Don’t put her needs above yours

Dalrock’s latest post on man up and share your feelings quotes from the post her needs above yours. I want to focus on the title of the post, as that’s where it all starts and goes off the bandwagon. It is false, according to the Scripture.

The model from the Law was:

Mark 12:30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The new commandment that Jesus gave was:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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.

Christians are exhorted to “love one another as [Jesus] has loved us […] By this all men will know your are my [Jesus’] disciples.” The requirement, of course, is that we are disciples of Jesus. Those who are disciples of Jesus are, by nature, endeavoring to hold themselves to the commands and teachings of Jesus. Hence, disciples of Jesus are becoming more like Jesus, so they can love others like Jesus did, so that all men will know we are disciples of Jesus.

As I outlined previously in how do I know if we should get married analysis and numerous times before, the Scriptures actually state that a husband is to love his wife as his own body. They do not say to put the wife’s needs above yours. This is stated not just once, not just twice, but three different times in Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies (x1).He who loves his own wife loves himself ; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body (x2). 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself (x3), and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.

It is in this respect that Paul’s exhortation from Ephesians is given. Paul expands upon Jesus’ teaching with the analogy of the Christ:Church::Husbands:Wives. A husband must first hold himself to the standard of Christ, then treat her as he is treating himself.

A husband putting his wife’s needs above his own needs is putting her on a pedestal making her an idol.

The reason for this is quite simple and logical. How can you care for another person well if you are not in a place to which to care for others effectively? A husband who cares for himself well has a high standard with which to care for his wife. A husband who neglects his own needs has no standard to treat her well because he is coming from a place of neglect.

A person who does not take care of their own needs but is focused on the needs of another is codependent. Ever see someone run themselves ragged over prioritizing someone else without taking care of themselves? Yeah, me too. It’s pretty ugly and never ends well.

Yet that’s what so many pastors, preachers, and other Christians keep telling husbands — to prioritize their wife over themselves. That is NOT what the Scripture says.

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7 Responses to Don’t put her needs above yours

  1. Ame says:

    “A husband who neglects his own needs has no standard to treat her well because he is coming from a place of neglect.”

    when he does that, he, by default, places the meeting of his needs that he should be meeting on his wife. she can’t b/c it’s not her role or within her abilities, which makes her frustrated and him angry. no bueno.

    – – – – –

    the only One who cannot fall off a pedestal is God, Jesus. all the rest of us do. then we’re all disappointed and angry and frustrated.

  2. donalgraeme says:

    Let me play devil’s advocate:

    Doesn’t scripture command husbands to show a very specific form of love towards their wife: agape/agpos?

    Isn’t that love a self-sacrificial love which is all about giving of yourself?

    Isn’t that the love which Jesus showed all of us?

    If so, doesn’t that mean that a husband must give of himself and sacrifice himself for the good of the wife?

  3. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Donal,
    I think what you described is the price of leadership.

  4. @ donalgraeme

    Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

    The sacrificial nature of love that Paul describes in Ephesians is for the purpose of sanctification. In other words, becoming holy and/or more like Jesus. The stark parallel is Adam and Eve back in the garden. Adam disobeyed God and ate the fruit instead of refusing the fruit and chastening his wife.

    The KJV and a few translations of agape as “charity” show more clarity than “love.’ Love is a loaded word now in our language. Charity is to meet a need without any expectation of anything back. Just as God/Jesus was charitable with us, so too husbands are to be charitable to wives.

    There are instances where her needs may be placed above his needs such as dangerous situations. For example, if there is an active shooter, virtually all husbands will have the instinct to save their wife and children at expense of themselves. This is natural.

    Jesus took time to meet his needs [in God] by going off alone or sending his disciples ahead/away to pray and fast and do what he needed to do during his ministry and in the garden before the cross. I think the key is to have planned times where you do this, so that you can be prepared for the rest of the time. You don’t want to be caught under prepared to love the ones you are closest to.

  5. Ame says:

    i think any relationship is a blend of sacrifice and giving … and blessing and receiving, with the exception of the expectation of parent/child (a parent should not have children expecting to have their own needs filled; children come needy and demanding, they don’t come giving).

    that said, i think this “Servant Leadership” teaching is toxic. it’s not that leaders are not naturally servants, or that they naturally don’t ‘give up’ things for the position they’re in, but it’s taking one characteristic of leadership and magnifying it larger than all other characteristics of leadership, and that is not only unrealistic, it’s unhealthy.

    a woman hears ‘servant’ and thinks she has a slave at her beck-and-call. i would guess a man hears ‘servant’ and equates it to a knight in King Author’s court? or some fragile pansy that’s just too wimpy to stand up for anything much less himself?

    but in a marriage, God has placed the husband as the head and leader of the home, the king of his castle, the final authority over everyone, including and especially his wife.

  6. Novaseeker says:

    If so, doesn’t that mean that a husband must give of himself and sacrifice himself for the good of the wife?

    @Donal —

    Yes, but if you don’t do that from a position of strength, and one where you have taken care of yourself first, you will neither act in the good of your wife (won’t be able to do it) nor enable yourself to do so in the future.

    In any case, the post that DS was citing here is talking about a pastor who claims that the NT requires men, as a mandate, to be “emotionally available” (whatever that means … it’s a term that has been floating around for decades now and yet has no set meaning, yet it generally is taken to mean emoting in a way that is common to women) to their wives, under penalty of being cut off from God. I don’t see that specific mandate (it is far more specific than the mandate to love one’s wife, given that husbands were doing so for millennia without being “emotionally available” in the contemporary sense) in the NT, and I don’t see that specific mandate in the teaching of the Church over the millennia, either. That is what the author drew from his idea of putting your wife’s needs ahead of your own — in essence, you become feminized because you need to conform your way of being to that of your wife. That is the exact opposite of Christ’s sacrificial love, where he did not conform himself to our ways, but transcended them. In that post’s approach, if a husband does not conform himself to his wife’s means of emotional communication, he is cut off from God — which really doesn’t even beg the question of who is the leader in that scenario.

    These things are not really complicated, I think, unless one really is trying to bend them to match the contemporary Zeitgeist, in which case one can of course twist things as one wants in order to make them more consonant, which is precisely what we see in that post.

  7. feeriker says:

    The reason for this is quite simple and logical. How can you care for another person well if you are not in a place to which to care for others effectively? A husband who cares for himself well has a high standard with which to care for his wife. A husband who neglects his own needs has no standard to treat her well because he is coming from a place of neglect.

    A cynic might say that since men have always been considered expendable, and even more so in this day and age when the Feminine Imperative reigns Ueber Alles, that it doesn’t matter whether or not they have needs that must be tended to in order to function effectively and in perpetuity as Servant Leaders[TM]. Beyond some point, if your car breaks down you don’t get it repaired because its age and condition make repair a cost- and resource-prohibitive proposition. Instead you just get rid of it and get a new one.

    Pretty much what modern churchianity tells wives about husbands. If he “breaks,” then he’s not “man enough” to meet your needs or be an effective Servant Leader, so kick him to the curb and look for a model that doesn’t break.

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