What do a wife and a platoon sergeant have in common?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted October 10, 2016

Although the Bible indicates that a man is responsible to God for providing for, protecting, and leading his family, he cannot do so without the cooperation and help of his wife. Here the dynamics in a military unit can help elucidate the problem.

In the US Army and the US Marines, there often arises the situation in which a second lieutenant fresh out of officer training school is assigned to be the commander of an infantry platoon of roughly 45 men. One of them is the platoon sergeant – usually a staff sergeant or possibly a gunnery sergeant – his second in command, who possesses years of experience. For at least a while, the subordinate is the more capable leader, but his job is not to lead the platoon, but to help the lieutenant learn his job and lead the platoon capably. If the sergeant does try to lead the platoon, three things will happen: the platoon will function poorly, he will lose the respect of his subordinates (he is providing them with a lesson in insubordination), and the lieutenant will never learn to lead the platoon. If the platoon sergeant does his job properly, however, he will receive the respect of both his men and his boss – any lieutenant who does not recognize and value the critical contribution of a sergeant who does his job properly will not last very long.

The role which God has assigned to the wife in a marriage is similar to the role which the Army or Marines assigns to the platoon sergeant. Her job is not to lead the family, but to help her husband learn his job and lead the family capably. If she does try to lead the family, three things will happen: the family will function poorly, her husband will lose the respect of his children (she is providing them with a lesson in insubordination), and the husband will never learn to lead the family. If the wife does her job properly, however, she will receive the love and respect of both her children and her husband – any husband who does not recognize and value the critical role of a wife who does her job properly will not stay married very long.

Unlike the military situation, in which officers receive more status, pay, perks, and recognition, the wife in a godly household will be treated as her husband’s equal and will be highly honored by him, their children, and others who recognize her contributions.

For a very interesting and insightful discuss of this issue, see the excepts from pages 178-179 and 181-185 in Under the Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. You will find them at abiblicalview.com in Additional Resources, Writings by Others, God’s Institutions, Family.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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