Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When the lights came on, I realized that I've been taking my cues on what it means to be a "good" wife, a Christian wife, just about everywhere but from my husband. I've read books, and listened to sermons, lectures, and the advice of fellow Christians. I've taken it all in and, over the years, internalized it, along with all my other cultural idealizations of "the perfect wife".


If we're truthful we have to admit that the Scripture gives precious little practical advice about being a "perfect wife". All it gives are a few over-arching principles. And suddenly this makes perfect sense to me. I am to be subject to my own husband, and to learn what it means to be his wife from him. After all, every man is different. Every woman is different. Every marriage is different. That's the way God intended it. We are not clones but uniquely gifted individuals.  [...]

There are dozens of things [...] that would delight [my husband] which, until a couple of days ago, I would not do. Why? Because cooking, cleaning, organizing, and maintaining decorum were all the things "good wives" do, and they took up all my time. In this and so many other, deeper ways I would not submit to my husband. I would read articles for Christian wives and feel so wrong. When I would tell Paul how I felt, he'd say, in no uncertain terms, "I don't want that kind of wife! I married you!" Then I would secretly think, well, this person, this Bible teacher is so godly - perhaps Paul is wrong... and I'd go ahead and follow or fret over the advice anyway. That, my friends, is NOT submission. [...]

I'm done taking my cues on what kind of wife I should be from anyone but him. I'm determined to honor the unique man that he is. From here on out I submit myself to my own husband. When it comes to what it means to be a good wife to him, beyond the Scripture, no one but he has a right to inform me.  I will learn from him at home.  
~"Just Whose Wife Am I Anyway?" by Laurie M. (Beauty for Ashes) (see also "Whose Wife Are You?" by Tim Challies and "Be You," by Amy (Amy's Humble Musings))

[NOTE:  Presumably the authors here do not support a vision of complementarity that allows for complete role reversal in marriage.  So a woman should not lead merely because the man is weak as a leader--and he should not encourage her to.  Likewise, a woman should not assume the role of spiritual head of the family merely because she is more mature.  It is even doubtful whether a woman who is a capable provider should shoulder the sole responsibility for supporting the family financially while her husband cares for the children and maintains the home.  Some flexibility in these areas is of course permitted and even beneficial--the complete separation of home and work is actually not the biblical norm, but rather the result of the industrial revolution (for more information, see Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, by Caroline McCulley.  Still, complete role reversal is unwise and cuts against the gender roles set forth in Scripture.  The examples in these articles, however, are more minor details, like how clean the home should be or how quiet a wife should be or how heavily she should rely on her husband. In such areas, a wife should look to her husband and learn how to serve him best.  Proverbs 31 notwithstanding.]

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