Status and the Christian Marriage

Status and the Christian Marriage

In the book “Your Brain at Work”, author David Rock teaches that you can be more productive and improve personal relationships by a better understanding how the brain works. In one chapter, he reports that status is a major driver of social behavior. He believes a sense of increasing status can be more rewarding than money, and a sense of decreasing status can feel as if your life is in danger.

Whenever I study science, psychology, or any other science, I’m always brought back to awe at our amazing God. We think we have discovered so much when all along, it was all right there in His Word! In this case, I see how living as the Bible teaches will mesh so perfectly with the way our brains handle the issue of status in marriage.

When two people are continuously working to maintain their status, they will necessarily be at odds. Both individuals can’t be the “top dog” so someone is always struggling to protect or gain status. My own marriage was that way for many years. We maintained separate bank accounts because I did not want my husband to have power over me regarding financial decisions. We frequently got into arguments regarding areas where we could not agree on a particular action to take. I also had a nasty habit of making belittling remarks about him in front of others. I now see this was merely a subconscious attempt to give myself a higher status than him in the eyes of others.

What does the Bible say about this?

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. - Ephesians 5:22 (NKJV)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her - Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV)

Then my husband and I came to know Jesus and learned how the Bible says to structure a marriage. It basically comes down to this: the wife is asked to concede the battle for status; voluntarily giving it to the husband. In exchange, the husband is asked to treat the wife better than he would treat himself. The husband has all of the responsibility to answer to God for how he led his family. It only makes sense that the members of his family would concede to him the authority needed to fulfill this duty.

When we began trying to live this way, everything changed for the better. There was no longer any feeling of competition between us, but cooperation. Now I cannot imagine belittling my husband at all, and especially not in front of others! He is my hero, my protector, my advisor, and my best friend. All I gave up was a little status and I got enormous happiness, peace, and fulfillment in exchange. This is how God’s economy often works. I’m so glad I gave Jesus the proper “status” in my life – as Lord!