The Christian Woman, Learning, and Submission

This post builds on the previous posts I wrote, one on the Christian woman and the whole Bible and one on the Christian woman and learning.  I plan to write a post later in the week on how husbands can help their wives grow spiritually and remain in submission. But this post is addressed to the wives. 

In my last post I encouraged Christian women to grow theologically. However, this does not eliminate sin. As a woman grows spiritually there are dangers and temptations that await her. Here are some practical suggestions for how a wife or daughter can grow in her Christian walk and remain in submission to her God-appointed authority. In all the points, except the last, I am assuming a godly husband or father who is not going to require from his wife or daughter something contrary to the Scriptures. 

First, as a wife or daughter learns there is a danger of her acting on convictions outside of her God appointed head. God placed these heads (husband or father) in the lives of women to help lead him them into God’s truth and to keep them from being led astray by false teaching.  Also, the husband and wife are to be unified in what they believe and in their vision for their home. Therefore the wife should be cautious about developing convictions and acting on them independent of her husband.  Often a wife will come to understand a Scriptural teaching before her husband. That is good and fine. A husband should be grateful that his wife is learning and growing. But she must resist the urge to run ahead of him or act independently of him. She must bring her thoughts/convictions to him and they should move forward together.

Second, another danger that comes with learning, especially theological learning, is pride. As a woman grows in her knowledge of God  and her obedience to God she can begin looking down on her husband, especially if he is not as theologically minded as she is. I think this problem is a great danger with stay at home moms because they often have more time to study than the dad does. They read throughout the day. They may listen to sermons, read blogs, or other articles online.  Many marriages are killed or otherwise maimed by women who use their study as a way of usurping their husbands. Slowly and subtly Satan twists the woman’s mind so she is using her study of God to disobey God. Christ is not pleased with this pride no matter how theologically savvy the woman is. If your learning is leading you to look down on your husband you should repent. 

Third, the woman, as she studies, should cheerfully place herself under her God appointed head.  Women have a hard time with this. There is a reason Paul and Peter both remind women to submit to their husbands; they are tempted not to. (Eph. 5:22, 24, Col. 3:18, Titus 2:5, I Peter 3:1) Women need to recognize the pull of this temptation and fight against it as they would any other sin. If a husband says, “I think you could profit from this.” Then she needs to get the book or cd and read/listen to it.  She should generally run resources she is using by him. “I was thinking about reading such and such. Do you think that is a good idea?” Or “What do you think I should be studying?” As she learns, she should go back to her head and discuss what she is learning with him, asking him questions and bringing up things she thinks are good or bad.  She should consult the man God has placed over her. Remember it is the wife’s job to stay in submission. She is to actively obey Jesus in this area.  For example, if she reads something that starts to change her mind on how her daughters should dress she should run it by her head. At that point, they can discuss the change and decide if it is good or bad and they can change or not change based upon what they have learned.

Fourth, a Christian woman who has a question about theology, the Bible, or the Christian life should ask her husband or father. If her husband or father does not know the answer, then he or they should contact the elders of the church.  This allows the husband and wife or father and daughter to develop convictions together.  It also forces the head to act as the head by going to elders.  A woman should generally avoid going behind her husband’s back to try to solve a problem in her Christian life. 

Fifth, women should be encouraged to learn from other women. (See Romans 14:19, Eph. 4:29, I Thess. 5:11, Titus 2:3-5, and Hebrews 10:24-25) This can be done by meeting one on one or in a group setting.  These types of studies can create problems if they are allowed to undermine the husband/father’s authority or if they detract from a woman’s ability to manage her home. And we should not be naïve. There are many women who would rather go to a Bible study than change diapers or prepare supper. And there are Bible studies where the women are either explicitly or implicitly encouraged to not listen to their husbands. But the abuse of a thing does not negate the thing. These meetings, when they are done rightly, can greatly encourage a woman in her Christian walk. These meetings can and should discuss homemaking, children, etc., but they should not be limited to that. The women could study many things, including the holiness of God, the book of Judges, the Gospel of Luke, or the work of Christ upon the cross. All of these will make her a better Christian wife and mother. 

Finally, the elders can help fill in some of the gaps for a woman who has a husband or father who has abdicated, is a non-Christian, or is dead,  A woman in one of those situations should cheerfully stay in contact with the elders to get guidance and direction on her walk with Christ.(Older Christian women can obviously be a great help here as well.)