Category: Husbands, Fathers and Men

   2 Kings 21:19-22

Children are keen observers of parents. Even when engrossed in some activity, they will often pick up on Mom or Dad’s behavior, speech, and thought patterns.

A huge responsibility, then, rests on parents—especially when it comes to how young ones will picture God. The way they think about the heavenly Father is largely influenced by how they relate to the male authority figures in their lives.

If you are involved in a child’s upbringing, be intentional about modeling godliness. You can do this by:

1. Hungering for God’s Word. Fathers who read scripture every day are demonstrating the confidence that it holds the answers to life’s problems. Your love and respect for the Bible will be contagious!

2. Living in faith. Children should hear their parents talk about how they trust Jesus to provide in each circumstance. There’s no better way to learn reliance on the Lord than to watch one’s parents turn to Him when they need direction.

3. Praying daily. Kids notice parental priorities and often set the same ones themselves. Mom and Dad can model talking to God in a real way, as if they are talking with another person. This helps children understand—and want—their own intimate relationship with the heavenly Father.

Reflect upon your own childhood—did your dad point you in a godly direction or provide an unbiblical example? How has that affected your spiritual walk? And if you have sons or daughters, ask them how your life influences theirs. Whatever their answer is, memorize Ephesians 6:4 and commit to follow its wisdom.

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)

The sort of dating relationships that are seen today aren’t mentioned in the Bible. Marriage and betrothal are the only types of romantic relationships seen in Scripture. What this means is that a Christian girlfriend should be, first and foremost, a potential marriage partner. A Christian man should be seeking a woman to spend his life with, not just someone to have fun with. If a man is not ready to get married, he should not be pursuing a Christian girlfriend.

As a man looks for a girlfriend, the most important quality she must possess (as his potential future wife and a person who will have a great deal of influence in his life) is salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a life lived in obedience to Him. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. If a woman does not have faith in Jesus Christ, a Christian man would be foolish to consider her as a girlfriend and/or as a wife.

That said, just because a woman is a Christian, she is not necessarily a perfect match for any Christian man. It is important to factor in other aspects of being “equally yoked.” For example, similar spiritual goals, doctrinal beliefs, and outlook on life are all extremely important considerations. In addition, it is wise to think through more practical things like energy level, common interests, and expectations about family and lifestyle. Many men marry women based on emotional or physical attraction alone, and that can lead to disaster.

The Bible provides some guidelines about the kind of character a man should look for in a Christian girlfriend. A Christian woman will exhibit a spirit of submission to the Lord. The apostle Paul tells wives they are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24). If she is not able to submit to the Lord, she will likely not see the value of submitting to her husband when that time comes. It is important to remember that the character of submission is a spiritual quality, not a personality trait. A sweet personality does not necessarily correspond to a submissive spirit, and neither does an energetic or strong-willed personality necessarily correspond to a willful spirit. A woman will be submissive to the degree she is influenced by God’s Spirit, and she will be influenced by His Spirit to the degree that she loves Him and spends time in His Word.

A Christian woman should benefit and bless her husband. She is to be his helper, according to the earliest biblical precedent set for Adam and Eve. She should be a fit helper for his mission and call. If he is called to be a pastor or a missionary, for example, he should look for a Christian girlfriend who feels the same call. If he feels a strong desire for a large family, he should find a woman who feels the same way. But most of all, according to the call put on all of us to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), a man should choose a woman who will help, and not hinder him in this regard. She should exhibit a commitment to prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16), encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11), serving others (Hebrews 6:10) and the wisdom that comes from knowing God’s Word (Colossians 3:16). This is the kind of woman that will be truly helpful to a Christian man.

The most important personal relationship that a man can have, outside of his spiritual relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, is his relationship with his wife. In the process of looking for a wife, the highest principle is to look for a woman with a personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Unless a man and woman are in full agreement on this most crucial issue, a godly and fulfilling marriage cannot take place.

However, marrying a fellow believer does not guarantee the full experience of being “equally yoked.” The fact that a woman is a Christian does not mean she is necessarily a good match for you spiritually. Does she have the same spiritual goals as you? Does she have the same doctrinal beliefs? Does she have the same passion for God? The qualities of a potential wife are crucially important. Far too many men marry for emotional or physical attraction alone, and that can be a recipe for failure.

What are some godly qualities a man can look for in a wife? Scripture gives us some principles we can use to create a picture of a godly woman. She should first be surrendered in her own spiritual relationship with the Lord. The apostle Paul tells the wife that she is to submit to her husband as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24). If a woman is not surrendered to the Lord, she will not likely see submission to her husband as necessary to her own spiritual well-being. We cannot fulfill the expectations of anyone else without first allowing God to fill us with Himself. A woman with God at the center of her life is a good candidate for a wife.

Paul also gives some character traits for a woman in his instructions about leaders in the church. “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (1 Timothy 3:11). In other words, this is a woman who is not overly proud, knows when to speak and when to be silent, and is able to take her place beside her husband in confidence. She is a woman whose first focus is upon her relationship with the Lord and her own spiritual growth.

The responsibilities of marriage are greater for the husband, for God’s order places him as the head of his wife and his family. This headship is modeled after the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). It is a relationship grounded in love. Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, the husband is to love his wife as he does his own body. Therefore, a man’s personal spiritual relationship with the Lord is of supreme importance in the success of his marriage and his family. Willing sacrifice and the strength to choose to be a servant to the betterment of his marriage are the marks of a maturing spiritual man who honors God. Wisely choosing a wife based upon biblical qualities is important, but of equal importance is a man’s own ongoing spiritual growth and his surrender to God’s will in his life. A man who is seeking to be the man God wants him to be will be able to help his wife be the woman God desires her to be and will be able to build the marriage into the union God, he, and his wife desire it to be.

The greatest commandment in Scripture is this: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Going back to verse 2, we read, “So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” Following Deuteronomy 6:5, we read, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (vv. 6-7).

Israelite history reveals that the father was to be diligent in instructing his children in the ways and words of the Lord for their own spiritual development and well-being. The father who was obedient to the commands of Scripture did just that. This brings us to Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” To “train” indicates the first instruction that a father and mother give to a child, i.e., his early education. The training is designed to make clear to children the manner of life they are intended for. To commence a child’s early education in this way is of great importance.

Ephesians 6:4 is a summary of instructions to the father, stated in both a negative and positive way. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The negative part of this verse indicates that a father is not to foster negativity in his children by severity, injustice, partiality, or unreasonable exercise of authority. Harsh, unreasonable conduct towards a child will only serve to nurture evil in the heart. The word “provoke” means “to irritate, exasperate, rub the wrong way, or incite.” This is done by a wrong spirit and wrong methods—severity, unreasonableness, sternness, harshness, cruel demands, needless restrictions, and selfish insistence upon dictatorial authority. Such provocation will produce adverse reactions, deadening children’s affection, reducing their desire for holiness, and making them feel that they cannot possibly please their parents. A wise parent seeks to make obedience desirable and attainable by love and gentleness.

The positive part of Ephesians 6:4 is expressed in a comprehensive direction—educate them, bring them up, develop their conduct in all of life by the instruction and admonition of the Lord. This is the whole process of educating and discipline. The word “admonition” carries the idea of reminding the child of faults (constructively) and duties (responsibilities).

The Christian father is really an instrument in God’s hand. The whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which God commands and which He administers, so that His authority should be brought into constant and immediate contact with the mind, heart, and conscience of children. The human father should never present himself as the ultimate authority to determine truth and duty. It is only by making God the teacher and ruler on whose authority everything is done that the goals of education can best be attained.

Martin Luther said, “Keep an apple beside the rod to give the child when he does well.” Discipline must be exercised with watchful care and constant training with much prayer. Chastening, discipline, and counsel by the Word of God, giving both reproof and encouragement, is at the core of “admonition.” The instruction proceeds from the Lord, is learned in the school of Christian experience, and is administered by the parents—primarily the father, but also, under his direction, the mother. Christian discipline is needed to enable children to grow up with reverence for God, respect for parental authority, knowledge of Christian standards, and habits of self-control.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). A father’s first responsibility is to acquaint his children with Scripture. The means and methods that fathers may use to teach God’s truth will vary. As the father is faithful in role modeling, what children learn about God will put them in good standing throughout their earthly lives, no matter what they do or where they go.