Do husbands and wives have specific responsibilities in a marriage?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Marriage advice from someone who knows

I found another awesome post by Lindsay.

The post starts explaining how a woman supports a man in his role as spiritual leader of the home. I always talk about the responsibilities of a husband/father in the home being protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues. You’d be surprised how many Christian women are not OK with me claiming these roles. In fact, I am always getting criticism for buying too many gifts (providing), for being too concerned about the challenges of policies (protecting), and for being too rough on rebutting spiritual wolves – even after they admit they are wrong! (spiritual/moral leading). It is rare for me to find a Christian woman who accepts those male roles. Usually, I get attacked for all three of them. Women do not like to let me execute these tasks.

Lindsay is fine with men leading in all 3 of those roles, but this is the part of her post that I really liked:

Once children arrive, it becomes pretty much impossible for her to work outside the home and still fulfill her duties at home. The funny thing about children is that they need constant care. One cannot care for children and work outside the home too. The choice once children come along is whether to outsource the care of the children to someone else or to do it yourself. I firmly believe that God entrusts children to a husband and wife because he wants them to be the primary influences in their children’s lives. That doesn’t happen if the children spend a majority of their waking hours in the care of someone else.

Children don’t just need food and shelter provided to them, they need love, teaching, discipline, a sense of security, and examples of how they are to live. All of those things are best done when the child spends time primarily with his or her parents. Daycare workers, school teachers, and even grandparents simply cannot provide them in the same way parents can. No one loves a child like his own parents do. No one has such a vested interest in ensuring that he grows up with the proper spiritual and moral training. Even if others care about the child, the responsibility for the training of a child belongs to his parents. Daycare workers and teachers and grandparents won’t answer to God for the soul of that child. His parents will.

So, given the needs of children, I am convinced that women are called to be with their children, training and caring for them as their primary caregiver. Does that mean a mother can’t have any job outside the home? In theory, no. In practice, yes. A woman’s priority must be her own family. If she can have her children with her or leave them for only a short time each day, she may still be able to provide the necessary training and care they need from their mother and earn some income. But in doing that, she needs to be sure she is not neglecting her husband’s needs either. Theoretically, a woman can have it all – keeping a job and caring for her family too. The problem is that it is a very rare woman who has the energy to keep up with the constant needs of her children for care, training, discipline, and love and those of her husband for companionship, sex, and a partner in life as well as the logistics of running a household and still have something left for even a part-time job.

What usually happens when a woman has an outside job is that her family simply suffers the lack. Either her children spend a lot of time with other caregivers or teachers or her husband does without the companionship and marital intimacy he needs or some of the household chores descend on the husband, taking away some of his time and energy to train his children spiritually and impact the world for Christ. Often it’s a combination of these. A woman simply cannot meet all the needs of her family when she is spread that thin and, as a result, something important gets left undone.

I wish I could find women who had definite ideas about what they wanted to do with their children, but thinking back over previous relationships, what I usually hear is that they want to go on mission trips, do pro-life protests, have careers, etc. No one looks at these little kids with any sort of plan to grow them into anything. I just think it’s depressing that kids are not part of most women’s plans. If there is any plan at all it’s that there should be no plan, and the kids can just do anything they want. How depressing for the man to think about when he has to pay all the bills to raise kids who are aiming at nothing, and will surely hit it. What kind of man is excited about having children when his wife is not on board with making them into anything special? It’s depressing.

25 thoughts on “Do husbands and wives have specific responsibilities in a marriage?”

  1. “do pro-life protests”

    Oh, I LOVE it – there you go with your WGC teaser, you provocative one, you! Yes, I am the same as you when I throw out my Atheist Creed on sites that attract atheists. So, I will bite:

    1. Standing on sidewalks in front of abortion mills saves lives. (Jesus’ 2nd Commandment.) This fact has been shared by numerous converts from the side of death. I would think that a Christian man who values “protecting” as one of his top 3 job requirements would be fully on board with saving babies’ lives. :-)

    2. Standing on sidewalks in front of abortion mills changes hearts and minds. It makes people driving by think about their position – pro or con. I would think that a Christian man who appreciates the level of spiritual warfare involved in our ever darkening world would want a woman who is tough enough to engage in the thick of the fire.

    3. Standing on sidewalks in front of abortion mills is a very valuable way of fulfilling the Great Commission. The Gospel is regularly shared not only with passerby, but also with the people working at the clinic and the volunteers there too. It is a fact that souls are saved by God on that sidewalk that would not otherwise be saved if we all just went to church and sang 7-11 songs. What Christian man would not want a woman with the courage to share the Gospel in VERY hostile territory?

    4. Standing on the sidewalk is an act of sheer obedience to and trust in the Lord Jesus. (Jesus’ Greatest Commandment) With profanities coming from the direction of the abortion mill and cars swerving toward the sidewalk just before veering off on the other side, no one who stands on that sidewalk is out there to feel good about themselves. I would think that a Christian man who is interested in a truth-oriented woman, versus the feelings-type, would value women with that kind of courage and obedience to God. If you are looking for the modern-day equivalent of Corrie ten Boom or Harriet Tubman, you will find her on the sidewalk on a regular basis. (And other places too – everyone has their gifts, not knocking others.)

    5. When the children get old enough, part of their homeschooling requirements are to stand on that sidewalk. Why, you might ask? Because their parents want them to understand that the lifetime spiritual battle in front of them will place them in situations in which they are not going to be happy, not going to be satisfied, not going to feel good about themselves, and, yet are nevertheless going to be obedient to God. God provides sanctification through that sidewalk. You have no idea of the sheer depravity of our world until you stand out there and experience it for yourself. Reading about it does NOT come close. It WILL test your ability to remain joyful and obedient.

    That is a short list. Now, I realize that you may be talking about the cases where folks fly off to some big city and do a protest once a year and it is more like a field trip. But, these folks are very helpful to the movement too – they provide encouragement to those of us who are out there when there are only 2 of us on the sidewalk.

    Thank you, WK, for serving that softball up for me – I enjoyed whacking it out of the park, and I appreciate an apologist who puts out provocative messages in order to draw fire – I do that too and LOVE it as much as you do, I am sure. :-) God bless!

      1. It better be! I pray I am not getting threatened with arrest for nothing! :-) That’s the other “good” thing about taking your kids out there: they will realize that the government / police apply and enforce laws in two ways – one way for pro-lifers, another way for everyone else. They will realize just what they are up against.

        BTW, you are welcome to post my Atheist Creed anytime if you want your blog lit up. It is what you and I would call “a conversation starter.” :-)

  2. “What kind of man is excited about having children when his wife is not on board with making them into anything special?”

    With the utmost respect, we need to be very careful with the idea of “making” kids into anything. While it’s good to have hopes and goals for our kids and to provide them the tools they need, they are not little sponges we get to program like a computer. So much harm has been done to kids by well meaning Christian parents and many of those kids are now out there evangelizing atheism.

    I’m sure that’s out of context with what’s being said here, it’s just that I’ve met so many people who were once the pastor’s kid, two parent home, raised with so called values, but actually they were emotionally and psychologically abused and turned into rather horrible people.

    1. Well, we just disagree there. If I am having kids, then there will be a plan in place to make sure that they are capably-led. I would not spend $250K per child for nothing. I could never justify the expense to God. My goal is not to have children for fun.

      1. “I would not spend $250K per child for nothing…”

        With as much gentle wisdom and good humor as I can offer you, it is a mistake to believe that kids are going to be cost effective in any way or that you are going to get a good return for your investment. Parenting is a sacrificial act that will cost you far more than you will ever get back.

        1. Well, I think some candidates to the wife position will disagree with you about what they are capable of. And if there are none who can get the job done, I can just spend what I have on other things that will produce a return. Marriage is not just a relationship for women to do whatever makes them feel good. Like anything else that Christians do, it’s meant to glorify God. I’m expected to produce a return, and I’ll marry whoever takes that obligation to get the job done seriously.

          1. “I can just spend what I have on other things that will produce a return…”

            The truth of the matter is that love doesn’t ask about what is cost effective nor does it demand a return for one’s investment. That can be a very difficult concept for men especially, because men tend to be so much more analytical. The bible speaks to us frequently about the nature of love and Christ Himself went to the cross to pay a debt on our behalf. That is the same spirit one must try to cultivate for love, marriage, and parenting, or else one is sure to encounter a great deal of grief.

            What glorifies God? Our sacrifices, our service, our grief, our tears, and our suffering, not “our returns.”

          2. Well, that’s your view.

            But according to Jesus, it is expected that Christians will produce a return. That’s why we have the parable of the talents, and why we are admonished “to whom much is given, much is required”. I have a Christian game plan for my marriage. There are candidates who will put Jesus first, and who will know how to produce results, and who will not make excuses for failure to perform. Should I not meet any of those candidates, there are plenty of apologetics ministries that need investments.

            I’m not here to use what God has given me to play house with a feminist. I’ll hire a complementarian candidate who is anxious for the opportunity to serve God as a wife and mother, or I’ll hire no one, and find some other way to move the ball forward – the goal being to produce a return on God’s investment in me. Women who want to have feelings and to avoid obligations are not for me.

          3. “I’ll hire a complementarian candidate…”

            I’m sorry, but that just sounds devoid of love and a relationship not based on service to Christ, but on service to you.

            So what happens if you get a disabled child, a child that can’t give you your 250,000 dollar return?

            There is a kind of idolatry behind your words that I just cannot abide, so I’ll leave you in peace.

          4. Yes, if the woman dismissed her obligations by bringing up the hard case of disabled children, that would be an excellent sign that she would say anything in order to escape the responsibilities and obligations of a Christ-centered marriage. What I want to avoid is marrying someone irrational, emotional and ineffective – someone who wants to turn the universe into an unpredictable, random bizarro world where she can act on her feelings, and then rationalize her failure to achieve anything by saying “I didn’t know that would happen”.

            I prefer someone who is rational, self-sacrificial, disciplined and effective. Someone who looks at a challenge and has confidence and proven ability. Someone who says “I cannot guarantee results, but if we have children, I promise that I will be 100% focused on building in them a strong faith that will make a difference for Christ, and not just muddling along doing what makes me feel good and what makes people like me”. That kind of statement shows respect for my choices, and respects my desire to partner with someone to glorify God, instead of wallow around bumping into things and then having feelings of guilt, tears, suffering and other self-centered ineffectiveness.

            In the normal case, children are not disabled. I do not expect disabled children to be influential and effective. But if the woman’s tone during the interview is to make excuses why she does not have to perform and produce results, then she can go find a man suited to her. One who does not perform or produce results. I’m not that man.

          5. BTW, in defense of disabled children – they can be highly effective in bringing many to Christ. When my daughter was in some life-threatening health situations, God saw fit to surround us with children who made us feel extraordinarily lucky by comparison. I cannot tell you how that struck me – in my last year of atheism. I saw the hand of God in that – and in those children, yet realized that on atheism, a “good” thing would be to weed out those highly disabled ones – on atheism, they were rejects. Cognitive dissonance quickly set in, and when combined with Kalam-like and Moral Argument-like thoughts, I finally surrendered. I could no longer deny the God who is there and is not silent.

          6. Oh I know. My objection is how women use this rare example to avoid having any responsibilities in the marriage to achieve anything specific. It’s a clear sign that they should be nexted.

          7. For an example of a woman I would not hire, there is Susan Smith who murdered her children:

            But some people defend Susan Smith, and blame men:

            Susan Smith was a mentally ill 21 year old girl with a father who committed suicide, a stepfather who molested her, and a husband who cheated on her, abandoned with two small children. She broke. Women do that sometimes, we break, especially when all the men in our lives fail us, yes fail us Dalrock. Women do not just spontaneously combust.

            Now, you might say that God does not mind if I marry a woman like that, because it’s fine for her to feel love, not ask what is cost effective, blah blah blah love grief feelings blah blah murder the children. But in my opinion, I think that the children would be better off not murdered, and I would not blame men for passing on Susan Smith. She can go have her feelings, grief, suffering, tears, etc. somewhere else – without my money and time. I am interested in teaching my children to be effective, influential Christians – the same as I do when I mentor younger Christians and build them up. And I’ll marry someone who is equipped and engaged to carry that out. Someone who wants the job, knows how to do the job, is results-focused and is willing to put the job above her own feelings.

          8. I really love your posts, and am learning so much from them. But when it comes to marriage and children, you have a lot to learn. It’s just my opinion, but I think you are too selfish and vain to ever have a family. Christ says the man is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for us. I don’t see that in you at all. It’s all about money and your wife serving you and your ideals absolutely, and now I see you expect that of your children as well. I wish you would pray humbly about that and see what God tells you.

          9. Wel, I think many women do want marriage as a kind of “playing house” that meets their needs more than they want it as a way of serving God effectively. In my experience, women raised in the church tend to sort of deify their feelings into God, and think that God is basically themselves and their desires. So there is no God that exists independently of their desires and feelings. So, it’s important to me to detect someone who cannot think about God as independent from their own feelings, and avoid them as a marriage candidate.

            I have made difficult decisions and denied my feelings in order to get where I am. I am not going to throw that away on a woman who claims the name of Christ when she really is just ascribing divinity to her own feelings and desires. I insist on evidence that a woman can make good decisions (e.g. – a STEM degree), separate feelings from logic, and move other people towards greater effectiveness and influence as Christians. That’s what I need a wife for – to raise my children to serve God effectively and influentially, and to help me so that I can serve God better, too. And by raising kids to be effective and influential, I don’t just mean making them behave nicely, and I don’t mean just reading the Bible with them. I mean apologetics, and at a fairly serious level, coupled with good educations and careers.

            If she just wants me and the kids to be accessories, like a handbag or a pair of shoes, she can look elsewhere for a family.

          10. The 7 scariest preface to come out of a Christian’s mouth – male or female – is “I feel God is leading me to …” The best question we can interject is “How do you know it is not the other guy?”

        2. As a dad of 3 grown children, that DID crack me up. :-) I would add that the return on investment for children should consider spiritual metrics. I wouldn’t trade those for anything, and I consider my sacrifice to be tiny in comparison. But, you are right – it wasn’t easy.

          BTW, LOVED your “Are Christian Women Prettier?” post! Yes, they are! And the best do radiate their beauty from the inside out – it is stunning how much better looking a frumpish, but authentic, Christian woman looks than the prettiest supermodel in the world. That may be because it is hard to leave their eyes when their beautiful souls shine through so brightly!

  3. Ok, a lot of people here are misunderstanding WK’s points, whether intentionally or not. As someone who knows him personally and has also followed his blog for a long time, perhaps I can clear up a few things.

    WK’s plan isn’t to make little robot children, as if in a factory. That’s a strawman of his position. But the opposite extreme of thinking parents should just go with the flow and have no plan, as if it’s just “fate” or “luck” how children will turn out is every bit as bad, if not worse, and is certainly unBiblical. The Bible has a lot to say about how parents must carefully train their children and this is something too many Christians of today ignore because it isn’t culturally popular.

    Christian parents should have plans to produce effective, knowledgeable, and tested Christian warriors out of their children. Should parents take into consideration what their children want to do and their individual strengths and talents? Absolutely. But the overall goal is the same for every child – to make each one a strong and capable Christian who will make a difference for Christ. This is the goal to aim at.

    There should be a plan for parenting. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Planning doesn’t mean rigid, my-way-is-all-that-matters forcing of children to be something they aren’t. Plans can be flexible and adapted to each individual child. But there does need to be an overall goal of where you’re going with this parenting job and what you expect to produce, or you’re not going to be very effective stewards of the lives God has given to you to raise. God expects Christian parents to do everything in their power to train their children effectively, not to just go with the flow and hope for the best.

    As for having a wife understand her responsibilities in the marriage, WK is also exactly right about that. Of course, he knows that a husband also has responsibilities. And he doesn’t expect married life to be all mechanical and only about duty every minute. That’s another strawman.

    Life isn’t all about just doing whatever you feel like. And since too many tend toward a feelings-led life in our culture, WK understandably focuses on the need for recognizing duties in order to get us back in balance. It is a bad idea to marry a woman who thinks marriage is all about fun and games all the time or that her feelings are the most important measure of the success of a marriage. Such a woman is definitely a “flight risk.” Part of having the kind of character necessary for building a good marriage is that both people understand it isn’t all about them all the time and that it is more important to do what is right than to do what they like.

    1. I really like this comment, and I should apologize to everyone who I am being short with. I have some other annoying issue of impractical rebellion I am dealing with, and it’s causing me to be short-tempered. What Lindsay says is 100% correct and accurate. I focus on responsibilities, expectations and obligations more, because that’s what’s under fire in the culture. But of course that’s NOT all of what marriage is about. I’m looking for balance.

      1. You left a “not” out of your second-to-last sentence, Mr. Male Chauvinist Pig. :-) What I cannot stand is when women, like Lindsay, come in and rescue you like that. Grow a pair! Say what you mean! Quit sugar-coating it!

        (sarcasm off)

  4. This is a hot thread. For some reason, Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King comes to mind, but I’m not sure it is going to end the same way. :-)

  5. no christians follow this anymore

    most teach the husband must do homemaking duties to support his wife’s interests or to show true male servant leadership

    almost all young husbands I see now at church are the ones cooking meals, running the house
    if they have babies all childcare on weekends , night and out of work hours are under them

    everyone is gender flexible and fluid now!!

  6. The answer is no. I don’t believe in gender roles. Also, some studies show that when you remove the predetermined gender roles of a marriage it does much better. Seeing as that I, myself, don’t know if I’ll enter a ‘straight marriage’, I’m most comfortable taking the chores and roles I’m best fit for. Nothing should be left at default.

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