Happenings around Antioch

A Word to Husbands

“Likewise, husbands.” This is my instruction for you, Peter says to the husbands who would read his first letter. This is what a godly husband does. He is called to honor his wife. How does he do that?

First, he lives with his wife, he doesn’t just share a house like a roommate might. He lives with a woman who is an heir herself of the grace of life. She is chosen by Jesus and precious to him. He lives with her in an understanding way, or “with knowledge.” I have joked sometimes that the good news is that men do not have to understand women. They just have to understand one. But that is a lifelong pursuit. We men are great at pursuing our wives before marriage but sometimes lousy at pursuing her after marriage. Husbands are automatically enrolled in a 50-60 year course in “Loving Your Wife Like Christ Loves the Church.” I am in year 42 now with a lot still to learn. There will not be a final exam but the blessings and the benefits of doing well in this course cannot be overstated.

Second, the husband recognizes that his wife is the weaker vessel, and he knows what that means. It does not mean she is inferior to her husband. She is a living stone. She is a co-heir with Christ, just as we are. She is filled with the same Holy Spirit, endowed with spiritual gifts, called by Christ to serve the Lord and lay down her life for him. She may be weaker in physical strength, but as Edmund Clowney says, “her role in the gift of physical life (giving birth) is certainly not less!” The wise husband acknowledges and appreciates the emotional and physical differences in his wife, rather than despising them or taking advantage of them in any way.

Third, he gives her the honor that is due. Honor. This is even more powerful than respect. To give honor means to see the preciousness of something or someone. Paul said in Ephesians 5 that husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies, which they nourish and cherish. We are called by God to give honor to our wives, and that means we nourish and cherish them. They are precious and honorable. They must know that other than Christ, there is not one person or thing who is more important than they are. This was radical teaching in that Roman culture to which Peter wrote, where a man had absolute control over his wife. She had virtually no rights in marriage. Christ changed all that. If we fail to live with our wives with understanding, Peter says there are serious consequences. What are they?

Our prayers will be hindered. Peter may have in mind the prayers that we have together with our wives here, but the meaning is simple. They will lack power, they will be blocked or hindered. He quotes Psalm 34, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” The Lord counts disregarding and dishonoring our wives as evil. And our prayers will not make it past the ceiling. Until the prayer of true repentance is spoken from the heart.

Whew! That’s a high calling, brothers. Are any of us equal to the challenge? Not a chance, but the Lord who saved us and the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us is. We can do this in him and for his glory.

Our wives will thank us for learning to love them so well.