Hot Potato for Wives
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."1
A Daily Encounter reader asks, "What is a wife to do when her husband doesn't follow God's plan?"
First, a lot depends on what kind of husband we are talking about.
For example, if a husband is an alcoholic, on drugs, or abusive to either the wife or the children, then tough love is needed. I mean real tough. If he refuses to get help, then the wife should tell him she will have to distance herself and the children from him until he admits his problem, is genuinely repentant, and gets into recovery and genuinely committed to overcoming his problem. If he is physically abusive, she needs to report him to the authorities and remove herself and the children immediately.
She also needs to be courageously honest with herself, examine her own heart, and ask God to reveal to her anything she may be contributing to the predicament she is in. Wives who are caretakers (codependent) need to be needed in order to feel loved. And this of course isn't love. It's need. In this case, she too needs to be in recovery to work through her character issues.
If the husband wants his wife to participate in things that are illegal, immoral, wrong or sinful, then she should definitely take a stand and not go along with him.
On the other hand, if the husband is loving, kind, warm, and accepting (as many non-Christians can be), but hasn't accepted the Lord as his Savior, and doesn't want to go to church, then the wife needs to love and respect him in return. And hopefully, he will allow her to go to church. But if he doesn't, what should the wife do? First she needs to examine her options. Perhaps she could go to a woman's fellowship group in the day time if she is able to, or to an evening group if this is possible. And at least she needs to be able to meet with at least one or two other Christian ladies for the loving Christian support and fellowship she needs. The church is not the building. It's where two or three meet together in the Lord's name. There He is in their midst.2 If the husband is a control freak and won't allow her to do one of these, then both of them need to go for marriage counseling.
The wife needs to be growing towards wholeness herself; pray every day for wisdom, guidance, understanding, love, kindness and patience; and pray earnestly for her husband. Every day she needs to commit and trust herself and him to the Lord, and above all ask God to help her to be as Christ to him always in all ways, and pray that he, seeing Christ and his love in her, will want the same for himself.
The same principles apply if the wife isn't a Christian and the husband is.
Suggested prayer, "Dear God, no matter what situation I am in, please give me the courage to face whatever it is that I am contributing to the problem, and help me to change. Give me the wisdom to know what the right thing to do is, and the courage to do it no matter how painful it may be. And help me always to be as Christ to my husband (or wife) and children so that they seeing you in me will want you as their Savior as well. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Ephesians 5:21-22 (KJV).
2. Matthew 18:20 (NASB).