When a wife resists her husband’s authority, she is also resisting God’s will and order. When she receives her husband’s leadership and authority, she is also receiving God’s order. However, this does NOT make the husband a “god” – for he, too, is to submit to God’s authority in his life (1 Cor 11:3; Jas 4:7).
When a wife chooses to obey God and submit to her husband – even if the husband fails in his responsibilities to the wife – God is the One Who will deal with the husband AND provide for the wife.
A good example of this is found in the story of Abraham and Sarah (Gen 12:10-20; 20:1-18). There were two instances when Abraham foolishly and fearfully lied about Sarah, and failed to protect her. Yet, Sarah still submitted, and God was the One Who stepped in to protect and help Sarah.
How was Sarah so willingly able to trust and submit to her husband? We get some insight in 1 Peter 3:5,6: “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord [a term of respect, not worship], whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”
We see in this passage two very important qualities in Sarah’s life that helped her to submit with reverence to her husband.
First, she trusted in God. Sarah obviously knew and walked with God, and she trusted Him. She believed that if God established an order of submission for her life, it must be good for her. She trusted that God’s order is always best.
Secondly, Sarah was not afraid. She knew God, and did not fear what might happen if she obeyed the Lord and submitted to her husband. Sarah chose to remain under her husband’s leadership. Even when, in weakness and fear, he stumbled and opened his wife up to harm, it was God Who intervened on Sarah’s behalf and provided for and protected her.
In the case when a husband is not a believer who is submitted to Christ’s Lordship, the wife is still encouraged to live with faith and trust in God and in submission to her husband 1 Pet 3:16). Her gracious and loving manner will be a strong testimony to her husband of God’s love, grace and redeeming power in her life.
A LOVING PARTNERSHIP
Biblical submission does not mean that a wife will always agree with her husband. There may be times when a wife does not agree with a decision her husband wants to make. She should be free to share her ideas, with a loving and non-critical attitude.
A wise and loving husband will take the time to listen to the advice or opinions of his wife. He will be sensitive to her concerns. He may find that she has a wiser perspective on a certain matter, and graciously acknowledge it to her. Or, he may disagree with her perspective, and lovingly and patiently explain to her the reason for his different perspective.