In Titus, Paul exhorts older women to teach younger women to “be obedient to their own husbands.” That’s pretty straightforward. However, I want to highlight a word that is sometimes overlooked: own. Women are called to obey their own husband. We show respect and deference to men as brothers in the Lord, but they are not all direct authorities in our life. How hard would that be? I shudder to think of the confusion! I have enough on my plate learning to obey and honor one man!
On to Rebekah, the first woman in our series, Women of the Bible.
Last week we introduced Rebekah, recognizing her willingness, trust in God, and faith. She was off to a great start. But what happened in the years that followed?
For twenty years, Rebekah was barren. The scripture records that Isaac prayed to the Lord on her behalf and she became pregnant with twin boys. Wrestling matches within her womb had caused her to inquire of the Lord. God told her that He was birthing two nations from her womb, two separate people, one stronger than the other, and the older would serve the younger. Esau and Jacob were born when Isaac was sixty years old.
This is the first indication of their troubled marriage. They were not in unity. Never mind for the moment the issue of their disunity (preference for particular children), this lack of singleness of mind is a precursor for trouble. Woman was created to be a helpmeet, an abettor for the accomplishment of God’s will in and through her husband’s life. How will that be done if her heart is opposed to his?
“But,” you submit, “what if you really don’t agree with him, don’t love what he loves?” I understand. God understands. He didn’t say it would automatically happen. That is why older women need to teach younger women this very thing!
Let’s back up a bit. Let’s consider some ways to guard unity before we become entrenched in emotional wars.
If your husband doesn’t know what is moving you, how your heart is inclined, what God has revealed to you, how can he help steward such treasure? He is commanded to watch over you, to give himself for you.
Even if he has not yet responded to these commandments, you need to position yourself so that he can! Our part is to anticipate such care by placing ourselves in a position to receive it. If your husband fails (and all husbands will at some time fail,) take your hurt and disappointment to God. He can heal and bring renewed faith. But we must be willing to try.
2. Do not worry.
If your husband chooses to disregard what is a Word from God, do not fret. If he fails to understand your heart, do not be anxious. Oh, woman of God, do you not know that nothing is too difficult for God? Will your husband’s error be the undoing of all God plans for you? In choosing obedience to your husband, He is honored because you are ultimately choosing obedience to His Word. So stop your worrying. It is not His portion for you. It is not becoming to a daughter of the King.
Is this easy? Sometimes it is a battle. Put on your armor. Stand in truth. And having done all to stand, stand.
3. Use Godly appeals.
Unity doesn’t mean dumb silence, ignorant and blind following. If your husband is making a choice that you are not in agreement with, make a Godly appeal.
Study Esther to learn more about making Godly appeals. A quick overview reveals that she was respectful and honoring of her husband’s position; she was feminine (in her submissive attitude and caring heart); she was well prepared — she and her own had sought God through prayer and fasting; she chose the right place and time.
4. Continue in prayer.
You have prayed. You have made Godly appeals. Now you continue in prayer, releasing the outcome to God, recommitting your allegiance to the man with whom you have been mysteriously made one, realizing that God will be honored in all of this. The rest is in His hands.
Pray without ceasing. These matters can shake us at times. We can feel emotionally undone. Do not let your faith in Him be undermined by emotion. Cling to what is good and right. Battle in prayer. Battle for unity.
I am not saying that God will automatically turn your heart to one of complete agreement. That is not a requisite for embracing unity. An understanding that He reigns over all allows us to choose unity, to choose to support our husbands.
True unity of heart is this: “I believe that God has called me to be your helpmeet. That includes this decision. Since this decision is not a direct disobedience of God’s Word, I choose to support you in it. I will do my best to see you and all involved succeed, for that is God’s will for my life. His grace will enable me to do it!”
If the decision made later proves to be faulty, we will not be tempted to judge and pronounce, “I told you so” because we were united in heart with them. If failure comes, we remind them that God is in control, that they are called to great things, and that He is our shield and refuge. He will work all things together for good!
Because you have cultivated unity through faith, acting out proper submission and a willingness to support, you now will have words of genuine faith to share with him when most needed. Had you not cultivated such unity his heart would now decline your counsel; your heart would not be full of good things and disunity would persist.
Marriage requires commitment to unity. It is not automatic but will require great effort. A commodity such as unity is well worthy of our greatest endeavors.