Most of our pulpits today are filled with men of God, so it’s an understandable fact that the church hears more references to the scripture fragment, “The husband is the head of the wife…” than we do all the other references to the husband’s duties.
If you are a man aspiring to be a godly husband, or if you’re already married – can we talk? Have you searched, read, and accepted the requirements, expectations, and consequences specifically for husbands throughout the Bible? Dear men, please don’t say you stopped at the first comma in Ephesians 5:23 KJV, or that you stopped reading at Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands…”
Let’s talk about it, brothers. Women are thoroughly reminded of their “wives” verses. This short article won’t be an exhaustive guide of husbandly duties, but I hope it sheds light, sparks renewed commitment and takes an equally deep dive into the husband’s headship and responsibilities to his wife in the construct of marriage God’s way.
The Beauty and Power of “As” in Godly Marriage Guidance
When we read various Bible verses on the prescription and design of marriage, husbands and wives are blessed with illustrative guides on how marriage looks to God through this tiny word, “as”.
As a lover of words, I first became enthralled with the word “as” in the Bible while reading Mark 12:31, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself...” Though it is the smallest word in this phrase, it carries just about the same weight as the word “love.” How? If we miss the “as”, we can easily miss “love.”
And, that same little adverb we see in Mark 12:31 also appears throughout the marriage verses.
The Meaning of “As”
According to Webster, “as” means, “to the same degree or amount.” You may find in a Bible dictionary that “as” means, “in the same manner as, after the fashion of.”
Why are these definitions important? Since this article is for our dear brothers – Men, the words that follow the word “as” give guidance into how, or the way to be a husband.
Sidebar: How many times in the Bible did people face consequences thinking they were doing the “right” thing, but they were doing the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time (Numbers 20:11, Acts 5:9). How matters, teammates.
So, before rushing to the husband’s perks and benefits of headship, brothers, have you mastered your “as”?
Jesus Exemplifies the Husband’s Path to Headship
During this past Resurrection celebration, I was so struck by a certain aspect of Jesus and His journey that I hadn’t focused on before. Before Christ became the King of kings and Lord of lords, He served and sacrificed; there would be no resurrection without sacrificial giving and denying Himself.
Isn’t it amazing how society tells us that in order to reign or “be a king”, the man has to rule with an iron fist, instill fear in his wife and kids, walk in his own grandeur like a king? But the truth of the matter is, if we’re following the example of Jesus Christ, the true path to kingship, being head of all, or being a leader is not arrogance or superiority, but service.
Sidebar: Dear brothers, have you put on enough humility and grace to begin the first steps to headship in marriage?
As Christ Loved the Church: 7 Character Traits of a Godly Husband
So, let’s dive into the character of Christ, which is the guide and benchmark for men who are in pursuit to be God-fearing husbands. Signs of a godly husband include:
1. He has healthy self-love (Ephesians 5:28-29).
Husbands love, honor, and respect themselves, first. They practice understanding, compassion, and forgiveness for themselves. This is how they know how to “love their wives as their own bodies”. These men are able to take the same love and respect they have shown themselves and pass it on to their rib, the wife.
2. He is a sacrificial giver to his wife (Ephesians 5:25).
There are givers, and then there are sacrificial givers. Givers may give when it’s easy or convenient, but sacrificial givers give when it costs them everything. Sacrificial service happens without any real obligation to pay. For example, Jesus sacrificed His life for sins that weren’t even His. Godly husbands are willing and prepared to “give themselves for their wives”, even when they’re innocent and obligation-free.
3. He desires to please his wife (1 Corinthians 7:33).
Our patriarchal society leads many to believe that wives bear the exclusive duty of helping, serving, and pleasing the husband. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that “husbands care for the things of this world, how he may please his wife.” Yes, God’s view of marriage includes husbands who endeavor and pursue making their wives happy.
4. He empathizes with his wife (Hebrews 4:15).
Dear brothers, can you deeply feel your wife? Does her pain, frustrations, heartache invoke compassion in your heart? Just like we have a high-priest, a Savior who can feel and empathize with us, so does a husband who loves his wife in the same manner that Christ loves the church.
5. He does the right thing, even if his wife does not or has not (Romans 5:8).
In this verse, we see the timing and current conditions around Jesus’ sacrificial love and service. Husbands who follow Christ’s example do not require the wife to earn his sacrifice, e.g., “I’ll do X, when she’s worthy of it?” Aren’t we all glad that Christ loved the church soo much that He didn’t wait until we “got it right” or became “worthy enough” to deserve His love and sacrifice? While we were yet sinners, Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins.
6. He doesn’t hinder his prayers by dishonoring his wife (1 Peter 3:7).
Dear brothers, this is a tough one for you; please don’t take this lightly. Here we see that husbands can actually hinder their personal prayers by dishonoring their wives. Those men who pursue marriage God’s way honor their wives as equal recipients of the grace of God, though they are stronger than the wife. These men understand that love and honor for their wives are directly tied to their “ask what ye will”.
7. He is honored to present back to God the wife he was given to love (Ephesians 5:27-28).
Christ loved the church and gave himself for her in order to present her in a better state – without spot, wrinkle, or blemish – than when He found her. Husbands who exercise biblical headship can do the same. Dear brothers, can you be proud to present your wife back to your head, who is God Almighty? Godly husbands can present to God how they made their wives’ lives better, with the love of Christ they’ve given her. Brother, can/will your wife be presented better than before you said your vows?
So, What’s the Play Call?
Brothers in Christ, don’t become intoxicated by the mindsets and perceptions that have infiltrated God’s vision of marriage. There is love, work, service, AND submission to be given from both husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:21).
Marriage God’s way offers equal opportunity to honor each other, with many provisions for husbands to take to heart as Christ loved the church.
In the end, if husbands and wives are both following the guidance of God’s way to do marriage, it’s a win-win for the marriage, family, communities, and the world. Let’s put the “as” to intentional work and commitment, dear brothers… and dear sisters.
Want to Hear More About Husbands and Christ’s Love for the Church?
Listen to this teaching on the subject by Coach David A. Burrus, the Attitude of a Leading Man.