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

Mailbag

The Mailbag: I’m a female executive in the workplace. Is this OK with God?

 

Women executives and managers in the secular workplace…. I have been battling this and feel I should no longer have the position. My husband is not quite in agreement. I want to honour God. I have been in upper level management since I was 25 years old- 33 years…. About two years ago God started to deal with me here. I do not have a peace.

I’m a tad bit unclear on your question. I’m not sure whether you’re asking if you should be working outside the home at all or if you’re thinking you shouldn’t be working in an executive/management position because it places you in authority over men.

If it’s the former, the short answer is that God’s design is for a wife and mother’s primary focus to be caring for her family and her home. There are seasons in life (for example: before you have children, after they’re grown and have left the home, etc.) in which a woman can do that just fine while holding down a part-time or full-time job, and there are seasons in life in which working outside the home would cause a woman to neglect her primary responsibility of home and family (and sometimes there are emergency situations in which a woman has no choice but to work outside the home).

If your question is whether or not you should work at all, you and your husband will need to sit down, consider all the factors, pray over it, and try to reach a consensus. If you cannot, Scripture is clear that you are to submit to his final decision on the matter.

But I’m guessing your question is the latter: “Is it biblically permissible for a woman to hold a position of authority over men in the workplace?”

Technically, the answer to that question is yes. (Unless, of course, your workplace is a church and it’s a 1 Timothy 2:12 situation.) Scripture does not prohibit women from holding positions of secular authority over men in the workplace, politics, volunteer or civic positions, etc. What the Bible forbids is women preaching to, teaching Scripture to, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers (the church). This command does not apply to non-church gatherings, events, or positions. (Click here for more detailed information.)

However, it’s a little more nuanced than a simple “yes, you can” or “no, you can’t”.

One of the reasons Scripture doesn’t address the issue of women holding positions of authority over men in the workplace is that this wasn’t an issue in the culture and time when Scripture was breathed out by God. Generally speaking, women of the Bible weren’t career women. At that time and in that culture, a woman’s “career” was wife and mother.

We do see women like the Proverbs 31 wife and Lydia earning money from their work, but it was an extension of their work in the home as wives and mothers (Also, in Lydia’s case, her work is mentioned before her conversion. We don’t know whether or not she continued her sales business after she got saved.) They weren’t leaving the home every day to go work in someone else’s business.

The point is, the mere fact Scripture doesn’t address a particular scenario doesn’t give us blanket permission to do whatever we want about it, nor does it mean the Bible blanketly prohibits something. We have to look further.

When Christians make decisions, we always make them by correctly handling and applying Scripture. The first thing we look at is clear cut commands and biblical principles. For example, if you were looking for a job and there was an opening for a stripper or an abortion doctor, or a job that required you to lie, or a job that said you couldn’t (even in your off time) read your Bible or share the gospel, you would know right off the bat that those jobs violate clear commands and principles of Scripture.

So the first thing you’ll want to do in your situation is sit down and think about any clear commands of Scripture or broader biblical principles that apply to your situation. Scripture does not prohibit you from working in a supervisory position over men, but it does command you to submit to your husband and to live peaceably with others (including him) as far as it depends on you.

If, “My husband is not quite in agreement,” means the two of you need to talk about this issue more, then by all means, keep discussing it until a decision is reached. (It might even be helpful to set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling.) But, if it means he has stated that he wants you to continue in your position (and your job does not cause or require you to sin), you need to respect and submit to his decision. You can certainly keep praying about the situation in your personal time with the Lord. You can also revisit the issue if the situation changes (ex: an opportunity to work from home arises, you’re offered a better job or early retirement, etc.). But today, joyfully and graciously submit to your husband.

The next thing Christians need to consider when making a decision is, “Is it wise? Is it helpful?” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Both of these verses are written in the context of setting aside your personal rights to do something non-sinful for Christ’s higher calling to serve or do good to your neighbor. And remember, your husband and family are your closest neighbors.

Ask yourself some probing questions. Will this non-sinful thing I want to do, and have a right to do, make it more difficult for me to share the gospel with someone? Is it best for my family? Will it be good in the short term, but detrimental in the long term? Is it wise stewardship of the blessings, resources, and positions of influence God has given me? Will it create unnecessary strife in my marriage? Could denying myself the right to do this thing be more impactful for the Kingdom than doing it?

Has the desire to do this non-sinful thing become an obsession you can’t let go of? Repent and determine in your heart not to be dominated by it.

One of the “wisdom questions” you and your husband might want to ponder in your situation is, “Is it difficult for me to transition from being the boss of men at work to submitting to a man at home?”. If your job is tempting you to sin against your husband or making it more difficult to obey Scripture’s command to submit to him, that’s a weighty factor to consider.

You might have noticed that I have not said anything about the necessity of “having a peace” about whatever decision you and/or your husband have reached. That’s because there’s nothing in the Bible about a peaceful easy feeling being a sign that you’ve made a godly decision. Feelings are subjective (and often deceitful and wicked). We can’t depend on them to lead us in a godly direction. Scripture is objective. We can always depend on Scripture to steer us right, regardless of our feelings.

So dig through Scripture with your husband, pray together about the situation, get some wise counsel from your pastor or other mature believers, and come to a mutual conclusion if at all possible. But in the end, make sure you’re submitting first to Christ and His Word, and second, to your husband.


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.

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.