“To make matters even more challenging, what is a godly woman do when their husbands forbids her from joining a solid, biblical congregation? Here are a few thoughts that may help assist those who are having to walk through these difficult situations.”
Among the many grievous situations in which a believer may find himself or herself, having a spouse who is either unbelieving or unwilling to join a biblical church can be one of the most burdensome. The Scriptures teach us the importance of belonging to a local congregation, being under the oversight of godly elders and living out the Christian life among the members of the assembly. What is a believer to do when his or her spouse refuses to attend a church or is unwilling to join a local congregation? To make matters more difficult, what is a godly wife to do when her husband refuses to join a solid church? This sort of situation is burdensome to the heart of a godly woman who wants to please the Lord and respect her husband. To make matters even more challenging, what is a godly woman do when their husbands forbids her from joining a solid, biblical congregation? Here are a few thoughts that may help assist those who are having to walk through these difficult situations:
1. We are to obey God rather than men. Sometimes people mistakenly say things like, “I don’t care what people think, I just care about what the Lord thinks.” This sort of brazen response often lacks the biblical nuance of doing what is pleasing to the Lord while seeking to take into consideration the needs and interests of others. However, when someone presses us to disobey, or tempts us to compromise, we must fall back on the principle of pleasing God rather than men. When the Apostle Paul took up the problem in the church in Galatia, this was his response, “Do I now seek the approval of men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). This should be the guiding principle, in no matter what situation we find ourselves. Whether it is rejecting false teaching or refusing to be swayed by the influence and pressures of those who would disobey God, we must seek to do what it pleasing to God first and foremost. The Lord commands His people not to forsake the assembly (Heb. 10:24-25). This means that you should find the most biblically faithful congregation you can in close proximity to your home and bind yourself to it with a whole life commitment, no matter what your spouse is telling you. If a godly man’s wife wants to attend a compromised church, he should refuse to attend it himself. It is better to obey God than to engage in compromise for the sake of peace.
2. We are to be respectful to our spouse, even when they encourage us to disobey. Whether it is a godly man whose wife does not want to follow his lead in joining a biblically solid church or a godly wife whose husband refuses to join a biblical church with her, believers are called to be gentle, humble, meek and loving in their responses to their spouse. When Simon Peter took up the issue of a godly wife living with an ungodly husband, he encouraged her to win him over through quiet, humble respect. He wrote, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2). This obviously does not mean that the godly wife is to be a doormat or to tolerate abuse. What it does mean is that she is to keep a watch over her own heart and to know that there can be more conviction unto her husband’s reformation by adorning her life with the pursuit of godliness. What does this look like in a marriage in which the husband refuses to allow her to worship in a solid church? It may mean that she commits to praying about the situation for a number of weeks. It may mean that she goes to her husband in gentleness, asking him to be understanding of her need to be in the worship and fellowship of a biblical congregation. Whatever it looks like, of this much we can be sure, in His word, God tells us that being respectful works.