Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Biblical Mandates for Family Men

by  • October 5, 2012 • The Meaning of Manhood 

“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”
~ Ephesians 5:25-33, The Message
I continue to think about the role that men are intended to play in God’s plan, as husbands and fathers. I continue to go back to Ephesians 5:25-33, and believe that those verses have a lot to say about males being Christian men.
What I often forget is the stewardship mandate God gave to all of humanity in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it.” God created us to principally be productive. Our overarching purpose was that each person might grow, and generate, and govern what is grown- from ideas to infants, and from cattle to communities. When God saw His original vision for man to be productive, He said it was good. And in man’s labors to grow and govern, he would bring glory to God, emulating His creativity and concern for His creation.
Each of us was made to be productive.
In Ephesians 5, though, Paul narrows his scope in on what a family man should be in his household. As I’ve read through these verses, I saw four things that stood out to me worth noting, two relating to his relationship with his wife, and the other two relating to the home front.

1. In his partnership with his wife, the man is intended to be the pilot.
This does not mean the man is more important that the woman, but rather, that the man bears the brunt of responsibility in leading his family through life. Like a scout in the military, the man is responsible to run point in the home in an effort to lead his wife and children toward growth and life. This does not mean he is an autocrat, or even that he does not counsel with his wife about life direction and decisions. But in the end, he is responsible for leading the family forward in life.

2. In relation to his wife, he is to prize her.
What this does not mean is that a husband simply adores his wife like an idol, neglecting her person and heart. The godly man engages and encourages his wife to live a full life. To prize his wife, the godly man really has three initiatives he maintains. The wife needs to be pursued (with love). The wife needs to be purified (to love). The wife needs to be promoted (by love). I really like how Peterson puts it in his translation above: everything the husband does is designed to bring out the best in his wife. A godly man looks to build up and to empower his family members.

3. In relation to his family, he is to provide for their basic needs.
We usually think of this in material terms- which certainly have their priority as basic human needs must be met. But above material needs, the man is also meant to provide spiritual leadership- hope- to the members of his family.

4. In relation to the household, he is to provide protection.
I heard it said that the man should provide a buffer between the family life and what goes on in the outside world. The godly man is responsible not only to protect the welfare and health of his family (as a shepherd in the home), but he is also responsible for protecting and nurturing the heart of each family member. It is my conviction that if a man can stand up and provide a strong cover for his family in his household, he frees his wife to develop and demonstrate her gifts and abilities as an individual. His strength provides her the safe and encouraging environment she needs to blossom as a woman and a wife.
What must remain in mind when considering these principles, and especially in relation to his wife, the godly man is still in a partnership with his wife, which is made of two equal partners. It was never intended that the home be a seat of an authoritarian regime. Both husbands and wives are called in Ephesians 5 to be first servants of God, and then servants of one another (Ephesians 5:21). As Christ created the way for the enslaved prostitute to be redeemed and restored and made His purified bride, God asks men to follow Him as leaders and lovers- taking the initiative when needed, forgiving amply when necessary, and laying down their lives to build up their wives in Him daily.

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