Not a fan of the “Real Housewives” reality shows, although to be honest I have not watched them. The series has expanded to include places like Orange County, New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, and Atlanta, and for the most part follows wealthy wives who live lavishly, fight among themselves, and for the most part live in a trajectory that is different from the call of wives in Ephesians 5:22-33. Believe it or not, before there was a reality show, the Bible shows us some real wives that help us see what it looks like, and does not look like to be a woman who loves and submits to Jesus and therefore loves, submits, and respects her husband. Most of these come out of the Old Testament Wisdom book of Proverbs. This purpose of this blog is to put a little feet to the content of the sermon on Sunday about Wives and Marriage. I actually heard a comment that I was not as strong with the women as I was with the men. Part of that is because I was hoping to cover this material and ran out of time (go figure). So ladies, here you go. And guys, maybe there is a gracious way to encourage your wife to read this (probably not, and a text saying “Baby, you better listen because you fit half of this” probably is not the approach).
Proverbs is a book in the Old Testament designed to impart wisdom into every day life. Generally, the book is material from a father to his sons when they are young men. For the writers, wisdom is the ability to see life from God’s perspective and then apply this to life. One of the recurring themes involves a challenge of care with women. Before marriage this means that men should be careful not to get led astray by the part of a man’s anatomy that can get him in trouble. But it also calls young men to choose a wife carefully. The writers of Proverbs present two types of wives. For the guys, the call is to cultivate and nurture their wives giving them a safe place to follow Jesus, live repentance, and grow. For women, the call is to see these and become the first kind of wife, the righteous.
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
Proverbs 12:4 ESV
Two types of wives, one who is a crown and one who brings rottenness. Now, like most Proverbs, the image is black and white while in reality there are lots of shades of grey. But the challenge is to move toward being a crown, ladies. A picture of the excellent wife is painted in Proverbs 31:10-31 as a man honors his own wife by showing us how she honors him. It may look differently for you (more than likely your husband is not going to laud how you make linen garments), but the question is this, would your husband be able to write a wonderful account of how you are a crown for his life.
Proverbs does not stop here. Throughout the book there are snapshots of women who bring rottenness. Like I mentioned, the writer is telling his sons to avoid these women, don’t get attracted and married. But as God’s inspired Word, the application to women is that they need to trust in Jesus, allow the Gospel to transform them, and repent of areas where these texts might describe them.
A continual dripping on a rainy day
and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind
or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.
(Proverbs 27:15-16 ESV)
The quarrelsome wife -Some women believe their life call is to beat their husband down by continually fighting, nagging, speaking poorly of him, and putting him down. Of course, every guy is a sinner so there is always something to fix. But the quarrelsome wife has come to believe it is her life call to find all the negative things in his life and to fix them. Submission, never! In her mind her husband is not deserving of her submission. She must fix him. And so she nags and quarrels. A guy who lives with this woman cannot win. If he fights back he is a bully. If he withdraws he is uncaring and unloving. And if he gives in he is a wuss and not deserving of respect. If thee wife wins she will not be able to love her husband because she has beat him. Three comparisons, a drip, the wind, and oil. A constant drip will eventually erode the ground. In some cultures this type of dripping is used as torture. The wind and oil illustration points to the reality that this type of woman will never be led, and even when her husband tries it will be like grabbing the wind.
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
(Proverbs 26:20 ESV)
The gossip – Often, this woman is just an extension of the quarrelsome wife. But added to this is that she keeps throwing wood on the fire by talking negatively about her husband to other people. The worst form is when a wife begins to speak negatively of dad to the kids in an attempt to form an alliance. Some women’s prayer groups are nothing more than vain attempts to put a God tag on sinful gossip about husbands. Others make a phone call to mom or dad every time the husband does not live up to standards, and then they wonder why mama does not like the guy to whom she is married.
The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
(Proverbs 9:13 ESV)
The loud wife – The writer calls this person a woman of folly. Some women seek to manipulate by continually turning up the volume. After a long day of working, seeking to provide for his family a man desires to come to a place where he is respected and able to live in relative peace. But for those married to this woman, there is no peace at home, and the more he tries to relax the louder the volume and attacks get.
It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
(Proverbs 21:19 ESV)
The emotional manipulator – This guy would be better of grabbing his canteen and heading to pitch a tent in the desert than trying to please his wife. She is quarrelsome (which we have already discussed), and fretful. The word here translated fretful can either mean full of sorrow or provoking. This woman is swinging with one arm while she is tempting with the other. She is mad one moment and breaks into tears the next. The picture here is of a woman who uses emotions to push and test in order to get what she wants. Emotions are an important aspect of marriage, and every man must learn to love his wife through emotions. But when a woman uses emotions as a way to control or manipulate the man has no way of figuring out what he can do to improve the relationship. My encouragement here to ladies is that you do a couple things. First, be self-aware of your emotions and moods. Second, seek to help your husband understand your emotions without changing mid-stream. Third, be very careful about using emotions in manipulative ways.
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
(Proverbs 12:4 ESV)
The shaming wife – The power of a wife’s words are incredibly significant. When a wife is supportive, respectful, and speaks words of approval a man is willing to leap through walls for his woman. On the other hand, when a wife’s words are constantly shaming him, cutting him down, finding fault, focusing on the things he does not do rather than giving appreciation for the things he does, the outcome is that it will be like a rot in his bones. Sure, there are times when discussions are needed and a wife needs to have the power of honesty in addressing struggle, problems, and failures. But there is always a way this can be accomplished while at the same time obeying Ephesians 5:33 and respecting one’s husband. Ladies can shame her husband by the way she talks to him directly. She can shame her husband by the way she talks about him in the home and with the kids. She can shame her husband if she seeks to form an alliance with the children against dad. She can shame her husband in the way she jokes and pokes fun at her husband with friends. She can shame him by degrading him and berating him in public settings. Think about this ladies, if you were to ask your children and your five closest friends this question, “Based on what I say about my husband in your presence, do you believe I respect him and submit to him?” What would they say? If their first words are, “Heck no, that buffoon,” you may not be honoring God or your husband well.
And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
(Proverbs 7:10-11 ESV)
The flirt – Nothing will wound a guy quicker and push him toward another woman (which is a sin for him) faster than having a wife who seems to advertise to every dude that she is still kind of looking. Her words, her dress, her facial expressions still have a bit of an “Open for Business” feel. Sometimes this flows out of personality. A girl was always a flirt, and now that she is married she is not sure how to turn it off. Sometimes this can flow out of emotional need as a woman feels like her husband does not give her the attention she deserves so flirting makes her feel that she is still desirable. Or it may even be an attempt to wound, which is sad and sinful. One a woman is married, the cut of her dress, look in her eyes, and seductive words of her mouth are for one man and one man only.
Got one more to share, but this one is not in Proverbs, so going to save it for another day. Ladies, hope this challenges without deeply offending. Remember, follow Jesus, surrender all to Him, and “submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.”