Marriage Instructions: Roles and Responsibilities

Posted on 07/23/2014 by



For some time now, I have wanted to provide a series of posts on the blog that look at the verses in the Bible that provide the foundation for what we believe about marriage. We started with several posts looking at the gospel and sexuality. Last post we started looking at the gospel and marriage. We will continue today by looking at what the Bible gives as instructions for marriage.

Once again, I want to state that most of this material will be coming from a Secret Church on Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel by David Platt from 2011. I highly recommend that if you want to know more about this topic that you visit where video streams and other materials are available for download. Additionally, I have found most of David Platt’s work to be extremely grounded on the Word and without a lot of fluff.

Instructions: Roles

Let’s begin by looking at what the Bible says about our roles in marriage. We will begin by looking at two instructions God laid out for us.

  • As Christ relates to the church, the husband is the head of the wife.
     And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the Ammonites and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the LORD gives them over to me, I will be your head.” –Judges 11:8-9

that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church… –Ephesians 1:20-22

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. –1 Corinthians 11:3

  • As the church relates to Christ, the wife is the helper for her husband.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” –Genesis 2:18

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. –Ephesians 5:22-24

Instructions: Responsibilities

Wives: The Definition

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. –Proverbs 31:10-31

Wives: Honoring Christ through Submission

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. –Colossians 3:18

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to
their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. –1 Peter 3:1-6

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. –Titus 2:3-5

Wives: Respect your Husband

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. –Ephesians 5:33

Before we move on to the responsibilities of the husband, I want to end this section by sharing a statement from David Platt, “Your respect for your husband is not based on his performance but is based on God’s call and command in your life as his wife. Revere Christ through submission to your husbands. Respect them. Honor them. Build them up. That’s God’s responsibility for wives.

Wives: Observe your Husband’s Leadership

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. –1 Peter 3:1-2

Husbands: Sacrificial Love as a reflection of Christ

“Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” –Luke 22:26

David Platt emphasizes that, “the thought of headship in marriage should cause every man to tremble, and the last thing any husband should do is joke about being head of his wife. You’re head in the sense that you lay down your life for her, in the same way that Christ laid down his life on a cross.”

Husbands: Love your Wife

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. –Ephesians 5:33

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. –Colossians 3:19

Husbands: Selfless Love

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.” –Deuteronomy 24:5

Husbands: Effective Love

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 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. –Ephesians 5:25-27

David Platt explains this further by saying, “The world says, ‘Love your wife because of all these positive characteristics she has. Love your wife because she deserves it.’ That’s fickle love because, as soon as some characteristic in your wife is no longer as appealing as it once was, then your love disappears and fades away. Husbands, love your wife, not because of who she is, but because of who Christ is.”

Husbands: Lead Your Wife to be Lovely and Your Marriage to be Holy

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.” –Ephesians 5:28-31

Husbands: Nourish and Cherish Your Wife

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. –1 Peter 3:7

Husbands: Love Your Wife Completely

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. –1 Corinthians 13:4-7

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” –Matthew 22:39

As we end our look at the roles and responsibilities of marriage, I want to leave you with another point that David Platt makes in this study, “in Ephesians 5:28-31 (written out above) Paul just appeals to man’s selfishness. Men, you know how much you care about yourself? Well, care for her like that. Nourish her and cherish her. Use your position to treasure her, not debase her, and love her completely.”

Husbands: Outserve Your Wife

“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –Mark 10:43-45

Husbands and Wives: Let Christ Serve You

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. –Colossians 1:27-29

Let us not forgot that if we truly allow God to work in and through our marriage as a husband and wife there is no marriage that is beyond God’s power to save. This is the goal of marriage and not some worldly defilement of truth.