You may not approve of what you are about to read, so proceed with caution. You may be shocked.
First, a statement made by God Himself in chapter 3 of Genesis in our Bibles, “Unto the woman He (God) said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception. In sorrow you shall bring forth children, and your desire will be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
There it is - the offensive word. It’s “rule”. One might think that this is just an unfortunate old fashioned translation of a word, but we find the same in some of the newer translations of the Bible. Or we might think that this word no longer applies because it is in the Old Testament, and would not be found in the New. But no such thing, because the same principle of obedience to a ruler is also found in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as unto the Lord.”
But don’t despair; all is not lost, because there is more to this than what immediately appears. This does not mean that husbands should rule their families like a tyrant, with a big stick over everyone’s head –although there are sadly some husbands who try to do that. But the developing norm in today’s western world is to give all family members equal authority – even the kids. And we have all seen that played out in public places, with tragic results to everyone’s discomfort.
A good and effective king or leader of any kind is one who does not try to do or micro-manage everyone’s job, but rather only assumes final authority and leadership while everyone else carries out his own function. So, if a wife’s function is not that of equal ruler (and it is not) then what is it? In I Timothy 5:14 we find this: “I will therefore, that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give no occasion to adversaries to speak reproachfully…” So, if we look for a job description for wives and mothers, this is about it. They are the guides of the home, which takes in just about all aspects of supervision there is. She is the busiest one of all. She has the most decisions to make of anybody.
That only makes sense. While Dad is out all day slaying dragons and bringing home the bacon, Mom has a house to supervise and run, and thank God for those who do it well! When Dad gets home there may be some final decisions to make – but usually not that often.
So which job is the harder? Ruler or guide? To my notion, and wonderful experience of being raised in a godly home, it is the guide. That can be the most difficult but also the most rewarding. However, in today’s world when job descriptions, titles and positions are so sought after, the hardworking position of being “just” a guide is fast losing its luster, and we find husbands and wives arguing and even separating over decisions and issues that supposedly determine ones “equal authority” and ideas of self-worth – but are usually of low importance.
By the way, that passage in Ephesians (above) also commands husbands to love their wives. And that does not necessarily mean feelings of fondness, but ACTS of loving kindness – whether hubby feels like it or not. Realistically, that means giving her and her choices, desires and preferences most of the time. How many arguments would that stop? This is the example that Christ gave in actively loving his sometimes rebellious church. And it works wonders. Try it, men. Remember, as “ruler” you have the right to do that too. It should be easy and pleasant for a wife to submit to a benevolent ruler like that.
- Loren Wilson (This article may be copied freely.)
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