Men As Husbands
God has some simple and logical yet profound instructions for men and their roles as husbands. Most of the time we accept the role of a breadwinner without too much of an issue. But sometimes we could use a reminder in this area, too. We find that Paul gives some general instruction concerning this while providing some specific teaching on the care of widows in I Tim. 5:8. We are to provide for our own.
But too often husbands “handle” their relationship with their wives in a way that they would never dream of treating someone else, certainly not in a way they would want to be treated themselves.
When we don’t act as we should, we offer many excuses to explain our behavior. Stress is often blamed, arising from the husbandly duty of providing for our own. This can create stress or pressure within a relationship, but it seems some are more than willing to take it out on their wives instead of dealing with it properly.
If we react rather than communicate, then more often than not we expect something of our wives we don’t expect of ourselves. It is the rare person who would seek to be treated like a nuisance or with impatience by someone who professes to love them. More than likely we would not act this way toward another Christian, but for some reason we feel it’s OK to treat our wives this way.
In many ways, our wives are a barometer of our own spiritual strength. They are often the first to see what is going on in our minds. They recognize the lack of spiritual or familial direction displayed by the actions they see in us. If we don’t like what is being said to us or what we are being reminded of by them, then the mirror is probably the first place we need to look.
No one is perfect, and that includes our wives. But they seldom represent themselves as such, while we frequently act as if we are.
In Eph. 5:22-33, Paul uses the relationship between the husband and wife in teaching us about the relationship between Christ and the church. As husbands we readily accept the verses that teach the wives how to act toward us: “Wives, [be subject] to your own husbands ... for the husband is the head of the wife.” These are clearly taught and bound with the phrase “as to the Lord.”
But it is equally clear that husbands have some grave responsibilities in this relationship, too. We are told, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” We are to love our wives like Christ loved the church.
Let’s be honest, how often is this thought rattling around in our heads when we are short with or disrespectful toward our wives -- and sometimes in front of our children? If we think that behavior will not be immediately copied by our children, then we are just being foolish. They will pick up our disrespectful attitude toward our wives and do the same in response to their mothers.
Do we see Christ disrespecting the church? He gave up his life for her. In a real sense, husbands are to give up their lives for their wives and families. Cleaving together as one means there is no longer two (Mark 10:7).
So far what I have written was really meant to lead to these final thoughts. In I Pet. 3:7, Peter teaches husbands to live with our wives in an understanding way. We are to honor them as fellow heirs of the grace of life. Husbands are not the only ones that have access to heaven; our wives do as well.
But Peter continues: “You husbands likewise, live with [your wives] in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."
There are a couple of ways to apply these last few words of instruction, but one way is to recognize that by not being understanding with our wives or not honoring them as fellow heirs, our prayers will be hindered. They will be debilitated, less productive, not as spiritually enriching.
It is implied that there is a way of living to effectively hinder prayer. It could prevent our prayers from being offered righteously and thus prevent an answer. If a husband treats his wife unkindly, if he does not show her proper respect and affection, if there is contention between them, there is little hope that an acceptable prayer will be offered.
Certainly, family prayers in such an atmosphere also must be affected by abusive behavior. Acting unkindly can take many forms: a demeanor of strife, irritability, uneven temper, harsh looks and unkind words; easily taking offense; an unwillingness to forgive, etc. These and other unacceptable actions might prevent a "return of prayers."
Acceptable prayer never can be offered in the tempest of passion, and there can be no doubt that such prayer is often "hindered" by the inequalities of temper and the bickering and strife that can exist in families. Yet it is God’s desire that husband and wife should live together so that their prayers may not be hindered.
How desirable for their own peace and happiness in their relationship. How desirable for the welfare of their children.