Practical Steps for Marriage Matt. 7: 3-5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Here is a brief summary of the first six lessons that Tony, Randy and I have taught on the home:
- Man’s authority comes from God and he must rule. His wife must be in submission. The children will model what they see. If he’s not ruling or she’s not in submission, the children will likely not obey.
- The breakdown in authority comes from a lack of Biblical facts [knowing what God said], Biblical fear [the fear of God] and Biblical faith [belief that what God said is better than what you’re doing].
- In marriage, authority plus submission equals success. The husband must be subject to God’s authority and his wife must be subject to her husband’s authority. Failure in either of these is due to a lack of faith in God.
- Men must grow in their obedience to God, like Abraham grew in his obedience to God, in order to properly command their homes.
- Wives are to be a help meet for their husbands. Being a good help meet for him includes focusing on his divine position, ministering to his greatest needs, and reverencing him as her spiritual leader. This lesson included some specific things wives can do and say to help their husbands.
- The goal of marriage is rest [Ruth] and peace; not an armistice. To have peace in your marriage you must die to self, do right and yield to God.
So, today we are going to discuss some practical steps you can take to accomplish what you have been taught, thus far. The main thing is to just do your part. Matt 7:3-5, you cannot change your spouse and you cannot live his life or her life for him or her. So, just take care of your own stuff. Do what you know is right to do. Don’t worry about your spouse’s part. You do what God shows you to do.
Practical Steps for the Wife
Obey God in everything. A woman came to me and asked me to pray that her husband would start tithing. She was convicted that tithing was right to do. I prayed. But do you know what I found out later? They both worked; so, she had an income, too. Yet, she didn’t tithe. What was up with asking me to pray for her husband to do right when she wouldn’t do right? But that’s how people are… “Well, if you’re not going to do right, then I’m not going to do right.” That helps. “I’m not going to do right, hoping that I can pressure you into doing right.” I’ve never seen that work, though I’ve seen it tried several times. See Titus 2:4-5.
Stay in submission, regardless. Look at 1 Pet 3:1-4. This woman’s husband is not obedient to the word of God and, yet, she is still to be in subjection to him, because that’s the right thing for a wife to do. She is to be meek and quiet. That’s hard; but that’s right. Her conversation is to be chaste coupled with fear. You ask, “Well, what if he walks out on her?” Do you know what Paul said? “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart,” [1 Cor 7:15]. If God can’t get him to obey [he’s “unbelieving”] what makes you think you’re going to make him obey? You can’t put yourself over him in the place of God and expect to accomplish something that is pleasing to God and beneficial to your spouse. It won’t work. In Vietnam, they say when a woman does this to her husband, “She is sitting on his head.” A friend of mine saw a man in Vietnam all stooped over and he said, “Man, that guy must have a bad wife.”
Pray for him. The best thing you can do for him is to pray for him. Look at 1 Tim 2:1-3. The first thing we are to do, according to Paul, is to pray and intercede “for all men.” Why would you think your husband is an exception here? We are to pray for “all that are in authority.” Is he not still in authority, though he is handling his authority wrongly? He is, most definitely.
Look at the result of your prayer, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Doesn’t that fit the goal of marriage that Tony talked about… “peace”? It does, indeed. And you should be particularly encouraged to pray for him because “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” A wife, in a difficult marriage, has been seeking counsel and I have encouraged her to pray for her husband. I believe that she spends more time criticizing him and talking to others about him than she does praying for him. And things are getting worse. She’s wasting her time talking to others when she should be talking to God.
Practical Steps for the Husband
Honor your wife. Look again at 1 Pet 3. In 1 Pet 3:7, Peter said, “Likewise.” That’s the way he started verse 1. Do you know what that means? That indicates that he is married to a wife who “obey(s) not the word.” She isn’t in subjection to him. And what is he supposed to do? He is to give honor to her as unto the weaker vessel. They are “heirs together of the grace of life.” In other words, he and she have both been given grace for the other. She has the grace to follow him despite his lack of submission to God and he has the grace to honor her despite her lack of submission to him.
Husband, if your wife isn’t in subjection to you, you aren’t supposed to put the screws to her to make her obey. You are to honor her because she is the weaker vessel. The truth is that you have already tried the “my way or the highway” routine with her and what did it get you? A black eye? A night in the doghouse? You’ve heard in these lessons that her submission to you is voluntary. She is commanded to obey God and submit to you, but she is the one who must do it. You can’t make her submit. But you can honor her. She is your wife!
Love her, regardless. Our example is Jesus Christ. In Eph 5:25 Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” He loves us whether we are in subjection to him, or not. Husbands have a tendency to withhold their expressions of love when they aren’t happy with their wives. We just mow the lawn or stay late at the office or go to work on a hobby or something like that. We shut them out. We get bitter [Col 3:19].
I can testify that my relationship to Anne changed after Dr. Jim Binney taught us on marriage. He showed us that our wives’ greatest need is to be loved. Therefore, God assigned the responsibility to the husbands to love their wives, as Christ loved the church. I was guilty of not fully fulfilling my responsibility. As I began to love Anne more, our relationship improved. She didn’t change, immediately. But my love for her surely changed and my attitude toward her changed, as well. There is a noticeable and beneficial difference in our home.
Pray for her. So, what are you to do when your wife doesn’t want to submit? The same thing that she is to do for you when you aren’t obeying the word; when you aren’t submitting to God. You should pray for her. Look at the last part of 1 Pet 3:7, “that your prayers be not hindered.” What do you think he’s praying about in the context? No doubt, he is praying about his wife trusting God and being in subjection to him [1 Pet 3:5]. He’s praying for her to get over her fear and her “amazement,” that is, her fear of and bewilderment by his decisions [1 Pet 3:6].
Continue to lead. Eph 5:23 You are the head of your wife. You cannot stop leading your home just because your wife doesn’t want to follow. You will be leading with grief and not with joy [Heb 13:17], but you must keep going in the direction and at the pace that God wants you to go. God may slow you down so that your wife can catch up, but he is not going to stop leading you and you cannot quit following and obeying him.
Conclusion: You are not being selfish to do your part and to let your spouse do his or her part. You are being responsible. If you get your part right, you increase the probability that your spouse can get his or her part right. If your spouse never does get it right, at least you won’t both be messed up.