“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV
In recent years, there has been a cultural disdain for biblical manhood as well as the biblical family. Our culture works hard to emasculate men by neutralizing our role as the leader of the home. You can see that vividly in the portrayal of dads on television. In the early days of television, you had hard working men who looked forward to the dinner table and spending time with his wife and children. He would treasure the time around the table and invest in his family. One prime example would be Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. The wife was June, and of course, their children were Wally and the Beaver. Ward was gracious in his discipline and gave wisdom frequently. He was a great role model. Fast forward thirty years to an underachieving dad whose wife sat at home eating Bon-Bons while he worked his dead end job at a shoe store. His children were slackers and always tried to hit him up for cash and were at times sexually promiscuous with no future. This dad is Al Bundy from Married with Children. He liked to live in the past of being a high school football star and enjoy his man cave and the nudie bar. To bring pleasure to his wife was a chore he would try to avoid.
The TV dad is a picture of how our culture has diminished the role of a husband and father. It is a worldly mindset set against the things of God. Satan definitely has a foothold and is constantly attacking the framework of the family. Unfortunately, some men don't fight while their family suffers from his lack of leadership. Steve Farrar, in his book Point Man, warns men: "If men are passive and indifferent to the things of God and the spiritual leadership of the home, attack isn't necessary. He is already neutralized." He goes on to reveal two strategies in foiling the progress of the biblical family:
Strategy 1: to effectively alienate and sever a husband's relationship with his wife
Strategy 2: to effectively alienate and sever a father's relationship with his children
Many men don't know what biblical marriage and fatherhood are simply because it was rarely, if ever, displayed to them. They may have only darkened the doors of a church building on Christmas and Easter. Growing up, I didn't have a biblical model of family or parents who walked with God. Though my mom and stepdad are pursuing Christ now, that was not always the case. God has been gracious, however, to put men in my life, past and present, that have modeled godliness in their family life. Though I don't always model their character, I aspire to. My father-in-law, David Shackelford, my former college pastor, David Anglin, and my former Sunday school teacher, Dennis Sanders, have been examples of this biblical leadership to me. These men have challenged me in three ways that I want to pass on:
1. Be a man who submits himself to the Scriptures.
You can't lead a family, especially spiritually, without being under the leadership of God and His Holy Spirit. If you are asking of your family to submit to your leadership, and you are not submitting to God's, that's hypocrisy. Not many wives will submit to a husband who will not submit to God. Not many children will respond to your admonition if you are not responding to the admonition of our Father in Heaven.
2. Be a man who loves his wife unconditionally and gently.
Scripture is clear in 1 Peter 3:7 to live with our lives in an understanding way. We are to honor our wives as the weaker vessel because they are co-partakers of life and grace with us. If you treat your wife harshly, your prayers are hindered. The best way to have an effective prayer life is to love your spouse with dignity because you love her as yourself. Even if you have a fight with your spouse, you have to learn to fight fairly and not shame her.
3. Be a man who disciplines his children with grace and truth.
This is not always easy because our children can easily frustrate us, but never discipline out of anger. It can lead to unnecessary harshness and exasperate your children. However, our children's sin needs to be disciplined and corrected with grace and truth. We will cover biblical discipline in a future blog post, but it needs to be mentioned here as well. Spanking is biblical and needed, but be mindful of how you spank and why you do. Also be sensitive to the type of discipline to which your child responds the best. Let discipline be a reminder to them and to you that we need the gospel daily and that our loving Father disciplines us when we sin.
Men, if we don't assume our God-given responsibility to lead our families, the world will. The consequences are ours if we don't. When we, as men, don't lead well, our families and marriages suffer greatly. Remember what marriage is about, the picture of the glory of God in Christ redeeming His people. Think of the love shown to you in Christ. Imitate that love to your wife and children. Praise your wife in public as often as possible. Encourage your children always. Discipline if you must, but do it in love. Fight for your wife! She is worth the fight. Don't sit on the sidelines and be neutralized by your laziness or the world's mocking of you. Make your wife sad to see you leave and joyful to see you come home. Serve your wife. Do the dishes with her. Serenade her, even if your voice makes the dog howl. Most importantly, submit yourself under the lordship of Christ. You need His strength to lead your family.
Here are some resources to help you grow in being a godly husband and father:
1. Point Man- Steve Farrar
2. Disciplines of a Godly Man- R. Kent Hughes
3. Shepherding Your Child's Heart- Tedd Tripp
4. Family Driven Faith- Voddie Baucham, Jr.