Marriage is…

Still writing the book, but I’ve felt something has been missing from it which has been mystifying me. Perhaps this post is an attempt to walk out some of the ideas that need more hashing.

The roles and responsibilities are pretty simple, but how do you break them down into teachable concepts that involve real life examples of successes and mistakes. After all, it’s easy to point out where someone has made a mistake, but it’s difficult to have a success and break it down into simple terms that someone else can employ in their life. In this case, from a man to another man, or a husband to another husband.

To try to distill this to the basics, it seems like Biblical teaching is all about two things for a husband:

  • Learning how to lead with love and understanding (of the wife as a weaker vessel) with the main purpose of sanctification
  • Learning how to teach a wife to follow effectively

I think the vast majority of time is spent on the first one from the pulpit, to varying success. Dalrock’s most recent post shows why it’s not as effective when “romantic love” is the justification for sex rather than God’s standard that marriage is the justification for sex.

However, there is little taught about learning how to teach a wife to follow effectively, most often because a husband “isn’t supposed to be telling his wife that she is to submit,” which is obviously false when a husband is tasked to draw his wife toward sanctification.

Other concepts that interfere with teaching wives how to follow aside from the culture and potentially the church in cases are a lack of ‘teachableness,’ a lack of ‘humility,’ and lack of understanding of what it means to be able to disagree but still submit from wives. These things need to be instilled from the onset of a relationship, and it is substantially more difficult if you are trying to instill these types of values half a year, a year, or even many years down the road.

Compounding this is the fact that stubbornness from a husband is a good trait when applied toward righteousness, but stubbornness is never a good trait in a follower. Husbands are too often not stubborn enough or perhaps in the wrong areas, whereas wives are too stubborn. One need only think of God’s term for Israel as a “stiff necked” people which referred to “stiff necked oxen” who couldn’t be led easily to till the fields.

I hesitate to use the word “true Christian,” but to be successful in a marriage the fruits of the Spirit are needed in spades from both the husband and wife. Love and humility first and foremost. If I were to advise any Christian man who wants to be married to look for anything aside from attractiveness, it would be those two traits. It is the combination of love and humility that help a wife to submit and respect her husband in a way that accurately demonstrates the Christ-Church relationship.

It’s hard to find a woman who can love well, according to the Scriptures, but it is is insanely difficult to find a humble woman in today’s culture and Church.

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25 Responses to Marriage is…

  1. donalgraeme says:

    It’s hard to find a woman who can love well, according to the Scriptures, but it is is insanely difficult to find a humble woman in today’s culture and Church.

  2. Stephanie says:

    “and it is substantially more difficult if you are trying to instill these types of values half a year, a year, or even many years down the road.”

    Yes. I remember reading that a husband’s and wife’s relational patterns are almost “set” after year 1. I remember thinking how crucial it is then that the couple get it “right” that first year, even though a lot of things may need ironing out that first year as well, it does make sense that it will be harder to break patterns set, if a husband tries to do this after a longer amount of time.

  3. donalgraeme says:

    It cut off the part of my reply which said “Exactly.”

  4. but it is is insanely difficult to find a humble woman in today’s culture and Church.

    Which is exactly why young men shouldn’t get married. The odds are 1000-1 against finding a woman like that. Would you really bet your own life on a 1000-1 shot? Your son’s life?

  5. Lost Patrol says:

    a husband “isn’t supposed to be telling his wife that she is to submit,” which is obviously false when a husband is tasked to draw his wife toward sanctification.

    These are two different things. Telling and drawing. The fact is that effective leadership is the one that doesn’t have to state “I’m in charge”, in any direct way. Followers are in fact “drawn” to it, like magnetism. But it is very difficult, because women, at least certainly Western women, have been often imbued with the idea that they are beholden to, and answerable to, no other human being for how they choose to live their lives. This is why the second point gets no traction in churches.

    A common message from the pulpit, or books published by celebrity pastors, is that a wife’s submission is none of the husband’s business. It is entirely between her and God. To preach this is to place oneself between the husband and wife as though they were not one flesh joined by God, but it happens. This notion is of course readily accepted by wives and potential wives, so it means that marrying a “good church girl” is by no means a guarantor of success.

    I can see why this would be a particularly complex area to put in book form. Detractors are likely to outnumber supporters a thousand to one. It’s why the sort of writers and pastors Dalrock points out take the path they do. Placate women if you want to stay in business.

  6. Regaining Thumos says:

    “It’s hard to find a woman who can love well, according to the Scriptures, but it is is insanely difficult to find a humble woman in today’s culture and Church.”

    That’s basically been my experience over the last year or so as I’ve begun seriously looking for a woman. I’ve had it said to me that I shouldn’t even try to talk to a prospective wife about humility and submission because it might ‘offend her’.

  7. earl says:

    Tell them to take it up with God if they get offended. One thing I’ve learned is to not let a woman being offended affect what I do or say. If it is offensive to God…that’s what matters.

  8. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    @lost

    The fact is that effective leadership is the one that doesn’t have to state “I’m in charge”, in any direct way.

    Right…. sergeants don’t tell privates they have more stripes, CEO’s never give instructions and punish failures, elders don’t let people know they are office holders – they just let people choose to follow. In fact no authority identifies itself and no hierarchy imposes its structure because that would be bad leadership. Your premice fits your pseudonym, lost.

  9. Lost Patrol says:

    @Jonadab

    I acknowledge your effective take down of my ill stated claim. There is a way of exercising leadership that is more like “follow me” than “do it because I said so”, but I failed to convey that and maybe can’t do it well enough to convince you even now.

    Leading, commanding, managing, sound alike to many and may even achieve the same ends; but they differ substantially in how the led, commanded, and managed respond to the man doing those actions. So the most effective leadership gains rather than forces a following. You must have known men you would willingly follow, and others that you simply had to obey due to circumstances of employment or whatever.

  10. Regaining Thumos says:

    @earl

    That’s more or less what my reply was. Ironically enough, every time that the subject is brought up it’s usually the males who take offence, not the women.

  11. Novaseeker says:

    but it is is insanely difficult to find a humble woman in today’s culture and Church.

    Humble *and* attractive, yes. Those are almost never found together.

  12. derekem says:

    This is a real issue within the church. Marriage and what it really is. I had some issues where some of what Gad was calling me to do was hurtful to my wife. I didn’t want to hurt her. But… I was, and am, absolutely convinced doing what she asked was sin. Throughout church I was met with things like, “well, technically you’re right but…” & “I don’t see how you can say you’re at peace with God when your wife is so upset.”

    Marriage has been, in my opinion, elevated above what God intended and therefore we’ve allowed a wonderful thing to be ruined.

  13. Thomas AJ says:

    Hello,

    With regards to the above commentary I must agree fully. Based on my personal experience & only being apart of a very brief union I have to admit having two believers who say they are willing to allow God’s will to be honored in their marriage is just not enough. To me “sexual polarity” is a major factor in appropriately understanding how each gender role is to maintain their purpose from both a Godly and secular prospective. I became my ex’es 3rd husband and she my one and only wife. Immediately I could see fear of attachment from her and how she reacted to thinking her life would have to change so dramatically that we ultimately ended in divorce just several months later. She refused reconciliation, never moved in, etc. I accepted her child, family member, and pets in her home. I only brought myself and a willingness to continue growing in my faith with her. We certainly had a breakdown in communication on both ends however she gave me the worst possible relationship of my life. Honestly, a Godly woman means nothing to me anymore. It’s their past experience and most important any corrective action they have taken to help them become better versions of themselves. I will no longer pursue marriage but will allow the right woman who can exemplify love and humility to occupy space in my life moving forward. Just my personal take…

  14. Mike says:

    I don’t have time to flesh this out at the moment but I wonder if returning to the original purpose for which marriage was created would be helpful. Man (male, masculinity) was created first, ordering and tending the garden. Woman (female, femininity) was created second to serve and help the man in this role, thereby showing out and bringing more of the nature of God visibly into the created order. Part of that nature of God is to show forth trinitarian subordination – God the Father leading/initiating; Christ the Son eternally submitting/following. I’m sure there are some tricky theological waters here that I haven’t thought through, but that’s where I’d start.

  15. Mike says:

    And that doesn’t even get to children (ie “Godly offspring…”)

  16. On the second issue, the words were are looking for is “Instilling Proper Leadership” within Men and “Choosing to Submit to God” for Women.

    One of the problems I’ve noticed with a lot of Men within this space is that no one has ever actually had much Leadership experience. Not in the “I ran a committee, once”, but in “I got 25 ppl to complete the project on time & under budget”. Actual Leadership practice, over several years, radically changes the way you approach certain things.

    It ends up interrelating to Parenting skills as well, so maybe a run through on some of the modern discipline literature (that isn’t chalked full of stupidity) would provide the current verbiage necessary to start drawing out the details. Structurally it isn’t too hard. You are Order, set your boundaries & enforce them in a scaling manner. (This is also why Feminists have made everything “abuse” if you fall out of favor to a Woman.) But to keep your subordinates within the safety of the boundaries also requires building Trust. Positive reinforcement does work, as in all relationships, though there is always the need for negative reinforcement, eventually.

    This is also why Women will attempt to get you within their emotional frame of reference, as if you aren’t clear-headed, you can’t respond to the emotions of the situation if you’re caught up in them as well. If you can maintain Frame, you’ll be able to address the emotions, then address the problems at hand.

    One also has to settle in to your own Leadership style. I highly recommend against a Micromanager approach, as that’ll drive everyone nuts. Delegate tasks, give reasonable Orders, check in regularly in a non-accusative manner. Most Leadership isn’t hard, it just takes consistency and not taking things personally.

    For the Christian Husband, properly understood, it’s the process of making yourself a Patriarch. You get the benefits but it comes with the costs. There’s no Free Lunch, and never let your Woman fall into that thinking either.

    Specific to marriages, there’s also the physical realities involves, which should be used to a Husband’s favor. You need to build trust in a way that she is comfortable with you within her “physical space” regularly. Humans don’t touch each other all that much, so make it a regular practice & use it to your advantage. This is the space to leverage all of the modern understanding of Positive Reinforcement, because the approaches do work.

    Side-point, but related: If you ever say “I’m in charge!” as a serious statement of Leadership, News Flash, you clearly aren’t in charge. When you make the statement, your “identity” is that of someone that actually isn’t in leadership, as the Leader would never make that system in that situation. It’s not that it isn’t a technically true statement, but Water is Wet as well. Who would bother to say it is when you’re on a boat?

    Now, if the statement is said in a menacing manner, that’s different, but you better be in a place to back it up. “Never write checks with your mouth that your body can’t cash”. Very valuable advice.

  17. One other undercurrent that crops up in most of this stuff, that we should probably address.

    The Bible spends a lot of time on practicalities. Modern Christians want to make it all about the emotional and “spiritual” aspects. Those aspects are supposed to come from the result of the application, as a benefit to the Faithful, not as the point of Faith.

    This issue applies to marriage & relationships as well. They’re carnal & physical, which means it’s all about practicalities. There is a clear spiritual component, but elevating the physical beyond its bounds is pretty heretical. And over-complicating matters is also something Theologians love to do, which is why we shouldn’t do it on this type of topic.

  18. earl says:

    Humble *and* attractive, yes. Those are almost never found together.

    And when you do find it in that rarity…you never forget them.

  19. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    So the most effective leadership gains rather than forces a following. You must have known men you would willingly follow, and others that you simply had to obey due to circumstances of employment or whatever.

    So “the most effective leadership” includes followers who are subordinate. Perhaps this why the Bible spends so much ink on wives being submissive and scant criticsm for husbands whose leadership is less than the “most effective”. In fact the Bible states clearly just how impossible it is to lead a contentious wife.

    A continual dripping on a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand.
    Proverbs 27:15‭-‬16

    I suggest the most effective way to support marriage is to support the leadership of the husband no matter how it is from ideal and tell women to submit to their own husbands in all things with revrence, meekness and a quite spirit.

    Understand the times! There are mass mutinies in nearly every home in Christendom. The so called family ministries are giving aid and comfort to the mutineers, stirring up contempt where there ought be honor. The mutinies must be put down if the mission must proceed. Wholesale blasphemy against the Word is practiced and taught (Titus 2:5). Today if a husband even raises his voice he could get a restraining order and lose his home and children. This is not the day to weaken men’s duty with critiques of leadership strategy or method, the “most effective” is only effective with eager and willing subordinates. But as the Bible states:

    Who can find a virtuous wife? (Point is she is excedingly rare. Much more common is the contentious, envious, entitled wife.)

    For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.
    (That means she will not contend against his leadership or ever frivorce him.)

    Proverbs 31:10‭-‬12

    Time to stop undercutting husbands, (the church and Hollywood have that covered), instead it is time to mirror scripture and tell women to stop their sinning and submit with joy and peace in their heart. After all a house divided can not stand. Heal the division and help put down the mutiny instead of fragging the officers.
    /rant>

  20. Lost Patrol says:

    So “the most effective leadership” includes followers who are subordinate. Perhaps this why the Bible spends so much ink on wives being submissive and scant criticsm for husbands whose leadership is less than the “most effective”. In fact the Bible states clearly just how impossible it is to lead a contentious wife.

    I think we’re in general agreement, but I’m not telling it to your satisfaction. We could sort it out over a beer, but maybe not the internet. I do understand the difference between leading men and leading wives that you point out, which is why I wrote: “But it is very difficult, because women, at least certainly Western women, have been often imbued with the idea that they are beholden to, and answerable to, no other human being for how they choose to live their lives.”

    Looking Glass has explained what I hoped to say better than I did.

  21. @ Thomas AJ

    Not to pile on you or anything, but your first mistake was marrying a woman who had been previously married, not to mention twice. 1 divorce, not to mention 2 divorces, shows a pattern either (1) terrible choices in men or (2) poor ability to be a good follower in marriage.

    A poor choice, even in hindsight, should not negatively color your opinion of God’s institution of marriage.

    There were likely red flags as well prior to marriage that may have been hard(er) to pick up for most men, and really only stick out in hindsight.

    Generally, for any Christian man looking to marry in today’s age, stay away from divorced women and single moms. That’s baggage that even if they are “true Christians” is extremely difficult to deal with and often ends in tragedy for men.

  22. The more I learn how to “lead” my wife, the more it is really about:

    1. Learning how to manage myself and her (perhaps “steward” I suppose)
    2. Learning how to influence her effectively

    Learning how to manage your affairs properly is a very basic step that all men need to know. It is harder to learn how to manage a woman/wife well because she is indeed different from you: you are a man and she is a woman.

    Rhetoric that plays to emotions is more effective than logic, listening is often more effective than doing, knowing when to do versus listen rather than do is a big plus, and learning her emotional state and how to manage it is critical. Boundaries, expectations, and delegation are key pieces that need to be hashed out, hopefully even before you get married. There’s obviously others, but these are some of the bigger ones that influence a lot of your life with your wife.

    Critical in all of this is to generally be non-reactive. Generally, anger or any negative emotion has detrimental effects on any potential leadership decision and is best use sparingly (only really in righteous anger types of situation).

  23. sue says:

    Kevin Swanson (his sermons and broadcasts available at sermonaudio.com) who is no friend of feminism had read a statistic – that 70% of men between the ages of 18 and 30 have yet to find their feet. In other words, these men are underemployed – that’s a nicer term than just plain “lazy.” So you guys just dream on, have at it, slamming women – while conveniently forgetting the glaring FACT that it’s the WOMEN who are getting up each morning and going to work – then going to college in the evening, to secure job-marketability. Seems like everywhere you look, it’s the WOMEN who are getting the good jobs. Political correctness is one thing, but the corporate bottom line is another. The private sector will find a way to stay in the black. If hiring/promoting women was not profitable, the private sector wouldn’t hire/promote women.

  24. @sue:

    You’re not very good at this, but I’m sure ignoring reality made you feel better. Did it?

    If it did, realize you’re a fool, go to God in repentance and then leave the logic to people that are capable of it. Businesses love childless Women, as they work for less and drive down the wages of Men with families, helping their bottom line, while at the same time they advocate the importation of people that will drive down employee pay so they can make their numbers look pretty.

    You’re just rationalizing your foolishness. You should really take care of that problem.

  25. White Guy says:

    Hahaha. Nice LG.

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