Your Question # 14
[#14] Does a Christian women have to submit to an unbelieving husband's request/demand for her not to attend church? Can she go to church against his will? This is a question I was a wondering mostly for a woman who has come to Christ after marriage.
This is a great question. There are a few passages referring to your question, one in Ephesians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 7; 1 Peter 3:1-6 :
In Eph 5:21, the pattern is set for both husband and wife. We are to submit to one another in 'the fear of God'. Our submission should first be to God and then to each other. In this way, the husband will seek to honor and satisfy the needs of his wife, because she is a gift and blessing from the Lord to him.
Eph 5:22, referring to the wife to recognize that her husband is to be the spiritual leader in the family. He is not greater than the wife, just his position holds the responsibility before God to lead his family in worship. She is to cooperate and follow his leadership if his intention is to honor and glorify God. The wife is to submit to this leadership role.
Now IF the husband is not a believer, the wife is instructed in 1 Peter to live with and conduct herself in holy Christian living so as not to give the unbelieving husband an excuse to accuse his wife of not loving or being there for him or the family. By her kind, humble spirit she might win her husband to the Lord.
But if the woman is arrogant, demanding, and neglectful in her duties to her marriage and family in the 'name' of her Lord, this does not honor the Lord nor is in obedience to the word of God. I have seen women do this, and it becomes a bitter, divisive point in the marriage and sometimes ends in divorce. The husband is turned away from the things of God, and the wife goes away believing she is a martyr and adopts a self-righteous attitude. This is not what God intended.
However, I do not find in the Bible the command that the wife is to disobey the Lord and NOT to attend worship, nor the command to the wife to obey the husband and stay at home. If the only way to keep peace in the home is for her to stay away from church, I think God would bless her and bring about a solution to her difficulty. The ONLY thing she is not to do, is to deny her Lord or refrain from loving and worshipping the Lord Jesus. Her quiet and 'submissive' demeanor can be quite convicting to a stubborn spirit. Many husbands have come to the Lord through faithful wives like this.
If a husband truly loves his wife, he may not understand her new love for the Lord nor the enthusiasm of her worship, but if her love for the Lord increases her love for him, he may not feel threatened and allow/permit her to attend worship services without conflict.
I say to the believing wife, pray for your husband to come to Christ, be the best, loving wife and Christian woman you can, and allow God to use you to testify to your husband of His changing grace.
I say to the unbelieving husband, do not feel threatened by the faith of your wife. Watch her life in Christ and know she will be able to love you more genuinely and deeply than ever before. Know that she is praying for you and the family, and has God's blessings upon her and those blessings will also fall upon you while you two are together. Allow her this, and God will bless you.
IF you are the unbelieving husband, thank you for this question. It may be God is already working in your heart to bring you to Him. I encourage you to ask Him to reveal Himself to you and show you the plan He has for your life. Give yourself and your sin to Him and He will show you and your family such great and mighty things you could never imagine.