After the last message covering the Danvers Statement, we’re going to look at Ephesians 5 in just a few minutes. But I was thinking this morning how I should begin and what I should pray. I always like to pray before I do anything because we’re told to walk by the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. Surely one of the ways to walk by the Spirit, as you teach, is to ask God, the Holy Spirit, to come and help you. So that’s why I always pray before I preach or teach.
But as I was thinking about how we’re going to look at Ephesians 5, I thought about the fact that Ephesians is a six-chapter book. The first three are really foundational and glorious, which if you don’t have, the fifth chapter about male and female in marriage might be interesting to you but it won’t hit home like it would if the first three chapters of Ephesians have become yours.
Interestingly, there are two prayers in those three chapters, one in Ephesians 1 and one in Ephesians 3. They are among my favorite New Testament prayers, largely because they embody the way they pray so much truth about God and so much truth about the way he relates to us. So I thought, there’s probably a correlation then between whether we as a people are open to Chapter 5 and what it teaches, and whether we pray like this and that prayer is answered. So let’s do that, let’s pray.
The Fullness of God
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Lord did that? I don’t know if you have language or experiences to correspond with being filled with all the fullness of God. That feels scary to me, frankly. I mean, I would explode if I were filled with all the fullness of the Creator of the universe, wouldn’t I? That is an amazing prayer. Surely that’s something like what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit — to be filled with all the fullness of God. That’s how the prayer comes to a climax in Ephesians 3:19.
We Christians have an inheritance that is tasted now and will one day be experienced beyond all our capacities here to imagine. Someday, you will be given the kind of body, called a spiritual body, and a kind of soul and heart that will enable you to be filled with all the fullness of God and not explode. We experience it in some measure now.
Saying you’ll be given a spiritual body prompts me to just go ahead and respond to a question that somebody gave me. They asked, “Will we be male and female in heaven or in the age to come?” I think the way I would answer that is yes — that’s clear. However, I want to make some qualifications. Jesus said that there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage because we will be like the angels (Matthew 22:30).
Are there male and female angels? Well, even if there weren’t, that would not necessarily mean that the analogy he was drawing cancels out our sexuality. We might be like angels in some ways and not every way. We certainly will not be like them in every way because angels did not get born with bodies. They may be given appearances as they show up here and there, but by and large, they are spirit beings and we are not. We are embodied spirits, and we’ll always be embodied spirits forever.
Continuity and Discontinuity
I am not a Greek, I am a Christian. Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul only, Christians believe in the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. So you will be raised from the dead. Little babies will be raised; old Christians with gnarled bodies will be raised. We will be given new bodies. If the biblical pattern for the resurrection body is Jesus’s resurrection body, then we learn some things, right?
He could appear through walls. He just showed up, and he could vanish. That’s not your ordinary body. He ate fish in his mouth. He had hands and said, “Put your finger here in my side” (John 20:27). He was recognizable as Jesus. So there’s continuity with this body, and yet it’s a spiritual body; that is, I think it’s suited perfectly for a new world. There will be a world — a new heavens and new Earth. But it will be like this old Earth, because the lion will be lying down with the lamb and that sort of thing.
So with all those pieces coming together, I say, “Yes, we will be who we are.” If you were not woman, women, and you were not man, men, you would be a kind of being that would not be recognizable. You would be so changed that you wouldn’t be you anymore, I think. The Bible doesn’t go quite that far and say that explicitly. I’m just trying to infer an answer to that question from what we do know. I’m inclined to say, my wife will be a woman and I will be a man. We will not relate to each other as husband and wife, which is taught by Jesus in order to prevent polygamy in heaven, as in the case of my dad. My mom died when my dad was 56. He remarried a year later and was married for 25 years to Lavonne. Now everybody’s dead. How are they relating in heaven? He had two wives.
When Jesus was confronted with that issue he said, “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). In heaven there will be no marriage nor giving in marriage. So they’re relating to each other, but I do think my mother is a woman. We have no conceptuality of any kind of human being that is not male or female. The resurrection of the body has enough continuity that I don’t think she’s androgynous — a weird in-between being that’s somehow between male and female.
That’s a question that was asked to me before I stood up here, so I thought since I mentioned spiritual bodies being given to us so that we won’t explode when we are filled with all the fullness of God, this would be a good place to address it. There may be other questions that are emerging, and we will have some time for Q&A later. Let’s go ahead to Ephesians 5.
Recovering Rightful Roles
So we’re going to read this. Here’s our task now. Here’s what we’re up to in this session. In the last session, I tried to defend that there are at least nine pointers in Genesis 1–5 to the fact that men and women relate with men bearing a unique responsibility for leadership, provision, and protection, and women bearing a unique honor and responsibility for blessing, honoring, and nurturing that kind of leadership. In this way, they compliment each other. They grow together and accomplish things together arm in arm, though not in the same way
I argued that the fall, therefore, did not create headship and submission. Some people say it did and would say that all this talk about men being leaders and women being followers is a result of sin. I argued that it was there before the fall and sin really messes it up, so that people swing away from the middle in trying to solve the mess up.
So here’s the mess up. I described it in two ways for men and two ways for women. For men, they either become domineering, abusive, and oafish, or they become passive, withdrawn, weak, dependent, and frustrate the living daylights out of their wives, or beat their wives up. Often men oscillate between those. They withdraw until they can’t take it anymore, then they lash out. Women are caught in that horrible, sinful oscillation between passivity and abusiveness.
Women are sinners as well, and they get it messed up by either being a helpless, mindless coquette, which goes along with the whole stereotype of a helpless, mindless woman, or by becoming totally domineering and controlling, and exerting themselves. Those are the ways, plus others and all kinds of mixtures in between, that sin has messed this thing up.
Some people solve that by swinging way over here and saying, “There are no significant personal differences between men and women.” Egalitarians would say, “Let’s all just be competency-based. Do what you do according to what you’re good at, not with reference to whether you’re male or female. If you can pull a trigger, push a button, fly a jet, or drop bombs, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or not.” I’m not there. I don’t think that the Bible says male and female differences are negligible when it comes to the roles we fulfill. So I’m here in the middle, and I’m calling it complementarity, which takes our differences seriously, not just physiologically, but personally, and then tries to discover from the Bible how that works and how it affects our lives.
A Remedy for Error
Now I think Ephesians 5 and other texts, but especially Ephesians 5, is written by the apostle precisely to take these sin distortions and remedy them. You need to decide how it does that. Does Ephesians 5 fix these sin patterns and bring us into wholeness by taking us over to egalitarianism or taking us over to complementarianism? That’s what we’re after now in this next section. We’re going to read this text, and we’re going to talk about what headship is and what submission is, and why they are talked about the way they are. Is it ugly and oppressive? Is it beautiful like a ballet? That’s the agenda we have set for ourselves now.
I will eventually come back to that one other issue relating to Ephesians 5:21 — “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” I’ll leave that aside for a while, but bring it up later. So don’t fear that I’m omitting verse 21 as the overarching lead into this unit of Scripture. Ephesians 5:22–25 says:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
Now we have the other half of the pair. Wives are compared to the church and husbands are compared to Christ. There’s a twofold analogy. He’s describing the meaning of headship and submission in marriage as a comparison, an illustration of the way Christ carries out his covenant relation with his church and the church lives in covenant relation with Christ. For husbands, Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her. I think that Ephesians 5:25 is the most important verse for married men in the Bible, apart from gospel texts that tell you how to get saved. That’s our charter. It overarches everything. It is huge, it is impossible, and it is glorious. It is so full that it will take a lifetime to do it. It says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.”
I hope it works out that I can close the message on the note of how amazingly honoring the New Testament is to women. I hope I can strike that note because, culturally and historically, Christianity has, in fact, proved to be that way. There are always marginal folks who are messing it up and leaving a bad reputation, but culture after culture has been amazingly transformed. William Carry went to India and said, “Well, we’re not going to be culturally appropriate here. We’re going to say that if you put a living wife on her husband’s grave and stack bamboo on top of her and burn her alive when he dies, we’re against it.” Christians don’t do that to women. I don’t care what your culture says, that’s the way the church has affected culture after culture around the world.
You live in a feminist culture, so complementarity feels to you like it’s pulling you back from some kind of liberty. Whereas in most cultures women have been so completely oppressed that this verse right here is very honoring. I sat in a dark room with no electricity talking about these things once. It was the biggest cultural cross I’ve ever made. I was talking with about five pastors regarding what I had seen in my 10 days in the villages and I was trying to understand the environment. The women appeared to be working in the fields all day. Some had babies on their backs, and I looked around and thought, “Where are the men? What are they doing?” At the end of the day, the women were making the food; the same women who had been working in fields all day were cooking a meal over a fire. I wondered where the men were, or what they were doing. So I asked the pastors, “What do men do here?” And they said, “We make decisions. We meet and counsel.” And I said, “All day?”
So there I was sticking my nose into another culture. I didn’t know anything about how it works, what the dynamics are, and was probably being totally inappropriate, as if to say, “You guys are crazy.” But I opened the Bible to these pastors and I read this passage and said, “It just seems to me that you’re treating your women like slaves. They’re working in the field all day, they’re caring for the babies, and they’re making the meals.” Then they said, “Well, we build the houses, we put up the houses with the big, heavy boards.” I said, “Well, that’s good. I’m glad you do that.”
So the point I’m making is that I think Christianity has a message that affects culture. It just so happens that we live in America, and it appears that it needs to pull American culture in a direction that is a little different than it might pull the culture I referred to before or certain forms of Islamic culture, and so on. So I pause there to say all that because this verse feels to me as a husband, like the weightiest, most difficult, highest charter for my life. This is my main job. My main job is not to get Noël to be submissive. My main job is to love like Christ, and believe that will bring out of her all that is godly and good. He gave himself up for her. He died. Where are you dying for your wife? What aspects of things are you doing to die for her? How are you dying in your leadership?
Ephesians 5:26–31 continues:
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This leadership that Jesus is exercising here is not oppressive. It is bringing this church, which is his wife, to glory, in order to be a beautiful, totally satisfied display of his greatness. And then he switches to argue in a new way about loving your own body. The basis of that little argument is that he who loves his wife loves himself. Why? Because they’re one flesh. If you treat your wife well, you’re treating yourself well and it’s going to work better. Treat her like your own body. Do you hurt your own body? Do you beat your own body? Do you belittle your own self? No. Don’t do it to her either. This is just applying to marriage “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Then Ephesians 5:32 says:
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
“This mystery” is referring back to his quote from Genesis 2:24. I think what that mystery means in relation to the quotation from the Old Testament is not mainly that it’s hard to understand, but that something was concealed for a season and now it’s being revealed. The mysteries are made plain in the New Testament that had been concealed.
One of the mysteries in the Old Testament is marriage. What was the man leaving his father and mother and becoming one flesh with his wife all about? Paul says it was about Christ and the church. That of course was not known until Christ and the church showed up. There were hints in the Old Testament that God related to Israel as his bride — and it’s not infrequent — but the thought that God would relate through the Messiah to the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, as a husband relates to a bride was off the charts in the Old Testament. That was too absolutely amazing. Jews and Gentiles are brought together in one body, united in a one-flesh union with the Messiah who died for them.
So the mystery here is that marriage, as God designed it in Genesis 2:24, represented Christ and the church all along, and it’s even more intentional and clear today. This is why this issue matters a lot, or at least, that’s one of the many reasons it matters so much. If we get headship and submission wrong in marriage, I think we will run the risk of obscuring the display of the covenant relationship between Christ and the church, which is the main reason marriage exists.
God could have made babies any way he wanted, he could have populated the world the way earthworms do it, if he wanted to. But he didn’t. He created this marvelous thing. First of all, he created two human beings, equal in dignity, equally in his image, though very different both in their physiological and their personal orientation on life — male and female. He created a thing called marriage, and he did it with a view to displaying how his Son would relate to the church. Therefore, our task is to figure out how to do marriage in a way that displays Christ and the church, which is a huge calling that almost nobody in the world thinks about. Even secular people will have marriages that display Christ and the church. God set things up that way.
Finally, Ephesians 5:33 says:
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
I’m tempted to linger here on these two things because Noël and I recently started reading a book. I can’t judge how good the book is going to be, so don’t hear this as an advertisement for the book beyond our ability to give it an advertisement because we’ve only read about 20 pages. But I feel like pausing to give you a little personal insight at this point.
One of my daughters-in-law wrote me an email a few weeks ago that said she had read this book called Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs and that it helped her a lot. She liked the book a lot and had gotten insight into their marriage. Her and my son have been married for 11 years, I think. So I wrote back to her and I said, “I’ve ordered the book, because if it means that much to you, I want to get into it, understand you better, and help my marriage grow like you’re growing.” Part of the way I’m relating to my grown sons right now is that as they’re growing, I’m trying to grow. As they’re discovering things about marriage that are troubling, they’re looking to me like, “Is that same with you and mom, and is that why we are the way we are?”
This is really all very serious to me. So that’s one way I’m trying to be in their lives. So I got the book and I took Noël out to lunch, and I said, “Our daughter-in-law said this book helped. What would you think if we read it together? We could just sit on the couch and both read some out loud together. We’ll read out loud to each other.” She said, “Sure. When will we find the time?” And I said, “We’ll carve out half an hour to an hour on Monday, and when we don’t have an elders’ meeting on Tuesday night we’ll do some Tuesday night. Then if we can, maybe we’ll read some on Thursday. So we’ll find an hour or two a week to do this.”
So we’ve begun, and we’ve sat twice so far in the last week, and read about 20 pages out loud. The whole book is built on this verse. I don’t want to say anything too positive or too negative about the book because it’s way too premature to be negative and I don’t want to be overly positive. I want to learn.
Ready to Receive
Another little personal thing here that I hope will help you is that one of my sons said to me, “I think our family is pretty critical. We grew up to be critical. You taught us to discern, and if we see flaws anywhere, you told us to note them and not to be sucked in by them. You said we should be critically discerning in culture, and when we read a book or hear a sermon. I wonder, Daddy, if that hasn’t gone too far, so that we feel as a family that we are unable to learn from people because we see so many flaws in the world.”
That was a very gentle rebuke, but I took it. I just didn’t want to rebel against that at all, because I think he’s probably right. I said, “I think you’re probably right that I have set that tone in this family, and that I am so quick to spot error and incoherence in argument and flawed reasoning and lousy, factual demonstration that the feel you get is not that we are really profiting from this book, but rather that we’re spotting errors in this book because that’s our job.” That can be a pride issue when you’re unwilling to learn, even from those where you see some problems. So I told Noël that he had said that, and I said, “I think we’re like that, and therefore we should come to a book like this feeling like maybe it can teach us something.”
So I told her that we should try not to talk about the negative things we see in this book. We know we’re going to see them because she and I are hypercritical people — my wife is even better at it than I am, I think, in spotting foolishness in the world. So we made that resolution to learn what is helpful here, and we will just not dwell on what is problematic. So I commend that. I don’t want you to be gullible people, okay? But don’t be so non-gullible that you can’t learn from anybody. Let’s be people who are mature and balanced. When we read a book, we see the problems. But we also see good things, and we test all things, holding fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21).
So here we come to the last verse. Eggerichs says that he quit his ministry and his pastorate in order to do full time ministry about love and respect, and he got it here from Ephesians 5:32. He says that what he has found is that the two failures to do this cause the other not to happen. So when a wife fails to manifest respect to her husband, he shrivels up in this and vice versa. It gets into what he calls a “crazy cycle.” She’s not respecting him and he’s not loving her. He’s not loving her and she’s not respecting him, and it just gets worse and worse. Who can break out? I think that’s a pretty good analysis of what happens to a lot of us. However, I’ll just tell you one of my gut negative responses: But aren’t wives supposed to love their husbands and aren’t husbands supposed to respect their wives?
In other words, is it this simple? I realize I’m really asking that question of the Apostle Paul. Because it’s Paul, who chose to end this paragraph with this distinction. He said, “Husbands love your wives,” and he said, “Wives, respect your husbands.” He could have said, “Love each other and respect each other,” he could have said that. That’s true. Surely, husbands are not to disrespect their wives, and wives are not to fail to love their husbands. But what he chose to emphasize was precisely what this book is emphasizing, namely, love and respect. So we should just ask ourselves, what is it about women and men that would summon that distinction? And what is the distinction? I could go on and on with my initial responses to this book here, but I think we have to make some progress here.
Here’s where we’re going now. We want to unpack what we’ve just seen and ask what headship is and what submission is. That’s what we’re after here now. I will try to define it biblically. Here’s my definition of headship, on the basis of what we just read in Ephesians 5:22–33:
The divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, loving, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
I see all those pieces in Ephesians 5:22–33. It’s a divine calling because it’s from God’s Word. It’s primary responsibility, not sole responsibility. It’s Christ-like because he pattens his role after Christ. It’s loving his wife because that’s what Christ did for the church — he died for her. It’s servant leadership because Christ washed the church’s feet and also is the head of the church. It’s protection because Christ died to save the church from sin and husbands protect their wives form harm. It’s provision because the husband nurtures the wife in the home just like Christ cares for the church. So I think all those pieces in that definition are there in Ephesians 5. I’ll unpack it a little.
Regarding primary responsibility, both words are crucial. It is primary, not sole, responsibility. It’s not about his rights. He’s a burden bearer, not a boss. When I think of headship, I want to strike the note of one who is charged to bear a burden, not given rights to be bossy. If your heart is wrong, men, when you hear this word headship you’ll probably start thinking about rights rather than responsibility. It’ll change everything. You shouldn’t sit there saying, “Good. I have a right to tell her to do this and I have a right to tell her to do that.” Rather, you should feel, “Whoa, this is a burden. It is a weighty thing that I am responsible now to lead this family into truth, godliness, holiness, beauty, love, joy, fruitfulness, and everybody growing up into their fullness of potential with my wife flourishing and the children being noble adults someday. That’s mainly my job.” That’s very different from saying, “This is my right. Now I can be bossy.” That’s totally different.
This is a calling on a man that is very heavy, which is why so many don’t pick it up. They work their tail off at work, they come home, and they’re tired. They don’t want to take responsibility for devotions. They don’t want to take responsibility to play with the kids. They don’t want to take the responsibility to sit down and talk about giving to the church. They’re just tired. It’s a burden to be a leader. They think, “You just do it. Let me sit here. I’m tired,” and then he falls asleep on the couch at 6:30 p.m.
Many won’t bear the responsibility of leadership implied here in Ephesians in the concept of a husband being the head of the body. We’ll come back to this later because some people say head doesn’t mean leader, guide, or initiative taker, but rather it means source. I’ll come back to that when I get to objections. I think implied in this is the corollary that the wife is to submit to her husband.
Headship is Servant Leadership
I’m arguing that leadership is implied in the word head, and following is implied in the corollary word submit. So if man is called to be head and she’s called to submit, then head implies guiding, leading, and taking this family somewhere. She’ll follow. She’ll be thrilled to follow if the man takes the family in a godly direction with loving, servant leadership.
It also follows also by the fact that Christ was the leader of his disciples, and is the leader of the church who submits to him as leader. Take note of this: Servanthood does not nullify leadership, it defines the method of leadership. I’m responding to an objection here that I’ve heard over the years. When some egalitarians hear complementarians defend headship in the home as the role of leadership, and the wife submitting, they say, “No, no, no. Jesus modeled servanthood,” as though servanthood was somehow the opposite of leadership.
Of course, everybody knows that’s not the case. There is domineering, ugly leadership and there’s servant leadership. This text here, which is often cited, I think, illustrates that. I could give you the name of a couple of egalitarians who have confronted me on this issue, and they’ve used this text. So here’s what they say in relation to what Jesus did. In Luke 22:25–26, he said to them:
And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
That text is used to say, “Piper, men are not called to be the leaders of their home. They’re called to be servants in their home, like that.” And then I say, “Why is this either-or in your head? I don’t understand why you are saying that.” My basic response is to say, “Picture this. Jesus is on his knees. He’s taken off his outer garment. He’s taken up a towel. He looks like a slave. He’s on the ground. He’s got a bowl of water. He’s taking each of his apostles’ feet, including Judas, and washing them. Let me ask, is there any doubt in any of these disciples’ minds at that moment who the leader is in that room?” There’s no doubt, so don’t buy that. Don’t buy that argument or that contrast.
Jesus didn’t come to blow headship out of the water or blow leadership out of the water; he came to define it and transform it. So all the sin destroying aspects of headship that we’ve seen — men being cruel, abusive, oafish, domineering, heartless, and enslaving — he says no to that form of leadership, but in transforming it, he doesn’t dispense with it. There is a way to take a family somewhere that’s on your knees — modeling, not demanding. It’s leading by example, leading by sacrifice, leading by tenderness, and leading by love. So when I say servant-like leadership, I’m partly responding to a criticism and just partly drawing out the implications of what’s there.
Headship is Protection
Leadership is one aspect of headship, and I’ve named protection as another one. I think that concept of protection from a husband to a family is implied in the death of Christ for the church to save her from the destroying effects of sin. His death for her was not merely a demonstration of sacrificial love — it was love because it protected, it saved.
He’s the Savior of the body, meaning that the body was about to be eaten by the lion. The lion prowls around, seeking someone to devour, but Jesus inserted himself between the lion and the body. He died for the body, and at great cost to himself, he protected and rescued his bride. So I think that’s implied in headship. By their redeemed nature, their true nature, men feel that they should put themselves between their wife and danger.
I don’t know how egalitarians think about this. I get upset about it when I think about it too much. My wife and I have a double bed in a little bedroom. I always sleep on the door side of the bed wherever we go. Now, I can only sleep on my left side. I don’t know why that is. That’s been true for about 15 years now. I can’t sleep on my back. I can’t sleep on my right side. I can’t sleep on my stomach. But I go right to sleep on my left side, which means in some motel rooms, I’m not lying in the direction I want to lie when I’m going to sleep because I’m on the door side. That’s just part of my headship. That’s the way I work it out.
If anybody comes through that door, they’re dealing with me first. That’s the way I think about it. If somebody breaks into the house it’s the same thing. Should we really get to the point where we say, “It’s your turn to go see what that creaky noise was. I checked what the creaky noise was last night.” I think it’s okay to do that with crying kids, which means the man has to take his turn, right? She’s not breastfeeding anymore, you can do it. I did it thousands of times, believe me. One of the hardest things about not killing your kid is getting up in the middle of the night for the third time with a sick baby. I think protection is built into manhood and modeled by Jesus Christ, and part of what headship means.
Headship is Provision
The last one is provision, implied in the nourishing and cherishing that Christ does for the church, his own body, which is an analogy of what the husband is to do for his wife, who is also his body. That raises a lot of questions about bread winning. Can my wife work? Well, of course she can. Women have always worked. In every culture women have worked. In an agrarian society, it was just obvious, right? You had to farm and the wife was working her fingernails off everyday doing what wives do, and the husband was working his rear end off too. They were putting bread on the table together. So here we are in a Western technological society where it’s very complicated because women can do everything men can do in this society, for the most part. They can push as many buttons, type as many keys, write as many notes, sit at as many desks, and that sort of thing. Who works and who doesn’t?
What I’m saying is that a man feels, or senses, a primary responsibility for the provision of the home. How a husband and wife work out the details of their relative and earning power is not, I don’t think, dictated by the Bible. What a wife wants from her husband is not necessarily that he makes her work or forbids her from working, but that he takes initiative to see that it all works out. If her heart is to be free from that to make a home, then he helps that happen. If her heart is to pursue a career, then he works that out with her. When kids come along, I think there we do have some biblical wisdom about a wife being there for those children.
So the issue is going to change a little bit when children come along, but I don’t want to be picky. I don’t want to draw too many hard and fast rules there except to say, when it comes to the question of, “Do we have enough money to live on?” the man should feel the primary responsibility for getting that worked out. He shouldn’t be drawing on his leadership to say, “Okay, you go to work. I’m just going to try to write a book here at home,” or that kind of thing. I think the man needs to take more responsibility for that.
I wrote here a note to myself, “What is lost if a complementarian vision of marriage is lost?” Marriage mirroring Christ and the church would be lost.