Marriage and the Husband’s Role

Marriage is bigger than life-long love and commitment to your spouse. Marriage is a picture of the gospel. As a husband loves and honors his wife he makes visible to the world around him how Jesus loved the church.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7, ESV

It is interesting that there are six verses for women and one verse for men. Is it that men can only handle one verse? Is it that men need it said simply? We may never know. Admittedly, it isn’t a short verse. And from this verse we see two indispensable things every woman needs from her husband: understanding and honor.

Seek to understand your wife.

This means a husband is to consider his wife, consider her point of view, listen to her, and aim to do what is best for her.

Men and women are very different (duh?). Some men would say it is impossible to understand women, however, this verse says there is no excuse. We are are to live with them in an understanding way. Here are three simple ways how:

First, study her. Husbands are to get an education in their wives. As you study you will know best how to love and honor her. Second, spend time with her. Peter says, “live with her.” In other words, do life with your wife. It is not possible to understand your wife if you’re not intentionally spending time with her.

Third, sympathize with her. Peter says it is sin to bully another person, even if you are stronger and the other person is weaker. Sometimes men sin terribly by pushing around their wives or children. That isn’t strength, it’s sin. A husband is to protect his wife and be her attorney. Women are like a thermometer that can be sensitive to slight changes and they may not bounce back from hurt as quickly as men. This is why the text refers to women as “weaker vessel.” This isn’t negative nor does it mean women are lesser, but God made them more delicate and thankfully so.

Show honor to your wife.

This means that a husband should not be rude to his wife, speak in a mean way to her, threaten her or make her scared, abuse her or hurt her in any way publicly or privately. By honoring her you show respect to her thoughts, ideas and feelings. Treat her like a princess.

Why honor her? She is an “heir of grace.” She is a daughter of the King. Together you benefit from the grace of God. Although as a husband and wife you may be very different from one another, you are equal on terms of grace. God shares with us every good thing.

There is a grave consequence for a husband who is doesn’t seek to understand or honor his wife to his wife. According to this verse, Peter says that a husband who is mean to his wife will not have his prayers answered by God. This means that a husband who do not lovingly serve his wife will not be lovingly served by God until stops sinning against her. God is concerned how we treat one another and how we treat one another affects how we talk to God.

Begin by praying for understanding. God will give it. Honor God and you will show honor to your wife. Your wife will blossom and the world will see Jesus brightly in you.


Questions for Reflection:

  • How does a husband understand his wife? If you are a husband, where do you need to grow in understanding your wife? How are you spending time with your wife?
  • What are the responsibilities of a husband toward his wife? What does it look like to show honor to your wife? How does a man’s attitude effect his ministry? How does your behavior preach the gospel to your wife and others? How does the way you treat your wife reveal your relationship with Jesus?
  • What does it mean that a woman is a “weaker vessel”? What doesn’t it mean?
  • What does it mean to be “heirs of the grace of life”? What does it look like to treat your spouse as an heir of grace? How does this passage support that men and women are equal but different?
  • How does your relationship with your spouse affect your relationship with God? How does it affect your prayers?

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Marriage: Is More than 5 to 9

The last 60-days, since traveling from the Midwest to the East Coast to Europe and back, I have been with Sarah around the clock. Never before in our marriage have we been around this each other this much. I love it! Pray for her as she has to be with me so much! No, really. I am so grateful to be around both my wife and daughter throughout the day. You see, before we hit the road to raise partners for the mission I could go to the office but be a phone call away. On the road there is no office; no break from my family.

Pray that I will create godly habits as a husband. That I will shepherd my wife with a listening ear and loving spirit. Pray that I will be a 1 Peter 3:7 man that “lives with his wife in an understanding way.” I want to get my PhD in Sarah-ology. Most people I talk to tell me that is a lifelong degree because marriage is not 5 to 9 and work is 9 to 5. Marriage is all day everyday.

extreme makeover: marriage edition

Most people have seen the show Extreme Makeover. On the reality show a family in desperate need of home renovation is surprised with the opportunity it receive the needed renovations. The show usually destroys the old home and rebuilds a new one. We love the show because in the end the family has a wonderful new home.

When it comes to our real homes—marriage. There are times when an extreme makeover is needed. For whatever reason the home has become rundown over time, bad habits, or weak foundation, and you do not have the resources or know-how to fix it. Building a solid marriage can be difficult. It takes hard work to build or renovate a marriage into God’s kind of marriage. The Church in Ephesians is compared to a: body [1:22, 23], building [2:20-22], and now a bride [5:31-32]. Let’s begin by looking at the foundations of a solid marriage through the roles of each partner within the marriage relationship.

The Role of the Wife [Ephesians 5:22-24]

The primary role of the wife is submission [v.22]. Submission sounds like a dirty word. Submission is a willingness to lovingly, joyfully, and freely follow authority. Submission is not an option, but a command to lovingly, joyfully and freely follow her husband as she would follow Christ.

Is submission for wives only? No. Submission is a concept for all believers [5:21]. Everyone is summoned to submit to some kind of authority. You submit to your spouses [Ephesians 5:22], parents [6:1-4], government [Romans 13:1], church [Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5], and ultimately God. Submission is a spiritual matter because all submission is obedience to God’s authority. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:15]

Why is submission a difficult command for people to obey? It is an authority issue. Your natural reaction is buck against any authority that tells you how to live. It started when Satan rebelled against God’s authority and continued in the hearts of men from the Garden of Eden until now [Romans 3:10-18]. A lack of submission originates from a desire to be king of your domain rather than letting God be King of His domain.

Headship is the motivation for submission [v.23a]. In Ephesians, headship refers to Christ [1:22; 4:15], but here it is being implied on the husband. Headship has the biblical idea of ruler or leader. Without the headship of Christ over the church the building would not have a cornerstone, and without a cornerstone would crumble. Have you heard it said, “There are too many chiefs and no Indians?” This is a common phrase to say that there are too many people demanding control, but too few willing to follow another persons lead. In Genesis 3:16, woman is cursed with the desire to rule over their husbands [cf. 4:7]. Two chiefs in a marriage can become a two-headed monster. It is a monster that needs to be slain. The church submits to Christ because she knows the benefits of being united with Him. Likewise the wife submits to the headship of her husband.

Submission to authority, especially within marriage, sometimes becomes abused. Submission does not mean the wife becomes a slave or inferior to the husband [Proverbs 31:10-31]. The Bible never commands a husband to force his wife to submit; rather the wife is commanded to make herself submissive as her husband’s helper [cf. 1 Peter 3:1; Genesis 2:18]. Since Christ is the example of headship, the husband is to be as loving and life-giving in their marriage relationship as Christ is over the church. God created men and women equally within the image of God [Genesis 1:26-27; 2:23; Galatians 3:28], but He has given them distinct roles to fulfill that are for their good and God’s glory.

Christ is the model for submission [v.23b-24]. How can a wife submit to her husband? Simply by following the example of the church’s submission to Christ: speak the truth in love [cf. 4:15; 4:25; Proverbs 9:3], point him to Christ with your actions [1 Peter 3:1-6], extend the forgiveness of Christ when he sins, and affirm his leadership.

The Role of the Husband [Ephesians 5:25-30]

The husband’s primary role is a commitment to love his wife like Christ loves His church [v.25; cf. Genesis 2:19-20; 3:20]. He is to be a lover, leader [Matthew 20] and learner [1 Peter 3:7]. He loves her enough to lead her to walk with God as He models it himself for her. As the husband seeks to humbly serve God, it is reflected in the way he loves, leads, and learns to his wife.

Why is it important for a husband to follow the example of Christ? Christ was a servant leader [Matthew 20]. He came not to be served, but to serve. He was a king that gave Himself sacrificially for His Bride. It is not that the church deserves to be given His love, but His love is an expression of His grace. He did not give 50/50 waiting for the church to love Him back. He gave it all, 100%. Husbands do not hold back from loving sacrificially to your wife.

The Bible gives many words for love: The first word is erao, which is a physical or sexual love. Erao is where you get the word erotic. It is a pleasurable love to be saved for the marriage bed only. The second word is phileo, which is an emotional love. This is the love you share with a brother or close friend. Phileo will see objects as worthy of love. Peter used this word of Jesus [John 21:20ff]. The third word for love in the Bible is agapao, which is an intellectual and volitional love. Agapao is a committed, God-like love. Jesus used this word of Peter and God uses it toward sinful mankind [John 3:16].

In relationships, these words for love have a proper order. If you start with sexual love it will be almost impossible to have true committed love because the relationship is built on physicality rather than friendship and commitment. If you begin with committed and brotherly love, it will create the best atmosphere for sexual love and additional loves grow. A husband’s Christlike love has a sanctifying effect on marriage [vs.26-27].

Why is important for a husband to view his wife’s body as part of his own? [vs.28-30] No man treats his own body in an unloving way, therefore a husband who views his wife’s body as his own will treat his wife lovingly as well. A loving husband will protect and provide for his wife as his most prized possession. A husband protects and provides for his wife is with his time, careful ear, encouragement, and appreciation for her inner and outer beauty.

Reviewing the Biblical Basis for Marriage [Ephesians 5:31-33]

Marriage is a picture of oneness [v.31]. Oneness is the miracle of marriage—when two people become one flesh [cf. Genesis 2:24]. Oneness in marriage means your spouse becomes priority above my career, friends, sinful habits, and hobby’s.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church [v.32]. What does Paul mean by mystery? [cf.3:9] The symbol of marriage was hidden, but is now revealed. Why is marriage a mystery? Marriage is a picture of salvation through Christ’s sacrificial relationship with the church, which is made up of both Jew and Gentile. Marriage is a typology of marriage that shows the unity of Christ [Bridegroom] with His church [Bride]. This gives marriage a divine significance.

Marriage glorifies God when the husband and wife are fulfilling their roles [v.33]. The purpose of marriage is not my happiness, fulfillment, or love, although these can be fruits of a godly marriage. Marriage is bigger than just my spouse and me, but it is about a display of Christ-like love and obedience to the world.