There is a lot of confusion among Christians today regarding what makes for a godly marriage. Much of this controversy centers around how a husband and wife interact with each other.
Our recent article “6 Things a Christian Husband Should Give His Wife” explores some ways a Christian husband honors Christ in his relationship with his wife. Here are six things (in no particular order) a Christian wife should give her husband:
A Christian wife should be her husband’s friend. After God placed the first man, Adam, in the garden of Eden, he declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). While she doesn’t need to join in on all of her husband’s activities, a Christian wife should enjoy spending as much as time as possible with her spouse.
Even though we don’t get to go as often as we would like, I love going fly-fishing with my husband. It’s a pretty good deal for me as he ties all my flies and helps me find good fishing spots. He never gets frustrated (at least he doesn’t show it!) when I get my fishing line caught in the bushes, and he always comes over and helps me get untangled. We have a lot of fun, and it’s wonderful to spend time together away from the usual routines of daily life.
A Christian wife should always love her husband. Because Paul tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands in Ephesians 5:33, some Christians think this means that a Christian wife doesn’t have to love her husband—but this is not the case at all. All Christians are commanded to love their brothers and sisters in Christ, and this is especially true in marriage. When a man and woman get married, they make a vow before God to stay together until death parts them. To be in a relationship where love is one-sided—or there is no love on either side—is a great tragedy.
When Christians remember how God loves them so much that he sent his Son to suffer and die on a cross for them, this gives them courage and the will to love even in the most difficult of circumstances. When a Christian wife loves her husband with the love of Christ, this love can do much to soften the hardest of hearts (1 Pet. 3:1).
A Christian wife should respect her husband. The Greek word the apostle Paul uses in Ephesians 5:33 for the respect wives should have for their husbands is phobÄ“tai, which means to have a profound measure of reverence/respect for someone (BDAG, 1061).
Some Christian women wrongly believe that the word “submit” in Ephesians 5:21–24 means they must tolerate any kind of treatment from their husband. The Greek word Paul uses in these verses for “submit” is hypotassó, and it is directly related to respect. Hypotassó refers to a wife’s “recognition of an ordered structure” in which her husband is the person to whom she should show appropriate respect “as to the Lord” (BDAG, 1042; Eph. 5:22; see also Col. 3:18 and 1 Pet. 3:1–6). If a husband directs his wife to do anything that goes against her conscience, she always “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; 1 Cor. 8:12–13).
A Christian wife can help her husband in a multitude of ways. This will look different in each family. While some Christians think certain work and household responsibilities belong to a specific sex, believers should not be bound where Scripture gives them liberty.
One important way a Christian wife can support her husband is in the area of counsel. In the Bible, we find instances where women gave their husbands good counsel or were discerning (Sarah in Gen. 21:12; Abigail in 1 Sam. 25:3; Pontius Pilate’s wife in Matt. 27:19) as well as instances where women gave poor counsel (Eve in Gen. 3:6; Sarah in Gen. 16:2; Jezebel in 1 Kings 19:1–2). A Christian wife should seek to grow in knowledge and wisdom in God’s Word as well as in all her callings in life, so she can give her husband the best possible counsel in all circumstances (Prov. 31:10–31).
God never intended for a wife to be a “yes-person.” A husband bears great responsibility, and he needs his wife’s straightforward input. A Christian wife should be honest with her husband about any concerns she has regarding a particular matter to protect him from potential harmful consequences.
A Christian wife should be completely devoted to her husband. This includes being faithful to her marriage vows, caring for her husband physically and emotionally, praying for him, and seeking his good in all things. A Christian wife should joyfully help her husband in his callings to the glory of God. She should be loyal, trustworthy, and look after the interests of her husband (Phil. 2:4). When a Christian wife honors God in her comportment in daily life, she also brings honor to her husband.
A Christian wife honors her husband when she expects him to respect her in all circumstances. There is no excuse ever for a husband to harm his wife physically or emotionally. Paul is clear on this matter:
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Eph. 5:28–29)
When a Christian wife is in an abusive marriage, she needs to seek help from extended family, friends, civil authorities, and the leadership of a faithful church. This is why it is so important for Christians to be members of a church community that upholds God’s Word carefully and provides proper oversight over its members. There is no situation where a woman should be abused—period. A Christian wife honors her husband when she holds steadfastly to standards that help him to be a godly man.
Because of our sinful natures, Christian husbands and Christian wives will not fulfill their duties to their spouses perfectly in this life. Thankfully, our hope lies not in our own works but rather in the perfect work of Christ done on our behalf. Christian marriage involves joy, sacrifice, commitment, and forgiveness. Our failures should keep us humble and direct us to daily seek God’s help in loving our spouses to his glory in all.