Sunday, July 27, 2014
Husbands, Lead in Love
Husbands and Men Seeking Wives,
First, I address this to "men seeking wives" because if you are a boy, you should not be seeking a wife, and if you are just dating around "for fun" then you are not a man, nor are you seeking a wife. You have some growing up to do and some decisions to make before this advice is really applicable to you.
For those of you still reading, husbands are to lead their wives. Men seeking a wife are to lead the woman of their interest into a godly decision for or against marriage. And once married, husbands are to lead their households.
In Ephesians 5:22-33 Saint Paul tells men that they are to lead their households in love. Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. They are to follow him as the Church follows Christ. Husbands, then, are to lead. And they lead by loving their wives as Jesus loved the Church.
The part about the wives gets a lot of attention because the word "submit" sounds like Paul is telling women to shut their brains off and simply answer "yes, sir" to whatever their husbands say. (Ironically this is pretty typical marriage advice to men. What are the two most important words to learn when you are getting married? "Yes, dear.")
Paul, however, is not suggesting that women become doormats in their marriages. He does not imply that they are becoming second-class Christians when they say "I do". Rather, to submit means to follow the lead of another. In this case, the wife follows the lead of her husband. Therefore the type of leadership that he offers is vitally important.
And his leadership is love, laying down his life for her just as Christ did for all. The husband is called by God to nourish and cherish his wife as his own body.
Leading with love is difficult. Pastor Anthony Voltattorni has written (here) about the need for men to be leaders in the courtship process. Young men should not be running around dating "for fun". It is not loving to attach yourself to woman after woman leading them on but never closing the deal with a ring.
To lead in love means that you have marriage always in your mind as the goal of your dating or courtship. It means treating a young woman with the highest respect and taking orders from the other man in her life, her father. It means keeping your hands off of her until you are properly wed.
Once the wedding day arrives the bridegroom leads by taking the hand of his bride from her father and leading her to the altar where God will join them in the union of one flesh. He leads her to the reception to celebrate. He leads her to the bridal chamber to consummate.
From that day forward it is the husband's responsibility to take the lead...in everything. There is this strange idea out there, that the husband is the "spiritual head" of the household. I suppose that is meant to suggest that it is ok if his wife takes the lead on physical, emotional, or financial issues. But the Bible knows nothing of this.
The husband has responsibility for the operation of the household, all of it. Therefore he is to manage it well, with love. Every decision is to be made in love, sacrificing his own desires for the good of the household.
But leading with love is not always going to make him popular with his wife. There is a great difference between loving someone and making someone feel loved. You can feel loved, and actually be given hate. You can feel hated and actually be given love. Your wife will not like every decision that is made. It may take some explaining on your part. It may take a lot of trust and patience on her part. But love you must.
When considering a new job opportunity the husband must ask if this is what is best for his entire family, not just for his ego. When contemplating a move to a new city the man sets aside his desire to be close to his favorite baseball team and thinks about how this will financially impact their family.
And yes, if it ever does come down to it, the man must be willing to literally die for his wife, to shed his blood, to put his flesh on the line for her sake.
And this also means that whatever sort of love he wishes to receive from his wife, he must first be giving. Does he want a passionate romance? Then he had better be passionate and romantic. Does the man desire sacrifice from his wife? Then he must sacrifice himself for her. Does the groom need patience and understanding from his bride? Then he shall be patient and understanding with her. Does he need forgiveness on a regular basis (and you had better believe that you do)? Then he will forgive freely.
Jesus does not lead his Church by barking orders over and over. He leads by laying down his life, shedding his blood, cleansing us from sin, and giving us new life. He leads with grace and mercy. He gives us forgiveness, faith, hope, and love.
So husbands, and all men seeking wives, lead as Christ has led the Church. Lead in love.
[Check back next Monday for the calling from God to fathers. For the first post in this series click here.]