I adore reading the works of John Bunyan!
His allegories are both captivating and moving, always pointing the reader towards Christ. Bunyan’s metaphors illustrate the truths of Christian life, man’s nature, and the church in ways that are accurate and memorable as well as entertaining (if you haven’t read The Pilgrims Progress or The Holy War, I highly recommend them!).
Bunyan’s instructional writings are presented in the straightforward outlines typical of the Puritans, which make the teachings easy to follow (I’m a list person. Lists make me happy!). His instruction is sometimes followed by a series of Q&A highlighting common objections to the teaching at hand and his reply to these objections (His replies are often every bit as ‘saucy’ as what you’d expect to hear from Charles Spurgeon — probably why Spurgeon liked Bunyan as much as he did!) These old-school “FAQ’s” can be a lot of fun to read, and are packed full of great teaching.
One of Bunyan’s very practical works is titled Christian Behaviour. Somewhere near the middle of this little book is a section of instruction and Q&A which addresses The Duty of Wives. It’s chock full of good, practical, biblical nuggets!
For the next few Marriage Mondays I’ll share some of Bunyan’s wisdom for us wives:
The wife is bound by law to her husband, so long as her husband liveth (Rom 7:2). Wherefore she also hath her work and place in the family, as well as the rest.
Now there are these things considerable in the carriage of a wife toward her husband, which she ought conscientiously to observe.
First, that she look upon him as her head and lord. ‘The head of a woman is the man.’ (1 Cor 11:3) And so Sarah called Abraham lord (1 Peter 3:6).
Second, She should therefore be subject to him, as is fit in the Lord. The apostle saith, ‘That the wife should submit herself to her husband as to the Lord.’ (1 Peter 3:1; Col 3:18; Eph 5:22). I told you before, that if the husband doth walk towards his wife as becomes him, he will therein be such an ordinance of God to her, besides the relation of a husband, that shall preach to her the carriage of Christ to his church. And now I say also, that the wife, if she walk with her husband as becomes her, she shall preach the obedience of the church to her husband. ‘Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.’ (Eph 5:24)1
Wow — so if the wife “walks with her husband as becomes her, she shall preach the obedience of the church to [the church’s] husband [Christ]”.
That means if we as wives live out our roles in marriage in the way God has prescribed, we live as examples of the beautiful love and obedience the church is to have for Christ. God’s prescribed role for us in marriage is the way that “becomes” us — when we joyfully fulfill that role our lives are attractive, beautiful, flattering, befitting, proper, and right. Bunyan rightly points out that the lives of such wives “preach” without a word to their husband, and they certainly do — imagine how many of those who witness our relationship with our husband also hear that “sermon” and witness our living example.
Is the example we’re living as wives “becoming”? Or more unseemly, unsuitable, and unattractive?
It seems like the first step to getting on the right path in marriage (as in all other area of life) isn’t pointing our finger at our spouse, but examining ourselves. Let’s take a long, hard, prayerful look at our “walk with our husband” and allow the Lord to show us our faults – areas our walk is “unbecoming” – and let’s be willing to repent and strive by God’s grace to learn to walk as He would have us walk.
1The Works of John Bunyan Vol II Banner of Truth Trust edition, Christian Behaviour by John Bunyan, p. 560
Read a free pdf version online here: http://www.bunyanministries.org/?page_id=37