A wave of excitement has gripped the home of Arthur and Mary Chua in this seaside paradise following the realization by the happy couple that Mr. Chua had assumed the spiritual leadership of his home. Observers have been unanimous in their reports that a new peace and joy permeate the Chua home.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Arthur and Mary share a first-hand report of this transformation that has amazed their friends and baffled their enemies.
Reporter: Arthur, how did it all begin?
Arthur: My wife and I became Christians several years ago, but after attending a seminar at my church on how to have a successful marriage, I realized that I was not doing a good job of being the spiritual leader of my home. Because of that, our home atmosphere was often very tense.
Reporter: Was this the first time you ever felt like a failure as a spiritual leader?
Arthur: Actually, I felt that I was failing in this matter all my Christian life. My pastor preached sermons about it; my wife borrowed books on the role of the husband and left them near my chair. But I always felt inferior . . . as though my wife was the more spiritual one and I would never catch up with her.
Reporter: Why did you think that?
Arthur: “For one thing, my wife became a Christian before I did. I really gave her a hard time. She was different, and I wasn’t sure I liked it. She didn’t want to go to the club or the disco with me; she seemed like a another person. I tell you, I made life miserable for her! I tried to force her to go with me to those parties and clubs, and when she pleaded with me to not make her go, I accused her of being a useless wife. That always made her cry, for though I didn’t know it at the time, she was praying for the Lord to help her be the best wife she could be. I never hit her, but I was very cruel with my words.”
When I became a Christian, I remembered all those times I had acted so badly to her, and thought that I was not worthy to be the spiritual leader of our home.
Reporter: Were there other reasons?
Arthur: Yes. It seemed that she was so far ahead of me in her walk with the Lord. How could I be the spiritual leader when she was the older Christian? Another thing: after I became a Christian I did not have the time to attend as many meetings and Bible Studies as my wife did, and I am not as outspoken as she is. It seemed that she would always be the more spiritual one.
Reporter: When did you start to see the change?
Mary: Let me answer that question!
Arthur: I told you she was more outspoken. (Laughter.)
Mary: Sorry, Arthur. I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I think that I can say something important about that. You see, the first change had to come in me. I realized that all my efforts to make Arthur take the lead in the home were just making it harder for him to do so. I determined that I would ask the Lord to help me to be a more submissive wife.
I confessed to the Lord that I had been trying to force Arthur be the leader, and that I was trying to manipulate him. (I’ve always had a problem with that, haven’t I Arthur?)
Arthur: No comment. (More laughter.)
Mary: Anyway, I asked the Lord to help me to be a more quiet wife. And He did! But it was hard. Instead of telling Arthur what I thought, I tried to ask him what he thought about things.
Reporter: You gave him the privilege of stating his opinion about things first?
Mary: Yes, that’s right. It was hard! I prayed that the Lord would help me guard my lips, and I also asked him to change my heart so that I could trust Arthur as my spiritual leader. I stopped making him feel guilty for not attending prayer meetings because of his work, and I encouraged him to pray and fellowship with the Lord in ways that would fit his schedule.
Reporter: Mr. Chua, what was happening on your side?
Arthur: It was a miracle! Not a sudden miracle, but a gradual miracle. I think that’s what I would call it. I remember the first time my wife asked my opinion instead of telling me what we should do. It was about a video we rented. There was a very sexy part in it that was making us both feel uncomfortable. Normally, my wife would say, “That’s not pleasing to the Lord! We must turn it off! But this time she just turned to me and said very quietly, “Arthur, do you think we should be watching this?”
Reporter: And you took the lead and turned the offensive video off?
Arthur: Not right away. But when my wife went to make tea I thought about it. And then I turned it off. It was good to know that I had made my first real decision as a spiritual leader. It was a small thing, but it started me on the way. When I knew that it was my responsibility and I accepted it, I became much more careful about all the things we watch and listen to in our home.
Reporter: Are there ever disagreements about your decisions as the spiritual leader?
Arthur: Yes, of course. And at first I would get angry when my leadership was questioned. But I soon realized that being the leader doesn’t mean always being right, it means listening to the other family members and considering their opinions as well as my own. Then I may change my decision based on their views. Even a leader must have a submissive spirit.
Mary: But in spite of the difficulties, our home has really changed as I have allowed Arthur to be our spiritual leader and as he has accepted that leadership.
Reporter: In the few minutes we have left, can you tell our readers about some other ways that you exercise your spiritual leadership?
Arthur: Well…I am learning how to pray for my wife and children. Often my prayers for them are quiet, but I now know that the Holy Spirit is the one who has put those prayers in my heart. And another thing, I am learning to admit my mistakes and weaknesses and ask my family to pray for me. As they see my honesty, they become more honest about their needs.
Mary: Don’t forget to tell them about the healing, Arthur.
Arthur: Oh yes! Thank you, Mary, for reminding me. When our second child was born earlier this year, he had a deformity in his foot. The doctor said that he would have to wear a metal brace for about two years to correct it. But Mary and I prayed and believed the Lord to heal the foot. We noticed that it was straightening, little by little, and today it is perfectly normal!
Reporter: And this has something to do with your spiritual leadership?
Arthur: Yes. You see, before I took my responsibility and Mary acknowledged me as the spiritual leader of our home, there was no real unity between us. We were both Christians, of course, but the tension kept us from walking in real agreement. But now, we enjoy our unity and stand together in the Lord. We do not see one another as more or less spiritual. Rather, we encourage each other. In this way, we can stand against the Evil One when he attacks.
Reporter: Mary, any final words to our readers?
Mary: I want to say once again that in many ways the whole change began in me. When I stopped being so demanding and stopped acting more spiritual than my husband, it gave him the freedom to change. That’s what Christ gives all of us…the freedom to change!
The freedom to change. What a marvelous thing Christ does in our lives when He becomes our Lord. He saves us, not just from hell, but also from ourselves. And he gives us the freedom to change.
(a fictional story by Mike Constantine. Although the characters are not real people they represent a real possibility.)
Who’s in Charge Here?
Authority in the Home
Please read Ephesians 5:21-33
Please also read Local Man Becomes Spiritual Leader
1. Who was the head of the home you grew up in?
- Both together
- An extended family member
- There was no discernable leader
2. When faced with a difficult situation, who made the final decision?
3. Would you be happy if your marriage followed the same authority model as your father and mother? If not, what would you change?
4. How do you see the role of husband and wife?
- He is the head. She is under him.
- They are both equal in every way.
- They have equal standing in the eyes of God, but the wife still submits to the husband.
5. Once a man has made a decision, can his wife ever question him? Does she always have to agree with him? Can you think of an example?
6. Will the Lord ever want a husband to submit to his wife? (See Ephesians 5:21) Can you think of a good example of this kind of submission?
7. Is there anything from the story of Arthur and Mary that especially speaks to you or challenges you?