A couple of weeks ago we looked at the roles that men are supposed to play according to Gods word, in their marriages and families. Today we are going to look what the Bible has to say about women and the role they are to play in this life. 

What happened in the last 40 or 50 years? We talked about male role models but let me ask you ladies a question. Who are you going to model your life after today? Again who are the heroes for women? 

The Evolution of the American Female 

Did you know that women didn't gain the right to vote in federal elections in the US until 1920?  Did you know that they couldn't vote in Switzerland until 1971?  Did you know that in the 1960s, most states would not allow a woman to sign for an apartment lease, obtain a credit rating, or apply for a loan unless her husband or a male relative agreed to share the responsibility?  How would you like to live in that world?  

Did you know that according to a 1965 study, 51% of men thought women's temperament made them unfit for leadership in management positions?  The role of women in the last century was a role of injustice. There was a radical solution that brought about a lot of good.  In fact, did you know now that there are more than 1,000 women who serve in state legislatures?  There are women mayors in over 80 cities with populations over 30,000 or that women own over 3 million businesses?  And that one out of every three medical degrees was granted to a woman in 1985.  

There was a history of injustice, and I'm sure it still remains in many corners.  But sometimes the solution to a problem, even a legitimate problem, can go so over the top, until the solution is worse than the problem. 

         •  The Mother-Absent Family 

In the early 60s, we had the sexual revolution and we revolted against the culture.  Not feminism, but radical feminism, arose.  Feminism is not a dirty word.  Websters defines it as the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to men.  

Underneath that in Websters, it says the movement to win such rights.  Radical feminism, however, is a little different.  This comes straight out of a quote from NOW, the National Organization for Women.  Forgive the language, men and women, but this is from their literature.  They say, Now is the time to drop a boot-heel in the groin of patriarchy.  Now is the time to fight back. Now listen who the enemies are: No God, no master, and no laws.  

Radical feminism, was the solution, but it had unexpected results.  The goal is that there would be equality, that women would be free, that their lives would be better.  They would have economic rise, they would have social status everything would be better.  And the enemy was men.  

And were now 50 years later, and women and children are economically lower than any time in the history of our country.  One out of every three divorces produces a family that lives below the poverty level for at least eight to 12 months.  And then an amazing thing started to happen in this 50 plus year cycle.  

USA Weekend has a picture of a mother, it says, What women want now. They did a survey in the 70s, another survey, same one, in the 80s, then in the 90s, and then the year 2000.  And they've come up with some very interesting things that have occurred.  You can go through it, but what it basically says is in the 70s, the women drew a line in the sand and said, Its either career or homemaker and were going to choose career. 

And it says, What we received was divorce and less family time.  In the 80s, women drew a line in the sand and said, We are going to make our priority to have it all, both career and home.  The survey says, What we received was absolutely being stressed out and overwhelmed.  In the 90s, the attitude begins to change.  And they write, American women approach the new millennium, they are focused more on families and homes and less on meeting career goals or society's expectations than any other in the past two decades. 

Women, although still ambitious for careers, say, Quantity time at home is more important than equality.  They care less about what other people think, and women under 35 say they're less ambitious but aim to have their families first instead of careers, and are even more committed than baby boomers to consider motherhood the most important job in the world.  

It is important today that we have a sense of understanding about the fact that the Bible doesn't clearly teach one way over the other.  There are mothers in this church that are very committed to staying home with their kids and there are others that might like to make that choice but realize that much of our society is based on a two income household. 

If you as a mother choose to stay at home and can do that we celebrate that. If you are unable to do that we want to provide as a church as much help and nurturing for your kids as we possibly can. Again its yet another reason why we have invested so much into family ministries. 

1. It Always Begins with Mutual Submission 

Ephesians 5:21 is going to be the foundational verse for the teaching each week of this series. If you want a further biblical definition of submission, look up and read Phil. 2:3-4. 

. . . And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Ephesians 5:21 NLT 

The Metaphor of The Dance  (Picture) 

The Meaning of Submission First of all it is not a dirty word. It is not a picture of big strong mean people pushing other people down. Submission is a part of life. If you have a job you have a boss and you submit to that person. If you are on a team there is a coach and you submit to them. The goal of submission is not about putting others down but it is about balance and productivity. Submission is about structure and function. It is not about who is more intelligent or who's less or who's more. 

Video: ATT Commercial 

Jesus was submissive in the garden before His death when He prayed to the Father in heaven and said, Not my will but yours be done. 

                A Great Dance/Marriage Requires Clarity of Roles 

God is behind the scenes, and Hes the choreographer.  Hes written all the steps.  The man looks to the choreographer in submission and says, I want to do my steps right.  The woman says the choreographer, God, I want to do my steps right. 

And God says to the man, Step up and love her.  That means you take the first step.  And He says to the woman, okay, you ready?  Step in and follow him.  And the goal is not who takes the first step or the second step.  The goal is harmony, beauty, balance, the dance.  Its about the choreographer and its about the dance.  Its not about who takes which step.  

And so we heard what the men are supposed to do.  Notice, ladies, a great dance requires clarity.  Here's your role.  

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

People will do all kind of expositional gyrations around this.  The word means authority.  There is a structure and a function in the Godhead.  There is a structure and a function in the government, on a team, at a job, and guess what?  There is a structure inside marriage that works for the marriage.  And it says the man has the role of head.  Superiority, no.  But the head yes.  

I want you to do something in your bibles. If you have them ladies look for how many times the word respect appears in this text and guys look how many times the word love appears. Respect appears once and love appears about eight times. The bottom line is that your wife will have little to no respect for you or your leadership in the home if you don't love her. 

Just so you know we are coming back next week to unpack exactly what that means for men and especially husbands so get ready for that. 

And the third observation I have is that if you think that what I'm saying here is radical and it just is from another culture, and you're like, The Apostle Paul is probably on drugs when he wrote this, and all the other stuff in the Bibles good, but he just had a really bad day, and it just slipped into the text I mean, God couldn't want this for us today.  Some of you are thinking this is so politically incorrect I mean lets go back to the original language so we can find a way to explain it away. 

You know what? You are right it is politically incorrect but in a way that you will never dream. 

When he wrote this, the people that were hot were not women.  When he wrote this, the people who were hot were Jewish men, Greek men, and Roman men who'd come to Christ and they read this, and Im sure when that Ephesians scroll was pulled out for the first time, and read to a local church like this the guys thought or said Paul must is really off base on this one.  

Let me give you the Jewish and then the Greek and the Roman view of women and how they were treated in that day, and what you'll see is that between Jesus and Paul, women were taken out of the gutter as things and objects and slaves and were made equal, were made people, were made co-heirs to the grace of God, were made brothers and sisters in Christ, and were told they were so valuable and important a man should give his literal life for her.  

And every time I hear like an ultra-feminist talk about how the Bible is so narrow, and how Jesus and the apostle Paul has done such damage to women, I have news for them.  Without Jesus and Paul, let me tell you where you'd be.  To the Jews, they had developed a very low view of women.  To them, they were servants.  A man looked at his wife, shes a servant.  Shes a slave.  

The average Jew got up each morning and he had one prayer he prayed first.  God, I thank you I'm not a gentile, a slave, or a woman. By the time of Jesus and Paul, although it violated the Old Testament teaching, Jews were divorcing their wives on a whim.  

A woman had no recourse and could never divorce her husband.  Sound like a fun world?  You know what changed it?  The Scripture.  The New Testament.  Well, if you think that's bad, women were slaves to the Jews, the Greeks were worse than the Jews.  In the Greek world, there wasn't a legal procedure for divorce.  You know why?  It wasn't necessary.  

Wives cleaned the house and had legitimate children.  Demosthenes, the statesmen said, We have Cartesians for pleasure.  We have concubines for daily cohabitation, and we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately and being faithful guardians for our household affairs.  Now that sounds like a nice world to live in, doesn't it?  Lets see, I can be a prostitute, a concubine, or someone to clean the house and bear kids that will bear his name.  

Its hard to believe it can be worse, but it was.  The Romans were even worse than the Greeks.  Divorce was not the exception but the rule.  Gerome, an ancient writer of the time, tells of one Roman woman who married her 23rd husband, and she was his 21st wife.  And we think its bad today.  

Marriage in Rome became nothing more than legalized prostitution.  To the Roman world, a woman was disposable and dispensable.  Not even an object.  Just a thing.  And so if you think what you're reading is narrow and politically incorrect in your day, what you are reading is the emancipation proclamation for all women of all time that said, You are a co-heir of the grace of God, that men should mutually submit to you, that a man should lay down his life for you the way Christ on the cross laid down his life for his church.  

And what the Apostle Paul did and the teachings of Jesus did is it took women from objects of simple pleasure or being disposable and dispensable or in their good days a slave, to become fellow heirs of Gods grace.  It made women a person, to be treated with dignity and love and to be sacrificed for.  

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of Gods word.[b] 27 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. 28 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. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.      Ephesians 5:22-33 NLT

Related Passages: 1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 11:3 

You remember a couple of weeks ago guys when I asked those questions and we had to deal with them. Some of us had to step up and take initiative to get back involved in our families life. 

Well today I have a few questions for the ladies that will help bring clarity to this subject today. 

  • When a major decision must be made in your home,  who would your children say holds the most influence, and who defers or submits to that decision?  You know, you got a couple of kids and they're watching you duke it out in a loving kind of way about a big decision.  If your kids were talking to each other, and they were being honest, who's going to win this one, Mom or Dad?  Who's going to defer?  That'll tell you who's submitting in the home.  

  • When conflict occurs in your home, about what your children can or cannot do (Discipline is one of the big areas we all fight about) You're too harsh; you're too easy.  She shouldn't date that guy. Shes not going out of the house dressed like that!   The issue is what can your kids do or not do?  Whose opinion is usually followed when there's conflict?  Husband or wife's?   This tells  who's supporting and submitting. 

  • When a major purchase is being considered, whose thoughts, opinions, and influence are most often the final say?  It doesn't mean there's lots of talk and discussion.  But whose thoughts and influence are the final say concerning cost, timing, colors, and affordability?  Who's the one saying, You know what?  Its a great deal; we just cant afford that right now.  And who says, Yes,  you know what, I think that's wise.  That's the person submitting.  

  • Which spouse in your home has the greatest sense of security and peace that things will be handled well, thought through, and carefully planned for the welfare of your marriage and your home?  

Have fun with those questions and don't call just stay home and work it out! 

Lets spend the balance of our time unpacking this submission thing a bit further. 

3. Wives Are To Step-In and Support, Affirm, and Encourage Their Husbands With Strength and Respect To Lead Their Families In Righteousness. 

What Does This Mean? 

If guys step up like they should as godly men and lead in their home the wives should step in and support, affirm and encourage their husbands. And the toughest things about all of this teaching is overcoming our habits and the culture that we have settled for. 

Here are three things to consider about this: 

Wives must understand that marriage is not an equalitarian fifty/fifty proposition. 

Ive heard this described better as maybe it is 100/100 but really that is not biblical either. You cant get around the scripture that clearly says, submit to, submit to and respect.  Don't take this out of context because guys have been given a clear role to play. Remember you ladies are to be loved as Christ loved the church.  This is not about authority but about structure and function. Someone has to lead. Someone has to be in charge. (lovingly and godly) 

The idea of supporting or submitting is not a limitation, but it is a protection and provision for the wife and family.  

If you want to talk about influence ladies you probably will always have that one. I have yet to see even the biggest toughest meanest NFL player look into the camera and say, He Dad! Who wall know the wife and mother is the glue of every family. 

Here's the deal ladies. If you don't learn to submit, all that influence you have in your home will become responsibility and you will have to take it all on. 

Think about this with me for a moment out of the marriage context. When you have a healthy work environment it is because you have learned the benefits of submission and respect. This is a tough illustration because often we have a breakdown between the employees and the leadership and there is very little respect but when you have mutual respect and a clarity of roles there is comfort and safety in knowing that you are not alone but there is someone tasked with providing leadership and guidance to you. 

Wives must voluntarily support their husbands from the heart as an act of obedience to Christ. 

Colossians 3:18 says, Wives must be subject to your own husbands as is fitting in the Lord. Its mutual submission.  But you do this voluntarily.  It starts submission, primarily, ladies, is an attitude that turns into a behavior, done as an act of worship that causes you treat your husband with affirmation and support and respect that produces the kind of man that you've always longed to have.  

Its an amazing thing.  But it has to be voluntary from the heart.  Submission is not the cross that you carry.  Ladies, God wants you to know, if you will learn to defer, if you'll learn to support, encourage, if you'll learn to ask questions, if you'll learn to actually provide some vacuums where you need help, you will find that a godly man will step up and be a real man.  

If I can communicate this one I will be a real genius. 

Scenario: Just married and don't have much money and the guy is out spending like there is no tomorrow and the wife is trying to balance the checkbook and it is not working. What does she do? Begin nagging him about it? Does she get mad and pitch a fit about it or does she have a conversation where she says I need help with this? 

Scenario: The kids are in trouble at school and aren't getting their homework done and the guy is sitting in his favorite seat (remember recliner and remote control) Does she approach him with, You never do anything around here. I have to do it all or do you think I really need your help with this would be a more motivational approach? One is submitting and respecting and the other is not respectful at all. One if motivating and appeals to a guys need to help and the other reinforces that fact that he is a failure and always has been a failure and will probably always be a failure. 

Wives must believe that submission (stepping in vs. stepping over) is a woman's greatest ally; the key to bringing about positive change. 

Where would you really like to see your husband change? Go ahead and think about it silently for a moment. (More responsible, more romantic, more interest in the financials,  be a leader spiritually in the home) Is your strategy working? 

What kind of results you getting?  Do you make him feel real guilty, and he kind of does it for a while and then slips back into the same pattern?  And you have these little cycles, you get mad at each other, have a little fight, forget it, never get it resolved and then play the game again?  

Ladies, what if I told you there's a different way, and it gets results because God planned it? 1 Peter chapter 3 says this, 

1 In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.

3 Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 6 For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do. 

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in Gods gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

What This Does Not Mean 

It doesn't mean you are to be passive or feel inferior. 

It doesn't mean that you submit only when you think hes right. 

It doesn't mean that you violate Scripture, reason, or morality to support your husband. 

It doesn't mean you're a doormat. 

It doesn't mean you use submission as a tool to get your own way.