Matthew R. Perry

Submissive Hearts, Submissive Homes – Part I: The Heart of a Godly Wife (Ephesians 5:22-24)

In Culture, Sermons on February 4, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Thank you so much for your prayers while we were in Trinidad. God not only did some good work through us (glory to His name) but He also did some very good things in each of us — things that will take some time for all of us to process.

I had one very interesting conversation with one of the elderly women in the church. Her name is Curlita Nickles and is one of the nicest and most direct people you’d ever meet. I first met her when we did VBS in 2004. We were trying to do some games with the youth, and they were bored. When we ran out of ideas, she would see us and pull me aside and say, “Pastor Perry, you must keep them busy! Keep them active.” But she said it in such a sweet way, you couldn’t get defensive.

Well, I had another conversation with her about something that you would not hear of much in the states. I was scraping off some of the dried cement from around the tiles. I had reached a point where the residue had accumulated so badly that I needed to get the broom and dustpan and sweep. She walked by and we began talking while I was sweeping. I was having trouble in the corners, and she politely said, “Pastor, let me do that — dis sweepin’ is a ladies’ t’ing.” I said, “Well, thank you. You know, I don’t hear that much in the states about something being a ‘ladies thing’.” She said, “Yes, I know, but some things a man should do, and some things a lady should do — and this is a ladies’ thing.”

Why did that conversation strike me so strangely? Maybe because in 21st century America, we don’t hear much about something being for a man or for a woman — the boundaries are not only being blurred, but they are actively being either redrawn or done away with altogether. In fact, the very notion that there are roles designed by God for men and women is met with not only general disagreement but outright belligerence. One of my former youth even said to me that anyone who believes in that is simply threatened by a strong woman trying to make something of her life.

This morning, we begin a series on Submissive Homes, Submissive Hearts. The very notion of submission goes against the grain of our flesh and our culture even now.


1. Before women can submit to their husbands, they must first submit to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22 tells wives to “submit to their husbands as unto the Lord.” This is not to say that they should view their husbands in the same way as Jesus Christ. The Son of God (God the Son) is holy, sinless, and spotless. All worship and devotion are his. Husbands, as many of you ladies are well aware, have many flaws. As much as many unmarried people are looking for the perfect spouse — they do not exist because no one is perfect.

What this is saying is that in order for this command to make any sense at all, one must be submitted first to the Lord in worship. Remember from two weeks ago we looked at what it meant to be filled with the Spirit. Remember the last point? “We must be unabashed in our worship before God and men.” We are to be sober-minded as we desire to see what God’s will is as well as being ones who speak the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, giving thanks to God for everything — and notice the last one: submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. We cannot submit to one another if we fail to revere what Christ has revealed about himself and his will in his word.

Yet the rise of the feminist agenda as with every other agenda that sets itself against the things of God in our country has truly sought to undermine this mindset by first undermining the Word. This is always the slide to liberalism — denying the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God.

Women in our culture resent submitting to anyone in the home or at work. As a result, the feminist movement arose and blamed not only the men who had these character flaws, but the institutions of marriage and family themselves! Janet Richards declares that

Feminism is in its nature radical . . . . It is the social institutions of which we complain primarily . . . . If you consider the past there is no doubt at all that the whole structure of society was designed to keep women entirely in the power of men.”

This is paranoid at best, but dangerous at worst, in my opinion. Be that as it may, feminist Roxanne Dunbar said it plainly:

“Ultimately, we want to destroy the three pillars of class and caste [i.e., sexist] society—the family, private property, and the state.”

So it is no wonder that because men have misused the Word and women have been the recipients of this disobedience for so long that divorce is now seen as a viable option to an outdated institution.

Are they right when they say that divorce is a viable option to come out of an outdated institution like marriage? Are they right when they say that the leadership in the home should be shared and that men being head of the home is “tyrannical and barbaric”? Are they right when they say that husbands and wives should share the ‘breadwinning’ duties? Are they right when they say the idea of wives/moms being as Titus 2:4-5 says, “Keepers at home” an archaic notion to suppress their possible contributions in the marketplace?

Let’s ask other questions: why is the church so silent on these matters? We want to much to help people grow spiritually, yet we do not speak on areas that God clearly outlines because we are, like the Pharisees of old, afraid of the backlash not just from the culture, but also from Christians who have gradually and slowly bought into the lie.

You see what has happened, in my opinion, that this bad ideology (anything that undermines God’s Word is ‘bad’) rose up because so many Christians were engaged in bad Christianity. Husbands began to submit to the idea that they were to be rulers and tyrants and, thus, saw their wives simply as short-order cooks, doormats, sex objects, and even as one of their own children. They submitted to a false Christianity rather than to the true Christ of Christianity. It’s no wonder that women who had been subjected to this began to revolt — if I were them, I would have too.

Yet the problem is not with the Bible or the institutions themselves, it is with the sinfulness in all of us. Men began to be selfish rather than submissive to the Lord Jesus and always will be. Now women are having more of a forum to be selfish rather than submissive to the worship, word, and will of God.

2. When women are submissive, you serve as a witness to your husband.

Here, we turn to 1 Peter 3:1-7. The totality of God’s Word gives us a clear picture of God’s design in creation as well as God’s design for the home. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 we read:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives— when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Notice what is happening here. God has called wives to be subject to their own husbands (again, not men in general, but their own husbands). Why? In the area of God’s design and the roles that he has given both men and women, in this case the women have been empowered by God to be humble for the purpose of being a witness in the home. We may not see it this way, but this is where we also have to submit to the Lord and trust his ways.

How are wives able to be witnesses in the home?

First, I see a witness of encouragement to the Christian husband. Again, we’ve established that all of us have been tarnished by the fall and are subject to sin. And all of us need encouragement in our Christian walk, don’t we? For this, we usually quote from Hebrews 10:24-25 which says:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So in these verses, we see that the body of Christ is to stir up one another to love and good works, to meet together for worship so we may encourage one another until Christ comes. Sadly, though, we only think about church services for this, don’t we? And how often are those? One, two, maybe three hours a week.

Yet the church services end, but where may the majority of ministry be done? Between a husband and wife in the home. Wives, as the part of the church of Jesus Christ, we are to encourage one another to be obedient — and that counts for your husbands, too! Are you encouraging in your comments and in your actions? Proverbs 27:15 says, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.” Do you communicate that you love him and want God’s best for him in good times and in bad?

Second, I see a witness of evangelism to the unsaved husband. Living a Christ-like live in the world outside is difficult. Living a Christ-like life in a home where your spouse does not share the same love for Christ is like living in a cauldron. This is why I always advise Christian high school and college students not to date non-Christians. No matter how much you may seem to have in common and how well you get along, if you don’t share Christ, you share nothing. Paul advises even for us not to yoke ourselves to unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Why? I believe that one of you will have to put something on the outside in order for the marriage to remain in harmony. The unbeliever will either have to put himself outside and Christ first (unlikely to happen), or the believer will have to put Christ on the outside in order to keep the peace (which is what often happens).

Yet if you live in a Christ-like manner before your unbelieving husband, he may not like it or approve. He may mock you and make fun of you, but it will make a difference. Notice 1 Peter 3:14-16:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, [15] but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; [16] yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This brings us to another type of witness: godly behavior. Let’s read 1 Peter 3:3-6:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing— [4] but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. [5] For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, [6] as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Verse 5 says that holy women adorned themselves by submitting to their husbands because of their hope in God. They did not rely on the latest fashions to define who they are. They were known by their godliness, not their goldliness. And women who are out to catch the attention of a man too often do so with skin-tight, flesh-revealing attire that does not communicate godliness at all. The internal beauty of a heart given over to the things of God and to the will and worship and the Word of God speaks more than any external trimmings.

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  1. It was a great sermon this morning. Easily qualifies as bringin it. Some of us college students were talking though and when it got to the end of the sermon we were disapointed it was over already, could easily listened to more. Looking foreward to some more Ephesians.

  2. I think maybe we might find a topic for our BC-Squared conference, eh? Thanks for the encouraging word!

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