When Richard and I were engaged I made it my mission to figure out exactly what a “wife” was supposed to look like. I had many godly women and many awesome resources to guide me, but honestly the most radical teaching that I studied during that time was from the book of Genesis. Yes, there are more explicit texts (e.g. Titus 2) and yes, there are more descriptive texts (e.g. Proverbs 31), but it was in the very first book of the Bible, in the very first couple of chapters that I found my purpose as a wife clearly and beautifully described:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him… So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18, 21-24 ESV)
Why was this so revolutionary to me? After all this is probably one of the best known passages of scripture! Well, like I said, for a long time I had been able to watch and learn from a host of godly wives and I had been able to read great resources that showed me how to be a Christian wife, but the problem was I had never truly understood the why behind the how. In a certain sense I understood that this was simply a matter of obedience to the Lord (he commands me to be submissive to my husband, so I must be submissive to my husband). After all, the key to a happy, successful, and fulfilling marriage is to obey the Lord in all areas of your relationship simply because he knows what he is talking about!
Yes, this is true, but what I mean by “I didn’t know why” is that I didn’t understand why God commanded women to obey their husbands, to honor them, to be workers at home, etc… Did God create two equal creatures and then decide that one would submit to the other? Was there any inherent reason why I was to submit to Richard other than God simply commanding me to?
After spending a good bit of time in this passage God carefully and wonderfully taught me the reason why I was instructed to treat Richard as my head. Layers of worldly and feministic ideology were slowly peeled away as I began to understand that women and men aren’t created equal in every sense. Let me explain! In chapter one of Genesis it says that we (man and woman) were created in God’s image. So, in the most important sense we are completely equal. Man and woman both share the unimaginable privilege of being made in the image of God.
However, in a more practical sense he created us to be drastically different. Chapter 2 says that God created woman to be a “helper fit for him.” When God decided to make Adam a helper, he didn’t just create another Adam; he created Eve. Eve was specifically designed to “fit” Adam. She made up for his weaknesses, she would give him the ability to reproduce, she would provide intimate fellowship, she would help him in any way he needed it; she was his perfect counterpart!
When I realized that I was created as an equal to Richard (of the same wonderful worth), but that I was created to have a different role in our marriage, everything became clear. Not only did it become clear, but suddenly it was a beautiful and exciting thing! I wasn’t choosing to suppress who I was (as a feminist might say I have), but instead I was choosing to return to the beautiful role that the Lord had created me to play in our marriage. That is why a godly marriage is full of happiness and harmony, because the two people are not working against each other, but rather with each other. They are each working in a way that compliments the other’s strengths and weaknesses and each finding fulfillment in their God ordained roles.
Of course this is a very difficult thing to put into practice because all our lives we are taught by the world that if you are not acting as equals in every way within your marriage you are being taken advantage of. On top of this worldly influence we have our very own sinful natures that are waging war on God’s perfect design. It is only through the power that the Holy Spirit gives to a woman that she can stand up to current secular opinion and her own sinful cravings. It is only by the grace of God that a woman can seek the choice fruit of God’s perfect will for her.
This is the power of salvation in our daily lives. This is the power of the cross lived out in our marriages. As our husbands rely on Jesus’ precious blood to live out sacrificial leadership, we seek his blood for the power to humbly submit to them. Only the redeemed woman can hope to fulfill God’s original design for her as a wife. She can confidently and joyfully work toward being her husband’s perfect helper because Christ accomplished her redemption and sanctification on mount Calvary.
Let us rest in our Savior’s provision for our marriages.
Let us ask him for the ability to fulfill our calling as wives.