Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marital Submission And Other Things

There seems to be a lot of confusion nowadays about what a traditional marriage is and the consequent duties of husbands and wives towards each other. Some people  seem to think that if we want to correct the excesses of feminism, we should go the other extreme and effectively state that the husband has an unrestricted authority over his wife and can command her to commit a sin, for instance, or what happens much more often, to earn an income. On the other hand, there are those who think that the woman can stay home and still expect her husband to do the cooking, cleaning etc, not occasionally when she is sick, but on a regular basis.

Considering all this, I thought it would be a good idea to post extracts from a Dutch wedding ceremony which is still used in our church. Written in the times of the Reformation, it presents a clear picture of what was expected in the traditional marriage from both spouses. It's very long, so I decided to translate some parts of it which deal with the subjects mentioned above:

...First, you Man will know that God placed you as the head of the woman, so that according to your capacity you will lead her with understanding, educate her, support and protect, like the head rules the body...Also you will love your housewife as your own with her according to understanding and give her her honour as the weaker vessel because she shares in the inheritance of grace, so that your prayers are not hindered. And since it is God's command that the man will eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, so you shall work faithfully in your Godly profession so that you can support your family with God and honour and will have above that enough to give to the needy.

Second, you Woman will know how you according to the God's Word, will behave towards your husband. You will love your lawful husband, honour and reverence him, and also obey him in all things which are right and honest, as your Lord, in the same manner as the body submits to the head and the church to Christ...You also shall help your husband in all good and honest things, take a good care of your housekeeping, and walk in all modesty...without worldly luxuries so that you will give others a good example of decency. 

The preacher addresses first the bridegroom:

N, do you acknowledge here before God and this his holy church that you have taken and take N present here as your lawful housewife, promising to her that you will never leave her, that you will love her and faithfully support as a true and God fearing man has an obligation towards his lawful wife, that you also will live with her in a holy manner, being true to her and believing her in all things, according to the Holy Gospel...

And then the bride:

N,  do you acknowledge here before God and this his holy church that you have taken and take N present here as your lawful husband and promise to obey him, to serve and to help, never to leave him, live with him in a holy manner, to keep faith with him in all things, as a religious and faihtful housewife has an obligation to do towards her lawful husband, according to the Holy Gospel...

As you can see, both husband and wife have certain duties towards each other. The husband is expected to support his wife and family "with God and honour". I see nothing about stay-at-home dads in this passage, or even about wives contributing to making a living, but they are expected to take a good care of their housekeeping, which unfortunately, a lot of women are not doing nowadays. The text above also clearly shows that the wife is not obliged to obey in all things, but only in "right and honest" things, so if the husband asks her to help him rob the bank, she is not supposed to follow this type of a command.

In my opinion, biblical commands to husbands and wives, such as Titus 2 are pretty clear on their own, and yet so many people disregard them or get confused about the issue, so I hope that this post will be of some help.


  1. Excellent points. Modern men and women who think they know better than the old ways where the good walk is, and try to create their own system, it always ends in confusion.

    1. Unfortunately when mechanisation comes and high-tech ensures great comforts and freedoms such a system crumbles under the onslaught of so called women's liberation

    2. What was first, the chicken or an egg? In my point of view, the problem is spiritual, not technological. The society can change, God's Word doesn't.

  2. housework is neglected because the wives have already put in a full day in the office - they are tired of the low pay and the bully politics. it seems like women can't do anything right.

    1. The post above was about traditional family, where the husband supports his wife and family financially, so that the wife doesn't have to work. If the woman works full time, it's only logical that she will have to share housework with her husband or hire a maid. However, if the wife stays home, she should also do housekeeping, it's only logical. As for low pay, nobody forces a woman to work for low wages, she is free to negotiate a better salary, or to get better working qualifications.

  3. In Romania many wives have to go to work and do the housekeeping themselves, supervise the children. The husband has been used to the communist lifestyle where the wife has a job and also has to be a "housewife" at the same time. But I also know the situation where the husband asks the wife to leave her job and she refuses because she has been working there for 20 years and she doesn't want to be just a housewife. The problem is not only that in our country men are underpaid, but there is also a strong pressure left through the legacy of socialism. This week I had a talk to one of my aunts, she is in her 40s and my uncle pressures her to quit her job and she refuses because she says several housewives told her what a great mistake they have done with quitting their jobs in the past, because the children are old enough now and they cannot get hired anymore. The real problem is that homemaking is misunderstood in my country, it is not a permanent occupation for a wife, it is a temporary sacrifice that wealthy families afford and then have regrets because the former career cannot be reestablished. This is a wrong perception in my opinion. Either you work because you cannot afford staying at home, or you quit your job and earn occasional money if an emmergency occurs and your husband cannot support the family anymore. My aunt was desperate because several days before the children were late from school and she could not find them, they had lost from each other on the way from school to home and my uncle was very upset because she was still at work and had to ask permission to come home and look for the children. And after this discussion with me she asked me: What should I do, dear, do you want me to quit my job? But the children will grow fast and then where can I find another job? I have no solutions for others, I couldn't give an answer, but I told her that if I were in her shoes, I could not live with the fear that my children are alone in a bus and any minute they can get harmed and even worse, it really happened to get lost and come home late. This is very dangerous!