Submission and Refusal


Nancy Leigh DeMoss contrasts an Old Testament pagan marriage with God's plan for New Testament Christian marriage.

Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command (Esther 1:12).

If King Ahasuerus is an example of how a husband is not to act, can the same be said of Queen Vashti’s example to wives? It is not as easy to say.

Our portrait of the king as a selfish, boastful, disrespectful tyrant is pretty clear. Our picture of Vashti is more vague. She refused to be displayed like a doll in front of a group of drunken men. To come would have been a breach of etiquette, since the men and women did not normally feast together. It may have been provocative to the men there.

The lack of detail makes it difficult to evaluate Vashti’s actions in light of a New Testament passage like Ephesians 5. We have already seen what this chapter has to say to husbands. The chapter also gives instruction to wives:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body,and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).

Ephesians gives us a balanced view of marriage in which a husband loves his wife sacrificially and she submits to his godly leadership. The words of 1 Peter 3:1-2 may be more applicable to Vashti’s situation:

Wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives–when they see your respectful and pure conduct (1 Peter 3:1-2).

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