A Wife’s Main Arena

“To be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (v. 5).

- Titus 2:5

All creation is wracked with sin, especially the mind and conscience (Ps. 51:5).

But Scripture likewise says this pervasive depravity does not fully blot out the knowledge of right and wrong in the unregenerate. Non-Christians can often identify the common good and even work toward it (Rom. 13:1–4).

Paul assumes this reality in today’s passage, telling women to do as he says to keep the truth from being “reviled” (Titus 2:5). Knowing that women should be self-controlled, pure, and so on, the unbeliever will deny the gospel if he sees gospel-professing women violating what his discerning conscience tells him is good. This makes sense only if the deeds in Titus 2:3–5 are also good in God’s eyes. Paul has no problem when unregenerate people see Christianity as foolish if their expectations of us do not match Scripture (1 Cor. 1:18–25). But he will not have the gospel mocked because Christians disobey the biblical teachings also discerned by non-Christians. We must not give unbelievers cause to say, “Your gospel is false because your actions are false, impure, and uncontrolled.”

One teaching found both in Scripture and on the consciences of those who do not know Jesus is that married women are to serve their homes (Titus 2:5). This does not mean that women may never have outside employment, only that they must focus their attentions and energies on their homes — on caring for husband and children, submitting to the former and helping the latter learn to follow the Lord. Many call this old-fashioned and oppressive, but even unchurched women in our culture know their households should come first. Modern surveys often report that women regret not devoting enough time to their families.

That wives should submit to their own husbands is also a biblical principle found on the conscience. But Scripture always presents submission as honoring to women. God never tells husbands to demand their wives’ submission; rather, He bids wives to put themselves willingly under their own husbands’ authority (Eph. 5:22–24; 1 Peter 3:1–6). Wives, to conform to the holy order of things our Father has established, must choose themselves to submit to the righteous leadership of their husbands.

Coram Deo

A wife may choose to submit only to the righteous leadership of her own husband, for no one may bow to demands that violate Scripture. Therefore, every husband must train his conscience by God’s Word, that he might have a holy love for his wife and never ask her to do something that compromises her dignity and conscience. If you are a husband, do you love your wife in this way? If you are a wife, do you submit to your own husband’s authority?

Passages for Further Study

Proverbs 31:30–31
1 Peter 3:7

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.