A Wife’s Primary Role

August 1, 2016

If I could sum up all the verses directly related to wive’s in the Bible, this is what I believe God wants all wives to know:

Your primary role in marriage is to support your husband.
Now, as a sort-of feminist teenager, I would have squirmed with indignation at such a statement. Even though every fibre of my being longed to have a man to love and be loved by, the thought that my main role in marriage was to support him – well, I don’t think so!
Why did I feel that way? What was it about the idea of a woman supporting the man she loves make me go all icky and angry? If I were to talk to my teenage-self, I would cut right to the chase – and the hidden thoughts of my heart – and point out the two reasons why.
NOTE: If you are being abused – emotionally or physically – I am not talking to you. You need to get help or get out now. That is not a marriage God wants happening and will provide for you just as He provided for Israel escaping slavery. I am addressing wives in a normal, imperfect but fairly healthy marriage relationship.

1. “You think being a support to a man is something derogatory.”

I’d point out that it is the man bit that makes me feel icky. You see, if I were thinking about my primary role in friendship, and that it was to “support my friend”, I wouldn’t think twice… But because it is a man, this means there is something inherently bad/derogatory/abusive/slavish about it. 
What a lie! A lie from our fore-mothers gone awry, a lie from the history of men abusing their position of protector/provider, and a lie from the enemy who just wants us all to be as far away from God’s good design as possible as it can be.
When we put the baggage of history aside and we look into the sweet Word of our God, the Truth we see right at the beginning of the world – before sin and abuse and manipulation and lies wormed their way like cancer into our beings – that God created a stunningly gorgeous woman to —
be a helper
be a companion
be a lover
It is inherently within us to be nurturing, supportive and a help. We absolutely love it. Why do we love planners and organisers and nesting so much?? And, quite simply, we long to love. We long to love the men God has blessed us with. We just get lied to and we fall prey to the sin that “so easily entangles us” {Hebrews 12:1} and therefore, live in fear.
But God addresses this fear in 1 Peter 3:6, when He reminded us of Sarah who,
“obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not give way to fear.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t call my husband ‘lord’! Ha! But, my heart respects him and his position of protector and provider. This is the same thing. And so, I support him by respecting him and honouring the position God has put him in and the position He has put me in. If I want to be a biblical, godly woman like Sarah – who was honoured in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 – I am to obey God and not be afraid. 
Obeying God also means trusting Him to help me and help my husband if things do start to go wrong – which they will, by the way. We are sinners and we will sin against each other. Your husband will make mistakes and sin against you. But God knew that and knows that now. Even when we make mistakes, living His ways is still far better than living the ways of this world.

2. “God wants you to focus on His Word for you and not your husband’s.”

Teenage-me: It’s easy to focus on what another person should be doing or what they are supposed to be doing but aren’t. You might think, “Well, I’ll support my husband if he is loving me like Jesus.” If only he were more: kind, loving, protective, manly, stronger etc. Or, if only he would: provide better, be less lazy, help around the house more, be a better father.
I’m afraid, this is another lie. Obeying God is never a dependent clause. Just as He never asks us to love another depending on their behaviour, nor does ever love us dependent on our behaviour. He loves us unconditionally. And, even though we are fallen creatures who hurt and sin and disobey, we are still called to love one another more than ourselves {John 13:34-35}.
This means that our support of our husbands is not dependent on their behaviour. We can’t say, “Well, if he would show me more affection then I would feel like being more of a support to him”. That’s just not how it works. This is a form of comparison, which is a sign of a distrustful and ungrateful heart towards our God who generously gives us all good gifts {1 Timothy 6:17}.
Again, we are to be like Sarah. Do you think Abraham was perfect? Do you remember that he was a coward, pretended Sarah was his sister, and gave her to another man to be his concubine {Genesis 20}? Talk about a model husband! How hurt, betrayed, grief-filled Sarah must have been. They had an imperfect, sinful marriage.
She respected her husband and God calls her righteous for it. In their mistakes, God would have stretched them, helped them learn to love one another more than themselves, and to trust and obey the roles He has created for husbands and wives. Isn’t that what He asks us in our marriages today?
The above picture is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But, for all the 1950’s of it, such a picture shows a wife being welcoming, warm, and supportive to her husband as he walks in the door. Does she struggle with fear and the desire to rule her husband? Of course! Who doesn’t? But, if she truly loves the Lord and desires to please Him above all else {including her feelings and sentiments}, then she will strive to be a loving and supportive wife to her husband.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you struggled with any of the lies mentioned?
  1. Yes, very much so. It took me a long time to get to the place where I am willing to do my part in marriage, whether my husband is doing his part or not. As you say, it is not a dependent clause. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  2. Oh, Sarah, I was that same teenager you portray yourself as! Unfortunately, I carried those thoughts into my marriage for the first 10 years or so. God in his grace opened my eyes to the truth you talk about here and the blessings have been abundant. God's ways are always the best ways, aren't they?

  3. Yes, I definitely struggle in these areas, and trying to live to honor and please God is a struggle in this flesh of mine! I've been married 19 years, though, and am looking forward to the rest of the journey. 🙂

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