Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Are Wives Called Too?

How many times have you heard the statement, "If God calls the husband into ministry, he will call the wife, too"? There are some remarkable and beautiful examples of this statement at work. The lives of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards are a testimony to God's call on a couple.

But there are also some rather glaring examples of couples who did not share the same opinion of God's call on their family. The situation with William Carey and his wife comes first to mind for many people.

It sounds good and proper and politically correct to make a statement like "God calls the wife, too", but is it biblical? Was William Carey out of line when he initially decided to leave his wife behind while he sailed for India? Was he disobeying the will of God for staying while his wife went insane? What does the Bible have to say?

The answer to that question is 'little, but enough'. As far as I can tell, the Bible says that wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22), and that would include submission to calling. In fact, I would say that God has placed a call on the wife if he has called the husband, but that such a call will come through the husband. In that way, it's similar to the Garden of Eden, where God gave Adam the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but (this is inference - but it is strong inference) Eve heard the command only through Adam.

The man who receives the call of God should not have to wait for a mystical call to come for his wife also. He should inform his family of God's direction and they should follow. Any disagreement with this policy would seem to be completely out of sync with the Word of God. That is not to say that such issues should be handled in an unkind way. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, but remember that Jesus commands his church and directs it as he loves it.

In Exodus chapter 4, after Moses has received his calling from God at the burning bush, an interesting thing happens. He returns home to get his father-in-law's permission to leave, but he simply rounds up his wife and children and tells them what they are doing. I think that if the same call were to come in 21st century America, the man would return home to try to persuade his wife and would simply inform his employer that he would be leaving.

We have our hierarchy of authority all screwed up. We spend a lot of time bribing, sweet-talking, and arguing with those who are supposedly under our authority and we pay almost no heed to those whom God has placed in authority over us. This is not progress, this is sin.


Joe Blackmon said...

When I told my wife I felt that God was calling me to preach, she was OK with it outwordly. I had been in the music ministry for about 2 years. But the further we went into the process of trial preaching and talking to churches the more it came out that she felt resentful that God had not asked her permission. I guess I understand. Although I'm not pastoring right now, I teach the 3rd-6th graders on Wednesday nights in Awanna and I like to feel like I'm teaching the Bible on my blog. I can honestly say, though, that God has done a work in her life to soften her heart and make it more submissive. I believe now if the opportunity came for me to preach or pastor a church again, she would not be so dead set against it.

I'd also like to say that I've seen some women who were really excited to be a "preachers wife" because they enjoyed the attention. Those kind of people freak me out.

Rgirl said...

I am a pastor's wife. I did not wish to be so. In fact, when I married my husband (author of this blog), he was on his way to become a computer programmer. He told me one day that he felt called into the ministry. I said "Are you sure?" I could foresee many more years of schooling & a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to help pay for said schooling. I was ready to be a mommy & stop working, so this news was not exciting to me at all. Needless to say, there were 3 more years of schooling w/ me working to support my husband. During those three years, my desire for children was put on hold as my husband deemed it unwise to have them during this period of our lives. It was rough. But God provided. He took care of us & taught us to rely on Him. We were very poor financially, but He always met our needs. We were rich in friends and family. Right before my husband's last semester, God blessed us with a beautiful little girl. He then provided a way for me to stay home with her, despite Corey having a whole semester left & not much pay. My job suddenly had a hiring freeze & they begged me to work nights part-time b/c they could not hire anyone to take my place. I was then laid off b/c of company cut-backs & placed on two months of severence pay. All this got us through right up until Corey graduated. It was pretty amazing to see God's love and care. I say all this to say- the road to becoming a pastor (if seminary is in your future) is a hard road. Not many seminary wives jump at the thought of poverty, perhaps having to work different shifts from your spouse & not having much time together, perhaps delaying children, unknown future, leaving family & friends behind for who knows how long, etc. And the idea of becoming someone that other women (maybe) look to as one who "knows her stuff" is a bit daunting.

We are now serving at a church 13 hours away from my family. It is often very lonely. We're new in a town of people that have grown up together, most of whom have never known what's it's like to move at all.

I would not EVER have chosen this road. But God did. I did not go happily or supportively with my husband (in fact, it was almost kicking and screaming), but God took care of us. He's changed me & helped me to become more submissive to my husband. He's made my husband more loving toward me. There is no other place I would rather be than in His will. And I know that He will continue to meet our needs. Pray for your wife. It is a hard road, but it is a good one.