God’s Commands to Husbands for Marriage

This is not a marriage blog at all. It’s geared at being protective of men, but that includes exposing the threats made against men on the spiritual level, and the modern teachings of marriage are very important to address to that end.

Now, people who focus on marriage will zero-in on the commands to wives and husbands–understandable, to an extent. But whenever we zero-in on a passage or theological subject, it is very, very important not to lose sight of the entire rest of Scripture so as to cause a specific passage to say something that it doesn’t actually say.

I have no doubt that this is happening when husbands are preached at for their duties in marriage. I contend that the command for husbands is ultimately only reminders of what is commonly taught to all believers, with respect to the fact that a man is indeed an authority. I will boldly say that anyone who wants to be contentious with me about this will utterly fail to do so with God’s word rather than the words of man. By all means, let’s declare the Scripture boldly, with a focus on man’s command:

Ephesians 5:25-33
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Let’s dissect this to the fullest:

“Husbands love your wives . . .”

We are all commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves (words of Jesus): Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

We are all commanded to love one another as Christ loved us, and all to the same degree.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Again, a sentiment about what love is, among many, not limited to men, but includes women as well.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)

Once again, not a gender-exclusive command, given to the church straight from Jesus: to love one another as Christ loved the church. It’s a command given to absolutely everyone, male and female. Any arguments about a “husband exclusive” sort of love should really end with this point, as Jesus’ command is not at all unidirectional. Everyone is to be Christlike to everyone else, with all the self-sacrifice therein, period.

Ephesians 5:2: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

It is heresy to teach that only husbands are commanded to love with a Christlike, self-sacrificing love.

“He takes care of it and feeds it.”

From the Proverbs 31 “wife of noble character”:

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

With regards to widows’ lists:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children,has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 1 Timothy 5:9-10

Widows were expected to have a history of being providers to others. Why should her husband be excluded as a recipient if he is the one hard-pressed to make a living for whatever reason? Plus, “the two are one flesh” (Mark 10:8) principle itself is totally bidirectional, and is equally applicable to women as much as men. As some might agree, men are (at least physically) more able to work in such a way that yields a paycheck, but what’s in a paycheck when we are more fundamentally all–male and female alike–commanded to work per our ability? Unfortunately–as encouraging as it is that many women today are taking to the submissive wife role–I find that the discussion rapidly develops into a license for women to be held to an altogether lower standard.

The one-directional command to husbands that remains is the washing of the word, which does indeed testify to a husband’s role as a spiritual provider for his wife–arguably. I do contend that the reference to Christ washing his bride with his word does suggest a spiritual leadership in the household, and that other Scriptures can very much confirm that point for husbands and fathers.

So once again, Scripture’s commands to husbands are primarily reminders to do what everyone is commanded to do. In addition to everything else, consider:

Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

So where is the follow-up command that (say) older men should teach younger men to be godly husbands and fathers, just as women need to be taught by older women to love and obey their husbands? Why isn’t it there? There is no biblical basis for a man being mentored for what is treated like some special, biblical gender role as husbands–none. But only the modern woman’s “back-at-you” attitude wants to see heat put on men.

My conclusion is reinforced yet again: Ephesians’ commands to husbands are almost entirely reminders of what believers do in general, and little more. There is therefore no need for husbands to be particularly mentored for some overly special “biblical gender role,” because – apart from the occasional mention – it just does not entail much special attention beyond everything the Bible generally teaches believers about how to be imitators of Christ. Most of husbands’ service to their wives is fulfilled by way of his autonomous spirit toward Christ, such that a woman has a good cause in her husband to help, follow, and support.

Now with that out of the way, why would a reminder to be generally Christlike to wives be necessary at all? I will explain within the remainder of this post.

Notice the fact that husbands’ commands tend to come AFTER the commands given to wives; as wives are commanded to submit many times, that distinctly implies a husband’s authority (as other Scriptures support, male and authority go hand-in-hand: 1 Corinthians 11, Genesis 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:12-14).

My contention is that there are major consequences with how these Scriptures have been used to distort their original meaning. God gave Adam a “suitable helper” (Genesis 2:18) for what? To be as deadweight, to be so much work to maintain that his life suddenly becomes about nothing but maintaining his “suitable helper”?

Quite frankly, what sort of “suitable helper” is that? No thanks! If I’m dedicated to a task, and am given a helper, I expect that the helper will primarily enhance the work and purposes I was originally tasked to do–not REPLACE the meaning of my existence with maintaining my helper. However, the reminder of Scripture to love our wives is a good reminder to us to say, let’s not forget that our primary task on the Earth–male or female–is “love your neighbor as yourself” and loving our suitable helper is decidedly encompassed in that task.

The most important and fulfilling quality a man can give his wife is a good cause to be a part of serving as his coworker. How has a husband served his wife best, then, if she became his entire purpose? Doesn’t she want to be part of something greater than herself, just as a man should be interested in becoming a part of something greater than himself? If not, such a woman has a major heart issue. Christ died for his bride out of love, but does that mean that his bride is the only purpose of God’s existence? This is a HUGE trap for the thinking of man in general! No, we were made for Christ’s purposes as his bride, and God does not tolerate inverting the order, an attitude in man that God exists for man’s sake rather than vice-versa! Likewise, a teaching that frames a husband’s purpose in life being her wife is equally intolerable; “man was not made for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Corinthians 11:9) Women are NOT the reason and purpose of men’s strength, just as man is not the reason and purpose of God’s strength, though it is a major expression of God to minister and impart Himself fully to His bride.

Christ is indeed our authority. The world has many authorities, and very few of them are as loving as Christ. The command of Scripture to husbands acknowledges that he is indeed an authority over his wife as Christ is above the church, and the distinction is, in terms of a model for authority, model Christ, not worldly authorities who often don’t care anything for their subordinates.

Moreover, we have an unfortunately lax attitude on how demanding Christ is as our authority, I believe. We like to portray him as a “softie” to us, where he is not. Currently, as men’s rights must exist, men have become so unprotected themselves that falling victim to the “suitable helper” has indeed completely defeated the purpose of marriage (if he’s beaten down so much by his wife, how can he serve her, himself, or anyone else?). The Proverbs 31 woman is scarily busy; and she causes him “good, not harm, all the days of his life.” A man is indeed called to pursue righteousness equally, but in terms of how he invests himself for the sake of his marriage, his greatest gift to his wife is a goal-oriented spirit that goes beyond making his wife his entire purpose, as that’s what a woman of God finds genuinely attractive. For that reason, as 1 Peter 3 tells us, a godly wife, through her submission, actually provides for men an example of how to be submissive to God, since they are commanded to “submit as unto the Lord.” Yes, a lot of women in the post-feminist world are looking for a way to say “up yours” to men after reading that and abusing the commands given to husbands, which is not their job for obvious reasons. And, some women are cowards who are looking for a “Superman” who makes the journey effortless as they are more of a prize to sit and be polished–while they hide behind the notion that a woman is held to lower standards on account of the fact that she’s a woman (how does this align with Christ’s command for us to be imitators of him? Where has he spoken of standards for us being lower because we are merely the bride of Christ rather than Christ himself?).

Some men are criticized for not wanting to “man up,” but weakness comes from the fact that our abilities are indeed limited as well–no gender has a license to be fragile while the other is demanded to be invincible, and neither gender is exclusive to being protective of himself or herself as if one is more innately valuable than the other. The current-day conditions for how poorly protected men are (while protecting women is quite the to-do, even as women harm men) mutually reflect the idiocy of teachings of marriage.

“Where have all the good men gone?” They’re hurting, because they are so poorly protected by those who want to see results from men without helping.

To be gracious in love, I urge men to be self-defensive, and not allow themselves to be dehumanized, which does not best serve a woman, himself, or anyone else–protect yourself, and then I decidedly concur, “love your wife as you love yourself.” You will be most able to do so when you are successful in loving yourself.