By P.J. Casebolt
A good preacher’s wife would be the female counterpart of what some brethren consider to be the ideal preacher. She would be the composite of a woman 39 years old, with 35-40 years of experience; a mixture of blonde, brunette, redhead; outgoing, yet reserved; always with her husband, but never away from her children; stands beside him in the pulpit and at the door as he shakes hands with the congregation, but stays in the background; fashionable and attractive, yet plain; a social butterfly who is conversant on every topic, but never gossips.
What I mean to say is that no two preachers are the same from the standpoint of personality and ability, yet we have arbitrary concepts of what “a good preacher’s wife” should be.
I was preaching for several years before I was married, and I would have to be a polygamist if I had married all the woman that brethren (and sisters) told me would make a good preacher’s wife. But, according to some preachers now, I could have done that as an alien sinner, and baptism would have washed away all the polygamy, if not the wives, Of course, I would have to have done it (the marrying), in a country where polygamy was lawful. And every single preacher and every preacher who has become a widower knows whereof I speak.
When I went to one congregation for a meeting, the brethren had three prospects that would make me a good preacher’s wife. One was not a Christian, one was only half-converted, and the other one was 15 years older than I was. I guess the latter would be somewhere around 80 now, and brethren would be gossiping as to why I married a woman 15 years my senior.
The sectarian concept of a good preacher’s wife for me would be embodied in the title, “Evangelist and Mrs. P.J. Casebolt” – a husband and wife team with the wife singing or playing special music or testifying publicly about what a good preacher her husband was. And the modern concept of assigning (or usurping) public roles for women in the assemblies of the church is becoming all too prevalent among the Lord’s people. For the benefit of those who have never read their Bibles, or who have never heard “their” preacher teach on the subject, I refer you to such passages as 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and Titus 2:3-5.
I have no objection to a preacher’s wife, or any other woman, teaching children or other women. And if the preacher’s wife is capable of doing this in her home congregation, or in a meeting where her husband is preaching (both by invitation), I have no problem with that as long as she behaves like a woman should and doesn’t neglect her other duties as a wife and mother.
Brethren have prayed for me and my wife, and for our family, and such prayers were and are appreciated. But I think (and hope) that they understand my wife’s role in her relationship to the preacher as well as I understand it. But within the past few years I keep getting the impression that some folks are making arbitrary qualifications for preacher’s wives which may make it either impossible or unscriptural for the next generation of preachers to find “a good preacher’s wife.”
Even as one preacher may have talents above and beyond those of other preachers, that doesn’t mean that all preachers have to possess those talents. In a verse, the qualifications for a good preacher or “minister” (1 Tim. 4:6) are stated in 2 Timothy 2:2 – “faithful” and “able.” And while one preacher’s wife may have talents not possessed by other women, it doesn’t follow that we should use one woman’s talents as a criterion for all preacher’s wives.
Some preachers are married before they decide to preach. Must they trade in their wife for “a good preacher’s wife”? Some preachers quit preaching for different reasons, but should they trade their wife to some other preacher who needs “a good preacher’s wife” (by brotherhood standards)? I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s the way I intend for it to sound, to get my point across.
Some preachers’ wives have all that they can do being a wife (“help meet” – suitable) to their husbands and a mother (or grandmother) to their children. They may have to try much harder than the many-talented women who can do several things well.
A good wife will make a good farmer’s wife, a good carpenter’s wife, a good lawyer’s wife, a good doctor’s wife – or a good preacher’s wife. And God will be satisfied, and so should the brethren.
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). And the good wife of Proverbs 31 is not necessarily a preacher’s wife. But if a preacher has a wife like that, “she shall be praised” (v. 30), by the preacher, by her children, and by the Lord.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 16, p. 487
August 20, 1992