What could be more important for a body than a head?
What a monstrosity to have a body running
around without a head! That is how important a place a husband
has in a marriage. It is possible, of course,
that God takes a husband away from a family through death or some
other way, and the wife must raise the
children or live alone. But the experience the wife has living
alone or raising the children alone only
underscores the importance of the husband for the home and family.
Here, too, the foundations are shaking. Many husband
simply refuse to take their God-ordained
place - refuse to be home anymore, take part in raising the children,
or love and nurture their wives. Culture
seems to point men away from their God-ordained position.
Times are changing and no one seems to know
what the role of the husband is. We pray for good husbands.
The Word of God - the Bible - is our only authority here.
What is the husband's duty in marriage?
this: "Husbands, love your wives" (Ephesians 5:25).
We may be tempted to think that the calling of the husband
is "Rule over your wife." Over and
over the Bible calls the women to submit to their husbands.
It would seem, then, that the husband's calling
is, "Rule." But this is not the case. The Bible says,
"Husbands, love your wives." So the husband who is
always telling his wife, "Submit, submit, submit" is a foolish husband.
He does not know how to be the
head of the wife because he does not know how to love her.
God's word is, "Love your wife. This is how
you rule her."
Is not this how Christ is head of the church and rules the
church? Let's not forget the comparison
between the husband/wife relationship and the Christ/Church relationship.
This is the great pattern for our
marriages. So the question becomes, "How does Christ rule
the church?" The answer is, "By the sweet,
irresistible power of His grace, through His Word and Spirit."
That is, by love! (Ps. 110:3).
The idea "love" has been so prostituted that we hardly know
what it means anymore. Sometimes
we think that love is something that "gets you" or you "fall into"
and "fall out of," or that it is simply
"animal passion." The Bible says, "God is love," but also
that "love is of God" (I John 4:7-16). God's love
is His almighty arms embracing, binding, holding us to Himself through
His Holy Son Jesus. Between a
man and woman there is no real love if they do not love in Christ.
There may be concern, passion, even
desire for the other's good; but there is no love. For husbands,
the word of God is this: "Exercise towards
your wife an intelligent, purposeful affection, that joyfully wills
and seeks her spiritual good, even at great
cost to you. This is the love of God's Son for you."
Comparing our love with Christ's, we may say that the characteristics
of a husband's love must be:
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it." This is
the mystery of the gospel: The Son of God gave Himself to
death, to bear the burden of the Church's
punishment, so that she might live. Love is selfless.
"Love seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13). This
points out the difference between love and lust. But this
also points out the duty of husbands.
Christ's love for the church was not based on some foreseen
goodness (this is the Reformed faith),
nor does it depend on a loveliness that She can present to Him on
Her own. Christ's love was and is
unconditional (see Ezekiel 16). This doesn't mean that a young
man may marry a spiritually unlovely
woman. But it means that the husband, after marriage, may
not say, "She is not lovely anymore; I will not
Ephesians 5:29 teaches the husband to "cherish" his wife.
The love of Christ for the church is a
tender, gentle love. Sometimes husbands complain about unfeminine
wives. Husbands must be asked, "Are
you tender with your wife?
An error the husband may fall in is to think that he loves
his wife because he provides well for her;
but that can mean that he is rarely home with her. Then frictions
result and the husband is surprised. But he
should have known: love comes close to and dwells with the
wife. I Peter 3:7 calls husbands to dwell with
their wives. Christ comes close to His Bride. He speaks
to Her, often. He loves Her!
If there is true love in the husband's heart, he will also
want his wife to be healthy. He will care for
her physically; he will provide for her spirituality. He will
have the greatest concern for her relationship to
God! She is "his own flesh" and no man ever yet hated his
own flesh, "but nourisheth it and cherisheth it,
even as the Lord the church" (Eph. 5:29).
This points out that husbands who love their wives will have
conscious goals in their marriage. the
purpose of the love of Christ for the church is the church's perfection.
He said, as it were, "I will perfect my
church. I will give myself for Her so that She may be cleansed,
separated from the world, consecrated to
God." Christ did that by His death on the cross and now does
it by "His spirit and word" (Eph. 5:26). The
husband's goal for his wife will be her holiness, her purity, a
close relationship to her God!
This is effected by the Word of God. Husbands, comfort
and encourage your wives, by the Word;
teach and instruct them, by the Word; call them to holiness, with
the Word; guide and direct them, by the
In that way, the husband is spiritual leader in the home.
Do husbands see to it that the Word of
God is read in the home, regularly? Do they see to it that
prayer is offered often? Do they ensure that their
wife learns to pray? Do they pray with their wives?
Husbands this beautifies your wife! This will make
her appealing to you! This is the adornment
that is of great price in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4).
Husbands, how do we fare? Is our love a selfless love,
a gentle love? Is our goal a holy wife,
nurtured up in the knowledge of God and comfort of Jesus Christ?
When we measure ourselves up to the
standard of Christ's husbandry, we are weak, poor husbands.
But that is the standard. "Love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph.
5:25). Can you do anything but confess,
"God, I am a sinful husband, be merciful to me"?
The possibility of being a good husband is only through faith
in Christ. Looking to Christ, the
husband of the Church, and trusting in His work on the cross, is
our salvation as husbands. For faith in
Christ brings forgiveness for all our failures as husbands, for
all our miserable dealings with our wives. But
it also gives us power, almighty power, to change from a miserable,
selfish, distant, foolish husband, to one
who behaves as Christ behaves toward the church.