CTBHHM: God or Husband—Whom Do I Obey?

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 210—211

Debi just finished telling her readers that God’s desire is for mothers to be keepers in the home, and that if they leave their children with others (even for as little as ten minutes) their children could end up molested or worse. She went so far as to say that not being a stay at home mother was to commit blasphemy against God. Now she addresses an important question, because she has put her readers in a bit of a dilemma.

Whom Do I Obey? 

What if your husband tells you to go to work and leave your children at day care or with a baby-sitter, in conflict with God’s command for you to be a keeper at home? It is God’s will for a woman to love and obey her husband, and it is God’s will for her to be a keeper at home. Whom do you obey?

Excellent question!

This is where firm conviction of faith in God becomes vital. God can make a way for you to obey both. The important thing is attitude. If you have a heart of surrender to your husband’s will and a heart to obey God, it becomes God’s responsibility to resolve the conflict.

This is extremely unhelpful. Debi doesn’t actually answer the question.

We are going to talk about how to present an appeal later, but for the moment, understand that if you are willing to obey in all areas and you do not build a spirit of rebellion toward your husband or God, your appeal is more likely to fall on sympathetic ears.

This isn’t getting any better.

Commit your way to God, and tell your husband that you will do as he says. Then express your concern for the children, showing to him the Scripture that constitutes your dilemma. Tell him that you want to help with the finances and you also want to protect and train up the children. Ask him how you can do both. Your attitude must be trusting, not accusatory or judgemental. There can be no hint of an ultimatum or a pending rebellion. Trust is the key word. Depend on your husband’s wisdom and guidance. Ask him if there is a way you can stay at home while you and the children engage in some work that will bring in an income. Ask him if there is a way you can cut back on expenses so the family can get by on his salary alone. Ask for a trial period. Show him how you can save on uneccessary expenses. Shop at secondhand stores. Move to a less expensive home, if necessary. Have one less automobile. Don’t buy new furniture. When the refrigerator quites, buy a used one out of the local paper. Don’t go on expensive vacations. Use your vacation time for the whole family to paint the house instead of hiring someone to do it. Ask an older friend to help you see where you waste money.

In other words, request your husband to let you stay home with the children in an innocent and sweet way and then trust his wisdom. At the same time, make sure to do everything you can to afford staying home. But what if you do all of this, and your husband still says he doesn’t want to be a one income family? What if you literally can’t live on your husband’s income and still be able to buy things like healthcare or fruits and veggies? What if your husband doesn’t want to live in a smaller house or sell the second car? What if your husband is unemployed?

Actually strike that, I believe I know the answer to that last question. I’m trying to remember where in the book this was, but Debi earlier told women that if their husbands were lazy and not getting a job, they should not go get a job themselves, because then their husbands would have no impetus to get jobs themselves. If you know where in the book this was, let me know, and I’ll put a link here.

Anyway, back to Debi.

Most men would allow their wives to stay at home if the wife could show that it was her heartfelt, Spirit-led desire to be obedient to God in the matter of child training and if she could learn to be more frugal and content. Pray, and ask God to change your husband’s heart and your financial situation. Be prepared for an extreme change in your lifestyle. God will rescue a trusting heart.

And that’s it. That’s the end of this section.

Here was the original question: If your husband tells you you need to get a job, but you know God has commanded you to stay home with the kids, whom do you obey? Debi’s answer is that if you ask your husband nicely, God will make sure your husband gets on board with you staying home. This is not an actual answer. She says that God will always make a way. This rings very familiar, actually, from what I heard growing up—just believe, trust, and God will make a way. This is not a real answer. This is not a real solution to someone stuck between these two commands—that you must obey your husband and that you must obey God.

Proponents of wifely submission frequently tie themselves up in knots like this. After all, they are commanding both obedience to God and obedience to one’s husband. Some solve the problem by arguing that women should obey their husbands only, because that is what God has commanded them to do. The argument is that if their husband commands them to do something God has forbidden, they must do it anyway, and it is their husband that will bear responsibility—that God will only hold women accountable for faithfully obeying their husbands. Most do not go this far, and argue instead that women must obey their husbands completely with a few small exceptions—say, for instance, if he commands you to worship false Gods, or have anal sex, or break the law. Where they lay that line varies. But some, like Debi, don’t want to draw that line. They argue that if a woman truly trusts God and is faithful, she will never find herself in a situation where her husband’s commands and God’s commands conflict. Except, of course, that that’s not true.

And there’s the rub.

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