Hi Steve Q
I have been giving some consideration during the holiday
period, to the points raised in your posts of 17 and 14
December. It has taken a while but, my response may just
make it into 2012 - the same year as your posts -
I do understand from where you were coming, when writing
the posts, in that you were frustrated with the way some women
whom you consider to be Christians are not behaving as they
should, towards their husbands. Putting that aside, the
following are some things worth thinking about.
So many pick up on the phrase about the "submission of
wives". Yet always they choose to omit or ignore
the balancing instruction to husbands to "love your wives as
Christ loved the Church". Note that Jesus loved the
Church so much that He died for it! Never did He place
His own interests before the Church!
Another scripture also tells us all to submit one to
another (1 Cor 3:16). Such submission is a sign
of humility before God.
Scripture uses family relationships to illustrate the
"mystery of the Church" - its birth pangs, actual birth, walk,
travail, the rapture, and final destiny. Paul refers to
this as a "great mystery". (Eph 5:32)
Just as an example, Scripture describes physical childbirth
as a time of pain and travail but - once the baby is born -
the mother forgets all that and just rejoices in the
baby. In its literal sense, this does work for some
mothers - and should do so, in general. The fact is
though that there are other mothers who never
forget, others who have to live with the physical
consequences/complications for the rest of their lives,
sometimes the baby is stillborn, and some other mothers die in
the process of trying to give birth (Rachel of the Old
Testament, is just one example).
Therefore, while the general process of childbirth is used
as a biblical illustration, it is referring to something
deeper: the conception, birth pangs, travail, and final
deliverance (rapture and final destiny) of the Church.
The message is particularly significant in that all those
different experiences and results apply to people - some
get discouraged and give up before the end,
some "die", by turning away, some become
complacent and lukewarm, while yet others come through
triumphant: hence the great rejoicing - when the travail is
over and the birth of the church/bride/manchild finally
becomes a reality. For the latter only, the time of
travail is certainly forgotten - forever! The final
destination is so glorious!
Sometimes those whom we think are "awful" are the ones who
end up with tender hearts and are often changed in the
twinkling of an eye (because of God's quiet groundwork which
we do not see) - and vice versa, in that some
who live good, respectable, respectful lives, do so without
accepting Christ: in the end they have nothing.
Now for Jezebel! As you
say, she was indeed a nasty piece of works! However,
what about her husband Ahab being
equally so? Again, people pick on Jezebel, but not
Ahab! Yet Scripture tells us that Ahab did more
evil and more to provoke the Lord God to anger than all the
kings of Israel that were before him. (1 Kings
16:30,33) There was no excuse for Ahab to be influenced
by anyone's evil or manipulative ways. The same goes for
us, of course. Scripture makes it clear that
accountability lies at the door of each person. It
seems strange that whenever a wife offends, the prefix "spirit
of" is placed before their names. Yet that does not
appear to happen to their male counterparts.
While on the topic of husbands, let's look at Abraham
for a moment. When his wife Sarah requested
that Hagar be sent away, taking son Ishmael with her, did
Abraham turn on Sarah and oppose her request? By logical
standards, he could have been expected to: Ishmael was his
son as well. No loving parent would like to see his or
her child turned away, with no means of support and nowhere to
go. Abraham was justifiably very upset - but
he did what we all should do when things are not going as we
think they should be: he voiced his concerns
directly to God.
It was then that Abraham found that Sarah's request was all
part of God's plan and this was to form one of the most
important illustrations in the Bible (the difference between
living under the law (by the letter) and living in the freedom
of the Holy Spirit. However, what an incredibly difficult
thing to have to do! Had Abraham interfered, he would
have been obstructing God. A lesson there for us, don't
you think? (Gen 21 and Gal 4:22) Sarah had a good
deal with Abraham as her husband, I'm sure you will agree!
Let's switch to the New Testament to another husband, Ananias.
His wife Sapphira
lost her life because she submitted to her husband's
wishes. Ananias was not like evil Ahab. Ananias
was a seemingly nice guy, a fellow Christian. He
wasn't even under pressure - it was just greed that got
him! And then he tried to deceive the Holy Spirit.
The result? God struck him dead. Sapphira
was questioned separately - this was her opportunity to make a
stand against what her husband had been guilty of - but she
chose to remain loyal to her husband. So she too was
pronounced guilty of deceiving the Holy Spirit and met the
same fate as her husband. Where did submissiveness to her
husband get her?
This situation happened in the Old Testament too -
where women met the same fate as their husbands, when they
stood with them in wrongdoing.
Back to the Old Testament to Hannah and
Elkannah - another godly husband. When
wife Hannah took her problem concerning failure to have a
child, she went directly to God. Without consulting her
husband, she promised God that if He gave her a son, she would
give him back to God. God gave her Samuel and Hannah
kept her promise. As soon as Samuel was weaned, Hannah
took him to the temple to live permanently with Eli.
Did Elkannah object or cause dissention? No - he was
a mature, caring man of God who put his wife and her
relationship with God before himself. He kept his focus
where it should be - on God! (1 Sam 1)
You touched on those of unequal yoke.
Scripture does speak of a believing partner "playing it cool",
when the other one does not believe, so that the unbelieving
partner will turn to Christ. Obviously this can and does
work sometimes - but not always. Some wives lose their
lives trying to do this. The Bible is not a book of
rules - it is a book of Life, where Jesus reveals Himself and
we learn to hear his voice and obey - whatever the
circumstances. Sometimes He leads in mysterious ways.
Abigail and Nabal
were obviously one of the unequally yoked couples. God
chose Abigail, not Nabal. Unrepentant Nabal was struck
dead. Abigail obviously believed in God and put him
first. Abigail was the one respected by the
workers - not her husband. It can't have been any fun
for her, living with a drunk. Later, after Abigail and
David had given their inspired discourses to one another,
Abigail asked David to "remember me, when .
. . " (This is synonymous with when the Bible
tells us to pray that we will be counted worthy, when
thinking of the pending rapture). At the time
appointed, David called for her to be his bride.
The King and the bride.
Then there is Samson. How
many sermons have been preached about the "foolishness of
Samson" in taking a Philistine bride and being nothing but a
"hot-head", ending up in self-destruction? None of that
is true. Samson married a Philistine because God
ordained that it be so. Judges 14:4 says that "God put a
desire in Samson's heart to marry a heathen Philistine".
The Bible also says that even his parents did not understand.
The New Testament lists Samson as one of the past saints of
faith. (Heb 11:32) His purpose in life was
different, but it was God's purpose.
Then there was Hosea. No
husband would want to put up with that - he had to marry a
prostitute! Yet God had a divine purpose in that too -
another very helpful illustration for the following
You move on to Esther and King
Ahasuerus. (Greek spelling Xerxes).
Firstly, even though she didn't know it, Queen Vashti was
fulfilling God's plan, when she did not follow the king's
order. The king had acted in haste, after drinking, and
regretted it afterwards. However, God had something
much bigger in view. He needed a young Jewish woman to
be in a position of influence - someone He could use to save
the Jewish race. The method He chose was to remove
Vashti and replace her with Esther. This was no easy
role for Esther. While Queen Vashti had not responded to
the order of the king, similarly Esther went against
royal protocol and approached the King without invitation
(hardly submissive!), knowing that to do so could result in
You refer to King Ahasuerus as being a "tyrant". It
was Haman who was the tyrant.
The King Ahasuerus actually treated Esther with
respect and heeded all the requests she made, although she had
no way of knowing if he wou at the time. God used the
king, through Esther (not to forget Mordecai) to save the
Direct communication from God - another
topic you raised, of God speaking to husbands directly and not
the wives and God "respecting the chain of
command". God has no in-laws, no stepchildren, no
hangers-on. We are all either direct "sons" of God (for
in Christ there is neither male nor female), or He doesn't
know us at all. Marriage is meant to be a three-way
partnership, with Jesus at the helm - it isn't of union of
God spoke directly to both Adam and Eve in the garden,
after eating the forbidden fruit. Each one had to give a
separate explanation (as did Ananias and Sapphira).
God won't be put into a box. He will use whatever
method He wants and speak to anyone He wants - He is no
respecter of persons. The only time we can use the word
never in relation to God - is to say
that "He never fails." And
the interpretation of the word "fail"is not necessarily ours -
it means He never fails to sustain us; He never
forsakes us; He never fails to control all of our
circumstances (but that doesn't mean we are going to
like those circumstances!).
Then there was the wife of Manoah - the Bible doesn't even
give her a name. However, it was to her that the angel
of the Lord went to directly, to speak. Manoah didn't
protest - he went to God to enquire. What did the angel
of God do? He went back to the wife
directly! As we know, Samson was the outcome
of all of that. (Judges 13) Manoah was
another respectful, God fearing husband.
Then there are Deborah
and Jael. Deborah (whose
husband was Lappidoth) was a judge
of Israel (and a very good one). She was also a
prophet. God spoke directly to her all the time.
Her husband does not get a mention, other than to give his
name. No complaints from him recorded!
Jael, was the wife of
Heber. Heber was born of the Kenite tribe, a long time
ally of Israel. For some reason, Heber decided to side
with King Jabin of Hazor. My point? Here were two
people - married - who both respected God and His leading of
each other. No hang-ups about roles and rules!
No prejudice or jealousy!
Both Deborah and Jael were the ones chosen to be used and
to win the battle of that day - Deborah by word of mouth and
Jael physically, when she personally killed the enemy.
Obviously some more good husbands who put their wives and
their relationships with God first.
In the New Testament - Paul gives credit to women workers,
as well as the males. Among others, such as Pricilla
(wife mentioned first) and Aquilla, he mentions a woman
apostle - Junia (Rom 16:7). "Greet Andronicas and
Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding
among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."
Paul describes Junia as "outstanding among the
apostles". There is no mention of whether Junia was
married or not - but her marital status was not an issue.
Then finally, you mention Women and Money,
as though earning money is something evil. Yet even in
Old Testament times, women were successful in business.
Prov 31 portrays a wife as a "business person".
. . "She considers a field and buys
it: from her earnings she plants a vineyard (v 16)
Obviously she made sufficient money to reinvest and expand her
business - in addition to her husband's own work. V 17
tells us that "she girds herself with strength, and makes her
arms strong." So her work obviously was physical, as it
kept her physically fit. V 18 tells us that, "She senses
her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night."
Then in v 24, "She makes linen garments and sells them, and
supplies belts to the tradesmen."
V 27 goes on, "She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat of the bread of idleness."
The husbands of the Old Testament were obviously proud of
the success of their wives, as other verses in the chapter
confirm; the virtues of the wives are sung. The amount
of money made by either spouse does not even get a
mention. The wives obviously enjoy their work, their
freedom, and their achievements - and their husbands were
Similarly there are husbands today who do not find it a
threat that their wives may earn more than they do. In
fact, many are thankful for it. Some even take a turn at
looking after the children, while things "stabilise" in the
current economic conditions. Marriage is meant to be an
equal partnership - both businesswise and personal - not a
competition between two people. However, my main point
is to focus on Jesus and "get that oil in our lamps" before He
returns - put aside the rule book and life daily in harmony
with the Holy Spirit.
Probably Creflo Dollar puts the marriage relationship the
best. His take is as follows (and I quote from my own
Submission = sub = under mission = support the mission
of the other person. Both need to do it for one another.
First, both must individually submit to whatever God tells
them to do. He will instruct husband and wife separately.
Obey these instructions God gives you and keep your noses
out of each other's business. In other words, take care of
your own relationship with God and leave Him to take care
of the spouse. Amplified version: Adapt yourself as a
service to the Lord. In order to submit, you need to
become adaptable . .
Obviously what he is saying, it will take us all our time
to keep ourselves in order, so that we are listening for - and
obedient to - the voice of the Holy Spirit, on a daily
basis. The struggles we have form the vehicle for
drawing our focus to where it should be - and keeping it