Duty Of Wives
by John Bunyan (taken from his book Christian
This is a section taken from Christian
Behavior by John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress. It is
directed to wives but the end has instructions to the wife of an
unsaved man. You must read the whole thing to appreciate what Mr.
Bunyan says. This is EXCELLENT and I pray that you will take a
moment to read it. I hope it blesses you!!! YOU ARE LOVED by this
THE DUTY OF WIVES.
But passing the master of the family, I shall speak a word or two to
those that are under him.
And, first, to the wife: The wife is bound by the law to her
husband, so long as her husband liveth (Rom_7:2). Wherefore she also
hath her work and place in the family, as well as the rest.
Now there are these things considerable in the carriage of a wife
toward her husband, which she ought conscientiously to observe.
First, That she look upon him as her head and lord. 'The head of the
woman is the man' (1Co_11:3). And so Sarah called Abraham lord
Second, She should therefore be subject to him, as is fit in the
Lord. The apostle saith, 'That the wife should submit herself to her
husband, as to the Lord' [‹12.1›] (1Pe_3:1;Col_3:18; Eph_5:22). I
told you before, that if the husband doth walk towards his wife as
becomes him, he will therein be such an ordinance of God to her,
besides the relation of a husband, that shall preach to her the
carriage of Christ to his church. And now I say also, that the wife,
if she walk with her husband as becomes her, she shall preach the
obedience of the church to her husband. 'Therefore as the church is
subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in
everything' (Eph_5:24). Now for thy performing of this work, thou
must first shun these evils.
1. The evil of a wandering and a gossiping spirit; this is evil in
the church, and is evil also in a wife, who is the figure of a
church. Christ loveth to have his spouse keep at home; that is, to
be with him in the faith and practice of his things, not ranging and
meddling with the things of Satan; no more should wives be given to
wander and gossip abroad. You know that Pro_7:11 saith, 'She is loud
and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house.' Wives should be
about their own husbands' business at home; as the apostle saith,
Let them 'be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to
their own husbands.' And why? Because otherwise 'the word of God
will be blasphemed' (Tit_2:5).
2. Take heed of an idle, talking, or brangling tongue. This also is
odious, either in maids or wives, to be like parrots, not bridling
their tongue; whereas the wife should know, as I said before, that
her husband is her lord, and is over her, as Christ is over the
church. Do you think it is seemly for the church to parrot it
against her husband? Is she not to be silent before him, and to look
to his laws, rather than her own fictions? Why so, saith the
apostle, ought the wife to carry it towards her husband? 'Let the
woman,' saith Paul, 'learn in silence with all subjection. But I
suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man,
but to be in silence' (1Ti_2:11-12). It is an unseemly thing to see
a woman so much as once in all her lifetime to offer to overtop her
husband; she ought in everything to be in subjection to him, and to
do all she doth, as having her warrant, licence, and authority from
him. And indeed here is her glory, even to be under him, as the
church is under Christ: Now 'she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and
in her tongue is the law of kindness' (Pro_31:26).
3. Take heed of affecting immodest apparel, or a wanton gait; this
will be evil both abroad and at home; abroad, it will not only give
ill example, but also tend to tempt to lust and lasciviousness; and
at home it will give an offence to a godly husband, and be cankering
to ungodly children, &c. Wherefore, as saith the apostle, Let
women's apparel be modest, as becometh women professing godliness,
with good works, 'not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or
costly array' (1Ti_2:9-10). And as it is said again, 'Whose
adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair,
and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel: But let it be
the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of
God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy
women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in
subjection unto their own husbands' (1Pe_3:3-5).
But yet, do not think that by the subjection I have here mentioned,
that I do intend women should be their husbands' slaves. Women are
their husbands' yoke fellows, their flesh and their bones; and he is
not a man that hateth his own flesh, or that is bitter against it
(Eph_5:29). Wherefore, let every man 'love his wife even as himself;
and the wife see that she reverence her husband' (Eph_5:33). The
wife is master next her husband, and is to rule all in his absence;
[‹13.1›] yea, in his presence she is to guide the house, to bring up
the children, provided she so do it, as the adversary have no
occasion to speak reproachfully (1Ti_5:10-13). 'Who can find a
virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. A gracious woman
retaineth honour:' and guideth her affairs with discretion
(Pro_31:10; Pro_11:16; Pro_12:4).
But my husband is an unbeliever; what shall I do?
If so, then what I have said before lieth upon thee with an
engagement so much the stronger. For,
1. Thy husband being in this condition, he will be watchful to take
thy slips and infirmities, to throw them as dirt in the face of God
and thy Saviour.
2. He will be apt to make the worst of every one of thy words,
carriages, and gestures.
3. And all this doth tend to the possessing his heart with more
hardness, prejudice, and opposition to his own salvation; wherefore,
as Peter saith, 'ye wives, be in subjection to your husbands; that,
if any obey not the word, they may also without the word be won by
the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste
conversation, coupled with fear' (1Pe_3:1-2). Thy husband's
salvation or damnation lieth much in thy deportment and behaviour
before him; wherefore, if there be in thee any fear of God, or love
to thy husband, seek, by a carriage full of meekness, modesty, and
holiness, and a humble behaviour before him, to win him to the love
of his own salvation; and by thus doing, how 'knowest thou, O wife,
whether thou shalt save thy husband?' (1Co_7:16).
But my husband is not only an unbeliever, but one very froward,
peevish, and testy, yea, so froward, &c., that I know not how to
speak to him, or behave myself before him.
Indeed there are some wives in great slavery by reason of their
ungodly husbands; and as such should be pitied, and prayed for; so
they should be so much the more watchful and circumspect in all
1. Therefore be thou very faithful to him in all the things of this
2. Bear with patience his unruly and unconverted behaviour; thou art
alive, he is dead; thou art principled with grace, he with sin. Now,
then, seeing grace is stronger than sin, and virtue than vice; be
not overcome with his vileness, but overcome that with thy virtues
(Rom_12:21). It is a shame for those that are gracious to be as
lavishing in their words, &c., as those that are graceless: They
that are 'slow to wrath are of great understanding; but they that
are hasty of spirit, exalteth folly' (Pro_14:29).
3. Thy wisdom, therefore, if at any time thou hast a desire to speak
to thy husband for his conviction, concerning anything, either good
or evil, it is to observe convenient times and seasons: There is 'a
time to keep silence, and a time to speak' (Ecc_3:7). Now for the
right timing thy intentions,
(1.) Consider his disposition; and take him when he is farthest off
of those filthy passions that are thy afflictions. Abigail would not
speak a word to her churlish husband till his wine was gone from
him, and he in a sober temper (1Sa_25:36-37). The want of this
observation is the cause why so much is spoken, and so little
(2.) Take him at those times when he hath his heart taken with thee,
and when he showeth tokens of love and delight in thee. Thus did
Esther with the king her husband, and prevailed (Ester Est_5:3-6;
(3.) Observe when convictions seize his conscience, and then follow
them with sound and grave sayings of the Scriptures. Somewhat like
to this dealt Manoah's wife with her husband (Jdg_13:22-23). Yet
(a) Let thy words be few.
(b) And none of them savouring of a lording it over him; but speak
thou still as to thy head and lord, by way of entreaty and
(c) And that in such a spirit of sympathy, and bowels of affection
after his good, that the manner of thy speech and behaviour in
speaking may be to him an argument that thou speakest in love, as
being sensible of his misery, and inflamed in thy soul with desire
after his conversion.
(d) And follow thy words and behaviour with prayers to God for his
(e) Still keeping thyself in a holy, chaste, and modest behaviour
But my husband is a sot, a fool, and one that hath not wit enough to
follow his outward employment in the world.
1. Though all this be true, yet thou must know he is thy head, thy
lord, and thy husband.
2. Therefore thou must take heed of desiring to usurp authority over
him. He was not made for thee; that is, for thee to have dominion
over him, but to be thy husband, and to rule over thee (1Ti_2:12;
3. Wherefore, though in truth thou mayest have more discretion than
he, yet thou oughtest to know that thou, with all that is thine, is
to be used as under thy husband; even 'every thing' (Eph_5:24). Take
heed therefore, that what thou dost goes not in thy name, but his;
not to thy exaltation, but his; carrying all things so, by thy
dexterity and prudence, that not one of thy husband's weaknesses be
discovered to others by thee: 'A virtuous woman is a crown to her
husband: but she that maketh ashamed, is as rottenness in his
bones.' For then, as the wise man sayeth, 'she will do him good and
not evil, all the days of her life' (Pro_12:4; Pro_31:12).
4. Therefore act, and do still, as being under the power and
authority of thy husband.
Now touching thy carriage to thy children and servants. Thou art a
parent, and a mistress, and so thou oughtest to demean thyself. And
besides, seeing the believing woman is a figure of the church, she
ought, as the church, to nourish and instruct her children, and
servants, as the church, that she may answer in that particular
also; and truly, the wife being always at home, she hath great
advantage that way; wherefore do it, and the Lord prosper your
You ladies who stay home and care for your
family are to be greatly praised, thank you on behalf of America! May God
bless you and multiply the fruit of your body for Jesus' sake.
will therefore that the younger women marry,
guide the house,
give none occasion to the adversary to
speak reproachfully.” —1st Timothy