By Elizabeth Prata
Remember video stores? Before streaming was invented you had to physically go to a video store and rent a movie, checking it out from the store. You drive home and pop it in to the video cassette recorder machine hulking on top of your console tv to view whatever movie you’d rented. Then reverse the process to return it the next day. Back in the 1990s at the video store on a busy Friday night, I was looking for a movie adapted from an Oscar Wilde play called An Ideal Husband. I couldn’t find it, so I went to the gal at the checkout so she could peek at her catalog to see if it was lent out.
I’d asked, “Do you have An Ideal Husband?”
Without missing a beat, she said, “No, but if I did I wouldn’t lend him out!”
The Bible sets a standard for an ideal husband, and an ideal wife. There is a creation order to things, with Jesus as King of everything, but He is also our Groom. Then it’s husbands, then wives, then children.
What is an ideal wife? Submissive, a helper, a gentle woman with a quiet spirit. She should be modest, care for the home, raise the children, be a godly companion for the husband in all ways the Bible outlines for all women to be whether married or not (trustworthy, service oriented, respectful, prayerful, etc).
Proverbs has much to say about the opposite of a quiet woman, one who is raucous, quarrelsome, contentious, foolish, disgraceful…and none of it is good. Proverbs is strong on the woman who is foolish.
We know that wives are supposed to be a helpmeet, a companion for the man, because it is not good for the man to be alone. (says Genesis 2:18).
Wives are not the leader of the home, because they are a helper. They are to submit to the husband as the husband submits to the Lord.
In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your pure and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2).
There are examples of some wives in the Bible who are not ideal, who are not helpful, and whose pursuit of sin was horrifically destructive. I think we forget how destructive sin is to ourselves and to others around us. Of course, these two examples are unique and unlikely to occur again, but still, the point is made. Sin is destructive and pursuing it is NOT helpful to the husband.
Adam listened to his wife, took the fruit and ate. Thus, Adam sinned.
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6).
In this way, all of humanity fell outside of God’s holy standard. We are all bearing the consequence of this today. The Bible does not record the exact conversation between the husband and the wife, or how long it might have taken the wife Eve to convince her husband Adam to eat the fruit, but there we have it. She pursued something that was forbidden by God and the consequences rippled through all the universe and all of time up till now.
In the second example, we have Abram who listened to the voice of his wife, went into Hagar. Thus Abram sinned.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not borne him a child, but she had an Egyptian slave woman whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please have relations with my slave woman; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16:1-2).
Here, Sarai wanted something and she wanted it bad. She had already been told by Abram her husband who heard a promise from God that the couple WILL have a child. Sarai was long past child bearing years but Abram believed and waited. Apparently Sarai had waited long enough. She devised a plan that did not include supporting her husband in this promise in the long years till fulfillment, but allowed sin to overtake her helpmeet capabilities. She was impatient. But when the child came, she was jealous of Hagar, so the sin continued and worsened.
If a man has a Godly wife, she often has good counsel or offers solid wisdom as his helpmeet. As we see in scripture though, sometimes a wife’s advice leads her husband to sin.
Ladies, when we pursue something that is forbidden to us as women, whether it is leading in the home, preaching from the pulpit or some other sin such as adultery, laziness, jealousy, or etc., the consequences are not hidden, they are not small, and they are not temporary. We see some biblical consequences here:
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; With hard labor you shall eat from it All the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17).
Eve did not escape a personal consequence, either:
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall deliver children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
The consequence for Sarah and Abraham was interpersonal strife within their tribal community, a split family, and a permanent negative note in the written word of God.
I’m not married now, but I was before salvation. I remember well my desires, and my machinations and manipulations toward my husband to get what I wanted and have those desires filled. Those sinful ways are still in us post-salvation. We still dwell in our flesh. Though we have been forgiven of sins and have the Holy Spirit in us to help in killing those desires, the tendencies to want what we want and do unhelpful things to get it are still there.
It’s incumbent upon us as wives to ensure we understand what God expects of us in our role as helpmeet. We learn that from the Bible. It’s incumbent upon our husbands to also know what God expects of them in their role as family leader, and to be able to withstand the pressure from wives when they try to steer them wrong.
Women, be women. Men, be men.
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