Is a husband wholly responsible for his wife’s spiritual growth?
If you had asked me, as a new bride, whether my husband was responsible for our spiritual growth, my answer would have been swift and emphatic.
“Of course he is. He carries the weight as the spiritual leader. It’s his God-given assignment as the man of the home.”
Years into marriage, I see how naive I was, in my understanding about spiritual growth and my husband’s responsibility.
I am not alone; many couples sail the same waters – we bandy around the idea of a husband’s spiritual leadership but we don’t really know how that looks like exactly or our part as wives.
Now, I still believe in the man being the servant-leader of the home and the wife being a co-partner, equal in value and calling and purpose. See My Husband is Not a Spiritual Leader.
But I believe we need to dig a little deeper and clarify what that means, scripturaly. When we talk about the man’s role of spiritual leadership, most of our thoughts come from Ephesians 5:22-30
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.
Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
When we read the Scriptures, it’s clear what Paul means. But to understand Paul and the Bible in general, we have to always read in context plus allow the Bible to explain itself.
In other words, we cannot just read verses in isolation, we have to see what the rest of the Bible says about the same subject, in this case life and relationship.
And that’s where I am headed today.
Why Your Husband Doesn’t Have to Teach You to Read Your Bible.
Your husband doesn’t have to interpret scripture for you.
He can if He wants to. But it’s not his counsel that makes your Bible reading legitimate. It’s not his input that makes you visible to God. You don’t need your husband to read your Bible. Or to interpret it.
Can a husband read the Bible and share with his wife? Unquestionably. Could he make it a priority to mull over scripture and delight in sharing with the person that is closest to Him? Absolutely.
But so should his wife. She is responsible for her relationship with God, her growth plus how she influences the person closest to her towards Christ.
There’s no gender hierarchy when it comes to pursuit and thirst and desire for our Creator and Savior. Our personal walk with Jesus is not a competition with each other.
We are all equally invited. We are both called to love Him with all we have and to encourage each other towards greater love.
Galatians 3:26–29 says,
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.
For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
So what’s up with my rant today?
Because there are women married to men who are not believers.
And they feel like their salvation is invalid because they don’t have “spiritual covering” in the form of a spiritual husband. Somehow as Christians, we’ve made it seem like salvation is a marriage issue, not an individual decision.
Sure, spiritual unity is essential. But not every couple is united.
And for that wife, she needs to know that God sees her, accepts her, covers her fully…even if His values are not shared in her marriage.
Because there are women married to men who say they are Christians but lack the fruit and commitment.
And the woman is ashamed, frustrated and wants to quit church and fellowship altogether because her husband isn’t into all that “church stuff.”
Because there are wives, married to regular men who love Jesus but who will never relate to Him the way women do because dudes are dudes.
Wives are shocked by all the manliness and differences in their husbands’ spiritual walk. See 3 Reasons Your Husband is Not Emotional About God.
They fuss and worry and complain, thinking they missed marrying a “godly” man because the version in their head and the one in their real life doesn’t add up.
Deep down, if we are to be honest, some of us wives just want to be lazy, roll over the responsibility of praying, reading the Bible, fasting, etc. to someone else: we want a godly husband because we want him to make our spiritual load lighter.
Because there are wives, who should not be living under the same roof as their husbands.
But someone told them to “win him without words, pray more, don’t provoke him, watch your words, allow him to lead, submit in all things.”
So he’s having a mighty good time lying, cheating, staying addicted, being emotionally, physically, mentally destructive because he’s got the “upper hand.” After all, he’s the man and calls the shots, he’s been told. See Christian Marriage and Divorce: When A Wife Feels She Has Done Enough
That’s why we need to dial up about personal responsibility the same way we dial up about the man being the head.
Because not all marriages are healthy and well-adjusted. And even for those that are well-adjusted, we need to dig a little deeper.
Servant-leadership doesn’t mean replacing the Lord in a wife’s life. A wife is still 100percent responsible for her walk with God.
But unfortunately, once a woman gets married, it seems salvation becomes a marriage issue, not a personal charge. We seem to fight for and seek to preserve the institution, sometimes at the expense of the people in it.But unfortunately, once a woman gets married, it seems salvation becomes a marriage issue, not a personal charge. We seem to fight for and seek to preserve the institution, sometimes at the expense of the people in it.
We allow spouses to get away with things they shouldn’t get away with and make the other spouse feel helpless. We obsess over roles and responsibilities without realizing that roles are just that roles..they don’t replace our duties.
If a person fails at their job, God hasn’t. We were never meant to look at the other person like they are our god. We still pick up after ourselves, in good times and bad.
Salvation and relationship with God is a personal decision; watered daily, not allocatable to someone else.
So here’s the bottom line; we must put marriage in its proper place and stop elevating it above personal responsibility.
As spouses, let us pursue God, individually first and then bring that fire into the relationship without depending on the other person like they must keep us saved and seeking Christ.
When we live like salvation is a personal decision and responsibility, we will keep each other accountable. We will care more about the people in the marriage, as Christ did, more than in preserving an institution.
And if our spouse walks away from God or their embers cool off, Jesus will still be enough. Because we have been living like He was, all along. We’ll continue to believe that we are still known, still seen, still His beloved. And that is all we have ever needed.
“because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Is personal responsibility an area of concern in your marriage? Are you wrestling with the overwhelm of new marriage and want a step by step guide on how to kick out fussing, anger passive-aggressiveness from your relationship? Or maybe you just want to love better, create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. Get on the road to a great marriage when you pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years -> Amazon Paperback I Amazon Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF . Or click here to go to book page