Written by Mrs. Sharon L. White,
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
I have found it to be very easy to read the Biblical commands of obedience to one's husband. Easy to read, that is, but not necessarily to actually do. What does it mean, in practical everyday terms, to fully be in submission to a husband?
The Bible is clear in Ephesians 5:22 saying, "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husband, as unto the Lord." So, here it says we are to serve our husbands, as we would serve Jesus. By our submission to him, we are fully submissive to our Lord.
Many times I have given all to my husband, doing as I was told, taking care of him and honouring him as the King of our Home. Yet, there were some things lacking. At times, I felt that I was doing everything, and he was expecting more than I could readily give. How much work could one wife possibly do? Caring for children, running the household, supervising the cooking and chores and then spending time with my husband. But there always seemed to be more that was needed of me. I have finally realized that it wasn't that he was asking too much, it was that I wanted more time to do as I pleased. I was the one who was being selfish.
This makes it very difficult to fully embrace the submission command. When we live in a state of self - will, my way is best, and I need time for myself, the marriage will have major problems.
He was not created for me, but God created me for him. I am to serve the Lord by serving my husband wholeheartedly and with a meek spirit. (OUCH!) We must give ourselves entirely over to the needs of our husband! This is a full sacrifice of self.
In this present day, we have completely forgotten what it's like to have a true Biblically based marriage. There are few, if any, examples for us to emulate in everyday life. We envision an Iranian woman, walking behind her husband and doing what he says at the drop of a hat. Her own needs, desires, wants, etc., not even considered. She is a servant and almost a nothing.
Yet in this image, there is something for us to grasp. We must look to our husbands as in awe, with complete respect, honor, and prompt obedience. This is our job and responsibility as wives! (ouch again!)
What if you are too busy or tired to keep a clean house and prepare meals on time? Do we even realize that by this very act of negligence, we are disobedient to God and our husbands? Oh, but you might say, my husband loves me. He understands that I can't do everything. Woe to us who have been deceived into a world of comfortable, lazy living! We think we are tired, but in truth, we are slackers!
What man is happy to see his Home, his Heaven on earth, in disarray? What man will want to eat a meal prepared in haste by his careless wife? Do we see how we are in error?
Some people think that, since we live under "grace" (The New Testament), there are no laws to uphold anymore. We are free and saved and can do as we like, as long as we give all the glory to God. How sad is this thought and utterly wrong. There are ordinances in the Bible. And one is to obey, respect, serve and honour our husbands. Even by taking care to keep a clean home and keeping ourselves looking nice, we do greatly serve our husbands.
Let us move on to the Biblical example in the Book of Esther. (Esther 1:10 - 22)
". . .the king. . . commanded . . .to bring Vashti the queen before the King. . . But the queen Vashti refused to come at the King's command. . . therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. . .Then the King said to the wise men. . . What shall we do unto queen Vashti according to the law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king. . .And Memucan answered. . . For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported. . . If it please the King, let there go a royal commandment from him. . . That Vashti came no more before the King Ahasuerus: and let the king give her royal estate to another that is better than she. And when the King's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. . .For he sent letters into all the king's provinces. . . that every man should bear rule in his own house. . ."
Even just in this simple matter, Vashti was disobedient, and for that she was punished. I will share with you a passage from the book "Customs and Fashions in Old New England" written by Alice Morse Earle in 1893.
"Dorothy Talby is chained to a post at the corner of Prison Lane
with the hot sun blazing on her matronly face, and all for no other
offense than lifting her hand against her husband."
This was a scene in the 1600's described by Hawthorne. Clearly the Puritans in those days were very harsh, to say the least. But, let us consider how far away from the Biblical commands we have come. Imagine if we were punished for our disrespect and self - will, our butting in, our nagging, our haughty looks, our nasty arguments, and even our lack of caring properly for our homes!
This is a great and fierce sin on the part of wives. We have to apply the Biblical teachings in every situation. Such as: How do we respond when our husband has made a decision that we want to veto? What if we know we are right? Can we . . . should we butt in? I will give you an example from my own home: One day we were preparing for "big item trash pick up day" ( A yearly occurrence during spring cleaning). We had a few things to put out front, including a mattress. Early in the morning, before my husband left for work, he put out everything except that mattress, thinking that maybe it was the wrong day. Since no one else in the neighborhood had anything, and we would have been embarrassed to have the mattress seen out there. I thought he should have done it anyway, because I knew it was the right day. But, instead of speaking out, I warmly smiled at him and said, "Okay". And didn't give it another thought. The trash did, in fact, get picked up and when my husband came home from work later that day, he told me that he should have put the mattress out. Instead of acting like a know - it - all nag, I reassured him and calmed his tension by simply saying, "You did what you thought was best. Don't worry about it." And in that moment, I learned a good lesson on what it meant to give honour and respect to one's husband. (To this day, we still have that dirty old mattress behind our shed!)
Let us move on to a more difficult situation. What if your husband is in a bad mood, yelling and screaming at you, even though you didn't do anything wrong? How is the godly wife supposed to respond? Well. . . she isn't. Doesn't the Bible say that we are to have a meek and quiet spirit? "Okay, dear"; "That's fine. Whatever you want."; etc. and keeping our mouths shut when appropriate. What if we yell back? "How could you treat me this way?" ; "I told you not to do that!"; "You're no better than I am!"; etc. Now we are obviously sinning, when we return anger for anger and unkindness for unkindness. It is hard, when you are in the fire, to know how to react. But, this is something we must faithfully try to do. And when we fail, we must think and pray about it, so that next time we can respond in the right way.
How exactly is a wife to behave towards her husband? First of all, let me remind you that "Preaching" to one's husband is not allowed whatsoever at all, even if the wife is spiritually more mature than her man. When she tells him what he should be doing, or what he needs to do, or what the Bible says about his attitude, she is usurping his authority! I Timothy 2:12 "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp the authority over the man, but to be in silence." This is a chilling statement for those of us who have been in error. Help us, Lord, to hold our tongues! Help us not to have a "holier than thou" attitude! Let us instead, show the way of God by our behavior, holy conversation and our own actions.
We will now look and learn from the behavior of Abigail in I Samuel 25:23, 40 - 42 ". . . And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground.. . . And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife. And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels after her's that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David and became his wife."
This is the ideal humble wife! We must try, with the help of God, to overcome our habits of self - will. We must give up our own ways and accept the fact that we are the servants, in love and humility, of our husbands. And by our love for God and our zeal to please him, we must please our husbands with an obedient heart.
There was a beautiful letter written in the 1700's by Margaret Winthrop, whose husband was Governor Winthrop. I will share it with you here, and each woman ought to consider her own behavior compared to this gentle, tender - hearted wife:
Oh, what would this world be like, if all the feminists gave up and went back to caring for their husbands. What great men we would have! What great homes we would have! And what a powerful revival that would sweep the nation, as we became blessed by God through our obedience to his ways!
No matter how hard it is to be a good wife, we must faithfully try. In the meantime, while we are retraining our hearts, we should be dutifully serving our husbands in love. Proverbs 16:3 "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Once our manners change, our hearts will follow. And if we sing hymns, our souls will be softened and our communion with God Almighty will bring forth the fruit of undying love for our families.
. . . Remember today, when you see your husband, that he is like the Lord to you. You ought to be glad to see him, and then . . . serve him with all your strength as unto a King worthy of your respect.