“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Now to the man with whom I wanted to start the discussion of roles. It may seem like the bulk of the sacrifice is on the woman from the things I discussed in the previous chapter, but just like we are presented with the example of Christ and his church, the same example applies here. And when we look at that example again, we can easily see who is to bear the bulk of the sacrifice. It says “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25). So we see that that the bulk of the sacrifice and responsibility is still on the man. I shall explain how below.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Aren’t we done talking about love yet? I guess not. A man is to love his wife the way Jesus loves his church and gave himself for her. It is this sacrificial love that should characterise all about how a man relates with his wife.
As said earlier, the bulk of sacrificing is on the part of the man. All these sacrifices are on account of love. A simple question would give us the simple answer we require. Take a look a look at Christ and his church, who sacrificed more? Christ. Christ gave everything for the church, his honour, his tranquil, and his very life for the sake of his church. So if the example given to us in marriage is that of Christ, then great is that sacrifice required of the man. All this sacrifice must be done on account of love the way Christ sacrificed on account of love. Not with a casual love but with the same love with which Christ loved his church.
Another example of the love with which husbands ought to love their wives given to us in the Bible can be found in the passage where it is written, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself…” (Ephesians 5:33). So men ought to love their wives as their own selves, for in loving their wives they love themselves. We have a proof of this in this same passage where it is written, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” (Ephesians 5:28 – 29). So in loving his wife a man in truth loves his own self.
Humility and Meekness
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Christ’ testimony about himself is that he is meek and lowly in heart. If a man has Christ for his example, then ought he to be meek and humble towards his wife. Men ought to be lowly in heart. It is on this account I would like to point out some things I consider very important, lest the things I’ve said in the previous chapter cause people to behave badly. The husband needs to know that all these demands on the woman are made by God. Therefore she answers to God. Remember I mentioned that to be in subjection is completely different from to be subjected. It is a wilful subjection that should not be imposed. It would be wrong to demand these things not to mention demanding them persistently. It is enough for the woman to know her role, and knowing this, let her conscience guide her to obedience to God’s command. I think it would be very wrong and inappropriate for men to keep saying, “the Bible asks you to submit to me…” This is both ungodly and not in the best interest of good family coexistence. Imposing the will of one on another is definitely going to cause friction and unhealthy feelings. Persistent demand for submission contrary to the will of the woman is as much a coercion as using violence. Such submission if gotten is un-Christian for it is contrary to her will. But when the woman knows her role and is godly enough to play it, good. Else, leave it all to God. For this reason, just as I said women need to be very careful and prayerful before choosing a husband, men need to be very careful and prayerful too. I think a man would live in a semi-hell if he spends his life with a woman who cares nothing about playing her role as a wife.
The superiority of the physical strength and other aspects of man to the woman is obvious. These things can easily cause a man to become proud and inconciderate. But it behoves a godly man to sacrifice his pride and never use his strengths for self gratification. God gave man this strength for protection and not for tyranny. Paul said, “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” (2 Corinthians 13:10). He recognised the essence of the power the Lord hath given him, so must men ought to recognise the essence of the strengths given them by God, and learn to use it to serve the home. Paul recognised that the very power given to him to edification can be, if not careful, used for destruction. So let men know that these very strength that has been given them for the good and protection of the home can be used for its very destruction, if they aren’t careful.
A.W. Tozer, in his sermon titled, “From The Hands Of Esau,” said, “The best protection your family can have is a humble father.” He also quoted a counsellor who said to a man who had come to him for counselling concerning his marriage, but before the man could go on to start narrating his story the counsellor said, “If there’s a problem in a home, almost always humility would take care of it…” How true. When men begin to allow their faculties to pump them up so as to become proud, impatient, and domineering, it so easily tears the home apart. But when he’s humble, tolerant, and considerate, he becomes a firm pillar of the home of which there can be no shaking. We shall talk about feminism later and the damage it is causing to our homes and societies, but I believe that a thing as evil as feminism was not even birthed by women, but by proud and violent men.
When a man is humble, tolerant, and considerate, it becomes really easy for the wife to submit. While I do not present this as an excuse for women not to be subject to their husbands, that is on account of his lack of humility, behaving in ways that helps others to keep God’s command is a good virtue. It is written, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:21). Seeing she is a fellow heir of the kingdom, one must not act in ways that would pose as a stumbling block to their spouse’s heavenward journey. It is written, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.” (Romans 14:19-20). These verses talk about food, but it also applies to a range of other things about how we should be considerate of others, this includes marriage. So let us ensure that our actions don’t pose as a stumbling block for others. If being meek would make it easier for one’s spouse to keep God’s commandment, then let meekness and condescension be done with joy. Let the wife therefore be helped by means of humility and meekness as a sister who ought not to miss heaven.
Honour And Understanding
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
(1 Peter 3:7)
So we see this verse above that husbands are to live with their wives according to knowledge and give them due honour. This verse points out what I said earlier that she ought to be helped as a sister who ought not to miss heaven when it used the following words, “heirs together of the grace of life.” Men must be fully conscious of this at all times.
Just as the wife is to reverence her husband, so must a Christian man give his wife due honour. Failure to honour her and give her the praise she deserves amounts to robbery. Looking at the things I wrote in the previous chapter, it is obvious that these demands are much and are contrary to the natural will of the fallen man, but a woman, being a Christian and wilfully in subjection to her husband, ought to be giving due honour. Let her be praised for it is written, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:30-31).
The man ought to also dwell with his wife with understanding. Now back to the example of Isaac and Rebecca concerning whom Jacob should marry (Genesis 27:46). We saw in the last chapter that Rebecca did not give instructions to her husband or even presented her concerns as an advice, but merely told him of how the wives of Esau had been a thorn in her flesh. This I pointed out as an example of reverence for husbands. But we can see also that Isaac too was a man of understanding. He understood clearly what her need was and what she wanted for her son though she never mentioned it. In the next verse (which happens to be the first verse of the next chapter) it says, “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.” (Genesis 28:1). It goes on to say, “Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.” (Genesis 28:2-5).
Isaac was a man of understanding and it is the same way that men ought to be understanding and be wary of the needs of the home even when they are not told. This should be driven by love. He ought to have his ears to the ground and seek to understand the need of his home and address them adequately.
Being a man of understanding also entails understanding the weaknesses of his spouse. I have said before that if we handle the issues of weaknesses properly in homes, it becomes a strength rather than what it seems, a weakness. It is written, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” (Colossians 3:19). Christian men must never allow flaws and weaknesses on the part of their spouse to make them become bitter against them. They should also avoid setting hyper high standards for their home that would make everyone’s weaknesses more pronounce. Rather, where they notice weakness, they should seek to work on it and correct it lovingly. To act otherwise drives love away, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love…” (Proverbs 17:9), therefore he that fails to cover transgression throws love away.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
(1 Timothy 5:8)
It is the husbands sole responsibility to provide for his own in all ways. We read in the verse above that if any man provide not for his own house, he has denied the faith and is not merely like an infidel but is worse. Now that is a grave statement. This shows what great importance God places on men playing their role as providers for the home. It may be true that this applies to male and female alike, but I think that we must not forget the gender pronoun he uses here. Mark the words, “his” and “his own.” I therefore think a woman is not an infidel, not to mention worse than an infidel, if she doesn’t, whether by will or by inability, provide for her home. But the man surely is one if he allows his family to slip into lack. So men should be cautious not to allow their family fall into such a state.
Regarding provision for the home, it is very possible for a man to fail at times to provide the best for their comfort. At such times the home should be very considerate and not demand beyond what the man can provide. If the family in the next house has a nice jeep they go around with, a nice school for their kids, etc., and the man in this home can’t afford those, they should not label him or treat him with reproach as one who is worse than an infidel. Neither should the man fell like one just because he can’t provide for his home as much as the other family enjoys. But let him and his home appreciate the little he is able to provide with gratitude to God for all things. Nevertheless men ought to go out of their way to give the best to their home. The best shelter, security, education, diet, etc.
What men ought to provide for is not just money and what it can buy, but they ought to also provide direction for the home. This provision also entails rulership. It is written concerning a bishop that he ought to be “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” (1 Timothy 3:4). Why? “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5). I know the sophists of today have been skewing the meaning of being a ruler and applying to it the meaning of a tyrant. Ruler is just about the same thing as what a manager is in today’s business arena or one who governs (2 Samuel 20:25). But let them skew the meaning of words all they want, a man must learn to rule his home and provide leadership for his home and guide them in the ways and fear of God. This is his God given responsibility.
God was particularly proud of Abraham on account of his ability to provide leadership for his household for it is written, “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 18:17-19). This was a virtue exhibited by this great father of faith. Let godly men take him for a good example even in this too.
The Voice of The Home
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
I mentioned in the last chapter that when people speak they expose themselves to the risk of criticism, both fair and unfair. Now the man has to be the one to brave this criticisms. He is to be the voice of the home.
It is a major crisis that the family in today’s world is being broken into individuals rather than to be seen and treated as one entity. This is a crisis that must be dealt with as quickly as possible. The home ought to be one body. And the husband is the head of that body and so must be the mouthpiece of it.
Joshua as a man who knew his God given role spoke for his house in Joshua 24:15 above. This in a way has to do with rulership, but here I refer to declaring to the world the stance of the home. We are told that a woman must not ask questions in church but that she should ask her husband at home (1 Corinthians 14:35). This allows that if it is beyond him to explain to his wife, he could ask in church. This way, if it be unfairly or fairly opposed, or if it be a stupid question without his realising it, he bears the criticism too, not his spouse.
A home should not have so many voices. As in the example I gave in the previous chapter concerning a woman who wanted to serve in a position in church contrary to her husband’s will. Concerning the matter the man said no, but the wife yes. This is confusion. This is not the way God wants the home to be. They ought to be agreed in all things.
Mary Wollstonecraft, that very unwise and bitter woman and one of the pioneers of the philosophy of modern day feminism, argued in her seemingly philosophical way that women ought not to be protected and treated courteously and that they themselves ought to reject such protection and act in ways independent of men. Her argument was that this is a slavish dependence and that this courteous treatment was a device to make the woman comfortable in a slavish state. She claimed that if a woman accepts these comforts, it would only bring her disdain sooner or later. But you see, we needn’t listen to the words of people blinded by bitterness, whether they be words of Mary Wollstonecraft or any other feminist. Men ought to treat their wives courteously in love and in the fear of God, and it behoves a godly woman not to spurn such treatment. It is the role of a man to take upon himself all unpleasantness that may come the way of his home and not allow his spouse, as much as he can, to even stand at risk of those unpleasantness. This Christ did for his church and so must Christian men learn to do to their spouses.
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
Let love guide in all things. Let both the wife and the husband know their God given role and play it as their conscience and love shall guide them. This I believe shall make for a happy home and blissful conjugal coexistence.
Prayer: Dear Lord and Father, help us to be able to live by your ordained instructions for our homes. Help our men to live to find joy in doing according to your will. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.