The Wife’s Role

This week’s discussion of The Excellent Wife focuses on chapter 6, “A Wife’s Understanding of Her Role, God’s Perfect Plan.”

1. Men and women are created in the image of God.
One way we can bear His image is by fulfilling the tasks He has given us. Martha Peace does not give much explanation other than one or two scriptures, Genesis 1:26 and 1 Corinthians 10:31. Because God is our Creator, we are accountable to Him for our the way we live our lives.

2. In the order of creation, man was created first.
Men and women are equal in essence, however, we were created in an order that dictates how God wants us to live. Man was created first, and this impacts our roles as husbands and wives. The woman was created to be a helper for the man.

3. Woman was created for the man, not man for the woman.
Peace explains with 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 (NASB), which says, “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.” Peace then uses the Trinity as our example and standard for a harmonious relationship among equals in which neither person struggles for power or control. As the persons of the Trinity glorify one another, the wife is to glorify her husband. The husband and wife are to glorify God together.

4. The effects of the fall of man.
Before the fall, husbands and wives joyfully fulfilled their respective roles. After sin and the curse entered, however, we have been in conflict. Through the power of the gospel our marriages can be restored.

5. The husband was and still is to be the head of his wife.
Head, in this case, means authority.
a. The Model of Christ and the Church.
Just as the church is to joyfully obey Christ, a wife is joyfully obey her husband.
b. Christ’s Response to the Church.
Christ gave His life for the Church. He lives today to love, nourish, and cherish her. Likewise, the husband is to love, nourish, cherish, and sacrifice himself for his wife.

Peace ends the chapter with a list of 18 practical ways a wife can fulfill her role as a helper suitable for her husband.

Honestly, this chapter left so much to be desired. Peace packs too much into this chapter without giving much in the way of explanation. I read this chapter four times and still finished just as frustrated the fourth time as the first. Peace offers a verse or two on which to base her statements, and that’s it. She uses the controversial 1 Corinthians 11 verses without any helpful interpretation, and verses from Ephesians that Paul himself calls “a mystery.” A woman without any prior knowledge or understanding of these verses would be very confused.

I am NOT saying that I disagree with anything Peace writes. I agree. I affirm that what she has written is right and biblical. I just need more of an explanation and defense for it. Not just any defense, but a compelling, beautiful defense. The rapid-fire, blunt-force presentation in this chapter does not paint a beautiful, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting picture of submission within marriage.

So, I cheated. I pulled out another book, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, to help me understand this chapter better. I cannot quote the lengthy portions that were most helpful to me, but the good people at CBMW make it available for anyone to read online. I recommend the following chapters:
Chapter 5: Head Coverings, Prophecies, and the Trinity: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Thomas R. Schreiner

Chapter 8: Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church: Ephesians 5:21-33 and Colossians 3:18-19 George W. Knight III

Chapter 12: Men and Women in the Image of God John M. Frame

Chapter 22: The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective Dorothy Patterson

Chapter 25: The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective Elisabeth Elliot

I think there are two very important truths to remember. The first is that there is no direct correlation between our roles as wives and our inherent worth. There are no differences in worth or significance in the persons of the Trinity, yet they have different roles. Likewise, there is no difference in worth or make-up between men and women, yet we have different roles within the marriage relationship.

The second is that the husband and wife both have unique ways in which to magnify Christ in marriage. The husband magnifies and glorifies Christ by sacrificing for and loving his wife as Christ loved and died for His Church. The wife magnifies and glorifies Christ in her joyful submission and obedience (I know you hate the word, don’t you?) to her husband, as the Church submits to the authority of Christ. Husbands and wives can magnify and glorify Christ together as they emulate Him in His obedience to His Father. The Lord Jesus himself submitted to the will of his Father; he suffered in His obedience; yet, he did it with joy. By his grace, we can do the same for His honor and glory.

The other thing I keep coming back to when I feel myself pushing back from my role as wife is something Jesus said to the disciples, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” It is an almost daily struggle, but I know Jesus is right.

Your Turn
I hope those of you reading along were less frustrated than I. I am looking forward to reading your comments and posts.

Next week we move into part 2 of The Excellent Wife. Chapters 7-12 look at our responsibilities as wives — over our hearts, our homes, our choices to love and respect our husbands, our responsibility for intimacy, and our responsibility to submit. I hope you’ll keep reading!

Women who’ve written posts for their blogs:

Keep reading! Click for Chapter 7.

15 Comments on “The Wife’s Role

  1. I just posted my thoughts on my blog.I had trouble with this chapter as well. I think you put your finger on something when you said she didn’t give much explanation. “Blunt-force presentation” is an accurate description. I found myself turning to By Design by Susan Hunt for help. I’ll have to check out the chapters you linked.


  2. I wish I were reading along with everyone – but I loaned out my copy to a friend! It has been a couple years, but I do remember feeling like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.While I think it is important to embrace our calls and roles as wives I do think it is equally important to not let that become our identity. We need to keep ourselves closely aligned with Christ and draw our identities from our position as daughters of the KING, not from the role God has placed us in. Our wifely roles may very well last a lifetime or end tomorrow – either way it is fleeting and as you reminded us, just a reflection of a greater relationship and reality: Christ and His Bride the Church.


  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I have seen this book, and often thought of picking it up.


  4. I had a very hard time with this chapter, and I think you are right that there needed to be more explanation. I didn’t realize that was my problem with it until I read your post, but I agree. I almost didn’t write about this chapter, and I asked both my husband and my dad about the part that I really struggled with. Both of those Godly men were very helpful to me, and I’m thankful!And I agree very much with Melanie’s comment!


  5. I bought the book you recommend last summer during the desiring god special. Thank you so much for highlighting chapters that would be helpful.


  6. Although I started my post with ‘this was a great chapter’, I also had to read over the words for a while. I actually sat down and read it over with my husband. I did my best to explain my understanding of it on my blog…actually it took 2 posts…sorry! I think, Peace may have assumed that her readers are familiar with this biblical knowledge. In my case I was truly introduced to it in this book few months ago. This is why I am happy to be reading it with others. Thank you for sharing your research with us. I need to look more into it.


  7. Very, VERY good post, Leslie! I’m very thankful for what you shared as well. I just finished Rebekah’s post, and it was really good too. I felt a lot of what she felt when I read it….but with our new addition…I was thinking maybe I was just not thinking too clearly! Last night was the most sleep I’ve gotten in 4 days, and it was about 5 hrs! (NOT b/c of Micah…just my own adrenaline!). So, all of that to say, I wasn’t taking many of my thoughts too seriously! I’m sure you gathered that from my post! ; ) But I love how you pulled out Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood!!! And love how you shared what was most helpful!!! I also love how you make the point that we were both made to glorify the Lord – in our different roles. Very, very good post! Did I say that already?? : )


  8. wow, Leslie you summed it up beautifully. EXACTLY what I was thinking. My husband and I had quite a discussion (a good one, we were both in agreement ;))about this chapter!Sorry I missed last week, I was away but it was good to get back and catch up on all your posts.


  9. When our ladies bible study group did this chapter, we also felt it was not delved into enough.


  10. To start, I’ve read most other’s comments, which I normally don’t do until I’ve written my own. But this chapter was intriguing, no doubt! I appreciate the various levels of frustration & curiosity – it helps to know I’m not the only one in a bit of dismay!I am not confused as to where my “glorification” is to be focused (ON GOD), but Peace contradicts herself a bit when stating on pg. 47 that the Christian wife’s GOAL is to glorify God. She also points out in I Corinthians that we are to “do all to the glory of GOD.” But then Peace uses nearly the exact same phrasing on several pages afterward that a wife’s ROLE is to glorify God & to “use our energies to glorify him.” I was a bit confused because I couldn’t determine what exactly she was trying to say, as it seems most of us felt the same way!Even though I thought Peace didn’t exactly phrase things the right way, I was definitely able to accept the bulk of the chapter in a more positive light. Challenging no doubt! But I’m hoping I can further understand Peace’s point about “glorifying my husband” in future chapters.My favorite points in the chapter were:* pg. 52 – as Christians, my husband & I have the potential to regain much of what was lost at the fall man; we have the ability to have harmony in our marriage the way God intended. Hope is awesome!!* pg. 52 – it seems it’s rarely stated these days, much I’m sure due to the women’s lib movement in years’ past, but dang it if I don’t shout out an AMEN! everytime I see it in print or hear it from a pulpit – THE HUSBAND IS THE ONE IN CHARGE!! HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MANAGING THE HOME!! I have been consistently frustrated over the years, both as a single woman longing for a godly husband & now as a married woman, at the weak or non-existent “charge” given to godly men that they have the ability, the capacity, the God-given order to be the leader in the marriage. I think we are so muddied in our thinking as to what a godly home is to look like anymore because roles have been reversed, manipulated to the current day thinking, etc. that women don’t even know they can EXPECT leadership from their husbands, regardless of what their home-life was like or what traits they exhibit at the moment. There are ways we can help foster that leadership, encourage it to grow – & Peace does a great job at giving us examples of ways to do that!* pg. 55 – my challenges were numbers 5, 6, 10 & 15. Such good reminders – I want to put them on index cards & carry them in my purse or somewhere I’ll see them on a regular basis because they are so easily forgotten.


  11. I love reading your commentaries on various books. I don’t have the time to read like I use to but I hold to the fact that one day I’ll find the time. I might not comment as that much but I enjoy reading your blog. Just wanted you to know 🙂


  12. Hello All, It’s been a crazy week and this coming week will not be much better. I go to pick up my son from college Wednesday and we will be home Friday evening. My plan is to write about Both chapter 6 and Chapter 7 by Friday evening or Saturday Morning. Have a blessed week everyone. I look forward to reading your Blogs. Linda


  13. Hi Everyone,I really enjoyed the comments this week. Seems like it was a tough chapter for most, which reminded me why I am thankful for this reading group. I read the chapter, took out what I needed to and didn’t really question the other stuff too much. It was very interesting reading what you thought and I especially admire those of you “students” who will not rest until you’ve dug around in other resources.Very interesting week! I’m sure Part II will be good.


  14. I just posted about my learning process for Chapter 6 on Pragmatic Compendium in a post entitled “researching the wife’s role.” I’ve been following along, but this is my first post about the book.


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