Should a wife take her husband’s name in marriage?

This was not an issue until recent decades, when traditional biblical standards and practices have been set aside, leaving society’s perception of the marriage relationship increasingly disoriented and confused. Thankfully, those willing to follow the Bible’s pattern will benefit from relying upon timeless, unwavering standards. From God’s Word, we can glean four points that reinforce the traditional understanding that a wife should take the name of her husband:

(1) The husband is the head of the wife. He is to be her protector and provider. When a wife takes her husband’s name, she displays submission to him, which is in accord with God’s will. Notice: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22; also read Colossians 3:18).

The following scriptures show that God has given the husband authority over his wife:

I Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

Ephesians 5:23-24: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

(2) Following the instructive analogy of Ephesians 5:23, the Church, as the bride of Christ, takes the name of the Father—the same name that Jesus Christ also takes as a member of the God Family: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me that they may be one, as We are” (John 17:11).

Revelation 19:7-9 states that Christ will marry the Church, which takes the “God” name—“The Church of God” (Acts 20:28; Eph. 3:14-15).

(3) As long as customs and traditions do not conflict with God’s Law, Christians are to “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Rom. 13:7). From the time of antiquity, it has been the custom of many cultures and nationalities that a woman should take her husband’s name in marriage.

(4) Christians are to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thes. 5:22). A woman not taking her husband’s name reflects an appearance of defiance and an unwillingness to submit to her husband.

God also expects the husband to lovingly care for, guide and protect the wife. Jesus Christ’s love for His bride, the Church, sets the standard to which all husbands are to love their wives. Notice: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church” (Eph. 5:25-29).