Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage

By Ron Adema,  Pastor of Doctrinal Studies Bible Church

The Wife's Role in Marriage

When the 21st century woman enters into the divine institution of marriage, she enters into the same covenant of marriage women have entered into since the first wedding between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:18-25).

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Parents didn’t exist at the time of Adam and Eve’s marriage, but God still established a precedent at the time of their wedding that was to be extended to the end of human history. “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  And the man said, ‘this is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called, woman, because she was taken out of man.’ For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:22-24)

God understood that interference from parents or dependence on them could be a possibility, so He forewarned both the parents and the newlyweds to apply the doctrinal principle of leaving and cleaving.

“For this cause” is a phrase that teaches the original order of creation as divinely designed for marriage between the man and woman (bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh and because she was taken out of man).  Paul interpreted this phrase for the Church in 1 Cor. 11:2-12.  “For the man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.” (1 Cor. 11:8-9)  “However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.” (1 Cor. 11:11-12)

Paul is not teaching that the Christian wife is inferior but that she holds the honored place of reflected glory. “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God (authority chain of divine command) (1 Cor. 11:3); but the woman (wife) is the glory of man.” (1 Cor. 11:7)

Peter taught the same doctrinal principle in 1 Peter 3:7. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  Now do you understand why the wife is described as weaker vessel?  (She is the woman of divine design.)

The Greek word for grant is (aponemo) and means that the husband is to assign the wife a place of honor in his life. The husband makes sure that their marriage is the center of their universe. This involves the husband giving his wife time and attention and not just material things.

In the fall of Adam, Eve became the initiator and leader (stronger vessel) rather than responder and supporter and this resulted in all sorts of trouble (Gen. 3; 1 Timothy 2:14).  Wives shouldn’t do this even if husbands allow or even want them to.  Role reversal is a danger to the divine institution of marriage.  The more authority the wife gets, the less submissiveness she contributes and this takes her out of the authority chain of command.  In the end, both the wife and the husband hate it and eventually they hate each other.  This wife will try to justify her behavior by saying things like, “If I didn’t, we wouldn’t.”  This husband would rather cave-in than listen to her nagging.  Here is “jiffy check” counseling; get back into God’s divinely designed roles for your marriage. That is your starting place!

The Christian wife is commanded to be submissive to her husband’s position in the divine chain of authority command (1 Cor. 11:3 – God over Christ over Husband over Wife). The Greek word for submits is (hupotasso, which in the p.m.impv is a command).  It’s also a continuous (present tense) command (imperative) for the wife to submit (hupotasso) and she, her husband, and marriage will be benefited by it (middle voice) (Col. 3:18).

There are two reasons why hupotasso (submit) was used rather than hupakouo (obey).  The first reason is that hupotasso is a military word referring to a rank system of positions of authority (1 Cor. 11:3). The second reason hupotasso is used is because the Christian husband holds the position of headship in the divine chain of authority. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:22-23).

The Christian husband has been promoted, by saving grace from the position of rulership over the woman’s curse of the fall to position of headship in the divine chain of command. (Gen. 3:16) [the word rule is mashal or to dominate). Thus God wants the Christian wife to be submissive to word of God regarding the husband’s position (as to the Lord) regardless of his personality, strengths, or weaknesses. “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” (1 Pet. 3:1)

This also reminds us that the intimacy of marriage (cleaving) can bring out people’s adequacies and inadequacies because the more the two work on becoming one the more keenly aware they become of their differences and indifferences.

An incident in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah points out this principle. (Gen. 20:1-18).  Abraham failed a second time to protect his wife’s soul, body, and spirit (1 Pet. 2:25).  Sarah submitted herself to the divine chain of authority [as to the Lord] (Col. 3:18) [God, The Father over Christ – Christ over the husband – the Husband over the wife] (1 Cor. 11:3). Sarah looked to her Lord and God to protect her in the absence of her husband’s failure to protect her. This placed her under the absolute authority of God Almighty. “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” (Gen. 20:7)

Listen to Peter’s comments on Sarah’s faithful submission: “But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive (hupotasso) to their own husbands.  Thus Sarah obeyed (hupakouo) Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Pet. 3:4-6)

Peter made an interesting point by using both (hupotasso) [submissive) and (hupakuo) [obeyed] for Sarah during her marriage crisis.  She submitted (hupotasso) to the headship position in Abraham’s divine chain of authority [as to the Lord, Christ]. At the same time she obeyed (hupakouo) her husband’s rulership as lord.  The divine chain of authority that she was under as a believer did not fail her even though her husband did.

The Surgeon General of U.S has declared domestic violence to be the leading cause of injury to the American female between the ages of 14 and 44.  It is estimated that 4 million women are violently abused and 3.3 million children watch it happen every year!  Statistics show that 20-30% (37% in Birmingham, Al.) of emergency hospital treatment of women is from spousal abuse and 60% of the homicides of women were also the result of spousal abuse.

THE PROFILE OF AN ABUSED MATE (Circle the ones that you see yourself in these 9 questions.)• Are you frightened and intimidated by your mate’s temper?• Are you afraid to disagree with your mate?• Are you always apologizing for your mate’s bad behavior towards you?• Are you forced to have sex after you state you don’t want to have sex?• Are you always adjusting your normal behavior to avoid his abnormal behavior?• Are you repeatedly being accused of flirting or having affairs?• Are you unable to go places or do things without permission because of jealousy or suspicions?• Has your mate destroyed or disposed of some of your personal possessions out of anger or spite?• Have you been physically injured by your mate and hidden it from others?

If you circled:

• 1 to 2: You need to talk to someone close to you such as friends and family about it.

• 3 to 4: You need to talk to a professional counselor or minister or some battered woman’s program.

• 5 or more: You need to get out of harm’s way, away from this abuser and talk to the local police or authorities and/or enter a battered woman’s program.


Abuse can occur in homes of Believers as well as unbelievers.  However, it is unacceptable carnal behavior in the lives of Believers (Read: Gal. 5:16-25; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Rom. 13:13-14; 1 Pet. 2:11-12).

Let me give you an example of an Old Testament Believer who was once a spousal abuser (Gen. 29:31-35).  Jacob abused Leah.  He tried to justify his abuse by saying that his first wife had trapped him into marriage (Gen. 29:21-26) and that he was in love with another woman (Gen. 29:27-30) “Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” (Gen. 29:31)

Jacob’s choice of abuse was to withhold godly soul love from Leah and give her only sexual love without any sense of soul love (Eph. 5:25-28).

Like so many wives, Leah played the victim and accepted the abuse out of guilt, shame, and desperation to save the marriage: “surely now my husband will love me.”  Read her testimony as a victim of abuse (Gen. 29:32-34). She believed she could fix her husband and make him love her but that didn’t work.  Then she thought that maybe giving him children would repair the marriage, but that didn’t work. Four children later, their marriage was no better.

Jacob’s bad attitude and behavior was not her fault. It was his fault!  It is important that you understand that you choose how you respond to what happens to you.  Leah didn’t have a choice in how Jacob treated her, but she did have a choice in her response to his abuse.  You should never accept abuse a SECOND TIME!

Leah‘s testimony is that you can’t make your husband love you; only God can make your husband love you. During her fourth pregnancy, Leah woke up spiritually and decided to put it the hands of the Lord and to leave it there.  It didn’t change their marriage but it did change her heart. “And she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘Therefore she named him JUDAH.’ Then she stopped bearing.” (Gen. 29:35; Gen. 49:8-12)

The first person to change in an abusive relationship is YOU!

“Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respects her husband.” (Eph. 5:33)

Series on Marriage: Pastor Ron Adema
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audio 2
audio 3
audio 4

Marriage Conference 2014: Associate Pastor, Al Rosenblum
session 1, notes
session 2, notes
session 3, notes

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By Ron Adema,  Pastor of Doctrinal Studies Bible Church