With  a 50% divorce rate in America and many more marriages in shambles, we are in  trouble as a culture and as a church in America.  It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to  stop pointing her finger at the nation and at the government and begin taking  some responsibility for correcting this problem using the authority of God’s word.

As  teachers of the word of God, we must be prepared for people in our modern  culture to be initially shocked by what the Bible teaches regarding marriage  and the husband’s responsibility to his marriage.  There is a lot of role reversal in today’s marriage,  in the culture and in the church when viewed according to the standard taught  in the word of God.

It  is my prayer that you will take seriously what the Bible says about marriage  and specifically what it says about the husband’s role in marriage.  Let me encourage you to take immediate steps  to implement it in your marriage.  Let me  reassure you that God is more interested in your implementing those changes  than you can possibly understand at this time.

Jesus  attempted to reach His generation during a similar time of cultural marital crisis  with the same Biblical teachings on marriage that we study today in Matthew  19:4-6. He began by asking this question: “Have you not read, that He  who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Gen.1: 26-27),  and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall  cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh (Gen.2: 24)?’”  Jesus was saying that the cultural problem of  divorce was related to the problem of Scriptural teaching on marriage (“Have  you not read?”).

The  Bible teaches that marriage is more a spiritual covenant or contract than it is a legal contract.  Marriage is a divine institution for man and  not a human institution for God. This is why the bride and groom exchange  wedding vows before God and invited guests.   This is a covenant with vows that are not to be broken – “What therefore  God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt.19: 6)

This  principle was stated in the first wedding ceremony of human history as recorded  in the Bible (Gen.2: 18-25).  Moses wrote  about this wedding between Adam and Eve, “For this cause [marriage union based  on Gen.2: 23] a man (ish) shall leave his  father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife (ishah); and they shall become one flesh [monogamy math is 1+1=1].”  (Gen.2: 24)

Notice  that during the wedding ceremony the groom becomes (ish) and the bride becomes (ishah).  The reason is explained by Paul in 1Cor.11:  8-9 which was based on Gen.2: 18-25.   When the bride becomes ishah, she becomes bone of the groom’s bone (ish)  and flesh of the groom’s flesh (ishah) as they cleave and become one (Gen.2: 23-25). This led Paul to remind his  generation of these Biblical teachings on marriage during his own time since  they were facing similar marital problems (Eph.5: 22-33).

The ish and ishah concept of Gen.2: is interpreted by Paul as, “husbands (ish idea) ought also to love their  own wives (ishah idea) 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.” (Eph.5: 28-29).

The Christian husband has certain Biblical  responsibilities to his marriage.  These  are outlined in the word of God.  We will  discuss several of them in this lesson.

One  responsibility of the Christian husband to his marriage is to understand that  he has been promoted        from rulership authority to headship authority as a  result of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Prior  to the fall of Adam (Gen.2: 17-25), the husband was a fellow joint heir of the  grace of God with his wife under his headship authority. After the fall  (Gen.3:6-19; Rom.5:12), the husband was demoted to ruler (mashal) [to have dominion] over his wife  as part of her curse due to her participation in the fall of Adam. “He shall rule  over you” (Gen.3:16). Rulership can be harsh and even violent. Many husbands  still live in the concept of rulership and do not understand that it is not  scriptural for Christians in marriage. (The Christian husband is the head of  the marriage and not the ruler of the marriage). By not understanding the  difference, even Christian husbands can become involved in marital or even  family abuse.  By the end of 20th  century, 1 out of 5 families reported experiencing violence in the home. 1 in 4  teens are reporting violence while dating which further indicates a  misunderstanding or ignorance or even a refusal to accept proper roles. Today,  20% of the American population thinks that it is sometimes acceptable to strike  a spouse.  It is never acceptable!  However, spousal abuse can take several forms.

Let  me give you three examples by which you may recognize the spousal abuse of rulership.

  1. The “Control  freak” abuser: This type person will  threaten or act out in violence by hitting, kicking, throwing, or even slamming  objects in front of you as a fear tactic in order to control you.
  2. The  Verbal/Emotional abuser: This type person  is the name calling, belittling, threatening to leave, cut you off financially  in order to make you fearful and to control you.
  3. The Physical abuser: This type person is the pushing,  slapping, punching, or destroying your favorite possessions (even animals) to  make you fearful in order to control you.

DO NOT ACCEPT ANY OF THESE  ABUSES. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY, TELL A CLOSE FRIEND AND GET HELP, AND GET  COUNSELING.  This is not the function of a Christian  husband’s headship. In fact, the husband  is commanded to not embitter (pikraino/  present, passive imperfect) his wife.”  (Col.3: 19).  Pikraino means to treat harshly or critical so as to crush her spirit  to make her submit.

Once  a husband believes the Gospel: that Jesus Christ died as his substitute for the  imputation of the penalty of Adam’s sin, that Jesus was buried and raised from  the dead on the third day to give him         eternal  life (1Cor.15: 3-4; Rom.1: 16; John 5:24), he is promoted from ruler (mashal) to head authority (kephale) over his wife by the saving  grace of God (Eph.2: 8-9).

“For  the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head  of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph.5: 23)

Peter  taught that the Christian husband is  restored to his original status as: “fellow heir of the grace of life” (1  Pet.3: 7).

The  Christian husband’s headship authority is connected to the divine chain of  authority as outlined in 1  Cor.11: 3, “But 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.” [Rank in  the divine chain of authority is from top to bottom – God to Christ to  Christian husband to wife].

Under  headship, the subordinate is never considered inferior since both are fellow heirs of the grace of life in  Christ.  It refers to order,  responsibility, biblical roles, and divine protection.  You are always protected by the next rank in  the divine chain of authority.  This  principle was taught once again in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah as  referred to in 1 Pet.3: 1-6.  Sarah  applied this principle in the Pharaoh incident of Gen.12: 10-20.  Her husband (ranked authority) failed her, so  she appealed to the authority over her husband, the Lord. Abraham and Sarah  were only 21 generations from Adam and Eve in the genealogy of Luke 3:34-38.  Yet, this same principle applies to all those marriages in between as well as  to all the thousands of marriages from Adam down to today.

The  Christian husband is commanded to love (agape) [unconditional and  sacrificial relaxed mental attitude love]. “Husbands love (agapao) your wives, just as Christ (kathos) [kata and hos is used to  intensify this comparison] loved the  church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph.5:  25)

In your workbook, write  how Christ demonstrated His love for the Church?

“But  God demonstrated His own love towards us (church), in that while we were yet sinners  (our worst condition), Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8)

This  is what is meant about the Christian husband loving his wife unconditionally  and sacrificially.  Love, being commanded by God can be difficult for a husband who doesn’t understand the resources that  God has provided which enables him to do that very thing – Love  Unconditionally. However, Headship love would never withdraw his love to  teach his wife a lesson, where Rulership would!   Listen Christian husband, if you want to understand how far your  unconditional love is to extend, read the Book of Hosea.

Paul  instructed the Christian husband that besides responsibilities of headship and  unconditional and sacrificial love, he also has the responsibility for  nurturing and cherishing his wife.  Paul  introduced nurturing and cherishing as part of natural as well as spiritual  reasoning: “For (gar) [reasoning] no  one ever hated his own flesh [natural  reasoning of self], but [in  contrast] nourishes (ektrepho) and cherishes (thalpo) it, just as Christ  also dies for the church [spiritual reasoning of wife].” (Eph.5: 29)

Consider  these three things:

  1. Husband, the mental attitude sin of hatred will hinder loving, nurturing,  and cherishing your wife.
  2. Husband, nurturing is providing for your  wife’s spiritual growth and development as a Christian wife.
  3. Husband, cherishing is fostering your  wife with tender care. (1 Cor.7:3-5, 33).

Have  you noticed that I have not spoken about providing a wife with things such as  food, shelter, and clothing (1 Tim.5:8).   It is true that I didn’t give much print to those things.  The reason is because husbands tend to use  providing those things as an excuse for ignoring all the other responsibilities  to marriage.

The  Christian husband is instructed to love, nurture, and cherish his wife because  loving, nurturing and cherishing fulfills the original cleaving of marriage (Eph.5: 31 quoting Gen.2: 24).

At  this point, you might be thinking, “How can God expect me to be held to the  standard of Jesus Christ?”

God will never ask of you  anything that He will not provide for you by grace (Gal.5: 16, 22-23; 1  Cor.13: 4-8) [filling ministry of indwelling Holy Spirit].  This principle can be illustrated in the  marriage of Abraham and Sarah as recorded in Romans 4:17-21.  Pay attention to the following verse because  it can be applied to your marriage as well: “And (Abraham, the husband) being fully assured that what He (God)  promised, He (God) was able also to perform (for them as a couple).” (Romans 4:21) [Faith cycle, see glossary].

No matter how your earthly marriage has turned out, our  heavenly marriage is eternal: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy;  for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a  pure virgin.”  (2 Cor.11:2)