When studying the role of the wife in marriage according to the Bible, it is important to understand how God designed the family unit. There are ranks described—Christ, the husband, the wife, and then the children.
The wife’s role in the marriage in Ephesians 5:22-24 says,
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.
God designed the husband as the leader of the home (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). The Bible describes this leadership as loving—not dictatorial, condescending, or patronizing of his wife or children. In fact, a husband’s leadership is compared to Jesus’ love for the church. This love is one of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and selflessness.
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 (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Perhaps more than at any other time in history, women today need a clear understanding of how they should relate to their husbands. In fact, the significant social changes brought about by the women’s liberation movement over the last few decades have led to such confusion that the very idea of “roles” is repugnant to some. They feel as if somehow they lose their identity and their freedom if they adhere to some type of “outdated standard.”
It’s important for us to look clearly at what the Bible says on this subject. And while the Bible doesn’t apply our modern word “role” to marriage, the Scriptures are clear about the unique responsibilities God assigns to a wife.
A wife’s responsibilities can be properly understood only in the context of loving, servant leadership by her husband.
1. The role of the wife as a helper to her husband.
While we are all called to be helpers to others, the Bible places a special emphasis on this responsibility for wives. In Genesis, God realized it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and that He decided to make a “helper for him” (Gen. 2:18). It is quite interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning of the word helper in this passage is found hereafter in the Bible to refer only to God as He helps us.
The fact that this same word is applied to a wife signifies that a woman have been given tremendous power for good in her husbands’ life. God has designed wives to help their husbands become all that God intends for them to be.
2. The role of the wife as one who respect’s her husband.
Paul says in Ephesians 5:33 as mention earlier in this article, ” … the wife must respect her husband.” When you respect your husband you reverence him, notice him, regard him, honor him, prefer him, and esteem him. It means valuing his opinion, admiring his wisdom and character, appreciating his commitment to you, and considering his needs and values.
Our husbands have many needs. The macho man who is self-contained, independent, and invulnerable is a myth. Some of the primary needs most men have:
- Self-confidence in his person-hood as a man
- To be listened to
- To be needed
Meeting these needs is what respecting your husband is all about. Try to encourage him by being his number one fan. Every husband wants his wife to be on his team, to coach him when necessary, but most of all to be his cheerleader. A husband needs a wife who is behind him, believing in him, appreciating him, and cheering him on as he goes out into the world every day.
3. The Role of the wife is to follow her husband’s leadership.
In chapter 3 of Genesis we read of the fall of man. We see how Eve was left to herself in the garden and she was deceived by the serpent, who led her to eat from the tree in the midst of the garden that had been forbidden by God (Genesis 2:17). This command was given to Adam and he must have told his wife the one and only rule that they had in the garden — don’t eat from that tree – because we see that she repeats it to that serpent here:
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis 3:2-3)
Eve did not follow her husband’s leadership when he told her the one rule she could not break and the result was sin. After this first sinful act (in which Adam also participated – Genesis 3:6) God further defined the role of the husband and the wife as follows:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:16-19)
“… and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
The idea of the wife being in submission to the husband is not something that was made up by some women’s rights organization. This is how God made it.
4. The role of the wife is to love him enough to live for him.
Ladies, how much do you love your husband? Truly the Bible tells us that a husband should love his wife enough that he is willing to die for her (Ephesians 5:25); but what about the wife? The original design for her is to live for her husband because he is her earthly representative of Christ (Ephesians 5:23). We were created for him and from him. We were created to bare his children. We were made to have desire for him only. This means that his needs must come before our own. Remember, I am talking to the ladies here and know that your love for your husband is independent of his love for you. What I mean to say is, you cannot control how he is toward you, but you can make a daily choice to love him in spite of how he loves you. Our biblical command to love one another is simple and it comes right out of the mouth of Jesus:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
As we acknowledge Christ as Lord of our lives, we must work out our marriages according to God’s plan. The key is for each wife to follow God’s plan, know her part, and work to fit in with her husband’s responsibilities.