This is a book review series of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.
Chapter One – Chapter Two – Chapter Three – Chapter Four – Chapter Five – Chapter Six – Chapter Seven – Chapter Eight – Chapter Nine – Chapter Ten – Chapter Eleven – Chapter Twelve – Chapter 13 – Chapter 14
Chapter Fifteen is titled, “Honoring Christ – Key to the Wife’s Motivation.” This chapter is to help wives who find it difficult to submit, or are selfishly motivated, to understand the principles behind honoring Christ with our submission. How many principles does it take to motivate women into submission, you ask? Twenty.
I’m going to review this chapter a little differently. My full-time job is to make sure that our leave-of-absence benefits are administered correctly for thousands of employees. And, there’s nothing that motivates me more than process improvement! Why do something the hard way when you can work smarter and more efficiently? Let’s review Martha Peace’s “motivations” to see if there is any room for improvement. What are we waiting for? How many Christ-honoring statements from Peace do we need to get through? TWENTY! Statements from Martha Peace are (bolded), and my comments immediately follow.
#1 A wife should be grateful for what God has done for her. – Jesus’ death on the cross is brought to our attention. Jesus did not die for wives to be submissive to their husbands. But, if you say “Lord Jesus Christ” while telling women how they should live, it makes it sound more authoritative.
Many things fall into proper perspective when a wife remembers what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for her.
This should be a tremendously motivating factor in becoming biblically submissive to your husband.
#2 A wife should look to the example of Christ’s submission to the Father. – Is Peace suggesting that wives follow Christ’s example “even to the point of death?”
He (Christ) put Himself aside and obeyed the Father even to the “point of death” (Philippians 2:8). Following Christ’s example is a compelling motivation for you to be submissive to your husband.
#3 A wife should repent of any wrong thinking by renewing her mind with scripture. – Godly wives should not indulge in the worldliness of working and pursuing a career, having your husband share responsibilities at home, or relying upon your husband for some happiness.
Many wives have been taken captive by worldly philosophy.
The solution is for you to bring your beliefs and values in line with Scripture.
#4 A wife’s true beauty and adornment comes from being submissive to her husband. – Remember the time Jesus told wives they should be meek and quiet? Yeah, me neither. But somehow meek and quiet is Christ-honoring.
…a godly wife’s first concern is to adorn herself more with inward beauty. You do this by being submissive to your husband with the attitude of a “meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 2:3).
#5 Biblical submission shows love to God. – Of course she had to include this because if a wife isn’t biblically submissive then she obviously doesn’t love God. And who wants to be known as one who doesn’t love God?
Biblical submission of a wife to her husband is a command from God to wives. Each time a wife is outwardly and inwardly submissive to her husband, she is showing love to God.
#6 Biblical submission is a way to show love to her husband. – Of course she had to include this one too. Because who wants to be known as one who doesn’t love God and her husband?
When faced with a specific circumstance and struggling with not wanting to be submissive, it will help you if you think thoughts like, ‘Love doesn’t see its own (way) (1 Corinthians 13:5). I can show love to my husband by being submissive to him.’
If a wife’s biblical submission shows love to God and love to her husband, then I would expect #7 to say that it shows love to herself? Nope. You’re not gonna find a wife loving herself on this list.
#7 Biblical submission should be viewed through God’s sovereignty and goodness. – Does God honor a wife’s decisions or does he only honor her husband’s decisions?
It will help motivate you when you think, ‘Lord, what do you have planned for me today? You are good, and You do all things well. Thank you for my husband’s answer.”
#8 God uses others to put pressure on a wife to be submissive. – Yes, because this is a healthy way to get someone to conform to how you expect them to think and act. And, I love how she calls a confrontation a “wound.” Because accepting wounds from people is healthy too.
God sometimes uses loving confrontation by your husband, friend, or an older woman to help motivate you to be biblically submissive. If you receive their reproofs humbly, God will use them to help mold you into His character. Your responsibility is to humbly receive these ‘wounds’ as a good thing and admit when you are wrong.
#9 A wife should train herself to be biblically submissive. – Isn’t that what numbers 1-8 are all about? Too repetitive, so I’m not going to bother with a quote, except to say that she expects a wife to know immediately when she does not behave in a submissive manner and ask for forgiveness from God and her husband.
#10 A wife should learn the biblical dynamic of authority and rebellion. – Similar in line with #5 except that we’re reminded that we are in rebellion against God if we don’t do exactly what he says. Literal interpretation of God’s word determines exactly what God says wives should do.
#11 A wife should seek truly biblical counsel from someone who will exhort and admonish her to be submissive. – Repetitive of #8. I would remove from the list.
#12 A wife should humbly receive her husband’s biblical correction and reproof. – Repetitive of #8. I would remove from the list.
#13 Study the character of God. – Similar to #2. I would remove from the list.
#14 – A wife will honor God’s word by being submissive to her husband. – Repetitive of #10. If you are reading God’s word to understanding authority, then there should be an understanding that you would honor God’s word. I would remove from the list.
#15 – A wife can be motivated to be submissive in the “big things” by being faithful in the “little things.” – The husband will be able to truly know if you are being a submissive wife if you do all the little things he asks? This sets the husband up for power in the relationship and potential abuse.
Your true heart and character is shown with small, seemingly unimportant things that your husband asks you to do or to not do. It is with the little things that your husband will likely know if you are really being submissive or not.
#16 Biblical submission is one way for a wife to be a “living sacrifice” for the Lord Jesus. – Similar to #2. I would remove from the list.
#17 A wife should realize that being submissive is a fruit of her salvation. – A fruit of what? No, no, no…being a submissive wife is not essential to your salvation in Jesus. This gets removed from the list due to its nonsense.
#18 A wife may be motivated by personal testimonies of women who are already submissive to their husbands. – By all means, please use discernment. I ask again, who determines what is “biblically correct?” I don’t think Peace’s descriptions of wifely submission is “biblically correct” so that should be valid. Right? It is by all means, discerning.
In seeking these testimonies, be discerning about what the other person is telling you. Ask yourself, ‘Is this biblically correct?’ If it is, then be encouraged.
#19 Realize that sometimes she may be “suffering for righteousness.” – Oh, all the suffering, and sinning, and repenting that goes on in a wife’s life. This is exactly like #2, but here Peace reinforces suffering for a purpose. Her overgeneralization at the beginning doesn’t help anyone who is in an abusive relationship. And again, God does not intend for wives to suffer at the hands of an abuser.
Most of the time when a wife suffers, she is not suffering for the Lord but because of her own rebellious, willful heart. However, it is possible to suffer because of her righteous responses. For example, if your thinking and actions are pleasing to the Lord and your husband continues to be selfish, etc., then your suffering will have purpose – it will be for the Lord’s sake.
Finally, we made it to the end. And it’s a potential “dead end,” if you know what I mean.
#20 A wife should remind herself of the potential grievous consequences of not being submissive. – How did we end up here? The list started so lightly with love and God’s goodness and God’s authority. And now we’re left with “grievous consequences?”
Some of these consequences are personal embarrassment, loss of reward a the judgment seat of Christ, Divine discipline, church discipline, and/or disqualification of her husband from the office of elder or deacon.
God will do what he has to do to turn you from your rebellion to humble submission to your husband. Many times, those consequences are painful, embarrassing, and very difficult to endure.
Of everything on the list, I think #20 is the most concerning to me. Peace’s statement utilizes fear to convince a wife that she is to think and behave in a submissive way or dire “grievous consequences” will happen to her. Saying that God will punish as needed due to your rebellion is pure spiritual abuse.
As you can see above, my process improvements for this list took out seven statements due to repetitive use, and one due to nonsense . This takes our list down to twelve, which in my opinion it’s still too much. Let’s call the whole list nonsense!