I am grieved by the number of godly women who have been counseled to simply be more submissive in hopes that their husbands will be “won without a word by their good conduct (1 Peter 3:1),” without also being taught the true nature of their role as a helper.
When encouraging women whose husbands are ensnared by sin, we don’t want to guilt trip her to action. We want to empower her with the truth that equips her for battle.
While submission is both an essential and lovely part of the marriage dynamic (Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1), it’s not the end of the story.
To better understand marriage, we must first rightly understand the Godhead – the Trinity. Within God, there is God the Father, God the Spirit, and God the Son. In Himself, there is perfect harmony and fellowship among His three persons. While the relationship of Father and Son is seen clearly throughout the earthly life of Jesus, Holy Spirit’s relational role is less obvious.
Jesus teaches His disciples about the Spirit in John 16. He says He will come to, “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” He is called “a helper.”
In Genesis 2:18, God said it was not good for man to be alone, so He made a helper fit for him.
What is the true nature of a helper?
“The Hebrew word used here is ezer meaning help, succor, or aid. This word is used 21 times in the Old Testament, and it is most often used to describe God in His relationship to His people (haleyjmaddox.com).”
Holy Spirit is a helper, and so is woman. The ideal family dynamic reflects the Trinity: fathers reflecting our Heavenly Father, mothers reflecting Holy Spirit, and children reflecting Jesus.
That seems foreign (and perhaps even shocking) to us, being that our families are so ravaged by sin it can be hard to imagine how they truly ought to be. We must keep our eyes on God, not the world around us.
The wife’s role as helper is more akin to a military aid than a household servant. This biblical truth empowers women to walk confidently, nurturing the spiritual wellbeing of the people in their families. While anyone can cook and clean, our identities as soldiers of Christ are innately tied to God’s will for our lives.
She is his necessary ally in the war against sin.
Instead of feeling stunted in her faith when he finds himself ensnared, she can be used mightily of God to help him out. While his sin is never her fault, she longs to see him freed from its grip.
Submission does not mean passively leaving him to continue in sin. Neither does it mean nagging or berating him for his sin. It means lovingly, patiently, fiercely assisting him in his battle against the flesh.
I believe her primary weapon in this war is prayer. She does not have to wait for her husband to step into the role of spiritual leader to approach the throne in prayer. She has direct access to God through Jesus.
Wives are not doormats to be walked over or toys to be used. Neither are they second-rate citizens in the kingdom of Heaven. There are none. Every citizen is vital and beloved. Both men and women are co-heirs of grace (1 Peter 3:7).
Their enemy is Satan, not one another.
Satan desires to destroy marriages. One of his main tactics is to sow discord between husbands and wives. To combat this, they must remember the true nature of the battle they’re engaged in.
It is not husbands versus wives, nor right versus left, nor black versus white, nor oppressed versus oppressor; the real battle raging in the world is the kingdom of light versus the kingdom of darkness. Keeping this eternal perspective reminds husbands and wives to fight against sin with one another’s help, not against each other.