(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
“… encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:4-5, NASB)
This lesson will discuss the broad duties of a wife. In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says that all Christians are members of one body, each member having a different purpose. So it is in a marriage. The husband and wife are one body, each one having a distinct purpose. Teamwork will produce a happy, satisfying partnership.
Submission to Your Husband
What submission means
Again, Paul says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Many Christians acknowledge that submitting to the Lord was difficult. The decision was postponed again and again because becoming a Christian meant giving up attitudes, practices, and a way of life that gave them pleasure and joy. They believed that life would be dull and uninteresting and frustrating without these pleasures. Then they submitted to the Lord. They found a joy, a peace, a sense of contentment and serenity that made the old way of life seem drab in comparison. There was nothing to give up; there was a far better way to take up.
Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). As the last lesson indicated, this should be the heart attitude of the husband, who is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church. On the other hand, Paul wrote, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands…” (Ephesians 5:22). Does this mean resignation, the end of having an opinion, slave-driving? Not at all! This can really mean teamwork, planning, working out a plan, sharing opinions, stimulating each other to heights previously unknown to either.
Proper submission was further expressed by Paul when he wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This should be the heart attitude of the wife toward her husband–following after him as he follows after Christ. Such submission to the leading of a husband is a basic condition for a happy marriage.
Failure to submit illustrated
One couple could not agree on who should control the money and there were other conflicts of opinion. There were many verbal barrages. She wanted a new washer and dryer. He said she would get them over his dead body. Her response was to go buy them. In retaliation, the husband went on a drinking spree that lasted several days. For spite he bought a new car. Do you think that woman had any joy out of her appliances? They were a rebuke to her every time she used them. Nor did the husband enjoy driving that car.
Here were two people who had acquired some equipment that should have given each of them joy and satisfaction. Instead, these useful things became a continuing bone of contention. Behind the strife over money was the unsettled question of submission. Both persons were asserting a spirit of independence and selfishness.
In one sense, the wife has the greater adjustment to make after marriage. This is especially true if she has had the experience of working at a steady job, if she has tasted the stimulation and challenge of the business world. Her husband goes on with his career. The wife must often leave a position that is interesting and pleasant for other tasks that seemingly are uninteresting, less pleasant, less challenging. Submission to the routine of managing the home and parenthood is essential to building a happy marriage.
To illustrate, a young wife had to return to work after two years of marriage. This seemed necessary because she and her husband were unable to make the down payment on the purchase of a house. She had looked forward to marriage with much joy and anticipation. After the wedding she gladly gave up her job in an office in order to become a homemaker. Very quickly, however, she discovered that such things as sweeping, scrubbing, washing, pregnancy, diapers, and feeding children were not to her liking. This she kept to herself. She did grin and bear it. This was her own little secret. However, she cast longing eyes at the outside world. She gladly returned to work to help out with expenses. The thoughts of returning to activities that she loved were most comforting. However, she found that getting back to work did not develop into the pleasant task that she had hoped. She found herself divided between the attraction of the work world and the duties of parenthood and homemaking. She began to realize that her willingness to return to work was based more on her dislike for homemaking than upon her desire to help with the finances. Fleeing the task of homemaking was not the answer any more than fleeing from Nineveh was the answer for Jonah. Her basic problem was submission. How would she ever adjust to homemaking? She found the answer. The answer was not to grin and bear it. The answer was to submit to the joy and peace that God would give her to do the job. In either case, she did the work; but submitting to God made it a pleasant, enjoyable task.
Remember the truth expressed in God’s word to Israel: “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). Obedience is not enough. Submitting to your husband means willingly submitting also to the responsibilities of homemaking–not resignation, but submission.