The Biblical Balance For A Happy Marriage

1 Peter 3:1,7; Ephesians 5:22-25,33

Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands―Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it―let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): The scales should always be equally poised in exhortations.

JOHN DAVENANT (1572-1641): This Paul has accurately observed in this whole exhortation―he cast into one scale the duties of wives: now he places in the other the duties of husbands also, so that both should be equal in weight.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): Mutual respect is a duty of married life; for though, as we shall afterwards consider, especial respect is due from the wife—yet respect is due from the husband also.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Observe what those two great apostles Peter and Paul, have said on this subject.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Peter and Paul taught the same doctrine.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): The submission of the wife to her husband must be entire, cheerful, uniform, “as unto the Lord,” because the husband is as truly the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church.

JOHN DAVENANT: The limitation is: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” Colossians 3:18―If the husband attempt to entice his wife into any sin, it is not fit that those who are in the Lord, should obey in such things.

CHARLES SIMEON: There is no other limit to her submission…

What is the meaning of those words, “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in every thing?” I confess to you that this appears somewhat harsh―but I am not at liberty to soften it, or to introduce into God’s Word any qualifying expressions, to lower the standard He has given us. You yourselves see the comparison which is instituted by God Himself, and the extent of the requisition that is made. Had the comparison been omitted, we might possibly have thought that the expression, “every thing” did admit of some modifications and exceptions. But who will so construe the obedience which the Church owes to Christ? If, then, we cannot so limit the requisition in the one case, neither can we in the other: and, consequently, in our statement of the duties of a wife, we must take the ground which is laid in Scripture, and set forth the will of God as it is plainly declared in the inspired volume.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Why? Because, otherwise, “the Word of God will be blasphemed,” Titus 2:5―It is unseemly to see a woman, as much as once in her lifetime, to offer to overtop her husband.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in subjection to their husbands; and as for obeying them, why, the majority of women demand that such a hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony.

JOHN DAVENANT: But God most clearly has sanctioned this female subjection: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3:16.

CHARLES SIMEON: If this appear, as I fear it will, “an hard saying,” that impression will soon be removed, by stating next the duties of the husband. “Husbands, love your wives.” Here we observe the counterpart of the comparison which has been before made in relation to the wife―Is the wife to submit to her husband as unreservedly as the Church submits to Christ? Know ye then, that the husband is to love his wife as truly and tenderly, yea, and, as far as it is possible, to the very same extent―“as Christ has loved the Church, and gave himself for it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Thus the authority of the man over the woman is founded on his love to her―and this love must be such as to lead him to risk his life for her.

CHARLES SIMEON: Now, let us suppose a husband to act on this principle: to exercise self-denial, to the utmost possible extent, for the good of his wife; to pant after her happiness, as to be willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, in order to promote it: and let us suppose him never to propose any thing to her, but for her good; and never, in any instance, to thwart her, but with a view to her truest happiness; methinks she would never complain of the extent of her duty to him; it would be all easy, all delightful. Let it be remembered, then, that this is the husband’s duty to his wife.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them,” Colossians 3:19. Never say a bitter word against them.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I have known wives afraid to talk to their husbands, afraid of getting them mad.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, there are some spirits that are very bitter! A little thing puts them out and they would take delight in a taunt which grieves the spirit. I pity the poor woman who has such bitterness where she ought to have sweetness―yet there are some such husbands.

ADAM CLARKE: Wherever bitterness is, there love is wanting.

JOHN BUNYAN: Think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands!

ROBERT LEIGHTON (1611-1684): Your wives are subject to you, but you are likewise subject to this Word.

A. W. PINK: May it move them to treat their wives with that love, sympathy, patience, gentleness, considerateness, which is their due.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  And that, notwithstanding the imperfections and failures that she is guilty of.

CHARLES SIMEON: The duties of man and wife are placed in a light peculiarly simple and beautiful, each under one single term: “Wives, submit―Husbands, love.”

ROBERT LEIGHTON: As being heirs together of the grace of life.” This most strongly binds all these duties on the hearts of husbands and wives, and most strongly indeed binds their hearts together, and makes them one. If each be reconciled unto God in Christ, and so an heir of life, and one with God, then are they truly one in God with each other; and that is the surest and sweetest union that can be―Hearts centering in Him, are most excellently one―Loth will they be to despise one another, who are both bought with the precious blood of one Redeemer, and loth to grieve one another.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Now, as to Peter and Paul―when we receive and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): As Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;” or as Paul puts in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.


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