A Husbands Responsibilities and How to Change
CJ began the message with a comment to wives saying that he respected them for their teachability and passion to pursue growth in godliness.
One word in this section characterizes a husband's responsibility and that word is love.
The scriptural teaching about headship bears to resemblance to male domination. If we understand anything about the culture to which Paul was writing, male domination was actually the norm. Whenever Paul is writing about authority, he is always aware of potential abuse. Wherever Paul affirms authority, he addresses the potential for abuse.
Actually, in a word if you want to define love, it would be the word sacrifice.
CJ paused for a moment to reflect on the Savior's sacrifice for us on the cross as he was particularly affected by the passage.
Sacrifice is the pattern and proof of a husband's love. The Bible is so effective in succinct definitions.
David defines sacrifice as follows: "I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing." If it doesn't cost, it isn't sacrifice.
What are we doing each day for our wives, that involves sacrifice? What constitutes a sacrificial act for you? Will you take advantage of your wife's godliness or will you seek to emulate the one who laid down his life for you?
Your wife needs to determine what is a sacrifice in your relationship.
CJ talked about his relationship with Carolyn and the aspect of revealing details about the day.
"Sacrifice is working hard to review my day to recall details that I have long forgotten and I desire-- see, when the day is over I don't want to re-live it… So for me what I have to do is be more detailed to remember details to write notes to myself to keep notes that I can share with her. To encourage her to encourage questions to draw me out."
"What involves sacrifice for you? I try to ask myself this everyday. In the morning I have notes in my notebook with these verses and I try to say what can I do today for Carolyn that involves sacrifice. I need that reminder."
It's not enough to sacrifice, you have to sacrifice for a biblical purpose. Christ did not sacrifice in general, he sacrificed to achieve a divine purpose.
Christ sacrificed to make the church holy. As I understand it, that is to be the purpose of our sacrifice as well. We are to sacrifice so that an environment is created that is conducive to growth in godliness for our wives.
If you don't sacrifice for that purpose then you haven't loved your wife as Christ loved the church.
The primary purpose (there are secondary purposes) is so they might grow in godliness. How can we sacrifice to make sure that takes place.
1) You must be growing in godliness. CJ shared a challenge to men to have a passion for godliness and zeal for growth that has a similar to his wife.
2) We must discover where our wives need to grow. Help her prioritize and help identify what is hindering her from growing. Do you know where she needs to grow and is there a sacrificial act that you are performing consistently to ensure that she has a context to grow?
Paul's transition from verse 25 to 27 and then to verse 28 brings about a seemingly apparent contradiction. It is almost as if Paul empathizes with us and provides a practical illustration that we can immediately identify with.
Paul says 'I want to provide an illustration that you can relate to.' Without hesitation Paul wants to remind you that you love yourself. He is in no way promoting a concept of self-esteem. Scripture never encourages us to admire ourselves. Scripture does assume that we love ourselves. It is outrageous that there are some teachers who teach that we cannot love our neighbors until we love ourselves.
When I sacrifice for your wife, you are the beneficiary of that sacrifice.
In verse 29 the NIV says 'feeds' and 'cares' but the KJV uses 'nourishes' and 'cherishes'
This involves communication. There isn't anything that nourishes and cherishes more than communication. Secondly, encouragement nourishes and cherishes. There is so much to encourage in our wives. They should live daily in the sounds of their husbands pronouncing encouragement over them. In Proverbs 31 when the children rise up to bless their mother it is because they have a father who exemplifies this.
It is for the husband to come in and provide an eternal perspective on the fruit that is being cultivated and the effect of motherhood on the lives of those children. And that is nourishment and I believe that is an expression of sacrifice.
Cherish? Well, from what I can tell, that is synonymous with romance.
How does your wife define romance? What makes her feel special? A wife's challenge is to provide specific examples and receive her husband's attempt when he responds. Her challenge is to receive his expression as a sincere attempt. Communicate what makes you feel special.
How does your wife define romance? There should be consistent date nights. There should be surprises. There should be a sense that you are always up to something. When I think of cherish, that involves drawing your wife out about the sexual relationship. Find out what arouses her and what doesn't.
You are in an inescapable position of leadership. You are the head. You can't refuse to be the head. There are only two possible options for poor heads. Domination and abdication. My experience is that the most common is abdication. It's not that domination does not exist. Domination does exist. That is unacceptable. Scripture says that we are to honor our wives because they are the weaker.
Physically, positional, and emotional weakness should be considered. To take advantage of that weakness by domination is repulsive to God. Those in our culture who are admired are disgusting. If you are dominating your wife, I want you to feel the fear of God. For any man who is dominating his wife, God is going to kick your butt and discipline you until you repent. If you think it is somehow masculine to dominate you are deceived. In a light hearted moment, CJ drew laughter when he said "If you are angry at me right now, that's revealing. I want you to remember this: I'm probably faster than you are."
Abdication. Nice guys who don't lead. Nauseatingly nice guys. Clones of Adam. Passive, speechless, where was he when the interchange between Satan and Eve took place? At her side, doing nothing. God was not pleased. God rebuked Adam. Had he taken that apple and thrown it upside the head of that serpent, we wouldn't have even been here this morning because sin would not have entered the world.
"He did nothing. He was the original wimp-man. I want you to know we want you to distance ourselves as far as possible from that legacy. Because biblical masculinity involves taking initiative, being decisive, doing something."
You have no liberty to re-define what headship is about. Headship is about leadership. Adam didn't have the courage to lead. We are to lead confronted by the same challenge. Make up two lists as an exercise. The first where haven't you led? I want you to involve your wife in the process of determining the length of this list. When your wife asks you to make a decision, do you make a decision? Do you avoid conflict with your wife and children? There are a lot of nice-guy dads who don't know how to confront their children. Their children's behavior cries out against them. As a father, you must take action and not be passive. Do you resolve conflict? CJ referred to What's the Difference (page 24).
(Number 4) Mature masculinity does not have to initiate every action, but feels the responsibility to provide a general pattern of initiative. In a family the husband does not do all the thinking and planning. His leadership is to take responsibility in general to initiate and carry through the spiritual and moral planning for family life. I say "in general" because "in specifics" there will be many times and many areas of daily life where the wife will do all kinds of planning and initiating. But there is a general tone and pattern of initiative that should develop which is sustained by the husband. For example, the leadership pattern would be less than Biblical if the wife in general was having to take the initiative in prayer at mealtime, and get the family out of bed for worship on Sunday morning, and gather the family for devotions, and discuss what moral standards will be required of the children, and confer about financial priorities, and talk over some neighborhood ministry possibilities, etc. A wife may initiate the discussion and planning of any one of these, but if she becomes the one who senses the general responsibility for this pattern of initiativeSkipped quote from James Dobson
while her husband is passive, something contrary to Biblical masculinity and femininity is in the offing.
(Number 5) Mature masculinity accepts the burden of the final say in disagreements between husband and wife, but does not presume to use it in every instance. In a good marriage decision-making is focussed on the husband, but is not unilateral. He seeks input from his wife and often adopts her ideas. This is implied in the love that governs the relationship (Ephesians 5:25), in the equality of personhood implied in being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and in the status of being fellow-heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Unilateral decision-making is not usually a mark of good leadership. It generally comes from laziness or insecurity or inconsiderate disregard. On the other hand dependence on team input should not go to the point where the family perceives a weakness of indecision in the husband. And both husband and wife should agree on the principle that the husband's decision should rightly hold sway if it does not involve sin. However, this conviction does not mean that a husband will often use the prerogative of "veto" over the wishes of his wife or family. He may, in fact, very often surrender his own preference for his wife's where no moral issue is at stake. His awareness of his sin and imperfection will guard him from thinking that following Christ gives him the ability of Christ to know what's best in every detail. Nevertheless, in a well-ordered Biblical marriage both husband and wife acknowledge in principle that, if necessary in some disagreement, the husband will accept the burden of making the final choice.
The second list: where has your leadership been ignored. Don't compile these lists as an opportunity to become bitter. These two lists give you the opportunity to repent of abdication. Be wise in conferring with your wife and children if applicable. You need to correct a pattern of abdication.
A brief moment of discussion was encouraged before moving onto the last session.
If you want a title of this last session, it's simply this: how to change. Most of the popular books on marriage, I could not heartily endorse. There is an ignorance and absence of the doctrine of sanctification. And there is the presence of secular psychology. Particularly, there is a deficiency in identifying the issues of the heart. A biblical understanding of the root issues always involves sin and idolatry. Avoid anything that insists that you explore your painful past in detail and either implies or insists that you are incapable of growing unless you do that. That is unbiblical. This does not mean that the existence of pain is denied here. So much of the material legitimizes selfishness.
CJ referred to a review of the book Love is a Choice from the Minirth and Meier Clinic Series. If you don't understand sin, you will never appreciate the cross. You will never be able to accurately deal with the root issues that are hindering your marriage. CJ cited reviews (published from Intervarsity Press) of the books Recovery From Bitterness and Recovering from Codependency. In most of this material, forgiveness is the final goal. In the Bible, it's where we get started. It's not a goal where we try to emotionally work toward. Avoid materials that encourage you to look within or to the past for recovery.
Normally in these materials, you do not have a biblical models for relationships. They are helping you become aware of your unmet needs from your dysfunctional family. Hence you are a victim. It's attractive terminology because it releases one from personal responsibility and becomes an excuse for selfishness. Philippians 2:1-3 provides a biblical model for relationships. We are to be pre-occupied with the person and work of Jesus Christ. Verse 3 is an indictment of so much of the psycho babble today. Verse 6-7 is presented to us as the ultimate example of servanthood we are to emulate. This model is not rooted in my pain or past experience. It does not encourage me to focus on my needs and personal desires.
2 Peter 1:3-8. All of our effort is to be directed towards these things. Verse 9 provides the explanation for why these things aren't taking place more often. We change by obeying one day at a time, one opportunity at a time, by grace over a period of time. We change.
CJ closed with a quote by Jay Adams
Most marriages develop their characteristic pattern not by design but by drift. Courses of least resistance following one's own desires in the like in time develop into patterns. But you will never drift into God's pattern. It will come only by repentance, by prayerful understanding and by conscious decision to follow it. That decision must be backed by a continued daily awareness of what you are doing and a repetitive effort to realize God's design in all you do. You must choose between drift and decision. Decide now to reshape your marriage according to God's great plan set forth in the pattern of Christ for His church. If you do your marriage will be blessed more and more as it grows. Not drifts. Into the shape designed by God.