Marriage Roles

Jun 01, 2020 by Mandy Breitenstein

With all this extra togetherness happening inside our homes right now, at times it feels like a giant spotlight has been turned on—and it’s shining directly on my marriage.

Being together 24/7 certainly does illuminate, doesn’t it? For my husband and I, this season has been a good and healthy period of leaning into one another as God chisels away at us. It’s not always perfect, but for better or for worse our marriage relationship is intended to be an image of Christ’s relationship to his bride the church—and God accomplishes this work in us through distinct and diversified roles for each of us as husband and wife.

I think this is where we often find cultural tension. Our world sees the roles God has created for us to fill and calls foul—seeing less. But God looks at us and through the beauty of His complementary design, He sees more.  

God created Adam to be a steadfast, loving and strong leader for Eve. Before sin ever entered the world, God created Eve as a partner who would support, uphold, and honor Adam’s leadership. God created Eve as a helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18), and I think the word study here gives us powerful insight into what God is doing through the womanhood of Eve. The Hebrew word for ‘helper’ in this passage is used in the Old Testament to refer to God as he helps us—in reference to awesome acts of rescue!  Ladies, this is the opposite of inferiority! This is rich affirmation and affords us deep empowerment in knowing how God intimately designed and intended for us as women to be used for radical good in the lives of our husbands!

My husband has primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection and provision in our home. As a woman and as his wife, God has called me into submission to my husband as he leads in this way (1 Peter 3:1). I have the privilege of honoring and affirming his leadership and serve as a helpmeet for him according to my own spiritual gifts. There is great joy in the role God has for me, and no inferiority in what He has designed. In fact, the Greek term for submission (hypotasso) may be better defined as a voluntary surrender. This term honors the value of the wife. While our cultural definition of submission implies passivity, the Biblical call to submission is anything but. Submission in this sense is active—willingly, choosing to subordinate oneself, and in humility, count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).

It's a powerful subordination that the world would call radical—and it is. It’s radical love. It’s the marriage relationship playing out the role of Christ to his bride, the church.

Ladies, as we live out this call to voluntary subordination we are in good company.  Jesus is the example we look to, as he came down from heaven to put our interest before his own. We were drowning! Dead in our sin, a sinking ship with no way to right the vessel. Jesus willingly gave up what was His for our sake. He became subordinate to rescue us, and because of and through this radical sacrifice, Christ was exalted.   When we understand the radical nature of what God is calling us into, we see that the Biblical call to submission—to humble, voluntary subordination—is exalting to both husbands and wives. As I lean into the God-given role I was created for, my marriage is exalted and my husband and I are wholly united in the great that God has for us: living a life on mission and advancing God's glory to the ends of the earth.

Thank you for the marriage relationship you have created; for the beautifully intricate roles you have masterfully written for us as men as women. I pray you would mold our hearts into a posture of humble submission before you, as our gracious and loving Father. Lord, lead our husbands so that they can lead our families in your will. Show us as women how to love and serve them in humility, as their helpmeet, and through voluntary subordination to their servant leadership. Lord, anchor us all in your truth.  


Mandy Breitenstein, her husband Adam, and her family have attended Outward Church since 2018. She serves on the Outward Kids Team.

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