Responding to Your Husband
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, host of the popular broadcast "Revive Our Hearts," about the woman's role as a responder. Nancy Leigh explains how a woman's responsiveness ties into her wifely role as her husband's helper.
books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—...more
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, host of the popular broadcast “Revive Our Hearts,” about the woman’s role as a responder.
Responding to Your Husband
Nancy: Proverbs tells us that the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, and the Lord turns the heart of that king as the rivers of water. The greatest evidence of how big I believe God is, is my willingness to trust God to work through authority that He's placed in my life and to give Him time to change the heart of that authority.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 18th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey. A lot of women and men struggle with the idea of submission and what that ought to look like in our lives. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition of our broadcast. I was remembering, Dennis, the advertising campaign, that came out in the – oh, the early '70s for the Virginia Slims brand of cigarettes – "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," you remember that jingle?
Dennis: I do.
Bob: And they used to sing in that jingle – "You've come a long way, you've got your own cigarette now, baby, you've come a long, long way," and I remember laughing at that , thinking, "Boy, that's a real sign of progress, huh? When somebody finally has their own brand of cigarette, they've really come a long way.
And yet over the last 30 or 40 years, we have looked at what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, it's all been in the context of coming a long way and digging ourselves out of our repressive past into our liberated future.
Dennis: And, of course, in order to do that, a woman has got to roar.
Bob: That's right, that's right.
Dennis: And so between cigarettes and roaring, we have redefined what it means to be a woman, and we're laughing about this here, but you know what? It really is sad. That definition and that roaring has occurred to great harm and detriment within the Christian community as we attempt to raise our daughters and, for that matter, our sons, with a true biblical imprint of God's image in them as male and as female. And with us to help us perhaps counter that culture with a biblical portrait of what it means to be a woman, today on the broadcast, is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy is a speaker to women's groups. In fact, she has done that for the past 20 years, and this is a life message for you, isn't it, Nancy?
Nancy: I just consider it an exciting challenge today to help women see that there is so much more that God has for us than perhaps what we've been enjoying.
Bob: Well, and you get to do that every day on your daily radio program, "Revive Our Hearts," which is heard on many of the same stations that carry FamilyLife Today. And you've done it through your writing, through the bestselling book, "Lies Women Believe," the Study Guide, "Seeking Him," the trilogy of books on surrender and holiness and brokenness that you've written and, this fall, you're going to be having an opportunity to challenge women on this very subject at a conference, a national conference you're doing in Chicago that is called True Woman '08." My wife is planning to be there and really looking forward to it.
Let me ask you – as we're talking about this subject of the differences between men and women, you really believe that there is a lot of confusion among Christians, both men and women, on this subject because of the messages we're getting from the culture, right?
Nancy: Well, look around and see the dynamics of our culture are rooted in the twin vices of selfishness and rebellion. Our culture is rooted in self-seeking, self-assertiveness, self-exaltation, selfishness – self-centeredness and rebellion. We dislike authority. We don't want to live under authority and, as women, this has been especially destructive as the feminist movement has built its case on self-seeking, self-assertiveness, and rebellion against authority.
God's Word, on the other hand, teaches us the way of surrender, submission to Christ as Lord, and then to those of human authorities that God places in our lives. Surrender versus rebellion and the way of love – being a giver rather than a taker, not self-seeking but self-denying.
Dennis: Let's look at some important parts of this portrait of what it means to truly biblically feminine, of what God wants you to be as a woman. Where do we begin as we look at this portrait?
Nancy: We talked yesterday about the woman as a responder and the man as an initiator. This becomes obvious to us as we go back again to the Genesis record and see what God designed for the man and for the woman, and then how the man and the woman distorted and perverted that design. God made the man and said to the man, "Here is your responsibility. Have dominion, subdue the earth, rule over it, be the king of the earth." Then God gave to the man a helper, a woman, likewise created in the image of God but different than the man, made to complete him not to compete with him, and said to her, "You are to help him fulfill this responsibility."
Then when we come to the serpent entering the scene, we find the first illustration of role reversal. It's interesting that the serpent comes to the woman. God had given the instruction to the man, but Satan comes to the woman independent of the man and challenges her to take the initiative; to find her declaration of independence. To say, "I will make my own decision, I will be my own god." He challenges her to step out from under the protection, the authority of her husband, and then when she gives the fruit to her husband, and he eats, he likewise is abdicating the headship, the responsibility for initiative that God has given to him.
And from that point on, we find man and woman in a power struggle. The woman, driven to control, to initiate, to be the head, to lead, and the man either passive or abusive but not fulfilling the God-given responsibility to initiate, which is not a consequence of the Fall but precedes the Fall that God ordained the man to be the leader, the head, the initiator. The woman, by taking that role into her own hands in a sense emasculated the man.
Bob: That's interesting. You're saying that Eve could have said to the Serpent, "I want to check this out with my husband. Wait right here." She could have gone to Adam whether he was standing there or not, but she could have looked at him and said, "Should we do this?"
Nancy: What does the Scripture say in the New Testament? If a woman has a question, let her ask her husband. And I hear women so often today, "My husband doesn't know the Word of God. I'm the woman, I've been sitting in the Bible studies listening to speakers and going to seminars. My husband doesn't know all these things." And I say to women, you'd be amazed if, with a learner's heart, a teachable spirit, a humble attitude, you are to begin to ask your husband questions, and he saw himself as being needed by you, how he might be motivated and prompted to begin to take initiative to learn the heart and the ways of God in these areas.
Dennis: Today, Nancy, within the Christian community, there are those who would express that a woman shouldn't come back to her husband and ask him a question. In fact, there are those who would even take issue with command for a wife to submit to her husband. They would really have a problem with that.
Nancy: Dennis, the entire universe created by God is structured in authority and submission relationships. The Trinity itself models for us what it means for there to be authority and submission. We see God the Father, who deeply loves His Son, and we see the Son saying, "I have come to this earth not to do my own will but to do the will of my Father." We see Jesus, who was co-equal, co-eternal with God the Father, voluntarily placing Himself under the authority of His Heavenly Father so that the plan of redemption can be accomplished.
So for a woman to come under the authority of her husband, under the authority of male leadership in the church, is not to be less than equal but is to say I am willing to function according to the design of God so that His purposes can be fulfilled in this earth.
Dennis: And I don't want the moms and the dads who are raising the next generation of daughters and, for that matter, sons, to miss the profound statement that Nancy just made. She is saying we've got to train our daughters to understand the importance of God's created order and of authority and of submitting to authority and that authority is not wrong.
Nancy: And it is not negative. You've got to come to see that authority, in whatever realm of life – employer, employee, elders, church leadership, and authority in the home – that these are God's means of providing protection for the lives of those who come under that authority.
I had an experience a number of years ago that illustrated this to me in a helpful way. At the time, I was traveling a great deal, and I was serving in a ministry where the authorities, the leadership in the ministry, had said that I should not fly in a single-engine airplane at night. I loved flying, and I didn't care whether it was single-engine or twin-engine, but it wasn't an issue to me, but they felt that it was not wise for anyone to be flying in a single-engine airplane at night. If the one engine you had went out, that was it.
Well, that didn't cramp my style too much. It wasn't often the case that that would be necessary, but I found myself one time traveling in one of those states that nobody uses, where nothing is near anything, and we had a very difficult itinerary, just one seminar to the next from one small town to the next over the period of a week. And one of those days – I called in advance, as we were making the arrangement, and I said to the man who was setting up the logistics, "Now, I just need to let you" – he said, "We may need to charter a plane at some point to get us from one of these towns to the next where there is no commercial service available." I said, "Well, that's fine, but you need to understand that I can't fly in a single-engine airplane at night."
Well, he told me that would be fine. He asked me if I was afraid to fly in a single-engine airplane at night, and I said, "No, that wasn't the case but that I was under authority." Well, we got to the airport on one of those particular days, and there was one airplane at that airport, and it had one engine, and it was night. And I said, "Carl, I can't go up in that plane." He said, "It's the only plane we have." I said, "Well, we can't go." He said, "It will cost us a lot more to charter something different." I said, "Well, we'll have to pay or we can't go." And he tried to reason with me that there was no reason for me to be afraid to go up in that single-engine airplane at night. They had a good pilot; he felt it was a safe plane.
I said, "You know, Carl, that's not the issue. I'm a woman under authority, and if I go up in that single-engine airplane tonight, out from under authority, I'm not safe. And if you go up with me, you're not safe, either." And, you know, he understood that. And the question, then, I raise is, well, does that mean if I go up in that single-engine airplane that it's going to crash – probably not, I don't know. But when you live under authority, it doesn't really matter. You say, "Does a twin-engine airplane never crash?" Yes, sometimes they do. So you say, "What's the difference?"
Well, in my mind, the difference is if a plane goes down, and I'm under authority, then I have the confidence that I'm right in the middle of God's will for my life. But if I step out from under that covering and that protection that God has provided for me, then I make myself vulnerable to the realm, the influence, the attacks of Satan himself, which is why the Scripture says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Because in stepping out from under God's protection and the authority he has placed into our lives, we open up our lives to the attack, the realm, the influence of Satan himself, and that's a dangerous place to be.
Bob: In that moment, did you wrestle at all with the reasonableness of the restriction? You're standing alone at the airport. There is one plane. You've got a mission to accomplish, you're trying to share the Gospel. Did you think to yourself, "This was not a reasonable request in the first place, and maybe just this once I ought to violate it because it doesn't appear like we have any other options?"
Nancy: I'm sure, although it was many years ago, I'm sure I did feel some of that at the time, and I know I have felt that way in many other instances. But then I have to come back to what is the purpose of my life? It's to glorify God. How do I glorify God? By obedience to His Word and His ways, and so many issues are simplified in my life if I will just go back to the Scripture and say, "What is God's way? What is God's pattern?" Not, "Do I like this? Am I comfortable with it? Does it make sense to me?" But Jesus is Lord, so what does that mean for my life and for all of us in relationships where there is authority that has been established by God. That means the willingness to bow, to surrender my will, and to say, "Not my will, but Your will be done."
Dennis: Nancy, there are some of our listeners who are married to husbands who are not spiritual at all. They don't trust their husbands' reasoning, his rationale, why he decided to do what he's done. He's trying to take our kids fishing on Sunday morning; doesn't want them to go to church – not just one Sunday but Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Is there any appeal in that situation?
Nancy: Well, certainly, there is, and let me back up to what you said – the woman does not trust her husband's reasoning. Ultimately, as women, our trust is not in that husband or that man, but our trust is in God. This is what 1 Peter 3 talks about – the holy women of old who trusted in God, and then it gives Sarah as an illustration. Because she trusted in God, she obeyed her husband, Abraham, calling him "lord." That's a pretty strong term, and we don't like that today, but she gave to him under – it was lowercase "L," lord, not capital "L." God is Lord with a capital "L," but because her trust was in God the Lord, then she was able to obey her husband, to call him lord, little "L," and at times Abraham made decisions for his family that, at times, were not wise.
Dennis: In fact, they were deceptive. He asked Sarah to lie.
Nancy: But Sarah found protection, and 1 Peter 3 tells us freedom from fear because her heart was to obey her husband. Now, scripturally, we are not to sin in obeying an authority, and that's where, if we believe that authority is giving us direction that is clearly contrary to the Word of God, not just contrary to our personal preferences or feelings about things, but contrary to the Word of God that would cause us to sin, then we walk through the process of appeal. And I think many of us don't have the patience to be willing to wait on God to change the heart of the authority.
You see, Proverbs tells us that the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, and the Lord turns the heart of that king as the rivers of water. The greatest evidence of how big I believe God is, is my willingness to trust God to work through authorities that He's placed in my life and to give Him time to change the heart of that authority. I may be a part of that process by going to the authority, making an appeal, but even as we do, I think it's so important that our spirit be one of humility.
Those who are parents know that when your child comes to you and says, "You've told me to do this, but I don't agree. You're off the wall, get off my back, I'm not going to do this." Well, the parent is going to tend to stiffen in response to an attitude like that on the part of a teenager. But can you imagine one of your daughters, Dennis, coming to you and saying, "Dad, I know that you have my best interests at heart, and I know that you want what is best for my life, but I prayed about this decision, and I sense that perhaps God is giving me a different direction. I'm going to obey what you've said, but would you be willing to reconsider, to think this through and to pray this through and see if God would give you a different answer."
Well, you're going to fall on the floor first, and then, because of a humble and obedient spirit in that teenager, you're going to be willing to go back to the Lord and to say, "Did I really get the right direction here?"
Bob: Is it okay, Nancy for a woman to be an active receiver? And here is what I mean by that – sometimes Mary Ann will come to me, and she'll say, "I need your help on something. I need you to think this through and let me know what you think I ought to do." And I'll say, "Okay, I'll do that. I'll pray about that, and I'll do that."
And then I kind of set it aside, get distracted, don't really think about it. A couple of days later she may come back to me and say, "You remember that issue? I still need your help on that, and I'm looking for your direction."
She is nudging me …
Nancy: She is being your helper.
Bob: Yes, she is.
Nancy: This is what God made her to be. But I think, as women, we need to be careful that in doing that, we don't intimidate, and we have to know, as women, what is the heart, what are the needs, how can we best serve and help the men that God's placed us under?
Bob: Yeah, I brought that up, Dennis, because I appreciate my wife coming back and nudging me a second or a third time, because I do get distracted, and just as Nancy said, she is being my helper when she asks me to initiate.
Dennis: I think a lot of people listen to conversations like we're having here, and they equate responder and submission to weakness and to being a pushover.
Nancy: Well, let me say this – the Scripture does say that the woman is the weaker vessel.
Dennis: Well, she may be weaker physically, but in her role, she's powerful.
Nancy: She's powerful by fulfilling the role of the responder and the one who comes under authority.
Dennis: And the question I wanted to get to right here is a friend of mine who has got a daughter who is college – she is stout, she is strong. Now, she's still a woman, and she's still a weaker vessel, that's not the issue here. But she is very gifted, a leader, and I think you can probably identify with this, Nancy. She has a lot of abilities, but she is a girl, she is a woman. And my friend, who is her father, is attempting to raise her to be God's woman, and he is struggling with how do I raise this young lady to be all that God intended while possessing these public gifts, these leadership gifts? Are you saying, by being a responder, that you can't be a leader?
Nancy: We're not saying that God is asking women not to utilize the strengths and the gifts that He has given to them but to do so within the framework of acknowledging that God made that husband or that father or that male leadership in the church to have the primary responsibility for leading, and that her role is in helping him, assisting him, coming under his covering and protection.
Now, the wise man will receive input and will maximize the gifts, the abilities, that God has given to his wife, but, see, we're also operating on a very 20th century and Western mindset that we have a right to exercise all of our gifts and that our purpose in life is to fulfill all of our gifts. My purpose in life is not to fulfill all my gifts. My purpose in life is to bring glory to God. And if, at times, that means that God's will is that some of those gifts and strengths be put on the shelf or not be as noticed or as utilized. It's up to God.
I am surrendered to be used however God would be most glorified, and that may mean that I'm not at the forefront, that I'm not taking the leadership or the reigns if God would receive more glory through that.
Bob: And if that's going to happen, it means that women are going to have to be taking their cues not from the culture but from the Scriptures. They are going to have to be renewing their mind on the truth of God's Word and what God has to say about what it means to be a woman and not taking their cues from the magazines that are in the racks at the supermarket as you're checking out.
Nancy, you've written on this subject in a variety of settings. You wrote a little booklet called "A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood," that tens of thousands of women have read and passed on and have found very helpful. We've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center , and it's available to our listeners if you'd like to get a copy.
Then you've also written a bestselling book called "Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free," along with a variety of books – a book on surrender, a book on holiness, a book on brokenness, a study guide called "Seeking Him, Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival." We have a number of your books in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners are interested in getting more information about what's available, the easiest thing to do is go to our website, which is FamilyLife.com. On the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click where it says "Learn More," that will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about the resources Nancy has written. You can order them from our website, FamilyLife.com, or if it's easier to call 1-800-FLTODAY and place an order over the phone, you can do that as well.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, and then don't forget the conference that is coming up in Chicago in October – October 8th through the 11th. It's a national conference for women called True Woman '08, and it features a number of speakers including Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Barbara Rainey, Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, Pastor John Piper is going to be speaking there, Keith and Kristin Getty are going to be leading the worship at the conference, and it looks like it is on the way to being a sellout event.
So if our listeners are interested, they ought to register as quickly as they can. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and there is a link there that will take you to the True Woman '08 website where you can get registered and plan to attend this two-and-a-half-day national conference for women in Chicago in October.
And I want to be quick to add here that women are not alone in terms of confusion about what it means to be what God created you to be. Men are struggling with this as well, and this month we've been making available a CD for our listeners on the subject of masculinity and understanding it biblically and keeping it in biblical balance. It's a message from our friend, Stu Weber, that we call "Applied Masculinity." Stu is a pastor and a retired Army Ranger, a Green Beret, and this message is a terrific message for men. We're making it available this month when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. Because we are listener-supported, these donations are essential to keep our program on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country.
So we hope you'll consider making a donation, and if you'd like to receive the CD with the message from Stu Weber, as you fill out your donation form on the Internet, just type the word "Stu" in the keycode box. That's s-t-u – again, you'll see a box that says "Keycode," and you just type s-t-u in there, or call 1-800-FLTODAY. You can make a donation over the phone. Again, it's 1-800-358-6329. When you make your donation just mention that you'd like a copy of the CD form Stu Weber called "Applied Masculinity," and we're happy to send it out to you. We really do appreciate your financial partnership with us here in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Tomorrow we're going to continue to look at what it means to be God's woman according to God's Word with our guest, Nancy Leigh DeMoss. We hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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