I will be making some additional edits to this post, as I feel I strayed off and made the post more about wives than women, though they are one and the same. I need to gather some thoughts together, but I just wanted to make readers aware of this before too long. Check back later.
After a long hiatus and a hospital visit, I’m going to attempt to hop back on the rails and move forward with this series of posts.
In post 1.1 I started by reviewing a little bit of what women AREN’T in the bible.
Allow me to now continue from where I left off.
Point 2: Women are not slaves to their husbands/fathers.
Though the relationship between husbands and wives is likened to a “master/servant” relationship the bible does not give husbands the authority to abuse or mistreat their wives any more than it gives masters the authority to abuse or mistreat their servants (you can say ‘slaves’ if you want, the bible uses it to describe both those who were enslaved against their will and those who voluntarily indentured themselves and the word doesn’t have the same knee-jerk meaning it has today).
1 Peter 2:
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 3:
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel”4Â rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
The word “likewise” in 1 Peter 3:1 means “in the same manner“. In the same manner as what? In the same manner as the preceding verses, which are speaking to servants owned by a master. This indicates that the husband/wife relationship is similar to the master/servant relationship. However, just as masters are told not to be harsh to their servants, husbands are told not to be harsh their wives in the very next verses!
1 Peter 3:
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Here husbands are instructed to live with their wives with understanding, honoring them both as the weaker vessel and a fellow heir to the grace of life. Failure to do so can cause problems with your prayer life. These verses give wives special status that servants do not receive, but does not do anything to remove the comparison. The comparison still stands: as servants do for their masters, so wives should do for their husbands.
Husbands should be understanding of their wives. They are women, not men. They often freak out about minor things, or cry for no reason. They are delicate, to an extent, and don’t think of things the way men do. Being harsh to your wife because she acts like a woman is a sure fire way to get your prayers blocked.
Though husbands have the authority to punish their wives they do not have the authority to abuse their wives and it is important to understand what is meant by ‘abuse’, particularly in a day and age where the word is used for just about anything. Just as masters are permitted to punish their servants appropriately, so husbands are allowed to punish their wives appropriately. Masters are told not to punish their servants harshly (Exodus 21:20-21, 21:26-27) causing grievous bodily harm. Likewise husbands should not cause their wives grievous bodily harm. This doesn’t mean a husband cannot punish his wife physically – he has that authority. What it does mean is that he cannot punch her in the face, beat her, starve her, etc. as punishment.
This being said it should be understood that a Christian husband should not want to mete out these types of punishments to begin with, but that’s for another time and another post.
I doubt there is any argument over the fact that fathers have authority over their children, but the bible gives particular focus to a fathers authority over his daughter. In the book of Numbers we see this:
3 “Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will release her, because her father overruled her.
6 “If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself, 7 and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand. 8 But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and the Lord will release her.
Here we see a fathers authority over his daughter, such that he can invalidate any agreements she makes, even if that agreement is marriage! If her father hears about said agreement and does nothing when he hears of it, the agreement stands, but if he says “no way”, then the agreement is invalidated! This is total control, and for good reason, as anyone with a daughter knows they can make really foolish emotionally based decisions.
Now, you may find yourself saying, “Hey, guys can make bad decisions too, why don’t fathers have the same authority over them!”. Well, unfortunately for sons they only have one option – to adhere to the vows they make, be they good or bad which, depending on the situation, can be very, very bad. He cannot turn to his daddy to bail him out. He made the agreement and he must adhere to it (see Numbers 30: 1-2)
For daughters this authority is transferred from her father to her husband when she marries, and husbands have this authority over their wives, to invalidate their agreements if they so choose to do so. Now, in this modern age your likely not going to be able to apply this, as it is highly unlikely the car dealership down the street is going to unwind a sale to your wife just because you don’t think she got a good deal or she didn’t tell you she was buying a car, so its probably not wise to think you can pull that off, but even so that doesn’t remove this authority from husbands. Just because you cannot use it doesn’t mean its not there, and one of the purposes of this post is to be informative to both men and women what God has said.
My recommendation is that you read these verses for yourselves and the pray on the matter. We can do what we feel is right and what the culture says is right, or we can do what God says is right, and good. Even though our current culture looks down on men having this much authority over their wives and daughters, God instructed us to act in this way for a reason. It pleases Him and its how He intended things to work, and when we do things the way God intended them to be done we will find that things work for the better, but because man is inherently sinful there will always be people who will abuse this authority. This is not the fault of God, but the brokenness of mankind. In the end God will reward us for our leadership as men, and for our obedience as women, because these things are pleasing to Him.
As always, rational comments and discussions are encouraged.
Planned next: What the bible says women ARE.