The struggle in our society to deal with changing roles in marriage should be lain squarely at the feet of husbands. The failure to live according to the Divine paradigm has produced a host of single moms, a generation of delinquent children, and a public willing to pass off every conceivable perversion as a “marriage.” If we are to reclaim a sense of godliness in design for a partnership that began in the Garden, men must step up to their Godgiven responsibilities. We are not evolved primordial slime, animals groping senselessly and experimentally for pleasure and propagation. We are divinely made after the likeness of God, and given distinctive roles in a one man/one woman relationship that is intended to last for life. And, men have a definitive role as leaders, providers, and spiritual guides in the family unit.
God’s design in physical intimacy predates human substitutions. The first marital adjustment was made shortly after Adam pronounced that “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:23-24). Shortly thereafter, a dereliction of duty on Lamech’s part was evident when he “took unto him two wives” (Gen. 4:19), which introduced the first multiple partner situation. Today, this sad commentary on human failure has escalated from unauthorized divorce and remarriage to partner hopping, and the sanctity of sexuality in our society has become no more sacred than shaking hands. One purpose for the marriage bond is “to avoid fornication” (1 Cor. 7:2). A husband must realize that the physical privileges he shares with his spouse are only right and beautiful within that covenant relationship. In spite of a society that showcases nudity, men must commit to physical purity and “drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well” (Pro. 5:15).
God’s design in role-responsibility predates human innovations. Abdicating the role of leadership and authority in the home is simply an adulteration of God’s conception of permanent partnering. God delegated oversight and management to the husband. Husbands have the responsibility of charting a path for wife and children to follow. He must be the Moses in the marriage who patiently directs by divine revelation. So, Paul would say:
Husbands, love your wives… So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church… let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself (Eph. 5:25a, 28-29, 33b).
Additionally, this passage reveals the nurturing nature of the husband. Defining the difference between faithfulness and infidelity, Paul would say: “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). A man cannot hope to be a Christian husband unless he is willing to sacrifice himself for the security and safety of his spouse. Provision is a minimum requirement in a godly husband.
God’s design for spiritual guidance in the home predates human machinations. Relegating the duties of spiritual leadership to the wife is diametrically opposed to God’s plan. Husbands should take their cue from Jesus, who sacrificed everything for the eternal benefit of His bride, the church of Christ.
The world has a different view of the husband’s role. From “Mr. Mom” to homosexual civil unions, our country has digressed into a distressing state where the clear roles of husband and wife have been blurred beyond correction. Hollywood’s influence on the man-woman relationship is a popular topic in many movies, dealing death to marital sanctity and marital fidelity in general. Pop music embitters men and denigrates women to objects of pleasure to be randomly used and discarded. Even gossip columnists are quoted as authorities in domestic conflict resolution.
It is a sad state that we find ourselves in today, where deadbeat dads must be forced through litigation to provide for their wife and/or children. It is pitiful that “church going” is perceived as a woman’s work. It is to the ruin of right living that family units are decimated by divorce. We must teach the world the proper, manly role of the husband as God has revealed him. We must invest in our husbands in terms of education and support, exercising discipline in the church in the form of training and correction. We must never apologize for demanding that God’s pattern be practiced; we must never compromise the divine mandate concerning the husband’s role in a marriage relationship, and we must never fail in commending those who attempt, however imperfectly, to live as godly husbands. To do less is to undermine the foundation upon which civil societies subsist and bring shame upon the church of Christ.
-Jeff Sweeten serves as an elder for the Buda-Kyle Church of Christ