Women are often told that if they will just be submissive enough to their husbands, their marriages will become everything God meant marriage to be. Sadly, the reality doesn’t always line up. If you’re a wife and the comment below resonates with you, please read on.
I have done my best to be a submissive and supportive ‘helpmeet’ to my husband in every way possible, but though I hardly want to admit it, it doesn’t seem to be working the way I thought it would. I do everything I can to build him up as “king and priest of the home,” but he just isn’t displaying the Christian character and responsibility I thought this would help him walk into. What can I do to help make things better?
The two Hebrew words translated as “help meet” in KJV translation of Genesis 2:20 are the two Hebrew words “ezer,” meaning “strong aid or rescuer” (which is most often used of God as the “help of Israel”); and “kenedgo,” which means “facing him” (or as we might put it today, “face to face”). God intended the woman to be her husband’s “face-to-face strong aid,” not his subordinate assistant. When God said, “It is not good that the man be alone; I will make him an ezer kenegdo,” this is what he was saying the man needed. After the Fall, according to Genesis 3:16, the man began to rule over the woman; but in so doing, he was setting himself above his strong aid so that they were no longer face-to-face. In ruling over the woman, the man not only weakened her, but he also effectively made himself alone again. And this, as God had said, was not good.
Christ came to bring a new kingdom, or a new Creation, spiritual rather than fleshly, in which the damaged relationships of the Fall are being healed. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “Wherefore henceforth we know no man after the flesh,” and why Galatians 3:28 says, “there is neither. . . male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” What a husband needs is for his wife to become that face-to-face strong aid that God originally designed her to be. Wives, this means seeing yourself as his co-leader, stepping up to shoulder with him the responsibilities of leading the home and children, side by side.
This may surprise him at first, but many men, once they experience it, will gratefully welcome the co-leader relationship. Sometimes a man, feeling the burden of being the sole leader in the family, fears failure and feels alone, because as they say, “it’s lonely at the top.” He shrinks back or slacks off, coasting on his wife’s subordinate service and submission as she desperately tries to do all the work while still making him feel like “king of the home.“ The result can be a man who secretly despises himself and resents his wife. The combination of taking care of him and treating him like royalty (or a spoiled child) can be extremely unproductive– for both of you.
At other times a husband might become a micro-manager, feeling that the sole responsibility for everyone’s spiritual well-being is on his shoulders. Letting all the responsibility rest on him may seem right, but you’re not doing him any favors. He needs an “ezer kenedgo.” He needs the two of you to be adults together, facing the adult responsibilities together. And he needs to let the spiritual well-being of the family rest where it belongs– squarely on the shoulders of Christ Himself. A mere human man cannot be anyone’s savior or sanctifier. He must let God be God in the lives of his loved ones. Your husband needs to be allowed to be merely human, but also to be held accountable to be a responsible adult.
It is important to remember that you are not just husband and wife. You are also brother and sister in Christ. Romans 8:29 says Christ is the “firstborn of many brethren.” and Galatians 4:5 says the rest of us (male and female alike) have all received “the adoption of sons,” with God as our Father. In the first-century Roman world, the firstborn was the only sibling with special leadership privileges over the family. All those with “adopted son” status would function as complete equals. The New Creation kingdom of God is a family with God as the sole Patriarch, Christ the firstborn Son, and the rest of us as brothers and sisters– and all of the New Testament teachings about how the “brethren” are to relate to one another, apply to husband and wife as brother-and-sister in Christ.
This means you are to “speak the truth in love” to one another. Ephesians 4:15. It means that if either of you is found to be at fault, the other is to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.” Galatians 6:1. It means you are to “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24. What brothers and sisters in Christ do is to hold one another accountable, lovingly confronting one another when necessary without condemning or judgmental attitudes, helping one another to become the kind of disciples Christ desires. Matthew 18:15-17. A wife is not exempted from this as far as her husband is concerned.
God requires husbands to respect and honor their wives as fellow-heirs of the gift of life, or their prayers may be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7. But if you are under his feet and not at his side, how can he respect you? We don’t respect things we walk on. If you have been his doormat, stand up and be strong! He may just discover the woman he fell in love with, all over again. He may also find new incentives to take responsibility for his own growth in Christian character, to be a better husband and a better man.