Monday, June 30, 2015
In a world where same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, how should men continue to stand firm on marriage? We stand firm, as men, by pursuing our God-given wife, endlessly loving our children in a biblical way, and by rebuilding a marriage culture–Nehemiah style–that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and is in turn used for our great good.
Despite Friday’s SCOTUS decision, the Bible’s view of marriage remains unchanged—one man and one woman, displaying the gospel for life (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5). How should the church respond? We must show that biblical marriage is not only right, but also it is good, and then we must out-rejoice the opposition. The church is called to be holy, so we must build a marriage culture that reflects God’s holy character.
Therefore, the first call is this: “Husbands love your wives.” The husband is the head of his wife, because he is male. However, the characteristic of love is his special duty toward her and defines his leadership.
Husbands, here are three masculine exhortations:
Love your wife because God commands it.
This is your foundation. God wills that you love her as he has loved you (Eph. 5:25). Your security is in God’s love for you, and it is what propels this kind of love towards your wife. She won’t always respond well to your initiatives in the home and attempts to lead her and the family. She might push back at times.
But you must be like Christ when he kneeled to wash Peter’s feet (John 13). Peter, part of the Bride of Christ, refused this loving leadership, but Jesus didn’t get discouraged and give up. He stayed at Peter’s feet and told Peter this must be done for his good. Men, we don’t have time for self-pity and passivity. We must humble ourselves, absorb injustice, and persevere. A loving leadership of your wife isn’t contingent on her response or your feelings, but on God’s will: “Husbands, love your wives!”
Love your wife in all ways, for always, and above all others.
(i) Love her in all ways: Love her by being her physical protector. Christ protects the church, not the other way around. A husband is no man if he lets his wife defend the home or sends his wife to defend the country.
Love her by being her physical lover. Your body is not your own. You are obligated to use it firstly for her pleasure, not your own selfish gain (1 Cor. 7:3).
Love her through your physical provision. Work hard and aim to to be the main breadwinner. There may be a temporary season, if you’re studying or in transition, where that is not so. Or you may be physically disabled, which prevents this permanently. But the desire and aim should still be there.
Love her through your spiritual leadership. This is where most men struggle or abdicate, because this takes time and spiritual sweat. A husband’s love for his wife means he is more concerned for her holiness than for his comfort. What is more, in your personal devotions mine for gold, not just for yourself but also for her, so you can sanctify your wife with the Word (Eph. 5:26). Don’t drown her with an hour-long doctrinal dissertation. Give her a biblical nugget and make application to her life as you live with her in an understanding way, knowing her needs almost before she asks (1 Peter 3:7).
(ii) Love her for always: Your commitment to her is permanent because Christ’s commitment to his Bride is permanent. You are one flesh. Love her as you do your own body, always aware of her, always keeping her warm, and always seeking her good (Eph. 5:29). Some men pray for God to fix their wife’s problems while they do nothing, but her problems are your problems. You are her permanent head, not part-time head. Go towards her and be her main human means of sanctification. Is she growing in godliness directly because of your consistent loving leadership?
(iii) Love her above all others: Cherish her (Eph. 5:29)! Love her with a laser focus, so she will feel cherished. Satisfy yourself with her alone (Prov. 5:19). Date her and woo her. Place her above the children in your affections, and with your attention, because you are one flesh with her, not them. They will feel most loved when they see the way their father loves their mother with special covenant love.
Encourage her when you see her growing in godly femininity. Praise her inner and outer beauty. She needs to know you find her physically attractive, as well as spiritually attractive. Comfort her when she is hurting and listen to her when you want the bullet points of the story and she wants to give fine detail. In all these things, you are communicating that you cherish her above all others.
Love your wife with manly authority and manly tenderness.
Make decisions, but discuss all things with her. She is your greatest counselor, equal to you, but created by God for you to lead. Her wisdom is priceless, as she knows you better than anyone else. However, if a decision must be made and you are both in deadlock, then you are responsible before God to make that decision. If it goes well, don’t gloat over her; if it goes wrong, protect her from the fall-out.
Delegate authority to your wife, but remember she needs to see that you are her authority. Be a holy man of the Word and prayer. Not effeminate, but masculine. Not rash and foolish, but patient and wise. Your leadership, then, won’t be self-willed. It will be spiritually empowered, and it will encourage her reverence. Your headship is God’s design for her protection and growth. If you don’t assume the manly mantle, then she is left exposed and vulnerable to attack and her femininity will be compromised.
Yet manly authority must be paired with manly tenderness. Be firm with your wife, but never harsh (Col. 3:19). If she is tired and worried, speak tender words from Scripture to comfort her. If you are in conflict with her, take the log out your own eye first. This has the effect of tenderizing your own soul, as you once again appropriate the gospel and the perfect patience and tender mercies of Christ to you.
Marriage is not socially defined but divinely designed. Therefore, it’s true meaning will stand when society crumbles (Rev. 19:9). And a marriage where a husband loves his wife like this is a little bit of heaven on earth.
Gavin is the director of international outreach at CBMW. Follow him on Twitter @GPeacock8.
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