Well, I have put off writing something on this chapter of Hughes’ book for long enough. I wrote a rather lengthy post on Chapter 10, “The Discipline of the Church” about two weeks ago. Chapter 11 is titled, “The Discipline of Singleness.” Being that my time of singleness consisted of about 4 months in college, I have no basis from which to speak about living as a single woman. That is why I’m skipping it in this blogging adventure. So, today I present my thoughts on Chapter 12.
I never considered marriage a discipline before reading this book. And I guess the point Hughes tries to make in each chapter is that we must submit every aspect of our lives to the gospel. We must discipline our lives around, under, and through the gospel, for the sake of the gospel, if we desire to live as godly women. In this chapter on marriage, she is telling me that I must discipline myself within marriage. I must fall under the discipline of obeying the gospel in my marriage. She says,
“But Christian women who accept the challenge of bringing every area of life under the discipline of the Gospel must be prepared to look to God’s Word for their standards for marital success. The discipline of marriage requires holiness, and God’s plans for a woman’s role in marriage must be unchanging.”
Hughes relates the story of her parents’ marriage as an illustration of marital success. You have to read the book to get the whole story, so let me just say it was waaaay less than perfect. Ask any woman today to endure what Barbara Hughes’ mother endured WITH JOY and you’ll hear a big, “NO WAY!” I think one reason you won’t find many women, even Christian ones, willing to stay married when the going gets tough is because a divorce is so easy to get these days. Second, the social mores surrounding divorce are more favorable than they were just twenty years ago. Third, the pervasive idea that we all have certain “rights” gives many the impetus they need to stand for those rights, throwing away their families.
I know a family who has been trying to divorce for the last two years. The wife of this marriage fell in with the wrong group of ladies at her place of work. She and these women made a pact. They promised one another that they would do a few things within a certain period of time. One of those things was get a divorce. I was shocked to hear that this divorce is largely the result of a silly pact. What about a covenant made before God?! One word of wisdom in this story: don’t encourage your friends to speak badly of their husbands and don’t say evil things about your husband to others!
My parents divorced twenty years ago. At the time, I knew one other woman who had divorced her husband. Not coincidentally, she was one of mom’s best friends. My parents’ divorce was mostly about being selfish. Neither one wanted to submit to the other. They still haven’t “gotten over” one another. Barely scratch Mom’s surface, and she’s still a spitting, volcanic rage! Dad still calls Mom “his wife.” He says, “We said ’til death do you part.'” Well, that doesn’t keep him from dating any available woman he can find. I was the only kid in my class whose parents were divorced. That was kind of weird. That is no longer the case today. Being the kid whose parents are still married is weird these days.
One aspect of Hughes’ mother’s story that intrigued me is that she never allowed the children to say anything negative about their father. She encouraged respect and honor for him no matter what. I thought as I read this, “why?” I thought, what respect does he deserve? I think the point Hughes is trying to make is that the husband and father are to be respected whether we think he deserves it or not, because the Bible says, “Children honor your father and your mother” and “the wife must respect her husband.”
This chapter has much to say about being the helper God designed women to be, the gentle and quiet spirit, and trusting God. But I had one question after reading. It seemed to me like Hughes advocates staying married no matter what. I started to wonder about that woman who is beaten and abused by her husband. Would Hughes advise abused wives to stay married, trust God, and suffer like a good soldier? I wonder.
This is one of the best chapters in the book. One I need to read a couple of more times. The last section of the chapter is called “A Goal for Life as a Wife.” Understanding the truth in this paragraph is crucial:
“When Eve was tempted, she wanted what God in His goodness had not given her. Things haven’t changed. Sometimes I desire an easier, quieter life. At times I long to be free from other people’s problems. And I despair at the constant bombardment of voices telling me I should pursue personal power and prestige. I know such thinking is foolish. A wise woman once told me that today’s woman in search of equality often overlooks the one thing she needs most–an equality of commitment to know God and to obey His voice. The fact is, if she shares this commitment with her husband, or even, as my mother did for many years, holds it alone, she has the crucial ingredient for a fulfilling and joyous life.”
I have many more thoughts to share regarding marriage, but this post is getting longer by the minute and the kids are getting up. I’ll post more this weekend or on Monday. I haven’t done this before, but I’m issuing a challenge: do something special to bless your husband today. It can be as simple as welcoming him home with a big ol‘ slobbery kiss or doing his laundry (that may not be special). You decide. Then, do it. And if you’re feeling like hating your husband today (believe me, I know how that feels), repent and ask for God’s help. One of His greatest joys is giving grace and strength to His children who desire to obey Him. As John Piper wrote in Future Grace, “I get the help, He gets the glory!” Then, bless your husband because that is God’s will for wives for the glory of Jesus.
*Update: I found an awesome challenge to help me work on this particular discipline. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge that I am working through this month. It is extremely helpful. It is helping me be intentional about blessing my husband EVERY day.