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Biblical Principles for Husbands and Wives

This week I thought we would look at the Biblical responsibilities of men and women in marriage.  God’s plan was for man and woman to unite: 

Genesis 2:15-24 (NIV):
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs[b] and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

God had created the earth and all creatures on it.  Still, there was not a suitable counterpart, a helper, so God created woman.  It was God’s plan that man and woman would become one unit, one body. That woman would be a suitable helper for man.  

We see the closeness God had intended.  He could have just grabbed some more dust and breathed life into it, but that isn’t what he did; he made woman from a part of man. When he is questioned by the Pharisees about divorce, Jesus comments on this relationship, the connection God had planned. 

Mathew 19:4-6 (NIV):
4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

God tells us that marriage is more than social arrangement. It is far more than words written on a piece of paper. In marriage, God joins man and woman into one family unit.

Solomon Tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV):
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Husband, wife and God: nothing is stronger!  We have read that God has a plan that man and woman would unite in marriage. You may be asking what a biblical marriage looks like. Fortunately, God did gave us specific instruction for husbands and wives. 

Please open your Bibles to Ephesians 5:22-32 (NLT):
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

These verses are often misunderstood and sometimes offensive, particularly to women.  I know you may be saying, “My husband is the head and I must submit to my husband?  No way!”  Let’s look at what is really being said.  First, we must be perfectly clear that these verses are not talking about a distinction in value or personhood.  God the Son is equal to God the father, but he is subordinate to him.

 1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

In the same way a wife is equal to her husband.

Genesis 1:27 (NLT) So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Although they are equal, the role of a wife is different then that of her husband.

Second, a wife’s submission to her husband is not absolute.  A husband’s authority has limitations; he can not ask her to do anything outside the will of God.  So, if a husband is not asking her to sin, she is called to submit to his authority.  This does not mean a wife can’t disagree with her husband; it means she must respect him even while expressing her disagreement.  This still may seam difficult for some women but perhaps it may become easier after we discuss the husband’s responsibility in this marriage relationship.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.

Headship of a marriage is not a dictatorship, telling everyone what to do, thinking about your own needs first.  Biblical leadership means taking responsibility for leading his family to a Christ-filled life. He does this by example, with love, compassion, sacrifice and putting others before himself.  Husbands are to love according to Christ’s standard. 

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV):
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

A husband is to sacrifice for his wife and guide her in the ways of the Lord.  He is quick to forgive, protecting her and paying the price for her well-being.  A kingdom man loves his wife as much as he loves himself.  He is to give her his strength and encouragement with love, so that they both will walk in the way of God, growing closer to God together.


31  As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

The husband must make the first move. He must be submissive to Christ. When he lives up to his responsibility, he treats his wife as the special person God has given him.  In sacrificing for her well-being, it becomes easy for her to respond with respect and submission.

Marriage can at times be difficult, but I wonder if we not adding to that difficulty by altering God’s plan.  Let us close with a few verses to strengthen a marriage.

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV):
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (Love can fix anything.)

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV):
“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Be understanding of the other person in your marriage.)

God Bless, and I hope to talk you again soon.