A disrespectful wife is likened to bone cancer in the Bible (Proverbs 12:4)! The Bible has a lot to say about wives. With some careful study, it is clear that husbands and wives are both called to obey God’s Word and enjoy the blessings of a godly marriage together – even if the husband is disrespectful.
Let’s learn more about disrespectful wives and God’s calling for women in marriage; after all, an excellent wife is far more precious than jewels! (Proverbs 31:10)
The Disrespectful Wife in The Bible
According to the dictionary, to respect someone is to deeply admire them based on their abilities, qualities, or achievements. A disrespectful wife is a wife who doesn’t esteem her husband and her behavior and speech declare this outwardly.
Disrespecting her husband is a great temptation for a wife as a result of the curse she received when sin entered the world. But there is hope and victory through Christ who has overcome sin, He provides a way out of every temptation.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.Genesis 3:16b (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
There are a number of examples of wives who showed obvious disrespect towards their husbands in The Bible. The following two, both married to kings of Israel, stand out.
Michal – Turns Away and Criticises
Michal was the daughter of Saul who became the wife of King David. Though she loved David (1 Samuel 18:20), she disrespected him by hardening her heart towards him when he came home dancing and celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
Instead of being united in purpose and joy, she was embarrassed by him, angry with him, and criticized him openly (2 Samuel 6:20).
Jezebel – Manipulates and Deceives
While more subtle, Jezebel appeared to be united with her husband, King Ahab. But Jezebel didn’t respect Ahab, in fact she implied he was weak (I Kings 21:7) and turned him away from the one true God. She was power-hungry, ruthless, and manipulative, hypocritical, and led her husband down a path of violence and destruction. This had disastrous consequences for their family and the nation of Israel.
I Kings 21:25 (ESV) There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.
The Godly Wife in The Bible
In contrast to the examples above, The Bible describes a good wife in a few different places but the most extensive and detailed passage is in Proverbs 31. This picture from Proverbs gives us great insight into a Godly woman:
- She is trustworthy (verse 11)
- She seeks her husband’s good (verse 12)
- She is diligent and works hard (verses 13-19)
- She takes care of herself and those around her (verses 20-22)
- She speaks with wisdom and kindness (verse 26)
- Her children and husband esteem her (verses 28-29)
- She fears The Lord (verse 20)
The same qualities of a respectful and godly wife are summed up in the following passage in The New Testament.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)
A wife that honors God loves her husband, is self-controlled, kind, respectful with her speech and behavior, and seeks to obey God’s Word. In some instances, a wife may even be instrumental in the salvation of her unbelieving husband who may be won for Christ by her example (1 Peter 3:1-2).
Note: These Bible verses and principles apply to a marriage that seeks to honor and uphold God’s Word. These verses are not meant to be used against a woman to force her to remain a victim in an abusive marriage. Abuse is a pattern of sin and a breach of the covenant of marriage and concealing it by “playing happy families” separates the abusive partner from God so that their prayers aren’t heard (Isaiah 59:2).
A Godly Husband in The Bible
A marriage is made up of two individuals – this was God’s amazing idea from the beginning, before The Fall, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1). So, it is unbalanced to consider a wife’s calling and behavior separate from her husband’s calling and behavior.
Husbands who profess to be Christian are to consider God’s standards for husbands and obey Him in response.
- They are to walk with their wives in an understanding manner (1 Peter 3:7). In so doing, their wives will find respecting them much less burdensome.
- God calls husbands to love their wives sacrificially, as Christ loved the church and died for her (Eph 5:25). Can you think of a greater picture of love?
The Respectful Marriage – A Picture of Christ
A healthy marriage is a beautiful dance between a man and a woman. Both men and women bear God’s image (Gen 1:27), are worthy of respect, and are precious in His sight. When a marriage is based on mutual love, and mutual respect, it becomes a breathtaking picture that points others to God and to His great redemptive love for His church, modeled through the cross He carried.
Ephesians 5: 22,25 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Christian, remember always to love God first and then others – these, the greatest of all God’s commandments are the foundation of beautiful, honoring relationships.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.