Home > Brandenburg, Complementarianism, Feminism, Marriage > Should a Wife Ever Disobey Her Husband?

Should a Wife Ever Disobey Her Husband?

Yes.

A wife should not disobey God in order to obey her husband.  Acts 5:29 is the pivotal verse for this:  “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  The chief responsibility for the wife is to obey God.

Obeying the husband and obeying God shouldn’t conflict, but we know that sometimes they will.  In Matthew 10:36, Jesus said that “a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”  He doesn’t mention the husband-wife relationship, but the husband and wife are an obvious example of two people who live in the same household.   The Lord brought a sword that separates family members and that conflict will come when a saved wife follows the truth in disobedience to her husband.  We see the same type of affect on a marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:13-15:

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

The unbelieving husband might depart because of the wife’s sanctifying type of lifestyle, which would again be her obedience to the truth.  The unsaved husband might not like it and decide to end things.  If she was obedient to him in all matters of his opinion, that contradicted God’s Word, there would be no conflict between the saved wife and unsaved husband.

1 Peter 3:1-6 gives the example of a saved, obedient wife with either an unsaved husband or a disobedient, saved husband.  In the 1 Peter context of a Christian’s suffering at the hands of the world, the unsaved husband is mainly in mind, but the text simply says he “obeys not in word.”  How will the unsaved husband be won to salvation or the disobedient be won to obedience?  Verse two says by her “chaste conversation.”  What is a chaste lifestyle?  It is an obedient-to-God lifestyle.  She shouldn’t be attempting to win him by preaching the right thing to him, but by living the right thing before him.  She’ll probably suffer for it, and that’s the assumption of the 1 Peter context, but the continuation of that chaste lifestyle has the best opportunity of his being won.

Later in verse six of 1 Peter 3, we get the example of Sara obeying Abraham.  It does use the Word “obey.”  However, the command of 1 Peter 3:1 and 5 is “be in subjection,” a different word than “obey.”  The responsibility of a wife to her husband is to be in subjection to him (cf. Eph. 5:24).  Obeying her husband is a good way to respect him and honor his authority, even as Sara did with Abraham.  However, she is commanded to place herself underneath her husband’s authority.  This does not demand carte blanche obedience.

You might be thinking of Titus 2:5 where the young women are to be taught to be “obedient to their own husbands.”  “Obedient” there is the same Greek word as “be in subjection” in Ephesians and 1 Peter.   It is not the standard word for “obey” like we see with the child in Ephesians 6:1.  Children obey their parents.  Wives submit themselves to their husbands.   She respects and places herself under his authority.  The word “obey” is primarily an action reserved for God.  Many times men are called upon to obey God.  Women are called upon to be in subjection to their husbands.  That will often require obedience from her.  However, she isn’t required to obey him when that means disobeying God.

God’s Word is absolutely consistent.  God will not deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).   God’s nature is perfect in every way.  Men will contradict their own positions, but God will not.  A woman has a hierarchical relationship with her husband as it relates to the authority Divinely imparted to him.  However, the man has an authority over him, Who is God.  God is the higher authority, so when the husband and God contradict, the wife obeys God.

What will often occur when a wife obeys God instead of her husband?  She will suffer for it.  The husband often won’t like her disobedience and will give his wife a difficult time.  She should keep obeying God.

Of course, this doesn’t assume that she is right to disobey her husband in areas that are either Scriptural areas or even non-Scriptural ones.  Her general pattern is obedience within the sphere of subjection.  She does what her husband says.  This pattern will hold true until he uses his authority to require disobedience to God.   This saved woman will sanctify the home, implying her children, by being an example to them of obedience to God.  This will allow them to see the difference between the obedient wife and the disobedient husband, which will bring the sanctifying effect to their souls.

If a father desires for his daughter to obey God with her life, he shouldn’t give her to an unsaved man as a wife.  He should decree in his heart and keep his virgin daughter (1 Corinthians 7:36, 37).  In this proper use of his authority, the father will have done well.   However, for any woman who finds herself in the unseemly predicament of marriage to an unbeliever, she still should remain loyal to God in all things, even when her husband would have it another way.

  1. November 27, 2007 at 6:43 am | #1

    Very well put, Brother Kent. I particularly appreciated the handling of 1 Cor. 7:13-15.

    As to your last paragraph, a month on courtship, dating, and the parents’ responsibility in mate-choosing would be fun, don’t you think?

  2. Bill
    November 27, 2007 at 8:19 am | #2

    I have been slacking this month…your article looks good I have only read the first few lines and I appriciate having the Bible verses accessible. Hopefully I’ll get with the program and finish reading this article and the rest of the months. Till then, Hammer on.

  3. Joel Lichtenwalner
    November 27, 2007 at 5:12 pm | #3

    “If she was obedient to him in all matters of his opinion, that contradicted God’s Word…”
    Unfortunate comma.

    Throwback 13

  4. Michael Marshall
    November 28, 2007 at 10:48 am | #4

    A humorous side note to your post. I use Gmail, and when you open an email, on the side it gives you links to sites that have something to do with the content of the email you are reading. Here is a sampling of some that came up when I got your post on this subject:

    Why Mommy is a Democrat – Because no child should grow up to be Ann Couter.

    Is the Decalog canceled? 22 reasons why all OT laws are canceled & we must obey all NT laws. (I’m sure it is a theological blockbuster!)

    Help for your Remarriage – Is the ex wife giving you the second marriage blues? Learn how to cope.

    Talk so He’ll HEAR You – 5 Free tools to get closer to your man & have him finally hear you!

    Reprinting these is not an endorsement of any of these links!

  5. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 1, 2007 at 1:45 pm | #5

    NO!

    Gen.3:16 “and thy desire shall be to thy husband,and he shall rule over thee” 1 Cor.11:3 “the head of the woman is the man” The bible tells the wife to obey her husband in all things.
    God tells us not to bear false witness,yet Sarah is exorted for doing just that,or rather for obeying her husband.

    Maybe if women obeyed their husbands like God commands them to we wouldn’t have a bunch of feminazis running around wearing pants,running for political offices,pastoring churches with bobbed hair.

    Of course men are slack in their obedeince and have become a bunch of creampuffs,pussyfooting around……..when talking about the female role we can’t lessen the male role.

  6. Bobby
    December 1, 2007 at 6:48 pm | #6

    I’ve never seen a church with bobbed hair . . .

  7. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 1, 2007 at 8:41 pm | #7

    Bobbed hair,thats when a woman wears her hair short like a man.

  8. December 1, 2007 at 9:55 pm | #8

    The Bible also tells us to obey government (Romans 13:1-3), so what do you do with Acts 5:29, then Donkey, “Obey God rather than men”?

  9. December 2, 2007 at 6:58 am | #9

    Have you ever noticed that while Hylots are very sarcastic, they very seldom get any of the humor in these posts? They are also so very spiritual that they explain complicated truths like “bobbed hair” for those of us who just haven’t arrived yet!

    Donkey, it is never right to disobey God! Isn’t that simple enough?

  10. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 7:35 am | #10

    For a wife to disobey her husband is to disobey God.

    Hey,how fast was that calf going,..anyways?

  11. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 8:40 am | #11

    Question,…two parents haxe a son who is 16,has a job and pays a portion of the bills and wants to attend church but the parents tell him no…….should he disobey and go anyways?

  12. December 2, 2007 at 10:24 am | #12

    Donkey,

    You didn’t answer my question. You are saying it’s fine for her to disobey God. The Bible actually never commands a woman to obey her husband, as I showed in my post that it really doesn’t seem you read. I really think we must require you to read the posts before you comment. If you don’t want to do that, then I’m asking you not to comment. Please don’t go into your ‘quit and run’ speech now. OK?

    Regarding the teenage son, I’m not going to answer your hypothetical yet until you are willing to deal with Acts 5:29 as it relates to the wife and the husband.

    You totally botch 1 Cor. 11:3 and Gen. 3:16, showing no understanding of hierarchy of authority, which those passages actually teach.

  13. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 1:58 pm | #13

    Kent,
    Boy oh boy,what bible are you reading anyways?……The same one that says repenting of sins is a condition to salvation?!

    Titus 2:5 “To be discreet,chaste,keepers at home,good,obedient (notice the command that you claim isn’t in the bible?) to their own husbands…..”
    Col. 3:18 “Wives submit yourselves(hupotasso,to obey…..notice that command that you say isn’t in the bible)unto your own husbands….”
    Eph.5:22″Wives,submit(hupotasso,to obey…..theres that word that isn’t in the bible) unto your own husbands….”

    The reason many christian men don’t like this is because they don’t want the responsibility of being accountable……they are cowards!!!!!
    1 Pet.3:6 “Even as Sarah OBEYED Abraham….” From Gen. 12:10-20,…notice Abraham was dealt with not Sarah….

    Acts 5:29….notice the word “men”…..a generic word,directed to men in general,but the verses that I offered are directed specifically to husbands and wives.

    Pussyfooting men who don’t have their house in order,(wives and children in subjection {hupotasso,to obey})and under subjection to God,in my opinion are the real reason for the downfall of this nation!!!!!

    By the way the whole point of showing 1 Cor.11:3,and Gen.3:16 was to show the hierarchy of authority.
    Rom. 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher power. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,resisteth the ordained of God.

    Kent,how fast was that calf going,anyways

  14. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 2:15 pm | #14

    Kent,forgive me I forgot that your not supose to define a word with itself,…but as you guys have taught me I must define a word with another word……so, maybe submit should be defined as sin.

    Art,your right! It’s never right to disobey God……simple!…Wives obey your husbands in all things.

  15. December 2, 2007 at 2:52 pm | #15

    I’m actually fed up with you, Christopher, and personally, I want to kick you off this site. It isn’t because anyone is afraid of you spiritually, Scripturally, psychologically, physically or in any other manner, so do not bring that as a reason. It’s because you don’t listen. I told you to read my article and you did not read it. If you did read it, then you are of such spiritual dullness that you can’t comprehend spiritual truths, which is a conclusion actually that I’ve already come to. I would like a Hyles proponent that at least attempts to deal with our arguments. You don’t. Here’s why, and I’m giving you limited opportunities, so please pay attention.

    Submit or be in subjection is the command for wives to husbands throughout the NT. Even in the English, “obedient to their own husbands” from Titus 2 isn’t a command. A command is a verb, not a noun, Donkey. “Obedient” is a noun. On top of that, the word “obedient” is hupotasso, which you did not know because you didn’t read my article. That word does not mean “obey.” In your #14 you fabricate Scripture, adding to Scripture, when you say: “Wives obey your husbands in all things.” That’s not in Scripture. You essentially made that up, which is a lot of what you do, just invent new things and add them to Scripture.

    When a husband tells his wife to do something in disobedience to God, you are saying that women should disobey God. Scripture says that when a man, any man, notwithstanding your donkey-like dealing with Acts 5:29, asks for disobedience to God, men and women are to obey God and not that man.

    Wives are under the authority of men, of their husbands, but they are under the greater authority of God and when the husband and God contradict, the wife obeys God. That doesn’t make the husband a coward or whatever name you want to call it.

  16. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm | #16

    Hupotasso:to obey,place yourself under:…..unless of course,the KJV Strongs Concordance is lying……to obey(which requires action)a verb.
    Place (person,place or thing),but to place yourself somewhere takes action,and according to the deffinition this word is a form of a verb.

    “Submit or be in subjection ( to obey,to place yourself under) is a command (verb,…”the bible never actually commands a woman to obey her husband”) for wives to husbands throughout the N.T.”

    Contradiction,redefining words and circular reasoning!
    There is no command,…there is a command throughout the N.T.?! Make up your mind!

    Verb:shows action,state of being,helps or links
    Adverb……I don’t have time for the English lesson,but usually when someone tells the truth they get kicked off or out or rejected……so, if your panties are in a bunch,…be my quest!

    You still didn’t answer my question!

  17. December 2, 2007 at 7:31 pm | #17

    There you go again with the underwear. Please respond to Acts 5:29. We are told in Scripture to obey government and those in authority, and yet the Apostles did not. They obeyed God. Does not the same principle apply to a wife obeying God rather than her husband?

  18. Scott A. Blair
    December 2, 2007 at 7:52 pm | #18

    In Luke 2:51 the Scripture says that the Lord Jesus Christ was subject to them (Joseph and Mary).

    Given the context of the account, would you say that the 12 year old Jesus Christ would have obeyed His Father or Joseph and Mary in a contradictory situation?

    Luke 2:48-49 “And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

  19. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 2, 2007 at 9:14 pm | #19

    Hey if the lace fits then wear’em,I guess,….but you should really clean your closet before you come out.
    I already responded,..do you have A.D.D.?!Why does God use Sarah as an illustration,or offer wives 1Pet.3 as a comfort to this command?!
    Which by the way,since God clearly commands wives to obey (submit or be in subjection,…..just so theres no antics and semantics) then when the wife obeys her husband she in essence is obeying God.

    The bible teaches us to obey those who are in rule,but then gives us permission not to obey those men.( “men”in the generic sence) But wives are commanded to obey (submit,or be in subjection)to their husbands in everything,….when looking at verses that are directly applied to the wives submission to husbands,no exceptions are given.
    Which by the way,if you were obeying Acts 5:29 then you’d stop paying taxes,other wise your supporting things God clearly commands us to hate and seperate our selves from.

    The problem with your crowd is you spend to much time attacking the Hyles crowd (maybe your jealous that you don’t have a crowd) that you are adokimos.

    Using recycled false doctrines like dirty diapers.
    Scott,my question was towards a human not God Himself.

  20. December 2, 2007 at 10:12 pm | #20

    Donkey,

    Your comment was so convoluted, it is almost impossible to comment on it. I can appreciate you looking up a word in Strong’s, but that doesn’t constitute study. God could have written the NT in English if He wanted, but He didn’t; He wrote it in Greek, so we consider a different meaning between the word for “to be in subjection” (hupotasso) and the word for “to obey” (hupokouo). Wives submit to (hupotasso) their husbands and children obey (hupokouo) their parents. Wives will obey their husbands, and that’s obviously good, but Scripture teaches subjection, which has to do with a hierarchy of authority. God gave the man headship over the woman, so she places herself under his authority. However, her ultimate subjection is to the Lord, so if he requires disobedience to God, she obeys God. God does require a woman to obey Him.

    In answer to your question, it all depends on the child and the age of the child as to whether he should obey his parents or not. I think in certain instances a son should disobey his parents, but only in areas where it means disobedience to God. Why? Because we obey God rather than men.

  21. December 3, 2007 at 9:45 am | #21

    Donkey,

    Do you read anything, either. By the way, I do have ADD, it is Art Dunham Disorder, and there is no cure.

    I am going to try this, but I am afeared that it will do no good…

    1. Was Abigail wrong in bringing gifts to David to save Nabal’s sorry hide? It was against his wishes.

    2. Your comment about taxes is ludicrous. The Lord commanded His disciples to pay taxes to a Roman government which was even worse than our own. They supported all kinds of ungodly things with their tax money.

    3. What do you think makes the unbelieving husband want to depart in 1 Corinthians 7? Is it not that the Christian wife is no longer doing the things he wants her to do? Perhaps she is not as ungodly and won’t drink with him, etc.?

    Actually, it is you of whom I am jealous. I want to be just like you. I will never have to study, I will never have to think, I will never have to do anything but quote “men of God” who have big crowds. I want to be like Donkey!

  22. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 3, 2007 at 10:13 pm | #22

    I shall return to reprove you again,I must return to a more vital issue with Dave,but I am looking forward to showing you how a Hammer is used!

  23. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 3, 2007 at 10:21 pm | #23

    P.S,…….Jesus said render unto Ceasar what is his………what was his?

  24. December 4, 2007 at 6:34 am | #24

    Donkey,

    In the context the taxes belonged to Caesar. I’m sorry, did I use context again?

  25. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 4, 2007 at 4:53 pm | #25

    Actually,everything belongs to God!

  26. December 5, 2007 at 6:07 am | #26

    Donkey,

    That is equivocation. That is also a silly answer. The Lord Jesus said the tax money belonged to Caesar. But, here I go again, using the Scripture and context. When will I ever learn?

  27. December 5, 2007 at 8:01 am | #27

    Donkey,

    By the way, doesn’t your wife belong to God? Shouldn’t she obey God if you are being, well, donkey-ish?

  28. HammerJacks Blacklisted Donkey
    December 7, 2007 at 7:37 pm | #28

    In regards to the “DEBATE” your Administrater ain’t doing so well,you might wanna send in “The JackHammer”

    In CONTEXT,could you show us the verse…”And,Jesus said,Taxes belong to Ceaser,…..(10 verses down)Sirs,what must I do to be saved?….Turn from your sins and thou shalt be saved,…and if your house turns from their sin they shall be saved to.” Mallinite 12:6;16″

    My wife obeys God rather then men

    “Dost thou BELIEVE on the Son of man?”

    Oh yeah! Every answer that reproves you is silly!….

  29. nicole tull
    February 1, 2008 at 1:58 pm | #29

    as a wife who has sought the scriptures, I am compelled to say that even if God says for wives to obey our husbands and my husband requires that I go against God, I will obey my husband because God tells me to obey him. I don’t recall reading a clause that permits me to do otherwise (yes, I read the above stated scripture). The husband will answer to God for the disbedience on his part for not being the Godly husband he should. I am covered by the protection of him answering to God. But as a wife I am not a pushover either. I will firmly tell him my viewpoint on the issue and express the sadness it causes me, but I will nonetheless follow after him. If I am truly being the wife that God requires according to scripture, God will move on my behalf to place conviction on my husband to persuade him to not allow me/us to enter into sin that goes against what God clearly states. And if he rejects the conviction, then I will rest in God’s grace and know that the experience will be learned from.

  30. February 1, 2008 at 4:27 pm | #30

    Nicole,

    I can appreciate and support your desire to obey your husband. However, I am convinced that authority is hierarchical and so we ought to obey God rather than men. If not, then a husband can tell his wife to do almost anything unscriptural and she would be required. I can’t justify that in light of Acts 5:29, so to be consistent, I take the position that this is true in all occasions.

    I think it is true that the husband will be much responsible for his wrong leadership of his wife, however.

  31. Travis Burke
    February 1, 2008 at 11:05 pm | #31

    Pastor Brandenburg,
    I have been studying this topic as of late and have come to my conclusions to which I believe I mostly agree with your view on this post. My only ‘concerns’ are:
    1.) 1 Peter 3:5-7, “5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

    6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

    7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered

    Sarah, obeyed her husband and his “deceptions” about her being his ‘sister’. Should she have obeyed God instead? Yet, she is the one ‘whose daughters ye are’ if ladies ‘do well’.

    Secondly, I can easily agree that “authority is hierarchical and so we ought to obey God rather than men.” God ordained authorities are: government (no problem), Employer (no problem), His Word (no problem), Pastor (no problem), Husband (no problem, especially if you can address my above concern), and Parents. How should a 13 year old act when a parent ‘demands’ that the child do something that God says is wrong? Should she obey God, rather than man?

    Again, I am studying this all out and am in no way done studying, but this is where I am at in my studies and thought you might could share some opinion on these matters. Perhaps I am must missing the obvious (which wouldn’t be the first time). Thanks for your input.

  32. Travis Burke
    February 1, 2008 at 11:13 pm | #32

    One more thing…
    I believe Before a wife of an unsaved husband should ever consider disobeying her husband so to be ‘obeying God,’ she should first be sure her life in all other areas are right with the Lord. She should have a sweet spirit even in this area, and I believe that the lady that is right with the Lord in other areas of her life, has been so, keeps the right attitude toward her husband…that the Lord will bless by making a ‘way of escape,’ a softening of her husband’s heart. A concern of this teaching would be that ladies ‘rise in rebellion’ to lost husbands when there are too many other inconsistencies in her Christian walk. I have just learned, God blesses righteousness.
    Of course, these situations could be avoided if proper Biblical training were being given in finding a spouse…but maybe someday the powers of Jackhammr will bring this up. :-)

  33. February 2, 2008 at 9:02 am | #33

    Bro. Burke,

    This is one of the most difficult subjects there is and the issues that you bring up are why it is difficult. Women can “use” God as a reason to get their way with their husbands. I’m not blanketly saying they do, but it is an area of temptation. I in no way endorse disobedience to husbands in general. On the other hand, I think it is possible that some women like the convenience their husbands give them to live a kind of convenient Christianity.

    Before I took this position, which I believe is consistent with Scripture, the 1 Peter 3 passage with Sarai was the one that stood in the way, but it doesn’t refer to the Egypt situation. And in the Egypt situation, we don’t know all the details; neither is Sarai said to have done right. God obviously didn’t want it. That she was willing to do it was likely because she was so obedient to her husband.

    Regarding a 12 year old boy example, I do believe it is different and I didn’t deal with it. I believe there are some conditions with children that would have made this article twice as long. I don’t have time to talk about it now, but I will hopefully.

    Thanks for commenting. Hopefully we’ll stay in touch.

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