When Dave and I recited our wedding vows to each other, I wanted to be sure to include the words “obey” and “help meet” in mine. I was juuuust beginning to understand my ordained, Biblical role as it looked on paper; but to actually live it on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, second-by-second (you get the picture) basis would prove to be a HUGE learning curve.
Many times I had read Genesis 2:18 which states, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” and not thought much about it. I had recently been studying God’s institutions in the Bible and learned that marriage, work, and men’s and women’s roles and duties, among other things, were institutions actually ordained by God, meaning this is how God set an example and precedent to show us how He wants us to live. Interestingly and in light of that, I was recently watching an episode of the old Jack Benny show, and he had Art Linkletter on as a guest. Remember this was back in the 1950’s just before the women’s liberation movement took hold. He had three or four young children on for one of his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segments. He asked each child what they wanted to be when they grew up. The little girl, without hesitation, said, “I want to be a housewife,” and Art Linkletter said something to the affect of, “Of course you do. You want to grow up to be just like Mommy.” In essence, she was saying, “I want to be a help meet.” Today, most women watching that would sit horrified and sorry for that little girl’s completely wasted potential in life. Well, that is the world’s opinion; however, that little girl’s desire was to obediently fulfill her God-ordained role.
I read that the term “help meet” in the Bible basically means “one who helps.” THAT is what God has designed for me to be as a Christian woman. Period. And if I had a daughter who wasn’t married, I would do my best to prepare her to be a help meet, should God see fit to bring her a husband.
Submission goes hand in hand with being a help meet. In writing this blog post, I researched the verses that discuss God’s command for wives to obey and submit to their husbands. It was startling that God pretty much hits us over the head with a hammer with all of the verses He provides; however, disobedience and rebellion among Christian wives obviously runs rampant throughout the professing church:
Eph 5:22 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.“
Eph 5:24 – “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Uh, yes, Sue, that means EVERY thing)
Col 3:18 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.“
Titus 2:5 – “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.“
1 Pet 3:1 – “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;“
1 Pet 3:5 – “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:“
Being required in the Bible to submit to my husband, I looked up the word “submission” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and found the following:
1. The act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.
2. Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence; humble or suppliant behavior.
3. Acknowledgment of a fault; confession or error.
4. Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior. Submission of children to their parents is an indispensable duty.
5. Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful submission to the will of God is a christian duty of prime excellence.
Wow! Some of those key words are pretty humbling and convicting: “yield”, “surrender”, “compliance”, “humility”, “suppliant”, “without murmuring”, etc…
It is clear in the Bible that Christ is our prophet, priest and king. As I have studied types and shadows in the Bible, I have learned that marriage between a man and a woman is the physical manifestation of Christ and His spiritual Church. Likewise, since Christ is declared in the Bible as the husband, prophet, priest and king over His bride, the Church, the temporal manifestation is the husband being prophet, priest and king over his wife and household. When thinking about being the bride of Christ, I would think it is inappropriate to question Christ or take on an attitude toward Him and start telling Him what to do. I am to treat my husband with the same reverence and respect. I now look at my husband as a benevolent king over me, his subject, and therefore do not have the right to disobey or disrespect him. I realize this is much easier said than done and am finding it a lifelong process to implement. HOWEVER, this is no excuse to give up or be rebellious. More and more I love serving my husband because that is what I was called and created to do. That is my honor and duty under God. And when I serve my husband properly, I am serving God properly. I cannot imagine anything to help me sleep better at night knowing I am doing God’s will in fulfilling my role as a help meet. Then the worldly importance of status and accomplishments starts to lose its satisfaction and seduction. I’ve also learned to pray, and pray, and then pray more for my husband, so God might grant him the proper, Biblical mindset and authority perspective. It takes two to tango, but all I can do is focus on my part and trust God will handle the rest.
Upon further study in the Bible, I believe God has very graciously shown me the grave error of my previous ways in the corporate and professing Christian world fulfilling roles that are reserved by God for men alone. I was very gung ho on climbing up the corporate ladder and taking leadership roles at church; but I cannot even begin to explain the peace and joy I have experienced by understanding my role, giving up those other things, and tending to my husband and our ranch full time. It has helped me to better comprehend the spiritual type we are living out here on earth. This is so contradictory to how our society functions and teaches that many heads of women reading this will probably start smoking and eventually explode. (ewww, gross)
There are so many subjects this topic touches. In a nutshell though, I think I’ll close this post by encouraging any women reading this, single or married, to truly study the Bible concerning their role as a woman and ask God to grant them obedience regardless of what it requires. I have learned to meditate and implement the following phrase over the course of the past few years as God has shown me His truths in the Bible: “My job is to be obedient and God will handle the rest.” Period. No excuses. I am to serve my husband and household and to be obedient to him as to God. Period. No excuses; no attitude. I pray that, when I am called before God to answer for my choices here on earth, He will not find me making a bunch of excuses as to why I think I was better suited to fulfill roles that He blatantly reserved for men. I look at professing Christian women in mainstream churches in roles of worldly corporate success, and teaching, preaching, and eldership in the church; and now I see them as being in disobedience to God even though they may be very talented and intelligent. God has made it clear in the Bible they are not supposed to be in these roles (1 Tim 2:11-12). God will raise the proper men for these positions if the women will simply vacate them and obey what God has told them to do.
There is a book entitled Created to be His Help Meet by Debbie Pearl that I believe has some really helpful information to women searching for how they are to fulfill this God-ordained role. I do not subscribe to some of the author’s doctrinal positions but believe this book has some great guidance for Christian women.
May God be glorified as He leads us into all truth and grants us repentance, belief and obedience to His word.
What a blessing it was for me to read this this morning.
Though I live at least a thousand miles away, I have learned more from the words of yourself and Danielle than I have any woman I have ever met in real life.
I thank God for Titus 2 women such as yourself who teach and encourage us younger women to be keepers at home.
For a while after Stewart and I were married I kept telling myself that I needed to submit and be obedient. It wasn't until I poured over that passage and God showed me that I need to be obedient to him as in to Christ. Praise God for opening my eyes.
Created to be his helpmeet has been a huge help to me as well. I've read it a few times and probably am due for another good reminder of my role and job.
Thank you Susan. Feel free to write more often on subjects such as these :).
Thank you very much for reading our blog and taking the time to leave your comment. I'm so thankful God has used it to encourage you. It encourages me to hear from you as well. I pray for God to continue to mold each of us into the help-meets we are designed to be. May God bless and keep you. I hope your family is doing well.
Thank you for your words. I am a single mother raising two sons with an ex-husband who will not participate. Everyday,I do the jobs intended for their father. Throughout our marriage I prayed that he would step up and be the husband/father/leader that the Bible so clearly defines. It is so uplifting to me to read about the two of you! I hope you both enjoy the great peace and happiness that comes from living God's will on a daily basis!! Thank you, Tina H.
Thank you very much for your comment. I'm sorry you are having to bear the load of both roles and pray God gives you continued strength, wisdom and perseverance to pursue your God-ordained role as a Christian woman.
May God's graces and mercies be with you.
I'm also a single mother reading your blog, oddly enough though I don't pray for my ex to return (he wouldn't be a good influence on my daughter I'm afraid).
When I read this I took something different from it. I can't say that God intended for us to believe every Webster definition is applicable to his word. Why would an all-loving God want us to feel inferior? It is my belief that neither gender is any better than the other- they were just created with different roles to fill. "In his image he created them, man and woman he created them."
We can humble ourselves with that knowledge- that God blessed all women with a nurturing spirit to be the keepers of home and hearth and all the safety and stability that comes with that position. To be a help meet, I would say, means to do our best to provide that for our husbands as well. God created us to nurture and love while man was given the strength to provide for us and the family so that we are able to do just that. Neither job is any more important than the other.
I like the 5th definition best:
Resignation; a yielding of one's will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring.
He has called us to his service and he has called us that we may serve him with a free and cheerful heart. In every single act we do we are to do it "as if (we were) working for the lord, not for human masters." So not only do we serve and help our husbands for our own good, we do it because we know it pleases the lord. I'm sure he smiles with pride at every act of nurturing we do- the skinned knee kisses, the meals we cook for the benefit of others, the care and compassion we give to our partners. He sees it all.
We serve our husband for the lord, knowing that no human man excepting the son of God is free of sin or all knowing. We are called to fulfill our lord's plan with a grateful spirit. We are called to be providers of love.
You are inferior, to an infinite God; and hopefully you feel that way. Thus, an all-loving God does make people feel inferior. 🙂
Superiority implies inferiority. That doesn't mean the nature of the thing is inferior: since God created men and women and the importance of male and female roles, they are glorious in and of themselves as He has designed them.
As Christians, male and female are equal before God (Gal 3:28). However, even the 5th definition, which you like, states directly a superiority, which in this blog post is the husband over the wife, appointed to be so (just like the definition) by God. The picture of the husband and wife is that of Christ and His Church, which includes submitting to the will of Christ as superior under all circumstances; this follows in the type with the husband and wife: the wife submits to the will of the husband as superior. This type of submission role is fulfilled even in the Godhead, with Christ as man submitted to the Father (John 5:19,30). What we should feel is awe at the wisdom of God, and humility in that we might be able to live out an example (husband and wife) of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Of course no man is free of sin, and the content of a husband's will may not be correct; but, other than if the husband requires something not allowed in the Bible, or forbids that which is required in it (as God's revealed will must always takes precedence in our actions), that doesn't change the obedience required of the wife to the husband.
And, hopefully, a wife would serve her husband for his good as well, not just for hers, as this would be a showing of love toward him.
I would also hope we would apply, in the manner God's Word instructs, all of those Webster's 1828 dictionary definitions mentioned, which have the Bible as their foundation, to ourselves in every level of biblical authority under which we are (including the Bible itself)!
And even if we do all of these things as the Bible prescribes, God takes no pride in anything we do: any good work we might do, which can only come from God being in us, is still tainted with our sin, is mere duty, and is counted as filthy rags as to any righteous living of our own (Is 64:6).
I haven't been reading for very long so I'm not sure if you've had children yet- but as any parent can agree, we look with pride on our child's good actions. When my daughter says "thank you" I smile. When she joyously worships I smile.
Why would God not feel the same for his children? Sure, we're not perfect. In fact, we are filthy with sin but that doesn't mean he can't see past it- to the truth of who we are. Why would he give us life if our lives weren't precious to him? Why send his son to die at all?
I'm sure he cringes at our sin, as we commit it and even before we even desire it. I am unhappy when my daughter acts up. Our Father is just that- our father.
A man is called to be the head of the house and we are called to support him. I just want to know that any service I offer to my husband, when he comes, is done in love and not dictatorship. Yes, he can ask things of me and I will do my best but when a man begins to give orders to his wife out of selfishness rather than need I worry.
Wouldn't you offer any caution to a woman as to what she should do in those circumstances? Should we let our husbands look down on us, tell us we're inferior? What would be the correct action to take if your husband really didn't believe you had value? If he treated you like a dog to be kicked?
I don't want to lose who I am in a cloud of submission to anything earthly, husband or no- the only way I should be looking is up.
Your views of God are not based on nor are located in Scripture. Just because you think or feel something does not mean God does.
You are required to submit to your husband, as the Bible declares (see the many verses in the blog post), and the Bible doesn't offer conditions on that (eg. "Oh, I think my husband is being selfish about that, so I'm just not going to do it."). Do we have conditions in our submission to Christ? Anything else is rebellion and disobedience (again, unless your husband tells you to do something God forbids, or forbids you to do something God requires). If your husband looks down on you, what are you going to do about it? Be disobedient and nagging? That's not biblical, and again is rebellion and disobedience. If your husband thinks you're inferior in some non-biblical way, that's his problem, and he will have to stand before God. You always do have prayer; and is God not powerful enough to change a person's heart, even a "dictatorial," selfish husband's?
BTW, dictatorship in a marriage, in and of itself, isn't wrong: the husband is indeed a dictator in the household; he's just to be a benevolent, loving one. Does Christ not dictate to us how we are to live, thus making Him a dictator over us?
As for God's purposes in His love for His children: He has called an elect people to Himself (Is 65:9; 1 Thess 1:4; 1 Pet 1:2; many others). He has chosen to love them and provide salvation for them (Eph 1:3-6). These things are done by Him so that He may be glorified here on earth and in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:8-12). That's why He gave His life for and gives life to some (or many, as Christ said Himself, Mt 20:28).
Hello Sue, June 30, '09
I read and wrote a long response to this the week you posted it, but while typing fast; accidently hit a keybd. button that erased it. It was quite late, so I never retyped that response and this response is quite different I'm sure, due to recent things relationally that have happened, that are influencing me now. First, let me say this is a subject (the wives' submission) that I've HAD/NEEDED to study and try very hard to be obedient to, to survive the challenges in this marriage. I've seen God honor that, when consistant in my efforts with gifts of peace, joy, comfort, etc. Praise God for His Precious Grace that sustains me and other women in similar circumstances, I'm sure.
Re: the quote below:
"When thinking about being the bride of Christ, I would think it is inappropriate to question Christ or take on an attitude toward Him and start telling Him what to do. I am to treat my husband with the same reverence and respect. I now look at my husband as a benevolent king over me, his subject, and therefore do not have the right to disobey or disrespect him. I realize this is much easier said than done and am finding it a lifelong process to implement. HOWEVER, this is no excuse to give up or be rebellious. More and more I love serving my husband because that is what I was called and created to do. That is my honor and duty under God. And when I serve my husband properly, I am serving God properly."
I agree fully with all said here, due to our duty as the bride of Christ and agree we'd never consider questioning Him. The most important element of that is that we know without question, that HE knows who He is and every Word written to us in the Holy Bible and exactly what those Words mean because they are HIM!!
I'll just share as we all know; that often even when managing to obey these submission commands as human wives, that with a spouse who doesn't know the Word or doesn't read it; and if not called, couldn't fully understand the Word, even if he put forth the effort to read the words; the task of submission as his wife becomes more challenging to accomplish.
I shared a rather long financially related stressful for me scenario here to make many submission points; but perhaps wasn't supposed to share as I had the personal elements, as I for the first time went over the word limit and until erasing ALL of that stuff couldn't fit in this post. Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit correcting my choices for which I thank Him. Still seeing possible God driven changes in Jeff; and if so; still ask for all your prayers for his repentance to our Lord God to take place and His conversion to begin. Have a beautiful day.
Thank you for reading our blog and for your comment. I will not pretend to know what it is like to be married to an unbeliever and can imagine it presents daily challenges. I pray for God to grant you wisdom, understanding and discernment as well as long suffering to submit to your husband biblically and properly. As you well know, obedience is ours and the rest is up to God. I pray for God to grant your husband salvation.
I agree with your statements on obedience to our husbands and yet I am not obedient to my own in the way that I know God has called me to be.
My problem is similar to that of another of your readers: my husband is not a believer. He would disagree with the label non-believer, but the fact is while he grew up going to church on Sunday, he never made a personal profession of faith. He does not study the Bible and does not know much of the Word. I am stuck taking our small children to church, helping with memory verses, and reading them Bible stories, alone. In short, I'm having to be the spiritual leader for our children while trying not to usurp the authority of my husband. It is a fine line walk and I'm sure I fall off quite often.
I want to be a keeper at home. I want to teach my children and care for our home and love my husband. He wants me to work outside the home and help pay the bills. When you work 40 hours a week and spend another 7 hours driving back and forth, that doesn't leave much time for taking care of the family and things at home. I feel like I'm failing to fulfill any of my roles very well. And yet, I am to be submissive to my husband and follow his leading. If I resist my circumstances I feel as though I'm only making matters worse and certainly not showing the love for my husband that he deserves. Instead I come off ungrateful for the blessings I have received.
After writing this, I realize I need a counselor more than anything. It is not fair to ask you to comment on my situation.
I do have a question maybe you can answer. For the last couple of years I've really been struggling with a woman's role in church and head coverings. Perhaps you can tell me what your worship services are like. Do women "speak in church"? (1 Cor 14:34-35) You mentioned that in the past you had leadership roles at church, but have given them up. I agree that a woman should not be a pastor or deacon. What are your thoughts on Youth Leaders and Sunday School teachers?
I don't even know what to make of 1 Cor 11:3-16. There are so many people who say that this was only an instruction to the people of Corinth because it was a cultural thing, women would be thought a prostitute if they went around without a head covering. I can't say I believe that explains these verses away, but yet I worship with my head uncovered, as does every other woman in my congregation.
Thank you for your comment. I apologize for taking so long to respond to your questions.
We don't have what some might label "classic" worship services. We come together as a community for communion fellowship (the Lord's table and a meal), for sermons, to sing psalms and hymns, to read the Bible, to have a Q&A time with our teacher, and for general conversation and fellowship. During our gatherings, questions and dialogue are encouraged; however, women are not to teach or go on in a selfish or loud manner. I typically try to err on the side of being quiet and asking my husband questions first (even with Q&A, I have often asked my husband the question beforehand).
Now, regarding Youth Leaders and Sunday School teachers: first, this requires one to go to the original premise of these concepts. The ideas of Sunday School and Youth Groups are inventions of the modern "church," and I would say not biblically based. In our community, the husbands and our preacher are our spiritual school teachers, and the parents and elders are the youth leaders, along with the following:
Titus 2:3-5"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed".
It appears this instruction in the Bible is discussing women teaching younger women in the home, or in a general manner amongst Christian sisters.
As for head coverings, I would like to refer you to the excellent sermon series on the subject presented by our teacher, which I included in a blog post on head coverings a few months ago (if you didn't happen to see it); and hopefully it will be of assistance to you. I pray God grants you wisdom, understanding, repentance and obedience to serve Him with all of your heart. I also pray God gives you strength and the fruit of the Spirit to be a proper and godly help meet to your husband that he might be converted through your example. May God bless you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my comments. It is true that Youth Groups, and I guess Sunday School, are relatively new idea. And I agree that especially youth groups are not biblical. When you look at the youth groups in church, they are not much different than the youth groups of the world, except they proclaim a faith in God. Some of them anyway. Some are friends of group members or neighborhood youth and are not believers. In that way Youth Groups are an outreach ministry although I'm not sure they understand that reality or are equipped to deal with it effectively.
Sunday School on the other hand, seems like a good idea, if they were a good Bible Study. So many times, Sunday School is just social hour. As with Youth Groups, I don't like the idea of splitting up families for Bible study into demographic groups. But truth be told, if it weren't for a Women's Bible Study (that met separate from any church or congregation to teach strictly from the Bible and not church doctrine) perhaps I would not have come to know God.
If you, as a church body, reach out the unsaved and share the gospel you need to have a place they can worship and grow in Christ. And you need to accept that these people you've reached with the Word of God may not come as whole families, as in my case. I do not have a husband I can ask questions of in advance or who can speak for me. For that reason I am grateful for a women's group. But I concede, Sunday School is not the best way.
Thank you for the link to your earlier article on head coverings. I've read it and listened the the first part of your teacher's sermon on head covering. When I find the time I hope to listen to the second part.
I agree mostly with what is being taught on the clip, especially the clarification that because Paul said to cover while praying and prophesying, it didn't mean that women were UNcovered when they weren't doing those things. Being covered was the norm and they should remove those coverings when they were in the church meetings. That made sense to me. However, I disagree that all three of the competing cultures (Jewish, Roman and Greek) practiced head covering as the norm. It seems that the images of Greek women with their hair uncovered are all too common. However, this doesn't really detract from his point in the sermon.
Anyway thank you again and I'll continue to listen and consider this issue.
I meant to say: Being covered was the norm and they should NOT remove those coverings when they were in the church meetings.
Thanks for the discussion. We're glad you found the first head covering sermon beneficial.
Just a couple of points of note: while a women's Bible study might seem like a good idea and might seem like the only study outlet for people in certain kinds of households (ie. where the husband is not functioning in his role of spiritual leader), the Bible forbids women teachers in the Church (1 Tim 2:12). This is not to say a mother is not to rear her children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and teach them spiritual things from the Bible, but to not teach the Bible publicly. Please see John Gill's commentary on 1 Tim 2:12. And where it does say women are to teach that might include outside of the home, as in Titus 2, notice what they are to teach: "to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands."
In a proper community, there will be men that are teachers and/or elders who could function to answer questions for those who do not have a husband from whom to ask questions or seek godly counsel. It is sad, and I believe a sign of the condition of the apostate "church" today, that a woman without a godly husband has no spiritual men in her life from whom to seek godly counsel and then who thus must seek it from unauthorized sources. While the Lord may lead someone to Himself in a women's Bible study, based on 1 Tim 2:12, that would appear to be a gracious exemption on His part to His own rule.
May God guide your studies and spiritual walk.
And like you said that it's not the main issue, but just a quick point about head coverings in the three prevailing cultures: logically speaking, having some pictures of women in the ancient culture with their heads uncovered does not necessarily indicate that having the head covered was not the norm at the time. There could be a lot of context behind the pictures, like of whom they were (goddesses, the rich, etc.), how typical those pictures actually were in comparison to all pictures of the time, or even if those pictures were indeed representative of most women's dress at the time. I don't know about the ones you've seen, but I wanted to bring up this point for consideration.
You are right. It is sad that a single woman (or spiritually single) may feel as though she has no resources for spiritual guidance.
A couple of years ago I requested to speak to our pastor about some questions I had. My questions happened to be about a woman's role in church. (At the time our church had a female deacon and she also taught a "young marrieds" Sunday school class.) I was honestly seeking answers and I was a little curious to see if he would tell me the truth or bend it so as not to offend the position he must have assumed I held. I was happy to find that he did not back down because of a perceived disagreement. And it was shortly afterward, that a business meeting was held where the woman was removed from her role as deacon and she no longer teaches men and women in Sunday school. It seems as though many people had been talking with pastor about the issue. Much to her credit, she accepted the correction graciously and still is a wonderful servant in the church.
However, after our meeting, the pastor referred me to his wife if I had any more questions. He was uncomfortable meeting with me alone, which I completely understand, and asked two brothers to join us, which was fine with me. Still,I think he felt it awkward. I never did speak with his wife.
In my reading of the Bible, I understood that women should not have authority over a man and should not be in leadership roles (i.e. pastor, deacon) but had assumed, possibly from my talk with the Pastor, that women could lead other women in Bible study, especially in how it applies to their roles as wives and mothers. I also understand you believe women should not teach the Bible in public. I'm going to have to pray about that.
Your point about Greek women in portraits being goddesses or those of wealth was well taken.
I really don't mean to take up any more of your time on this post. Thank you both for responding to my comments. I should say, that I meant to continue commenting anonymously because I don't mean to disrespect my husband in any way, but accidentally "outed" myself. I'll continue to check in on your blog periodically. I appreciate your willingness to share your lives and faith with others.
It's nice to hear about people correcting error and taking correction well. I believe it was good the pastor was careful to not be alone with you (we have very strict rules ourselves about that around here).
No strain on our time either. 🙂 We appreciate the interactions.
May God guide you and grant you wisdom and understanding.
P.S. I re-posted your comments as "Anonymous."