What Would You Say to a Couple Who Feel Very Differently About the Direction Their Life Should Take?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
What would you say to a couple who feel very differently about the direction their life should take?
I believe that the man is called to be the head, according to Ephesians 5:23 ("The man is the head of his wife"), and that headship implies leadership, protection, and provision. I think those three things are implicit and explicit in the Ephesians text, and that the leadership part implies that, in general, a woman marries a man with the understanding that his life calling will govern their relationship.
When I was dating Noël, I would ask her, "If I'm called to do this, how would you feel? And if I'm called to do that, how would you feel?," because most women marry men before the men are fixed in their life calling, and they know that the life callings change. Of course, if you don't believe in the biblical view of headship that I do, then you're going to say, "Well, we're just going to negotiate this 50/50 and figure it out, somehow."
I just think men should be very clear with the women they're courting or dating and say to them, "Will you follow me wherever God leads me?"
Now here's the catch. Jesus said to the men, "Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her." Therefore there is no bone in this man's body that wants to drag his wife where she does not want to go. That's just not the way he wants to lead. Jesus doesn't want to lead us that way. He won't drag us to heaven against our will. If we want out, we can get out (and thus prove that we were never in). But Jesus clearly does not lead coercively.
So this is a real problem. I understand that. It's a real problem and it's not simple.
Let's just assume the man is the one who is dreaming the bigger, harder dream and the wife is slower in coming. I would not urge any precipitous action on his part. I wouldn't say, "She's supposed to submit. Tell her to submit, buy the tickets, sell the house." That's not the way Jesus leads. It's not the way any man with any brain would lead.
However, he is going to say to her, "I do believe God is calling us to this. I'm not going to act precipitously. I want you on board with all of my heart, and I will give you time. Can we pray about this? Can we do whatever we need to do to grow together in this vision?"
I have seen it work. I've seen it work both ways in this church, where the woman is just fired up for missions and the man is a business man, and he is thinking that she is crazy. But I know where they are in the world right now, because he came around. It took about 5 years, but he was set on fire. And she was very patient. I think the man has more authority and more leadership responsibility, but he may also take 5 years.
The degree to which a woman's "No" should trump a man's "Yes" depends in part on how serious her "No" is. And I don't think you should divorce over a sense of pastoral calling, like "I'm leaving you if you won't come." That won't work in the pastoral ministry.
I want to say to the women: give yourself earnestly to pray through to following your man. And I want to say to the men: don't drag her, coerce her, abuse her, or ignore her wisdom. She may see things you don't see. Listen to her, and then patiently, wisely, lovingly win her to the vision.