What does the Bible say about being a Christian wife?
Question: "What does the Bible say about being a Christian wife?"
Answer: A Christian wife is a believer in Jesus Christ, a married woman who has her priorities straight. She has chosen godliness as the focus of her life, and she brings that focus into every relationship, including marriage. A godly wife has decided that pleasing and obeying God is more important to her than her temporary happiness or pleasure, and she is willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to honor the Lord in her role as a wife.
The first step in becoming a Christian wife is surrendering to the lordship of Jesus. Only with the Holy Spirit empowering us can any of us live as godly people (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:12). When we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord (John 3:3), it is similar to the wedding day. The entire direction of our lives has done an about-face (2 Corinthians 5:17). We begin to see life from God’s perspective, rather than pursuing our own agendas. That means that a Christian woman will approach marriage with a different mindset than that of a worldly woman. She desires not only to be a good wife for her husband but also to be a godly woman for her Lord.
Being a Christian wife involves living out the principle found in Philippians 2:3–4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” If followed closely, this principle would eliminate the majority of marital arguments. Since we are by nature selfish, we must rely on the Lord to crucify that selfish urge and help us seek the best interest of our spouses. For a wife, this means remaining conscious that her husband is not a woman and does not think like a woman. His needs are different from her needs, and it is her responsibility to understand those needs and seek to meet them whenever possible.
One of the most frequent areas of conflict in marriage is sex. Men, in general, desire sex more often than their wives do. Men also place a higher value on the sexual relationship, and their self-worth can feel threatened when their wives refuse to cooperate. Though not always the case, most wives lose the level of interest in sex they may have had at the beginning of the relationship and find emotional fulfillment through other relationships, such as children and friends. This can lead to a husband’s resentment and hostility when his wife does not understand his true need for sexual expression. A Christian wife seeks to meet that need, even when she is tired or not interested. First Corinthians 7:1–5 explains that husbands and wives do not have total control over their own bodies but have given themselves to the other. A Christian wife realizes that in submitting her body to her husband she is, in fact, surrendering to the Lord’s plan for her.
Ephesians 5:22–24 addresses the dreaded “S” word that has gained a notoriety it doesn’t deserve, often due to mishandling of the Scripture. Wives are told to submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord. Females cringe at the word submit because it has been used as an excuse to treat them like slaves. When these three verses are ripped from their context and applied to women only, they become a tool in the hand of Satan. Satan often twists Scripture to accomplish his evil purposes, and he has used this one to corrupt God’s plan for marriage. The command about submission actually begins in verse 18, which says that all Christians should submit themselves to one another. It then applies that to wives in marriage, but the bulk of the responsibility is placed upon the husband to love his wife in the way Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25–32). When a husband lives in obedience to God’s expectation for him, a Christian wife has little difficulty submitting to his leadership.
While there are Christian wives who have not been blessed with children, the majority of married women will become mothers at some point. When a woman becomes a mother, her identity changes. During this transition, it is natural for her to give all her effort and attention to the children. It can take some time to adjust to the new family responsibilities, but a Christian wife remembers that her husband is her first priority. His needs still matter. She may feel at times that she has nothing left to give him at the end of a frustrating day, but she can run to the Lord and find the strength and energy to remain a wife first and a mother second (Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 18:2).
Communication is critical during the early child-rearing years, and a Christian wife will initiate non-judgmental conversations with her husband, explaining how he can help and what she needs from him in order to be more responsive to his needs. Couples who stay connected and set aside intentional times together grow stronger and build deeper bonds that will keep their marriage healthy. A Christian wife also realizes that carving out time for herself is not selfish. She is open with her husband about her own emotional and psychological needs. Wives who bottle up their own needs for fear of sounding selfish are only setting themselves up for later resentment and burnout. Before a wife and mother can give her family what it needs, she must take care of herself.
Proverbs 31 has been met with skepticism by many Christian wives because it seems to portray the godly wife as an impossible ideal for women. But it is important to remember that the “virtuous woman” described does not exist. She is a fictional example of the kind of woman a man should seek as a wife. It stands as a contrast to the qualities that would make a woman an unsuitable partner, such as laziness, selfishness, foolishness, carelessness, and dishonor. A Christian wife seeks to demonstrate the reverse of those bad characteristics, and Proverbs 31 is an illustration of what that may look like. It is not to be taken literally, as though any wife whose children don’t “wear scarlet” (verse 21) or who “turns off her lamp at night” (verse 18) is a failure. But this chapter is applauding virtuous, intelligent, and industrious women at a time when the contributions of wives and mothers went largely unnoticed. Godly women can take joy in this when their own choices reflect some of the qualities described there.
Wives often cry that they want their husbands to be good leaders. They are correct that God expects husbands to bear the responsibility for the well-being of their families. But good leaders must have good followers, and often that is where the problem lies. As part of the curse God placed upon Eve for her sin (Genesis 3:16), women by nature desire to boss their husbands. She sees him as an unfinished project and it is her job to “fix” him. Her attempts to “help him” can often shut him down, especially if he is not comfortable in a leadership role. That does not excuse his refusal to step into the role God designed for him. But a Christian wife recognizes her role and lets him lead. She may respectfully offer her advice and opinion, and a wise husband will seek it, but she recognizes that, once she does, her responsibility is over and the final decision rests with him. When he knows that she will not shoot him down when she disagrees, he is more likely to step forward and lead.
One danger that Christian women can encounter in marriage and motherhood is when they completely lose themselves. The escalating divorce rate among middle-aged couples bears testament to this destructive pattern. Many times it is the wife who leaves a good man for no reason other than she is not happy. Part of her disillusionment is due to the way marriage has been exalted as the ultimate goal for young girls. She has believed since nursery school that, once she meets and marries Prince Charming, she will be fulfilled. Much church teaching has been a party to this deification of marriage, so, for a Christian woman, the letdown can feel as though God has deceived her. While marriage is good and right and a vehicle for blessing, it should never be viewed as the source of a woman’s value and fulfillment. Only God can be that, and Christian wives are those who see their roles, not as ends in themselves, but as avenues through which they can better serve their Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31).
A woman who desires to be a godly, Christian wife can ask herself the following questions:
1. Am I keeping my spiritual life healthy and my top priority? (Matthew 6:33)
2. Have I willingly accepted my God-given role as a partner to my husband, not his boss? (1 Corinthians 11:3)
3. Do I seek daily to humble myself and serve like Jesus did, rather than seeking to be served? (Mark 10:44–45)
4. Have I stripped my heart of idols, such as shopping, flirtations, hoarding, or addictions? (Exodus 20:3)
5. Does my free time indicate that I value my husband, my family, and my Savior? (Galatians 5:13)
6. Am I guarding the spirit of my home by what I allow in through media, magazines, and music? (Philippians 4:8)
7. Do I keep myself physically and emotionally pleasing to my husband? (Proverbs 27:15; 31:30)
8. Do my dress, makeup, and presentation indicate that I respect my body, my husband, and my Savior? (1 Peter 3:3–5)
9. Have I eliminated worldly vulgarities from my speech (swearing, gross talk, dirty jokes) so that my words are gracious? (Colossians 4:6)
10. Am I a wise and careful manager of household finances? (Proverbs 31:16)
11. Do I give my husband respect because of his position, or only when I think he deserves it? (Ephesians 5:33)
12. Do I take good care of my husband’s house and children? (Proverbs 31:27–28)
13. Do I guard his heart by never revealing private discussions publicly or using his weaknesses against him? (Proverbs 31:11)
14. Am I continuing to develop the gifts and passions God has entrusted to me? (2 Timothy 1:6)
15. Am I relying on my own power or the power of the Holy Spirit to be a godly wife, mother, and disciple? (Galatians 5:25)
Because Jesus canceled our sin debt (Colossians 2:14), anyone who so desires can become a godly person. Godliness is not dependent upon intellect, education, or religion. It is also not off-limits to those with checkered pasts, divorce papers, or prison records. As followers of Christ, we should all seek to become more godly in whatever role we hold, because it is commanded (1 Peter 1:16) and because we want to be more like the One we love.
Recommended Resource: Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Christian Wife and Mother by Mahaney & DeMoss
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Questions about Marriage
What does the Bible say about being a Christian wife?