What is a Godly Marriage? | The Roles of a Godly Husband and Wife

Part 2 of 7: Today we are continuing with our seven part series titled, What is a Godly Marriage? If you missed the introduction to this series, please take a moment to click here and read it. Chapter one can be viewed here. Today's second chapter is titled, "The Roles of a Godly Husband and Wife". Please keep in mind that this is an outline for the Christian home and each family will find different strategies that work well for them within these guidelines that are clearly stated in the Bible. Enjoy! [Amy]

CHAPTER 2 | The Roles of a Godly Husband and Wife 

We all hear the “husbands, love your wives” and “wives, submit to your husbands” speech all of the time. So much so, that there are so many Christian couples that are confused as to what exactly those verses throughout the Bible truly mean – especially when it comes to submission.

Here’s something mind blowing,
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NIV

Say what?! I thought it was just “Wives, submit” not, “submit to one another”. In all actuality, submission is a two way street in marriage. The submission that Paul speaks about in Ephesians is twofold – one geared toward both, husband and wife – to serve one another in their marriage. The next is directed towards wives, specifically. The submission that Paul directs toward wives is completely different than that directed at the married couple in Ephesians 5:21, yet completely the same.  Confusing, isn’t it?

For the sake of simplicity, let’s break down the roles of a Christian husband and wife.

The Role of a Godly Husband
The Bible clearly states what the role of a husband is; not only in one chapter or verse, but throughout the Bible, displayed in the Godly character of the brave men (and husbands) who were, and still are, an example to many. Perhaps one of the most popular excerpts from the Bible is Ephesians 5:25-30 where it says,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body.”

In just a few verses, Paul lays it all out for husbands. A husband is to unconditionally love his wife, because this is how Christ loves His church. Love is patient, it is kind, it doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, isn’t proud, doesn’t dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). The husband is to be a mirror image of Christ to his wife and family. This also means he should be willing to serve his wife and children. If your wife asks you to take the trash out, your unconditional love and submission for her should give you the desire and want to serve her. This does not mean that you are to do all of the household chores, but it does mean that you can serve her in the little things as she serves you in the large role that she plays in your household.

Husbands are to cleanse their wives by “washing with water through the word”, meaning, they should humbly encourage their wives to have a daily relationship with the Lord and fervently  read the word of God. A husband should feed and care for his wife. Husbands should be providers for their wife and household, bringing in enough income to take care of his household’s needs; taking care of his wife as if she were himself. After all, we are one in the Lord once we are joined together in marriage (
Mark 10:6-9). A husband is the leader of his household; finalizing decisions for his family, finances and daily life –  A husband is to be the protector of his wife and children (physically, emotionally and spiritually), correcting and eliminating anything that might try to tear his family apart (things that stress finances, sinful desires, worldly influence in his household).

Husbands are to be strong and courageous; however, they are not to be dictators and ‘fathers’ to their wives (Colossians 3:19). Countless times I have heard, “I feel like I live with my father instead of my husband”, and that is so unfortunate. Husbands are to be companions and the team leader, not a dictator or personal government. Husbands and wives should make every decision together, and wives should certainly include their husband on the little decisions; however, the husband should have the final say should it be something that could affect his family or marriage (or is not beneficial to his family, even the little things). A husband is to show grace and mercy to his wife, even if she does not show grace and mercy to him. With that said, the husband is the leader of his household and he should be respected as such. He has the power to correct; humbly and in love. A husband should be his wife’s strong arms and shoulder to lean on.

The Role of a Godly Wife

As with husbands, the Bible also clearly states what the role of a wife is; though I feel as though we have to dive a little deeper than we did with husbands. There are so many strong and independent women in the Bible, so we as women naturally love reading about them and mimicking their character. While we are to be strong and fearless, not clingy and needy; we are also called to be the tender companion and help mate to our husband. Women play such a large role in Godly marriages, as they run the entire household on a daily basis.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV

Submission is one of the things that we, as wives, have great conflict with. It is one of the main things in a marriage that causes strife and heartache when trying to be that Proverbs 31 woman. I once heard that submission is to know and understand the power that you have, yet choose not to use it to its fullest extent. Why? Because it is not your Godly role or place to do so in your marriage. With that said, it is completely ok to be independent and strong, hardworking and diligent. But always be these things humbly and gently. It is also ok to use that power and boldness to its fullest extent when faced with a situation that could potentially put your family in great danger.

Therefore, wives are to be submissive to their husbands. Wives are to allow their husband to be the head of their household. A wife is not to be judgmental or belittling of her husband’s decisions. They are to humbly encourage their husband and cheer him on. Think of yourself has your husband’s personal cheerleader. However, if you have concerns about your husband’s decision, by all means, express that concern to him in a gentle and loving way. A wife should be full of respect for her husband and show it, even when she does not feel like giving respect to him. Just as a husband should unconditionally love his wife, a wife should unconditionally love her husband; respect follows closely behind.

Proverbs 31 is an amazing example and guideline for Godly wives. Please keep in mind that the Proverbs are tidbits of wisdom, they are not promises. However, they are words that should be heard and applied wisely, as much as possible. In Proverbs 31 we really see what the Christ like role of a wife is. She is to take care of her household; to be serving to her husband and children. Waking early in the morning and going to bed late in the evening if that’s what it takes to get all of her chores done. It is often stated that wives had servants back then to do chores for/with them. My response to that is that we, too, have modern day servants for our household chores; they’re called the washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher and the vacuum.

A wife should mirror the image of Christ to her husband and children. She should set an example and lead by it. A wife should be frugal in spending and always helping to provide and save for her family in her weekly expenses and investments; such as groceries, clothes, materials, as well as weekly “extras” that may not be a necessity. A wife should own her role as homemaker and teacher; she should take pride in her work, as it is not for the faint of heart. Please keep in mind that a wife is the manager of the household while her husband is the CEO; so her job description can be quite a bit longer!

A wife should have a gentle and quiet spirit,

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1 Peter 3:1-4 NIV 

The world says that women, especially wives, should be tough and independent. The “you won’t walk all over me, I wear the pants in this house” mentality has over taken our society and it is quite sickening, to say the least. Wives are biblically commanded to have a gentle and quiet spirit. Of course you shouldn’t be walked on; however, as a Godly wife you need to remember that you are your husband’s right hand, not his leader and certainly not his mother. While wives complain about husbands acting like their fathers, there are also plenty of husbands complaining about wives acting like their mothers. Wives are to be loving, nurturing, caring, kind, gentle and of quiet spirit. This is not only beneficial to their marriage, but also to her children who are watching her example. In the long run, it is also beneficial to the wife. As she practices being gentle and having a quiet spirit in her own household, it will spill over into other areas of her life. Wives are not to be demanding, needy and bossy.

The Debate of the Working Wife
We often hear the debate on whether women should work outside of the home or simply be homemakers or work from home wives/mothers. In Proverbs 31 we see that the wife’s first priority is her household. She tends to her husband and children’s needs first. This may include daily chores such as laundry and dishes, and then things such as homeschooling and teaching her children (if she has been blessed with children). Once her chores and tasks are completed in her home, she makes wise business decisions and “works” inside and outside of the home if she feels the need to. Is it a requirement to work? Absolutely not. Is it a requirement not to work? Absolutely not. However, all work that is done by the Godly wife should be done to benefit her family. It should not be done as a way to live above her means or to support her unnecessary luxurious lifestyle. Working outside of the home should never be a way to “get away” from your children or to have someone else raise your children. You have a responsibility as a parent – your children and household are your priority.

Unfortunately, our society and economy require many households to have 2 working spouses. We also all make unwise financial decisions that get us into the predicaments that we are in; maybe we have multiple car payments, credit card debt or an extremely high mortgage that requires both spouses to work. Is it a bad thing that both husband and wife have to work? No, it is a requirement (at the moment) to provide for your family. However, it can be unnecessary and added stress on a wife, who’s main ‘job’ is to be a wife, mother (if blessed with children) and homemaker. These things will have to wait and be done when she gets home from work, which can cause lack of motivation, stress, and other unnecessary emotions. She is, essentially, coming home to a second full time job, if she is to be expected to take care of her household properly. This does not mean, however, that wives should complain or put their families in financial jeopardy in order to stay home.

If being a stay at home or work from home wife/mother is your goal, then by all means you need to pursue it. There are plenty of things that a wife can do to work from home or to reach her goal of being a stay at home mother. Many work from home jobs allow you to make your own hours and times that you work. If you have a hobby or passion such as sewing, writing or baking, pursue that as your work from home job. It will allow you to do the thing that you love on your own time, after taking care of your household. If you don’t think you can take that leap of faith to work from home or quit your job, then start by making large sacrifices, such as getting rid of cable or satellite in exchange for streaming movies and tv shows through your internet or DVD player. Or, simply getting rid of TV altogether (other than DVDs and homeschool videos). There are so many things that we can change, financially, that can help us pay off debt or allow us to provide for our families, just by saving money that was being spent frivolously.

If you want a career “just because”, then by all means, speak diligently with your husband about it and make the decision together. However, never forget that your priorities are first your husband, children and household. These things should be taken care of first and foremost.

The Role of Marriage
While both husband and wife have individual roles, we are also called to be submissive to one another and to set a Godly example as one in Christ. Godly marriage is one of the biggest influences we, as Christians, have on the world. With divorce rates soaring and marriage rates steadily declining, we are quickly losing God’s design for marriage and family. We are to rebel against the statistics and be what God has called us to be.

When there is discord inside of your marriage about the proper roles of a husband and wife, it is easily seen by others on the outside – especially non-believers.  Our roles are clearly laid out for us in the word of the Lord, we simply need to practice self-control and discipline in these things to efficiently apply Godly marriage roles to our lives.

Remember, there should not be a point in time where either husband or wife dictates one another. Marriage is first and foremost a team. You are one in the Lord and should act accordingly. However, we also have individual roles that we should assume. When we understand and assume our individual role as a husband or wife, even if our spouse does not, we influence our spouse and others around us. When we make the change in ourselves, we influence our spouse to be a better husband or wife as well. When both husband and wife start assuming their proper Godly roles, they will see their marriage begin to run like a well-oiled machine. 


Check back often to this main post for links to the other posts in this series. This series will be updated weekly, if not twice a week.