Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How does a Christian woman handle a situation wherein her husband is not a believer, does not know God and because of that is unable to pray? Or what does a women do if her husband has backslidden away from the Lord and is not serving Him? Thirdly, is a Christian women expected to submit to her husband if he is an irresponsible, foolish, man? We have already explained that wives are not commanded to or expected to submit to abuse. So, for the purposes of this article we are going to work with the assumption that physical and emotional abuse is not in the equation.

First, what if a women’s husband is not saved? Well, Saint Peter the Apostle gave fairly straight forward instruction, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in his first general epistle to the Church. “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.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 niv. The Bible is filled with examples of God leading unbelievers to accomplish his will. Look at the brothers of Joseph, they were not aware of it, but God was using them to accomplish His will. Judas Iscariot is another example. So also would be Pontius Pilate. We could go on and on about how God uses even the unbeliever to accomplish his will. So the logic that: 1. my husband is not a believer, therefore 2. he can not hear from God, therefore 3. I do not need to submit to him because he can not hear from God, is a faulty line of reasoning. Unbelievers can be and are led by God without their knowledge…a mystery of His sovereign rule of His universe…a topic for another day! Saint Peter plainly commands the wives within the Church to be submissive (which is not an action but a “heart condition”) to their unbelieving husbands. Even while their husbands are not believers they as wives must trust that God will protect them and will guide their husbands in the leading of the family. And that is what this entire issue boils down to anyway, trust…not in a husband…but in God. Saint Peter then explains that God might use the testimony of a Godly, loving and submissive wife in the life of her husband as a means to draw him to faith. Of course, Saint Peters line of reasoning is flawless…why would any man submit to Christ if his own wife who claims to submit to Christ is confrontational, argumentative, sarcastic, manipulative, inflexible, cold, irreverent and unsubmissive to him as he leads the family?

The same line of reasoning ought to be used with a backslidden husband.

What of the women who is married to a fool? How do we advice the women who is married to an irresponsible or lazy man? I know a situation wherein a woman was married to the same man for over thirty five years…and the man had many more jobs than they had years of marriage. In the five or six years I knew the couple the man had about ten jobs or more. Each time he was fired or let go it would take him two or three weeks to get a new job…and then a week or two before his first pay check. So once or twice a year he would go a month or so with no income. They went bankrupt more than once during that time…twice in about six years…and then lost their home to foreclosure. You see, not only was the man not able to hold down a job (something that was always a problem for the first thirty years of their marriage. It suddenly became an epidemic the last five or six years of the marriage) but he also enjoyed spending money…especially at random times for random things…which kept his wife in a constant state of fear and anxiety. It led as I said to ruin. What was this woman to do? Their children were all grown. He was active in the church. He was not a carouser. He was not an adulterer. He was not a drunkard or gambler. He did not beat his wife and I don’t think he was particularly mean or disrespectful in the way he spoke with her, I’m sure all husbands and wives are short and disrespectful at times, but I don’t think that issue was a stand out defect in him. He was just so foolish that he wrecked the financial stability of their home.

She divorced him. I was against it…I saw it as a desperate move by a desperate women, decisions like that ought not be made while in desperation. But she would not listen to me, she divorced him.

The best wisdom in a situation like this is to sit with your pastor and simply ask for help and advice. I wish she would have done that…her family walked her straight to divorce court and she paid little attention to the wisdom I would have offered. Maybe he had crossed the line…maybe divorce was the only solution (so long as she understood that she could not remarry). But I think there were many ways to deal with this long before sprinting straight to divorce court…but she did not seek out council…and now the bad situation in that family has become an absolute “Jerry Springer” mess.

So my advice to you, if your husband is a fool…is to seek wisdom and council from the spiritual authority God has placed in your life…the pastor of your church. Ask him how to handle the issue of submission…there are things in those situations that you don’t have to submit to…but that does not mean you can throw the baby out with the bath water and stop submitting altogether. When your emotions are sky high it is easy to throw your hands up in the air and say “forget it”…your pastor can help you make those distinctions…because when dealing with issue of foolish husbands there are no easy, cut and dry, guidelines. That is part of the reason why God gave us overseers in the local church, for you to get advice and instruction from…and for a wife to have an authority to which she can appeal, the authority of the church is higher than that of her husband…and if he is a believer he must submit to the church or face excommunication. That is God’s way.

That wraps up our study of the relationship between husbands and wives. As an appendix, next time I’d like to teach about how the Bible instructs parents to deal with their children…a much needed instruction and examination of God’s Word… because it is clear that there are many clueless people out there trying to figure out what to do with, how to handle and how to bring their children under control.


Anonymous said...

Kudos... well presented with biblical resources. So I ask you this: How would a woman who has disregarded this principle based on a negative experience learn to accept it? Assume this woman is a born again Christian with no burden in her heart that she is doing wrong by ignoring this that you have taught.

irreverend fox said...

thanks anonymous!

interesting question. I do not believe that this teaching is something to be is to be taught and then willingly accepted and then obeyed by both men and women in the Church.

My approach is to preach the Word and let the chips fall where they may. I leave results up to God...the problem is this is so rarely taught in our churches anymore that many couples are either clueless about it or just simply assume when they read these scriptures on their own that it is "not for today" because it is not taught or stressed, ever, by the elders and teachers within their local church.

So I guess I would suggest to simply make a couple aware of their obligations in a compelling and compassionate a balanced way...and then pray.

Once a couple is instructed I am a firm believer that God's Word will not return to Him void, that it will accomplish what it was sent out to do.

And like any other situation, disobedience brings chastening...and there are many chastened, stressed, depressed and unhappy women in the Church today because of their neglect and disobedience in this matter. The same can be said of men who neglect their duties and obligations in the home as well.