I would start here with a New Testament admonishment just to establish that this is not solely a command of the Old. 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us that the head of the woman is the man. Man is the head; woman is the body–this is explained more through Ephesians 5. Moreover, a man who desires an office is expected to rule his house.
In the story of Adam and Eve, we know God created the woman so man would not have to be alone (it is not good for man to be alone–Genesis 2:18). She was to be a helper to him. So we see that God’s original intent was for woman to be a companion and a helper to the man. After woman was deceived, there was an additional component—that the man would rule over the woman and that she would struggle with a desire to rule over him (Genesis 3:16–compare with Cain’s struggle in Genesis 4:7).
As the head of the woman, the husband has authority over the woman’s life. In practical application, this means the man makes the decisions, the plans for their lives. A Christian woman desiring to be an obedient wife should allow the husband to lead her and to make the decisions for their lives. In all things. While he should listen to her desires, it is he who makes the final decisions. The woman then has the responsibility to yield her will to his, obeying him and allowing him to lead. Above all, it should be realized that a man is to shower his wife with his love and affection.
By deferring to her husband’s wishes, a wife is pleasing to him and shows him honor and respect. This also means she should arrange her person, the household, and their food according to his wishes. She conforms to his pleasure.
I know that this is difficult for the modern woman to accept, but this is the way God designed marriage, and the ultimate result will bring not only peace and love to the household, but reflect the church’s relationship to Jesus.
As head of the household, the man has the responsibility to take care of the woman, to protect her, provide for her and love her. He has the responsibility of providing spiritual leadership through teaching, through being her example, and through correcting her. When I say correction, there are specific ways the husband does this:
- Through teaching. The man should regularly study the Bible with his wife and respond to her questions (1 Corinthians 14:35)
- Through rebuke. This should be done only if she openly disrespects him.
- Through reproof. This means lecturing her, reprimanding her in response to her behavior. The aim is to call his wife to repentance for ungodly behavior which would include her disobedience to him.
I know that there are some groups out there that advocate more than these, but a man should never physically discipline his wife. This would contradict much of the loving principle embodied in Ephesians 5. If a man reproves his wife correctly, she will respond with godly sorrow and repentance.
Most of all, the man should be the spiritual leader of his home, providing an example of prayer, praise, worship, reading God’s word and honoring God in the home. By setting this example, he strengthens the woman to do so as well, and this is especially important if children are involve.
Pamela Parizo © 2017