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.
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.