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Shavua Tov

Only six days until Shabbat!

  • Daniel Botkin

As Christ Also Loved the Church . . .


In the New Testament, commandments are given to husbands and wives, telling men how to be godly husbands, and women how to be godly wives. Because the Bible gives commandments to the ladies first, I will list those first.

  • “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.... and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5:22-24, 33b).

  • “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).

  • “That they [older women] 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” (Tit. 2:4f).

  • “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 ... 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” (1 Pet. 3:1-6)

Those are the passages that tell women how to be godly wives. The passages that tell men how to be godly husbands are the following:

  • “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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church... Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself” (Eph. 5:25-33a).

  • “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col. 3:19).

  • “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [your wives] 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” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Those are the God-given commandments for husbands and wives. Some women resent this arrangement. They think it gives the husband an unfair advantage over the wife. It really does not, but even if it did, any woman (or any man) who resents any God-given commandment resents the God who gave that commandment. God knows what is best, and this is the structure He has prescribed for marriage.

You do not have to be an academically trained theological scholar to understand these inspired Apostolic commandments. Paul and Peter were writing to common, ordinary disciples in plain, straightforward language. Rebellious feminists try to deny the plain meaning of the text. They employ linguistic contortions in a vain attempt to redefine simple words like submit, obey, head, reverence, obedient, and subjection.

Many books and articles have been written by other authors who believe and teach the conservative traditional roles for husbands and wives. I do not want to replicate what others before me have already written. I prefer to write articles that are somewhat original, articles that point out Biblical truths in a way that others before me have not already done.

I have read and heard teachings about the importance of a wife submitting to her husband and obeying him, and teachings about the importance of a husband sacrificially loving his wife as Christ loved the church. I have also read and heard teachings about how a wife can deal with an unloving husband who is far from Christ-like, how she can pray, and respectfully appeal to her husband, and, if necessary, can ask her husband’s spiritual leader to intervene. But one topic I have never heard addressed is how a husband is supposed to deal with a rebellious, disobedient wife who refuses to submit to his God-given authority as the head of the family. At the risk of offending some readers, that is the neglected topic that I want to address in this article.

If the husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church, then it follows that the husband should treat his wife the way Christ treats the church.

But how does Christ treat a church if that church is rebellious and disobedient and refuses to submit to His authority? If we can find the answer to that question in the Scriptures, then it will help us understand how a husband should respond if his wife is rebellious and disobedient and refuses to submit to his authority.

Does Christ still love a church even if it is rebellious and disobedient and insubordinate? Absolutely. And a husband should continue to love his wife even if she is rebellious and disobedient and insubordinate. However, love does not mean quietly tolerating rebellion and disobedience and insubordination, and letting it continue unchecked. Christ loves His Bride enough to deal with any rebellion and disobedience and insubordination, and a husband should likewise love his bride enough to deal with any rebellion, disobedience, and insubordination.

How does Christ deal with rebellion, disobedience, and insubordination in His church? If we can find the answer to that question in the Scriptures, that will help us understand how a husband should deal with rebellion, disobedience, and insubordination in his wife.

The way Christ deals with rebellion, disobedience, and insubordination in His church is revealed in Revelation. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 contain seven letters to the seven churches in Asia. These letters contain the very words that Christ Himself spoke to these seven churches, churches that He loved.

Each of the seven letters follows the same basic pattern. Christ begins by commending and complimenting each church for the good things they were doing (except for the lukewarm Laodiceans, who apparently were doing nothing that merited any commendation from the Lord). Then after the commendation comes the “But...,” when Christ confronts His Bride and tells her the things that must change.

To rebellious, disobedient churches, Christ speaks words of correction, stern rebuke, and warning. He even threatens to punish the church if she does not repent. He threatens Ephesus with the removal of her candlestick. He tells Pergamos He will come quickly and fight against them if they do not repent. He tells Thyatira He will cast that woman Jezebel and her followers into bed and kill her children with death. He threatens to come on Sardis like a thief if they do not repent. He threatens to vomit the lukewarm Laodiceans out of His mouth.

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten,” He says. “Be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

These strong, harsh words of correction, rebuke, and warning were spoken by Christ to rebellious, disobedient churches that He loved.

Paul says, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). Paul says this immediately after telling wives to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord” and to be subject to their husbands “as the church is subject to Christ,” and telling husbands to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church.”

Does this mean a husband has the right to harshly rebuke and threaten his wife for minor flaws? No. But a husband does have the right and duty to confront his wife if she is in a continual state of rebellion and disobedience and refuses to submit to his God-given authority as the head of the family.

Some rebellious wives might disagree. “Christ had the right to confront His Bride that way because He is the perfect Bridegroom. You are not a perfect husband, so you have no right to exercise any authority over me!”

I’ve got news for you. Every single one of the wives Paul was writing to in Ephesus and Colosse had imperfect husbands. Yet these wives were commanded to submit to those imperfect husbands as if their husbands were the Lord Himself. These wives were commanded to reverence their imperfect husbands, to obey them, and to be subject to them in everything. Peter tells wives to be in subjection to their husbands even if the husband is an unbeliever.

A husband does not need to “earn” the right to be in authority over his wife. Regardless of the husband’s flaws, he is placed in that position by God. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.”

If you are a husband with a wife who is rebellious and disobedient and insubordinate, the first thing you should do is pray and ask God if you are loving her as Christ loved the church. Are you nourishing her, cherishing her, and washing her with the water of the word, as Paul says to do in Ephesians?

Are you providing for her physical needs to nourish her? You are not required to lavish her with luxury, but you should provide her with adequate food, clothing, and shelter.

Are you sensitive to her emotional needs? You are not expected to meet all her emotional needs, but do you at least remember that she is “the weaker vessel” and treat her with honor accordingly, and cherish her as a precious treasure? Peter says if you do not do this, it may hinder your prayers.

Do you wash her with the water of the word by being the spiritual head of the family? You are not expected to meet all her spiritual needs and do all her praying for her, but you have a God-given duty to be the high priest of your family and to lead your family by following Biblical principles.

If you make a sincere effort to love your wife as Christ loved the church, your wife’s rebellion, resentment, and disobedience might melt away. However, it might not. If it persists, you have the God-given right and duty to lovingly speak words of correction to your wife, and, if necessary, even to inform her about negative consequences that her rebellion and disobedience might bring - just as Christ warned the churches in Revelation.

Words of correction should be motivated by your love for your wife, not by your own selfish desire to always have your own way. In some situations the right thing to do is surrender your own desires and let your wife have her way.

It is also a good idea to speak words of commendation to let her know you appreciate the things she is doing right, like Christ did when He spoke to the seven churches.

You do not have to “earn” your authority by being a perfect husband. However, the closer you get to being a perfect husband, the more weight and authority your words will carry, and the more likely your wife will respond to your words of correction.


| DB

 

Image: Dirge by Daniel Botkin from his Dylan-Themed Art Gallery. See all Daniel’s art pieces on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.

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