What is a man's role vs. a woman's role in a truly Christian marriage? Nowadays we live in difficult financial times and women have to work both inside and outside the home.
One of the beautiful services in our Coptic Orthodox Church is the Crowning Ceremony where the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony takes place. The readings of this ceremony give specific instructions regarding the role of both the bride and the bridegroom. The following biblical passages tells both the husband and wife how they should love and respect each other: Pauline letter (Eph 5:22-6:3), the Holy Book of Psalms (Ps 19:5-6 & Ps 128:3-4) and the Holy Gospel (Mt 19:1-6).
Then clear commandments are given to the bridegroom:
My blessed son who is supported by the grace of the Holy Spirit you are required to
1. Receive your wife at this blessed hour with a clear conscience, a pure soul and a full heartThe grace of God has settled upon you. When you accept what has been commanded of you, the Lord will take your hand, increase you livelihood, grant you blessed children by whom God will delight your eyes, grant you a long age and prosperous life and prosper you outcome in this life and thereafter.
2. Excel in doing all that is good for her
3. Have compassion on her
4. And hasten to do that which will gladden her heart
Then the priest gives the commandments to the bride:
And you blessed daughter and happy bride; you have heard what was commanded of your husband.
1. So you are required to honor and respect himSo if you listen. to what is commanded you to do, and follow. all the instructions, the Lord will take your hand, increase your livelihood and blessings will descend upon your home and He will grant you blessed children by whom God will delight your eyes.
2. Do not disagree with him but increase your obedience to him many times over what was commanded. For today you are alone with him and he is responsible for you instead of you parents
3. So you must receive him with joy and cheer
4. Do not frown in his face
5. Do not neglect any of his rights upon you and fear God in all matters
6. Because God commanded you to submit to him and ordered you to obey him as your parents, so be with him as our mother Sarah was obedient to our father Abraham and used to address him 'my lord'. Thus God looked upon her obedience to him, blessed her, gave her Isaac in her old age and made her offspring as the stars of heaven and the sand of the seashore.
If you want to know who was designated to support the family financially, from the beginning God created man then he created woman to be his helper "I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Gen 2:18). This issue of women working outside of home is very circumstantial and cannot be generalized. Some women love to work outside of home even if they are not financially in need to do so. Others would like to stay home and devote themselves to their children. This matter has to be discussed between husband and wife. They should pray about it and if they remember and follow the commandments given to them on their wedding day, God will help them come to the right and agreeable decision and will bless their life as he has promised.