A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 3: Role of the Husband
Last time, I said that I would take a look at just what these “Armor of God”-clad husbands look like. Before we do that, let me warn you I’m gonna experiment with the font a smidgen so I can try and differentiate the liturgy from the commentary. I’d also like to warn any ladies who may read this that my commentary is unapologetically male. If I compare ladies with inanimate objects you’ll hopefully bear with me and see what I’m getting at.
C) Role of the Husband
[GROOM], your role is different from [BRIDE]’s. Where she is commanded simply to submit to you, you are commanded to love her unto death. This is a serious, serious responsibility, greater even than hers. If Jesus had not accepted His responsibility to die for us, we would never have been saved. You have a similar obligation: if you cannot love her in this way, she can never submit to you! Further, if you truly love yourself, the Scriptures say, you will love her in this way. What a remarkable way to apply the Great Commandments: Love God with everything you are and love others as you love yourself!
What is your love for [BRIDE] to be like? This Scripture gives us three things. First, your love for her is to be serving. You are to care for [BRIDE] and make sure that she has all she needs, just as Jesus takes care of our every need. Second, your love for her is to be sanctifying. You are the spiritual leader of your new home. It is your responsibility as [BRIDE]’s husband to be one of the means by which God makes [BRIDE] more like Jesus. Always speak the truth in love to her, never in anger, for your words and actions to her will either transform her or become a stumbling block to her faith! Third, your love for her is to be sacrificial. As I said before, Jesus died for the church that He loved. You are to be willing to die for [BRIDE]. John 15:13 says that “the greatest way to show love for one’s friends is to die for them.” That is even more true of your love for [BRIDE]. Be willing to die to your own wants, your own desires. Be willing to die to your own plans. Be willing to die every day for her, just as we must die to sin every day and put on the new man in Christ Jesus.
I don’t think I can emphasize enough the vast difference in roles here. Basically, all a woman has to do is put her man first. Easy enough, right? I know some of you girls out there are rolling your eyes at me now. But bear with me. Think about this for a moment. A man is commanded to give up his very life for his woman. If he truly loves his woman, he will love her even to the point of death. You can’t get more serious than that. This responsibility is greater than simple submission. The woman isn’t being asked to die for her man, she is just being asked to make him her number one relationship. The man is being asked to drop everything for his woman.
Now think about that, ladies. Isn’t that even more honoring to you than the world would have you believe? Feminism conveniently overlooks this part of the Scripture. If Jesus had not dropped everything (Phil. 2:5-8) and come to earth, we’d never be having this discussion to begin with. Likewise the man is commanded to “empty himself” for you. You! That is love, baby.
Otherwise you could never submit to him. Women, in general, won’t accept anything less than a man’s total devotion. Those of you who disagree are just plain in denial. You all want a man who is devoted to you like that. And just think, he loves you the same way he loves himself and his Playstation and his dog–totally and unashamedly. And even better, that’s biblical.
Hmm, Playstation as a metaphor for married love. I must be tired.
Anyway, what does this total and unashamed love look like? First, the man is commanded to serve his wife. Those of you familiar with the book Covenant Marriage won’t be surprised to read that. Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:27-28). If you look at that verse, who is really getting a servant or a slave? It sure ain’t the man! Also, the man is to serve his woman because he is to care for her every need, just as Jesus provides our every need as claimed in Philippians 4:19.
Second, the man is commanded to sanctify his wife. The man is the head of the household, and as such is the “head of the woman (1 Cor. 11:3).” This headship gives the man spiritual leadership in the home. As such he is to lead his woman into a deeper walk with Jesus. He is to be one of the various means by which God makes her more like Jesus. This is an extremely serious responsibility, because failure to be the spiritual leader can lead to the man becoming a stumbling block to his wife’s faith! And we all remember what Jesus said about stumbling blocks (I hope; see Matthew 18 for a hint).
Third, the man is commanded to sacrifice for his wife. He is to be willing to die for his wife. He is to be willing to give himself up. Now, I have gone beyond mere physical death in defining sacrificial love. I have defined it here to include “dying to self.” Just as we die to self and rise to Christ, so must the man die to himself each day and rise to his wife. Jesus subordinated His desire to bypass the cross because He knew we needed a Savior, according to the will of the Father. We men should also subordinate our desires for those of our wives for the same reason. God has divinely decreed that we are to serve our wives and sanctify them, and this is to be our top priority in our marriages. Nothing else gets in front of that. Nothing. If that means we have to give up overtime to take our wives out for a romantic evening, watch a chick flick, or what have you, then that’s what we’ve got to do. If that means giving up our computer time or even (my hands tremble as I write this part) the Tennessee-(insert SEC opponent here) game, then that’s what we’ve gotta do.
Lord knows this is the hardest part of loving our wives–sacrifice. I don’t want to give up my computer time to talk with Tricia. I don’t want to turn off the Tennessee-Florida/Georgia/Alabama/Kentucky/any other opponent game to go shopping or whatever with her. I really don’t. I’d much rather wear a pink silk shirt with white slacks and penny loafers in San Francisco than give up the things that I enjoy doing by myself. But if I love Tricia I am willing to do it, because God has decreed that it be so. To act in any other way but that is to act in a way that Dr. Leigh Conver calls unredeemed. This is the area where God is going to humble and mature me in the next two to five years, as I learn how to be a godly husband.
Ladies, pay careful attention to these points. If a guy isn’t willing to love you in these ways, he’s not worth your spit. If you’re not married, pray that God will lead you to a man who is willing to love you this way. Should you decide to stay with this heel, don’t try to force him to change. Pray for him instead, that God will make him a man after His own heart. If you’re married, you should also pray that God will make him a man after His own heart, and model your biblical role to him. Complaints, nagging, and attempts to force change will only make him resent you. Remember, the believing wife sanctifies the unbelieving husband (1 Cor. 7:14), and I’m going to argue this principle applies even in a Christian marriage where one spouse isn’t living in a God-honoring manner towards the other. I’ll have more to say about this particular item either in the next part or in a follow-up post. Oh, and for both singles and marrieds: make sure you get plenty of counseling too.
All in all, this view of the male role in marriage, especially of male headship, takes an extremely high view of women and womanhood. In this role, the woman is respected and extolled, put on a pedestal. The woman is to be cared for as the most precious thing in the man’s life. Like a prize mint condition ’57 Chevy, she is to be cherished and served, anything that would sully her fought to the death. Did Christ do any less with us? He held us, His bride, in such high esteem that despite our sin He died for us. Can’t get any higher a view than that. Oh, praise Him for His grace, why don’t you!
These three areas are so important that I’m almost wanting to type them again below just to make sure you read it twice. Guys, pay careful attention to these three points. Are you loving your wives, fiancees, or girlfriends in a way that is serving, sanctifying, and sacrificial? If you’re not, isn’t it time you started?