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       What Is God's Design And Calling For You As A Wife?
                                                             ---Steve Carr
Today, a wife's role within the family is a much debated issue with many contrary views and opinions. One view declares that being a wife in the traditional and biblical sense degrades a woman to an inferior position, while others believe that a wife's role is equal to her husband in every way, a position of great worth and value. Who is right? What should the role of a wife be and how can she practically fulfill this role? Have you ever wondered what God's design is for you in your marriage, and how God wants you to fulfill your calling in a manner that pleases Him?

These are some of the questions that must be answered by a Christian woman if she is to understand and fulfill her essential role within marriage. Therefore, let's look at what the Bible declares about these issues and see what God has called you to be.

1. Be a helper. The very first thing the Bible teaches concerning the role of a wife is that she is to be her husband's helper. After God created Adam He said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Gen. 2:18). This word helper means one who is sent to support and aid another. It is important to note that if God says you are to be a helper, then it stands to reason that your husband needs help. From the beginning, God knew that man alone was incomplete in his abilities to parent and raise a family. He needed the help of another to reproduce and ultimately fulfill all the responsibilities within the family. Woman was created to be his perfect helper to fulfill a special design that only she could accomplish. God created woman with unique emotional, intellectual, and physical abilities to enable her to fulfill her husband's need for help.

But, does this role as your husband's helper mean that you are inferior to him? Doesn't this role as a helper imply a second-class position in the marriage relationship? Not at all! The Scripture reveals that God is our "Helper" and has sent "another Helper" in the person of the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever (Ps. 54:4) (John 14:16). Obviously, God isn't inferior to man simply because He wants to help us. Therefore, neither should you consider your position as helper degrading to your person in any way. On the contrary, you should see your role as one who has come along side of your husband to work with him to meet the needs of your family. Therefore, your marriage should be viewed as if you were participating in a team sport. You must always remember that to be a part of a winning team you need the help of every player or the entire team fails. This is also what makes a winning marriage.

You should also notice that the Father declared that the woman would be comparable to man. God didn't create Eve better than Adam nor did he make her to be inferior to him, but one comparable and equal to him. The word comparable means one who is a counterpart or the other side of a matched pair. Therefore, the woman was created to be the perfect complement to her husband, like two matched gloves, one the counterpart of the other.

To fulfill God's design for you as a wife will entail understanding where and how you can become a complement to your husband. To determine this, you must find out where your husband needs help, support, or your team effort. Finding this need and meeting it is fundamental to experiencing the satisfaction God intends for you as a wife. This need will most likely change from day to day, but God wants to give you eyes to see the

need and a heart to fulfill it. Does your husband need your spiritual encouragement because of some personal struggle occurring at this time in his life? Could he use your counsel over a difficult decision that he is about to make regarding his job or business? Is your husband in need of help with organization at home? You are the best one to help him with this need because you know him better than anyone else, which enables you to be his greatest helper. Remember, Solomon said "Two are better than one...woe to him who is alone" (Ecc. 4:9.10).

2. Be a virtuous wife. The Scripture asks the question "Who can find a virtuous wife?" Then declares "For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safety trusts her" (Prov. 31:10,11). The word virtuous means one who possesses strength and substance. As you read the rest of Proverbs 31 you learn the characteristics that made her a woman of strength and substance and how these actions greatly affected her marriage. Notice that King Lemuel acknowledges that her worth is far above rubies. The word worth literally means if you had to pay for this kind of service it would be incredibly expensive; far above the cost of rubies. Scripture therefore reveals that a virtuous wife is far from an inferior position in a marriage. You are worth more than his paycheck could sustain!

The strength of a virtuous wife is revealed in her character as well as in the service that she renders toward others. She is very competent and industrious in the affairs of her home so that her husband may safely trust her decisions. Her actions show godly wisdom, and true kindness marks all the choices she makes. This ultimately gains her the praise of her husband and children.

This is the kind of wife God is calling you to be. But, what creates this character, strength, and virtue in your life? The answer is found at the end of this chapter when King Lemuel states "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30). Here is where the strength of character comes from; her personal reverence and fear of God. The fear of God is a necessary attitude required for any wife to have the strength of character that will enable her to lead a life pleasing to God. The fear of the Lord is what motivates us to "hate evil" and "perfect holiness" in our personal life (Prov. 8:13) (2 Cor. 7:1).

Do you want to become a virtuous wife? If you do, then you must surrender your life to Christ and ask Him to fill you with this reverent attitude toward the Father. Ask God for a hatred for that evil or sinful habit that captivates you at this moment. Begin to pursue God by seeking Him daily in His Word and petitioning Him for true holiness of heart. As you do, the strength of character and virtue you desire will naturally begin to change your life.

3. Be a prudent wife. Solomon declared that "Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord" (Prov. 19:14). What does it mean to be a prudent wife? The word prudent means one who is wise and understanding. Fathers give the gift of an inheritance in material wealth, but when God desires to give a gift of real worth, He gives a wise and understanding wife. Notice again, a wife is portrayed in Scripture far from being worthless, but compared to the greatest inheritance that could be given by man.

Also, it is interesting that God commands husbands to dwell with their spouses "with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). But, notice in the previous passage in Proverbs that you are required to be understanding too. These two verses balance each other and encourage both spouses to give one of the most essential qualities for a good marriage; understanding.

Therefore, if God wants you to understand your husband, how do you gain this insight? So often men express to me that their wives don't understand them. How about you, do you understand your husband's needs, his weaknesses, and his strengths? This understanding is what will enable you to be a strong and effective helper and the counterpart your husband needs.

What are some of the possible needs your husband might have, and how would you determine them? The best way to find out what his needs might be is to simply ask him. Why not ask him, "Where can I better meet your needs? Where do I need a greater understanding of you and the pressures you face?" When you ask these kinds of questions, you are immediately bridging the gap between the real differences that exist between you and your spouse.

Men and women differ radically in their make up. You are physically and hormonally different; you communicate differently; you have distinct social and sexual needs; and you both express love very differently. With all these differences you need lots of understanding of the man you married. As you gain this understanding of him you will naturally be brought closer to one another. If you reverse the process and insist on your way all the time, you only make the differences more apparent and widen the gap between you. Therefore, seek to understand your husband and what his real needs are, be willing to give to meet these needs; this is God's design for your marriage.

4. Be a submissive wife. I know for some of you, as you read the word submission, you are becoming very uneasy. If the idea of submission rubs you the wrong way, I want to encourage you to take another look at the definition according to Scripture. Submission should never be considered a word that denotes inferiority or a position that is contemptible to you. If this is your belief, let me assure you that your understanding of this issue is not a biblical one. Submission is something that we all have to learn in every aspect of our lives. You must learn to submit to the laws of this country whether they are traffic laws or our criminal code. If you work outside the home you must submit to your employer and his or her requests. When you went to school you had to learn submission to the teacher when an assignment was given. When you go to the doctor with an illness, you must choose whether or not you will submit to your physician's diagnosis and treatment. When you must render submission in these areas of life you don't consider it degrading to you as a person. You would never think that your employer or your doctor was better than you are and that you were inferior them. In these circumstances you would reason that your submission is a simple necessity for harmony in the work place or necessary for you to gain your health. The same is true for your marriage. True biblical submission in the home will bring harmony and health to your marriage.

I believe the reason why this idea of submission is so abhorrent to many wives is because the concept has been taken out of its biblical context, and this has resulted in many abuses. Therefore, let us go back to Scripture and consider first what submission does not mean. Submission does not mean that you are a second-class Christian or inferior to your husband in any way. Everywhere, Scripture affirms the total equality of a woman with a man. Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). For the apostle to make this declaration in the first century was a totally revolutionary statement because women in those days were considered the personal property of their husbands. The Apostle Peter even agreed that wives were equal to their husbands declaring them to be "heirs together of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7).

In light of these verses, accusing the apostles of male chauvinism is simply ridiculous. There is no second-class citizenship in the kingdom of God, and neither is a wife inferior to her husband.

Consider also the example of Christ. Paul the Apostle declared that Jesus was "equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant...humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death" (Phil. 2:6-8). Jesus obviously did not consider submission to the Father's will as a position of lesser value, and neither should you as you submit to your husband. You can be equal to your husband and in submission to him at the same time.

In addition, submission does not mean that you must be your husband's personal slave. You can't be an equal heir with your husband and be a slave at the same time! Yes, Scripture does teach that all Christians are to "by love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13). But, notice this passage says to serve one another. A truly biblical marriage is revealed when both husband and wife willingly serve each other without being commanded or forced. Love doesn't force but willingly gives. Jesus didn't call His disciples slaves, He called them "friends" (John 15:15), and this is the relationship you should have with your spouse. Friends don't command or force one another to give unquestioned obedience. There are always limits to your submission. Paul taught wives to submit only "as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18). It is not fitting for your husband to command you as his servant in an unloving way. Nor should you ever submit to a request by your husband to sin or violate God's Word. In these cases you "ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

Now lets look at what submission does mean. Submission is first an attitude of love, respect, and gentleness in the way you speak and act toward your husband. You should also expect to receive this attitude of love and respect from him. Notice Paul's final encouragement to husbands and wives in Ephesians chapter five. He encourages both partners to loving submission when he said, "...let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (vs. 33). When you demonstrate love and respect toward your spouse in this manner, you comprehend the essence of what submission is all about.

Yet, submission is much more than just an attitude, it also produces powerful action. Your submission is what renders a death blow to selfishness. Paul declared, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21 KJV). The word submit means to subdue. But, what are you to subdue? Yourself! Self or selfishness is the greatest problem we face in loving and respecting others, especially a spouse. Submission is what destroys selfishness and enables you to give in a way that will bring harmony with your mate. If you refuse to deny yourself through submission, conflict will result in every part of your relationship. James declares that "where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there" (James 3:16). If there is confusion and conflict in your marriage, selfishness will be the cause of the problem every time. Therefore, learning to subdue selfishness through submission is the key to dealing with every evil habit within your marriage.

Similarly, submission means that you must be willing to subdue your desires to rule over and control your husband. God has given him the position as the head and leader within the family. Paul said, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church" (Eph. 5:23). This means that he is the one who has the ultimate responsibility for your family before God. The Father requires him to take the leadership role in the family and God will hold him accountable for this responsibility. Now, why would God give the leadership of the family to the man? Doesn't that mean that the wife is inferior to her husband? No, absolutely not! God has not given your husband this position as head of the home because he is superior to you. Remember, you are equal to him in every way. God has only given him this position to bring order and harmony to your marriage and to keep you both from entering into a power struggle for control. Imagine for a moment what your life would be like if you had two heads on your physical body. What confusion this would bring to your life. Likewise, when you selfishly try to become the second head in your home, confusion results, and your marriage loses. A power struggle such as this has no winners, and in a marriage this battle will only bring misery. Instead of seeking control, help him in his decisions and offer your input. Seek to understand your husband, and be a godly example of a woman of strength. If you truly desire harmony in your relationship, abandonment of your selfish desire to control your husband is a must.

5. Be a companion. Did you know that companionship is the ultimate goal of your marriage relationship? When God created Eve it was to solve the problem of Adam's aloneness by bringing him a companion for life. But, the real question is this: how can you experience and grow in companionship with your husband? Companionship is the result of doing all that I have discussed in this article. When you are helpful, become submissive, live in an unselfish manner, pursue understanding, and purpose to be friendly, companionship will be the natural result. Think about it, would you want to be a companion to someone who was critical, selfish, rebellious, and headstrong? Real companionship could never occur in this kind of relationship. However, God has called you to be a very different kind of person with a different attitude; you must become your husband's friend and companion. This is how the prophet, Malachi, referred to wives when he reproved the men of Israel for their lack of caring for their spouses. He warned the men, "The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Mal. 2:14). Companionship is the most fundamental purpose and goal of your marriage relationship, and should, therefore, be the highest priority of your time together each day. God has called you to be a spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, and sexual companion to your husband. In each of these areas God wants you to seek specific ways to develop companionship, friendship, helpfulness, understanding, and giving. As you love your husband in this manner you will naturally notice the deepening of your one-flesh relationship together. This is also where the joy and satisfaction of your relationship will be found, simply because you are fulfilling God's design and calling for you as a wife.

Is companionship the priority of your daily life with your husband? Are you seeking daily to find ways to become better friends or is it simply easier to seek the companionship of a girlfriend or even another male friend? Both are dangerous and destructive to your marital relationship. Your husband must take priority among all your friends and acquaintances. When you keep him in this position, then the opportunity exists for you to build the companionship you are looking for.

Where is your husband asking for your companionship and are you willing to at least attempt to meet this need? If you are unwilling to meet these needs he has expressed, you are in effect declaring to him your lack of desire for companionship with him. But, you may be thinking; "he doesn't respond to my requests for companionship, why should I seek to meet his needs?" Jesus answered this very common question when He said to His disciples; "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 7:12). In this passage, Jesus explains that if you want others to love and give to you, you must first give this love to them. Christ completely lived by this principle Himself. What He wanted from mankind, He first gave. He wanted men to love Him, so He first loved them. He wanted us to lay our lives down, so He first laid His down. This kind of love is what attracted us to Him and ultimately made us His companions and friends. Won't you take similar steps today to become your husband's companion? You won't regret it!

COVENANT KEEPERS 1996 Covenant Keepers is a ministry of Pastor Steve Carr in Arroyo Grande, California. If you would like more information or have a question you can obtain my E-mail address by visiting our web site at www.covenantkeepers.org)

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