Husbands' Duty In Marriage
by Laurel Davis
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This is the final part of a three-part bible study entitled "The Crowning Quality of a Meek and Quiet Spirit." Read the Introduction at http://faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=17009, Part One: Modesty at http://faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=17011, and Part Two: Submission to Husbands at http://faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=17187.
In the last two sections we learned about the crowning quality of a meek and quiet spirit upon a godly Christian woman. We saw how a meek and quiet spirit helps us fulfill our responsibility to be modest in appearance, behavior and speech to the maximum extent to which we are consistent with our profession of faith in Christ. We also saw how a meek and quiet spirit relates to our duty as wives (whether present or future) to submit to the leadership of our husbands, looking in depth at the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of yielding to their authority in the home.
The Focus Now
To finish up on this series of studies, let’s consider how the meek and quiet spirit of a godly Christian woman relates now to the Crowning Qualities of Godly Christian Manhood, and specifically husbands. Hopefully by the end we all will have a clearer understanding of not merely what God expects from our men—and therefore what we women should expect from them—but also what God intends in the godly Christian marriage relationship. God instituted holy matrimony between one man and one woman. It is so holy, perhaps because it is modeled after the wondrous relationship between Christ and His Church. Each party in that special relationship has his or her own unique, divinely designed role, function and purpose. When the two are right and are rightly fit together, it is a glorious thing.
Helpful for All Women
Let me emphasize: That is why we as women need to have a study on godly Christian manhood. Whether you’re single or married or even still in your teens and years away from dating or getting serious, it’s never too early nor too late to learn what constitutes a beautiful, God-centered marriage. Some of us can apply this study to our current marriages. Others of us can start now to prepare for our future marriage, if Lord willing. We all can pass this on to our sons and daughters. And, we all can teach and encourage other women in these biblical principles.
Remember Our Foundational Scriptures
The foundational scriptures from the last two studies still, of course, apply to what we should learn in this Part Three: Proverbs 3:5-6; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 5:16; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10:23,31; Titus 2:12; James 4:6-8 (cf. 1 Peter 5:5); 1 John 2:15-17.
But for this Part Three let our foundation include Scriptures specifically about marriage. Let’s understand the context of this special, unique, divinely designed and ordered, holy relationship. Marriage is (MacArthur and Scoffield study bibles)…
• Divinely instituted. Genesis 2:23-24.
• A covenant relationship; for life (except not necessarily in cases where the other spouse violates that covenant by committing adultery). Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:9; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11,39.
• Commended, celebrated. Genesis 29:21-22; Proverbs 18:22; Jeremiah 29:6; John 2:1-10; 3:29.
• Designed for the happiness of man. Genesis 2:18-24.
• For preventing the sin of fornication. 1 Corinthians 7:1-9.
• Honorable in all; for sexual fulfillment. Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:18-19.
• Expressed in part by joining together. Matthew 19:6.
• Illustrative of Christ’s union with His Church. Ephesians 5:23-24,32.
Remember the Context of Ephesians Chapter 5
What a great segway right into our focus for this part of our study! Ephesians 5:22-33 is our primary passage. For context, let’s recall from Part Two study that prior and up to verse 22 the Apostle Paul is admonishing all believers to live a consistent Christian life, and that at verse 21 he instructs all believers—male and female—to “[submit] to one another in the fear of God.” Then he breaks down that general instruction to specific instructions for categories of believers, starting with wives. Next, it’s husbands.
And how are husbands expected to submit in the fear of God? Let’s break it down into what the husband’s duties are in marriage. We’ll discover not just that the husband has God-given obligations in the marriage relationship and what they are. More significantly, we’ll also discover how absolutely awesome those responsibilities are on the wife’s behalf so that it should make submission to our husbands at least a little bit easier! Amen? Amen!
HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD
Let’s consider first the husband’s duty as revealed in verses 22-24. What is it?
The husband is to indeed be the head and savior of the house! Ephesians 5:22-24 admonishes the wife to submit to her own husband, that he is the head of her just like Christ is the head of the church. We can safely invoke the idea that such an instruction to wives presupposes an instruction to husbands that he is to actually be the leader in the marriage. He is to lead; guide; direct; take care of all spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of; provide security for; protect; defend; and be accountable for his wife. He must be willing to lead and also to be held responsible by God for it. And, by God’s grace, he has Christ’s example as Head and Savior of the church to follow.
That’s not to say that if your husband is not acting like the head of the household, then you don’t have to submit. God forbid! It may be harder for you to, but it’s your duty nonetheless (see the definition of the Greek word for “submit” in Part Two). I’m reminded of the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and what the mother said about the bride’s “old-fashioned” father: “Man may be the head of the house, but the woman is the neck that makes the head turn.” Of course, the head is where the brain resides, but oh well!
Anyway, if you’re single and desire to get married, consider the extent to which your potential future husband can and will be a true, godly man of the house to whom you can cheerfully respect and revere “as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). The quality of his leadership will be a direct function of his fear of and submission to God and his knowledge of His Word on this subject.
If you’re married and your husband is not being the head as these verses (Ehp. 5:22-24) indicate he should be, with a meek and quiet spirit (see Part One) pray that God would convict his heart, open his eyes, and equip him to be a godly man in this respect.
WHAT MANNER OF LOVE
The next duty we see is that husbands are to love their wives. In fact, that is really the primary duty we see discussed here in Ephesians 5:25-33—a good indication that it’s a very important duty, carrying much weight in the successful godly Christian marriage. Actually, those verses explain what kind of love a husband must have for his wife—how he is to love her, and for what purpose.
First, let’s look at the definition of the Greek word for “love” used both times in verse 25. It means (Vine’s Lexicon) to regard, esteem, to acquiesce with satisfaction, to cherish with reverence—all considered in reference to the tendency of the will. It is to make much of a thing, to admire for some good and sufficient reason. The word is never used of an improper love. It is also used in Colossians 3:19.
Notice these key words in the above definition for love, that the husband is to regard his wife, esteem her, acquiesce to her, cherish her, make much of her, admire her for who and what she is to him.
That’s how a godly Christian husband is to love his wife. This is such a crucial instruction because husbands are even given Christ’s love for His church as a parallel model. “This is how you do it, guys!” And how does Jesus love His church? What is His model for the godly Christian husband to follow with his own wife?
Here’s how: Jesus gave Himself for us (verse 25). Look also at John 3:16 and 1 John 4:10, among other Scriptures. A godly husband’s love for his wife should make him willing to die for her. Perhaps we can take that literally and figuratively. Is your man willing to sacrifice his life for you? How about hard work, sweat and tears for you? How about his time and attention? How about your needs before his own?
Keep in mind, ladies, that we’re considering what we as godly Christian women can apply in our own marriages (and teach others). A godly wife’s submission going hand-in-hand with a godly man’s love for her is an awesome relationship if it is modeled after the church’s submission to Christ who loved us enough to die for us. The ideal Christian marriage relationship is reciprocal, but each side’s duty is unconditional. Wives submit to your husbands, period. Husbands, love your wives enough to die for them, period.
CHRIST, THE MODEL FOR A HUSBAND’S LOVE
Ephesians 5 spends a lot of time on the husband’s love for his wife and how God designed it to imitate Christ’s love for His church. Understanding this passage of scripture in that context will help us as women appreciate the serious, sobering role to which God has called our husbands so that we can better appreciate His placement of them as leaders in our marriages and homes.
Why did Jesus love us enough to die for us? We see starting at verse 26: to set the church apart for Himself, to cleanse it through the washing of His Word, with the ultimate purpose of bringing the church to its full perfection, holiness and glory. Let’s get the full picture of the context of Christ’s model for marriage here. Let’s read Colossians 1:18-22; 2 Timothy 2:10-11; Hebrews 2:11; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:22. The godly Christian husband will love his wife enough to do whatever he needs to do to maximize who and what she is supposed to be in his life from God’s perspective. She will be an awesome godly wife, ultimately by God’s grace but also because she’s got an awesome godly husband who lovingly gives her of his time, attention, resources, leadership, strength and all the things she needs to be what God has called her to be in the marriage.
And what is Christ’s attitude toward His church in His sanctification process? The rest of the verses in Ephesians 5 tell us: Jesus makes us, His Church, one with Him. And so it should be in the godly Christian marriage relationship. The man who loves his wife as he loves himself will nourish and cherish her—that is, lead, provide for, protect, die for her—as much as he nourishes and cherishes his own body. Indeed, husband and wife are one just as Christ is “one” (i.e., united) with His own “body,” the body of believers, His Church. To get a clear picture of this, let’s now read Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-8.
Are you getting the picture here? Husbands are commanded by God to follow Christ’s model of love to the one with whom he is united in unique relationship. Read 1 Peter 3:7. Husbands need to understand their role and also the wife’s. The husband is to honor her in the sense of chivalry. But he is also to honor her as his sister in Christ. Otherwise, his prayers will go unanswered.
In closing, and to bring this full circle, our ultimate goal was to understand how the meek and quiet spirit of a submissive wife fits in with the husband’s duty to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Can you see now, or more clearly, how the two separate duties harmonize with one another?
Because Christ loves us, we honor Him with our reverence and submission. In a similar way perhaps, the godly husband who truly loves his wife is in some sense rewarded (eventually) by the godly wife who truly submits to him “as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). And vice versa: perhaps the godly wife who truly submits is (eventually) rewarded by a godly husband who truly loves her and gives himself for her. It’s a perfect relationship model. We need to encourage each other and support the men in our lives to endeavor to fulfill it.
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