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Saying No | What Are Your Rights As A Spouse Part 2

February 14, 2024

Saying “No” and Meaning It

In her book Created to Be His Help Meet, Deb did a great job of presenting the biblical role of a wife. Thousands of women testify to having transformed their marriages upon fulfilling their God-given role—the husband responding in kind. But at the time, we heard of only a few cases where the husband would take advantage of his wife’s willingness to submit and just run away with his adultery, pornography, perversions, or violence. Back then, it was the rare exception. But no longer. The last decade has seen a cataclysmic erosion of natural humanity. Reprobacy abounds. More and more men are coming to be “without natural affection” (Romans 1:31).

You might be asking, “Why would the couple who ‘wrote the book’ on wives submitting to their husbands now challenge the very notion of it?” Wives are commanded to submit to the spiritual headship of their husband, but nowhere is the husband granted the authority to submit his wife to himself, or to even assume submission on her part. It is not a relationship like a king and his subjects. It is a relationship like a bleeding savior to the beloved for whom he gives his life.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25)

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. (Ephesians 5:28–29)

The biblical principle we have advocated is that submission voluntarily given is a precious gift of grace that should be received by the head of the house with humility. When a wife makes herself vulnerable by submitting to her husband’s headship, it should render her precious in his eyes—a sweet soul to be guarded and protected, even served. We have seen tens of thousands of testimonies to that effect. A cantankerous wife decides to obey God and honor her man. When he sees her Christ-like spirit, it reveals to him the ugliness of his abusive behavior, and, in time, he is humbled by the gesture and tamed like a thankful puppy. He then takes his place as the humble, cautious leader of the family.

The mark of this transformation is that in time he asks his wife for her opinion on family matters, and the marriage settles into a practical dual headship. In issues where there is not common agreement, after discussion and understanding, they both recognize he has the last say and bears the responsibility of his decision. When she disagrees, after stating her case, she follows his lead even it makes her unhappy at the time. Of that large number where the husband is sincere but misguided, I assure you that most of the time when a wife displays a calm, cooperative spirit, it disarms him and allows him to see himself and make amends, resulting in a functional, satisfying marriage. The marriage comes to be a reflection of Christ, the humble savior, to the church whom he purchased with his own blood, and he now leads the family to the Promised Land. See Created to Be His Help Meet.

But there are husbands of whom there is no hope that they will ever fulfill their role as savior of their wife. They cannot hear the truth (John 8:43–45). They are “reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8).

In my previous article, I addressed the question: “What are your rights as a spouse?” This treatise is made necessary by a cascading trend revealed in the many letters we receive and discussions taking place on social media. To frame this second part, I quote the first paragraph of the previous article:

“What are your rights as a spouse? Answer: All the rights of a human being. You didn’t forfeit any of your human rights when you married. Your God-endowed humanity is unalienable; which is to say, your personal dignity and liberty can never be conveyed to another—even when by all measures it appears so. One may forcibly subjugate another, and one may yield control to a bullyman (or woman), but that does not convey human rights to the controller. When you married you did not lose your humanity, your autonomy, your dignity, your rights to your body and mind. Neither the husband nor the wife has the right to physically, emotionally, or spiritually dominate the other. A spouse that intimidates or manipulates their ‘less significant’ other into subjection is a merciless, selfish bully, expressing the opposite of love.”

I am not going to address the full gamut of abuse suffered by both husbands and wives, just the most common in Christian circles—abuse of wives justified by perverted Bible doctrine. It is all too common for emotionally and physically abused wives to reveal they have suffered in silence for many years, believing it is their duty as Christians to obey their husband “in all things”—regardless. And abusive husbands reinforce this notion by regularly quoting Bible passages, such as:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands . . . (1 Peter 3:1)

When a selfish son of Adam employs intimidation and constraint to force his wife into submission, he is no longer in the role of Christ; he is sharing an office with Satan. Tyrannical men read, “wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands . . .” and then decide what they want that to mean. This is personal with us, having happened close to home.

The telltale characteristic of inappropriate husband dominance is his desire for his actions to not be publicly known. Think about it; if he is fulfilling his godly role as head of his wife, why keep it a secret? Shouldn’t he be proud for people to know how he is constraining her to do what she ought? The telltale sign of a bamboozled wife is that she doesn’t tell anyone how she unjustly suffers. Acts of light need not be clothed in darkness.

We have come to see that there are intolerable situations that a woman cannot resolve by changing herself. Many women are coming to realize that their husband is an unregenerate sex pervert, sadist, child abuser, or psychopath. There are things a woman should not tolerate. She cannot correct them by being a “good wife.” When a porn addict demands anal sex, or practices some form of perverted abuse, or any unnamed deviant and degrading acts, she should know that he is no longer the Christ figure she should obey. She should just say “No, I am worth more than that.” Do not follow him down the dark path to depravity. Wives should obey their husbands in all things “as unto the Lord,” not as unto the devil.

Sometimes it is physical abuse. One woman wrote that her husband occasionally got angry and hit her. Deb told her to stop protecting him. Tell him, “No more; I will call the law; you will go to jail.” Deb said, “Tell his mother. Tell the church. Tell everybody.” She stood up to him and announced it was over; he would never hit her again. He was devastated when she confronted him, and confessed that he was raised that way and felt it was normal. From that day forward he stopped hitting her and expressed his regret. She saved her body and her marriage. But it doesn’t always work out so well.

To the woman married to a demoniac, you stand on the threshold of the rest of your life. There are three ways this can go.

  1. You can continue as is, suffering abuse for the rest of your life, pretending to family, church leaders, and friends that all is well. You will become a sour old lady having never been cherished. In time your marriage will probably end in divorce.
  2. You can assert your human right to not be abused or degraded. He may see himself in the mirror of your emphatic response and repent. Or, he may divorce you. “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). But know that most of the men out there looking for a cast-off wife are also cast off for reasons that could be worse than the former.
  3. You can stop striving, lay down your bitterness, and decide you are going to be the woman of God and the ideal wife, regardless of what he does. In so doing you will realize one of two outcomes. First, accept the possibility that he may never change, but you will reap great reward, akin to that of a martyr, in heaven. Second, the more likely outcome, he will be converted to become the man of the house that you always dreamed of. He may not be perfect, but he will come to cherish you. The Word of God advocates this third option.

I know that some rebellious Jezebels are happy to read what I am writing. They are looking for biblical justification for their pre-notions about their independence and autonomy. They resent the very concept of submitting to anyone for anything. When I try to swing the pendulum back to a balance, they squeeze into the vacuum and find support for their rebellion. I have come to realize that there is no cure for willful rebellion—which is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). So a word of caution is necessary.

If your husband is unreasonable and causes you misery, you have grounds to deny him but not grounds to leave him. If, due to your incompatibility, you find the relationship personally intolerable, and you think you would be happier without him, then know that the Bible commands you to remain unmarried for the rest of your life. Also, if you dissolve a marriage with the intention of changing partners, upon re-marrying you commit adultery (1 Corinthians 7:10–16; Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11–12). However, if your husband abandons you, divorces you, or commits fornication, you are free to divorce and remarry (1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 7:27–28 with 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9).

The sin of fornication, which is grounds for divorce and remarriage, is a much broader category of sexual sin than is adultery. Note the distinction in Galatians 5:19. Sodomizing is not adultery, but it is fornication, as is cross dressing, same sex erotic expressions, pedophilia, and the such like—too numerous and degrading to name.

I know I have not addressed the subject fully. If you have a doctrinal question, leave a comment, and I will address the pertinent issues in the next magazine.

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