1. The husband must undertake the principal part of the government of the whole family, even of the wife herself: Labour to be fit and able for this task!
2. The husband must so unite authority and love that neither of them may be omitted or concealed, but both will be exercised and maintained: As your love must be a governing love, so your commands must be loving commands.
3. The husband must preserve the authority of their wives over their children: Do not let your kid be rude to your wives.
4. The husband is to exceed the wife in knowledge and be her teacher in the matters that belong to her salvation: But if you are ignorant, your wife is not bound to seek your for advice.
5. The husband must be the principal teacher of the family: If you are unable to do so, shame on you. If you are unable and your wife can, dishonour be onto you. If both you and your wife can’t, “sin, shame and suffering will be common to both”.
6. The husband is the chief provider for the family: Be careful that your family lacks nothing that is fit for them!
7. The husband must be the strongest in family patience: Preserve the love and peace in the household.
And all the wives say “Amen!”
The great English Puritans were labeled as a bunch of “non-conformists” in their day. Richard Baxter may have lived in the 17th century, but does his views on family roles conform to the Bible or Societal norms, then and now? Here, I summarise some of Baxter’s directions to wives:
1. Be especially loving to your husbands: To which I say amen!
2. Live in a voluntary subjection and obedience to them: Do not deceive yourselves by giving the bare titles of leadership to your husbands when you must have your will in all things, for this is but mockery and not obedience.
3. Learn from your husbands as your appointed teachers: If there is anything that wives desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Cor 14:34-35). Unless, of course, the husband is an ignorant fool.
4. Set yourselves to amend faults they reprove in you: Do not take it wrongly to be reproved; don’t swell against it!
5. Honor your husbands according to their superiority: If the worth of your husbands does not desire honour, their place does. Don’t speak ill of them behind their backs!
6. Live in a cheerful contentedness with your condition: It is a continual burden to a man to have an impatient, discontented wife. It’s easier for a man to bear with his own poverty than to bear with an impatient wife.
7. Do not take pride over fashion and fine clothes: The costs and time that you spend on dressings and entertainment shall be the shame and sorrow of your souls.
8. Do not dispose of your husband’s estate without his knowledge and consent: What power do you have to do so?!
(Adapted from “The Godly Home”)
Well, some of you may think Baxter’s a big old male bigot. In fact, thesaurus.com lists “puritan” as one of the synonyms of “bigot”! But don’t swell on it. Up next… Baxter’s directions to husbands!!