In previous posts, I’ve described how I tried to keep the male provider role in mind when deciding how hard to study, what to major in, what jobs to choose, and how much to save. I wanted to earn the respect of my future wife, and have leverage to lead the family according to a (known) plan that would produce results for God. But not everyone sees self-sacrificial decisions that produce results as worthy of respect.
Here is a comment from a Christian feminist:
Based on this, and other things you’ve said, I… would frankly consider you ineligible for marriage. I have read some of your blog and it seems to me that you trust in your own earning power, your own planning ability, and haven’t even considered that it’s God who gives you the health and strength to carry out these things. Also, if you’re planning to retire at 50 with this net wealth, then you’re not giving enough money away. I don’t want to marry a dead beat guy who can’t provide. But I don’t want to marry an arrogant guy who thinks he can provide better than God either.
I think what she’s saying here, is that despite the husband’s abilities as a provider, wives are not obligated to respect their husbands. Why not? Because the husband’s preparation and planning to be the main provider was all a gift from God. The husband didn’t sacrifice anything or make good decisions in order to become a good provider. God did that. So, the wife should just give God the respect, not her husband.
Is her view consistent with Ephesians 5:22-24, 33?
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
What her view really means, in practice, is that the wife only has to “respect” her husband when she feels like it. And when is that? When he makes her feel happy. By doing what she tells him to do.
And, since provider ability was all God’s doing, the husband didn’t really make good decisions about education, work experience, and finances. God made all those good decisions. The husband doesn’t actually know how to make good decisions, and so he shouldn’t be making the decisions for the family.
In practice, only the wife knows what God has decided for her (and the family). God speaks to her directly, through her feelings. So really, she should just explain to her husband what God is telling her through her feelings, and the husband should submit to her decision-making.
What does the Bible teach about women and marriage?
Consider Genesis 3:16:
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
Is the woman’s her desire for her husband a romantic or sexual desire? It is not.
Famous evangelical theologian Dr. Wayne Grudem explains in his book “Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood”:
The word translated “desire” is an unusual Hebrew word, teshûqåh. What is the meaning of this word? In this context and in this construction, it probably implies an aggressive desire, perhaps a desire to conquer or rule over, or else an urge or impulse to oppose her husband, an impulse to act “against” him. This sense is seen in the only other occurrence of teshûqåh in all the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and the only other occurrence of teshûqåh plus the preposition ’el in the whole Bible. That occurrence of the word is in the very next chapter of Genesis, in 4:7. God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” ( NASB ). Here the sense is very clear. God pictures sin as a wild animal waiting outside Cain’s door, waiting to attack him, even to pounce on him and overpower him. In that sense, sin’s “desire” or “instinctive urge” is “against” him. 20
The striking thing about that sentence is what a remarkable parallel it is with Genesis 3:16. In the Hebrew text, six words are the same and are found in the same order in both verses. It is almost as if this other usage is put here by the author so that we would know how to understand the meaning of the term in Genesis 3:16. The expression in 4:7 has the sense, “desire, urge, impulse against” (or perhaps “desire to conquer, desire to rule over”). And that sense fits very well in Genesis 3:16 also. 21
How Christian feminists interpret the Bible
I urge you to listen to a presentation by Dr. Wayne Grudem at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). He evaluates the claims of a Christian feminist named Catherine Kroeger.
- The MP3 is here. (30 minutes)
- This MP3 is a more detailed version, with slightly worse audio, and a gap at 56-58 minutes. (68 minutes)
- Here is a written summary.
Bottom line: not every church-attending woman who paints herself as a “spiritual” Christian (with words) takes the Bible seriously as an authority (in her actions).
Men: make sure you evaluate wife-candidates thoroughly, and make sure that they demonstrate the ability to do what the Bible says, especially when it goes against their feelings and desires. Never believe words about the future. Evaluate actions in the past. Your marriage must achieve something for God, and that means you must choose someone with proven character and ability, to help you execute your plan. That is why we evaluate women before proposing. Remember, after you marry her, you will be morally obligated to love her as Christ loved the church. Make sure you pick someone who is easy to love all the way.