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    Biblical Spousal Duties {a la Wilson}

    May 27, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    This weekend Si and I read the chapter from Reforming Marriage entitled Duties of Husbands and Wives. I thought I’d share the list here:

    Biblical Duties of Husbands

    1. “A husband must always remember that as a husband he is a living picture of the Lord Jesus.” This is basic Christ-and-His-Church theology here. Wilson rightly explains that one’s marriage is always speaking about this relationship, that it is impossible to remain silent, but rather we are always speaking {with our actions} either truth or lies. For husbands, they are speaking about Christ, which means they have the potential to speak blasphemy, in a way.
    2. The husband must “nourish and cherish” the wife in the same way in which he cares for his own body. Here Wilson explains two Greek words: ektrepho {nourish} meaning “to feed, bring up to maturity,” and thalpo, meaning “to keep warm, to cherish with tender love.” He makes the interesting observation that a man “must not expect anything but weeds unless he tends the garden with extraordinary care.”
    3. The husband must be jealous. This is in imitation of our God, whose name is Jealous {Ex. 34:14}, and involves appropriate protection of the relationship.
    4. A husband must supply the wife with food and clothing. At first, this seemed really revolutionary to me, in the sense that it was on a list of Biblical duties {apparently I have a Gnostic tendency here}. But then I got to thinking about what is involved in animal husbandry. In fact, one of the appeals of getting ducks was that they are semi-wild, meaning that even though we tame them, they can find a percentage of their own food. They can fend for themselves. They are not in need of a full time husband. Said full time husbandry, in the world of traditional farming, involves feeding and clothing and supervising the flock. Our English word extends to a human husband, who is the feeder and clother, if you will, of his household. Wilson says simply that the husband must make sure the wife has grocery money. I would say that at the very least he should provide her with seeds for her garden. I am reminded of Pa Ingalls, who in the worst of times still made sure there was wheat in the house. Ma, on the other hand, was the one who baked the bread.

      Wilson, by the way, says that “neglect of a man’s wife in this fashion is the equivalent of apostasy–it is a denial of Christ who feeds His bride.” Strong words, but probably appropriate considering I Timothy 5:8.

    5. A husband must meet his wife’s s*xual needs {that was for Google}. Wilson includes in this the fact that the husband “must not deny his wife an opportunity to bear children.”
    6. A husband must be content with his wife. Among other things, this means not comparing her to other women, real or imagined, in any area of life, as well as being happy with what he has in her.
    7. A husband must “review and approve commitments made by his wife.” It is here that he mentions that “when a husband says nothing, he is approving and leading by default.”

    Biblical Duties of Wives

    1. A wife must respect her husband. “Respect in this situation entails both honor and obedience.”
    2. “A wife should also, under the providence of God, bear children.” She should also be a tender mother. Wilson gives some directions for how to manage this, including the instruction not to complain in our fruitfulness {mothering is hard work}, but rather bear children with gladness. He compares this gladness with the mothers who boast in their fruitfulness, which he says is inappropriate because all boasting must be in the Lord.
    3. Wives should be “industrious in the home.” I don’t have trouble with dishes, but there are other areas of housekeeping that slide more often than I’m proud of, so I was particularly convicted by this statement: “It is possible to disobey God through neglect of the dishes.” It is here that Wilson mentions that women are not limited to the home and that their industry will take them outside the home in time. Under this label of “industry” Wilson includes a wife keeping the home supplied with food and clothing. The husband might be responsible to supply the means, but she is the steward, according to Wilson. Here Wilson cautions against frivolity: “Shopping should be treated, not as entertainment and luxury, but as work.”
    4. A wife “must meet her husband’s s*xual needs.”
    5. A wife “must carefully avoid nagging and arguing.”
    6. A wife “should be a disciple of her husband.” If this sounds a bit crazy to you, he is basing this idea on I Corinthians 14:34-35. Somewhere I once read that this sort of order prevents the wife from “outgrowing” her husband. If she is expected to ask questions and he is expected to answer them {spiritually speaking, I don’t think there is a prohibition against a woman googling to figure out how to keep weeds down in her garden}, then they are forced by the structure to grow and mature together.
    7. A Christian wife “should be hard-working in works of charity.” This is something I want to be better at.

    Anything on this list stick out to you? It certainly gave me a lot to think about. In fact, I can say that for all of the book we’ve read so far. We are really learning a lot, and even though some of it should be obvious, it is amazing how muddled things can be in such an upside down world.

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  • Reply Brandy May 28, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Glad you’re enjoying it! It really is a good book. It had been a while since we’ve read a marriage book. So many of them are fluffy, but this one is great! 🙂

  • Reply Kimbrah May 28, 2009 at 6:01 am


    I am really glad you are sharing from this book. It’s giving me a lot to think about and ponder throughout the day.

    I look forward to chatting with you about it eventually. 🙂

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