THE STAGES OF MARRIAGE
Many couples today are seeking counseling for their marriages and are looking everywhere out in the world for this counsel. The Word of God cries out to these couples, that they would turn to the scriptures, God's Holy Word, and to HIS wisdom for their marriages today. Oh, that couples everywhere would turn back to the Word of God!
We can see in the following passages how the Lord, through the scriptures, pleads with us to turn to HIS wisdom:
Proverbs 1:20-23 says:
20 "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 "She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you."
1 "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2 "So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 "Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 "If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 "Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
6 "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."
13 "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding&ldots;
15 "She (wisdom) is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her&ldots;
17 "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her."
In verse 18, above, the wisdom from God's Word is said to be a "tree of life to them that lay hold upon her". What did the tree of life do for Adam and Eve in Genesis, before they sinned? We know that had they been able to continue to partake of it freely, they would have lived forever. After the sin, however, God cast them out of the garden of Eden and they no longer had access to it. When we acknowledge that God's words are right and perfect and when HIS instructions become our guide, they become "a tree of life" to us. When they are applied to our marriages, our union can then live, flourish, and last!
"LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER"
The Lord tells us that believing and applying the Holy Scriptures causes us to be blessed, like the man described in Psalms 1. This wonderful passage reads:
1 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of
the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the
seat of the scornful.
2 "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
The Lord often uses nature, in the scriptures, to teach us valuable lessons, and so we are told to observe nature and learn from it. (See Proverbs 6:6-8 as another example.) When we study what the scriptures have to say about marriage, we can see that God has established that a healthy, scriptural marriage will be like this tree, in Psalms chapter 1, that is "planted by the rivers of water".
In applying this principle, we can compare marriage to a big, beautiful oak tree. In its infancy, the tree is putting down roots. There aren't many leaves yet, and the above ground plant is small because all of the energy is going into establishing a deep root system. Our wonderful creator has ordered that the little seedling of a tree do this. The Lord knew that in order to survive severe weather conditions that are to come, the tree would need deep roots. So, it is only after the root system is well established that the tree begins to grow a bigger and stronger trunk, and then on to more and bigger branches, that then produce more and bigger leaves. Only then is the tree able to produce an abundance of fruit, its acorns. We know that this fruit of the oak tree is what nourishes many small animals and also reproduces and starts the life cycle all over again. What a lovely plan this is!
So it is with marriage. God has created, established, and honored marriage and has a lovely plan for it to be able to work effectively.
THE GERMINATION STAGE (STAGE I)
The first stage of marriage, like the tree, is the germination stage. The union of a couple in marriage is like this germination stage, in which the acorn seeks the right conditions in which to germinate and begins to grow. This germination stage in marriage, and subsequent "honeymoon" is exciting and full of promise. The couple sets their eyes on the future and on the wonderful life that is ahead for them, together. They believe all they need at this stage is "water" and "sunshine", and somehow they will live happily ever after. They believe that the emotion of "love" that they feel now will last forever and will solve any problems of life that will come. The only problem is that this stage does not last very long and the "dynamics" of the marriage begin to change. This ushers in stage #2, the "root growing stage."
THE ROOT GROWING STAGE (STAGE II)
(A) THIS IS A CRUCIAL STAGE!
The second stage is the root growing stage. This is such a crucial one. Much careful attention must be given to this stage, because everything, the whole future of the tree, rests upon how deeply the roots go into the ground. So, in our allegory, the tree begins to push its roots downward.
In this stage of marriage, the marriage too, is growing its "roots". The couple either develop scriptural or unscriptural ways of handling the difficulties that creep into their marriages. The roots grow straight downward and deep, in the marriage where the partners seek to do the Lord's will as it is written in His Word. However, the couple faces many new problems. The new has worn off a little bit, the picture of the future becomes a little foggy and the couple begin to look at the here and now. Reality begins to set in. Each person finds a little bit of dissatisfaction with his partner. The faults that seemed to not matter before, or that were hidden from sight, now become big irritants in the union. Each partner falls short of the "ideal" spouse that the other had in mind. Whether or not a spouse was aware of his partner's faults before marriage, he may now begin to try to change his partner to become what his idea of the ideal partner is. Each, at times, "feels" as if he no longer loves his spouse. Financial burdens, as well as stress and other problems also begin to cloud over their rosy view of their future. However, how each partner deals with these difficulties will set the stage for the future of their marriage.
(B) GOD'S ORDAINED ORDER
Another trait of this "root growing" stage is that each person in the union begins to test the territory. Each partner has his own ideas of how marriage operates and each is seeking to establish what he believes his place, position, and role in the home should be. Each one has come into the marriage with a different set of parents and role models, and with different expectations of the other. Each begins to push a little harder for his own will and for things to go the way he believes they should.
Yet, even though each comes from a different background, the Lord has given men and women specific roles and has created them to need these roles and to function best in these roles. Each partner should take heed to the roles that the Lord has given each of them, as outlined in the scriptures.
Men, because the Lord has instilled in them the desire to be the head of their own domain, usually begin to try to take charge and to take their rightful, God-given, position. Women, on the other hand, usually do not take to this lightly and will quite often try to usurp their husband's authority. Genesis 3:16 says, "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." God has said that a husband will rule over his wife. I have never met a wife yet who honestly said she liked this concept. It goes against our self-will and our sin nature. This "rule" is a result of the curse, brought upon women by Eve. We women must accept it. Our husbands didn't dream this up nor create this "problem". The Lord has ordained it to be so.
So women, today, like Eve, try to be independent of their spouses, to "become their own person", and they resent their husbands trying to rule over them. In essence, women go into marriage trying to reverse the curse that God himself has put on all womankind.
Oh, it's true, that many times wives don't realize that they are trying to reverse this curse. They believe, many times, that their husbands have this or that fault, so they reason to themselves that it is better if they (the wives) control some things in the relationship. Or they may believe they are more mature or know more about the particular circumstances, so their job is to make their husbands "see" their point of view. However, these tactics do not work within marriage, because God has ordained an order. No matter how much women try to change this order, God, himself, has seen fit for marriage to be run this way, and therefore, marriage never works well otherwise. We see in the Pauline epistles, that this principle is still in effect, 4,000 years after God placed the curse on Eve. I Cor. 11:3 says, "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." This very verse explains the major reasons why there are so many divorces in this present day and age in which we live. It is obvious everywhere that women are rebelling against the order that God has ordained.
Women must realize, that obeying God's order will cause them and their marriage to become the best that it can be and is the only way for marriage to be everything that God intended for it to be.
(C) SETTING PATTERNS
In marriages, as with the tree, during the "root growing" stage, patterns are being set. The way that each partner interacts with the other, becomes the rule rather than the exception. The roots are growing. Once they are established, it is hard to reverse their direction. Have you ever tried to move the roots of a large tree? Once they are established, this is nearly an impossible task.
In the passage in Psalms chapter 1, the river represents the Word, the "living water". "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." The scriptures, the perfect Word of God, when read and applied, establish the root systems of our marriages, and cause them to grow deeply, and our marriages prosper. The Word becomes a "river of life-giving water" to us.
If we do not obey the scriptures early in our marriages then our root system will spread outward and be shallow. I am told that trees that do not haveenough water during this developmental stage, will develop shallow roots. These roots spread out over the surface of the ground rather than going straight downward. The reason is that they only receive "sprinklings", rather than a soaking water supply that goes deeply into the soil. The roots spread out because the water never gets to the under layers of earth, and the roots are "taught" to seek water in the shallow, top layer of earth. During powerful storms, these trees are in great danger of falling. Most of us have experienced the after effects of a hurricane or other powerful storms. Many times trees are uprooted and have fallen on the streets or even on homes and vehicles. Usually it can be noticed that one tree will have fallen while another one nearby is still standing and has received little damage. Why is this? The ones that have fallen have shallow root systems!
If the roots of our marriages are to grow deeply, then we must receive our "living water" from the Word of God. What the Lord has to say about marriage must be our constant source of strength, nourishment, and instruction. If a couple does not obey the Word of God, nor put into practice what the scriptures teach about marriage, the marriage will develop shallow roots, and their "tree" may not survive the storms of life that are yet to come.
When women within themselves try to bring about change in their husbands, because this is nscriptural, it causes the root systems within their marriages to grow improperly. This sets off a chain of reactions and patterns that may be set for life. Women, don't allow your patterns to be those that are not according to the Word of God. If you do, they may create situations and problems in your marriage that you may find to be very hard to change.
There are many reactions and changes that may occur in these marriages as a result of bad patterns. In a home where God's ordained order is not established, a husband may feel as if he is not the head of his home. He will never develop the trust in his wife that the Lord intended that he have, nor trust in his position as head, and may always be trying to assert his headship. He can never "rest" in his position. The marriage becomes a battleground in which battles are won but the war is never over. I have observed many marriages of older couples married for a long time, who have not settled this question of headship. Their marriages seem to always be on shaky ground, because they are still fighting for this position and leadership role.
However overtly or subtly, that a wife begins to try to change her husband, it always changes the relationship between the two. Her husband who once may have seen her as sweet and submissive before marriage, now begins to view her as sly and manipulative. Instead of having a best friend and companion, he now finds himself in constant competition. He may also begin to believe that he can hardly do anything right in her eyes, and although he once thought that she would always back him, he may now feel as if she gives him little support or appreciation.
With problems like these, and given a man's basic nature, that of not communicating his feelings, troubles begin brewing in these marriages. The reaction of some men is to do "passive-aggressive" things to assert their authority; in other words, meanness, in a subtle way. Others may try in harsh ways to assert their authority. No, this is not right, but nevertheless, it is something that some men do.
When a man's basic need to be in control and to be the head of his home, is met, he begins to develop self confidence and his self-esteem is given the boost it needs. This helps him to become the leader he needs to be in the home as well as out in the world. I think sometimes, that women don't realize how much control they actually have in their own hands. They can make or break their own husband's future! Women, we must begin in the home to give our husbands the support and encouragement they need! What is so sad, is that many women believe the opposite. They believe it is their duty to bring their husband's ego down a notch. They just don't realize what damage this does to the home and even to themselves.
When this need of a husband is met and he believes his wife backs him, appreciates him and allows him his proper headship, he begins to love his wife more deeply and usually becomes a better husband to her. This is the very thing that meets her own basic need! We women must be careful not to prevent the very thing from happening in our marriages that meets our own needs!
When a husband's need is not met, he may lose the little bit of self-esteem that their bright, cheerful, loving courtship probably had once begun to bring out in him. The wife who once thought that he set the moon, caused him to believe that he could accomplish anything with her by his side. Now, though, he is feeling defeated and life can begin to look rather bleak to this man. This also causes his wife to be more dissatisfied with him, and she loses even more feelings of respect for him. The chain of reactions are causing the marriage to spiral downward! The "tree" is becoming malnourished and is not growing properly.
Many men react to these things by becoming non-communicative and withdrawing into their own world of work, sports, or other things. They may also withdraw from any attempts at leadership in the family. Some become so involved with their children that their wives are no longer a priority to them. When these things happen, the wife will pity herself and bemoan the marriage and think all of the problems would be solved if only HE would change. These are the patterns that create patterns!
Please take note that I am not saying that it is a wife's fault when a man treats his wife badly. No, by no means. We know that the Lord has clearly given to the man the instruction of loving his wife, as "Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it". There is no excuse for the man who does not obey these instructions. However, wives are given their own specific instructions, and must work on themselves and on their own role within the marriage. A wife is personally accountable to the Lord for what she does, for whether she obeys the scriptures or not. A wife must set as her goal, that of obeying the Lord's written intructions to her. She must leave the changing of her husband to the Lord, for the Lord is able! Through His Word the Lord can change a husband and conform him into the image of His son, as Romans 8 promises! Women must simply trust God and obey the scriptures that are specifically to them! As someone once said, we have to "let go and let God"!
(D) "AND THE WIFE SEE THAT SHE REVERENCE HER HUSBAND"
When either a husband or a wife begins to feel dissatisfaction with his or her marriage partner, the scriptures are very plain about what to do. The husband is told to love his wife anyway, just as he loves his own flesh, and in the same way that Christ loved us, while we were yet in our sin. A man loves his own flesh in spite of its imperfections, and is told to love his wife in the same way.
The wife's instruction is to reverence her husband. The Word of God tells us, in Ephesians 5:33, "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
The wife's instruction of reverence, when followed, will bring about a change in her attitude. She will begin to focus less on her husband's faults and to focus on the good and positive in their relationship. This is the same attitude she had during their courtship, is it not? Yes, it is! Many writers and counselors have advised women whose marriages were in trouble to try to get back to the feelings they had during their courtship. This attitude change, of reverence, produces the same thing. It is very healing for the marriage and both partners benefit from this.
"Reverence" holds the husband in high esteem, and would never do anything to degrade or hurt him. Reverence does not seek to be on the throne, but puts the "reverenced one" on the throne of her heart and life! This is something a woman does by choice. It is not something she does because she feels like it or because her husband does the things that deserve honor and respect. No, she must do it for Christ's sake. She must do it by faith, believing it is the best for her and her husband, and because it is the Lord's will! She does it because it is a command to her from the Lord, "and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Some years back, I knew a couple who had developed "shallow roots" in their marriage. This was obvious to everyone who was around them. The wife constantly belittled her husband, even correcting him and telling others of his faults, right in front of him. It seemed as if, according to her, he could do nothing right. This wife obviously did not "reverence her husband", nor treat him in a reverential way. Reverence would never do this, no matter what the husband's faults are. This particular husband always acted like a whipped puppy dog, and I felt very sorry for him. Sometime later the wife came to my husband, brokenhearted, and seeking advice, but it was too late. Her husband had found another woman, a co-worker, who thought he set the moon! I do not condone the husband for leaving his wife and two children, but is it not possible that this wife set the stage for this to happen? I suspect that this man was starved for appreciation and "reverence".
Our wonderful Lord and Creator knows human nature; he himself made us! And he knows what a man needs! It is a basic need for a man to be accepted and appreciated, and to be given honor and respect! This need comes with the role and the very nature that the Lord has given man! We wives have been given the unique and special role of being our husband's cheerleader! We must "pump him up", not bring him down! We must be the one who "cheers" for him, because more than likely the world will not. We must be the bright and loving face that he longs to come home to each night. He should see someone who is glad he is there, whose face lights up when he enters their home! He should never feel like he is just someone to take out the garbage, or someone to hand the kids over to!
Women, our men face a mean world out there and they face constant competition and bickering and backbiting. We must not allow our homes to be only more of the same! We must give our husbands the honor and respect that they crave! The world, in all likelihood will never give it to them! Our homes must be a haven away from all of that.
(E) BICKERING AND NAGGING CAN TEAR DOWN A HOME.
Proverbs 14:1 warns women, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."
Women usually can make or break the spirit within the home. The Lord calls the woman foolish who tears down her own home. The following verses warn about what these things do to a man and to the marriage.
Proverbs 19:13 states, "...and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping" and, Proverbs 27:15 warns, "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike."
My husband once bought me a little plaque that reads, "When mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" I used to wonder, "If he knows this, why doesn't he try to make me happy?" I have since learned that my happiness is not dependent upon how my husband treats me or upon my outward circumstances, but it is something I must take care of personally, with the Lord's help. It is something that comes from within. "Happiness is a choice", as one writer put it. We are the ones who are in charge of our own happiness. The passage in Psalms 1 says, "Blessed is the manâ¦ his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." This man's happiness comes from his relationship with the Lord and from his meditation in the Word of God.
So we see, a "continual dropping in a very rainy day" can break down a person's spirit and gives the home a gloomy outlook. It is a well-known fact that the use of a continually dripping faucet has been used as a tactic to break down a man's spirit in concentration camps. Wives, we should never allow ourselves to develop these habits of continually nagging, or complaining, or of having a gloomy or angry spirit.
Proverbs 21:19 also warns, "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Verse 9 of the same chapter, also says, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house." Proverbs 25:24 warns again by saying the same thing, "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." We women should note that our Lord has repeated this verse twice!
We should never, ever cause our husbands to wish they were dwelling in the wilderness or in the corner of a housetop alone, rather than with us! We must pay attention to what we are doing within our homes, and give heed to the Word of God!
(F) WIVES MUST NOT MAJOR ON THE MINORS.
Sometimes young marrieds don't realize that irritation (and dissatisfaction) is just a fact of life. We must not let the little problems cause us to major on the minors! People will always irritate you, if not in one way, then in another. Spouses almost always will have problems, and there will be issues within the marriage that become an irritation to each in some way. I once heard a woman in her second marriage say, that if she had known then what she knows now, that she would have stayed with her first marriage. She then said she only traded one set of problems for another. Oh, that couples would see that divorce is not the solution!
Marriages are destined to have irritants. People do tend to marry opposites, and the very things that once delighted a person, may now irritate him in the daily-ness of life. A person who was once viewed as "bubbly", now may be viewed as not serious enough. A man who was once viewed as manly, and in control, is now viewed as a "male-chauvinist"! A person once viewed as "carefree" may now be viewed as irresponsible.
Differences must be taken in stride. I am sure that many couples have similar differences to that of my husband and myself. I am a night person and he is a morning person. He goes to sleep within three minutes of hitting the pillow at night! It takes me a while to wind down and go to sleep, after going to bed.
My husband awakes with a bang at the crack of dawn, raring to go! My body may wake up but my mind does not wake up until about 2 hours later! I move slowly in the mornings and don't want to talk! He doesn't want to talk at night, and that is my best time! If I am awakened during the night, it takes quite a while before I can go back to sleep, so I am often sleep-deprived. In spite of these differences, through the years we have developed something that works for us. Most nights, I rub my husband's back at night while I read or watch television. This is something he simply loves, and it allows me to wind down and get sleepy.
In the mornings, when he is up before dawn, my sweet hubby slips out quietly and lets me sleep. I am getting my best sleep at that time. He is so careful about it that he has developed the pattern of getting his clothes out of his closet the night before and putting them into the study to dress there in the mornings. He takes great care to be quiet and not disturb me for a while.
Differences like these used to create big problems in our marriage. They no longer do. We have both learned to give and take concerning these problems. We have learned to appreciate our differences, to work with them rather than against them, or at the least, to tolerate them! We no longer major on the minors!
(G) THE ANSWER IS IN THE SCRIPTURES
There will always be problems in marriages, and the answers to them are always in the scriptures. God does not leave women wondering what to do concerning the individual problems in each of their marriages. The scriptures are very plain.
Older women are told to teach the younger women certain things, which includes the instruction, "to love their husbands". Titus 2:4-5 instructs,"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."
The word "love", in this verse implies an action and when applied scripturally, will be the answer to a multitude of problems in marriage. When we apply this verse to the scriptural definition of "love", being "charity", in I Corinthians 13, then we find how to love our husbands correctly. This kind of love "seeketh not her own", "suffereth long", "is kind", "envieth not", "is not easily provoked", "thinketh no evil", "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things," and "endureth all things".
How many of us love our husbands this much? I dare say, probably not many. However, we should always be striving toward giving this kind of love to our husbands.
What does our modern society tell women to do when we are dissatisfied with our marriages? It tells us to set our limits with our husbands, to cause them to treat us how we want to be treated, and that we must demand what we want. If we do not get what we want from our spouses, women are then encouraged to bail out and move on! This is what women everywhere are doing! By trying to change their husbands, and not loving them as the scriptures teach, they are breaking up marriages that God can heal. What do the scriptures say to do when faced with dissatisfaction? The answer is the exact opposite of the world view! We are told to LOVE OUR HUSBANDS! We are told to give ourselves up to them and for them! Sacrificially!
Christ gave us the perfect picture of this. We must give our love to our husbands, just as Christ did for us! Christ showed His love to us by giving himself freely and unconditionally as the sacrifice to pay the penalty for all of our sins.
Romans 5:8 explains this by saying, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Christ did this while we were yet sinners. Christ accepted us, sinful as we are, and made us "accepted in the beloved" as Ephesians 1:6 tells us. To truly love our husbands, we wives must do the same and accept our husbands as they are, giving our love to them freely and unconditionally!
To love our husbands is to love them in spite of their peculiarities or faults. It is to accept them as they are, and to accept their faults as a necessary part of a human being who is still in this body of flesh. After all, this is how we want to be loved, is it not? We feel loved when our husbands exhibit unconditional love for us and accept us in spite of our shortcomings and faults. We must show this same love to them. Many times, we must give up our own desires and needs to exhibit this kind of love.
In this aspect, men and women are again different. While women have a need to be told they are loved, men have more of a need to be shown they are loved than to be told. A woman can tell her husband she loves him, yet not give of herself sacrificially to exhibit her love, and her husband may never really believe in her love. Remember, women, real, true love is a verb and implies an action, as the verse in Titus says, "to love their husbands".
In our allegory of the tree, for the marriage to develop deep roots, a wife must exhibit this kind of love, during this crucial, root growing stage. Her husband will then learn to trust in her love for him and their marriage can then grow to be what the Lord intended for it to be.
(H) SUBMISSION IS THE KEY!
Submission is the key that opens the door to the marriage every woman wants! This is why the Lord is so direct and firm with his instructions about it. Submission to our husbands really is the best for us! It is not a bad thing, but it is a good thing! It can heal a marriage, and cause a marriage to grow to be what God intended for it to be!
Women are told in today's society that submission is a dirty word and a woman who practices this is looked down upon. She is told she must "obey her inner self" and "seek her own worth". The scriptures, however show us that a woman's worth is found in her submission to the Lord, and therefore will be found in her submission to her husband. Just as Christ submitted himself to the will of the Father, and thus was honored and glorified in doing so, so will women find their worth and identity in doing the will of the Lord.
In this Bible study, we have been comparing marriage to a big, beautiful, healthy oak tree. While the tree is in the root growing stage, a woman who obeys the Lord's instructions about submission will cause the roots of her marriage to grow more deeply. She will set in motion a pattern of behaviors that build upon one another and cause the marriage to grow as the partners grow in love and respect for one another.
The Lord is so good to give us perfect instructions about this for our marriages. He lays it out plainly for wives in Ephesians 5:22-24, where the passage says, "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."
He also tells us in Colossians 3:18, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."
Many other passages teach the same thing, like Titus 2:4-5, where The Lord tells us, "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands..."
I Peter 3:5-6 teaches us, "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..."
We can plainly see, in the Word of God, the Lord's teaching in this matter.
Often when teaching this subject to women, the question comes up, "If I am to be in submission, how can I get my husband to see his faults?" So the question really means, is a woman ever permitted, scripturally, to try to correct her husband verbally, or to "help" the Lord correct his faults? In answer, the scriptures never say so. But, however, the scriptures do indicate that a wife teaches by her example, rather than by what she says.
The passage in I Peter 3:1-2 bears this out, by saying,
1 "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;
2 "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
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".
The phrase, "if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won¦", shows that our actions do more than we realize to "teach" our husbands. So we see that teaching a man or correcting a man is a work in a man's heart that only the Lord can do. It is the Lord's business. The Lord may use a wife and her godliness to teach a husband, but a wife really cannot do this in her own power even if she tries, for it upsets God's order and produces negative reactions.
A wife is thus told to never try to usurp authority over her husband, that is, to try to exercise authority over him. "Usurping authority" is the opposite of "reverencing" him, and of being in submission to him. Here again, a wife must let go of her husband and let God himself work in his heart, for the Lord says in 1 Tim 2:12: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
In conclusion, we can see in the scriptures, that instead of "usurping authority", a wife is told to be in submission to her husband. I recently heard the story of a couple whose marriage had been in trouble. The wife gave the testimony that when she finally quit rebelling against the Lord and gave herself in "absolute surrender" to the will of the Lord about submission, that her marriage completely turned around! The husband then testified, that before this change occurred in her, he had never been able to fully and completely love his wife as he knew he should. He had always resented her "pushing and shoving" him around. Today this marriage has become a fruitful tree, proving to the world that God's ways are best!
(I) "A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT"
The previous segments show what a wife can do to see that her marriage develops deep roots. Yes, the husband should do his part, too, but we wives have no control over our husbands. We must do what the Lord requires of us, and allow the Lord to use us to bring about His will within our marriages.
When a wife does the things that cause deep roots to develop, she helps to create peace and harmony within her home. For her marriage to go on to a more fruitful stage, a wife must do her part to see that all of the strife is ended. She must "seek peace and pursue it"! Psalms 34:14 admonishes us, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
Proverbs 26:20-21 also says,
20 "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
21 "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."
Proverbs 11:12 tells us, "He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace."
Of course, we have seen in previous segments that not only contentious men kindle strife but a contentious woman can do the same. Therefore, a wise woman will learn to hold her tongue.
The passage quoted earlier in this study in 1 Peter 3 states to a wife that her adorning is her "meek and quiet spirit". The passage says,
1 "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;
2 "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
We are told in the scriptures that a virtuous and wise woman thinks before he speaks, she opens her mouth with wisdom as Proverbs 31 tells us.
Proverbs 31:26 says: "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
Proverbs 3:17 speaks of this wisdom that this woman possesses: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
Proverbs 17:28 gives us more insight on this truth: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."
A meek and quiet spirit will cause a woman to have a kind and gentle tongue. "In her tongue is the law of kindness". This kindness is a law, or rule, with her. She will use wisdom about how and when she opens her mouth. This meek and quiet spirit thus becomes an ornament to her. An ornament is beautiful; it adorns something and makes it look more beautiful in the eyes of others. This woman benefits personally from this ornament, because others around her begin to see her with different eyes. They begin to see an inner beauty about her. She gives off an "aura". Others usually begin to look up to her more. This woman shows forth the gracious, feminine side that the Lord created in her, that He intended for women to exercise. This feminine quality has often been called the "feminine mystique". It is what captivates a man's heart and inspires others.
This woman who possesses and utilizes this feminine quality is self-assured in her God-given role and is free from aggressiveness and the need to prove her worth. Rather she is assured of her worth and of her God. She has in inescapable faith and trust in her Lord and in His will for her life.
This self-assurance causes those around this woman to hold her in high esteem. Her family, especially, will notice her gentle spirit and her home becomes one of peace, and pleasantness. Eventually, at some time in the future, her husband and children will "arise up" and praise her. Proverbs 31:28 says, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Why would a woman fight against this wonderful will of the Lord for her life? Is it just because she does not understand it, or because the world's view has so clouded her mind with its teaching that she can't believe the scriptural way could possibly be best for her?
We can see through the scriptures that the Lord's will IS what is best for us, and for our marriages! Only when we surrender to it do we discover God's wonderful and perfect plan for marriage. Our marriages then become "like a tree planted by the rivers of water," that bring forth fruit in their season. Our leaves will not wither; but on the contrary, our marriages will prosper. What a glorious, wonderful way to show the world the love and goodness of God, and the sincerity and timeliness of His Word!
To Be Continued ...