By: Rev. David F. Gray
My husband has the Holy Ghost, but he is very domineering. He treats me like a child. He even threatens to spank me if I do not obey him. He handles the money and buys anything he wants for himself, but I have to beg for any money at all for my personal needs. He says this is the way God planned it, and quotes Ephesians 5:24 whenever I try to reason with him. Brother Gray, is this what that verse means? I am willing to be what God wants me to be, but I feel this kind of treatment is dehumanizing and I am
losing my self-respect as a wife, and find myself resenting him, and also resenting God if this is the way God planned for married life to be. Can you help me?
Let me assure you first of all that God did not plan for husbands to deal with their wives as though they were children, or property to be treated (or mistreated) at their whim. I have seen men treat their animals with more consideration than they treat their precious wife. It is a distorted concept of Scripture that permits men to take one verse out of its setting and use it to build a power base to satisfy their carnal egos. Believe me, the entire context must be used to put verse 24 into it proper perspective.
Let us quote the entire passage of Ephesians 5 dealing with the marriage relationship.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let
the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;… So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord and the church; For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
-Ephesians 5:21-25, 28-33.
The emphasis which God places upon the husband’s attitude toward his wife is not that of dominance, but of love (verses 25, 28, 29, 33). The example which God gives men to pattern after in their love for their wives is the love Christ has for the church. He gave Himself on Calvary for the church, and men ought to love their wives in like manner (verse 25.) Never does Jesus domineer over His church, and force them against their will.
Men are also to love their wives just as much as they love themselves and their own bodies (verses 28,29). If men did this they would never pour out dollars on themselves and try to make their wives do with dimes. They are called “heirs together” (I Peter 3:7), and so all their possessions as well as their money should be shared equally.
OF course the husband is the leader, and is to be the head of his wife, even as Christ is the head of the church (verse 23.) But just as Christ’s leadership is a leadership of love, so also is the husband’s headship. It is not to be a carnal, driving, domineering headship, but one of spiritual depth and compassion’s, helping his wife to be a better, holier, and happier person, just as Christ’s leadership of His church enables it to be a glorious church (verse 27). It is a headship based on love. Whether she
loves him or not, the husband is to love his wife (see Romans 5:8; I John 4:19).
There will be no problem with a godly wife being submissive to the leadership of a husband who loves her as Christ loves the church. Her submission is to be like that of the church to Christ (verses 22, 24). It
is not hard for the church to follow Christ for He has proven His love for her, and He will lead her into a better, holier, and happier life than anything she has ever known. This beautiful relationship sets the example for Christian marriage.
There is one more thing which Scriptures teach relative to submission. While wives are to be subject unto their own husbands (verse 24), it is likewise true that there is a sense in which the husbands are to be subject unto their wives (verse 21). A godly husband who truly loves his wife will seek ways of pleasing her. The Apostle Paul states this in I Corinthians 7:33 (and you can be sure Paul did not condemn it) in these words:
But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world (that is, to earn sufficient money), how he may please his wife.
Love begets love. It is the supreme grace. It will bind husbands and wives together like nothing else. It will smooth the rough places. It will bring joy and happiness to both. It will elevate the husband to be a king, and his wife to be a queen. And love will so bind them together that they can never be separated.
Let me close with a few sentences from one of my favorite wedding ceremonies:
In creation Adam the man was first formed, then the woman Eve, say the Scriptures, that the woman might be for the man, setting forth the humility, modesty, and gentleness that should characterize her kind.
Yet man, in being made last of all of God’s creatures, was set forth as the best and most excellent of all of God’s creative works.
So Eve’s being made after Adam and out of him sets an honor upon the woman as being the glory of man.
If the man is the head, she is the crown, a crown to her husband. The man was dust refined, but the woman was doubly refined – one step further from the earth.
In being created from man, or out of man, she was not:
Out of his head to dominate or to be over him, nor
Out of his feet to be under him or trampled upon by him,
But out of his side to be equal with him; from under his arm to be protected by him, and near to is heart to be loved.
Happy is the man, and happy is his wife, who thus lives in the beauty and harmony of Christian marriage.
(The original source of the above material is unknown.)
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