by Stan Smith
I'm convinced that a prime problem in our society today is men. Yeah, yeah, I know ... I'm sounding like a man-hating feminist. Don't worry. That's not where I'm going. Let's consider the job description from Scripture.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body (Ephesians 5:25-30).
This passage is immediately following the one so very many discount. You know ... "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22-24). That one. "Oh, it's mutual submission," they assure us, by which they mean "We don't actually have to submit." (Make sense out of that if you will.) But this passage here doesn't even get a blink. Yes, husbands need to love their wives. ("Oh, it's mutual love, so we don't have to do it," says no one ever.) I actually am more stunned by these commands to husbands than the pitiful "submit" command to wives. Oh, you think it's easy stuff, guys? Look at what God is commanding.
Love as Christ loved the church. Sacrificial. Death to self. Without any concern about return. Oh, no, we're not doing that.
Sanctify her. How? "By the washing of the water with the word." Guys, check yourselves here. Are you washing your wife in the word? Are you actively seeking her sanctification? Are you working to make her holy and blameless?Really? Or are you just letting her go on her own. She'll do fine. Maybe you think she's farther along that trail than you are. But you'll notice that nothing in the text allows for that response.
Love her as you love your own body. What a command! I mean, we're all pretty good about feeding ourselves. We all make sure we have what we need and most of what we want. But are you as diligent at making sure to meet her every need and many of her desires? Do you even know what she needs and desires? Because that's the standard you're required to meet. Nourish and cherish -- that's what it says. Or are you one of those macho husbands who are quite sure that "cherish" is too girly, too emotional, not fit for a manly man? If that's the case, you're not following God's commands for husbands.
And I've got a news flash for you, husbands. There's more ... much more.
I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3).
"Oh, yeah," I can hear it now, "we're really down with that." Oh, really? It has been my experience that most of us err on one side of this equation or the other ... or more. First, is Christ your head? According to this, that's the starting point. And with Christ as head, are you leading your wife? Many of us guys have backed out. Too much conflict. Too much flak. A product, as it turns out, of the original sin. God promised, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" (Genesis 3:16).. Now, maybe you missed the significance here. That concept of desire being for her husband doesn't mean she will desire her husband. It's the same phrase found in the next chapter where God told Cain, "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:17). That is, sin's desire was for Cain. Sin desired to consume him, to rule him, to remove his control of himself. God ordained that men would be head of the home, but sin makes wives contest that ruling. So lots of husbands abdicate. Others retaliate. Instead of headship, they seek lordship. There aim is to overpower their wives rather than be the head, to nourish and cherish, to sanctify. Two errors on two sides of a coin.
Here's one that comes at you sideways. You don't see it coming because women are too busy protesting, but look at what it says to husbands:
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
While women are complaining about, "Hey, what's all this about keeping silent??!" husbands are quietly ducking the "ask their own husbands at home" clause. Because, you see, the demand is that you guys be ready at all times to answer all questions that your wife may have. Are you ready for that? Then you're not prepared to obey, are you?
One command to husbands that we often reject out of hand is this one:
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
"'Understanding way'? Seriously, what man understands women?" No, we'll actually use that as an excuse to defy God! He said to do it. We chuckle at our own humor and refuse. "Show her honor." Well, we might ... when she showsus honor. But no such clause is found in the command. We absolutely refuse to obey the commands for husbands to treat their wives right and then wonder why our prayer lives are not so good.
And that's just husbands. We are not being what God commanded us to be as husbands. We are not loving our wives sacrificially. We are not washing her with the Word. We are not working at our God-given task of sanctifying her, leading her to holiness and blamelessness. We are not nourishing her and cherishing her. We are not providing leadership, taking responsibility, understanding our wives, giving them honor. We bemoan the sad state of marriage these days without even giving a nod to the fact that we're the ones God holds responsible. And all of that without considering the leadership of the church (which God has ordained to be male) or the massive, catastrophic failure of fathers to teach, train, and disciple their children. Instead, we stand here telling God, "It's that woman You gave me" and thinking we've formed a proper excuse for our Treason.
Men are not the only problem. Sure. It's much, much bigger than that. But God has ordained that men be responsible in the marriage, in the home, in the family, and in the church. Given that this fundamental component of society is in such massive disarray, it makes sense that we are the ones that will bear the brunt of God's judgment for our failure to even consider stepping up to the commands He has given us. So we will point to feminists and socialists and godless atheists and the courts and the Congress and ... well, anything but us. Sure, they're all problems. But let it begin with us, because that's where God places first responsibility. Looks like we have some really, really big logs in our eyes to take care of before we start complaining about a faulty president or whatever other problem we're seeing. Until you're rightly loving and sacrificing for and leading and teaching and sanctifying and understanding and honoring and nourishing and cherishing ... whew! ... your wife, don't even bother pointing fingers at the liberals. We have met the enemy, and he is us.
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I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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