Dear radio friends,
Not long ago a major Protestant denomination met and deliberated over a wide variety of issues that were relevant to the life and ministry of their denomination. While the various media reported on the gathering of that denomination, nothing received more press than the denomination’s reaffirmation of the biblical command for the wife to live in submission to her husband. Some of the reporters simply reflected the denomination’s position as a statement of human interest. But most reports were extremely critical. The general consensus of the reporters was that no wife should be required to submit to her husband. The idea was that any view that would require submission of a wife to her husband is antiquated, abusive, and absurd. Rather than present in a carefully thought out argument against the wife’s submission, reporters simply scoffed at and promptly dismissed the biblical view of a wife’s submission as being irrelevant. It was argued that if a wife’s role is being viewed as being subordinate to her husband, then she must logically be viewed as inferior, and that simply cannot be the case.
What do the Scriptures teach concerning the calling of a wife and mother? Do you know? Are you, as a Christian wife, living according to the Scriptures toward your husband? Are you living in submission to your husband?
What is the biblical basis for this submission, and exactly what does it mean? What is the calling of a Christian wife and mother? How does the church’s submission to Christ set the pattern for the wife’s submission to her husband? And what will be the result of a Christian wife’s failure to live in biblical submission to her husband?
These are important questions. And the questions must be answered today. They must be answered from the living and abiding Word of God.
Once again the Reformed Witness Hour is privileged to have a special speaker on our program today. He is the Rev. James Slopsema, pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is going to speak on the subject of the Christian wife and mother. His speech was first given in a marriage conference held in October of 2003. His comments, you will find, are based upon the living Word of God and, specifically, upon the Reformed, biblical faith that finds the source of all things in the glory of God. I believe that you will find his remarks wholesome and refreshing.
Without further comment, we will hear the second half of Rev. Slopsema’s remarks on the calling of a Christian wife and mother.
I Peter 3 speaks of the woman and the wife as being the weaker vessel. That means a number of things. But it certainly means this: she has a softer side to her. Usually it is the wife who has the softer side. That is a good thing. Every child needs someone with a softer side. By the way, that is why they need grandparents, too. I cannot believe how soft I am with my grandchildren. Every kid needs a grandparent with a softer side.
The Bible speaks of the tender love that a mother has, a love that is unique and that every child needs. Usually the mother has the patience to deal with children. I cannot believe the patience my wife has with our children (and now I see my married children have with their children) in raising them.
It has been said that the father is the head of the house. And that is true. But do not forget, the mother is the heart of the home. Her help in the raising of children is invaluable.
That is why I am convinced that if God has to take one parent away from a home with children, it is better for the children if He takes the father away in death and leaves the mother. What a terrible thing for a mother to have to raise children as a widow. But, for the children’s sake, they are normally better off.
Now the Bible emphasizes a number of things that women need to be and women need to do to be effective wives and effective mothers. There is one passage that I want to call your attention to and just point out a few things because we do not have a whole lot of time. That is Titus 2. There Paul is writing to Titus, who is laboring on the island of Crete, and in the first verse he says, “Now, when you teach, I want you to speak the things which become sound doctrine.” Then he goes on to demonstrate what he has to emphasize to the different categories of saints there — what he must say to the old men and the old women. What he says is this: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness….” And then “teachers of good things.” Now in verse 4, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
I would like to take just a few things out of there. I do not have time to develop all those things. I want to start with this: that they must be keepers at home.
The trend today is for the woman and the mother to be out of the home. Women have entered the work force. Married women, mothers, have entered the work force on a large scale. The children leave and go to school and Mom’s not there. Or they come home from school and Mom’s not there. If there are preschoolers, they are brought off to the daycare center. Someone else takes care of them for five days of the week, during the heart of the day.
Other women are more concerned about socializing and gadding about, even though they are not out working. To be at home is such a drudgery. “I feel so confined,” is the response. And the Word of God says, “Mothers, first of all, be at home.” That does not mean that you have nothing that you can do outside of the home. That does not mean that you have to stay home all of the time. It does not even mean that you cannot have a job outside the home. It does not even mean that! But it means this, that the home and the family is primary. And if anything you do interferes with that and takes away from your ability to be an effective mother and an effective wife, you have no business being gone.
Mothers are not only to be at home, but workers at home. (The translation is “keepers at home,” but literally it is “workers at home.”) That means that mothers are to be busy working. That means, first of all, that they have to keep an orderly house. I have been in homes where I hardly dared go in because the house was so spic-n-span that I hardly dared sit down, for fear that I might make something dirty and the mother in the home would be upset about that. That is one extreme. The other extreme is that you go into homes and they are pigpens. They have been completely neglected for one reason or another. You realize that both extremes are detrimental to the home and family. A well-ordered home, where the dishes are done, the clothes are washed, is important for the well-being of the home, the family, in every way, also spiritually. Meals are prepared on time; that is important. God has given that responsibility primarily to the woman, to the mother. Be at home. Do that. Work. And create an atmosphere in the home, even in the physical appearance and order of it, that is conducive to family life and to relaxation and to spiritual growth.
Then, be at home, spending time with children. That is so important. What a beautiful relationship mothers and children have. Yes, fathers have to have relationships with children. Yes, fathers have to be home. But in the order that God has set in Scripture, the father is often required to be out of the home. And it is important that mother is there. When the children go to school, when they come home from school — that mother is there at night after supper with enough energy to take care of the family, to spend time with the children is so important. I do not know whether to be offended or pleased, but when my children were young, I would often be home when they came home from school and they would almost run over me and under me and through me to get to Mom. “Where’s Mom? Where’s Mom?” That is beautiful. They need their mother at home. Be keepers at home.
Notice that the Word of God has something to say to older women, too. The older women are to teach the younger women these things. You know, when your children marry and get out of the house, that does not mean that that is the time that now you are no longer a mother, and now is the time to go get that job to earn the extra things that you always wanted. Now is the time for you. No, you are still mothers. Older women teach the younger women. That usually is a natural thing, that mothers teach and continue to teach and assist and guide their married daughters, and even their daughters-in-law and others in the church as they have opportunity. That is a beautiful thing when you see that. I used to think that when the kids got married and out of the house, well, now we are free. Well, we are not. They still need guidance. And what a beautiful thing it is when they come home and they still need and want the guidance of mother and of father. That must be encouraged. That is one of the valuable roles that mothers have.
We also read that she should be chaste. The older women must teach the younger women to be chaste. That does not mean just sexually pure — that, too. But it means, as we read in I Timothy 2:9, 10: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” What a tremendous influence mothers have when they adorn themselves with good works.
And there are other things here. Our time is up, but let me just conclude with this. The work of a mother and the wife is hard. I am amazed. The day of the mother is usually not done until she goes to bed. I think the mother often works much harder than the father does. And the work is important. Pray for the wives. Pray for mothers. And also set this before mothers: “Nevertheless, she shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (I Tim. 2:15).
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we give thanks to Thee. We are thankful for the gift of marriage. What a beautiful relationship it is. And what a privilege it is that in Jesus Christ and in grace we can in our marriages reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. We acknowledge, O God, that as we have heard different aspects of marriage, we all fall short, those of us who are married. And we pray for grace that we may be forgiven and that we may use the instruction and the discussion here to improve our marriages, to work out differences, to fill our roles as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers, in a way that is pleasing unto Thee.
We pray, O God, that Thou wilt, above all, give us to value marriage. Today marriage is being cast aside by our society. Give us to hold marriage high and to give it the great priority it deserves in our lives and to do all that is necessary to maintain and to build our marriages. Bless us, we pray. Dismiss us with Thy blessing, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.