The most common relationship where we 'dwell together' is certainly our marriage. How can we achieve a life of unity and all the blessings that brings? What is the best way of relating to our spouse? What is the best type of relationship between a husband and wife? Does one have to lose while the other wins or is there a way that is best for both of them?
Throughout history several systems have been tried. In the 'traditional' marriage for centuries the husband was the unchallenged boss; what he said was law in his home because he was stronger and more aggressive. Wives were legally and physically forced to submit. Many years were required to bring the wife into some legal parity with her husband. Then, in the 1960s free love and 'open marriage' were tried by some few with disastrous results. In the 1980s the women's rights movement led some to try a marriage of total equality in rights and responsibilities. Once again this has been an unsatisfactory arrangement. One effect of this movement has been to make all except the most confident women ASHAMED TO ADMIT that they are pleased to be a housewife in subjection to their husband!
There is an answer! It is not another new system to try but the proven ancient way ordained by our Creator, Yahweh. Yahweh's intended way is not a scheme with one domineering spouse but rather a system which uses the strengths and abilities of each in a real WIN-WIN arrangement.
The potential blessings are great for women! Many women eagerly agree that they would like to:
At the same time men want to:
Those who love their spouses
want them to have those things they would like. Wouldn't it be grand if
you could arrange for your spouse to receive those blessings on the list
above? What a fine gift to give to him or her! The really great part of
it is that you improve your own life in the process!
THE RIGHT WAY SUMMARIZED
There is a way which yields all those blessings and more for couples who chose to follow it. It consists of each partner doing what he or she does best and therefore enjoys most. Best of all, it is a way which is right in the eyes of our heavenly Father Yahweh and pleases Him.
Yahweh has some rules by which He wants us to live for our own good. There are things which Yahweh knows are right and proper. In Deuteronomy 6:17-18a Moses says, "You shall diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your Elohim, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do that which is RIGHT AND GOOD IN THE SIGHT OF YAHWEH, so that it may be well with you. . . ."
In Deuteronomy 12:28 he says, "Observe and hear all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you for ever, when you do that which is GOOD AND RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF YAHWEH your Elohim."
Paul says in Colossians 3:18-20,
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, AS IS APPROPRIATE FOR
THOSE IN THE MASTER'S FELLOWSHIP; husbands, love your wives, and do not
be bitter against them; children, obey your parents in all things: for
this is WELL PLEASING to Yahweh."
There are some ways of doing things which please Yahweh. He wants us to do things that way because it pleases Him to see things done right and also because HE LOVES US AND WANTS US TO HAVE THE FRUITS of acting in harmony with natural law (the way He has made things work).
We shall see that several things
a woman can do; including covering her head and keeping silence while in
the Assembly meetings, improve the marital bond between husband and wife
and strengthen their home for the benefit of all.
WHY IT IS THAT WAY
Whoever finds a wife finds a
good thing, and obtains the favor of Yahweh.
In order to find the best relationship
between man and wife it is good to study how man and woman were created.
The reason a man was given a wife is found in the familiar words of the One who created both of them:
And Yahweh Elohim said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will create a suitable helper for him," Genesis 2:18. This clearly says that there are some ways in which a man can not be fully effective by himself. Even if men could somehow have had sons by themselves, there would still have been a great lack in that arrangement. Yahweh made the man in exactly the right way for a man. Yahweh knew the characteristics of the man and when He made him He saved a group of features for inclusion in a splendid later model - the woman. She was based on the earlier, larger, more powerful model (Genesis 2:23) but had smoother lines (physically and emotionally) and a different purpose, complimentary to that of the man. Only together can they form a complete unit.
The verses from Genesis 2:18 through 25 tell the reasons and purposes Yahweh had in mind when men and women were created. The man was not 'working out' well enough alone. The woman was created to be an appropriate helper for the man; a helper who was just right, just what was needed. Adam must have been charmed, pleased and amazed at how well his wife fit him (his sons still are).
If we can all keep this original
relationship in mind it will help our families a great deal. Another fact
we can easily notice is that Yahweh created men different from women in
outward appearance. Men are taller, heavier, bearded, have more body hair
and often grow bald in old age. Yahweh intended for there to be a noticeable
difference and there are many ordinances to prevent us from blurring that
'Today's woman' is not different from the first woman created! There has been no evolutionary change in the nature of men or of women. A woman is still far better equipped by the way she is made for what she is supposed to do than a man would be:
A man is also better equipped by his nature for his tasks than a woman would be:
It is important for both men and women to remember that the command for a wife to be submissive to her husband does not mean the man is better than the woman. It simply sets out a working order that is in harmony with the way Yahweh created them and the rest of creation. Some things can be done only with a gentle touch; some obstacles yield only to greater power.
We often hear that the husband is the "head of the house." That's fine and true, but we need to be reminded that the wife is the "heart of the home." We all need a head, but what happens if we don't appreciate and take proper care of our heart?
We read in 1 Peter 3:7: "Likewise,
you husbands, deal intelligently with your wife, giving honor to her as
to the weaker vessel, and as being HEIRS TOGETHER OF THE GRACE OF LIFE;
that your prayers may not be hindered." Men must understand that in Yahweh's
kingdom they and their wives are going to be of exactly the same kind and
rank. The husband who deals with his wife with great respect is a wise
and knowledgeable man. He is also a man whose prayers will be more effective.
Men, consider that there may be a time when you have a desperate need for
your prayer to be heard. Do not act in such a way that it will hinder your
THE PATRIARCHS UNDERSTOOD IT
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; so that even if any husband does not obey the word, they may also be won, not with a word, but by their wives' behavior; while they see your chaste conduct coupled with great respect. You, whose adorning should not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the inner person of your heart, that which can not be corrupted, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great value in the sight of Yahweh. For IN THIS WAY ALSO IN THE OLD TIME THE DEDICATED WOMEN WHO TRUSTED IN YAHWEH CLOTHED THEMSELVES BEAUTIFULLY, BY BEING IN SUBJECTION TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS. Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him 'master': whose daughters you are, as long as you are righteous and not fearful. 1 Peter 3:1-5. Was Sarah clothed beautifully? How did she do it? Why was Sarah not fearful? Because she trusted in Yahweh.
When women looked at Sarah they thought "What a beautiful woman she is!" without knowing exactly why they thought so. When other men observed her they knew a little more clearly what Sarah had put on herself to make her so beautiful. Even at an advanced age men found her desirable. But her husband Abraham knew just exactly what it was that made Sarah so beautiful, and she was more beautiful to him than to anyone else who saw her. Every wife has the opportunity to be beautifully clothed in that way.
The ancient patriarchs could
depend upon their wives because their wives respected them so greatly.
The reasons for the request may be the subject for another article; but,
when Abraham and later Isaac asked their wives to say they were not their
wives but their sisters in Genesis 20 and 26, the wives complied perfectly.
Sarah respected Abraham so much that she called him 'my master' in Genesis
18:12 and Rebecca respected her husband-to-be, Isaac, so much that she
covered her self with her veil when he was approaching in Genesis 24:65.
1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16
When Paul wrote to the Corinthian assembly he had the example of these good Hebrew women's behavior in his own mind. The women in his family admired them and followed their example. It was part of Paul's own background. He teaches the assembly about that and some related truths in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. These are among the traditions he mentions in verse 2.
Lets establish some further background.
We should turn to Yahweh's instruction concerning those who served in the Levitical priesthood. When the high priest came to serve before Yahweh he was to have his head covered with a special head covering which declared that he was "Set apart to Yahweh", Exodus 28:36-38.
In the seventh through the ninth chapters of Hebrews we learn that Yahshua the Messiah is now our high priest. The writer of Hebrews brings out in Hebrews 8:5 that the Israelites' Tabernacle in the wilderness was made according to the pattern of the throne in heaven. Yahshua now serves before Yahweh his father; bringing Him our sacrifices of praise and prayer (Hebrews 13:15) and also the great sacrifice of Yahshua's own life given for us (Hebrews 9:11-14).
Yahshua now has the high priest's station as the Levitical high priest used to have. He has the responsibility of leading the people and the other priests as they come before Yahweh, 1 Corinthians 11:3.
In verse 3, Paul also writes about the positions of the man and the woman. The order of authority comes down as follows:
We have already seen that the Messiah, serving in the position of high priest, ought to have his head covered to show his dedication to Yahweh.
In verses 4 through 7 Paul explains that a man ought not to have his head covered but a woman ought to have her head covered. Therefore we have:
WHY HEAD COVERINGS ARE IMPORTANT
The meaning of the man's role dictates that his head must remain uncovered during worship and prayer. He keeps his head uncovered as a symbol to show:
The meaning of the woman's role determines that her head remain covered with a shawl or veil during worship and prayer. The righteous woman happily remains silent in the assembly and keeps her head covered because she wants to:
She does these things because she derives benefits from doing them. Her life is much better as a result. Let's look at how and why.
The first reason for a woman to behave in the scripturally ordained way is to preserve and even improve her relationship with the man who protects and cares for her. It may be her father when she is young but the goal is to prepare for the right relationship with her husband when she marries.
In contrast to all the animals, man requires a very long period of care by the parents. The reason for this is that the complex mind of man causes a child to require about twenty years of education and teaching to properly take his or her place in the world. During this period the child should have an environment of peace, love and good example. Due to the difference between men and women it is essential for both parents to raise the child in harmony together. Both boys and girls need what each parent contributes. Also, the importance to the child of a good relationship between the parents cannot be exaggerated, it is vital.
It may be that some men are not
used to the proper relationship Yahweh has determined for a husband and
his wife. In our society and especially on television it is hard to find
a good role model for a husband or for a wife. (For a clear explanation
of these roles write for the free booklet 'Scriptural Help For Our Family'.)
When a woman shows, by covering her head, keeping silence in the assembly
(1 Timothy 2:11-12), asking him her questions at home (1 Corinthians 14:35),
and various other signs, that she accepts her husband as the physical,
financial and spiritual head of the family, she motivates and encourages
him in the role he must bear in order to produce the best family.
When the husband fulfills his role, his wife and his children are the winners. He wants to do well in his position because he sees his beloved wife (and his children, if any) depending so greatly upon him. He becomes more capable because of this desire and because of the helping action of Yahweh's Spirit in him. He can do better in many ways because his wife is always on his side, never against him in any way, Proverbs 31:12. [Of course, this is not to say that a wife is obligated to follow her husband in going against Yahweh.]
Because his wife is acting in the way Yahweh intended for her to act (Genesis 2:18 and 3:18) she will be just exactly what he needs and he will naturally look upon her as a cherished friend and companion. When a man and his wife are doing as Yahweh intended them to do, their spirits communicate well and they can truly become one flesh as they should.
The second major reason a woman wants to cover according to the scriptures is as an example to her children and younger women. "[Tell] the older women likewise that they must behave appropriately for a dedicated person, not being false accusers, nor given to much wine, but teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands and their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good and obedient to their own husbands, so that the word of Yahweh may not be blasphemed," Titus 2:3-5.
What a joy it is when we visit with our married children and see the wives obeying, supporting, and encouraging their beloved husbands! As parents we are pleased to see the resulting love, joy and security of our daughters. May Yahweh richly bless the mothers who have taught these young women to do so.
In 1 Corinthians 11:10 we see that the third main reason a woman wants to keep a covering (Greek) on her head is because of the angels. Many do not understand this; but the scripture need not be difficult.
We have already seen that righteous women in Scripture covered their heads and sometimes their faces with a veil when they met an important man.
We may show with many scriptures that angels are powerful messengers who bring truth, understanding and protection to righteous people. The words translated 'angel' mean messenger. Some of the scriptures you may wish to study are:
Genesis 24:6-7 An angel will go with Abraham's servant to find Rebecca.
Genesis 18:20-22 Angels went to Sodom to get information for a report to Yahweh.
Exodus 23:20-23 An angel to go with Israel.
2 Kings 6:8-12-17 Angel finds out secrets. Host of Yahweh.
Psalms 91:1-4-7-11 Give his angels charge over you.
Acts 12:4-12 Angel releases Peter.
Acts 12:23 Angel strikes Herod.
Matthew 2:13 "Flee to Egypt."
Acts 27:23-24 "Fear not. . . . Stand before Caesar."
Hebrews 1:6-7 Angels worship Him. Angels are winds, servants are flames of fire.
Hebrews 2:2 The word was spoken through angels.
Hebrews 1:14 All angels are ministering spirits.
Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 11:10 that a woman who shows the angels that she is modest and obedient can expect benefits from the angels. They will do their assigned job of providing PROTECTION and SCRIPTURAL KNOWLEDGE as they have for righteous people through the ages.
Another possible meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:10 is that a woman ought to be a good example to the angels. Since a woman is helper to a man, she holds a position similar to the angels who are helpers to Yahweh. When a woman covers her head to show submission to her head (her husband) the angels learn from her good example.
We should mention that when we talk about a head covering we do not mean that the face needs to be covered.
Paul and others wrote often about the subject of women being submissive and obedient. The command is found in Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:3-12, Titus 2:5, 1 Timothy 2:12, Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 3:6.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
There is an old Shaker hymn which expresses much of what we have been saying about this subject [Aaron Copeland used the beautiful, simple tune in his Appalachian Spring Suite]:
What should be the plan of action for those who seek to do Yahweh's will?
Study the scriptures together to find Yahweh's will for your family.
Determine to respect, love, support and encourage your spouse.
Teach your daughters and sons what an important job a wife and mother has to do.
Men: ask your wife's help and Yahweh's help in keeping your family aligned with Yahweh's ways.
Women: ask your husband's help
and Yahweh's help in keeping your family straight. Obey your husband cheerfully
in confidant hope of receiving the fine rewards you have been promised.
Secure for yourselves the blessings of filling your proper role!
Women should expect to:
Men, you will:
She works hard to take good care of her family. Her children will stand up anywhere and tell people what a wonderful mother she is, and her husband always seems to be bragging about her, "There are many fine young women but my wife is the best of all! Clever and beautiful women are sometimes a problem; but THE WOMAN WHO FEARS YAHWEH - THAT'S THE KIND OF WOMAN TO FIND! She should enjoy the nice home she has created and she should hear often, how very much we appreciate her!" -- Proverbs 31:27- 31 paraphrased.
Br Tom Schattke 1-94
to Scriptural Helps
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