Monday, April 07, 2008

Positions to be Filled: a Biblical Marriage

Biblical marriage is a topic that is very near and dear to our hearts. Eric and I enjoy discussing it with each other as we work out our roles. We also enjoy explaining it to others. This past Sunday, our church began a 2-part talk on marriage as laid out in 1 Peter 3. We entered the service with trepidation this week as last week it was mentioned that they would be exploring how husbands and wives are to submit to each other. However, we were surprisingly impressed when the talk did not focus on this, in fact it was not even mentioned. Instead, the talk revolved around a TRUE biblical, god-ordained marriage wherein the wife submits to her husband as the head of the household. This is our truth. It is laid out plainly in the Bible.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Peter 3:1-7)

This is the section we are going through at church. But I find the Ephesians description to be the easiest to put into practical application.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (Eph. 5:22-33)

Submission is just one of those words that seems to make women nervous and upset. I once felt that way. But I've since come to see the beauty and freedom and strength that can be found in "voluntarily placing oneself below another." If we think about this, don't we, as a society, do this every single day. And don't the very same women who bristle at the idea of voluntarily placing themselves below their husband often do that, with no problem, at work with their boss. Personally, I find it a great comfort to know that while I am carrying out my Biblical job description of submitting to my husband, he at the same time is Biblically responsible to love me as he loves himself. There is no other "job" out there where I could find a boss who had the same obligation.

That being said, Eric and I often like to use the metaphor of a CEO/COO as it relates to our biblical roles of husbands and wives. We have read through many companies job descriptions for these two roles and what follows is a compilation of what I've culled from those descriptions.

The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) & The Husband

  • A CEO is responsible for carrying out the mission of, and reporting to, the Board of Directors. My husband is responsible for carrying out the mission of, and reporting to, our Board of Directors: namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  • A CEO's primary responsibility is to set the vision for the Company into motion. My husband's primary responsibility is to set the vision for our family into motion. Both positions require a high ethical standard to make sure the company/family stays on that path to victory.

  • A CEO is responsible for building the culture of the company, ensuring accountability and compliance with the law, and nurturing external relationships. My husband is responsible for over-seeing the family's walk with Christ and church/community-involvement. He sets the guidelines for us to follow for being effective Christians, dutiful citizens, and compassionate friends and neighbors.

  • A CEO is responsible for team building, developing future leadership, and serving as spokesperson and advocate for the company. My husband is responsible for ensuring the family unit loves one another and stays true to the family. He is the head of the family and as such, is our voice when outside influences are negative or questioning. He builds our family up and makes sure everyone knows he loves us. He oversees all of our efforts in child-training and homeschooling. He sets the tone for everyone else to follow.

  • A CEO is responsible setting the budget of the company, raising funds/capital allocation, and exhibiting proper financial stewardship. My husband is responsible for providing money for our family so that we have a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. He is the sole bread winner. He works hard to ensure our every need is met. He is responsible for making sure we tithe first, pay our bills in a timely manner, and that we are responsible consumers who are careful and cautious with our debt.

The COO (Chief Operating Officer) & The Wife

  • The COO, as appointed by the Board of Directors, is primarily responsible for supporting the CEO by focusing on the implementing and carrying out the day-to-day operations of the company. I, in my God-ordained role, am responsible for supporting my husband and making sure that I carry out his mission for our family in our day-to-day life.

  • The COO sets operational and performance goals for each department with the company. I am responsible for training and educating the children in accordance with the Bible and the mission of our family, as laid out by my husband. I make sure they are given age-appropriate chores and playthings.

  • The COO facilitates conflict resolution between the departments. I facilitate conflict resolution between the children and teach them to respect one another, share their toys, and love each other.

  • The COO follows the direction of the CEO as relates to resource allocation, and is to do so in a responsible, cost-effective manner. I am responsible for being a good steward with Eric's money and making sure I am smart and frugal in all of our purchases.

With this metaphor in mind, doesn't it make sense that the wife submits to the husband as the head of the household. One is clearly in charge with well-defined roles and boundaries. It has to be that way in order for a company to be successful, and in order for a marriage to be successful.

Eric and I are partners in this marriage, and in the care and keeping of our family. But we are not equal partners. That is not God's plan. Just as the CEO is clearly head of the company, Eric is clearly head of our family. Just as the CEO does not function without a respectful, hard-working, and diligent COO; my husband does not function without a respectful, hard-working, and diligent wife. If we were in the business world, I would be expected to submit and follow the orders of my CEO boss. That is the only successful business model. Why is it so hard to carry that concept over into marriage? Why do so many women chafe at this notion?

I will address that another time, and delve more deeply into my personal walk to becoming a respectful, submissive wife. I would love to include others thoughts as well, so please share them as you feel led.


suezque 1:31 PM  

What a great example! I am a newlywed (for another week- our first anniversary is next monday!:-) That is not an angle I had ever looked at the concept from before. Thanks for the new perspective!

godlover 6:53 PM  

I've been breezing through cyberspace and ended up at your site. I liked your handling of CEO and COO. I thought it fit nicely. I wrote on marriage yesterday (4/7) also. Feel free to check it out and God bless your family. It's about time spouses began supporting each other in their God-ordained roles or positions. A godly marriage is exciting, fulfilling, creative, and fun. Let's dive into our marriages and make our spouses happy. Dear wife, making your husband happy is your duty and your privilege. Dear husband, making your wife happy is your duty and your privilege. Always think of others first and this starts with the marriage covenant.

Calaveras County CA

Nancy (aka Blonde 1) 8:38 PM  

WhenI was newly married, I didn't have this perspective but years later I can proudly say that I am happy to submit to my husband. I read the book, An Excellent Wife by Martha Peace which I found to be an excellent resource.
Within the last 18 mos. my husband has made a job change. Less money but he's happy and we both feel that he is now where God intended him to be. He has ful-filled his calling. Had I not felt that it was my responsibility to be submissive and supportive, I could not have encouraged him to make that change. God has blessed us for our willingness to do His will.

Teresa @ A Life At Home 1:12 AM  

Kate, Scott and I read this together. We both enjoyed it very much. It spoke our language, if you know what I mean.

For many years neither of us had any idea what the roles in a Biblical marriage were. Our marriage suffered horribly because of it.

Then one of my friends lent me a book that talk about Biblical roles and submission. Can I tell you how much I hated that book at first? I actually threw it across the room.-lol I had to keep reading though. By the time I was finished with it, God had already started to change me and show me what I truly was supposed to be.

Eventhough I changed, it took awhile for Scott to come around. I never said one word to him about what his responsibilites were as a husband. I just submitted to him. God did the changing. Although Scott was saved at the time, I can see how the beginning of 1 Peter 3 would be true. We can turn our husband's heart by our behaviors.

Many women that I know do not want to be the first to change. They think that once their husbands are better providers, companions, head of the house, etc...then they will be able to submit to them. When you have a perfect husband I guess it would be easier to submit, now wouldn't it.

That's not what the Bible commands us, as wives, to do though. We are to win them over with our behaviors, not our words. No amount of nagging, complaining, or manipulating will change our husbands.

I can tell you that as both of us strive to fulfill our Biblical roles, our marriage has blossomed. It is much easier to submit now than it was, although I am still learning everyday how to be a better wife.

Kate 3:45 PM  

Thank you to everyone for sharing! It is a blessing to feel surrounded by godly women who are all striving for the same thing.

Teresa, thank you SO very much for all you shared. I am glad you and Scott were able to get something out of this together. Eric and I are very much the same way...everything I post here is my words, but a lot of the ideas are formulated and discussed between the two of us first.

What you said about women not wanting to submit until their husbands change, that is so true! I felt exactly that way once. It is a tough inner-battle to get past that one. I still even come up against that sometimes. But then I remember the blessings and freedom I find by submitting, and it does help a little.

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