May 18, 2013

I Tell My Husband How He Should "Lead"

“I want you to lead... but I want to tell you how!” 

I heard these words come out of my mouth after a lengthy, and rather loud, discussion with my husband.

I have always thought the idea of my husband being the leader a good one. After all, it’s God’s plan for marriage. And in theory, having one leader is usually less complicated. I have even tooted the message myself to other women... but when it comes to living it out in my own home, in my own marriage, it’s just hard. And more often than not, I’m hardly living out my role as a wife the way God planned it.

I have discovered, after many discussions, arguments, disappointments, and un-met expectations, that I actually want to be the leader of our home, I just don’t want to be accountable or responsible for everybody in the end, so I keep saying that he must lead, just please do it the way I think you should. If my marriage was actually modeled after God’s plan, I would willingly come under the leadership of my husband who is ultimately responsible for our family. And by coming under his leadership, I have to actually respect God’s plan.

What would I not be doing in a model like this?

I wouldn’t be trying to manipulate the way he parents our children, by sending him hints about discipline, or even just straight out telling him how.

I wouldn't be waiting for him to earn my respect.

I wouldn’t be constantly questioning his walk with the Lord, and thinking he doesn’t read his Bible enough, (however much "enough" is... I’m not even certain.)

I wouldn’t be disappointed when he makes a difficult decision. Because, isn’t he supposed to be making decisions around here?

I wouldn’t be playing the comparison game. Or better named, the comparison SIN! Comparing him and our family with others around me, and finding myself discontented, or thinking about all of the areas we could be improving on and sharing them with him.

I wouldn’t be worrying about our financial future, because that’s his area as the leader.

I wouldn’t be nagging him to take a day off from work. Rather, I would be his biggest cheerleader, encouraging him to take pride in his work, and to do the best job he can.

I wouldn’t tune out his ideas because I find it difficult to be interested in all things mechanical – but I would actually try to understand what he’s talking about.

If being under the leadership of your husband sounds less than glamorous, or second best, or less-important to you somehow, or downright old-fashioned... check out the huge task we ladies have in front of us as wives:

We have been called to create a haven for our husbands to come home to. This one area encompasses so much diligence, commitment, and hard work. From clean clothes, clean toilets, cozy home decor, to well-balanced meals, all purchased and prepared within his income limits can be a pretty major undertaking, not to mention an incredibly time-consuming task.

If we are staying at home with our children, we are spending more time with his children than he is. He must trust us with their upbringing, discipline, and emotional/educational/spiritual needs. Eeeek! Us moms are the main influence in our kids lives. That could be a scary thought.

We are called to support his decisions as the leader.

To earn his trust, to become his closest confidante. If we do this wisely and with discernment, he will ask us what we think when he has a big choice to make, because he trusts our judgement.

We are called to be his best friend. A close companion. A person to enjoy life with. To laugh at his jokes, not mind the occasional teasing session, and just be in good humor with him.

We are called to be sober minded—to use common sense. To use our best judgement and skills to run our homes smoothly and in an organized way. This is huge!

To love our husbands. And this, for the man, translates as respect. Not balking his ideas. Not telling him how he could have done that better. Or worse, what a crappy job he ended up doing! To him, or any of our friends or moms. Yikes.

To find our life in his. To recognize that we have been called to be his helper. Not just a co-habitant of his who maybe competing for the next promotion or the next rung on the “success” ladder wherever. But to find our purpose within his purpose.

To be ministers to our husbands by being discreet and courteous, gracious, modest. He may be facing a very dark and sinful world out there in his workplace. His home shouldn’t be an extension of that dark world, if we are living for the Lord.

I hope we are all convinced (by the Holy Spirit) that being a wife, biblically speaking, is no second-class citizen, or less-important role. This is a huge calling, and hardly less important or menial. However menial it may seem on days when the laundry pile, is still a mountain at the end of the day, or the children are still testing us on the same issues they were last week. We have a high calling. Why do we keep shoving it to the side and competing for the role of leader? Because we sin. We want the control, just like Eve believed the serpent and didn’t trust that God actually did have their best interest in mind. She took matters into her own hands, and made a devastating choice outside of her jurisdiction.

I haven’t even come close to living this out the way I see our role as wives in Scripture. In my heart and mind, marriage is a daily laying down our lives for the other person. Just as husbands have been called to love their wives, even to death, as Christ did for the church, women are called to live in submissive obedience.

Lord Help Us.


  1. Karina, thank-you for writing this blog. It is a difficult subject to take on. This same subject has been on my mind and heart a lot recently - though I believe my perspective to be a little different from yours. Your point on respect is very true. It is so easy to diminish good things with inappropriate criticism in any area of life. I also think that figuring out how to live out a Godly marriage is an important task. However, I do struggle with how you seem to relegate women exclusively to the domestic sphere. I wonder whether this is truly a scriptural and prescriptive model for marriage when it does not seem to be consistent with the biblical authors’ way of thinking. Paul speaks of Christ doing away with social and domestic fractures when he declares that there is, “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…” Also, specifically, I wonder how you came to conclude that all wives are called to “create a haven for our husbands to come home to,” to exclusively delegate finances to them, and to only “find our purpose within [theirs]”? I also wonder how individual personality and gifting fit into your description of roles. I find this topic so interesting and am challenging myself to understand it better. Thanks. :)

    1. Hey Jenny! I suppose it does seem that my perspective does put emphasis on dividing the wife to the home and the man to the workforce in general, probably because that is how marriage was modeled to me as a grew up, and it is also how my husband and I have built our marriage. Also, while writing this, I felt my audience, generally speaking, fits into this model. However, I do not believe Scripture mandates every woman stay at home while the man goes to his career. The wife in Proverbs 31, highlights how a woman can use her gifting and personality strengths outside of the home in the business world also. You are right about Paul’s teaching. He is talking about equality, and how every person is seen as equal in Christ’s eyes. There is no social status in God’s economy the way we might see things on earth. However, God did create man and woman with a different set of strengths. And our personalities and giftings highlight this uniqueness.
      Finances isn’t necessarily up to the man. The wife may be better at managing numbers, budgeting, etc. In this case, the husband should seek her advice and discuss. As with countless other issues. Husband and wife must discuss. But at the end of the day somebody has be the decision maker. Or the finalizer. And if this authority goes back and forth, back and forth, you could find yourself very frustrated. As the leader, he has that final say, after discussion. And we are commanded to submit to our husband’s as unto the Lord.

  2. Thanks for your response. Again, I think we have different perspectives and interpretations of scripture. I do not believe that God established gender roles. Yes, men and women often have certain stereotypical strengths and gifts, but these should not define the roles of those for whose gifts don’t fit the stereotypes.

    I think there are some logical assumptions in play here.
    1. God created all men and women with the same gender-based strengths.
    2. All men have leadership gifting.
    3. Women don’t have administrative/leadership gifts or at least shouldn’t use them even if there are no competent/gifted male leaders. (excluding, of course, female to female leadership)

    1. Why is it okay for a woman to self-actualize in the business world, but in the ecclesiastical or domestic sphere she must suppress her leadership gifts? What if those two or three spheres overlap?
    2. You say that there is no social status in God’s economy and that it should be based on individual gifting, yet how do universal gender roles account for men and women whose gifts don’t fit that model? (and there are many)
    3. What are you basing these gender roles on? A “Creation Order”? The epistles? Experience?
    We cannot easily move from biblical narrative (which describes what people did, not what they should do) to personal prescription. I think we must realize that the Bible is written FOR us, not TO us, and that each passage of scripture is a part of an implicit and overarching theology, principle, and culture. When Paul addresses marital submission and love and gives directions for church order he is speaking within the culture of the time. What is the overarching principle and focus of the message in his letters and the rest of the Bible? The spread of the Gospel, redemption, mutual love, mutual submission, etc. Throughout the Bible, God’s redemptive work happens in a gradual and patient way that often makes cultural accommodations in order to make progress in spiritual and character development. Two prominent examples of this are slavery and patriarchy. Why would a master of slaves want to know a God who liberates his slaves? Why would a husband in a culture of patriarchy want to serve a God who allows his wife to shamefully assert herself? This is why Paul encourages the early church to maintain the cultural norm, but to live it out in the Godliest way possible. I have trouble understanding why we would exclusively apply patriarchal gender roles to modern marriages and church governance, but not allow slavery in our households as was also common in a culture of patronage.

    I’m trying not to come across too strongly, because this isn’t about your marriage dynamic. This is about allowing for varying marriage dynamics and female leadership in the community. This understanding of gender-roles has a tendency to lead to a lot of legalism and oppression.

  3. Hi Jenny, I would agree that we see this topic differently. Once again, I will say that I do not believe Scripture mandates for the wife to stay in the home, and for the man to work outside of the home. Paul doesn't focus much teaching on marriage at all. A few verses. But those verses are pretty clear that the man should lead the wife and home. There is freedom in how that looks in your family, versus another. God wants to be glorified in our marriages.

    1. I sense your hesitance to engage in this topic, so I apologize for dragging it out. I think we probably differ in methodology. I think it’s very important to consider culture, genre, and history when approaching the Bible. I also don’t think that Paul’s view on marriage is clear, hence, the diversity on the subject. In fact he even wishes we didn’t have to marry, but allows us to “as a concession” (1 Cor 7:6). Though I recognize that many of these verses with a cursory reading could swing either way, I consider them to be continuing the theme of evangelistic cultural accommodation when Paul says to do __ “…as the Law says” (1Cor 14:33-35) “…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thes 4:12), “…so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:5) “…so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10) “…so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over” (1 Pet 3:1). 1 Cor 9:22 suggests this more overtly: “…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

      Paul also seems to affirm a “Creation Order” in 1 Tim 2:11-14, but in 1 Cor 11:12 he seems to dismantle that, “For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” To me this suggests mutuality. This seeming inconsistency epitomizes why we need to use those other interpretive elements (culture etc.) to fill in the gaps. All of this is to say that it is more complicated than picking a few verses and applying them to our lives without thoroughly considering setting and their original audience. There are a lot of subtleties and implications that people in the early church would have understood because it was their era, their language, their idioms etc. We have to work a bit harder to relate.

    2. I am hesitant to engage anymore in the comments section here, simply because I feel this has gone a bit off topic from my original purpose of this post. I would be happy to discuss more in emails/facebook if you want. I agree with you completely, context and culture is key to understanding the Bible.