Last week I shared what the bible says about the wife’s role in a godly marriage. This week, I would like to look at what God says about the husband’s role.
Both of my blogs are based on sermons given by Pastor Mark Hallock from Calvary Church in Englewood Colorado. I shared the first sermon last week, which looked at the wife’s role, and God’s call for her to submit to her husband. Pastor Mark did an outstanding job describing the 7 things biblical submission does NOT require of a woman (including submit to domestic abuse). He also sensitively described the 3 things biblical submission DOES mean (following the leadership of a loving, Christ-like husband). To see my blog, and get the link for his first sermon, click here. To hear this week’s sermon, click here.
The bible text that Mark spoke from was Ephesians 5:1-2, and 21-33:
5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Pastor Mark said there were 3 ways husbands are called to love and lead their wives in servant-leadership:
The husband is called to model and demonstrate sacrificial, Christlike love toward her, (Ephesians 5:25). He should not be passive, but should accept the responsibility that God has given him as the leader in his marriage. He should look to Jesus as the perfect example of a great husband. Jesus gave up everything for His bride, the church. Following this example, the husband should lay down not just his physical life (i.e. take a bullet for her), but lay down his needs and desires for HERS daily.
The husband is to lead her spiritually, courageously helping her grow in her love and knowledge of the gospel and God’s word, (Ephesians 5:26-27). This does not mean he is her “head” as some abusive men will insist, or that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength from her husband. She gets her strength from God. It is not putting the husband in the place of Christ as if the husband is some sort of absolute authority…therefore, it does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. It DOES mean he should pray for her and with her, and spur her on to love Jesus more than she loves even her husband.
The husband must joyfully serve and care for his wife the way he cares for his own body, (Ephesians 5:28-30). What does this look like?
- Be trustworthy – do what you say you will, consistently. Be a man of your word.
- Make her load lighter, not heavier – ask her how you can do this.
- Listen to her.
- Pray for her and with her and your children, that they would love Jesus more than anything.
- Put her needs ahead of yours.
- Be a one-woman man – keep your eyes on her only and stay away from pornography.
- Help her develop and use the gifts and abilities God gave her.
- Help her fulfill her hopes and dreams; encourage her to be the woman God created her to be
- Show her and TELL her you love her. Be her BEST encourager.
Yes, Pastor Mark was pretty tough on the men! He acknowledged there is no way any man can do the above list in his own power. He will need to run to Jesus over and over again to be the husband God has called him to be. His summary for the men:
Three Basic Things for the Men:
Repent of your former way of treating your wife
Believe in Jesus, trust him, and ask for His help
Bleed (like Jesus did on the cross) and Lead your wife in servant-leadership
And just so we ladies don’t think we are off the hook:
Three Basic Things for the Women (in addition to those things from last week):
Be your husband’s number one encourager so that he can be the man God designed him to be
Show him more grace and forgiveness when he fails than any other person in his life
Point him to Christ to help him.
Given that this sermon was mainly pointed at men, and my blogs are aimed at women who are currently, or have been abused, what should your take-away be?
For those who are currently with abusive partners:
Be aware of God’s design for a healthy marriage. Even though seeing the difference between this marriage and yours causes pain, you can learn from it. When your partner treats you with disrespect, behaves selfishly, and abuses you, you can be assured of God’s displeasure with his actions. Don’t tell him about your new knowledge – this will make you unsafe. But don’t believe his claims that his abuse is God’s plan for marriage – that’s a lie. If you would like to learn more about what God says about domestic abuse, and see if there is anything you can do to help your marriage, I invite you to read my book, A Journey through Emotional Abuse:From Bondage to Freedom.
For those who are single and were formerly abused, by a partner or parent:
You can look for the man described above. You may think he doesn’t exist, but he does. You won’t find him in bars; you will find him in loving, bible believing churches. He might not be good-looking, rich, and smooth-talking, but perhaps you have fallen for that type of man before. He may have several hurting children, a broken down car, and a pile of debts. He may not always treat you as Pastor Mark described, but if he knows he should, and is working toward that goal, give him a second look. And be prepared, he will expect you to treat him well too.
For those who are currently in non-abusive marriages:
Take a look at your own actions. Work toward becoming the encouraging, loving, respectful wife your husband deserves. You will be surprised at the change this will produce in your husband.
Lord, please help all of us learn how You have designed a godly marriage to work. We need You to help us understand Your vision for marriage. Even more, we need You to help us live out the roles you’ve given us each day. Be with those who are being abused Lord, give them grace I pray. For the rest of us, may we be humble enough to look at our own actions, and make the changes necessary. Amen.
May the Lord be with you today.
P.S. If you have had trouble getting help for domestic violence from your church, please check out my Domestic Violence Guide for Churches. This guide describes the dynamics of abuse from a Christian perspective, then educates church leaders how to help those who experience it. Click here to see a preview of the written and video guide.