The Role and Responsibility of the Wife

The Role and Responsibility of the Wife

Yesterday I preached from Ephesians 5:22-24 on the subject of the roles and responsibilities of the wife—as designed by God.  In our previous sermon through Ephesians, I took an overview approach to Ephesians 5:22-33 in order to set the stage for the each section that would be covered in the family section.

In this section, the wife is the focus.  What is a “wife” and why is her role of such great importance in the family?  The first time we see the term “wife” used in Scripture is in Genesis 2:24 where God commands a man to leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.  God instituted the family and designed it in such a way that it brings honor to Him and organization to our society.  As the Proverb states, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18:22).

The Command to Submit

Although submission is an ugly word in our culture, it’s a biblical concept that must be followed.  In fact, if we can’t practice submission in our homes, how will we be able to submit to God, to employers, to rulers of the land, or various other hierarchies?  The word “submit” is carried over from verse 21, and must be taken in the imperative form.  In fact, if you look at Colossians 3, you will see that Paul does intend to communicate to the wife that her role is to submit to her husband.

Submit = “ὑποτάσσω” – A Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.

Although submission is something that our culture resists at all levels, the Christian—and especially the Christian home—should exemplify what it means to live in submission to God and His commands.  One of the most practical ways that a wife can put her Christianity on display is by being a faithful submissive wife who aligns herself under the leadership of her own husband.  R. C. Sproul has stated:

It is the Lord’s will that the wife be submissive to her husband, and if she wants to honour Christ, then one of the concrete ways she does this is by being in submission to her husband. If a woman is contentious and refuses to follow the leadership of her husband, she is in rebellion, not simply against him, but also against Christ. [1]

The very word “submit” has become a very nasty word in our culture. Employees don’t like to submit to their bosses.  Children don’t like to submit to their parents.  Wives don’t like to submit to their husbands. In a culture filled with anti-authority attitudes, often times that spreads beyond the border of culture and invades the life of the local church.  This type of rebellion has become a normative aspect of what it means to be an American. However, that type of attitude and rebellion is not what it means to be a Christian.  Peter O’Brien writes, “The idea of subordination to authority in general, as well as in the family, is out of favour in a world which prizes permissiveness and freedom.” [2]

Just as Peter and the apostles were to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) when they were commanded to stop preaching the gospel, so must the wife be in total submission to Christ.  If she is asked to violate God’s Word and live in disobedience to her Savior, she is to refuse to submit to the leadership of her husband in that particular area of her life.  If she is married to an unbeliever, she should remain married to him as long as he will have her as his wife (1 Cor. 7:13-14).  Who knows what her faithful submission will lead to in their marriage?  It could very well lead to her husband’s salvation as he watches the faithfulness of his godly wife.

The Roles Explained

In verses 23-24, Paul explains the roles of the wife and illustrates it by using Christ and the church.  The role of the wife is to be under the authority of her head—her husband.  The word translated “head” is the Greek term, κεφαλή and it is a direct reference to an authoritative position of leadership for the husband.  Our culture has reversed the roles of husband and wife for many years now, and this reversal has given birth to many problems.  Those same cultural problems are visible in the life of the local church as well.

It is God’s will for the husband to be the provider, the worker, and the leader of the home.  Although both the man and his wife are equal intellectually and both are created in the image of God, it is God’s design for the wife to submit to her husband as her leader and for the husband to take the primary responsibility as the breadwinner.  Unfortunately, that is not the way the American dream is achieved, and therefore, a large number of wives leave their homes everyday for corporate America.  In 2015, 69.9 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the labor force, representing over a third (34.2 percent) of working women. [3]

With this type of lifestyle, we must ask a serious question—who will raise the children, disciple them for God’s glory, and love their children and their husbands for God’s glory?  If the wives abandon their homes for other jobs, who will perform the work of the wife in the home?  Titus 2:3-5 provides us a helpful look at God’s designed role for the wife:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Notice the short phrase, “working at home” in Titus 2:5.  It is God’s will for the wife to make her home the center of her life and labor.  Even the Proverbs 31 woman is pictured as working diligently, but it’s obvious that her labor was centered on the wellbeing of her home and she put her love on display for her family through her labor.  She was not neglecting her family in pursuit of a career.

The Christian family must reject the harsh criticism of the culture regarding the biblical family structure.  The culture laughs at the church, makes fun of God’s children, and suggests that we are all backward people who need to get up to speed with reality.  What voice should we listen to—culture or Christ?

Are you a working mother?  Is it out of necessity to take care of your family or is it out of a desire to live on a certain socioeconomic level?  We live in a fallen world where at times, it’s absolutely necessary for a wife and mother to work outside of the home.  However, that’s not always the case.  If you stayed home and made your home your focus with your children under your care and love put on display in the home, would your family be more healthy?  Would your children be more loved?  Would your love for your husband be more obvious?  Would you have less regrets in the years to come?

These are serious question that must be addressed.  In the end, the eternal souls of your children and your husband matter.  Make the biblical decision for how you structure your family.  If you need to take less vacations, live in a different neighborhood, drive less expensive automobiles, and drop do a lower socioeconomic level in order to obey Christ—it will be worth it.  The biblical family structure is not outdated or outrageous as the radical feminists try to suggest.  The biblical family doesn’t need to be updated to fit into our culture.  God’s plan doesn’t need to be revised, and interestingly enough, it works across the board in all cultures.  Imagine that—a God who designs a family structure that actually works.

If you pay attention to the news and look at our culture you will see teen suicide, a rise in secularism and a pagan worldview, broken homes through divorce, and a massive number of people who are being treated by psychologists through medication for deep rooted depression.  Could any of this be linked to a role reversal and altered family structure?  It would be foolish to make adjustments to God’s design for the family.  Not only will it harm your family, but the church will suffer as well.

How can all of this be carried out?  Paul points to the relationship between Christ and the church as an example.  Look to Christ and the church as an example of faithful submission and faithful headship and as the wife submits fully to God, she will learn to submit to her husband and follow his leadership in the home.


  1. R. C. Sproul, The Purpose of God: Ephesians (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 135.
  2. Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 412.
  3. Issue Brief, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, June 2016.

 

Disney Comes out of the Closet — “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

Disney Comes out of the Closet — “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

In recent years, there has been an ongoing push for Disney to create LGBT characters.  One online petition has over 650 signatures and continues to grow.  Interestingly enough, another online petition to boycott an LGBT agenda in “Beauty and the Beast” currently has over 102k signatures.  Disney, like many other production companies, is set to change the image of homosexuality in the public’s eye through their new live-action film based on their classic — “Beauty and the Beast.”  According to a prominent British gay lifestyle magazine, this is “a watershed moment for Disney.”  That statement is based on the leaked information that has now surfaced in preview screenings and interviews about the upcoming film set to be released on March 17th.

At various times, Christians align and call for boycotts on companies who promote policies that violate Christian principles or teach harmful theology.  There may be a need to boycott a specific organization or company at times, but for the most part, I don’t engage in the boycott agendas.  For instance, I still drink Starbucks.  I still wear Nike products.  I order my Starbucks from an Apple device and then pay for it with my Starbucks app.  I don’t always play the boycott game.

However, there may be times when we should refrain from supporting entertainment outlets and businesses that teach false doctrine.  For instance, drinking Starbucks coffee doesn’t engage my mind with an unbiblical worldview, but going to a movie that teaches the same worldview of Starbucks’ executives could be harmful.  Wisdom is necessary at this point since Scripture is silent on the subject of boycotts.

The movie, “Beauty and the Beast” is not like drinking Starbucks coffee.  It will display information in form of powerful graphics and surround sound on the big screen, and those scenes are loaded with teachable moments.  Beware of the damage that a little scene in a movie will have upon your children.  No matter how flamboyant or subtle the scene may be, it will be used as a lesson for you and your children.

“Beauty and the Beast” — Normalizing What Is Abnormal

We have been fighting a war in America over language, restroom privileges, and same-sex marriage for years now.  That war has, in many ways, been won by a minority of people who have used their “minority” status to leverage support and sympathy.  In the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America on June 26th, 2015, their five to four ruling did more than liberate a segment of the American population. Their ruling was a redefining and total overhaul of marriage from its original design. Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent said, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.” [1] In their act of will, they rewrote the dictionary by the power of a single vote. He who controls the dictionary controls the minds of people.

In essence, the Supreme Court of the United States took the abnormal and made it normal by a single vote.  For years Hollywood has been working to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.  From subtle roles in sitcoms to leading personalities such as Ellen, the lifestyle of homosexuality has been paraded before the eyes of the American public for years with a clear agenda to make it normal.  If enough people will continue to see it, they will start to become desensitized to it.  Much like the American people have become desensitized to the culture of death in the legalization of abortion.  It’s legal, so it must be normal—right?  But now, it’s not a sitcom, a daytime talk show, or a late night comedy, it’s Disney, a company that makes its fortunes on children and families.

According to Bill Condon, the director of “Beauty and the Beast” — this film will contain a character who is confused about his sexuality.  While same-sex attraction is a temptation that many people fight against, this new Disney film is positioned to make it normal to act upon those feelings.  Josh Gad, one of the lead actors in the film, tweeted that he was “beyond proud” to be playing such a groundbreaking role.  In an interview with Attitude magazine, Bill Condon says:

LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston…And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.

“Gone with the Wind” broke the MPAA profanity ban in 1934 by using one single profane word.  In 2013, the movie “Wolf of Wall Street” used the “f” bomb 506 times.  What was once abnormal has been made normal to the eyes and ears of the entire world.  If the Supreme Court of the United States couldn’t make homosexuality normal, now Disney has joined arms to assist.  Human sexuality, as God once defined it in creation, has now been redefined and altered.  Who controls the dictionary, Disney or God?

The Responsibility of Parents

Notice the rating of the movie.  The film is rated “PG” and will be viewed by many families and young children.  Many of these families and young children will be faced with a powerful display of a gay relationship in ways that only Hollywood can depict it — in a fictional manner that veils the broken road of homosexuality.  Hollywood has made billions by creating fake worlds, fictional characters, and false relationships.  This will certainly fall into line with other false realities created by Hollywood, only this time it’s their “watershed moment” according to the director.

As parents, we have a responsibility to care for and instruct our children in truth (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 20-25).  Taking the family to a theater, placing a box of popcorn and a coke in the hands of your children, and allowing them to be taught a subtle lie of homosexuality on the big screen will have an impact upon their understanding of human sexuality at some level.  Even if it’s just a few bricks, your children are steadily building their worldview one block at a time.  Sometimes children need to be taught why we don’t go to all movies, and this could be a good step in the right direction in assisting the construction of your children’s worldview.

Engage the Culture with Love and Truth

One blogger said, “I want my kids growing up in a world where they are taught to love EVERYONE and I think Beauty and the Beast did a wonderful job reinforcing values that I want my kids to have.”  While we should care for all people, showing acceptance for people’s sinful lifestyle choices should not be equated with love.  In fact, it could be argued that subjecting your children to scenes of homosexuality at impressionable ages is actually unloving to your own children as it causes confusion on the subject of human sexuality.

Wisdom is necessary in how we respond to a culture who hates God.  However, we are called to respond.  A boycott is not enough.  The church in America is much smaller than we realize.  We can’t expect to change the culture through restrictions, blog posts, and boycotts.  We must engage the culture with truth, and this must be done in a winsome and loving manner.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus and witnessed a city filled with pagan idolatry and sexual perversion, he didn’t call for the disciples there to boycott.  Instead, he engaged the culture of Ephesus with the gospel.  According to the account in Acts, “Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods” (Acts 19:26).  It was through his preaching that people were moved to believe the gospel and became followers of Christ.  The preaching of the gospel was so successful that it damaged the sales of the silversmiths who made a living constructing false gods.  This resulted in a massive riot in Ephesus.

Riots are not the goal in gospel ministry, but if they come, may it be said that they were the result of gospel preaching instead of mere boycotts.  Martyrdom is not our goal as followers of Christ, but if they kill us, let it be the result of our gospel message rather than our choice of retail stores.  My family will not be seeing “Beauty and the Beast,” but I’m not trusting in my abstinence from this film as a means of solving our cultural problem.  It will take much more than a boycott.  We need clear gospel preachers in the pulpit and in the home who believe the gospel, teach the gospel, and live gospel focused lives in the face of a pagan culture.


[1] OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. — https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf [accessed 11-25-16]

 

3 Ways Marriage Proclaims the Gospel

3 Ways Marriage Proclaims the Gospel

Last night I was having a conversation with two friends about marriage.  As we discussed the subject together, we focused on three key ways in which marriage reflects the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  All marriages in some way or another point to the gospel, even among unbelievers, but the Christian marriage shines a bright light of the gospel for the world to see.  We must never forget that marriage matters.

Marriage and Sacrificial Love

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).  Although it’s impossible to achieve this level of love, our goal as men is to love our wives as Christ loved the church.  In what way did Christ love the church?  He loved the church with a sacrificial love as He gave His life for the sins of His people.  Therefore, it’s obvious that our marriage relationship matters as we’re called to put on display the gospel through our marriage.

If anyone has the responsibility of rescuing marriage from the vile sin saturated community of Hollywood, it’s the church of Jesus Christ.  Marriage has been hijacked by sitcom writers, and many of our young people learn a false view of marriage through a screen as they watch movies and television sitcoms.  They learn to laugh at it.  They learn to disrespect it.  They learn to disregard it.  Pastors must preach, fathers must exemplify, and grandfathers must testify to our young men that marriage is far more beautiful than what’s displayed in the sordid sitcoms of the world.

Marriage and Covenant Keeping

In the Old Testament, we see an example of covenant keeping that’s extraordinary.  When God chose Israel, He did so not on the basis of their size or power.  He did so in order to put on display His sovereign choice.  God poured out His love upon Israel, but as we read the Old Testament, we see that Israel continued to sin against God.  In order to teach an object lesson on covenant keeping, God instructed Hosea to pursue a woman of whoredom and to have children of whoredom.  He followed the command of the Lord and it must have been a very difficult road.  However, the point of the lesson was for Israel to see in the marriage of Hosea and Gomer a picture of the faithful covenant keeping relationship between God and Israel.  Although Gomer was guilty of whoredom, Hosea was faithful to her.  Although Israel was guilty of vile whoredom with other gods — God remained faithful to His people and kept His covenant.

That same picture of covenant keeping is put on display between Christ and His church.  Christ will never divorce His bride.  Christ will never put the church away and issue her a bill of divorcement.  Our marriage relationship is connected to Jesus’ relationship to the church and we must remember this on the good days and the bad days of our marriage relationship.  The lost world around us needs to see us work through our marriage difficulties and overcome challenges as we keep our covenant.  We expect to hear the breaking news of Hollywood couples filing for divorce.  After all, their definition of marriage is rooted in the sordid ground of base sitcoms.  Our definition of marriage comes from the pages of sacred Scripture — and it reflects the glory of Christ and His covenant keeping love for the church.

Marriage and Forgiveness

One of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture is Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  If this is true of the church in general, imagine how much more so this is true within the covenant keeping relationship of marriage.  How much has Christ forgiven His bride of foolish talk, laziness, idolatry, and various other common everyday sins of the flesh?  How can we as men refuse to forgive our wives if we’ve received the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ?  Why can’t Christian wives forgive their husbands of wrongdoing and sins in marriage if they’ve been the recipients of God’s mercy and love through Jesus Christ?  In his excellent book, This Momentary Marriage, John Piper writes the following:

So what about the compost pile I mentioned at the end of the last chapter? Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future, and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and the flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and in your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but sometimes it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. Noël and I have come to believe that the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. That’s where you shovel the cow pies.

You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of the field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of the field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs may ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is a gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved. [1]

Whatever we do in life and no matter how successful we become in business, we must strive for success in marriage.  If there is one pursuit worthy of our time and devotion, it’s the pursuit of a God-glorifying marriage that proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ.


  1. John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009), 59.