Husband & Wife for Life: Her Position (Part 2)
In our prior lesson, we noted that God has placed woman in the position of being a helper perfectly suited for her husband. We will now continue elaborating upon that theme.

Ephesians 5:22-24 teaches - "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to the Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Did you catch that? Wives are to be in submission to their husbands in everything! She is to respect her husband in all things (5:33). He was not created for her; she was created for him! She is not to be the authority in their relationship--he is. She is to pleasantly follow his lead and to be his helper. That is the position God has given her. Is there any woman who thinks she is too good for the position God has created for her? Such a one needs to learn the way of the Lord more fully.

Let me encourage you to also study I Peter 3:1ff on this theme. Peter there teaches that women are to be submissive to their husbands, even if the husband is an unbeliever. Wives should focus on beautifying themselves inwardly and dressing modestly outwardly. They are to be chaste, respectful, gentle, quiet-spirited, and obedient--as Sarah was toward Abraham. Peter makes an appeal for Christian women to be daughters of Sarah (that is, imitators of her). Although modern culture clamors for equality between the sexes, there is no denying that there are significant differences between men and women. These unique qualities are not accidental but have been created by God so that a woman may complement her mate perfectly. It is just as ridiculous for a woman to behave as a man as it is for a man to behave as a woman. The genders are different in many ways besides the reproductive organs! God has made men to be the leaders of their household and the church. He has made women to be the perfect complement to their husbands.

Is this principle without limitation? Must a woman always submit to her husband and joyfully obey him as his helper? The answer is no. There is a time in which a wife may disobey her husband; namely, if he instructs her to do something that is sinful! The apostle Peter taught in Acts 5:29 that when there is a conflict between what God tells us to do and others tell us to do - "We ought to obey God rather than men." If the government forbids Christians to assemble to worship Almighty God, then we must obey God rather than men by assembling peacefully and secretly. We cannot disobey God's command to please our fellow man. The same is true in marriage. Wives must submit to their husbands and be the best helpers they can be, but they cannot disobey God's word in order to please their spouse.

A good example of this limitation is found in principle in I Corinthians 7:15 - "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace." It is sometimes the case that a woman may become a Christian and her husband may strongly resent the religious life she has embraced. He may demand that she cease going to church and studying the Bible. What is she to do? She must love him the best way she can but continue to love God even more by obeying the will of the Lord (cf. Luke 14:26). In extreme cases (like the one Paul discussed), the husband may threaten to leave the wife if she doesn't forsake the Lord. What is she to do then? She must convey her love to him and attempt to keep the marriage together in order to try to save his soul (cf. I Cor. 7:16), but ultimately she doesn't know if she will be successful in that effort. She must respectfully tell him: "I love you but I have to obey God first. I want to be your wife, but I can't give up Christ for you." If he leaves her, she has done what she could. She is not under bondage to him in the sense that she is not required to abandon Christianity in order to please him. As a side note, let it be observed this context does not teach that an abandoned spouse has the right to automatically divorce and remarry. The criteria that must be met is found in Matthew 19:9--sexual infidelity (which tragically often happens when one leaves his or her mate).