Usurping A Husband’s Authority

Let’s begin by affirming the Scriptural model that a wife must submit to her husband unless he demands that she disobey God’s Word.

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. ~~Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB95)

Paul leaves no wiggle room for any Christian wife to rebel against her husband, and I don’t want anyone to misconstrue this article as a subtle encouragement toward feminism. Indeed, I pray people will come away from this article with a deeper conviction of a husband’s authority over his wife as well as how sinful it is to interfere with his authority. I have discussed what I’m about to write with my husband, and we completely agree on the perspective I wish to present.

For almost a year, I’ve seen discussions on Twitter promoting an extreme version of patriarchy. Now, patriarchy in and of itself simply means male leadership in the home, the church and society. Society, however, no longer operates on Christian principles, so we really shouldn’t expect non-Christians to adhere to patriarchy. By and large, therefore, wisdom dictates that we limit our conversation to male leadership within Christian marriage and church structure.

Lately, advocates of extreme patriarchy have been tweeting their belief that, if women vote at all, we must vote exactly as our husbands vote. They reason that, because the man is the head of the household, the wife must follow his political convictions in order to preserve family unity. And I see some merit in their argument.

Yet I seriously question whether or not they take the command to submit beyond the boundaries of Scripture. Does the Bible prohibit wives from having convictions that differ from those of their husbands? More importantly, does Scripture allow strangers on social media to impose their views about a couple’s voting decisions on Christians at large?

Go back, first of all, to Ephesians 5:22. Paul commands wives to be subject — or submit — to our own husbands. Perhaps a husband really wants his wife to vote exactly as he votes. We might disagree with his expectations, but we should encourage her to submit to her husband’s authority. He isn’t asking her to sin. In that specific situation, she might actually be sinning if she rebelliously casts her ballot in opposing to his desires.

In such a case, nobody has a right to tell that woman it’s okay to go against her husband. Rather, we should applaud her obedience to Scripture. She submits, not to other people with their varying opinions, but to the man that the Lord has placed over his her. Nobody else has a right to argue with the decisions they make in the privacy of their marriage.

But in my marriage, my husband wants me to vote my conscience, not his. Our political convictions are nearly identical because we base them on Biblical values and principles, but once in a while we apply those principles differently. He may vote for a candidate strictly on policies that candidate holds, whereas I may abstain from voting on that office due to that candidate’s character. In those rare circumstances, John does not want me to violate my conscience.

In wanting me to vote according to my convictions, John actually aligns himself with the apostle Peter’s command to husbands.

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. ~~1 Peter 3:7 (NASB95)

My husband may disagree with some of the votes I cast, and he might do his best to persuade me to vote as he does. But he maintains that I best submit to him by voting in accordance with my conscience rather than voting against my convictions just to mimic his vote. In our case, submission demands that I make my own decisions in the voting booth.

Just as I shouldn’t interfere with couples who believe submission requires a wife to vote as her husband wants her to vote, so proponents of extreme patriarchy shouldn’t interfere with couples who believe a wife should vote her own conscience when she differs from her husband. Ephesians 5:22 calls wives to submit to their own husbands, not to any segment of the church. When people insist that submission should conform to their model instead of letting each husband determine how his wife should submit, they usurp that husband’s authority.

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P.S. Happy 19th Anniversary to my wonderful husband, who faithfully edits each blog post I write. I love you, Honey!

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