By Matt Smethurst
Male leadership in the church and the home is designed by God to be characterized by tender strength, courageous protection, and self-giving devotion. Male authoritarianism is about neither. Indeed, it’s a pathetic distortion that broadcasts a gospel lie (Eph. 5:32).
Today is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a fitting occasion to rehearse some of God’s thoughts on the matter. As it turns out, he has quite a lot to say about (and to) the sort of men who would ever dare harm their brides. Consider just a sampling:
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19).
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self . . . proud, arrogant, abusive . . . heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
“Now the works of the flesh are evident . . . enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:29-32).
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Rom. 12:17-19).
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up of her. . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Eph. 5:25, 28-29).
“[The] LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Mal. 2:14-16).
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
“[The LORD’s] soul hates . . . the one who loves violence” (Ps. 11:5).
That last verse is particularly scary, isn’t it? You’d think it would simply say God hates violence. Instead, it says God hates the violent. He hates wife-beaters.
No matter how it’s spun, abusing women is unacceptable. Always. No asterisks.
God calls husbands to love their wives (Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:25, 33), to enjoy them (Eccl. 9:9), to understand them (1 Pet. 3:7), to honor them (1 Pet. 3:7), to nourish them (Eph. 5:29), to cherish them (Eph. 5:29), to provide for them (1 Tim. 5:8), to praise them (Prov. 31:28), and, well, you get the point.
Brothers, may the Lord deliver us from ever tolerating a pugnacious coward who would dare damage one of his beautiful image-bearers.
Matt Smethurst serves as associate editor for The Gospel Coalition and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.