show you the areas that you can work on.
Secondly, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you before you open your mouth. Don’t preach. Don’t nag. Test God and His Word by allowing His Spirit to win your husband “without words” on your part.
Finally, check that you are submissive to your husband in every area, showing him proper obedience and respect. Your submission to your husband shows your trust in God and your lack of fear.
Do you believe that God loves your husband even more than you do? Then you must trust Him.
Question – Can my husband get jealous of my faith in God?
Anne, my husband told me that sometimes he’s jealous of how much I love the Lord and want to spend time with Him. I can’t believe he would say that! What should I do?
You know, we often feel like we’re spiritual when we’re reading our Bibles, praying, and worshipping. Yet Isaiah 58 and James 1:22-27 tell us that real “religion” has nothing to do with feeling and everything to do with action.
So why did God create Woman? To be a suitable helper to her husband. (See Genesis 2:18-25.) The Apostle Paul tells us that single women are free to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit, but a married woman is now to be concerned about how to please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34). It might not feel spiritual, but it is!
So your husband may indeed be justified in feeling jealous. Having a daily quiet time is urgently important, but be sure not to leave God’s presence and be disobedient to Him by neglecting the very job He has given you to do. Are you being a “suitable helper” to your husband? Are you concerning yourself with how to please your husband? This is “true religion.”
Read 1 Corinthians 7 and Proverbs 31 for lots of practical ways to do this. (It also might not hurt to humbly ask your husband for some of his ideas.)
Question – What if my husband doesn’t like the way we homeschool?
Anne, my husband thinks we should stop homeschooling and should put our kids in public school. I know God told us He wants us to homeschool. What should I do?
If your husband has asked you to put the kids in a public school, then it would be impossible for God to tell you to homeschool. How do I know this? Because God says that wives are to submit to thier husbands “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24) and that wives are to obey their husbands, their masters (1 Peter 3:5-6). God cannot tell you something that is the opposite of what He has revealed in the Scriptures.
Have you ever heard anything like this in our society? No way! Nor will your own heart want to cooperate. You’ll probably be gripped with fear over the harm that could come to your children once they’re outside of your protection and care.
Yet God says we are to submit “as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). To obey “in everything” requires radical faith in a God who loves us (and our children) more than we can believe. Again, 1 Peter 3:6 says we are not to give way to our fear. Do you believe that God loves you? Can you trust Him?
Question – How can I get my husband to be the spiritual leader for me and my children?
Anne, I keep asking my husband to have daily devotions with me and the children. I think it is so important for our children to see their Dad’s faith in action, yet he really drags his feet. What can I do?
Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says that the best way to communicate spiritual truth to your children is to do it when you “sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” So you can rest assured that you don’t absolutely have to have a formal “devotional time” with your children, especially if your husband doesn’t want to lead it.
This is an area where it’s easy for wives to nag so much that they become a “continual dripping” in their home (Proverbs 27:19). Have you ever had a drippy roof and had to listen to a drip… drip… drip… drip… for hours at a time? (I have a leak like that right now, as a matter of fact!) It’s very annoying, and the more it drips, the more I’d to about anything to get it to stop dripping!
Becoming a “drip” of a wife is the complete opposite of God’s plan, which is for her to show respect to her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Think about it — if you show respect, honor, and esteem to your husband, won’t your children learn more about God and about life than they would have if you had continued nagging and complaining about daily devotions?
Aren’t there just so many ways in which we can give into fear rather than trusting God to guide and lead our husbands? Isn’t it just so easy to want to be in control, even if it means we sacrifice a loving relationship with our husbands?
These are tough topics! But isn’t God good to tell us the answer to our questions? Now, to put it into practice!
Sherry Randolph says
Thank you so much for sharing this Anne. I used to be the nagging wife trying to get Taite to go to church with us and then when I stopped he started showing more interest in it. This was a good refresher course for me and a great reminder of some areas where I’ve been slacking. God has really given you such a gift.
Audrey Dalley says
I strongly disagree with your response to the woman whose husband wanted her to stop homeschooling & put her children in public school. While I understand that women are to submit & obey, God’s word does not say we must check our brain’s at the door & blindly submit. I believe you use the term “everything” quite loosely. As Godly women, we cannot submit & obey when we are told to do something that is clearly in opposition to God’s word. Why does this man want to move the children? I believe that should be respectfully explored. Conversation, prayer & fasting would be the place to start. Is this man a godly man? Are his decisions based on God’s word – written & spoken through His Holy Spirit?
Pam Blackman says
Although this post and the responses to it are very old, I just came across this and do wish to respond and I must agree with Audrey. God does tell us as wives to submit to our husbands in everything, but if you put it in context it means in everything that the husband is doing according to God’s word and plan. The wife cannot submit to a husband who is not leading the family along a godly path. If he asks her to commit robbery, or swing with another couple, or beat her children, or a multitude of other things that would be sinful in nature, or whatever that would be considered selfish on the husband’s part – then that does not apply. If his requests are not in the best interest of the family, then it does not apply. It states clearly if you read the entire passage and put it into context that husbands are to be the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. This means that Jesus sacrificed everything for His church and nothing he did was from a selfish, self-serving purpose. So in question regarding home-schooling or not – if the husband is making a decision because God has revealed to him that it is the best interest of his children to go to public school, then the wife should trust in that and submit. However, if the husband’s motives are self serving, or he did not seek God and wise counsel (including that of his wife) and pray and perhaps even fast to get clear direction from God – then that could be a different story. Without all the particulars – it’s hard to say. Bottom line is – we as wives – if we truly trust in God and our husbands are godly men who seek God regularly for guidance – then we must submit. If our husbands are not godly men, or just aren’t where they should be yet – then we have a similar role, but we must know where to draw the line and not go along if we are asked to sin and rebel against God’s word. We must pray and trust that God will turn our husband’s hearts to His will.
Anne Elliott says
I DON’T want to get in any arguments here, so I’ll just say up front that I thank you all for your opinions and being willing to open yourself up here. It’s no fun for anyone to get blasted for their views, and I certainly want you to feel welcome to read and agree – or disagree! – at my blog. 🙂
I just want to put a thought into your minds, since I don’t see anywhere that I’ve written about this on my blog. Take some time to study out 1 Peter 3:1-6, which is a key passage on wives submitting to their husbands. The example given here is Sarah’s submission to Abraham.
I’ve asked myself several times, “Where in Genesis does it talk about Sarah submitting to her husband?” I just couldn’t really recall anything about that, yet Peter assumes that we’ve all heard this story. Right?
So I started reading through Genesis, looking for some clues. Outside mentioning Sarah and the birth of Isaac (which didn’t seem to have too much to do with submission), all I could find were the two stories when Sarah was asked by Abraham to lie and say that she was his sister, to protect him. She was beautiful, after all. What king wouldn’t want her for his harem?
Yet, if she lied — and even worse, if a king did take this married woman into his harem — wouldn’t she be directly sinning against God by obeying her husband? I can’t think of a yuckier situation for a wife to be in.
Nevertheless, TWICE Sarah obeyed her husband and did as he asked. BOTH times God protected her, kept her pure, and held Abraham responsible (rather than Sarah).
I struggle with the meaning of this passage. As I see it, God gives a direct command to women (Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:1-6), yet holds the man responsible for acting like Christ, in true love and righteousness. It seems He protects the wife, “if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (1 Peter 3:6). To me, the only thing preventing our submission is fear of what COULD happen, which translates in my mind to “I can’t obey God because He might not protect me in such-and-such situation.”
Okay, that’s how I’m viewing it. 🙂
P.S. I spoke on this at a conference: see https://anneelliott.com/blog/?p=64
Yes mam but then what about Annanias and Saphira?
The whole “God will never give you a command contrary to your husband’s” thing really grates on me as well. It goes against my reasoning. I know there really are husbands who ask their wives to do blatantly unBiblical things, but that doesn’t mean God never gave the commands the husbands are contradicting.
Anne is exactly right. As wives, we ARE called to submit to our husbands as unto the Lord. We can respectfully appeal. We can obey God before man, but those instances are very few and far between, where our husbands are telling us to violate one of the 10 commandments, for instance. Submit to your husband and let God handle the fallout. It DOES come down to trust. Do you trust the Lord to honor your desire to submit and obey when it goes against what you think, feel, want? It is a lie of Satan that we know better than our husbands. God can turn the heart of our husbands any way He wants to. Let Him and get out of the way. God DOES expect you to obey the authority He has put into our lives. And he Does speak through our husbands, even the ones who are disobedient to the word. or unsaved. 1 Peter says that we are to …cultivate gentle and quiet spirits…do what is right without giving way to fear… You can argue about what is right with regards to homeshooling for instance, but your God has given final authority to your husband with regards to those children. Sumbit. obey. fast, pray, but be cheerful and obedient. A drippy wife is also one who obeys but with a negative attitude, letting everyone know by her speech or facial expressions that she is submitting because she HAS to.
Thank you so much for this post. I can understand why it would be controversial -thank you for being willing to take a stand. Your wisdom has helped me. The only thing I would add is that you said that our husbands are not won over by our works, but rather our behaviors. I would go one step further to say that he is won over by our hearts which in turn is reflected in our behaviors. We wouldn’t want to be “white-washed” tombs, behaving in a certain way to “get” the results we want. The change has to start in the heart of the woman otherwise all of our good deeds would be “filthy rags”. I have decided that the change in my heart starts today. Thanks Anne, may God Bless you and your ministry.
Anne Elliott says
Thank you, Lara, for this point. So true, and such a wonderful reminder…. I was just talking about Matthew 15:18-20 with a friend this week…
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean.'”
We were talking about this in the context of marriage, and how if we want to have goodness and love come out of our hearts, we have to put those things in, by “feeding” ourselves with God’s Word. It’s the only way to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:1-2).
My husband has committed adultry, has told several lies, has been deceitful and vindictive in several ways. He wants us to stay together, he says he recognized his mistakes and wants to change. I am having a hard time forgetting all the lies and deception…it also seems like we don’t share the same vision on several things. I feel like I can’t trust him, I am upset and bitter about the awful things he did and said behind my back, and I do wonder if he’ll do them again. I am having time a very hard time showing my husband respect, honor, and esteem because of all the pent up frustration, disappointment, hurt and sadness I feel. I know God hates divorce and we have children. How can I stop replaying his deceitful actions in my head and getting upset all over again? should I stay with him? What is the best way to follow God’s word and submit to my husband when I don’t agree with so many things that he wants to do, that he says and that he did?
Claudia Williams says
Anne, what if your husband has a Master degree in Theology but he doesn’t practice what he preaches
He loves to teach the Bible, but for refuses to live by it. How do you handle such?
What denomination do you atted?
Claudia, here is a wonderful series of posts that I turn to when I need help like your question. http://www.alittleperspective.com/on-being-a-suitable-helper/
Denomination — my husband is a pastor of a Sabbath-keeping congregation in Michigan. http://solelsabbathfellowship.com