Concluding the last article on this subject of a “tree of life” marriage, I wrote: “To become one within these roles of husband and wife, it is vital to understand what these two roles are.”
In this second article, we will examine the husband’s role.
God’s Word is very clear on the role of a husband. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:23, 25).
The husband’s role is one of leadership and sacrificial love. This role, therefore, is much more than just leadership: It must be loving leadership.
Some men have thought that their role is to get their wife to submit to them. Christ is the husband’s role model. Christ is firm, but gentle; insistent, but not strident; unwavering, yet compassionate.
No man can truly fulfill his role unless he first truly submits to Christ Himself. When a man totally submits to Christ, this produces within him the characteristics that his wife delights to respond to. Nothing gives a woman greater security within a marriage than to know her husband is completely committed to God.
The man must see his role as God-given, a role that needs to be God-driven. After all, marriage is a God-plane relationship. If the husband feels he is somewhat superior, then his wife will feel greatly threatened.
1 Peter 3:7 reads: “Similarly, you husbands should try to understand the wives you live with, honoring them as physically weaker, yet equally heirs with you of the grace of life” (Philips translation). Being equal does not mean a man and a woman have the same function. A husband and wife may be equal spiritually, not functionally. The functional difference has been established by God.
1 Peter 3:7 outlines three principles a husband must live by.
1. Dwell with them according to knowledge.
A husband has a duty to be understanding. This entails being willing to listen to his wife’s point of view. He is willing to think with her. He is sensitive to her feelings, emotions and ideas, always striving to discover her needs in order to meet them and do what is best for her. Here we come to see the importance of the selfless attitude in the husband’s role.
2. Give honor unto the wife.
The husband is her protector (as Christ is ours). He recognizes she is not as physically strong as he is. He ensures due respect for her from the children. He then himself treats her with respect, love, consideration. He protects her from hurtful situations.
3. He is to remember that his wife has spiritual rights equally.
They are joint heirs—God loves wives as much as husbands.
One might ask why these actions are so vital. Peter gives the answer: “That your prayers be not hindered.” The Weymouth Bible states, “So that your prayers may be unrestrained.” The Jewish New Testament reads, “If you don’t your prayers will be blocked.”
Therefore, at what level your knowledge is, it must be used correctly or it will have an effect on your relationship with God.
This reinforces the great need to deeply understand these God-plane roles. Any attempt to change the functional differences will produce serious fractures in the marital relationship—e.g., role reversal.
Why does God make such a demand on a husband to love his wife? Because to be loved is her greatest need. Just as our greatest need as the bride is to be loved by Christ—and Christ proved His love for us (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Just as the Church needs care and love, so a woman needs constant love and attention if she is to truly flourish in her role.
As Aubrey Andelin points out in his book Man of Steel and Velvet, a man deprived of love may throw himself into his work and find compensation or fulfillment there; not so with a woman. If she is deprived of love, she is shaken to the depths of her personality and will suffer as no man can comprehend. No amount of material success can make up for failure at home.
The husband needs to express this love in words and deeds. Love is given through tenderness—a touching hand, a kind word.
Should an argument develop, it is the husband’s role to bring love to the fore.
A further and very important step in this role is to hold the wife in high esteem. Someone once said, “Treat your wife as a queen, and she will be one.”
Of course, no one is perfect. However, sacrificial love can cover many areas.
Always remember: A wife is a person—someone with feelings, desires of her heart, yet not perfect. Do not be critical and harsh—ever! Always think how you think about yourself! Follow Ephesians 5:28: “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.”
A role-model husband has godly humility and is fully aware of his own shortcomings.
Love is positive, never negative.
In his role, a husband encourages his wife to share her views and thoughts. A husband who fails to seek his wife’s input on issues does himself a great injustice. To do that is to deny the reason God gave a man a helpmeet in the first place.
Generally speaking, a woman tends to see things in detail. For example, with a new house, the woman might wonder, Will the furniture fit? while the man sees things in a wider perspective—as a house to live in.
When the husband listens to her sensitivity, he recognizes that she may provide him with the other half of the wisdom needed that God had in mind for his decision-making.
Decisions that involve both husband and wife should constitute an amalgamation of both perspectives in order to come to the wisest decision. This spirit of mutual service will count toward your happiness and success.
The spirit of the home must be the spirit of love. And that’s the husband’s primary responsibility.
The husband’s role also includes teaching God’s way of life.
During times of uncertainty, the husband’s role is to reassure his family that he is giving careful consideration and thought to the future. This entails communication—a subject that will be examined in a future article. He assures the family that he has plotted and charted the course, even through rough seas. Of course, he involves God in these situations (James 1:5-6).
He speaks with an assured voice—not plagued by doubts and fears—and leads by his convictions.
Man was born for his role—it was God-given and must be God-driven.
Next time, we will discuss the wife’s role. For now, think on these things.
From the Archives: Philadelphia News, January 2007