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** w01 12/15 pp. 28-29 Questions From Readers ***
Questions From Readers
How can a Christian wife balance loyalty to God with submission to her unbelieving husband if he shares in religious holiday activities?
Her doing so will require wisdom and tact. But she is doing the right thing in striving to balance her two obligations. Jesus gave counsel about a parallel situation: "Pay back, therefore, Caesar?s things to Caesar, but God?s things to God." (Matthew 22:21) Granted, he was dealing with obligations to governments, to which Christians were later told to be in submission. (Romans 13:1) Yet, his counsel finds a parallel in a wife?s balancing her obligations to God with her Scriptural submission to her husband, even if he is an unbeliever.
No one familiar with the Bible would deny that it stresses that a Christian?s first obligation is to Almighty God, to be loyal to him at all times. (Acts 5:29) Still, in many situations a true worshiper can accommodate the requests or demands of an unbeliever in authority while not sharing in a violation of God?s elevated laws.
We find an instructive example in the three Hebrews, as related in Daniel chapter 3. Their governmental superior, Nebuchadnezzar, decreed that they and others present themselves on the plain of Dura. Realizing that false worship was scheduled, the three Hebrews would likely have preferred to avoid being there. Perhaps Daniel was able to excuse himself, but these three could not. So they complied to the extent of appearing, but they would not?and did not?share in any wrong act.?Daniel 3:1-18.
Similarly, around holiday times an unbelieving husband might request or demand that his Christian wife do something she would like to avoid. Consider some examples: He tells her to cook a certain food on the day he and others will celebrate a holiday. Or he demands that the family (including his wife) visit his relatives on that day for a meal or simply as a social call. Or even prior to the holiday, he might say that while his wife is out shopping, she must make some purchases for him?foods unique to the holiday, items to use as presents, or wrapping paper and cards to use with his gifts.
Again, the Christian wife ought to be determined not to share in false religious acts, but what about such requests? He is the family head, and God?s Word says: "You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord." (Colossians 3:18) In these cases, can she show wifely subjection while being loyal to God? She must decide how to balance obedience to her husband with her overriding obedience to Jehovah.
At other times, her husband may ask her to cook a certain food, whether because it is his favorite or because he is used to having that meal in a particular season. She will desire to show love for him and recognition of his headship. Could she do so even if he made the request on the occasion of a holiday? Some Christian wives might be able to do so with a good conscience, simply considering it as a normal task of preparing the daily meal. Certainly, no loyal Christian would attach any holiday significance to it, even if her husband did. Similarly, he might require her to be with him when he visits his relatives at various times each month or year. Could she do so even if it was the day of a holiday? Or would she normally be willing to purchase things at his request, without judging what he intends to do with the items she buys for him while doing her shopping?
Of course, a Christian wife should think of others?the effect on them. (Philippians 2:4) She would like to avoid giving any impression that she is linked to the holiday, just as the three Hebrews may likely have preferred that others not see them traveling to the plain of Dura. So she might tactfully try to reason with her husband to see if, out of consideration for her feelings, he might do certain holiday-related things for himself to accommodate a wife who loves and respects him. He might see the wisdom of not putting both of them in a potentially embarrassing situation if she would have to refuse to engage in false religious acts. Yes, calm discussion beforehand might lead to a peaceful solution.?Proverbs 22:3.
In the final analysis, the faithful Christian must weigh the facts and then decide what to do. Obedience to God must come first, as it did with the three Hebrews. (1 Corinthians 10:31) But with that in mind, the individual Christian has to decide what noncompromising things can be done at the request of one having authority in the family or in the community.