Question:

I’ve been wondering about men’s rules, women’s rules in marriage. I know about the leadership thing and the submission thing. I don’t know what’s the difference between women looking after children and men doing it; I mean, in a family, what’s the difference between a mother and a father?

Why Paul mentions women doing it and not men? Is it not the rule of a father? I’m confused with it, even if it sounds silly. It’s not just that, I’ve been feeling a bit troubled with it too. I can’t see what’s the point in what a woman does because it’s nothing that a man couldn’t do (referring to looking after children).

Having children, being submissive, etc. I’m trying to think of things to not think that the woman’s role is useless. I don’t want to think it. Could you help me with that?


Answer:

It has become common in this world to think that only certain duties are important. It is like saying that in a company only the managers are important. A lot of people think that, but what company could exist without employees to operate the business. Most of the managers I know have no clue how to accomplish the real work.

In a family, there are no unimportant jobs. Going to work to bring home income to live on is hard work, but so is keeping a house and raising children.

In the division of labor within a family, it isn't that one person has to do it all or that the other person is incapable of doing a particular job. The point is that someone has to be in charge of each job to make sure it is done. The division laid out in the Bible plays to the natural strengths of the man and woman.

Throughout the world, and throughout time, men have been the natural earner of income. Their temperament and physical strength naturally makes them well-suited for dealing with the stresses of earning a living. It has its downfalls as well -- there is a reason why men tend to die at a younger age than women. It doesn't mean a woman can't earn income or not be more successful than a man. I'm talking about general trends.

Women tend to be better at nurturing a family. It comes with the ability to bear children. It doesn't mean a man doesn't help with the household or the children, but generally women do a better job with these tasks than men do.

So men are responsible for seeing that the family has sufficient income to survive (I Timothy 5:8), but women may be involved in bring in income (Proverbs 31:16). Women are responsible for the management of the household (I Timothy 5:14), but men may be involved in doing household tasks.

Women bare children; sorry, but men can help in that area. They are critical in bring up of children (I Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 1:8). The father is has the duty of providing the discipline in the home and setting the goals and directions for the teaching (Ephesians 6:4; I Timothy 3:4-5). For good child development, a mother is more critical to small children, though older children need their mothers, even if they won't admit it. Fathers play a bigger role in the development of older children, though they are actively involved throughout a child's life.

No duty is done exclusively by a man or a woman. There are times when one or the other is incapacitated and the other must step in to keep things going. But for things to be accomplished well, someone has to be in charge of each duty and neither the man or the woman is able to direct all roles -- there are too many things to be done and each role is not best handled by one or the other.

To give you an example, my wife is a much better shopper than I am. She clearly shows the trait listed of the worthy woman in Proverbs 31:14. I'm a faster shopper, but I don't always get the best deals. So we play to each others strengths. My wife does the bulk of the regular shopping, but if she is pressed for time, she gives me a list of what she needs from which store and I'll pick it up for her. Neither of us like bookkeeping, but I'm a bit better at it, so I keep the records. Large purchases are something that we typically do together -- I know where the limits are and will research the quality issues, while my wife focuses on getting the best bargain.

Marriage is learning to work as a team. Both bring talents to a marriage and those talents are used to enhance the lives of the entire family.

I'm sorry if it sounds bad, but you wrote "respect" on the wife's duties... And not on the husband's duties. Is it not as important or is it not necessary?

And a husband's duty is to give devoted love to his wife, but the Bible doesn't say a wife is to give devoted love to her husband (only the love of a best friend).

In the interplay between husbands and wives, certain things are essential for the success of the marriage. Like grease to a machine, certain attitudes are needed to keep things running smoothly. A husband needs to give his wife his constant devotion because a woman's make-up craves stability in her life. A wife needs to give her husband respect because a man craves to know he is needed and wanted.