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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Painter

The Role of the Husband

The family is made up of people. Just like any institution the people of the family must each understand their role and how to perform their part if the family is going to function at the full capacity of its potential. Many families never operate to their full capacity of potential simply because the members of the family do not fill the role they should as God intended. Over the next several weeks, we will have a series of articles discussing the different members of the home and the role that God has intended that they should fill. Today, let’s take a look at the husband of the home.

The man of the house has two distinct roles that he plays in the operation of his home. The man of the house is the husband to his wife, but he is also the father to his children. Today we will be focusing on his role as the husband of his wife, and we will have another article later discussing his role as the father to his children.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23)

God has made very clear in his word that the husband is the head of the wife. This then also makes it very clear that the husband is the leader of his home. Leadership equals a great degree of responsibility. Therefore, since the husband is the leader of the home, he is the one who is supposed to provide both direction and motivation for his family. This is the responsibility a leader bears.

Sadly, in our society, many men have run away from the role of husband. Some choose to live in sin with the perpetual status of a boyfriend or fiancé. While others run away from their position as a husband, abandoning both their wife and children. Then some have attained the status of a husband, and they fill the place of a husband, but they are not filling the role of a husband for their wives. These scenarios are not what God intended for the husband to be.

God intended that the husband would love his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25) The love that the husband should have for his wife is exemplified by Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. It is a love that is demonstrated by sacrifice, just as Christ gave Himself for the church. Even so, the husband should be ready to sacrifice himself for his wife to show her his love.

We have romantic notions of love. We see love demonstrated in a suit of armor with a lance in hand riding on the back of a handsome steed! Is this love? Love is seldom so clean and polished. The love of Christ is seen in a pain-stricken face and a bloody brow. It is shown in the laden breathe of lungs that struggle to breathe through the dust and blood. Neither is the true love of a husband so clean and polished. The husband’s love can be seen in a sweat-soaked shirt and calloused hands as he labors to provide for his bride. Sweet words are nice and lavish gifts are romantic, but they fail to compare to the purity of dedication and effort from one who has given his life to labor and care for his wife. This is the honest, non-romanticized, gritty picture of love that a husband should have for his wife.

God also intended that a husband should sanctify his wife. We find this in the example of Christ sanctifying His church. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” (Ephesians 5:26) This is still part of the comparison between Christ and the husband. A good husband will set apart or sanctify his wife. God expects the husband to separate his wife from all other women in his mind. She should never just be another lady; she should be THE lady of his thoughts and affection. There should be no other woman held in higher honor or regard in his mind than his wife.

God intended that the husband should lead with the Word of God. “…and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” (Ephesians 5:26) The husband should be the physical and emotional leader in the home, but he should also be the spiritual leader. Christ is cleansing his church with the Word of God, even so, the husband should be cleansing his wife with the Word of God as well. This is truly part of showing your wife your love.

Let me be clear, this is not a license to take the Bible and use it as a Scriptural club to spiritually beat your wife into submission. This is something that should be smooth and gentle just like we wash our skin. When washing our skin we are gentle and use only a slight force of pressure because our skin has feelings. It is not the same as washing an inanimate object that has no feelings. Even so, husbands, if we will wash our wives spiritually with the water of the Word we must remember that she too has feelings and must be washed gently. Read the Bible together and pray together. Discuss spiritual truths together as a couple. This is a gentle washing of the Word of God that will help stabilize our marriages.

God intended for husbands to have a vision for their wives. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) The man of the house ought to have a vision for his family, this would include our wives. “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18) When two people live together in matrimony it will not take long for them to discover their spouse’s flaws. A wise husband will understand that his wife will indeed have flaws, as does he, and will work to be patient with her, but at the same time seek to help her overcome those flaws to be a better wife, mother, and Christian in general. This requires a husband to look and see how special his wife is, and to have a vision for how much more glorious she could become. Too many husbands allow their wives ’ flaws to distract them from her value and potential and they then go look for another woman. This is due to a lacking vision that every man should have of his wife.

God intended for the husband to nourish his wife. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” (Ephesians 5:29) The word nourish means to sustain or to provide for. Jesus Christ sustains His church as an example to husbands how they too should sustain their wives. The husband should be the provider of the home. He is responsible to meet the needs of his wife and family.

God also intended that the husband would cherish his wife. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” (Ephesians 5:29) The word cherish means to treat tenderly. This is how Christ treats the church and this is how the husband ought to treat the wife. Gentlemen, God made our wives the weaker vessel, God did not create them to deal with us being harsh with them. We must deal tenderly, gently with our wives. The wife responds to her husband better when he handles her firmly, but gently with tenderness and love. Husbands sometimes complain of a lack of submission with their wives, but it just might be that the lack of submission has to do with how they have been treated more than rebellion in their hearts. I understand that this may not always be the case but it is something that every husband ought to consider if he is struggling with his wife.

I do not believe that this is a comprehensive list of the role that the husband is supposed to fill, but it is a wonderful start. I do believe that if we as husbands could follow Christ’s example set above that we would be well on our way to being the men that God wants us to be for our wives and for our families.

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