Throughout C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, human girls and women are frequently referred to as “Daughters of Eve.” In classic Lewis style, in the midst of a story full of whimsy and heroism, he used a simple phrase to communicate a deeply theological reality about women and our very nature. We women are daughters of Eve. This is obviously true in a physical sense, for we are all her physical descendants . But this is also true in a spiritual, philosophical sense as we have been uniquely designed to be life-givers, a reflection of Eve whose very name means, “giver of life.” Now there are various lanes of application that we could take to expound on that idea, but for the purpose of this article, I would like to take some time over the next couple of days to dive into how Christian wives and mothers may do this in their families. The past two weeks we have looked at the general call of women to adorn the gospel with winsome lives and words, and then some practical ways a single woman can do that in her unique sphere of influence. And so now we will continue to examine this same topic, with another season in mind. However, before we do that, a few caveats.
There are some wives who are not mothers, and some mothers who are not wives. The many reasons for that fact, and the scope of women’s lifestyles, simply cannot be addressed piece by piece in 1500 words or less. So please read this understanding that I am not assuming that if you are one, you must be the other, but only writing this collectively understanding that those roles frequently go hand in hand, and certainly hope you can gain from either aspect of this writing whether or not you fulfill either of, or both (or neither, for that matter), of these descriptors. Also, this piece will be specifically addressing believers, married to other believers. If you are a believing woman married to a non-believing husband, the practical application of what is addressed here may look different. If this is your situation, know that this article is not meant to be a source of discouragement, or to feel like an unattainable standard because of your potentially difficult life circumstances. The Lord sees you and is able to lead you through prayer and the Word in what your mission looks like in your own situation. So it is with those clarifiers in mind that I would like to move on to the purpose of this blog post today. We Christian wives and mothers are called to be cultivators of gospel culture in our families, nurturing life in the face of death because of the promises that are assuredly ours in Christ, who is our hope. Both our marriages and the way we parent have deeply missional ramifications, abounding in potential to glorify Christ as we lay down our lives for those nearest and dearest to us.
Sent TO our Husband
Immediately upon being married, our husbands become our greatest human priorities and the primary person we have been sent to, to be an embodiment of the gospel. Even as I write those words I am humbled as I am sincerely aware of how often I fall short to live out that reality on a daily basis. The Lord sent me, a particularly weak vessel, to help my husband, and I frequently look to the Word for hope that that must be for the purpose of exemplifying His great power (2 Corinthians 12:9). As Paul expounds upon in Ephesians 5, the mystery of marriage is that we get to represent in our union the reality of the Good News that is Christ and his nourishing, cherishing heart for His Bride. When we go back to creation in Genesis, we see that women do this through helping their own husbands cultivate and subdue the earth. When we look at 1 Corinthians 11, we see that man, “is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” This is referring to the reality that God directly created Adam, but formed Eve from his side. On first take, we may think that this is defining some sort of tier-system of glory, but that is not what it is saying at all. As Rebekah Merkle says, “If Adam is the crown of creation, Eve is the crown of the crown. Women are the glory of the glory. When you read of the Holy of Holies in Scripture, are you on the furthest fringe of holiness, or are you closer to the center?” The obvious answer is that you are closer to the center. To glorify something means to show off its excellence, even to make it radiate. We get to be the radiant crown, the crescendo, of God’s creation, as we give life to those around us by drawing attention to the goodness of God through our bodies, minds, and spiritual acts of worship. And there is no greater way to do this than to lay down our lives in service of our closest friend on earth (John 15:13). Do we practically consider how to show off our husband’s excellent qualities, sharpening him as iron (Proverbs 27:17), prayerfully strategizing the unique ways we can minister to him in his individual needs? In a conversation with my mom this week, she encouraged me to distinguish the “big rocks” from the “pebbles” in my priorities as I seek to do all that I believe God has called me to each day. Ladies, after the Lord, our husbands are our first and biggest rock to go into the jar of our life plans. I am preaching to myself here. How often do we plan our days, think about what we want to get done in a week, and then, only later, maybe ask our husband what they would like to do or if there is anything we could help them with? This method automatically puts them on the fringe and even detrimentally can cause us to perceive them as an inconvenience that keeps us from getting to what we think is important. The harsh reality is that if we get this priority wrong, it will naturally distort all of our other priorities. Our ministry and care for other people will only ever be as effective as our ability to minister faithfully to our husbands.
Seeking to repent of the wrong view, and to replace it with the biblical lens of our role as ones who have been called to love, cherish, serve, respect, and submit to our husbands, here are a few questions to consider:
Are you in tune with the state of your husband’s heart right now? What does he need prayer in? Are there practical ways you can be of comfort, encouragement? Is there any truth from the Word that might build him up, “as fits the occasion, that it may give grace” to him as he hears it? (Ephesians 4:29)
What ways is your particular husband tasked with “cultivating and subduing,” and how can you help him in that?
What is your strategy for service to your husband this week? Would putting his needs on the calendar first change how you approach your schedule?
Sent WITH our Husband
Another aspect of viewing our marriage with the perspective of calling and mission is that you will understand your relationship as being primarily for the purpose of putting the gospel on display in a lost world. This flies in the face of the self-serving relationship messages that are hurled at us by our culture, and yet it is a rich and true reality of Christian life. We come together to go out. As we desire to fulfill the biblical mandates of seeking to serve and submit to our husbands the way we talked about in the previous paragraph, the Lord is able to use that to build up his church and draw lost sinners to himself. Like the example of Priscilla with her husband Aquila that I shared two weeks ago, we get to go with our husbands to our children, to our church, and to the lost world. You and your husband have unique works and ministry God has called you to in this world. You’re a team! One of marriage’s great joys is prayerfully considering together what ways the Lord might use your covenantal union for His purposes. Naturally, it will look very different for every couple as each one has their own vocations, personalities, gifts, and responsibilities, but this is just another way God gets glory through the multitudinous ways people can bring him honor with their lives. Through seeking the Lord together in prayer, we can trust that He will lead us. In Psalm 143 it says, “Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” With the Lord help, we can fulfill His mission for our lives, beginning in our homes, the way we shape our family culture and invite others in, and then also as we discover what role we have to be faithful ministers of God’s varied grace, through our spiritual gifts, in our local church (1 Peter 4:10). 1 Corinthians 12 illustrates the necessity of our involvement in the Body of Christ so clearly as it points to each person as a various member or body part of the whole body, which is the church. Whether in the context of your family, the church, or the world, it is a wonderful thing to consider what particular ways God is calling you as a couple to serve Him on this earth.
A few more questions to consider in light of our callings to be missional couples for the Kingdom of God:
What missional opportunities are there in your husband’s vocation? Is there a way you might be able to help or encourage him as he seeks to be a light in a lost world?
Are there any relationships that the Lord might be putting into your lives to share the gospel or be a means of godly counsel?
How does being sent with your husband to your children shape the way you present your relationship to them?
What unique part do you and your husband have to play in your church? What ways can you support him in his ministry there?
Is there a ministry the Lord has put on your heart? Have you discussed with your husband what it might look like to pursue it?
On Wednesday we will continue this train of thought, exploring the missional role of wives and mothers to their families, as we look at how we are sent to our children in order that we might send them out. Until then, I encourage you to prayerfully consider working through some or all of the questions I listed above, with your husband when necessary, and see if there are any ways you might reform your priorities this week as you consider how you are called to minister to and with your number one man!