A Woman's Right

Women, as well as men, have, in the dispensation of grace, the right to do anything we want. We are free to do anything. No man can judge us. Every choice we make is between us and the Lord. It will not affect our salvation one bit. If a person is saved, it is God that justifieth! (Romans 8:33-34) However, 1 Cor 10:23 tells us, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."

We also see a law of God in force in this dispensation. That is, that everything has consequences. Galatians 6:7 admonishes us, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

With freedom comes responsibility, young women, so you have choices to make. These choices will affect you, your marriage, and your children for the rest of your lives. There has been discussion about how to approach one's husband, when he does not put other's needs ahead of his own. As one young lady said earlier, she makes choices based on the "big picture". We will use the hypothetical illustration about the meatloaf and say that her husband takes most of the meatloaf for himself and leaves little for the rest of the family. For her the choices are: #1. She can speak up about the meatloaf immediately, in front of the children, and show her husband that he is being selfish. This could and only "might" accomplish a couple of things, depending upon what her husband is like. He may either give up his extra large portion and sacrifice his wants for that of the children, or think about it and do better later. He may not. He may do the opposite for the sake of his God-given desire to be the head in the home and especially to be so in front of the children.

What might the young lady lose by opting for choice #1? The immediate consequence is that she loses her husband's belief in her desire for him to be the head of their home. Ephesians 5:33 tells us, "... and the wife see that she reverence her husband." The Lord didn't tell us this to be mean or to demean women. It has a purpose in God's order for marriage. The husband in our story may believe from that point on that his wife really intends to rule him and tell him what to do. He also may believe that he has lost his position in the eyes of the children. He may no longer believe her when she says she wants him to be their leader and head. He may rebel from his role because of this. In some cases, especially where there are step-children involved, he may back off and refuse to "father" the children, because he feels his wife does not allow him his rightful position that he desires and even needs. Remember, women, that the Lord, himself, has instilled this need and desire in every man. It is God's plan for marriage, and therefore is for the best for everyone involved.

I Corinthians 11:3 tells us God's ordained order for marriage, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

In our story about the young woman, in the long run, or "in the big picture", the bad consequences are that the woman loses her witness to her possibly lost husband. That is, that the Bible is true and all it's instructions are right. Also, the marriage will suffer in the long run, if this behavior becomes the pattern, and the couple will always be fighting for leadership and headship in the home. The husband will never be able to "rest" in his position. And peace is only won at great cost to him. Bickering usually becomes the norm, unless the husband is very passive and allows his wife to take over.

The woman I have spoken of has two small sons. She also loses in her son's eyes and hearts. Her sons may either grow up believing her faith does not carry out into her life and therefore reject her faith and go their own way and not the Lord's way, or they may marry women "just like mom" who are not submissive to their husbands. This of course will cause many problems, not to mention that the woman will have to deal with, for the rest of her life, daughters-in-law who have no respect for her or their husbands, or most authority figures.

And there are many more consequences than that, including that the Lord's work will be hampered, as Titus 2:5, tells us, "...obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." But for time's sake, we will limit our list to these.

The young woman's next choice might be: #2. She can wait and submissively tell her husband in private how this makes her and the children feel, or how it bothers her when he does this. She may reap an immediate benefit or she may not. If she can talk about the problem by explaining how this makes them "feel" and not about how "selfish" the husband is, the immediate benefit may possibly be that he improves. And it may help communication in the marriage. It all depends upon the stage that the marriage is in, or how mature her husband is, especially in taking criticism, whether this does any good or not. Most marriages with young children involved are in the beginning stage, or "root" building stage of marriage. This is a very precarious stage and a whole lot more rests upon what a woman does in this stage, than most people ever realize.

So, if a woman feels she must talk to her husband about a situation, as Esther (in the Bible) did, then choice #2 is definitely the way to do it. However, there are possible losses that must be considered. If he does not take well to this, then she will suffer the same losses in her marriage as choice #1. If it is a petty issue, then the husband may tune out to talks in the future. In other words, it is better to be selective about these things. Someone else wrote some wise advice:

"There is one other thing that I have realized lately about expressing my opinion to my husband about something I disagree with. I have realized that he is a lot more likely to listen if I do not question every decision he makes. If I have been questioning every decision, he is on the defensive and will not hear what I am really saying. However, if I am selective, and only discuss the issues that I see as "really" important, he is a lot more likely to listen. If he feels that he is truly the head of our home, he listens a lot better when there is something that I disagree with."

In the long run, the big picture, is that a woman must be careful not to jeopardize her ability to be able to communicate to her husband in the future about far more important issues. She does not want him to always expect to have to put his guard up every time she "wants to talk". She does not want a husband who begins to think that he cannot please her on anything, so he gives up.

However, if a woman's husband can handle it, this way of communicating is more conducive to a good marriage in the long run, than choice #1.

Then there is choice #3: "...a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." (I Peter 3:4b)

The Lord puts his stamp of approval on choice #3, by saying that in His sight, this kind of response is of great price. "Who can find a virtuous woman? (She's a rare creature!) for her price is far above rubies"!

In our hypothetical case, this woman chooses #3, that is, to grin and bear it and say nothing. She does this for Christ's sake and this makes it easier to bear. The long term benefits to this are that this is pleasing to the Lord as first Peter tells us. We will also receive a reward from the Lord himself at the judgment seat of Christ for this kind of spirit. In our story this woman also may help to win her lost husband by her sweet, non-judgmental attitude. But, the benefits in this life are, her boys grow up knowing deep within them what kind of wife they want to marry. Her grandchildren will be affected for the rest of their lives also, that is, if the Lord tarries. Her own marriage will develop deep roots that will help the couple together, weather the storms of life yet to come.

Of course there are negative consequences to this choice, also. Unless a woman is secure in the Word of God and His will for her life, she will develop a resentful attitude. But because the young lady I have mentioned has stated that she does this for Christ's sake, I believe she will be able to have a much more joyful spirit about it all. She knows Christ suffered in her behalf and so she is willing to suffer (what small bit of suffering the meatloaf problem really amounts to) for His sake. But even when it is a much more serious situation, a woman can turn to the Lord for her strength to endure. Psalms 119:28, says, "My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word." The Word of God is what strengthens us to bear what we must bear.

Another negative consequence is that the world, and non-Bible-believers, will think we are either stupid, backward, or "doormats". But if I know I am pleasing the Lord, and that the Lord has my best interest at heart, what do I care what the world thinks? I love to teach my children's classes these verses:

Ps 118:6, and 8, "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" and "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."

In my case, I believe with all my heart that the Lord blessed me, my marriage, my husband, and my children, by my submissiveness and "meek and quiet spirit" about the dogs. Many will remember that in "the dog story" (The link is at the bottom) I relate how that when I kept my mouth shut and just prayed about the situation, the Lord did not answer my request. He did not keep my husband from buying the expensive dogs. My immediate consequence was that my children continued to be without socks and new shoes. We continued to rely almost totally on hand-me-downs. I wore the same dress to church every Sunday for several months. I had to totally depend upon baby-sitting money to buy groceries. Sounds bleak, huh? Not so, in the long run. The big picture is that I now raise God for teaching me so much in those days. I truly did learn, as Paul said in Philippians 4, "I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." I really did learn not to care where our clothes came from, nor how often we had to wash and wear the same things, but just to praise God for them.

My children learned to be very appreciative of anything someone gave them, even hand-me-downs. They learned the value of "things" and of money. They learned that life doesn't owe you a living and you can do with less. Because they learned how to do with less, they now believe very strongly that it is possible for a mom to be a "keeper at home" in this day and age. They are now managing to live on what the Lord provides and the wives are stay-at-home moms.

They also learned what a submissive wife is and should be. I reaped a wonderful God-fearing daughter and son-in-law who believe the truth and take the word of God literally. They now raise my grandchildren in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord". I reaped a daughter-in-law who is very precious to me and tries to do the Lord's will in her life. She is teaching their children to do the same. The precious daughter of their union, just recently told me, being only 5 years old, "Mammaw, we mind Mommy, Mommy minds Daddy, and Daddy minds God!" Out of the mouths of babes...!!

Would I do it all over again in the same way? You bet, in a heartbeat!

I praise God that I learned to pray about anything and to trust the Lord in everything! Philippians 4:6 teaches us, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

The spiritual benefits I reaped far outweighed any negative consequences of the moment. And to top it off, my marriage began to improve and grow stronger roots.

And, too, the rest of the story is that we were blessed physically, also. The big picture is that after the dogs started paying off, they put our children through Christian school for the next ten or so years. But had that not happened, I would still praise God anyway, for all of the spiritual benefits, that He taught me and us, through it all.

We can conclude, that the Words of the Lord are right. "All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." Our choice in every situation we face, as women, is, what will be most edifying?

I pray that all "grace" women everywhere will choose that which edifies. God bless you all.

Mary Atwood