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Does Hebrews 13:17 apply to husbands?

Submitted: 5/1/2006
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Question: Does Hebrews 13:17 also apply to husbands? I've always heard it in reference to pastors/sheperds. But husbands also have the rule over their own wives. They are also watchmen over them and have to give an account for them, is this not correct? What is a wife to do when her pastor wants a commitment from her to get involved into the work of God, but her husband blocks it, forbids it? Who is she to obey?

Answer: We believe that Hebrews 13:17 pertains specifically to the pastoral leaders of an assembly (not a single pastor). It is true, however, that the same responsibilities that pastors have in an assembly apply to a husband in his home, where he is to serve as a leader and a watchman. We believe that a husband's authority in his home trumps pastoral authority in the local assembly. This means that when there is disagreement, a wife must submit to her husband. This is clearly stated in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1.

We should point out that the word 'obey' in Hebrews 13:17 actually means to be pursuaded. This verse is encouraging believers to be open and submissive toward their spiritual leaders; but it is not a command to absolute obedience in all situations.

Having said all this, we do believe that every effort should be made to cooperate with both your husband and your pastoral leaders. For example, the question that occurs to us is why your husband forbids you to get involved in the work of God? Doesn't he realize that he is depriving you of a very important part of your salvation experience? Perhaps it would be good to set up a meeting with your husband and the leaders of the church to work out some sort of agreement. We believe such a resolution is possible if you submit this whole situation to the Lord in prayer.