Mailbag

The Mailbag: Husbands, pastors, and mentors- Which roles do they play in a Christian woman’s life?

 

I have three questions that are kind of related to each other:

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2?

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

Thank you for your help.

These are really awesome questions. I love it when women ask questions that demonstrate that they’re digging into Scripture and thinking deeply about the things of God. It’s so exciting to me!

(Before I begin answering, let me just stipulate, as I usually do in articles about marriage, that the following statements assume a normal, relatively healthy, average marriage, not abusive marriages, extremely aberrant marriages, etc. Also, it’s not my intent to leave out my single sisters, but the reader asked specifically about married women, so that’s how I’m answering the questions.)

So let’s take each question separately…

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2:3-5?

The first thing we need to do when we’re addressing questions like this is to look at each of these passages in context. This is a very simple study skill that will clear up nearly all instances of supposed contradictions in Scripture.

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. What is the venue for Paul’s instructions in this passage? In other words, is he telling people how to behave at home? At work? At the movies? Look at the key phrases in verses 26 (“when you come together”) and 28,33b-35 (“in church”). Paul is giving instructions for how an orderly worship service is to be conducted. He is not making a blanket statement that any time any woman wants to know anything about Scripture or God or life in general that the only person she can ever ask questions of is her husband. What he’s saying is that in order to avoid chaos in the worship service, women are to sit down and be quiet during the preaching and teaching, rather than interrupting to comment or ask questions (one of the reasons Paul says this is that the women in the Corinthian church were doing just that – interrupting the preaching and teaching with questions and comments). If you read further in chapter 14, you’ll notice he places similar restrictions on prophesying and speaking in other languages to prevent chaos and confusion during the worship service. I’ve discussed this passage in further detail in my article Rock Your Role ~ Order in His Courts: Silencing Women?

Now read Titus 2. What’s the main idea of this chapter? Is it the same as the main idea of 1 Corinthians 14 – instructions for an orderly worship service? No. Verse 12 gives a nice summary of chapter 2: “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” That’s what this chapter is about. “Titus, here’s what your church members (and you) are to do and how they’re to conduct themselves as they go about the business of living as Christians in this world and in community with one another.” The older women teaching and training the younger women in verses 3-5 is not taking place during the worship service, but as these women go about daily life with one another. Today, this kind of teaching and training takes place in women’s Bible study classes, women’s fellowship groups, and in one on one discipleship, not in, nor instead of, the gathering of the whole church for worship.

So as we can see when we examine the context of both passages, 1 Corinthians 14:35 and Titus 2:3-5 are not in conflict, they’re actually in harmony, addressing two distinct ways women are to conduct themselves in two completely different venues.

 

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

I don’t think it’s really that discrete and linear, i.e. the husband teaches this list of topics the wife needs to be taught about and the godly older woman teaches that list of topics she needs to be taught about, and never the twain shall meet. It’s a much more informal and “whatever is needful at the moment” type of thing. Additionally, it’s going to vary from marriage to marriage. Some women have unsaved husbands. Some women are newly saved with husbands who have been saved for decades. Some husbands and wives are very private about everything, some are very open to others. So the balance between who (husband or older woman mentor) teaches what, and how much, and when, is going to look different in every marriage.

I would just offer a few guidelines:

• After your relationship with Christ, if you’re married, your highest allegiance is to your husband. He should be your best friend and first confidant, not a woman who’s mentoring you (or even your mother, sister, or female best friend). He should never feel like he’s in competition for your time, interest, or affinity with the woman who’s mentoring you, or that you esteem her on the same (or, perish the thought, higher) level of loyalty or emotional intimacy with him. If you’ve gotten that close to your mentor, you’re too close. Turn your attention toward your husband.

• Along those same lines, always keep in mind that God instructs you to submit to your husband, not your mentor. The only time you should ever follow your mentor’s advice over your husband’s desires is if your husband is asking you to do something the Bible clearly calls sin and your mentor is advising you to obey Scripture instead. (But even in that case, you’re not really choosing your mentor over your husband, you’re choosing to obey God rather than to sin.)

• There are some things that are private between a husband and wife that shouldn’t be shared with anyone, including a mentor. Which things? Again, that’s going to vary from marriage to marriage, but a few no no’s might include the private details of your sex life, your finances, and anything your husband would be embarrassed for someone else to know. Talk with your husband and ask if there’s anything he would rather you didn’t share with your mentor.

 

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

It really depends on what you have in mind when you ask that question.

If you’re talking about personal decisions made between a husband and wife, let’s say, for instance, whether or not to move to a certain part of town or whether or not the wife should take a part time job, it is not the pastor’s place to step in and overrule the husband’s decision, nor should the pastor have any expectation that the couple would obey any edicts he issues. If the couple goes to him for counseling or asks for his advice, he can certainly give it, but we never see any place in Scripture where a pastor has authority over another family’s decisions. The husband is responsible before God for leading his family, not the pastor.

But if you’re talking about a situation in the church, then yes, a pastor’s (or the elders’) authority – assuming he’s abiding by Scripture – trumps a husband’s authority, and pretty much every other church member’s authority as well. For example, a husband does not have the authority to walk up to the pastor and say, “I’m going to let my wife preach the sermon next Sunday,” or “My wife is going to take over this Sunday School classroom and use it as her personal office.”. If a husband were to say something like that, the pastor is well within his authority as shepherd of the church to say, “Oh no she’s not.”. The buck stops with the pastor when it comes to how the church runs, and he is responsible before God for making godly decisions for the church.

I’m aware that there are aberrant, fringe “churches” (many of them are some stripe of New Apostolic Reformation or extreme legalism/fundamentalism) out there in which the “pastor” has ultimate authority over every decision a family makes: where they live, how many children they have, what to name their children, whether and where each spouse should work, etc. If you’re in a so-called church like that, leave immediately and find a doctrinally sound church to join. A church doesn’t plunge to that depth of spiritual abuse without succumbing to other dangerous false doctrines along the way.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 11- A Beautiful Wife

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Read These Selected Scriptures

Lesson 10 focused on our role as godly daughters. In lesson 11, we’ll be examining God’s design for women who are wives.

Questions to Consider

1. In lessons 2 and 3 (links above) we took a look at some of the attributes of a godly wife that we can emulate. Because Proverbs 31 mainly zeroes in on godly character, most of that passage easily applied to most women regardless of marital status. In today’s lesson, rather than attributes to emulate, we’ll be focusing on God’s instructions to obey for wives. Some of these instructions can also apply to unmarried women. Read over today’s passages and explain how unmarried women might apply some of these Scriptures. Why is it important for unmarried women to study passages about married women and vice versa?

2. Examine the Genesis 2 passage. What are the main points God is making about wives and marriage in this passage? What word does this passage use (18,20) to encapsulate a woman’s role in marriage? What does it mean for a woman to be a helper “fit for” or “corresponding to” her husband? Whom did God create first, man or woman? Second? Whom did God create to be the helper, man or woman? How do these two things point to and undergird male headship in marriage? Does the Genesis passage mean that all women have to marry or that the only purpose for which women were created was to be wives?

3. Look at the Ephesians and Colossians passages together. Explain how the relationship between husband and wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. Write a character sketch of a godly husband and a character sketch of a godly wife according to these passages. Why does God instruct husbands to “love” their wives, but wives to “respect” their husbands? (33) What is the difference, and why doesn’t God give the same instruction to husbands as to wives? What should motivate a wife to submit to her husband? Pretend you are discipling a newly married, newly saved woman who has never read these passages. How would you explain biblical submission to her? How is it “fitting in the Lord” (3:18) to submit to your husband?

4. Study the 1 Peter passage. In verse 1, what is the spiritual state (lost or saved?) of the wives Peter is addressing? The husbands? Imagine Peter wrote this part of his letter to answer a question he had been asked by some of the women of the church. What was the question they asked? Carefully examine the end of verse 1. Does this mean a wife should never share the gospel with her unsaved husband and that he can be saved simply by watching her good behavior? What does it mean? How is biblical submission an aspect of holiness? (5) Some women believe they only have to submit to their husbands if their husbands are saved or if their husbands are acting in a godly way. How does this passage answer that misconception?

What does “adorning” (3-4) mean? Why and how do women usually adorn themselves? How are godly women to adorn themselves? For whom? Why? Explain external adorning versus internal adorning. Which do you think is more winsome to your husband? Compare 3-4 with 1 Samuel 16:1-13. Which is more important to God, the external or internal? Why?

Explain what it means to have a “gentle and quiet spirit“. (4) Can a woman with an outgoing, vivacious personality still have a gentle and quiet spirit? How? How is your spirit different from your personality? How should a godly spirit inform a godly personality? Explain why a gentle and quiet spirit is beautiful and how that beauty is imperishable. Why is a gentle and quiet spirit precious in God’s sight?

5. Make a list, in your own words, of God’s instructions about a husband’s and wife’s sexual relationship found in the 1 Corinthians 7 passage. God considered these instructions important enough to include in the Bible. Why? How is the marriage bed a protection against sexual temptation and sin? (2) How does this passage teach and emphasize the mutuality of the sexual relationship? Is this mutuality limited to the bedroom, or does it extend to other aspects of marriage? Explain the terms “rights” (3) and “authority” (4) in the context of this passage. In our culture, we most often think of sex in terms of pleasure or recreation. Is pleasure or recreation the main concern of this passage? What adjective would you choose to describe the perspective of this passage toward sex?


Homework

Consider the concepts each of today’s passages addresses: the husband’s headship, the wife’s role as helper, respecting your husband, submitting to your husband, your marriage imaging the relationship between Christ and the church, witnessing to an unsaved husband, external adornment vs. internal adornment, the sexual relationship, etc. Pinpoint one aspect you need growth in. Repent of any sin in this area, and spend the next week praying that God will grow you to more Christlikeness in this area. You may even wish to memorize and meditate on a verse you found particularly helpful.


Suggested Memory Verse

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Ladies, we whine too much.

Like petulant little girls, we look at what’s off limits to us, stomp our Mary Janes on the floor and cry “Why can’t I? I want to!” instead of giddily jumping into all the opportunities God has blessed us with. Instead of being happy and thankful for what we have, our greedy little fingers stretch out to grasp what God has said we can’t have because it’s not good for us or anybody else.

God has instructed pastors – who are, in turn, to instruct us – that, in the gathered body of Believers, women are not to preach to men, instruct men in the Scriptures, or exercise authority over men. And that’s what we focus on, and whine and kick our feet about. That part – the childish rebellion and discontent with the role God has graciously placed us in – that’s on us.

But pastors, we badly need your help on this one. Many pastors do a wonderful job of rightly and biblically explaining what women are not to do (And may I take a moment to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know how difficult that can be and that you take a lot of undeserved flak for simply teaching God’s Word on this subject.), but that “no” teaching has often not been coupled with the “yes” teaching of what women must do and how they must lead in order for women, and the church, to be healthy and function properly.

You’ve loved us well to tell us not to bite at the apple from the forbidden tree, but we also desperately need you to take us on a tour of the Garden and introduce us to the all-you-can-eat buffet of pear and peach and cherry and pecan trees that we have the privilege and the responsibility to feast on.

🍊 The Other Institution 🍊

Did you ever notice that the “do” for women in the church comes before the “don’t”? We tend to totally skip over that enormous little word that kicks off 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn…”. We have no idea of, nor appreciation for, how huge and groundbreaking it was for the Holy Spirit, through Paul, to proactively instruct pastors: “Hey, get these women in here, make sure they listen up, and train them properly in the Scriptures so they’ll be equipped to fortify their homes with biblical truth.”

We completely miss the fact that, though God installs men as the teachers and leaders in one of His foundational institutions – the church – He has very much made women the functional, boots on the ground, day to day, teachers and leaders by example – of His other foundational institution – the family. The church didn’t even exist for the first few millennia of human history, but the family has existed since Creation. And people who are members of families populate and lead the church. Raising and molding those people is a tremendous position and responsibility. A position and responsibility God has largely given to women.

Wives pray for our husbands’ growth in Christ. We build them up with Scripture. With a gentle and quiet spirit, we set a godly example for them as they observe our respectful and pure conduct. We encourage and help them in their leadership roles at church.

Moms pray for our children’s salvation. We pour the gospel into them at every turn. We train up our children in the way that they should go – in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – so that when they are old they do not depart from it. We teach them to love and serve and invest in the church both directly and by modeling these things for them.

And our single, widowed, and childless sisters work right alongside us in this labor, praying for church leaders and members, nurturing children at church whose parents are unsaved or unequipped to raise them biblically, encouraging and assisting brothers and sisters in Christ.

We grow and develop, nourish and support, exhort and sharpen the population of the body of Christ.

Men may lead the church, but women raise the church.

🍐 Woman to Woman 🍐

Essential to the health of any church is the component of women training women, whether in the formal setting of a Bible study class and structured women’s ministry programs or an impromptu “let’s get together for coffee this week” discipleship discussion.

Though we receive instruction in Scripture from our pastors, elders, and teachers, there are some counseling and teaching situations it’s not appropriate for a man to address with a woman, or that a woman understands better than a man. There are issues women face that men just don’t “get” in the same way a sister in Christ does. There are insights and perspectives a woman can use to explain Scripture to another woman that a man just doesn’t have. There are times when a woman needs someone to walk through a long term emotional journey with her that requires a personal intimacy which would be inappropriate for a man to engage in with her. And in the same way men are better equipped than women to train men to be godly husbands, fathers, and church members, women are better equipped than men to train women to be godly wives, mothers, and church members.

God knew all of this back when He breathed out the words of Titus 2:3-5…

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

…and, again, 1 Timothy 2:11:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Women must be trained properly in the Scriptures so we can take that training and pour it into other women, teaching and sharpening them into godly women, wives, mothers, and church members.

🍑 Super Models 🍑

Women instruct our brothers and sisters in the church in biblical truth when we lead by example. When we sin against someone, we go to that person and ask forgiveness. We demonstrate the importance of meeting together with the Body by being faithful in our church and Sunday School attendance. We model servanthood by serving the church and our brothers and sisters. We paint a picture of biblical compassion by ministering to the sick and others in need. We show Christians how to carry out the Great Commission by sharing the gospel. We set an example of trusting God when others see us depending on Him through difficult situations.

And one of the most important biblical concepts women have the privilege and responsibility of teaching the church through our example is submission to authority – a lesson the church is sorely in need of these days.

Because God blessed us by creating us as women, we have an opportunity to model submission to authority in a unique way that God has chosen to deny to men.

As we submit to our husbands, we teach the church what it means to submit to Christ. How to walk in humility and obey Him out of love. How to put selfishness aside. To trust Him to take care of us. To deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

When we submit to God’s design for leadership in the church and joyfully carry out the work He has planned for us as godly women, we teach the church to submit to God’s authority and love Him by obeying His commands. We instruct our fellow church members in respecting and submitting to the pastors and elders God has placed in spiritual authority over us.

Submission to Christ, to God’s commands, and to pastors and elders is the bedrock of a healthy church. God has graciously given women the role – and the duty – of teaching these and other biblical principles to our churches in a way that men cannot -through our example as godly women.

 

Remember the series of fun little nutritional books that came out several years ago called Eat This, Not That? The idea the books centered around was, “Don’t eat that unhealthy thing. Eat this similar but healthy thing instead.”

Sadly, many Christian women have only been getting half the story. “Not that” (preaching to/teaching men and exercising authority over men) is biblically correct, but it’s not biblically complete. If all you tell someone is “Don’t eat that,” without showing her the “Eat this,” part, what she needs to eat to be healthy, she’s going to starve, and the church will be malnourished as well.

Christian women need our pastors to teach us to eat the fat of the land of being properly trained in the Scriptures and drink the sweet wine of leading and instructing the church the way God gifts us and requires us to. Only then will the Body be healthy and well nourished.

Mailbag, Marriage

The Mailbag: I “feel led” in a different direction from my husband.

 

My husband and I recently moved to a new state. After living here a few months, I ‘m not sure this is where God wants us. At the time of our move, my husband had another opportunity for us to go to a different state than the one we just moved to. In prayer and reading God’s word I think we should’ve gone to that state instead. That opportunity is still open, and I feel led to go. I’ve prayed and asked God and still feel led. I’m so confused. I am starting to feel like my husband is a hindrance in my following God’s will. He is supposed to be the leader of the family but he’s not a godly leader. I am a Christian woman who is trying to follow what I think God is leading me to do.  My problem is I have a husband who isn’t in God’s word, nor trying to be, and he says no. 

One of the most stressful situations in a marriage is when your spouse is an unbeliever, one spouse is much more spiritually mature than the other, or there are major differences on theological issues between spouses. I know this is difficult, but I hope I’ll be able to point you in a helpful direction.

It’s good that you’re reading your Bible and praying as you seek God’s direction. I’m not sure (but am very curious) as to which Bible passage you might have read that leads you to believe you moved to the wrong state. I can’t think of one that addresses that issue because the Bible is not personally specific in that way. It gives us wisdom and godly instruction and principles which God wants us to use to make wise choices, but there aren’t any verses that say things like, “You should have moved to the other state,” “Marry Bob, not Fred,” or “Buy the minivan instead of the convertible.”

You say, “I am a Christian woman who is trying to follow what I think God is leading me to do.” That’s great! That’s always the attitude of heart we should have. And the first thing we need to understand is that God leads us through His sufficient and authoritative Word. That means, when we have a decision to make, we don’t go by subjective feelings and impressions, we go to God’s written word and make sure we’re obeying everything it says about our situation.

The good news about your situation is that God spells out His will for you very clearly in Scripture. If you really mean what you say about wanting to do God’s will and follow what He’s leading you to do rather than doing what you want to do and calling that God’s will, here it is:

God is leading you to submit to your husband:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24 (emphasis mine)

Unless your husband is abusing¹ you or encouraging you to do something sinful, God’s will is for you to graciously submit to his decisions. Denying your request to move to another state may not make you happy, but it does not qualify as abuse or sin. Notice, this passage says wives are to submit “in everything,” not just the decisions we agree with. The remainder of this passage goes on to instruct men about how they’re to treat their wives in a godly way, but it does not say that wives only have to submit to their husbands if their husbands are godly or “in the Word.”

God is leading you to conduct yourself respectfully:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 1 Peter 3:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Sometimes when we ladies want something from our husbands, we can be like a dog with a bone, talking them to death about it (Dare I say, nagging?). While husbands and wives should talk through major issues and decisions together, if you’ve calmly, lovingly, and respectfully offered your husband your input and he has made his decision, you need to stop trying to convince him to do it your way. Let it go, Elsa. Behave and speak with love, grace, and kindness toward your husband as you move on with life in your marriage. You may not win him over to your opinion, but that’s not your ultimate goal. Your goal – as you mentioned in your e-mail – is for him to be godly and in the Word. Your behavior and demeanor can help win him to godliness.

God is leading you to be content:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11b-13

If anyone knew what it was like to bear up under unpleasant circumstances and find his contentment in Christ rather than in temporal happiness, it was Paul. Paul had learned the secret to maintaining his contentment no matter what: the strength only Christ can provide. Christ can enable you to be content in this circumstance of your life, too. Just keep your focus on Him and ask Him to strengthen you.

God is leading you to pray for His will to be done and to trust Him for the outcome.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (emphasis mine)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (emphasis mine)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.” At Gethsemane, He demonstrated it for us. God did not change Jesus’ circumstances, because it was His will for Jesus to be crucified. But Jesus trusted God to do what was right and best, and He obeyed and glorified His Father to His last breath.

Are you praying for God’s will to be done in your situation, or your will? Keep in mind that God is sovereign. If it were His will for you to be in another state right now, that’s where you would be. Nobody can thwart God’s will. Have you ever considered the possibility that it’s not that your husband is a “hindrance in following God’s will” but that it was God’s will for you to be living in this state and that He caused or allowed your husband to move you there because that’s what He wants? Ask God to do His will in your situation, obey Him no matter the cost, and trust Him for the outcome.

Finally, I’d like to address something you mentioned in your e-mail that you didn’t seem to think was connected to your main question. Actually, it is. You said that you found my blog while searching for one of the false teachers I warn against. If you’ve been sitting under the teaching of the woman you mentioned, or these teachers, or any other teachers who don’t properly handle and teach God’s word, that is a large part of your confusion about your situation. These teachers do not correctly teach people how to study, understand, and apply God’s word to their lives.

You’ve been taught to “feel led” to do things that are in conflict with God’s word. God leads us and speaks to us through Scripture, and it is Scripture alone that we are to go to and depend on to live a godly life and make wise decisions, not our feelings, opinions, and experiences. Unfortunately, teachers like the one you mentioned often lead their hearers to attempt to interpret subjective feelings, ideas, impressions, and circumstances as “God’s will” rather than seeking what God has already revealed to be His will in His written Word. I would encourage you to put away the pre-packaged “Bible” studies, simply pick up your Bible, study it, and obey it.


¹Physical abuse. A husband’s decision not to bow to his wife’s wishes in a situation like this does not constitute abuse. Any wife who is being physically abused should get to safety and get help.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Marriage, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Marriage: It’s My Pity Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To ~ 7 Ways to Take Your Focus Off Yourself and Put it Back on Christ

Originally published November 5, 2014

PicsArt_1463438208240

Let’s face it, Ladies, there are days when even the best of marriages* are just plain tough. Hubby’s in a bad mood and snaps at you. There’s no money in the budget for that thing you really want to buy. You’re feeling overworked, underappreciated, and beyond stressed. It can be all too easy to haul out the party hats and confetti, hunker down in the corner, and throw yourself one big “woe is me” bash. Have you ever stopped to think about whether or not it’s biblical to feel sorry for ourselves? Believe it or not, there’s not a single passage of Scripture that says it’s OK. So what does the Bible say about how to handle those times in our marriages when we want to indulge in self pity? Let’s find out.

1. Have the mind of Christ

But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

be conformed to the image of his Son, Romans 8:29

As Christians, Christ is to be the master of everything we are, not just our actions, but our thoughts and feelings as well. We are to act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus, and even feel like Jesus. Punished and executed for sins He did not commit, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”(Isaiah 53:3) Jesus had much more reason than you or I to feel sorry for Himself, but did He? Then, should we?

2. Have the attitude of Christ

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, Philippians 2:5-6

When we follow Christ, we adopt the same attitude towards others He had. Jesus was prepared for the fact that people He loved and served, even those closest to Him, would let Him down. Still, He loved them and forgave them. Your husband is a broken, sinful human being (just like you). He’s going to mess up. A lot (just like you). Being prepared for, and accepting, that fact (along with a healthy understanding of how many times you’re going to let him down) can help put things into perspective.

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7

Jesus put aside all of His rights to be served and esteemed and, instead, focused on serving others, even those who didn’t deserve it and were ungrateful. Instead of retreating into hurt the next time your husband blows it, what if you took a deep breath, put your rights aside, and did something to lovingly serve him?

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8

Jesus humbled Himself. He was so focused on obedience to God that He gladly gave up His life for people who hated Him. Often, our obedience only takes us to the edge of where we’re comfortable. What kind of impact would it have on your marriage if you had the same level of humility and obedience Christ had? How could that humility and obedience to Christ help ward off self pity?

3. Give thanks

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It is not God’s will for you to feel sorry for yourself. It is God’s will for you to give thanks in all circumstances, including a lousy day in your marriage. If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for, tell that to God, and ask Him to show you things about your husband that you can thank Him for. Even if you have to start with the small things (Does he have good breath? Tie his shoes neatly? Floss semi-weekly?), start somewhere. You’ll be amazed at the way your perspective shifts from the negative to the positive as you thank God for your husband’s good qualities.

4. Be content

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11

Whatever situation. Ever read about Paul’s little “whatever situations”? You can find some of them in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. I’m guessing you’ve never been shipwrecked or stoned, not to mention all the other things on his list, which, by the way, Paul wrote while he was in prison. Yet he said he had learned to be content. How? Paul found his contentment, not in his circumstances, but in Christ. Jerry McGuire not witstanding, your husband does not, will not, and cannot “complete you.” Only Christ can satisfy the deepest needs of your heart. When you lay hold of that, you will find true contentment. Your husband will let you down. Christ never will.

5. Rejoice in suffering

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-4

God wants to do something greater in you than just make you feel better in the moment. He has long range plans to grow you in endurance, character, and hope. That’s great news, and certainly cause for joy. So instead of directing your gaze inward, look down the road to where you’re more mature in Christ, and rejoice. God is at work on your heart. (And P.S.- Rejoicing will make you feel better in the moment, too. Pitying yourself will only make you feel worse.)

6. Put yourself aside and put your husband first

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

There’s that H-word again. Humility. When I read this passage, I think back to the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The One to whom every knee will one day bow got down on His hands and knees and took on the disgusting task that normally fell to the lowest, least talented servant. If the God of the universe could put ahead of Himself these men whom He personally knit together in the womb, who would, in mere hours, deny and desert Him at the darkest time of His life, is He asking too much of us to put our husbands ahead of our hurt feelings?

7. Change your husband by changing your behavior

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2

It seems counterintuitive. “Is your husband being an ungodly jerk? Don’t nag him or pout about it; submit to him with respectful and pure conduct.” The world would call this weakness and say you’re being a doormat. Quite the contrary. If you’ve ever tried putting this passage into practice, you know just how much strength it takes to do the godly thing when everything in you wants to strike back or retreat in self pity. To realize that, regardless of how your husband acts, you are responsible to God to do what is right in His eyes. But God’s word is full of paradoxes and counterintuitives. The question is, do we believe God when He says this is the way to win our husbands to godliness, and do we trust Him enough to obey His word?

Being a Christian wife pursuing growth in godliness is tough. It can seem impossible to forge ahead in obedience to Christ on those difficult days in your marriage when all you really want to do is retreat into that corner and whimper. But you have a Savior who understands your weaknesses,  loves and cares for you deeply,  and promises to give you the strength you need to do anything He calls you to.

Even the strength to take off the hat, sweep up the confetti, and say, “The party’s over.”


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.