“The head of a woman is the man.”—1 COR. 11:3.
SONG 13 Christ, Our Model
1. When considering a marriage mate, what are some questions a single sister should ask?
ALL Christians come under the perfect headship of Jesus Christ. However, when a Christian woman gets married, she comes under the headship of an imperfect man. That can present a challenge. So when considering a potential marriage mate, she would do well to ask herself: ‘What indication do I have that this brother will be a good family head? Do spiritual activities play an important role in his life? If not, what makes me think that he will be a good spiritual head after we get married?’ Of course, a sister also does well to ask herself: ‘What qualities will I bring to the marriage? Am I patient and generous? Do I have a strong relationship with Jehovah?’ (Eccl. 4:9, 12) The level of happiness a wife will experience in her marriage will depend to some extent on the decisions she makes before getting married.
2. What will we consider in this article?
2 Millions of our Christian sisters set an excellent example in being submissive to their husband. They are to be commended! We are delighted to serve Jehovah alongside these loyal women! In this article, we will consider the answers to three questions: (1) What are some of the challenges that wives have to deal with? (2) Why does a wife choose to be subject to her husband? (3) What can Christian husbands and wives learn about subjection from the examples of Jesus, Abigail, and Mary, the wife of Joseph and the mother of Jesus?
WHAT CHALLENGES DO CHRISTIAN WIVES FACE?
3. Why is there no such thing as a perfect marriage?
3 Marriage is a perfect gift from God, but people are imperfect. (1 John 1:8) That is why God’s Word warns married couples that they will face challenges that are described as “tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Cor. 7:28) Note just some of the challenges that a wife might face.
4. Why might a wife feel that it is demeaning to be in subjection to her husband?
4 Perhaps because of her background, a wife might feel that being in subjection to her husband is demeaning. “Where I grew up,” says Marisol, who lives in the United States, “women were constantly told that they must be equal to men in everything. I know that Jehovah has made the headship arrangement and that he has given women a humble yet respectable role to play. But it is a challenge to keep a balanced view of headship.”
5. What unscriptural attitudes do some have about the role of women?
5 On the other hand, a woman might be married to a man who thinks that women are second-class citizens. “In our area,” says a sister named Ivon, who lives in South America, “men eat first and women second. Little girls are expected to cook and clean, but little boys are served by their mother and sisters, and they are told that they are ‘king of the house.’” A sister named Yingling, who lives in Asia, says: “In my language there is a saying that implies that women do not need to be intelligent or to have abilities. Their role is to do all the housework, but they are not allowed to express any opinions to their husband.” A husband who is influenced by such unloving and unscriptural attitudes makes life difficult for his wife, fails to imitate Jesus, and displeases Jehovah.—Eph. 5:28, 29; 1 Pet. 3:7.
6. What do wives need to do in order to strengthen their personal relationship with Jehovah?
6 As mentioned in the preceding article, Jehovah expects Christian husbands to care for the spiritual, emotional, and material needs of their family. (1 Tim. 5:8) However, married sisters have to take time from their busy schedule each day to read God’s Word and meditate on it and to turn to Jehovah in earnest prayer. This can be a challenge. Wives are busy, so they may feel that they do not have the time or the energy to do those things, but it is vital that they take the time. Why? Because Jehovah wants each one of us to develop and maintain a personal relationship with him.—Acts 17:27.
7. What will make it easier for a wife to fulfill her assignment?
7 Understandably, a wife may have to work hard to be submissive to her imperfect husband. However, she will find it easier to fulfill the assignment Jehovah has given her if she understands and accepts the Scriptural reasons why she should be submissive.
WHY CHOOSE TO BE IN SUBJECTION?
8. As indicated at Ephesians 5:22-24, why does a Christian wife choose to be in subjection to her husband?
8 A Christian wife chooses to be in subjection to her husband because that is what Jehovah asks of her. (Read Ephesians 5:22-24.) She trusts her heavenly Father, knowing that he is always motivated by love and only asks her to do something if it is in her best interests.—Deut. 6:24; 1 John 5:3.
9. What happens when a Christian sister respects her husband’s authority?
9 The world encourages women to ignore Jehovah’s standards and to view subjection as demeaning. Of course, those who promote such ideas do not know our loving God. Jehovah would never give his precious daughters a command that would demean them. A sister who works hard at fulfilling the role Jehovah has assigned her promotes peace in her household. (Ps. 119:165) Her husband benefits, she benefits, and the children benefit.
10. What lessons can we learn from the comments made by Carol?
10 A wife who is submissive to her imperfect husband proves that she loves and respects Jehovah, the one who established headship. “I know that my husband will make mistakes,” says Carol, who lives in South America. “I also know that the way that I respond to those mistakes reveals how much I value my friendship with Jehovah. So I try to remain submissive because I want to please my heavenly Father.”
11. What helps a sister named Aneese to be forgiving, and what can we learn from her comments?
11 It can be a challenge for a wife to be respectful and submissive if she feels that her husband does not take her feelings and concerns into account. But note how a married sister named Aneese responds when that happens. She says: “I try not to become resentful. I remember that all of us make mistakes. My goal is to forgive freely, as Jehovah does. When I do forgive, I regain my peace of mind.” (Ps. 86:5) A wife who is forgiving is likely to find it easier to be submissive.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM EXAMPLES RECORDED IN THE BIBLE?
12. What examples does the Bible contain?
12 Some may feel that a submissive person is weak. But that view is far from the truth. The Bible contains many examples of submissive individuals who had great strength of character. Consider what we can learn from Jesus, Abigail, and Mary.
13. Why is Jesus in subjection to Jehovah? Explain.
13 Jesus is subject to Jehovah, but certainly not because he lacks intelligence or skill. Only a highly intelligent person could teach as simply and clearly as Jesus did. (John 7:45, 46) Jehovah respected Jesus’ ability so much that He allowed Jesus to work beside Him when Jehovah created the universe. (Prov. 8:30; Heb. 1:2-4) And since Jesus’ resurrection, Jehovah has entrusted him with ‘all authority in heaven and on earth.’ (Matt. 28:18) Even though Jesus is talented, he still looks to Jehovah for guidance. Why? Because he loves his Father.—John 14:31.
14. What can husbands learn from (a) the way Jehovah views women? (b) the thoughts recorded in Proverbs 31?
14 What husbands can learn. Jehovah did not make a wife subject to her husband because He views women as inferior to men. Jehovah himself has made that evident by choosing women as well as men to be corulers with Jesus. (Gal. 3:26-29) Jehovah has shown confidence in his Son by entrusting him with authority. Similarly, a wise husband will entrust his wife with a measure of authority. Describing the role of a capable wife, God’s Word says that she can oversee a household, buy and manage property, and negotiate financial transactions. (Read Proverbs 31:15, 16, 18.) She is not a slave who has no right to voice her opinion. Rather, her husband trusts her and listens to her ideas. (Read Proverbs 31:11, 26, 27.) When a man treats his wife with that kind of respect, she will find pleasure in being subject to him.
15. What can wives learn from Jesus’ example?
15 What wives can learn. Despite his accomplishments, Jesus does not feel that it is demeaning to subject himself to Jehovah’s headship. (1 Cor. 15:28; Phil. 2:5, 6) Likewise, a capable woman who follows Jesus’ example will not feel diminished by submitting to her husband. She will support her husband not only because she loves him but primarily because she loves and respects Jehovah.
16 Abigail had a husband named Nabal. He was a selfish, proud, and ungrateful man. Even so, Abigail did not take the easy way out of her marriage. She could have kept quiet and allowed David and his men to kill her husband. Instead, she took practical steps to protect Nabal along with their large household. Imagine the courage it took for Abigail to approach 400 armed men and respectfully reason with David. She was even willing to take the blame for her husband’s actions. (Read 1 Samuel 25:3, 23-28.) David readily acknowledged that Jehovah had used this strong woman to give him needed advice that prevented him from committing a serious mistake.
17. What can husbands learn from the account of David and Abigail?
17 What husbands can learn. Abigail was a sensible woman. Wisely, David listened to her advice. As a result, he avoided a course that would have made him bloodguilty. Similarly, a wise husband will carefully consider his wife’s views when important decisions are to be made. Perhaps her viewpoint will help him avoid making an unwise decision.
18. What can wives learn from Abigail’s example?
18 What wives can learn. A wife who loves and respects Jehovah can have a good impact on her family, even if her husband does not serve Jehovah or live by His standards. She will not look for an unscriptural way out of her marriage. Instead, by being respectful and submissive, she will try to motivate her husband to learn about Jehovah. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) But even if he does not respond to her good example, Jehovah appreciates the loyalty that a submissive wife shows to Him.
19. In what circumstances will a wife not obey her husband?
19 A submissive Christian wife, however, will not support her husband if he asks her to violate Bible laws or principles. Suppose, for example, that a sister’s unbelieving mate tells her to lie, to steal, or to engage in some other unscriptural conduct. All Christians, including married sisters, owe their first allegiance to Jehovah God. If a sister is asked to violate Bible principles, she should refuse, explaining in a kind but firm way why she cannot do what he is asking.—Acts 5:29.
20. How do we know that Mary had a close, personal relationship with Jehovah?
20 Mary had a close, personal relationship with Jehovah. She obviously knew the Scriptures well. In a conversation with Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, Mary made more than 20 references to the Hebrew Scriptures. (Luke 1:46-55) And consider this fact: Even though Mary was engaged to Joseph, Jehovah’s angel did not initially appear to him. The angel first spoke directly to Mary and announced that she would give birth to the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-33) Jehovah knew Mary well and was confident that she would love and care for his Son. And Mary undoubtedly continued to have a good relationship with Jehovah even after Jesus died and was raised to heaven.—Acts 1:14.
21. What can husbands learn from what the Bible records about Mary?
21 What husbands can learn. A wise husband is happy when his wife knows the Scriptures well. He does not feel intimidated or threatened by his wife. He realizes that a sister with a sound knowledge of the Bible and Bible principles can be a real asset to her family. Of course, even if the wife is better educated than her husband, it is his responsibility to take the lead in family worship and in other theocratic activities.—Eph. 6:4.
22. What can wives learn from Mary?
22 What wives can learn. A woman must be submissive to her husband, but she is still responsible for her own spiritual health. (Gal. 6:5) To that end, she must allocate some time for her own personal study and meditation. That will help her to maintain her love and respect for Jehovah and to find joy in being submissive to her husband.
23. How do submissive wives benefit themselves, their family, and the congregation?
23 Wives who remain subject to their husband out of love for Jehovah will find more joy and contentment than those who reject Jehovah’s headship arrangement. They set a good example for both young men and young women. And they help to create a warm atmosphere not only in the family but also in the congregation. (Titus 2:3-5) Today, women make up a large part of those who are loyally serving Jehovah. (Ps. 68:11) All of us, whether male or female, have an important role to play in the congregation. The next article will discuss how each of us can fulfill that role.
SONG 131 “What God Has Yoked Together”
Jehovah has arranged for a married woman to be subject to her husband. Just what does that involve? Christian husbands and wives can learn a great deal about submission from the example set by Jesus and by women whose experiences are recorded in the Bible.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: While conversing with Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, Mary was able to cite passages from the Hebrew Scriptures by heart.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A Christian wife sets aside time to study the Bible to maintain her spiritual health.