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Marriage: Foundations & Principles – Lesson 7: The Responsibility of the Wife

Scripture Verse: Ephesians 5:22-24.

Introduction:

A wife’s role is a completer and companion but how is this lived out in a practical way? What does she do to fulfill this calling? Excluding her ministry to the Lord, a wife’s primary ministry is to her husband. In successfully ministering to her husband, she becomes the completer and companion he needs. While not popular nor easy, this ministry can be summed up in the word “submit.”

Misunderstanding surrounds submission. Many people think submission applies only to wives; or that the wife becomes a slave to her husband; or that she’s to keep her mouth shut and her gifts stifled; or that she is inferior to her husband. None of these misconceptions are true. Men must be in submission (Ephesians 5:21), the wife isn’t her husband’s slave (Ephesians 5:25-28), she isn’t to keep her mouth shut or her gifts stifled (Proverbs 31:11-31), and she isn’t inferior to her husband (Philippians 2:3-5; I Peter 3:7). Her ministry of submission is accurately seen in the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is a place of honor and ministry, a freedom to grow and serve under God’s ordained covering.

Something often overlooked is that Scripture speaks of a wife’s submission as her responsibility. Nowhere does it indicate that the husband should make her submit through force, manipulation, or guilt. She is to willingly offer herself to her husband as unto the Lord. Husbands have a responsibility to encourage and exhort their wives in this area, but ultimately, she stands before God.

Wives have been divinely enabled to minister to their husbands’ needs and willingly submit themselves to their husbands’ leadership. Scripture never speaks of this as an easy task. Rather, it speaks of this as a noble call to which every wife should aspire.

Lesson Questions:

  1. In what ways can a wife support her husband’s leadership, spiritually and otherwise? Proverbs 31:11-12; Ephesians 4:2; 4:25; Philippians 4:6-13; I Corinthians 13:4-8.
  2. Discuss this significance of the wife’s attitude toward her husband in light of I Peter 3:3-6, Philippians 2:14, and Proverbs 27:15. Also see Proverbs 31:12,26,28.
  3. To what lengths should a wife go to please her husband? Explore the principles of Proverbs 31:12,16,20-21,23,25,27.
  4. Discuss the following statements about the wife’s submission.
    • Submission is to be complete and extensive-Ephesians 5:24.
    • Submission is spiritual-Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:17-18.
    • Submission has limits-Acts 5:29.
    • Submission is mandatory-I Peter 3:1. Also see Luke 2:51. Note: Bill Gothard says a wife’s submission is “the freedom to be creative under divinely appointed authority.”
  5. Since the wife is specifically commanded to reverence her husband and submit to him, is it reasonable to conclude this can be an area of struggle for many wives? Ephesians 5:22-24; I Peter 3:6.
    Note: Scripture confirms this is a unique area of struggle for women. Genesis 3:16 states, ” … and thy desire shall be to thy husband.”
  6. Why is submission in marriage seen so negatively today, especially in light of it being one of the key elements in converting the non-Christian husband? I Peter 3:1-2; II Timothy 3:1-5.
  7. Paul instructs Timothy in I Timothy 5:14 to train young women to do certain things. Is a wife still under the same obligation in our day and culture? What principles does this verse teach that can be applied to us today? Consider this in light of Proverbs 31:10-31.
    Note: Any wife who stays home works as hard, or harder, than anyone in the workforce. And, the ministry she performs with the children is more important than any job in the workforce.