Question from a Site Viewer
I’m a Christian. My husband is a believer too but my husband drinks (a lot) and I don’t know how to deal with it.
It must be difficult to live your life as Christ teaches—especially in your unfortunate situation. What you describe is what we all experience to some degree. We all live in a world that is at odds with the values of heaven, and our interaction with that world makes it more difficult to live life as we know we should. You simply experience that tension up close and personal.
Peter gives some great guidance for your situation. In 1 Peter 3:1-4, Peter instructs wives to be submissive to their own husbands. The Greek word that is translated “submissive” in our English translations comes from a military use, meaning to be under the rank of another. It is not the idea of being inferior or being someone’s personal genie. Rather it is the idea of not considering yourself better than them, of seeing your purpose in life to serve them as Christ has served us. Jesus set the example for us by coming, not to be served, but to serve. Elsewhere, believers are told to be submissive to one another, using the same word (Ephesians 5:21). So, Peter begins by reminding us that our role in this world as followers of Jesus is to serve other people with love and grace. Peter has just told us all in 1 Peter 2:13 to submit to our rulers and has told servants in 1 Peter 2:18 to submit to their masters, using the same word. Peter later tells us all to submit to one another in 1 Peter 5:5. So, submission is not just for wives. It is the way of the Christ-follower. It is part of the wisdom that comes from heaven (James 3:18). As Jesus said, the Gentiles like to lord it over others, but Christians should strive to be servants of others (Matthew 20:25-28). Submission is not so that we can gain on this earth. It is not a magical way for us to get our own way. Rather, submission is because we trust that God will see our submission, find it pleasing to Him, and reward us in heaven. We bring peace in conflict, not by seeking an equal counter-position, but by an attitude of submission. So, to the extent that you can seek to submit and serve your husband, you will be doing what the Father desires.
This does not, however, mean that you should do everything he says or wishes. Let me give you an example. If your husband tells you to go steal from a store, you should not do it. Some people take the idea of “submission” and believe that God is saying that you should do whatever your husband wants. This is simply not the case nor what the word means. Your first priority is to God. You have been bought by Him. Accordingly, your service to your husband should be like Christ’s service to us. Christ did not always do what people requested. But He did serve people by healing, teaching, praying, and loving. And ultimately, He gave His life for us. Stated another way, He did what He could for people within the bounds of the Father’s moral law and the Father’s will. This is what we should do in our submission to others. Seek to be a blessing to your husband. Pray that God will give you ideas of how you can help make his life better. And, as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:1, do such without saying too much. Try to let your words always be with grace.
Second, in 1 Peter 3:2, Peter says that wives should be known for purity. We do this by pursuing the purity of Christ in our lives through prayer and seeking to walk in the power of the Word. Memorization of Scripture is a great tool for transforming the mind. Purity means that we do not fantasize about having someone else for a spouse, but we keep our minds and our bodies only for our spouses. Purity also means that we keep ourselves free from sin; and if we sin, we repent and come immediately back to Christ. We all stumble in our walk. The important thing to remember is that when we stumble, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1-3), so we may with confidence approach God, confess our sins, and seek restoration.
Third, in 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter states that wives should live with a humble and quiet spirit. Humility goes along with submission and is critical to serving Christ. Usually when we get into conflicts, it is because our pride gets bruised. Humility enables us to stop the tit-for-tat that often comes when we strive with another. Scripture teaches us not to strive, but to be gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25). We do not need to win a person over to our viewpoint today. Rather, we take the long view and through perseverance we gently entice people through the goodness of God working through us to consider Jesus Christ. And we trust and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in the heart of the one we serve and open his eyes to see the attractiveness of Christ.
I know it is not easy in the midst of the battle of life to be submissive, pure, and humble. And the difficulty sometimes is compounded when the conflict is not coming from work, but from the home front where day in and day out the same conflict exists. My encouragement to you is that to the extent you can serve your husband in these situations, you will be serving Christ Himself. After all, we all serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24).
The nature of the Christian life is summed up beautifully in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. It is a good prayer to consider:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
May the Lord Jesus strengthen you and guide you as you seek to live out the Christ-life before your husband. And may He give you peace in the journey.
a fellow servant,