HUSBAND’S ROLE IN MARRIAGE—Part Two
1 Peter 3 :7 (literal translation)
“Likewise you husbands dwell with them according to experiential knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.”
The irate husband says, “Light bill! Water bill! Gas bill! When are you going to stop this wild spending? Sometimes we do not give the wife a chance! Wild spending?
A happy marriage depends on happy people. If you are a miserable person, your marriage cannot be happy. If you area happy person, then you have at least a 50-50 change for your marriage to be happy. In other words, are you a person oriented to biblical truth, the truth that it presents for marriage? The Bible has a clear role for the wife and for the husband. God’s role for the wife is to help her husband achieve. The primary role for the husband is to give his wife security that he loves her. In other words, he is to cherish or value her and to make it obvious to her.
Now we want to take a cook’s tour through the Bible on the husband’s role in marriage. Last week we saw that the husband is to domesticate with his wife according to the standard of the experience of living with her. He a special domestic responsibility. This implies that that the husband must understand his wife, what her needs are. He needs to know what makes her tick.
In Genesis l :28 we have this statement, “And God blessed them and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the foul of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God told them to have dominion. The earth is set up on the basis of authority. Time-space relationships demand authority, that is, someone must take the initiative, and someone has to follow.
God has so sovereignly arranged creation that it has authority built into it. In fact, this idea of authority in roles comes right out of the Trinity itself. Let us turn to 1 Corinthians 11 and we can see this principle directly as it correlates to husband-wife roles. In 1 Corinthians 11:2 we have this statement, “And now I praise you brethren that you remember me in all things and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you (I praise you for that; you keep the Lord’s Supper) but I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.” The divine order of roles is clear in this passage. First, we the head of Christ is God the Father. Then head or authority over the man Christ. Finally, we have the woman, and the head of the woman is man. In the Trinity the alignment is Father—Son—Holy Spirit. The Father is over the Son and the Son over the Holy Spirit (the later is called the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son). God is one in essence but three in person; each person has a role. The role does not diminish deity whatsoever. The Son is no less God than God the Father. The Father’s role is to plan; the Son executes that plan and Holy Spirit’s to bring that message to men. As well, the wife’s role under her husband is no less a person than her husband. The issue is only role, not the essence of the person.
Turn to verse 8, “For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man.” That is, the man was first created so he has priority in terms of role and authority. “Neither was man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have authority on her head (longer hair than the man) because of the angels (her longer hair than the man represents submission to the man}. “Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.” In other words, the man has to depend on the woman to a degree and the woman depends on the man.
Let’s turn to Ephesians 5 where we find the major passage on husband-wife relationship. The context is the filling of the Spirit found in verse 18: “be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit.” To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. If a person is filled with the Spirit, then a number of results transpire. The first result is that you “speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart unto the Lord.” This person has a song in his heart (verse 19). Verse 20, “giving thanks always for all things” is another result of the filling of the Spirit. Also, people controlled by the Spirit submit themselves to one another in the fear of God (verse 21).
Verse 22 brings us to the role of the wife: “Wives submit yourself to your own husbands.” Women cannot submit themselves to their husbands properly without the filling of the Spirit. He gives the motivation and power to do it. When the Holy Spirit controls a wife, it becomes possible.
Verse 25 gives the role of the husband in marriage: “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church (to that degree).” To what degree did He love the Church? “And gave Himself for it.” Later, in verse 28 the Holy Spirit says, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” He who loves his wife loves himself. If a man has a happy wife, he has a happy life. The person without a happy wife does not have a happy marriage. That is why he who loves his wife loves himself, “for no man ever yet hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it.” A wife who senses she is cherished is a blessed woman. That is the basic argument. The husband has one essential role in marriage and that is to love, to give to and cherish his wife. This is far beyond mere physical love but a love that meets her fundamental need.
Now let us return to 1 Peter 3. We have seen that a husband cannot go through life without knowing what his wife is about. He is to be sensitive to her needs. He cannot neglect her or take her for granted.
The next phrase says, “giving honor unto the wife.” This was a radical innovation into the ancient world. The woman never received honor in ancient culture. Women in Greek and Roman religions were never allowed to attend a worship service. The only exception were prostitutes; they were at the center of religious worship. Otherwise, worship with a man was taboo. Even among the Hebrews woman sat behind a lattice or screen. To give honor to the wife was something new with Christianity.
The word “give” in “give honor” means to impart, to portion out. A husband is to give from his being. He cannot live unto himself and be in tune with God or honor his wife. A husband who lives as an isolated entity in his house is out of phase with God. He must share his life with his wife. He allots himself to his wife. He takes the initiative in doing it; the wife’s role is to respond to that initiative. It is incumbent upon any leader to take the initiative; the husband does not wait for the wife to do it. If God has taken the initiative to love us, why cannot we as husband take the initiative to love our wives as well?
The idea of “honor” is worth. The Greek implies to give her an estimate of preciousness. The word “precious” in the phrase “precious blood of Christ” in 1 Peter 1:19 is the very same word as here. The husband is to look at his wife like he views a gem. Is your wife of ¼, ½ carat or full carat to you? Is she a precious gem to you? A husband should make it a career to give difference to his wife. This is a far cry from putting her under your heel. Biblically, God expects us to exalt our wives, to give her praise.
“Honor” then means to attribute to the wife a quality. The husband gives honor to his wife by giving her an idea of her worth to him. The word “honor” indicates quality. A wife needs to see that her husband looks upon her as very important to his life; she is not some tangent in his experience. He conveys the idea that “you are everything to me. To see the value of a wife a husband needs to be perspicacious about her. Perception implies awareness. He takes note of everything about his wife. He has taken enough time to know about her and her needs. This is the polar opposite of taking her for granted. A husband cannot be too busy to come to this level of understanding a wife. He should put her on a pedestal.
This is a quite a different story than the interpretation some men give to the idea of submission: “the wife is to be heeled or downed.” Nowhere in the Bible do we find that idea. No, she is to be exalted and highly prized.
Note the phrase “as unto the weaker vessel.” “Vessel” means utensil as in the utensils found in everyday use in a house, pots, pans, dishes, china, cups, etc.. This word ultimate came to mean instrument. A wife is the weaker instrument. The use of “weaker” implies that the husband is an instrument as well. This word was used for a vessel in the Tabernacle or Temple; it was something set aside for special use. God has set aside the wife for special use.
In what sense is the wife “weaker?” It obviously does not mean that she is weaker mentally. Many women are more intelligent than their husbands. Neither is the main idea that she is weaker emotionally. Does it mean that she is weaker physically? To some degree that is true, but it is not the point here either. Women generally take more pain than men. If men had to bear children, there would be far less population in the world! Generally, they do not have the bone structure or muscles that men have.
The point here is that she is susceptible to her husband because God place him over her in role. He is to provide for her. He is to honor and deem her precious. She is utterly valuable to him. We find this principle in Genesis 3:16. Her “desire” is for her husband. Much like the potato chip ad, “You can’t have just one.” That is the point of the “weaker vessel.” A husband meets something in her that nothing else can.
Next, the phrase says “and as being heirs together.” “Heirs together” means co-heirs, joint heirs. In Cramer’s great lexicon on synonyms, he says that “heirs together” means personal equality based on equality of possession. What is the thrust of that? The idea is that the wife has just as high spiritual standing as the husband has. She is equal with her husband; they are equal in person. She has equal privilege to eternal life as anyone else. She can claim as many promises as her husband. She has spiritual possession that her husband has. She is joint-heirs with him, a co-heir with him because she possesses all that Christ provided for her.
Notice the word ‘together.” The word “together” means with. It is the word “co” or “joint” in co-heir. This word implies fellowship, unity or sharing. Husband and wife intimately share in spiritual things. They are joint heirs together of “the grace of life.”
God has given them grace for living in this life. It is “being heirs together of the grace of life” that God answers the prayers of husband and wife. Prayers will be “hindered” if the husband-wife relationship is not in good standing. “Prayers” is in the plural indicating family worship. If there is a relationship breakdown, God will not answer their prayers. We cannot have communion with God if we do not have communion with one another. Domestic strife with all its bitterness dooms answered prayer.
The word “that ” in “that your prayers be not hindered” introduces a result clause, “with the result that your prayers be not hindered.” If a husband does not honor his wife then he has a problem with God. His prayers will be “hindered.” The idea of “hindered” means to cut in. A husband begins to pray but something cuts into his prayer, his poor relationship with his wife. Let’s illustration this by a telephone call. The husband says, “Dear God, I appreciate all that you have done for me. I have a request from you….click, click, click. Lord I cannot hear you.” So long as the domestic problem remains, God does not answer. He will cut off hearing our prayer.
If you are here and you do not know Jesus Christ, God will not hear your prayers. God does not hear those who have no relationship with Him. You can have a relationship with Him beginning right now if you embrace Jesus as your Savior. He died for your sin and will forgive you if you believe that He died for your sins.
P.S, it will destroy the purpose of these messages if couples use them as a club on each other.
Grant C. Richison