The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama
City, California, by John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape,
GTY-43, titled “God’s Design for a Successful Marriage” (Side 1) “The Role
of the Wife.” A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of
Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 or by dialing toll free
I have made every effort to ensure that an accurate transcription of the
original tape was made. Please note that at times sentence structure may
appear to vary from accepted English conventions. This is due primarily to
the techniques involved in preaching and the obvious choices I had to make
in placing the correct punctuation in the article.
It is my intent and prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this transcription
to strengthen and encourage the true Church of Jesus Christ.
God’s Design for a Successful Marriage
(The Role of the Wife)
John F. MacArthur, Jr.
All rights reserved.
We come this morning to a famous or infamous passage, depending on how you
view it, in Ephesians 5:22-24. This is the beginning of the Biblical look
at the pattern that God has designed for marriage and the family. We live
in a day when this is a very difficult thing to proclaim because the world
is not willing to accept it.
God has some very clear, distinct definitions of a family and how a family
functions, and we are going to be seeing these as we look all the way down
through the ninth verse of the sixth chapter, and that will take us several
weeks to cover.
Now, as we look at the principles for today we are going to see the wife
and, by the way, we are going to get to the husband next time, so just be
patient. We are going to do the worst last: we are going to deal with the
easy part now, and we will get to the husbands later.
Let’s talk about the duty of the wife and look at verses 22 to 24: the duty
of the wife. I want you to stay with me, for I think this is very needful
for our time. Basically, it says “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own
husbands, as unto the Lord.” I want to just remind you as I said earlier,
the word “submit” is not here, it really reads: “Wives, yourselves unto
your own husbands.” In other words, you do your submitting to your
husbands. It’s implied there, but the idea is very general: “wives,”
that’s it. Not, “wives whose husbands are fulfilling their functions.”
Not, “blue-eyed wives,” not “blond or brown hair wives,” not “wives who
feel that this is the best thing for you to do.” “Wives,” that’s it,
categorically. “Wives,” anybody who falls into that classification falls
into this verse. There are no other conditions.
“Wives, yourselves unto your own husbands.” And the idea of “submit” drops
down from verse 21, “Submit yourselves to your own husbands.” So let us
talk first of all about the matter of submission.
1. The Matter of Submission.
Now what does this really refer to? Well, the word “submit” is not the
word “obey.” It is not “hupakouo” (Greek), which is the word “obey.” It
is the word “hupotasso” (Greek), which is a functional lining up
underneath; it’s the idea of submissiveness, subjection, not the idea of
any essential difference. It isn’t the word “obey;” the word “obey” is
used of children by Paul in this passage, and of slaves. It connotes–the
word “hupakouo” (Greek) simply means “to answer,” “to attend,” or “to
obey.” It’s a word used of a servant. The wife is not a servant; she is
not a slave. She doesn’t stand in the center of the house awaiting
commands: “Do this! Get that! Go over here! Would you get me this! Fix
me that! Could I have this! Is my so and so done?”
She is not a slave–that is not the term that is used. This is much more
intimate than that, this is much more personal, much more inward, much more
vital, as indicated by the term “your own husband.” In other words, there
is a possessiveness here. It assumes that a wife would absolutely
willingly respond in submission to her “own” husband–one whom she
possesses. Now this is, as I say, not a reference to any kind of
inferiority at all; it is simply a God-ordained distinction in function so
that society can be preserved. In Genesis 3:16 this was ordained; it says,
“Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” In
other words this was the God-ordained function, and yet it was also in
Genesis where God said that they two would become what? One flesh!
While you have that amazing, intimate, inward vitality, that oneness, that
uniqueness that makes two one, it does not violate the function of
authority and submission: “He shall rule over you.” For the sake of unity,
for the sake of workability, she is subjected to the headship of her
husband–not as a slave, but as one who is (get this one!) provided for,
cared for, secured by her husband. It has not nearly so much to do with
what she does for him, as with what he is responsible to do for her, and we
will see that now, and in the weeks to come.
The headship is the man’s. Physically, God made men stronger. Physically,
constitutionally, they are designed by God to work for, protect, provide
for, and give security to a wife whom the Holy Spirit calls (in 1 Peter 3)
the “weaker vessel.” That’s true physically, and some feel that’s true
even emotionally. Man is constituted in such a way to be the stronger
partner–somebody has got to be the protector, the one who provides,
preserves, and cares. This has always been God’s standard (Genesis 3:16).
Now, let us look at Colossians 3:18, the parallel passage. Paul says
basically the same thing, but there is a word there that I think is very
important. In Colossians, chapter 3, and verse 18, we read almost the same
terms, “Wives, submit yourselves under your own husbands (now watch this,
it doesn’t say as unto the Lord there, it says), as it is fitting in the
Lord.” “As it is fitting in the Lord.” “Aneko” (Greek), a very important
verb, and I did a little research this week on a lot of these terms and
I’ll be sharing with you this morning, and this was the first one I really
kind of went after. It is a word that means “it is fitting,” “it is
seemly,” or it is “proper.” Primarily, in the Old Testament it is used of
something that was legally binding. It was a legal concept, the Septuagint
uses it that way: “something legally binding.” By the way, it’s used in
Philemon, verse 8, in the New Testament, of something “legally binding.”
Now watch: then what he is saying is this, “this thing is in a sense
legally binding.” In other words, this is the accepted law of human
society. Now where does human society get its laws? Historically and
basically, any society that had God as any part of its laws, finds that its
laws are basically a reiteration of some divine principle. Now we are fast
seeing that go away in our society where we are now having morality by
majority vote, but if we look back we will find that laws governing human
society, for the most part as we have known them, societies in which God,
the true God has any influence, such as Western culture, are laws that come
from Biblical basis.
For example, we have a law that you can’t kill people; where does that come
from? The Ten Commandments–“Thou shall not kill.” We have a law that
says you can’t steal, where does it come from? The Ten Commandments–“Thou
shall not steal.” We have a law that says you can’t commit certain kinds
of acts of sexual evil to those people who are outside of your frame of
reference: those come from the Law of God in the Book of Exodus.
We have made laws commensurate with God’s divine revelation. The Bible
says, “Thou shall not lie,” and today we punish people for perjury. You
see, law that is legally binding is based upon some divine principle
revealed through God’s truth. What we are seeing here then is, that to
have the wife submit to the husband is not something that is only a legal
issue, but it is only a legal issue because it is based on a divine created
principle. It is fitting, it is proper, not only by the divinely created
order, but by that which man has assumed as an obligatory design.
Now let’s go to 1 Peter 3 and redefine what God said. “In the same manner,
ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” Here you have the same
word “hupotasso” (Greek), it is very consistent in the New Testament, it
means “to come under in rank.” It’s a “function” word and not an “essence”
word. It doesn’t mean you’re any worse than him, or any dumber than him,
or less spiritual; it isn’t talking about that at all. Or that you should
do more menial things than he does, or you should do any different thing
than he does; it’s not talking about that kind of thing. It is simply
talking about a “function” for leadership and authority in the home.
Again, he emphasizes, “your own husbands.” That possessiveness, that sort
of mitigates the submissive role because you really possess the man: he is
really is your possession; you really own him, and there is that sense of
Now, in so doing, it says, “If any man obey not the Word, they also may
without the Word be won by the behavior of the wives.” I am so glad Peter
says this because inevitably someone will say, “Well look, you don’t know
my husband. If I submit to my husband it is going to be awful. The man is
not a Christian. The man doesn’t obey God. He doesn’t obey the Word of
God. How am I in the world going to submit to this man?” That’s exactly
what this verse is written for, “If any man doesn’t obey the Word,” submit
anyway, and without saying anything you’ll win him–see! Instead of
putting “REPENT!” on the bottom of his beer cans, instead of pasting little
notes in his lunch pail or whatever, instead of always giving him some
gospel presentation–if you set you life in response to God’s ordained
pattern for marriage, you may, without even using the Word of God win him
by your behavior! See, that’s what he is saying.
“Well, what kind of behavior John?” Well, this kind, verse 2, “chaste
conduct coupled with reverence.” You have reverence for your husband; you
have a certain awe for your husband; you have a certain respect for your
husband as you do for the Lord. This is what he is getting after. Not
only is your life chaste–that’s pure: pure behavior; pure conduct; pure
living–but there is a reverence, and there is an awe (that’s a lack of
pride; that’s humility that looks up and respects somebody and has awe for
that person). I will tell you another thing: not only by the attitude you
have but by the way that it manifests itself. If you are concerned with
him and in awe of him, and your conduct is chaste then your outside
activity will follow (verse 3). Your “adorning” will not be the outward
thing; in other words, you won’t live life for what you wear. Boy, if this
isn’t a curse in our society: I mean all you have to do is to walk into a
department store and it is absolutely like a big billboard saying, “We
Covet Clothes!” That’s our society–it’s incredible, beyond imagination.
We have such preoccupation with that.
“Adorning, let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair,” which
was taking the hair and weaving all kinds of rich gold and silver bands
into it, and wearing gold. Listen people, I never saw so much gold in my
life as I have been seeing lately–hanging on everybody. Gold all over the
place, not only women, but all over men. It didn’t even talk about that in
the Bible because men didn’t do it, but now it’s all over everybody. Now,
I am not against a gift, or a present, or a expression of love and
affection. I am not against something that enhances you to some degree,
but people, we can get to the place where it’s nothing but more and more
and more. That’s exactly what the Bible says that we are not to be adorned
Now, I am not advocating Wanda Wallflower. I am not trying to say that we
are supposed to look like we just arrived from the field–that isn’t the
idea, but there is to be a basis of commitment to the inside, not the
outside. “Putting on apparel”–here is a society like we live in: the
hair, the gold, and the clothes–man, if that doesn’t sound like today, I
don’t know what does. I mean, it gets to be at the place where it is
beyond belief–they will even sprinkle gold in your fingernails if you want
now. But he says, if you preoccupy yourself with that, then you are in
violation of the standard, because you are not submissive. Why? You are
calling attention to yourself–you are putting yourself on parade, you are
adorning yourself. You are pushing your own cause and your own case.
Instead of that, verse 4 says, you should be concerned with the “hidden of
the heart.” The word “man” is not in the Greek. It simply means the
secret of the heart. In other words, don’t work on the outside–work
where? On the inside.
Now, I am not advocating that you look awful on the outside but that there
be a wonderful balance, and that there be a preoccupation with the inside.
And what should you do on the inside? You should put in there what is not
corruptible, which means to say that apparel, and gold, and all that stuff
on the hair is corruptible. I mean, you spend all that money for the hair
and two days later it is shot. All that money for the clothes and six
months later if you wore that they will say “tacky–she’s out of season.”
And the gold gets old because it’s the same old stuff and you want new. If
you want to do something wise–invest yourself on what is incorruptible.
It literally means “imperishable” and “immortal” which is, what? (Now
watch this one) “Decorate yourself with a meek and quiet spirit.” Oh my.
Now listen, does that sound foreign to our day? Women who preoccupy
themselves with taking care of the inside and developing a meek and quiet
spirit. “Meek” is “praos” in the Greek: it means “quiet and gentle.” And
the word “quiet” simply means “silent and still.”
We have women today who are boisterous and loud, and women who are
screaming all over the place for their rights and parading everywhere and
marching everywhere in the midst of everything performing and proclaiming
all the things they have to say–and the Bible says, but this is God’s
standard: don’t spend so much time making a show on the outside as you
spend doing something on the inside that is going to result in a meek and
quiet spirit; in a gentle, still, peaceful, silent spirit. Now, you say to
yourself, “Woo!” But you see how force-fed you have been that we can
hardly accept this as a standard for a woman in our society, because we
have been buying the bag for so long, that the world’s been selling.
If you stand up in many places and say this–I mean, I’m glad that I’m in
Grace Church–I would get thrown out of some churches for saying this, and
I know that I would get thrown out of most public places, but this is what
the Bible says: “A meek and quiet spirit.” You want to adorn yourself with
godliness? Adorn yourself with a meek and quiet spirit. Now that doesn’t
mean that you just crawl and never offer your opinion, it means that you
have an understanding that God expects you to be humble and still. That’s
the beauty of a woman–she is supportive–that’s her strength. By the way,
this is in the sight of God, and “enopion” (Greek) means “face-to-face
with.” You are standing “face-to-face with” God.
You want to have acceptability and credibility “face-to-face with” God?
God couldn’t care what your hair looks like and He couldn’t care about all
the gold you got, and He really doesn’t care a whole lot about whether you
have the latest fashion–what He’s looking at is the meek and quiet spirit.
And in His sight that’s of “poluteles” (Greek), that’s the same word use in
Mark 14:3 when the woman opened the Alabaster box and took out the precious
ointment–that’s precious to God, very valuable. “Polus” (Greek) means
“great”–“great cost.” Do you want something that really costs a lot? It
isn’t gold and it isn’t a fancy $200 dress; what really is costly is a meek
and quiet spirit–in God’s eyes that’s precious.
By the way, verse 5 says, “After this manner in old time the holy women
did.” Do you want some examples? This is how holy women used to be. This
is the way the holy women used to be–they worried about the inside (the
holy women did). It has always been that way. Holiness has always been
the concern of godly women; it has been the inside they worked on, the
inside they were concerned about. Oh, that’s all right to have a nice
dress on the outside if God prospers you. Why, I remember reading (and we
will see it later) Proverbs 31, that lovely woman, the virtuous woman in
Proverbs 31, made of herself a beautiful gown of tapestry and of fine
linen, and white linen, and it was lovely, and purple–and that was all
right. I am not against that; I’m just against the fact that becomes the
preoccupation and you forget about the meek and the quiet spirit.
So the holy women did it that way. Why? Because they trusted God. They
trusted God you see,” their preoccupation was God. And God said “These are
the standards” and they said, “Then that’s the standard we will uphold,
because they were holy women, and they adorned themselves in that way
because they were subjected to their own husbands. They took a place of a
meek and quiet spirit in submission to their husbands. He gives one
particular illustration: Sarah–she obeyed Abraham, calling him “Lord.”
“Lord” is not a title of simply function but of respect, of awe, of
Now watch, “Whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not
afraid with any terror.” Abraham is the father of the faithful, right?
Galatians. Sarah is the mother of the submissive. Daughters of Sarah are
submissive. Daughters of Sarah are those who call their husband “Lord” and
who are submissive to him. Look at the end of verse 6–a tremendous
statement–“they are not afraid with any terror.” People say, “Boy, I am
afraid to submit to my husband. Man alive, I will lose my rights. He will
run me around.” But you know something? These women trusted God, so they
had no fear of obeying God, and if there was ever an abuse they knew God
would take care of the results. Right?
You don’t need to do God’s business. You obey God; submit to your husband
as the holy women did, in a meek and quiet spirit, responding the way God
wants you to respond, and you don’t have any fear–no terror. You can
believe God that He will honor that, no matter what. It’s a great passage.
I want to show you another one: 1 Corinthians 11.
Do you ever hear your neighbor’s wife screaming at him? I always think of
1 Peter whenever I hear that. 1 Corinthians 11, now just a brief look at
this; now hang on. In Corinth they were having a Woman’s Lib Movement:
women were trying to do the same job as men; women were trying to look like
men and act like men (we went into that in our study of Corinthians) it was
a big deal going on. In response to that, some women in the church of
Christ had gotten into the movement. Now, this was really giving a
reproach to the Name of Christ and it was a reproach on the church itself.
So Paul has to write them to straighten this out.
Now watch in the Corinthian society the women were supposed to be
submissive, and they had a symbol, or a sign, or a token of submission, and
the token they had was a veil. Women in a Corinthian or a Gentile society
in that day and in that part of the world wore a veil as a symbol of
submission, a submission of modesty; a symbol of their humility. Now only
two kinds of women took their veil off: one was a harlot (for obvious
reasons-you want to know what you are getting into–you want to see what
she looked like). So harlots were unveiled. So women took their veil off
for the purpose of prostituting. Second, were feminists, who took their
veil off for the symbol of protesting: “They were going to demand equal
rights with men–off with the veil, and so forth!” In those days it wasn’t
“Burn the bra!” it was “Burn the veil!” It was the same idea: the idea
that women are going to “demand rights” equal to men.
So you had the feminists and the harlots: the protesting and the
prostituting. So Paul writes to these dear Corinthians and he says,
“Ladies, keep your veils on.” Now let me tell you something folks: that
isn’t for today. We are not going to have a veil station outside and
before you come in everybody has to put a veil on. He is saying, in your
society and in your time and in your day, that’s recognized as
submission–now you respond to that symbol, so that the world doesn’t see
the church rebelling against a God-ordained principle. You see? That’s
what he is saying. “And, by the way,” he says, “It’s not a bad principle
that women should have covering, because God even did that naturally!”
Look down in verse 14, “Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a
man has long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman has long hair,
it is a glory to her: for her hair is given to her for a covering.”
Now, this is not saying that it is a sin for a man to have long hair, but
what it is saying is that nature teaches you that women’s hair is to be
longer than men’s to have a covering. What does nature have to do with
that? In my research I discovered that a woman’s hair grows faster than a
man’s hair. That is a God given thing. That is a genetic issue and what
it does is, it indicates that God has given hair to women, at a faster
growing rate, so that the longer hair would become for them a sign of their
submission or covering. And so he is saying, “It is not a bad thing to
have veils; it is very close to the way God designed it, anyway.”
So, be sure that you abide by the principle that manifests submission. You
see? All I want you to see from that passage is that Paul is simply
saying, again, “A woman takes a place of submission, and in society she
shouldn’t violate that place.” I’ll tell you something; a virtuous woman
will call attention to her husband. Did you get that? Not herself. O.K.,
let’s go to another passage. If you think that you have been hit
already–“You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Titus, chapter 2–for those who may be visiting with us; you probably
gained one thing already from our time this morning, and that is that we
don’t necessarily say what everybody says; and two is–that if the Bible
says it–we accept it, and that’s right. Titus, chapter 2, verse 3, “The
aged women;” it sounds like decrepit, but it doesn’t really mean that–just
older, maturer, probably women whose children were no longer in the home:
they were married. “The older women likewise, are to be in behavior as
becometh holiness.” Oh boy, that is so simple: mature women are to be
holy, not false accusers; that is, they are not “scandal mongers.” They
don’t go telling tales around about people.
“They are not given to much wine, but they are teachers of good things.”
Now notice that older women are to be what? Teachers. Older women are to
be teachers. Older women are to be teachers, and who are they to teach?
Young women. Boy, I think there is a fantastic pattern here for the life
of a woman and I want you to see this; I think that it will really help
you. All right? “And the older women are to teach the younger women.”
Teach them what? “To be sober-minded.” In other words, “To grow up; know
priorities; be serious-minded; be considering the things that really
matter.” And what are they? “To love their husbands.” One word in the
Greek “philandro:” “to love a man,” “Man-lovers;” literally, “Husband
lovers.” They should be characteristically loving their husbands.
You know, we get into Ephesians and we say, “Husbands love your wives,” and
we bang that drum, you know: “Husbands, love your wives;” the wife is only
a responder, you know? Well, it doesn’t say that in the Bible. I mean, I
kind of agree with that, but there’s more to it. We say, “If your wife
doesn’t love you, it is your fault–you’re not loving her. If your wife
isn’t doing this and doing that, you’re not loving her; all you need to do
is to love her and every . . . .” But that’s a little overstated, because
right here it says she’s commanded to love you, and there you see is that
tremendous mutuality and balance. She has just as much responsibility to
love you because you respond to love too. Right? No? I do: so do you.
And so it is mutual.
Then it says (and this is key) to be a “philoteknos” (Greek), a “child-
lover;” to love her children; to love her children. The concept of love,
of course, is to self-sacrifice, to do whatever needs to be done for the
husband; to give her life for the husband; to give her life for the
children; that’s the implication of these terms. So she is to be a
husband-lover and a child-lover.
Then to be “discrete, chaste, (hang on!) keepers at home, good, obedient to
their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.” You see,
that’s the issue. You see, God wants His Word glorified! Read it, 1
Thessalonians 3. God wants His Word exalted and when you and I do not live
by His Word it is dishonored! Do you see? We are in effect saying,
“What’s the difference what the Bible says?” That’s what we are saying
when we disobey it. “Who cares what the Bible says?” Thus, we dishonor
God’s Word. If we are going to honor God’s Word then we love our husbands
and love our children.
“And obedient to their own husbands.” Do you notice again, “their own,”
the possession idea. Yes, there is to be a responding. By the way, the
word “obedient” here is a bad translation. It is not “hupakouo,” (Greek)
it is “hupotasso” (Greek) again. It’s the same word of submission again,
and there is that response again, “our own husbands.” Paul uses it again,
there is a possession that sort of makes the mutuality. So we are to
submit–the wives to the husbands.
Now notice (hang on), see the phrase “keepers at home,” I believe the Holy
Spirit wants this applied to 1979 [year sermon preached]. We have got a
problem in America–nobody’s home! Do you know that? Nobody’s home. Do
you realize that 42 million working mothers now in America; 42 million
working mothers; 6 million with little children. One out of every three
mothers with a child under three works in a full-time job. Who’s raising
kids? Who’s keeping house? Who’s taking care of the home?
You say, well, “keepers at home.” What does it mean? Let me tell you. I
did some work on the word “oikouros” (Greek), kind of sounds strange.
Comes from “oikos” (Greek), “home” “ergon” (Greek), “work.” It simply
means to “work at home.” I am going to go right ahead and tell you what I
really feel that this is saying:
“I think that women ought to work at home–profound, huh?”
You say, “Where did you get that?”
You say, “But I have a wonderful job!”
Well, the Bible says, “to work at home!”
You say, “But we need the money!”
Well, the Bible says, “To work at home!”
You say, “But my kids are in school!”
Well, the Bible says, “to work at home!”
It doesn’t say, “PS., under these following circumstances this is not
valid.” It doesn’t say that.
Now, what does the word “ergon” (Greek) mean? The word “ergon” (Greek) is
a word that means “work” but I want to show you how the emphasis in the New
Testament lays upon the fact that it involves “a job or a task,” it is
translated in many of the lexicons, in fact, all of the lexicons render it
this way, at one point or another, by the word “employment.” So a woman is
to be employed at home. It is not the idea of just of work in terms of
“Boy, this is hard work.” It is not just a quality sort of thing; it is
talking about a task that is assigned. A woman is to be employed in the
assigned task at home.
For example, in Mark 13, “The Son of Man is like a man taking a far
journey, left his house, gave authority to his servants, and to every man
his ‘ergon’ (Greek).” “To every man his appointed employment, or task,
duty, or work.” In John 4:34, just so you will see how this is used again,
4:34 says, “Jesus said unto them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him that
sent Me, and to finish His work.” This is not just some qualitative
definition of activity; this is an assigned task. In the Book of John,
17th chapter, “I finished the work You gave me to do.” It had a beginning
and it had an end–it was a task, an employment. In Acts 13, “Separate
unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work to which I call them.” Philippians
2:30, here is an individual who is near unto death, “for the work of the
ministry.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13, “Esteem them very highly in love’s sake
for the work which they do.”
In other words, frequently in the New Testament, the concept of “ergon” is
related to employment, to a task. I think what Paul is saying is, “You
tell the younger women that their task is at home.” Do you see? It’s at
home. It’s at home. If you would compare 1 Timothy, chapter 5, and verse
14, it says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children,
(that’s God’s will, be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.)
Children are like arrows, blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,”
says the Old Testament. “Bear children and” be really “oikodespotes”
(Greek), in Arndt and Gingrich, and Molt and Milligan (two excellent
lexicons) say it means “to keep house.”
What’s a woman to do with her life? Pursue a career? I don’t see that
here–do you? What’s a woman to do with her life? A woman is to be a
“keeper at home.” A woman is to be a housekeeper. A woman is to be a
lover of her family and a lover of her husband. A woman is to be one who
does her tasks at home! You know, if you don’t get the message, what I am
saying here is, I think God is saying, that the standard procedure for a
wife and a mother is to work inside and not outside the home. I think that
it is all related to the principal of being obedient to your own husband,
because if you are outside the home you have got other circumstances; you
have got other involvement; you have got other complication; you have got
other bosses; you have got other people giving you orders.
Your boss may say, “That’s not the way to dress, I want you to dress this
way.” So you have got to go out and buy a whole new deal, and maybe your
husband doesn’t feel like that’s what ought to be done; there’s conflict at
that point. You see people at the office who come on strong and they are
at the top, and they are working well, and they are all dressed up all the
time, and you get tired of seeing “old Charlie” with his hair messed up in
his slippers, and pretty soon you get that–I just think that you put
yourself under circumstances, and under authorities, and under bosses, that
know no Biblical injunction to have responsibility for you.
I think it is an important issue. I think that part of what we are seeing
in our society today is directly related to the loss of the woman in the
home. You wonder why 3,000 cults in America have attracted more than
10,000 young people, and I will tell you why in one great measure, because
people who grew up without love in a family are desperately looking for it
and they find it in those families. If you want a reason for “Jonestown”
[or the Branch Davidians in Waco] there is one good one.
The issue is not whether the kids are home from school yet. The issue is
when the children are there, and the husband is there, there is the
provision of a home for them, and a total sole commitment of life to that
preoccupation. Believe me, in the day in which we live, if you don’t give
your full time to it, you can’t accomplish it–can you?
Psychological tests have even shown that children who grow up in homes
where the mother works are much more insecure than children who grow up
where the mother is home even though the kid’s at school; if he knows the
mother is at home it is like an anchor.
Working women contribute to lost children, delinquency, lack of
understanding of proper God-ordained roles in the home. Working women
contribute to the decline of the next generation. They contribute to
adulteries, to fornications, to divorces, and, by the way, so do women who
stay home, but are unfaithful busy-bodies who just watch soap operas. So
don’t say, “I’m home, I’m spiritual.” You may be home and be worse than
somebody working. At least the working one may be looking at a typewriter
while you are looking at “As the World . . . does something”–I don’t know
what–“As the World Goes Down the Tubes” it ought to be.
You know, I didn’t want to give this message, frankly, as strong as it is,
so I tried to find a place in the Bible where it says the woman is to be
the breadwinner–I didn’t find it! I mean, I couldn’t find it anyplace. I
couldn’t find any statement in the Bible anywhere, where the woman is to be
the protector of the family, the preserver, the provider–I couldn’t find
it! I just couldn’t find it! In fact, what I did find was the opposite in
1 Timothy 5:8, and here it is talking about a man. I mean, this is so
clear you couldn’t possibly miss it, it says, “If a man provide not for his
own,” and I believe the “own” there is extended because the context is
widows. “For his own,” I mean, whoever is related to him: any widow in the
situation, any woman who has no way to make her own way in the world, he
has to take care of her. And then it says, “especially those of his own
house;” so, it is not just those in his own house, but it extends to
anybody in the extended family. If a man doesn’t take care of that he has
denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.
You know what happens when we say, “Well, what about the poor lady: her
husband dies or her husband divorces her and she has to go to work?” Do you
know that, that is even worse yet, because now there is nobody home. There
is not a father and now there is not even a mother. You say, “Who’s
responsible?” I’ll tell you who is responsible: if I am related to such a
person, I am responsible to take up her support so that she can stay home.
And if she has no one related to her to do that–the church is responsible
to do that. But she should not have to go out and forfeit the
responsibility that God has given.
Now, I am not talking about people who are just married and haven’t had any
children and established a home yet, (although I think when you get married
you ought to have children and get that thing going); I’m not talking about
women whose children have grown up. Now, go back a minute to Titus; I want
to show you something.
You say, “Well, my children are all gone! I mean, they are all grown, they
are all out of the house and what do I do now?” I’ll tell you what you do,
you’ve got it right here, “When you were a young woman you were to be
loving your husband, loving your children, keeping the home, obedient to
your husband and so forth. Now that you are an older woman here’s what you
do: the older woman teach the younger women.” So when you get to be an
older woman then your priority is to invest yourself in a spiritual
ministry of teaching the younger women. That would be the primary thing; I
am not saying that you can’t work at that point, but I don’t see that
provision in Scripture. You may take that liberty; I’m not sure it says
one way or the other. But, I do know what it says when you become that
mature woman, then your responsibility is to take on the younger women and
to teach them the things that you’ve learned.
Do you want to know something? The next generation isn’t going to have any
women to do that if we don’t keep those women at home. What are they going
to have to teach? What is the legacy to the next generation? Now some of
you dear precious people haven’t got any choice in this thing. Nobody is
taking care of you, nobody is making your provision; and some of you women
are working because nobody in your family is willing to do that. Do you
know what I have to say, and I know that I represent Grace Church when I
say it, then that’s our responsibility to meet your needs so you can be
with those children. That’s something that the church has neglected for
A woman is not to be a breadwinner. And yet, what happens? We have got
couples getting married and they want a house and a car, and so they decide
that they are going to get the house they want, and the car they want, and
its all predicated on the fact that they both work. And they get into that
kind of a lifestyle; a kid’s born and they stay home for three months,
“zap” the kid into the lap of a baby-sitter, “fire out” and let the baby-
sitter raise the kid. Do you know that even Christian institutions,
Christian schools, are now providing day care centers to take care of the
little children of their faculty and staff? That’s not right.
By the way, this message has a tremendous impact on Grace Community
Church–I want you to know that–and on who works here. You say, “Well,
but look how the Lord has blessed us!” Listen, if the husband works and is
the provider, and God gives you 25 big cars and a Greyhound bus to boot,
and if God gives you 5 houses and a hotel–Alleluia for you! But if you
have a wife who has to violate the standard that God has ordained and leave
the children to go to work to get the “thing,” then don’t confuse the
blessing of God with your disobedient presumption.
By the way, if you want a little hint economically too, one of the major
contributing factors to inflation is working women. Where you have two
breadwinners in the family all you do is create more earning power; more
earning power creates higher prices; higher prices creates inflation.
People say, “Well, you can’t buy a house any more.” Well, you can almost
see how that all started when women started to go to work. That doesn’t
even matter–that’s just economics–all that matters is the Bible.
Now you say, “John, this is pretty strong stuff. I mean, I’ve got a lot of
energy and creativity and I want to do things!” Good; I’ve got one more
Scripture that’s going to let you off the hook, Proverbs 31. I got to
finish on a positive note or I’ll never get out of here. Proverbs 31; I
want you to meet a virtuous woman, and boy if you think that a woman is
stifled, you have missed it; I mean here is one amazing gal. “Who can find
a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies,” or it could be
translated “pearls,” but anyway, she is worth a lot: a virtuous woman. Now
lets find out about how a virtuous woman functions.
This virtuous woman, verse 11, “The heart of her husband does safely trust
in her, he shall have no lack of gain.” The first thing about a virtuous
woman: her husband can trust her 100% with the checkbook–he has no fear
that she is going to waste his fortune; no fear that she is going to
squander his resources; no fear that he is going to come home and she is
going to say, “Honey, I just went out and found this fantastic bargain,”
and he goes “Ohhhhhh!” No, this man trusts her; he never has fear of lack
of gain. Why? Because she supports him, verse 12, “She does him good and
not evil all the days of her life.” She sees her role as one to support
her husband; she sees her place as one to undergird, to free him; to free
him from anxiety; to free him from fear. And you know something, there are
many women who drive their husband harder, and harder, and harder, because
they want more, and more, and more, in violation of this kind of virtue.
And you know something about her, she just doesn’t hang around saying
supporting things–she gets in the action.
He works in town (no doubt) according to verse 23, “He’s known in the
gates, when he sits among the elders” (he probably has time to sit around
with the elders during the little break times). But, he works in town,
he’s not a farmer type, but she is pretty enterprising at home. “So, she
seeks wool (verse 13) and flax.” In other words, she chases around; in
fact, in verse 14, if she has to go like a merchant ship to “bring it afar”
she’ll do it. You know it’s like your wife going to San Bernardino to save
a quarter on the wool. I mean, she’ll go, she’ll go; wherever you go to
get the deal. Right? Check it out.
So, “she seeks wool, and flax;” now we are not saying that a woman has to
stay at home and never leave the place, and you lock her in and keep her
barefoot and pregnant and that’s it. We are not saying that. She can get
dressed up, put her shoes on, and she can have a second car and do things,
and she can have a ministry and go disciple people and attend a Bible Study
and shop. I mean, there are things she has to do and there are times when
she may be productive in this kind of an area. But any way, this lady goes
a long ways to get a good deal on wool and flax, and according to verse 19,
she gets that and puts it on the spindle and the distaff, and she makes
thread, and with the thread that she gets she begins to make things. So,
she is a productive gal.
But I want you to notice, in verse 13, “that she works willingly with her
hands.” The Hebrew word here is “she works with her hand’s pleasure.” In
other words, this is her hobby, this is her joy, this is what she loves to
do. I look at my mom and I think of this. I have never seen my mom, that
I can recall, sit anywhere for more than 10 minutes in the last 20 years,
without something in her hands (going like this), she’s always doing–that
is her “hand’s pleasure.” And she produces that kind of thing for all the
family and for people who enjoy and need those kinds of things, and that is
her “hand’s pleasure.” Here is a woman much like that.
Now, she even goes beyond that, verse 15, “She rises while it is yet night,
and she gives food to her households, and a portion to her maidens.” Let
me tell you about a virtuous woman: she has more care about her family than
her own comfort. Did you see it? She isn’t “sacked out” until 10 in the
morning (some of you are really groaning–husbands, restrain yourself from
moving your elbows!). “She rises while it is yet night, and she gives food
to her household,” I love to see a woman whose great primary concern is to
live for the family far beyond her own comfort. And you know something,
boy, she has managed to make a few things, and she has saved some of her
husband’s money instead of squandered it, she secured it in the home.
So she has got enough saved up (verse 16), “she sees a field, that’s a good
bargain, she buys the field, purchases the seed with the fruit of her hands
and plants a vineyard.” I mean, she doing terrific; there is all kinds of
place for enterprise, but the home is the base, and it is not to be the
equivalent breadwinner. If you can’t live on what your husband makes, then
you are living beyond your God-intended means, and you are victimized by
the same old affluent, materialistic, indulgent, luxurious society. If God
gives it through him, thank Him and praise Him, and enjoy it, because He
“She considers a field, she plants,” and then, “she works;” verse 17, “she
girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms.” She’s not frail
and self-indulgent, doting, and fixing herself to be beautiful all the
time–she’s out there working with her arms. She’s providing for this
little extra. It isn’t that it has to be this way; she’s adding a little
bit extra and it comes into verse 25, you see, because of the strength and
honor in her hands, and because she worked in buying the field and
producing it, she shall rejoice in time to come. The Hebrew says, “She
will laugh at the future.” In other words, this isn’t something they need
for the moment, this is her little enterprise against the moment when the
tragedy comes and they can’t meet it. This is future planning; this isn’t
indulgent. And so she is some kind of lady.
“She perceives that her gain is good” in verse 18. I want to show you what
she does this for, there is a progression, verse 20, “She stretches her
hand to the poor.” First of all, she does it for those who don’t have
anything. She is enterprising to give it to people who need it; what a
wonderful thing. Secondly, she provides it for the cold, for her own
house, “for all her household are clothed with scarlet.” You know
something? It isn’t necessary to clothed them in scarlet; you don’t have
to be that fancy about it, but if she has got a little left over from what
the needy needed, then she gives it to the family just so they will have
something a little nicer.
Finally, when the needs of the needy are met, and the needs of the family
are met, if there is any left over (in verse 22) she makes herself a lined
overcoat out of tapestry, and her clothing is literally white linen and
purple. There is nothing wrong with that; there is nothing wrong with
having a lovely tapestry overcoat; there is nothing wrong with white linen
and purple and dressing in a lovely manner–if that is because of and after
the fact of meeting the needs of those that God has given you the care of,
and those who are in need and poverty.
Then, of course, her husband is famous because he has such a wife, in verse
24. Beyond that, she has met the [needs of the] poor; she has met the
needs of the family; she has met her own needs and a little extra, and she
makes fine linen and sells it, and “delivers belts to the merchant.” Now,
she has got a little business! “Hey?” But it is all out of the home, and
it is all in the right sequence of priority. And the result is, verse 27,
“She looks well to the ways of her house.” Ladies, do you look well to the
ways of your house? And your children? And your husband?
“She never eats the bread of idleness,” and do you know what the result is?
“Her children rise up, and call her blessed; and her husband also praises
her.” Boy, that’s it, that’s graduation day, that’s winning the award,
that’s the prize–all in God’s perfect plan.
I want close by taking you back to Ephesians 5 for about three minutes.
2. The Manner of Submission
The matter of submission–I think we have covered it. Now, very rapidly I
am going to run by those three last points because they will be covered
just by reading it, “Secondly, the manner of submission, as unto the Lord.”
Did you get that? When you submit to that husband of yours, it isn’t “Boy,
I’ll do it you turkey, but this is really rough. If you only knew what I
was sacrificing for the sake of spirituality.” No! You are doing it as
unto the Lord. If Jesus Christ walked up to you and said, “Lady, quit your
job and go home and take care of your children.” What would you say?
“Yes, Lord.” If your husband walks up and says it–would you do it? The
Lord is saying it; the Lord is in the place. These are His principles. He
stands in the place of leadership in your family, “As unto the Lord;” it is
the Lord who set down these principles–that’s the manner of submission.
3. The Motive of Submission
Thirdly, the motive, “For the husband is the head of the wife,” (the motive
there), “even as Christ is the head of the church, and the Savior of the
Body.” The husband is the head of the wife, and listen, you’re a body and
he’s a head! A head gives order, a body does it. You say, “But it’s
degrading!” It isn’t; if a body responds to a head, it isn’t degrading!
If a body doesn’t respond to the head it’s spastic–that’s degrading–not
when it responds. When we see a body that responds to a mind, a well
coordinated functioning body, the body is honored and the mind is honored.
When we see a body that doesn’t respond, both are dishonored.
4. The Model of Submission
So the matter of submission leads to the manner of submission, and the
motive of submission, and then finally: the model of submission. Who’s the
pattern? Christ, the Head of the Church; Christ the Savior of the Body;
“Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their
own husbands in everything.” Let me tell you something, Jesus Christ is
the Savior of the Church. Right? When He died on the cross He said, “It
is finished.” All we do is fall under that provision. That’s the
illustration; the husband is the provider, the husband is the deliverer,
the husband is the protector, the husband is the savior. We don’t need to
be co-breadwinners, co-saviors, co-protectors, co-providers, and co-
preservers. All we need to do is to fall, as wives, under the protection,
provision, and preservation of that man. That’s God’s ordained pattern.
I tell you, when we follow this we will have happier homes, godlier
children, and less divorces, and God will be honored, and the Word of God
will not be blasphemed. You see, in the church we haven’t even followed
this, and God’s Word is thought of in the church, “Well, we don’t agree
with this; we will just take this out; this is a rabbinical gloss; this is
tradition; this isn’t inspired, etc.” No, Christ is the model. What did
the church ever do for Christ? You tell me–but submit. That’s it. What
do we ever do but yield to Him, submit to Him? He did it all; He purchased
the church with His own blood, so we submit to Him.
Finally, in verse 24, it says, “In everything,”–you say, “Everything?”
Everything! Only one out: if he tells you to do something that is
disobedient to God, that’s when you have to say what Peter said, “You judge
whether we obey God or man,” but short of that–everything. What’s the
key? Verse 18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” A Spirit-filled wife can do
this and God’s Word will be honored.
Let’s pray. Father, thank You for our time this morning. These are words
sometimes hard to hear; they have great impact on all of us, and yet, Lord,
all we ever want to do is to obey you, and we have no fear, and no terror
because we obey you and we know we will be blessed. Raise up in this
congregation holy women as of old, daughters of Sarah, who call their
husband “Lord” and submit to the principles of Your Word as unto Christ, in
whose name we pray and for whose glory. Amen
Transcribed by Tony Capoccia of
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