THREE HATS FOR EVERY HUSBAND
By Curtis Pugh
Published in the Berea Baptist Banner July 5, 1990.
I suppose I am the greatest of sinners and the sorriest of husbands and so it is with real reluctance I attempt to touch upon the subject at hand. I present this material, not as one who has arrived at or who has all the an-swers, but as one seeking to shed a little light upon an area of great need. It is only to be expected, I suppose, that the influence of our time should be seen and felt in the Lord’s Churches as we have all been taken out of the world and have not yet had all the world taken out of us and so it is that we find even sincere Christians in the Lord’s Churches having marriage problems. The world, then, is very much against godly homes and marriages and its influence is seen and felt even by the Lord’s people.
I believe that Satan is not only working overtime in an attempt to wreck the lives and testimonies of individual Christians, but would delight to put out the light of every Gospel Church, could he do so. One area of our lives under severe attack is the area of our home life. It seems that our families are currently under fire as perhaps never before. If the devil can wreck our fami-lies by destroying Christian marriages, he can wreck havoc in the Churches of the Lord. Satan, too, opposes your Christian marriage.
I do not believe that there is a perfect marriage on this earth. Neither men or women are perfect, all of us having the scars of sin and sins upon our total person-alities. Our own “flesh” or sin nature is in enmity to a godly home and marriage. No person enters marriage perfectly whole, being, as we all are, prone to evil; and in our day of Hollywood dating and marriages based on “chemistry” or some other physical attraction, it is no wonder that many marriages fall apart as soon as the initial infatuation wears thin.
So we see, then, that the three enemies of the Christian; the world, the flesh and the devil, are all arrayed against Christian homes and marriages.
There is going to be a perfect marriage someday— the marriage of Christ to His Bride! The Bride has been espoused and is going to be perfect in the day of her wedding. The Bridegroom is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ and has always been perfect. I believe there are some lessons we can learn from our heavenly Bridegroom that might benefit those of us who are already earthly bridegrooms or who are contemplating becoming such.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the
head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Eph. 5: 22-28).
“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5:33).
Women readers, rest easy! I am not, as is so often done, going to use these verses to preach to you. There are things here for the ladies, true enough, but we men need to hear what the Spirit says to us in the verses at hand, for the fault and blame for marriage problems does not rest nearly so much upon the wives as we may have been led to believe.
In these verses from chapter five of Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus we have a most remarkable relationship presented for our learning. Not only is the relationship between Christ and His Church presented as likened to a Bridegroom and a Bride, but there is a parallel between the Bride and wives AND A LIKENESS BETWEEN CHRIST AND HUSBANDS! Let us look at these verses positively. In doing so, I believe we see three positions or jobs that each husband is to fulfill as I indicated in the title given above, and so each husband has three “hats” to wear.
Look at verses 22 and 23. The husband is to be a Picture of Christ, that is, the husband is to bear certain relationships to his wife as Christ does to His Church. Notice first of all that as far as the Lord’s Churches are concerned, Christ is SOVEREIGN (v. 22) and so the husband is to be the head of the wife. Christ is Lord to His Church and each wife is to “reverence her hus-band” (v. 33).
This does NOT mean what I once thought it meant and what I suspect a lot of young men think it means. Often young men think they will MAKE their wives submit in various matters in the home, only to learn that while you might, because of brute strength or other controls, force your wife into doing your will, this is not the kind of relationship that you want with your wife. Surely every Christian husband wants loving loyalty from his wife and such fidelity is not gotten by demanding it.
Christ never has forced a Church to do His will. He knows what many of us have had a hard time learning and that is that you cannot drive sheep. Sheep must be led whether as a flock by a pastor or a wife and family by the husband and it is that kind of leadership that we husbands need to exercise in our homes. Such leadership will first of all be LOVING. The verses above and others in this context speak of the LOVING LEADERSHIP Christ exercises toward His Churches.
I must digress a little and mention three kinds of love as expressed by three Greek words all translatable by our English word, love.
The first Greek word we would call eros. This word does not appear in our Bibles, but in the Greek language relates to lust rather than any proper love. However, we should be aware of this word, for in our day the word “love” is used by many to refer to physical sexual desire and even to sexual union. Thus our young people speak of “making love” which is nothing of the sort. This word refers to physical passion and is a matter of the body being in control over the affections and the mind. It is proper in its place (marriage), but outside the husband-wife relationship it is sin and often devoid of true love and thus is heartless and mindless. Much of this eros kind of love today is nothing more than animal instinct and therefore beneath the behaviour of children of the King!
The second Greek word we should consider is the word known to us as phileo (fil EH o). This word is in our Bibles translated as love and refers to the brotherly affection felt from one individual toward a kindred spirit. It is the first part of the name Philadelphia. [Phila (phileo – love) plus delphia (delphos – brother) equals Philadelphia or “city of brotherly love”.] Now there is nothing wrong with this kind of love as far as it goes—but that is just the point, it does not go far enough! This kind of love can perhaps be understood as a kind of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back” kind of love. It is reciprocal and is a matter of the heart (affections) ruling over the body and the mind. It is the feeling which exists between persons of similar interests and experiences. This is most often the kind of love felt between a young couple and is the basis for marriage for most people.
The third Greek word we need to consider is the word translated agapao (ag ap AH o). This word is also translated “love” in our Bibles, but is a higher love than phileo and is the word used when speaking of God’s love for His elect. This word does not refer to any kind of physical “love” nor even to a matter of the heart or affections, but is the mind ruling over both the heart and the body. This kind of love is self-sacrificing. Agapao love determines to do good to the object loved regardless of the cost to self. This word very well expresses the love of God in sending Christ to redeem His sheep and of Christ’s love for His Church as well. This is the kind of love husbands (and wives) need in the marriage relationship and is possessed only by the born again ones “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5). Husbands, the lack on our part is not that we, as Christians, cannot properly love our wives, for we have the capability, the fault lies in our not exercising this love toward our wives for this kind of love can be expressed even toward those you may not “like.”
Now, back to our subject: the kind of leadership husbands are to exercise toward their wives. It must be loving – and by that I mean the self-sacrificing kind of love (agapao,if you please) that the Triune God has for the elect. Read I Corinthians 13 for a compendium of the characteristics and results of this kind of love!
Not only must the husband’s leadership be loving, it must be PRINCIPLED: that is, according to Divine principles. There ought to be matters of principle and truths that each of us as husbands would die for and these truths we ought to therefore live for. Right living in our own homes and right treatment of those around us must proceed from the principles of God’s Word. Such matters as obedience to our Pastor, subjection to the Church of which I am a member, loyalty to the Word of God are a few of the principles which must guide hus-bands in their leadership as a Picture of Christ.
In addition to the husband’s leadership being loving and principled, it must be CONSISTENT. Few other characteristics will inspire loyal trust in those around us (whether friends or family members) as much as this rare jewel. Conversely, many things will be overlooked by our acquaintances, but inconsistency will often bring down bitter criticism and mockery upon our heads. Remember Lot. Because of his inconsistency in his own personal life, his warnings of imminent judgment were wasted upon his sons-in-law who perished (Gen. 19:14). Men, if we would have our wives and children follow us Biblically, we must show consistency in leadership. If a Christian wife knows she can count on her husband to act in a consistently Godly manner, she will follow him and serve God with him willingly in any place God leads him.
I believe there is one other important characteristic of the leadership that a husband is to exercise besides being loving, principled, and consistent, and that is being UNDERSTANDING. Understanding leadership will exhibit PATIENCE and CONSIDERATION toward the wife. No one knows the weaknesses of a wife like her husband, but fellows, no one knows your weaknesses and foibles as does your wife! husbands, we are to look upon our wives “as being heirs together of the grace of life” (I Pet. 3:7). Your wife needs the same thing you need. . .grace! She was saved the same way you were saved, by grace! While the things that cause her pain and anxiety may not bother you in the slightest, you too, have disappointments and cares which only the grace of God can assuage and heal.
Rather than trying to “drive” our wives and families, if we will seek to LEAD as Christ does, LOVINGLY, according to matters of PRINCIPLE, in a CONSISTENT, and UNDERSTANDING way, we shall be the “head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the
church” (v. 23).
The second Picture of Christ that each Christian husband is to portray is that of a SAVIOUR. In verse 22 we saw Christ as Lord (SOVEREIGN) and in verse 23 He is SAVIOUR. By this I do NOT mean that husbands save their wives from damnation, but I would point out that just as Christ’s ministry and sacrifice con-sisted, in part at least, of much labour and travail against Satan and in much weariness in contending with the false religionists of His day, so the husband is to labour in providing for his wife and family. Just as Christ pro-vided a perfect and complete salvation for His own, so we husbands are to provide for our own. Paul stated the principle in II Corinthians 12:14: “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children,” and again in I Timothy 5:8: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”
Husbands, when it is necessary for our wives to be busy with duties outside the home, such as a job or helping in our business, etc., we are requiring “double duty” of them as their first obligation is in the home. The “ideal woman” of Proverbs 31:10-31 was involved in matters outside the home—she even purchased real estate on her own, but she first saw to the provision and care of her husband and family. In fairness to the wife, hers is re-ally a “full time” job right in the home, especially when there are children or teenagers.
A third Picture of Christ which every Christian husband is to bear is that of SANCTIFIER. Verses 25 and 26 speak of Christ loving the church and giving Him-self for her “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Brethren, we are to lead in spiritual matters! I am well aware that there are women who are more intelligent, wiser, and better versed in the Scriptures than their husbands. While we may not be able to do much about our intelli-gence and while learning wisdom takes time, we hus-bands ought to know our Bibles, know what they teach, and lead in spiritual matters in our homes. This requires the use of Scripture in family discussions and shared times. The Bible ought not only to be central in our Churches, but also in our homes!
Now again let me say that this is not a “ram it in, cram it in, all their heads are hollow, slam it in, jam it in, still there’s more to follow” kind of sanctifying of the wife, but a loving providing of not only the physical needs, but also, and indeed most importantly, a provid-ing of spiritual food and fellowship for the wife. The husband is to be the complete lover of his wife and see to the provision of her needs, both materially and spiri-tually.
With regard to the physical relationship between hus-band and wife in which the husband is also to provide for the wife, a timely word of warning is found in Proverbs 6:20-35 and a positive instruction is given in Prov-erbs 5:15-21. Every Christian man ought to read and heed these words.
The fourth and final Picture of Christ to be portrayed by the Christian husband is seen in verse 25 of Ephesians chapter 5 and is that of SACRIFICE and SACRIFICER. “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it:” presents Christ as the great SACRIFICER of Himself on behalf of the Bride. Often even we Christian husbands demand much of our brides, but know little of the gracious sacrificing of giving our-selves to our own wife. Usually we are trying to be the husband the “gentile way” rather than the church way according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 20:25-28. There we are told that “the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.” Too many husbands think to be this kind of head to the wife, but Jesus said, “it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minis-ter, and to give his life a ransom for many.” What a Picture of Christ each of us husbands are to portray be-fore our wife and family!
This kind of sacrificing, labouring, loving leadership in our homes is the Scriptural answer to many of our family and marriage problems though it is contrary to our natural inclinations and reasonings as to how a man ought to behave.
Having seen that the husband is to teach his wife and family by being such a Picture of Christ, we pass on to the second “hat” which the Christian husband is to wear, but which religionists have relegated to the wife, for the Christian husband is to be the Parent of Influence to the children. Ephesians 6:4 reads thus: “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Did you notice that, according to this Scripture, the bringing up of children, is the responsibility of the fa-ther! Read that statement again! We leave the training of children to the wives, and indeed they are instructed to “teach the younger” (women), but any husband who refuses or fails to see to the teaching and training of his children has missed the boat and done often ir-reparable damage to his own family. This is especially true in spiritual matters as indicated in the above quoted verse.
Traditionally we have left the teaching of young chil-dren in the hands of women and mothers. This is one of many unbiblical traditions prevalent in Christian groups today. Our governments now think the responsibility for the training and education of children rests with them. The current fad among some Christians is to turn the educating of their children over to the Church. (Do not misunderstand, I am not opposed to Sunday Bible Schools OR Christian Day Schools, but these alone, regardless of how sound their curriculum, how devoted their teachers and how well-intentioned their leaders, CANNOT do the job God gave to husbands and fa-thers!)
I must digress long enough to make this statement. Every Christian Day School curriculum with which I am acquainted is shot through with easy believe-ism and interdenominationalism and therefore, as always, we Baptists must take exception to much of the material presented. Churches, pastors and parents must take heed and correct, from the Scriptures, these man made ideas or else we sow the seeds of our own destruction as the Lord’s Churches and do great harm to our own chil-dren.
Back to the duty of the father to be the Parent of Influ-ence. No one should or could take the place of the mother to the children. This is not the issue here. Children, grow-ing up with the security of the love of a Christian mother, seeing a godly father spending time with their mother and assisting with tasks in and about the home will at-tend to the words and instructions of such a dad. Not only do husbands and wives need to spend time together (doing things other than watching TV, by the way) for their own benefit, but children need to see and recog-nize this as an important part of family life. Such a fa-ther will indeed be a godly influence on his own chil-dren and grandchildren and will possibly sow seeds of godly family living for generations to come.
Such a Parent of Influence is a model for his children. If he is blessed with sons, they will learn what it is to be a man from their father. The kind of men your sons will be in large measure depends on what kind of man they know you to be, Christian father! If a father is blessed with daughters, they will learn what a mate is from their father and will often end up marrying a man like their father. This is true for good and ill. If the father is a slob or absent from the home, the daughters will often make poor marriages and the sons are apt to end up just like dad. Conversely, if as fathers we maintain Scriptural stan-dards and principles of conduct, our daughters usuallywill seek husbands with similar qualities for they learn from us what to expect in a mate. Of course there are exceptions to these “rules” and some children are in-deed rebellious, but, Christian husbands, we need to recognize and begin to fulfill our place as the Parent of Influence in the home and in the rearing of our children, our most prized possession!
The third “hat” each husband is to wear is that of the Person of Importance in the wife’s life. Ephesians 5:33 states, “And the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Any other person, whether child, parent or acquaintance, that is held in awe and honour by a wife in place of her Christian husband is a usurper and ought to be dethroned and the husband immediately placed in the position of the Person of Importance to the wife!
The husband is to be the Person of Importance as the Sanctifying Conscience of the wife (Eph. 5:25,26). I do not mean that the wife has no conscience nor cannot be correct in matters and the husband mistaken, but inquestionable matters, the husband is to lead and his
Let me go aside briefly to state just why I believe this is so, though I place myself in an unpopular position with the “fibbers claiming to be women’s libbers.” God speaks of the woman as being the “weaker vessel” (I Pet. 3:7). To what kind of “weakness” does the Scripture allude? Certainly the Bible does not teach that women are weaker intellectually than men, and our experience shows that women are often superior to men in this area. I doubt that women could be truthfully said to be weaker than men physically, though men are fitted for heavier work than women. Physical strength measured by the ability to bear pain, consistently and faithfully continue in difficult situations and the like prove the great strength
of the fairer sex.
No doubt there are exceptions on both sides, but I believe the “weakness” of which Scripture speaks re-lates to the emotional makeup of women as seen in the account of the appearance of Lucifer to Eve in the Gar-den of Eden. In this matter the Bible is clear: Eve was deceived by the “line” Satan fed her. Women tend to make decisions based more on the basis of emotions whereas men are more apt to coldly reason to a conclu-sion. Thus the two sexes, while not alike, are a comple-ment (not compliment) to each other, for without women and their influence our society, homes and churches would often be cold and heartless and without the so-ber reckoning of men there might be too much done according to feelings and emotions. Just as Eve was de-ceived, so women are prone to be influenced in their decisions by emotional appeal, good appearances, nice personalities, etc. Witness the many thousands of women who have fallen for some good looking young or per-haps not so young man and his “line” and have done whatever he asked, even to marriage, immorality, and the giving of large sums of money, all based on “feel-ings.” Scripture teaches that the man is to lead and our text indicates that the believing husband is to lead the wife and home in matters of questionable behaviour, dress, activities, associations, etc.
The Christian husband is to be the Person of Impor-tance to his wife as her Cherisher. This is seen in Ephesians 5:29 where we are told that the Lord cher-ishes the Church. Husbands, we are each to hold dear and show affection to our wife. Shame on the husband who does not, in good taste, show affection to his wife before his children! Too many times we’re like the fel-low who never told his wife that he loved her and when she complained he told her something like this: “Honey, I told you I loved you on our wedding day, and if the situation ever changes, I’ll let you know.” Your wife knows that you love her, but if you do not by your actions show it, she will not feel that you love her and your wife is so constructed so as to need to feel that you love her. Cher-ish her!
Ephesians 5:30 sets forth another relationship be-tween Christ and His Church which each husband is to portray, being the Person of Importance, to his wife. This verse speaks of the closeness between Christ and each Church as between members of the same body and as part of the same flesh and bones. I call this relationship that of a Companion. Is it possible that there are married couples who are not best friends? Now I realize that husband and wife are much more than friends, but as a Christian husband, you ought to be the best friend your wife has. She ought to be interested in confiding in you and free to do so. (Very often women need to talk to their husbands, not that he is able to solve whatever problem may exist, though it is the man’s nature to want to find a solution to every problem, but women some-times just need to talk about a situation. As a Christian husband, sometimes your companionship can be most helpful by just being a listening ear.) Real companion-ship, though, involves communion or sharing things common between the two partners. Such a sharing of joys, sorrows, tasks, concerns, and intimacy fosters con-tentment and that (contentment) ought to be the hall-mark of every Christian home.
Finally, Ephesians 5:31, 32 speaks of the great truth that Christ is the completion of the Church and so each husband is to be the Completion of his wife. Neither man nor woman is complete without the other. Christian husbands need to be aware that just as they need their wife, so their wife needs them though perhaps differ-ently. Not only in the sexual union spoken of in verse 31, but there is possible a closeness of satisfaction and completeness unknown to single persons. We, as hus-bands, need to seek to be that Completion to our wives.
Christian husbands, these three “hats” are ours to wear. We are to be to our own wives and children a Picture of Christ, a Parent of Influence, and a Person of Im-portance. A tall order, you say? Yes, but what an impor-tant one, and one with eternal consequences! How we need to sue for mercy and grace in this matter and stay in the Word privately and publicly so as to be enabled to do the job God has set before us.
“Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (II Tim. 2:7).