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Biblical Marriage Role Guidelines

The reason for this study is that a disciple couple was having trouble in their marriage, and they asked me to give them marriage role guidelines (i.e., “The husband does this, and the wife does that,” etc.). This helped them enough that it was suggested that I republish these guidelines for everyone. I agreed because the family is under spiritual attack by the red horse popular culture, which teaches ethics and roles that are contrary to those taught in Scripture. My hope is that this document can serve as a guide (or even as a form of “prenuptial agreement”) by couples who want to make sure that their marriages are organized to please Yahweh.

[Our goal here is to provide a simple role-based guide to what Scripture says are the roles for men and women. Those who want more information should read the Covenant Relationships collection.]

Understanding Men, Women, and Marriage Roles

Because the world rejects Yahweh and Scripture, it has a hard time understanding men, women, and marriage roles. However, these things are easy to understand, if we understand how Yahweh designed us, and what He wants us to do for Him.

Yahweh gave men and women an animal nature that is opposed to the spiritual nature He wants us to develop. That is, our fleshly biological nature is the exact opposite of the spiritual second nature He wants us to develop. However, if we will analyze our fleshly carnal nature, then we can more easily understand the kind of spiritual second nature Elohim wants us to develop. Once we know how to develop this spiritual second nature, it is then much easier to establish harmonious marriages.

According to human biology, both men and women seek to maximize their reproductive success. However, because men and women are opposites, they take opposite approaches.


The male biological imperative is to make as many females as possible pregnant, but not to support them (because this takes time and effort). The problem with this is that it reduces us to the level of the apes. In the ape world, only the meanest and strongest alpha males impregnate all the females, and none of the other males have any wives at all. While this may work fine for apes, in the human realm this does not please Elohim, because while the alpha male’s chances of siring successful offspring go up, each individual female’s chances of being able to raise children successfully in a complex society go way down. Therefore, this does not provide a good balance. Therefore, what Yahweh ideally wants is for the man to dedicate himself to one wife for life. This also increases love, and therefore it pleases Elohim, since Elohim is love.

Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 4:8
8 He who does not love does not know Elohim, for Elohim is love.


The female biological urge is the opposite. The female biological urge is to secure as much support for her children as she can, however she can. Ideally she wants to be the sole wife of the most powerful and wealthy male she can attract, but if she is unable to get him all to herself, she might even share him with other women, if such a sharing arrangement would provide her with more resources to raise her children than she would have if she married a poor man. In other words, some women are not opposed to being part of a harem. However, while Elohim historically does allow polygyny and even commands it under certain circumstances (e.g., Deuteronomy 25:5-10), it is not the original Edenic ideal of one man and one woman marrying for life, to form one flesh.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 19:4-6
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’
5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what Elohim has joined together, let not man separate.”

One reason Yahweh prefers lifetime monogamous marriage is that at least hypothetically, the children get more of an opportunity for love and affection from their fathers.

Yahweh’s Solution: Patriarchy

So, if the male biological urge is to impregnate all of the females he can, but not commit to them or provide for them, whereas the female urge is to seek commitment and resources from the most powerful and wealthy males (even to the point of forming harems), how can we form successful marriages, so that society rises up above the level of the apes? The answer is that Yahweh provides a way by which both men and women can get their needs met, and that pathway is called Patriarchy.

In patriarchy, the man is considered to be the head of the house. He bears the responsibility for anything that goes wrong, and because of this, he is also given the authority.

In the patriarchal model, a young girl grows up under her father’s headship. When she marries, her headship transfers out from under from her father to her husband, and it stays with her husband unless or until she remarries (Elohim forbid). This is one reason why the old custom of asking the bride’s father for his blessing on the marriage is a good idea. (For more details, see “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage” in the Covenant Relationships collection.)

As the priest of the household and the head of his house, the man is to take counsel with his wife, and listen to her counsel seriously in practically all things, as she sees things from a different perspective, and her fate is tied to his. However, then he is to take the decision in prayer to Yahweh, and let Yahweh be the one to decide. If he fails to consult with his wife, or if he fails to take the final decision to Yahweh (or let Yahweh decide), he is the one who bears the ultimate responsibility.

Selfless (not Selfish)

Patriarchal marriage is the best form of marriage there is, but for it to work, both the man and the woman must rise up above their carnal fleshly natures. They have to actively love their partners and fulfill their assigned roles. Also, rather than focus exclusively on what they want, they should focus on what Yahweh wants, because that is when Yahweh likes to bless marriages (is when He is getting what He wants–which is the next generation of Israelites being raised up to worship and serve Him).

Mishle (Proverbs) 22:6
6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

In patriarchal marriage, both partners have to remember to place Yahweh first, and their partner second, their children third, and themselves last. This is how it works.

Rules for the Husband

The rules for the husband are first. They are listed in no particular order. All of them are important.

Traditionally, the husband serves as the priest of the household. Since he is the one in the primary position of authority, and he sets the tone for his household.

The husband must take full personal responsibility for everything that happens (or fails to happen) in his house. Although his wife will certainly not do everything the right way, it is important that he take responsibility for all that happens (and does not simply blame her, like the first Adam).

B’reisheet (Genesis) 3:12
12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

The woman Havvah (Eve) certainly made a mistake, but it was nonetheless her husband’s fault (and according to most readings, her husband was there with her when she made these mistakes).

The husband must realize that the marriage is not about him, but about service to Yahweh, and his wife, and his family as a whole. Therefore, he has to lay down his life in sacrifice and service to his family, as Messiah loved the assembly, and gave His life for her.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 5:25
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself for her…

The husband must see his wife as part of himself (i.e., as his physical other half (e.g., Genesis 2:24). Genesis 2:18 tells us that Yahweh made the woman as a helper corresponding to the man (עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ). The Hebrew here suggests that she will be different than the man and will have a different point of view. Again, the man’s job is to listen to this “loyal opposition” and then take the decision to Yahweh, and let Yahweh make the final decision. But because of this, he should never resent her advice. Rather, he should welcome it, and be thankful for it.

As part of dedicating himself to his wife, a man should make a covenant with his eyes, not to look at other women. Rather, his desire should be only for his wife.

Iyov (Job) 31:1
1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?”

As the priest of the household, the husband must ask Yahweh for the infilling of the Spirit until it is received. This is because it is only when he is in connection with the Spirit that he can please Yeshua (John 15:4, etc.).

Because Yahweh married his bride Israel and gave her a written ketubah (marriage contract, i.e., the Torah), a husband should follow Yahweh’s example, and marry his wife formally, in front of at least 2 or 3 witnesses. He should also give her a written ketubah, which should be registered with the government, in order to give his wife financial security in case anything bad should happen to him (Elohim forbid). (For details, see “Why Give Your Wife a Ketubah”, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 4.) The ketubah should be displayed prominently in the home, for all visitors and guests to see.

Democracy is of the red horse (Esau). Because of this, the laws regarding marriage in modern day democracies are very different than the laws regarding marriage in Scripture. Because of this, a written understanding or agreement prior to the marriage can be helpful, to make sure that both the husband and the wife understand what the Scriptures require (and this study can be printed and signed to serve as just such an agreement).

The original standard in Scripture is that of one wife for life. Also, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us that any Ecclesiastical leaders may have only one wife. However, when it is not outlawed in the lands in which we live, polygyny (multiple wives) is permissible in Scripture, and under certain conditions it is even commanded (e.g., Deuteronomy 25:5). However, because the standard in marriage is one wife for life, if the husband wants to take more than one wife, and the wife is ok with it, it should be agreed to in writing and recorded at the time of the marriage. It is expected that this will be very much the exception, and not the rule, and under no circumstances should we break the laws of the lands where we live. Most countries with a Christian heritage will have laws against polygyny, but sometimes Muslims convert, and they have more than one wife. It is not right to ask them to send their other wives away, because they converted. (However, whatever the understanding is at the time of the marriage, if it differs from the Scriptural ideal it should be signed and recorded [and not to break the laws].)

Because the husband is given the authority in the marriage, more is required of him. That is why a husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body, and also sacrifice himself for her.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 5:25-29
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself for her,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious assembly, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be set-apart and without blemish.
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Yahweh does the assembly.

Deuteronomy 24:5 specifies that a man is released from military service for a full year after taking a new wife, to bring happiness to the wife he has taken. This can mean many things, but the husband should do his best to provide a living space comfortable for her, within his means.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:5
5 “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.”

As the priest of the house, the husband should lead his house in prayer each and every day, without fail. One major goal is to ensure that his household is filled with the Spirit of Yeshua, and that everything done within his walls is done according to the Spirit. This is to be done to standard, not to time. It may take longer to pray the Spirit in than at other times, but he must trust that if he will pray fervently, and lead his family in prayer, that Yahweh will answer his prayers. The exact amount of time needed can vary, but the point is to make sure that the Spirit is invited in, enters, and stays.

The husband should lead his household in Scripture reading daily, without fail. The exact amount of time can vary, but an hour is a good (random) standard.

Husbands should dwell with their wives with kindness and understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, so that together they can be heirs to the favor of life, and so that his prayers shall not be hindered. (This also means that if he does not give favor to the wife, that his prayers will be hindered.)

Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 3:7
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

It is essential that a husband trust Yahweh at all times, and especially during times of trial and testing. Women are emotional beings by nature, and they depend on the man to be strong and uphold standards, especially when they test boundaries. Sometimes it is necessary to trust Yahweh and take shelter in Him for the benefit of the wife. This is all part of a husband’s job.

Rules for the Wife

While the husband must dedicate himself to serving his wife, the wife must also realize that the marriage is not about her, but about the husband and wife raising up a family to serve Yeshua, as part of His global kingdom. Because of this, she should temper what she wants, and asks herself how it will serve Yeshua and His kingdom. Just as the marriage is not about the husband or his desires, it also is not about her, or her desires.

The wife must realize that she is in the helper and the supporter role. She can and should give her best advice, but the final decision is not hers to make. Rather, it is Yahweh’s decision to make, and it is to come through her husband.

The wife should see her husband as the leader, while her role is that of the loyal, faithful supporter and helper. She will see many things that it would help her husband to know, if only he would listen. Yet she must understand that as a faithful supporter and helper, there is a right and a wrong way to make suggestions.

While wives want love and devotion, husbands want respect. Wives often do not understand this, because they are in a unique position to see all of the many flaws and failings of their man. Yet if they love their man, they will not point out his failings in a harsh or critical way, but will pray until Yahweh shows them how to bring things to their husband’s attention in a way that he will find helpful, and appreciate, and respect.

The wife also must pray continually for the infilling of the Spirit. Any time she is not feeling the Spirit with her, she needs to stop, and pray until she feels the Spirit return. No good communication will happen, and no good thing will take place if she is not with the Spirit (John 15:4). It is only when she is infilled with the Spirit that she can communicate in the Spirit, or please Yeshua.

The wife must pray and ask Yahweh to help her know that her husband is only a man, and that he also needs to be built up, and encouraged, and uplifted in word and in prayer. Husbands often feel respected by everyone but their wives. Because of this, when a wife sees something that it would help her husband to know, she should pray, and ask Yahweh to show her how to deliver the message in love and respect, so that her husband will not feel criticized, but rather he will feel encouraged, and edified, and give thanks and praise to Yahweh for having given him such a good, helpful, supportive, and wise wife. Sometimes this can take a lot of prayer, but we must always trust that Yahweh answers our prayers, or we are not walking in faith (and whatever is not of faith is sin).

Biblically, it is not the husband’s job to make his wife submit to his authority. Rather, a wife is to submit to her husband’s authority voluntarily, thus showing her respect for him and the devotion he makes for her. It is also scriptural to signal her respect for her husband by calling him adon (master) daily.

Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 3:1-6
1 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,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel —
4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of Elohim.
5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in Elohim also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him adon, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

A wife should realize how many sacrifices her husband makes for her, just by being faithful to her, and paying the bills. It is not natural for a man to want to dedicate himself to one woman, or to support her in raising his children. Yet, this is what Yahweh requires. The wife can show her respect for his submission to Yahweh by being careful with the money her husband makes. She should remember that anything she buys, he has to make money to cover the bills, which takes his time. If she is careful with money, this values his time, and also shows him respect.

Husbands are only men. They will have many flaws, and many things they need to learn. The wife is in a unique place to either build him up and encourage him, or to destroy him. Since her fate is tied to his, the only wise choice is to pray and ask Yahweh to help her to learn how always to build him up and encourage him.

A wife must keep in mind the idea that she can be like a coach at the side of a boxing ring. Her husband will get beat up in the fight (so to speak), and she should encourage him to do his best, and to keep his attitude up. If she will do this, he will win more of his fights (so to speak), and this will also benefit her.

There will also be times when the husband makes bad decisions, or at least, decisions she does not agree with. In these times it is very important to pray fervently, and trust that Yahweh is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and that He will take care of those who do the right thing before Him.

Biblically, the wife should also wear a head covering as a sign of submission to Scriptural authority. (For details, see “Head Coverings in Scripture,” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1.) This is not only for the husband, but also for the rest of the congregation, for the ministers, and as a witness to the rest of the community.

Yahweh is a jealous Elohim (e.g., Exodus 34:14), and He is jealous for His bride. A bride is not to give her attentions or favors to anyone but her husband. She may dress elegantly and well, and it is a good witness if she can look nice, but she should otherwise dress chastely. Biblically, displaying cleavage or curves is not correct.

Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 3:1-3
1 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,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel —

Overall her conduct and appearance should be chaste toward everyone but her husband (and in private). This is just as Yahweh prefers it with His bride Israel.

Just as a husband must never withhold financial support, affection, or loving kindness from his wife, a wife should never withhold physical intimacy. Men are visual creatures, and even when they want to be faithful and true, when they are around women in the modern world who are only partially dressed, it is difficult for them not to become physically aroused. Intimacy is one of the ties that binds, and for a woman to leave her man frustrated is not wise. Just as he is to form a covenant with his eyes, it is wiser and better if she can keep him satisfied, so that he has no reason or excuse to look elsewhere.

A wife should pray and ask Yahweh to help her learn to encourage her man in all things. If she wants more of something, she must encourage it (rather than criticize, or complain). This is a skill and a retraining process which can be learned. (For details, see, “Earnestly Seek What Is Good”, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 3.)

Whenever she feels like criticizing her husband, she should pray for him instead, and also pray and ask Yahweh to show her how to speak her concerns in a loving, kind, encouraging, and uplifting way.

Rules for Both Husbands and Wives

Both the husband and the wife will realize that Yahweh has joined them together, and they are to love, honor, and cherish each other until death parts them.

Neither the husband nor the wife will laugh at the other, or make fun of the other, under any circumstances.

Both the husband and the wife will do their best to try to build their partner up, realizing that their fates are forever tied together, and when one is uplifted, both are uplifted, and when one is brought down, both are brought down.

The husband and wife will sleep in separate beds during the wife’s times of ritual cleansing. (See “About Ritual Cleanness“, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1.)

As explained in “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage” in Covenant Relationships), there is no authority for Western-style divorce. If the husband does not love his wife, the brotherhood is to intervene, and convince him. In the event the wife leaves, she forfeits everything. Either way, divorce is not allowed. (They must make it work.)

Husband and wife will pray together each day, and ask Yahweh for forgiveness, direction, and the infilling of His Son’s Spirit afresh. Mornings are ideal for this. May His Spirit lead and guide you in all things.

Husband’s signature: __________________________

Wife’s signature: _____________________________

Witness: ____________________________________

Witness: ____________________________________

Witness: ____________________________________

Recorded: ___________________________________

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