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God's Pattern for Wives, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 15, 2024 4:00 am

God's Pattern for Wives, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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March 15, 2024 4:00 am

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When you foul up God's order, everything gets messed up. And sadly, sadly, sadly, non-submissive wives and mothers contribute to lost children, delinquency, lack of understanding of God-ordained roles. They are not in the home, and the results are disastrous. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. A book aimed at Christian wives who work outside the home says that being the sole breadwinner can be very stressful on the father. But if the man is secure enough to encourage his wife's employment outside the home, the book says dads and moms can share the financial burden, housekeeping responsibilities, and spend more equal time caring for their kids. And the author's conclusion? Everybody wins. Well, today you can decide for yourself if everybody really does win in that situation, and if that model is really a biblical one. Stay right here for John's lesson today on Grace to You. It's part of his popular study, The Fulfilled Family.

Here now is John MacArthur with the lesson. The only hope for marriage is to be obedient to God's word and to be empowered by God's Word. We submit mutually to each other, being more concerned about the other than we are ourselves, more concerned about the things of others than our own things, looking not on the things which concern us, but the things which concern others, all of that we learned from the book of Philippians chapter 2. So the general spirit of all relationships should be one of submission, and then in particular, wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord. In Titus chapter 2, there is some instruction beginning in verse 3 and running down through verse 5 that supports this concept of submission.

And listen very carefully to what I say now. It takes the concept of submission to your husband and extends it to the range of home duties. It starts to unfold the duties. Older women, it says in verse 3, are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, not enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good. And obviously, they teach the young women, according to verse 4, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands.

That comes first. Love, not purely in an emotional sense, as we talk about falling in love, the bells and whistles, you know, but love in the sense of self-sacrificing devotion to the privileged duty to which you have been called under His leadership and protection, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands for a very important reason, that the Word of God may not be dishonored. Now, in verses 3 to 5, you have a series of short commands, very brief but with immense and far-reaching implications.

And what is at stake? What is at stake is the Word of God not being dishonored. Wherever you see this woman's liberation movement assaulting the church, the first point of attack is the Word of God, isn't it? They assault the Scripture. They twist all these Scriptures.

They shift them around. They reinterpret them. They've got all this revisionist interpretation. And it goes from there to the worst where they even produce Bibles where the name of God is she or she slash he, the politically correct Bible. But always women in the framework of Christianity who want to move out of their God-ordained role must assault the Word of God. And it's not just that direct attack which is being referred to here, but an indirect one that comes by way of the fact that when women don't obey what the Word of God says, then those people watching that and knowing that will conclude that we don't think the Bible is really that important, right? So the Word of God is dishonored. The Word of God is diminished as to its importance.

We don't want to do that. Ladies, you want to follow these patterns for the sake of your own joy, for the sake of the blessing of God, for the sake of making marriage the grace of life that God intended it to be, and for the sake of showing the watching world that we obey the Word of God because we believe God has given it, it is binding and the source of blessing. A lot is at stake when women want their independence.

They wreck the marriage and they ruin their testimony, diminishing the Word of God, which Psalm 138 2 says God has exalted to His name. Betty Friedan, way back in 1963, one of the early leaders of the feminist movement, wrote a book. She told women in this book, leave home and go to work.

And it was adamant. And it was really kind of the bomb that popularized the feminist movement. Twenty years later, no less than Betty Friedan wrote another book.

This was called The Second Stage. In it she said this. She said, feminism has failed and I urge you working women to leave work and go home.

Twenty year experiment failed, still failing miserably. She started something with so much feminine machismo in it, it's almost unstoppable. And the number one symbol of women's rebellion against God's order is the independent working wife. Over 50% of all women are in the workforce. Over 50 million working mothers. Most of them with school-aged or younger children, in fact nearly half of the women with children under six work. Two out of three, because the younger women lead the parade in these working trends, two out of three children three to five years old spend part of their day in facilities outside their home.

Two out of three. Women have abandoned the home. They're fighting for their independence.

And the society has come behind them with tremendous, tremendous support. I think just came into my mind of Hannah. It says in 1 Samuel 1 21, her husband, Elkanah, went up with all his household to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and pay His vow.

He was just going to the temple to carry out his annual religious observance. And he asked Hannah to go. Hannah didn't go.

It was just a trip up and back. She said to her husband, I will not go up until the child is weaned. Literally in the Hebrew, until the child is fully dealt with.

She wouldn't even go on a trip if it would in any way hamper the attention she needed to give to that child. The abandonment of the home, the abandonment of the children, the isolation of the woman as the independent working woman, of course, escalates the already cursed and hammered union we know as marriage. Felice Swartz in Working Woman magazine writes, When the children of today's current generation of career women are themselves emerging from their teens, the polarization of sexes that put women in the house at the nurturing end of the spectrum and men in the office at the work end of the spectrum will have disappeared and with it all the stereotypes.

And, of course, we know that the U.S. government offers tax credits for those who hire babysitters so they can go to work. Marriages are being abandoned. Families are being abandoned.

The results are absolutely devastating. These people who advocate the working independent non-submissive wife call on her pride. They appeal to her self-esteem, her pride. They appeal, if you will, to her sin, telling her to leave her slave role and gain some dignity as a real person. They appeal to her lust for material things.

They appeal to her already strong desire to dominate. And sadly, sadly, sadly, working non-submissive wives and mothers contribute to lost children, delinquency, lack of understanding of God-ordained roles, rebellion, loneliness, adultery, divorce, you name it. They are not under submission to their own husbands.

They are not in the home and the results are disastrous. When you foul up God's order, everything gets messed up, everything. And the real calling of woman is to be in the home, to be submissive to her husband, to be following his lead, caring for her children, caring for her home. That is the marvelous, marvelous calling of a woman.

The domain of her home, she's a keeper at home, a worker at home, a lover of children, a lover of husbands, submissive. I can't resist further defining the magnificence of this role in Proverbs 31. Turn back to Proverbs 31.

I'm just going to refer to it briefly and then close with a couple of illustrations that are pretty powerful. Chapter 31 talks about an excellent wife, and this is a great, great description of an excellent wife, starting in verse 10 of Proverbs 31. Guys, this is the kind of woman you dream about. This is what every woman should desire to be, an excellent wife, verse 10. Who can find?

It's hard to find one. For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her. Find a woman, first of all, that you can what? Trust. Trust her with everything. Trust her with relationships. Trust her with your children. Trust her with your money. Trust her with your possessions. Trust her with your relationships. She won't go around undermining those.

He'll have no lack of gain. She does them good and not evil all the days of her life. This is an amazing woman. She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She's like merchant ships. She brings her food from afar.

She'll go anywhere for a bargain. Amazing woman, works with her hands, goes everywhere with her little coupon deal. Verse 15, she rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household. I have so many memories of that as a kid.

I have so many memories of the mornings of my life and awaking, not by an alarm, but by what was coming out of the kitchen. She gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. This is a very enterprising woman. She finds a field that's for sale and she buys it. She's got earnings and she plants a vineyard. Somehow she's got a cottage deal going inside the home. She's been able to earn some money to help. She girds herself with strength, makes her arms strong. Probably not because she went to the gym, but because she worked.

She senses that her gain is good, her lamp doesn't go out at night, stays up late, gets up early. Life was tough in those days. If you wanted clothes, you did what?

You made them. If you wanted food, you made it. If you wanted some food to eat, you grew it.

If you wanted to grow it, you had to have a field. So, when you married a woman to provide meals, that meant she had to buy a field, plow a field, plant a field, harvest a field, make the food while you were off doing whatever, doing business in the city. She stretches out her hand to the distaff. Her hands grasp the spindle. She's weaving, weaving coats.

It can get cold in that part of the world in the winter. She extends her hand to the poor. She stretches out her hands to the needy. She's not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Not only do they have warm garments, but they're beautiful. She makes coverings for herself.

Her clothing is fine linen and purple. And you know what? Her husband's known in the gates. They know him as, that's so-and-so's husband. Oh yeah, I know that guy. That's so-and-so's husband. He's known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

They're all a little jealous. She makes linen garments and sells them. There's how she makes a little money to buy that field and supplies belts to the tradesmen, strengthen dignity on her clothing. She smiles at the future.

Why? She plans ahead. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Boy, what kind of model is she for her children? She looks well to the ways of her household, doesn't eat the bread of idleness. And her children rise up and bless her, her husband also, and he praises her, saying, many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. You're the best.

You're the best. Charm, it's deceitful. Beauty, it's vain, doesn't last. But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates. And it all works around the home, doesn't it? And the husband and the children and the needy. That's where a woman needs to give her life. Some women are, now they've been sold this whole feminist deal.

You know, they grab their briefcase, put on their suit, and went to the office and have done their thing. And now all of a sudden, ten, fifteen years later, there's a terrible hollowness in their hearts. Many of the same women who in their twenties pursued career, didn't want children intruding in their life, now find themselves in their thirties and forties with an emptiness and a terrible dissatisfaction, a hollowness, a sense of unfulfillment, and the reality that they missed the whole purpose of life and they can't ever get it back. Despite their worldly successes, an indefinable longing sets in and some of them begin to see motherhood as the experience they want. They want to have a baby.

You hear them say that all the time. This attitude perceives motherhood as some kind of feminine achievement. I've had my career, I've made my money, and now I want to make my baby. I want to show the world that I can do that. That's my next achievement, my next personal accomplishment.

I've been a successful lawyer and now I'm going to show you that I can be a successful mother. Children, however, are not a prize to win. They are not a goal to achieve. They are not a way to proclaim someone's femininity. They are not a little doll to dress at the jamboree better than everybody else's kids are dressed. They're not somebody to fill out your wounded ego and unfulfilled life. One lady said, I've got the house, I've got the cars, we have the vacation home, I've had the career, now all I need is a couple of kids.

I guess she thought that way she could go down as a monument to femininity. Women who look at having children as a means of personal fulfillment are really mistaking the issue. First, because if all they want is an experience, and experience is very temporary, but that kid is going to be around for a long time, making a lot of demands that have very little to do with one's personal fulfillment.

Have you noticed? Secondly, this manifestation of self-centeredness undervalues the purpose and the significance of motherhood as God designs it and usually sentences that little kid to a tragic life. This is the sentimental romantic view of motherhood.

And this sentimentalism is dangerous because anytime our emotions are driving the car, we will end up in a ditch. Babies wake up in the night, babies get sick, they make a mess, and sometimes babies die. I admit that the tender, sweet, and emotional side of motherhood is precious, but only because hard-headed reason and biblical discipline with lots and lots of hard work is steering the process. Christian women need to have their approach to mothering anchored in the Scriptures, not in their emotion. You're not going to learn mothering anywhere but in the Bible. You're not going to learn it from a talk show host.

You're not going to learn it from a magazine article at the check stand in the market. You're not going to learn motherhood from classes on self-esteem. A healthy, godly view of mothering comes out of the Word of God, and it has to be learned there. Motherhood is not a romanticized ideal. It is a God-given task suited to a woman's frame and accomplished joyfully by hard work through His grace and provision. Godly motherhood does not focus on the pretty little child, doesn't focus on infancy and childhood. Let me tell you, godly mothering focuses on adulthood from the start. It focuses on the long-term objective, which is mature, godly sons and daughters who will live to bring honor and glory to God. That is the calling of scriptural, spiritual motherhood. That's what God wants.

Those who don't know Christ, they can't even approach it right. Those who do must. I received this letter, really a heartbreaking letter.

Listen to what it says. I received your tape series on the family from my mother-in-law for Christmas. You were right. When you started the tape on the duty and priorities of the wife, you were right that it would upset a lot of people. I cried many tears listening to you. You have hit the nail on the head regarding the moral decay of families and children, working mothers. The reason for the tears, I am a working mother. I have four children, ages 11, 10, 3 and 1 ½. I've worked all of their lives. I feel that I have lost a connection with my 11-year-old daughter, and that worries me as she approaches adolescence. My babies go through tremendous mommy deprivation daily.

My 10-year-old acts out his frustration on everyone. My oldest children go to a private Christian school, and that requires a lot of time in the evenings with homework. I get home after being gone 9 to 10 hours.

I have to cook dinner, deal with the crying mischievous babies, and try not to let the older ones feel left out because I'm too tired or there's no time left in the evening to work on their needs. I would love to stay home and be a keeper of my house, but I have no alternative. My husband has chosen to ruin his career and our lives by selfishly indulging in drugs and alcohol. After a four-year rollercoaster ride, we separated when I found out that he was taking the babies to the park and drinking.

I fear that he may get into an accident with them or forget he has them with him. I have been put into the position of breadwinner of this family, and I deeply resent it. It is destroying my family. I am losing out on the most important part of my life, raising my children. The part of me that is raising them is not the part of me that I like.

I am tired, angry, and frustrated all of the time. What a wonderful role model. Mom, the hag. When we separated, I told my boss, separated from her husband, and he told me to call my pastor right away. Being somewhat new to a church body, I couldn't figure out what my pastor could do. I told my pastor a few days later he said he was sorry and that he would pray for me. During the initial separation, I didn't attend church for a month. I continued to read my Bible daily and listen to tapes and radio ministry programs. During that month, I didn't receive a single call from the church or my pastor. Incidentally, we fill out weekly attendance cards and several friends are in ministry positions who know of our situation.

When I did go back to church, no one asked how things were. It was also at this time I asked my employer if I could work at home to save daycare costs. He's a Christian and these costs were sending me financially over the edge.

The answer was no. I thought I was naive thinking that my church or my Christian employer should or could help in some way. When I listened to you and your thoughts on the church's obligation to women with children, I couldn't stop crying. I felt so let down by my pastor and church as well as my Christian employer.

Well, I didn't write this to complain. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your messages and how you really have touched me. You've given me incentive to pray more fervently for God to change my situation so that I can do what I'm supposed to do, be a keeper of my house and children. I also pray for my husband. Keep on teaching the Word of God.

It doesn't matter if noses get bent out of shape. It just makes us open our eyes and reexamine how we live our lives. Sad, isn't it? I mean, in some ways it's all over and there's no going back. The matter of submission is so clear in Scripture. To the husband, to the tasks of the home, that's God's call to women. Father, thank you for your Word, which is so clear. May there be correction where correction can be made, forgiveness for those who have failed this pattern, restoration, renewal. And Lord, may there be a new beginning. And for those, as we said, who are young and just starting, Lord, may they walk in the path of obedience to your Word, that there might be joy in the home, that you might be honored, your Word not dishonored, and a generation of children raised to love you. Continue to lead us as we consider these great things in Christ's name.

Amen. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is called The Fulfilled Family. Now, John, going back to what you said today about submission and about what it looks like practically, I'd like you to answer a question from a woman who wonders if, in her circumstances, she can submit to her husband and honor God at the same time.

So let's hear her question and then you respond. I was saved after we were married. My husband is unsaved. He likes the church that we are at. We've been there 10 years and he has not been saved, nor does he have any desire to read the Bible, etc. I would like to change churches. It's an easy believe-ism church, but I am told that I need to continue to be under the submission of my husband to stay at this church. It's tough as a woman being the spiritual leader of our home, and I wish that you would address that. It would be so helpful to me.

Thanks so much. I appreciate so much that question, and let me make a really simple answer. The issue of the church is not within the purview of your husband's authority. You know, Jesus said this, this is going to break up families, he said, and we're going to turn a brother against a sister, a sister against a brother, a mother against a father, a parent against the children, the children against the parents.

The truth of the gospel will divide the family. You have a responsibility before God to be in the place where he is honored, Christ is honored, the Word of God is proclaimed faithfully, and your husband's authority does not extend to the role that the church plays in your life. That is between you and the Lord. Again, this comes down to the very key point in submission for a wife. You can do what is within the realm of your husband's authority. The spiritual world, because he's not a believer, is not that. So I think you are required to be obedient to the Lord, and that's what we read in the fifth chapter of Acts, where the apostles were told not to preach, and they answered by saying, You judge whether you obey God or men, and they went on preaching. So you obey your husband in every area within the framework and the realm of his responsibility as the head of the house and the provider and protector of the family. But when it comes to the spiritual, that is between you and the Lord, and I think you have the responsibility to be in the place where he is most honored and most glorified. Thanks, John.

That is a helpful reminder for all of us to put Christ first in our lives. And friend, a quick request. If John's current series, The Fulfilled Family, or one of his other recent studies has ministered to you, please let us know. It's important for us to know that our teaching is hitting the mark, so contact us today. Our email address is letters at That's letters at And if you prefer regular mail, you can write to us at Grace to You, P. O.

Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. And be sure to visit the website, where you're going to find numerous ways to take in John MacArthur's verse-by-verse teaching. You can listen to all of John's sermons. That's over 3,600 sermons from his 55 years of pulpit ministry, all of it free to download or to read in transcript format. You can also purchase a variety of Bible study tools, including our flagship resource, The MacArthur Study Bible.

And keep in mind, John's brand-new book that we've been talking about, The War on Children. All of that and more is available at Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Remember to watch Grace to You television this Sunday on DirecTV, channel 378. That's NRB-TV. Or you can watch anytime at And then be here Monday, when John shows you biblical principles for building a strong home, even in a world that's hostile to the family. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Monday's Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-15 05:56:17 / 2024-03-15 06:06:35 / 10

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