The structure of marriage
In our previous blog, we discussed the foundation of any good marriage. We said that it should be about God – only in Him, can we know how to serve and love each other appropriately.
In this blog, we shift the light to the structure of marriage. What should husbands do? What is the wife’s role? We conclude with a small piece on life together in marriage.
The role of the husband:
A husband should:
- Serve his wife in love
- Be harmonious and sympathetic
- Labor for his wife
- Be humble and gentle
- Serve his wife with joy
- Let her have access to money
- Be pure and honoring.
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Serve in love
Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….”
Husbands are to serve their wives according to the instructions of love in 1 Corinthians 13. That is making love the motivation behind what we do for one another. One can spend a lifetime reflecting and thinking of how to be kinder, more patient, and more forgiving. To serve in love is something that we must do according to His word.
Harmonious and sympathetic
1 Peter 3:8: “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit….”
Harmony seeking persons are warm-hearted, sympathetic, and understanding. They focus on the person they are in the relationship with instead of focusing on themselves. Of course, there will be some disagreements along the way; we are only human! A good husband will be committed, however, to find common ground and ‘reason together’ instead of arguing.
Isaiah 1:18 tells us: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’”
God, Himself, calls us to ‘reason together’ with Him.
Why shouldn’t husbands and wives also do this? You’ll only do your marriage a great disservice if you don’t make an effort to understand and to be understood. With the intention to put ourselves in the shoes of our partner.
Labor for your wife
Proverbs 19:14: “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
God designed marriage to accomplish a few fundamental goals of society, much of which makes life so enjoyable.
Pride in providing
One goal is that men should take pride in is providing for their families if only at first, to enjoy the many pleasures of a loving, gracious wife.
Secondly, a hard-working husband can provide a home as well as necessary food and clothing so that his wife (and the mother of his children) can pay attention to her primary function, which is to raise their children loving stable environment.
That is not to say that a woman cannot work! I am merely saying that a woman’s attention and affection at home should be more highly prized than money.
My suggestion would be for a woman to bless her family with her earnings, rather than them being dependent on it. If she wants to stop earning, for any reason, she has the discretion to do so.
‘Worse than an unbeliever.’
1 Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Divorce is never the answer. However, a man who would not provide for his own household “is worse than an unbeliever” and, therefore, is breaking the spirit of the “one flesh.” That is the husband is not looking out for his wife as is the goal and commitment behind the idea of one flesh.
Even so, in the Jewish marriage ‘Ketubah (contract),’ the man’s promise of provision to the wife is to continue even in the event of a divorce.
According to chabad.org: “The ketubah restates the fundamental conditions that are imposed by the Torah upon the husband, such as providing his wife with food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are inseparable from marriage.
It includes the husband’s guarantees to pay a certain sum in the event of a divorce and inheritance rights obligatory upon his heirs in case he dies before his wife.”
Be humble and gentle
Ephesians 4:2: “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love….”
Humbleness and gentleness should be a trademark of a loving serving husband and a manly man. It is not at all week or wimpy!
John 15:13 tells us: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV).
Husbands are at their greatest when they are laying down their lives (in essence, their wants and desires and, for some, their very lives) in service to their wives and their children.
Serve your wife with joy
Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.”
Isn’t this a beautiful thought? A wife is a gift to a husband to reward him for his hard work. You can enjoy your wife’s beauty, her body, and her many pleasures. God’s word says so!
The attitude of a husband must be that his wife is his reward and no other. His eyes and attention must only be on her.
Access to money
Proverbs 31:16-20: “She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”
A trusted wife must have access to money according to the provisions of the husband and, of course, her individual earnings. However, whether she works or not, she must have access to at least half of the designated spendable income.
A woman must be able to buy goods and services for the family, to invest, and to give to the poor. A husband must trust his wife to spend their income wisely and give her access to what they have.
A husband must be pure and honoring
Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
The Bible says a lot about immoral people, especially the sexually immoral.
Immorality is a ground for divorce, even when done in our minds, or alone in front of a computer screen.
Those walking in sexual immorality cannot be genuinely joined to another and cannot be united to God because ultimately, their true love is for themselves and their flesh.
We can read in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
To be ‘one flesh’ in relationship with God or with a spouse, we must turn away from our fleshly desires, away from immorality, and practice self-control.
Of course, when someone truly repents, he (or she!) must be forgiven. This is inline with the character and the commandments of God.
Revelation 21:7-8 tells us “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
And 2 Timothy 3:2-6: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses….”
Husbands who choose to walk in the Salvation Covenant with God will find blessings, protection, and love, while immoral people will find curses for their families both now and in the age to come.
Ought a father not protect his children from this?
A shameful result of immorality is the high divorce rate today. It is the direct result of people not finding Godly spouses or spouses who want to trust God and walk within the boundaries of His covenant.
The role of the wife:
She must be able to do many things at once!
She must keep in mind what’s for dinner, but also who is coming to dinner! She must be able to handle finances, keep a clean house, and drive kids to and fro.
She must be able to teach and demonstrate love and tenderness to her children, and ultimately, it will influence how society will go. It is the woman who best reflects how we are to serve God Himself.
There are two essential things: our service to God and how we lead others to serve Him. We can find both within the structure of marriage according to God’s word.
Everything else is merely temporary and a distraction from what truly matters. Joined together in marriage, in a trusted relationship and service to God: that is where the true riches and glory lie.
A wife should:
- Not gossip, but be trustworthy
- Be respectful and uplifting to her husband
- Be a reward to her husband
- Be of noble character
- Build up her home without quarreling
- To be pure and self-controlled
- Not be idle
- Submissive to her husband
- Be of a gentle and quiet spirit
Trustworthy without gossiping
1 Timothy 3:11: “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.”
A faithful wife should not gossip about her husband with her friends. She should talk to him herself, or if he does not want to listen to her, take him to the elders so that they can understand each other. To talk behind his back is a sure way to destroy godly relationships that might be needed to help a husband address the things he might be struggling with.
Respectful and uplifting
Ephesians 5:33: “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
There is a story in 2 Samuel 6 about King David dancing and praising God. He danced in the streets, but then his wife ridiculed him.
“But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, ‘How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!’
So David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.’
Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.”
As the word says in Proverbs 12:4: “…but she who shames him is like rottenness to his bones.” The trust of that marriage was truly forever destroyed.
Be a crown
Proverbs 12:4: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
Being the best that you can be, according to God’s word, is the best way to be a crown to your husband.
A woman should keep her body fit, be clean and presentable, and keep her temperament contrite. It is the best way to be something truly special to your husband.
Be of noble character
Proverbs 31:10-13: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.”
What better definition of a noble character than someone who works to bring good to everyone around her!
Romans 2:21-24 says: “…you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'”
Wives of noble character uplift the excellent character of their husbands.
It is the wife who provides the necessary endorsement for the husband to be a proper witness to those around Him. If she looks for ways to uplift her husband, the husband will strive to adhere to the standards that she praises him for in front of others. In this way, he can be a blessing to others, openly supported by his wife.
Build up without quarreling
Proverbs 14:1: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
Proverbs 25:24: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”
Making your house inhospitable to your husband is the surest way to destroy that house.
The book of James tells us that all our fighting and quarreling is a result of our sinful fleshly desires. We are not seeking the will and the ways of God. We fight when we want what the world has to offer.
James 4:1-4: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
A woman must strive to put the needs of others first. She still must be accountable to the word of God; therefore, she must read it and learn from it. The ultimate goal is a peaceful home where its inhabitants can serve and love each other.
To be pure and self-controlled
Titus 2:4-5: “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
How we serve others, reflects on our relationship with God. We can only serve if we know how to serve God Himself. Women are to be pure, controlled, and busy, and she is accountable to God. Her face to the world should be a testimony of her walk with God.
Not be idle
Titus 2:5: “…to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
Proverbs 31:13-27: “She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
An excellent wife has no time for idleness. There is so much to do to properly care for a family and being tasked with showing those around her proper love and tenderness.
This scripture is beautiful in setting out all that a woman can be. Undoubtedly, the world would be inhospitable if it wasn’t for the love of God and His gift of women.
There are so many things today that can keep you from being the woman God wants you to be. Watching too much TV or spending a lot of time on social media is one. This steals from a husband, from the children and even from God Himself.
1 Peter 3:1: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives….”
1 Peter 3:5-6: “For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”
Just as we are to be submissive to God, a wife is to be submissive to her husband. The woman must show the world how to act toward God.
‘Submissiveness’ is not an act of fear. It is not something that a husband forces upon his wife. Instead, it is something that a couple gets to through growth and maturity in their faith. To be ‘submissive’ is to be submissive to God, to his sacred institution of marriage, and the roles that God gave both the husband and wife within the framework of a marriage.
A woman is submissive to her husband in front of her children to teach them the meaning of authority. If a man is submissive to God, his words and acts reflect what God wants, if a woman is submissive to her husband, her words and acts, in the same way, reflect God’s will. If we don’t teach our children this, they will ultimately disregard God’s word. What a terrible price to pay if we are not submissive!
There is always structure and purpose in God’s word. We must just be willing, trusting, and humble to move beyond our own selfish inclinations.
Be of a gentle and quiet spirit
1 Peter 3:2-4: “…as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”
A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God. What else needs to be said?
A man and his wife together.
There is so much more to a marriage than just the different roles of each of the parties. Here are a few things that a man and his wife can do together:
Working and planning out the Shabbat schedule and meal with each other, is one. There should be time with each other, but also with the children, the word, and fellowship with other believers.
This is a fantastic way to spend time together in meaningful dialog throughout the week and especially on the Shabbat itself.
Spending time in the word, together.
We should ‘reason’ together and spend time with God’s word. To do it together is also a way to keep each other accountable. How wonderful if a married couple can listen to and consider God’s word together.
You don’t always have to agree, as long as you respect each other’s opinions. Rejoice in His word! It is good to celebrate how amazing it is and how it can be applied to everyday life.
Spending time together in the word is also a way to be an example to children. We show them what is important – how we honor God with our time and energy.
Praise God together
Putting on praise and worship music and getting the whole family involved in praising God together can lift spirits and be a lot of fun. It does not need to be formal; just turn up the music and watch what happens!
Praying for each other
Praying for each other is fundamental to a Godly marriage.
If you are not praying for your spouse and your children, then you are out of His will.
James 5:16 tells us: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
If you are gathering with your wife and your children, then He is right there with you. What better way to have your marriage blessed?
A word on idleness
If you are watching tv, movies, or engaging in social media more than a few hours a week, especially without your spouse, you should expect problems. What is sad is that you are a big part of that problem!
A husband and wife should do things together. It is the glue that keeps a marriage alive. Eat together, go for walks, or make time to talk – God meant for you to enjoy each other!
There is so much more one can say about marriage and relationships. We only touched on a few ideas.
I want to conclude by saying that marriage is a commitment for life!
It is a promise that speaks so loudly: you put aside your own wants and desires to serve another – for a whole lifetime in conjunction with the word of God.
Think about this. God commits to us for eternity.
Acts 20:35: “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” than giving our service in love and commitment for life will bestow upon us truest blessings of life that we may not even scarcely understand right now.
Truly giving ourselves to another in practice and learning will help us to be able to give of ourselves in knowledge and understanding to our Lord as His bride now and in the age to come.
This wraps up the Fifth Commandment.
If I can sum it up in one sentence, I will say that the Fifth Commandment is the cornerstone to teach us how to build a prosperous loving society and is the blueprint for our relationship with God. All that we’ve discussed in the previous four blogs came to this.
The sixth commandment and all those that follow, still instruct us of how to properly serve those around us. The family, of course, is on the top of the list!
Our next blog will focus on ‘You shall not murder’ – the sixth commandment. Jesus has already broken it down for us, so it will be a bit easier to understand to the fullest extent of His perfect will.