Part 3 – Diagnosing the Disease
In the past two posts, we have learned that the Bible says that a wife who makes her husband ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. If we are going to know how NOT to be this type of wife, we must be able to identify the ways we can be this type of wife. While I’m sure this is not a comprehensive list, the seven things that are going to be listed cover the primary ways in which a wife can shame her husband.
Before we begin this part, I would like to remind you of the illustration about blind spots that I shared in the first post. Sometimes, when driving, our first awareness of a blind spot may be brought about by a blaring horn or the squeal of brakes, or it could be just a casual glance that reveals a car you were completely unaware of and are about to hit! In either case, often our first reaction is a quick overreaction as we swerve to avoid a collision, or slam on the brakes. Our next reaction is often anger, fear, or both. We often quickly blame the other driver or some other circumstance. The truth is, while other factors may be involved, blind spot collisions are almost always the fault of the driver who just failed to see the other vehicle.
I share this illustration again because in the next two posts as we go through this list of ways we can be a wife who brings shame, I suspect some of the same reactions may occur. When the bright light of the Word of God suddenly shines on a “blind spot” in our life, it can be a bit disconcerting. It may make us angry or frightened, or both. Our initial reaction may be to “overreact”, or to point fingers and assign blame. It may bring us a great deal of grief or pain as we realize how near a collision we are…or perhaps that one has already occurred. Even more grief may come as we come to grips with the fact that we may be the ones at fault.
Please, don’t stop reading for any of those reasons. While the initial “jolt” may be painful, it is not the end. We can only correct those blind spots when we become aware of them and are willing to make the proper adjustments. God’s Word will help us, not only to see where we are wrong, but to make those things right.
With that in mind, let’s look at the first few ways a wife can shame her husband.
- She refuses his position. She is unsubmissive.
The Bible clearly teaches that as wives we are to submit to the authority of our husbands (Eph. 5:25-31). While we may know this is so, we also know that this is hard to do! Truthfully, there are times when we may not feel respect for them personally or agree with the decisions they are making, but we are still to respect the position that God has given them, and we are to treat them with respect and reverence. When we do not, not only are we being disobedient to God, we are hurting our husbands.
This study is not going to be in-depth or comprehensive in regard to submission, but I know that this is a hot topic for many women. That’s not surprising. It has been since the Garden of Eden! Just for clarification, submission is putting ourselves under our God-given authorities. It is a willingness to do what we are told. Submission is attitude and obedience is action.
Reverence and submission are biblical words. This respect and honor I am commanded by God to give are not to be emotional responses based on my estimation of my husband’s value and position in my life; they are volitional responses based on God’s estimation of his value and position in my life. My honor for, and submission to, my husband is never to be based on my estimation of his worth, but on my esteem for God’s Word. (This also applies to other relationships where we are commanded to show honor to authorities.)
I honor and respect for Christ’s sake, not my husband’s. If I choose to dishonor those God has placed over me, I have really chosen to disobey and dishonor God. My choice speaks, not of their character or spirituality, but of mine.
Honor is far more than how I feel about a person at any given time; rather, it is to be the way I behave toward that person at every given opportunity. It is how I express my esteem for another – by my words, my tone, my attitude, and my actions.
We may not always be able to obey our husbands and still be right with God (if they tell us to sin), but we can still have a submissive spirit. Sadly, some of us are quite good at obeying outwardly, yet never truly being submissive. This attitude of disrespect and resistance makes our husbands ashamed.
- She relives his past failures. She is unforgiving.
This is a hard one, and one that I’m sure all of us have been guilty of at some point. As Christian wives, we must learn to forgive. That means we don’t bring up everything he has ever done to hurt our feelings, or every sin he has ever committed, every time we have an argument or an opportunity. When we refuse to forgive our husbands and are constantly reminding them (or telling others) of their past failures, we are failing in our responsibility as wives (Eph. 4:31-32).
Our role is not that of the Holy Spirit. It is not our job to convict our husband of his “sins”, nor to convince him in areas he needs to change. This does not mean we cannot voice concerns, but we must be careful not to be “a continual dropping in a very rainy day” (Pro. 27:15). If we want to be spiritual wives, we won’t demonstrate it by telling our husbands how spiritual we are and how unspiritual they are. In fact, the opposite is true. If they are unsaved or away from the Lord, we are told to win them “without the word” (I Pet. 3:1-2).
Please understand, this does not mean we justify or approve of sin if it is in our husband’s life, nor does it mean pretending that wrong hasn’t happened if it has. It does mean being willing to forgive and not continuously revisit those offenses once they are forgiven.
- She ridicules his person. She is unkind.
This wife is the one who rarely misses an opportunity to belittle her husband. Whether publicly or privately, she taunts him, teases him, makes fun of him, and puts him down. She makes sure to let him (and others) know how little she respects him, or how much of a failure she believes him to be. While she may be the life of the party and get a good laugh, her husband (who may be laughing outwardly) is dying inwardly. As my husband told me, “I thought we were a team. No matter what anyone else thinks of me, I want to know that you are on my side.” Our Lord Jesus told us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mk. 3:25). We need to support, encourage, and praise our husbands, not belittle or ridicule them.
- She rejects his passion. She is unloving.
A wife who uses the physical, sexual part of marriage as a tool against her husband is certain to make him ashamed. While this issue can be difficult and complicated in a troubled marriage, the Bible specifically addresses this in I Corinthians 7. If we are making excuses to avoid physical intimacy with our husbands for our own selfish reasons, or if we are using sex (or withholding sex) as a tool to get what we want, or to punish our husbands in some way, we are disobeying God and doing great harm to our marriages. We are also opening wide the door for temptation and infidelity.
- She renounces her purity. She is unfaithful.
A wife who is unfaithful to her husband – physically, emotionally, or mentally – is a wife who brings shame, not only to her husband, but to her family and to the Lord. In a culture that flaunts and praises immorality, God still says that moral impurity and marital infidelity are both sinful and shameful.
As we conclude this post (I know it is a lengthy one), some of you may be saying to yourselves, “What about the husband’s responsibility? She doesn’t know what my husband is like. Why is this all on me?”
I fully understand that there are two people in a marriage, and that both have responsibilities before the Lord. As a wife, I can only be responsible for my part and the same is true for you. This series of posts seeks to look biblically at what our role is as wives and what God teaches us to do. I would encourage you, as you read and study, to ask the Lord to help you to see what your responsibility is in your marriage and seek to fulfill it.
We will examine the final two ways we can shame our husbands in the next post.
If you missed the first post, you can find it here.
Part 2 is here.