Thursday, 27 September 2012
This article really isn't about wifely submission, so you can take a deep breath and relax. The focal point of this article is about soul winning and the whole won over without words approach.
Although Paul didn't write this verse, he did write about submission and soul winning. Paul was the type of leader who led by example. He wrote about how he submitted himself to others, so he could win as many as possible (1 Co 9:19-23). He also admonished the Christian community to lead quiet lives coupled with hard work as a means of winning the respect of their disbelieving neighbors (1 Th 4:11). Paul talked about the importance of having a quiet demeanor with demonstrative Christian behavior. However, what are the benefits associated with the winning without words approach?
Of course, there are benefits associated with the winning without words approach. Otherwise, Peter and Paul never would have advised it. However, there's another Biblical author who shed light on the subject: King Solomon. Solomon in all of his wisdom wrote quite a bit about relationships, and he understood the benefits of the winning without words approach. King David (Solomon's father) said, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God...'" (Ps 14:1, 53:1). According to the King James Dictionary, there are two relevant definitions for fool:1. A weak christian; a godly person who has much remaining sin and unbelief.2. One who acts contrary to sound wisdom in his moral deportment; one who follows his own inclinations, who prefers trifling and temporary pleasures to the service of God and eternal happiness.Based on David's quote, along with the definitions from the King James Dictionary, we can conclude that unbelief can be a symptom of foolishness. Solomon added recklessness and quick-temperedness to that list of symptoms (Pr 14:16).
Now that we have established the relatedness between foolishness, unbelief and disobedience, we can identify some benefits of the won without words approach.
Believe it or not, foolishness can be contagious. It's been said that women are responders, and men are initiators, but responding to an unbelieving husband about certain issues or behaviors can be counterproductive. As a result of responding to the arguments of an unbelieving husband, a believing wife can actually become infected with foolishness herself (Pr 26:4). Speaking out about an issue can cause an unbelieving husband o despise his wife (Pr 23:9). The wife who keeps her mouth shut and bites her tongue about an issue is actually looking out for her own best interest by decreasing her risk for further martial discord and potentially abusive behavior (Pr 21:23, 13:3).
Of course, we realize that not all unbelieving and/or disobedient husbands are violent. However, can you imagine how many domestic homicides could have been avoided if the wife had kept her mouth closed rather than engaging in an argument with her husband? Perhaps, the life of some marriages could have been spared rather than ending in divorce if only the wife would have taken the won without words approach? It's hard to stop an argument once it starts, so it can be better for a wife to remain silent about an issue in order to avoid the ignition of an argument that she won't be able to stop (Pr 17:14). Therefore, there are several benefits to that won without words approach.Does the won without words approach always work? Does it have a 100% success rate? Paul himself acknowledged that there's no guarantee that a believing spouse will be able to save their unbelieving mate (1 Co 7:16). Unfortunately, the won without words approach isn't always productive. A spouse who isn't Christ-submitted -- whether it be a husband or wife -- can put a tremendous amount of strain on their household.
Research studies suggest that spouses who experience persistent martial discord have a higher risk for heart disease, hypertension, depression, low self esteem, domestic violence, divorce and etc. After years of practicing the won without words approach with little or no change from an unbelieving husband, a hopeful wife could eventually become emotionally and/or physically ill because "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Pr 13:12).
What can a wife do if the won without words approach proves unproductive after years of practice? Perhaps, it's time for her to consider another Biblical approach. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak (3:7). With that in mind, what are the benefits of speaking up? And how should it be done?A virtuous wife should speak to her husband with wisdom and kindness (Pr 31:26). "The lips of the godly speak helpful words" (10:32). This is applicable because wives were created to be helpers. As a result, a believing wife who understands her purpose will be driven to help her husband, and her conversations with him will be reflective of that.
Seasoned words are good because they can bring joy to both the speaker and the listener (Pr 15:23). This is relevant because a virtuous wife will strive to "bring her husband good and not harm" and speaking seasoned words to him might be one way for her to accomplish that goal. In certain situations, gentle words spoken in a soft tone can calm anger (Pr 15:1). Pleasant words aren't just sweet, but they can also promote healthiness (Pr 16:24).
After years of effort with little or no change from her unbelieving husband, should a believing wife continue to practice the won without words approach? Or should she speak up? Both approaches are Biblical, and both have merit. Deciding which approach to use isn't easy, especially for the wives who are contemplating the issue.
Are you a Christian married to a Non-Christian? Do you attempt to approach the subject of belief with your spouse? Have you tried to win him or her over without words, or do you speak up? Which approach do you think would be most effective?