While I’m on the line of thought of structure of authority I want to give more concrete examples of what it means as a husband to love a wife, treat her as a helpmeet, treat her with knowledge as a weaker vessel and co-heir, and not be embittered to her.
The rot of feminism has infested our thinking so much that we do not correctly understand what it means to love as Jesus loved. Instead, we have a temporal or even feeling based thinking of love. Love does not mean equal in any sense of the word even though the pictoral images may imply it:
You will see this in how Jesus treats His disciples.
How do we know that Jesus is a good example?
To answer this question, we need to look at how Jesus treated His disciples. We know that we have the correct analogy because:
- Husbands:Wives::Christ:Church (Eph 5)
- Church (ekklesia) = disciples of Jesus
I believe this is undisputed for any Christian denomination and thus it universally will apply to all husbands and wives of any denomination who call themselves Christians.
What does the interaction of Jesus to the disciples actually look like?
I think the best way to think of it is in terms of the Scriptures, and of the outlined roles and responsibilities set forth in the Scriptures of husbands and wives in marriage.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [b]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Jesus teaches His disciples, He reproofs/rebukes them, He corrects them, and he trains them in righteousness.
- Teaches — His disciples asked Him the meaning of parables (Mark 7; Luke 8, 18; Matthew 13).
- Reproofs/rebukes — Rebukes Peter (“get behind me Satan” Matt 16; Mark 8), Disciples hinder the little children and Jesus rebukes (“Let the little children come to me” Matt 19; Mark 10; Luke 18), James and John for wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans (“You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9).
- Corrects — Jesus chastises His disciples for their lack of faith. Jesus calms the storm (Matt 8), walks on water (Matt 14), unbelief (Matt 17), lack of understanding discipleship (John 4, 6)
- Trains — Jesus instructs them on discipleship and sends out the 70 (Luke 10).
These are a few examples from each category. I’m going to explore these more in depth in later articles.
Now, let’s examine these types of actions within the roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife:
- Love (Eph 5)
- Treat with understanding as the weaker vessel as co-heirs in Christ (1 Pet 3)
- Not be embittered (Col 3)
- Wife is a helpmeet (Gen 2)
- Husband is the head (1 Cor 11, Eph 5)
- Wife is to respect (Eph 5, 1 pet 3)
- Wife is to submit to the head (Eph 5, Col 3, Tit 2, 1 Tim 2, 1 Pet 3)
What does it mean to love, not be embittered, and treat as co-heirs?
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Now, let me clear up some misconceptions.
Love is not only delegated from authoritative positions. Jesus has given Christians the Holy Spirit for which to exercise His love through power (dunamis). However, love is one of the responsibilities that is given to those in authority. God the Father, an authoritative figure, is responsible for loving those under Him. And He does so perfectly by extending His love and allowing us free will to make our good or bad choices.
There is no difference in the execution of the love because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all Christians. However, the additional responsibility of an authoritative position is the direct care for those under you. 1 Timothy 5 presents this distinction:
1 Timothy 5:3 Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to [a]make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 [b]Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
For Christians to have charity for one another in the Church such as widows there is a requirement on the widows to live godly lives. This follows in the same line as Matthew 18 and other passages where we are to treat believers who are in sin with LOVE — correct or rebuke them and if they do not repent then hand the over to Satan by excommunicating them.
However, for those in an authoritative position such as husbands there is no requirement that if the wife doesn’t live up to her end of the marriage that the husband should stop loving her. The husband must continue to provide for them because it comes with that position. In this case, if the husband loves her he SHOULD BE attempting to chastise or correct the wife if she is off track. But it also does not absolve him of his responsibilities in the marriage.
The disciples sin many times throughout the gospels or get off on the wrong track; however, Jesus never becomes embittered to them even when He has to correct and/or rebuke them. He proactively includes them in His and His Father’s business. This is the same command that not just husbands but all Christians have. We have His Holy Spirit and we know the truth; thus, we are to move in power.
Likewise, how does the wife’s (Church’s) role match up with what the disciples are asked to do?
The Church is a helpmeet to Jesus — “16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” Similarly, Jesus sent out taught and instructed the 70 before sending them out and Jesus and the Great Commission.
The Church respects and submits to Jesus by doing what He commanded — 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. […] 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. […] 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Personally, I have never seen myself any instances of where a husband actually has to command a wife to do anything. Sure, husbands will make decisions that may disagree with the wife, but most husbands will not command a wife to go along with it even if he is making that decision. However, the amount of fear from women or wives in marriage that a husband is going to “abuse his power” is prevalent. If any wives have these thoughts they are not of God and you should rebuke them.
How might this look for a modern Christian marriage?
One of the more difficult notions for Christian husbands to understand is that by being the head they have authority over their wife. Unfortunately, most Christian men are afraid of asserting authority because they have been shamed by feminism, society, and even the Church. Donal has a recent post about why authority is seen as something that is bad.
However, authority is in fact not a bad thing but a very good thing if handled in a righteous manner. God has authority over us and no Christian would deny that it is bad. Husbands need to learn how to accept this responsibility as the head and the authority that comes with it. You cannot show love unless you have the power to love. And to love you must be willing to give it freely as is required to each situation — teaching, training, correction and rebuke.
Matthew 7:9 Or what man is there among you [f]who, when his son asks for a loaf, [g]will give him a stone? 10 Or [h]if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
As we have discussed before, the most difficult thing about authority is not about doing what is good. We instinctively know to treat others well who treat us well as the passage from Matthew states.
The big issue that husbands run into is what to do when correction/chastisement and reproof/rebuke are needed. Most Christian nice guys and nice husbands put feelings above what is right or wish to avoid confrontation. This is obviously incorrect and not what God wants. We are all sinners and we all go off track, so we need to be corrected and rebuked on occasion.
Fortunately, husbands and aspiring husbands have an example of how to act properly in the chain of authority, and likewise wives will also understand the role of Jesus and that of the husband when they have children:
- God/Father -> Jesus -> Disciples
- Jesus -> Husband -> Wife
- Husband -> Wife -> Children
When wives have children they will begin to understand the type of responsibility and role that the husband has for her, and that Jesus has for the Church, and that God has with Jesus. Her love for her children is such a representation. This is why I agree with the Catholic stance on birth control and lack of limiting children because children are indeed a blessing and attempting to take matters into our own hands is destructive. Feminism is a perfect example of the lack of love that women have now for their children with birth control and other “small issues” leading to encouragement of divorce, abortion, and other such atrocities. It is not of God.
Now, Jesus was so in-tune with the Father in terms of teaching, instructing, correcting, and rebuking His disciples that He did things perfectly. However, even He did have His instances where He needed to pray fervently about what He needed to do such as in the garden where He begged to have the cup be taken from Him.
Husbands and aspiring husbands need to understand that they need to be an authoritative head in the marriage. We find it easy to do good things for those that we like, even the wife or woman that we have chosen. However, if we neglect the more difficult responsibilities such as correction, rebuke, and provision/care for those under us then we are not loving God.
The series that I wrote back in Februry gives examples of how to do this in the context of Christian marriage. Jesus was quite direct in his correction and rebuke of His disciples, but we can tell from His interaction with women that He toned it down into more of a softer teasing interaction. If you need help understanding what that looks like then read through these posts:
I will resume the godliness of Jesus series soon, and I will be planning some further analysis of Jesus’ interactions with His disciples.