By Tommy L. McClure
This article is not about husbands who are pleasing to their wives, her parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts. Nor does it concern husbands pleasing to sociologists, psychiatrists, family counselors, preachers, the President, Congress, the Senate, Supreme Court, or anyone connected with the Justice (?) Department. Since God’s ways and thoughts are higher than man’s as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isa. 55-8, 9), and since fearing God and keeping his commandments is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13) and since God shall bring every work of man into judgment (Eccl. 12:14), why be concerned about the wishes and pleasure of any “flunkey” of the human race on this matter when God has plainly set forth his will? One could be a husband pleasing to all of them and still be a husband displeasing to God! Reason tells me that God who instituted the husband-wife relationship knows more about the qualifications for being the right kind of husband than anyone else!
Marks of a Husband Pleasing to God
Be A Genuine Christian! If a man is old enough to be a husband, he is old enough to be a Christian — “an adherent of Jesus” (Vine), or “a follower of Christ” (Thayer). One old enough to be a husband has undoubtedly sinned and needs forgiveness. Forgiveness takes place in Christ (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14) and there is no such thing as being forgi ven out of Christ. Therefore, one out of Christ, but old enough to be a husband, is in the state of condemnation. How can one in that state be pleasing to God? When he enters Christ (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27), he contacts the blood of Christ which washes away sin (Rev. 1:5) and becomes a Christian. To continue to be a Christian — an adherent of Jesus or follower of Christ — he must remain faithful to Christ.
Those who pretend to be Christians but are not; those who put on their “Christianity” Sunday morning and wear it to “church” and hang it in the closet when they return home; those who are “saints with halos” during the worship service but are “devils” during the week, and those resembling the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:25-28) more than Jesus Christ, are not under consideration here! As the heading of this point says, I am concerned here with being a genuine Christian, not a “bogus Christian” — and please note that I put that last term in quotes!
The man who is a genuine Christian will not mistreat his wife in any way, whether by tyranny, malice, inconsideration, stepping out on her, non-support, or any other despicable act. In my thinking, this is the place to begin on being the right kind of husband; but do those in the counseling business (and that’s what it is!) begin here? No! Why? Because most of them know not the ways of God, but have studied psychoanalysis originated by Freud and have become psychoanalysts and psycho — a lot of other things! If I counted correctly, The American Heritage Dictionary gives about 33 terms beginning with “psycho.” When I read the definition of “psycho” itself, guess what I saw — it is a slang term and as an adjective means “crazy, in sane.” Then I understood why I so often think of Romans 1:22 — “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” — when I run into some of those terms. There has to be something wrong with a fellow “besides what ails him” to leave God completely out of the picture and engage in the laborious task of wading through the multitudinous volumes of junk written by men trying to find how to be the right kind of husband. “To the law and to the testimony — if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8-20).
A Man Must Fly Out of the Home Nest and Cleave Unto His Wife
There can be no doubt about the good sense of this in the mind of one who really respects the Bible. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2-24). If you think that was only Adam’s opinion, think again after reading what Jesus said in Matthew 19:3-5: “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.” That shows that the one who “made them at the beginning” and made them male and female authored what is recorded in Genesis 2:24, not Adam! Too, Paul, by inspiration, said the same! (Eph. 5:31).
“Leave” (azab) in Genesis 2:24 is “a prim. root; to loosen, i.e., relinquish, permit, etc.” (Strong, Hebrew And Chaldee Dictionary, word #5800, 86). “Leave” in Matthew 19:5 and Ephesians 5:31(kataleipo) means “to leave behind” (Vine, Expanded Ed. 656). So the husband is to loosen himself from, relinquish, leave behind father and mother and cleave unto his wife. “Cleave” in the above passages (kollao) means “to join fast together, to glue, cement, is primarily said of metals and other materials (from kolla, glue). In the N.T. it is used only in the passive voice, with reflexive force, in the sense of cleaving unto, as of cleaving to one’s wife, Matthew 19:5” (Vine, 188). Therefore when a man and woman marry, they are to form a more intimate connection between themselves than that which exists between parent and child. Many marriages have failed because the new husband clung to his mother’s “apron strings,” and the new bride would not bring herself to leave “Mama.” The husband is willing to let his parents rule their lives; the wife is willing to let her parents rule; both sets of parents are willing to do so; and when four parents are attempting to rule two lives, fireworks will likely be ignited!
That does not mean that the new bride and groom cannot seek advice from both sets of parents. They, together, should seek advice from their parents who have already been over the road they are starting to travel. But, when it comes to such matters as what car, house, furniture and decorations they shall buy, or how many children they shall have, they should make those decisions together — based on the best advice they have received, their financial ability, etc. Husband and wife, together, should stand on their own “four feet” and not continually be running back to “daddies” and “mamas” every time the least disagreement or other problem arises. Remember, in marriage they are glued together, and in-laws can often be highly “deteriorating to the glue!” So, together, they should work out their own problems to the best of their ability and the best advice they can obtain, remembering that the best information to be obtained is from the word of God.
A Man Must Be Eligible To Marry
It was not lawful for Herod to marry Herodias (Matt. 14:3, 4), though he had done so (Mark 6:17). Nor is it lawful for a man who has put away his wife for some unscriptural cause (burning the bread, looking old, being physically incapacitated, etc.) to marry another. Jesus said, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). In that passage, “committeth adultery” (moichatai) is “3rd pers., sing., pres., ind.” (Harper, 272). The basic idea of the present tense in Greek is progress or continued action. “It signifies action in progress, or state in persistence . . .” (A Manual Grammar of the Greek N.T., Dana & Mantey, 182). Therefore, “committeth adultery” is not a one time action, but continued action, an on-going state of adultery. How can a man living in an on-going state of adultery be a husband pleasing to God?
Long ago I made it my policy not to perform the ceremony for any person(s) married before but divorced wanting to marry another, regardless of the reason given for the divorce. Nearly every divorced Tom, Dick, or Harry claims to have a scriptural divorce and a scriptural right to remarry — whether he does or not. I don’t have time to delve into every such case in an attempt to learn the facts, if the facts can be learned even then, so I have nothing to do with such cases. At least, that way I can keep my “skirts clean” and not have to worry about having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:7-11). If you want to take the risk, on the ground that they are going to marry any way, you can perform the ceremony, but I don’t recommend it! Nor does Ephesians 5:7-11.
The Husband Must Love His Wife
The law of God is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (vv. 28, 29). “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (v. 33). “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against” (Col. 3:19).
If and when the husband “snaps” at his wife in the manner of a vicious dog or snapping turtle every time she makes a simple statement or asks a simple question, he is not abiding by God’s law and is endangering the marriage. It makes one wonder if such a man would give himself for his wife as Christ gave himself for the church. When a husband habitually calls his wife “the old woman,” “old battle-axe,” “my War Department,” “old Bossy,” and other such uncomplimentary names, one is led to question his love for his wife. Can one think of a “better way” to be bitter against her, which Paul forbade (Col. 3:19)? True, she may be hard to get along with, but one wrong does not justify another! After all, he chose her and married her for “better or for worse,” and should strive to make the best of a bad situation — if that is really what it is!
I went home with a couple, both members of the church, for lunch one Sunday several years ago. The actions of the wife soon caught my attention. She was extemely nervous and every time her husband asked for something she jumped to get it. I had never seen a woman so “drawn up into a knot” as she was that day. She looked at her husband as though she were “scared stiff” of him. I could not help wondering how things were when “the preacher” was not there. If and when a man treats his wife so that she appears to be afraid of him, even in the presence of company, he is likely to be a “grizzly bear” when they are alone. That is not love!
When a man flirts with other women, steps out on his wife, drinks and gambles away his paycheck so that she has to skimp, wonder and worry as to how she is going to feed their children, that is not love! When, in relation to his wife, a man violates every characteristic of love given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, that is not love! Have you ever known a man who, with his own fists, blacked his own eyes? Neither have I! When a man blacks his wife’s eyes, that is not love! (Eph. 5:28, 29).
The Husband Must Be the Head of the Wife
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). The order here, in descending scale, is God — Christ — man — woman. Like it or not, that is the order given by inspiration!
After the fall of the first pair, “Unto the woman (God) said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). “Rule” (mashal “a prim. root; to rule: — (have, make to have) dominion, governor, . . . have power” (Strong, word # 4910, 74). The fact that the husband is to “rule” over the wife does not mean that the ruling is to be done in a despotic, tyrannical, “rod of iron” fashion. The same word (#4910, mashal) appears in Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” It appears also in Isaiah 52:5: “Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for naught? They that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord, and my name continually every day is blasphemed.” “Rule” per se, is not bad; it is the kind of rule which wicked men bear that is bad and makes the lives of the subjects miserable. To “rule” over the wife does not mean to make a slave of her, consider her an inferior “nobody,” nor to beat her into submission!
Ephesians 5:23: “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.” To operate properly and efficiently, every institution must have a head. Do you know of a business institution which has no head? Ford, GM, Chrysler, DuPont all have heads — either one person or a group of people combined into or acting as one body (corporation)! The church must have a head and so must the home. The husband is to be director of his home — his wife and children.
He may ask and receive advice from the wife, even the children, but he is to make the final decisions and is to accept the responsibility of, and for, doing so. Often, husbands want to be recognized as head, but refuse to accept the responsibility which headship entails. That is wanting a position while not wanting a job, somewhat like children who want to eat strawberries but don’t want to pick, stem and wash them. Wives sometimes complain because their husbands will not make decisions or take the lead, and many children are starving for the want of the father’s guiding hand of authority. If one could throw bossy wives and spineless husbands in the same sack and shake it before pouring them out, I suspect both would come out together! One is no worse than the other, and both are wrong!
Paul said, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:12, 13).
Does “suffer not a woman to teach” mean that women are not to teach at all? Definitely not! If it does, Paul contradicted Paul, for he instructed the aged women to teach the younger women (Tit. 2:3, 4). Evidently, grandmother Lois and mother Eunice taught Timothy and it gave Paul joy (2 Tim. 1:4, 5). Aquila and Priscilla, husband and wife, “expounded unto (Apollos) the way of God more perfectly,” and, when Apollos went to Achaia, he “helped them much which which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:24-28). Therefore, a woman teaching other women, children, and, in the proper setting, even a man, is sanctioned by the scriptures.
Does “suffer not a woman to . . . usurp authority” mean that she is to exercise no authority at all? If it does, she couldn’t give her own child who misbehaves a “strapping” nor make him sit in the corner! My boyhood would have been much easier, had somebody convinced my mother of that — she could and did dish out the “peach tree tea” when I needed it — which, I am sorry to say, was quite often!
The truth is both “teach” and “usurp authority” in 1 Timothy 2:12, 13 are modified by “over the man” — the woman is not to “teach” over the man, nor “usurp authority” over the man!
Compare the construction in Acts 4:18. Peter and John had been imprisoned by the rulers of the Jews (vv. 1-4). The next day Peter and John were brought before the council (the high court of the Jews) and asked about the healing of the cripple mentioned in chapter 3. Their question was, “By what power, or by what name have ye done this?” (4:5-7). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly gave the answer (4:8-12). His bold answer put them on the spot, and after conferring among themselves, “. . . they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (4:13-18). Question: When they commanded them “not to speak at all” nor “teach” does that mean they were forbidden to say one word or teach one thing? Suppose they had been willing to speak and teach Judaizing doctrines? The council would have been happier than the proverbial “hungry dog in a meat house!” You can surely see that both “not to speak at all” and “teach” are modified by “in the name of Jesus.” They were “not to speak at all” in the name of Jesus and not to “teach” in the name of Jesus! That is an exact parallel to 1 Timothy 2:12!
One asks, “Why did God place woman under man?” 1 Timothy. 2:13 gives the answer: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” Genesis 2:18-24 shows that out of all the living creatures God had made, there was not found an help meet for man, but a rib was taken from Adam and woman was made. Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” There was the help, meet for man! With all the help given man by horse, mule, dog, elephant, homing pigeon, dolphin, etc., we cannot deny that they have been very useful. But, they are not help “meet” for man in the sense woman is, evidently because they are not akin to man, not part of man. No animal could, nor ever can, take the place of woman as an help meet for man! If you ask, “Where would man be without the help of animals?” ask yourself, “Where would man be without the help of woman?” That’s a sobering thought, indeed!
The Husband Must Be Faithful to His Wife
Hear the wise man of the Old Testament on this point. “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Should thy springs be dispersed abroad, And streams of water in the streets? Let them be for thyself alone, and not for strangers with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed; and rejoice in the wife of thy youth. As a loving hind and a pleasant doe, let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. For why shouldest thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” (Prov. 5:15-20, ASV).
Much trouble and many heartaches would have been avoided had all men lived by this teaching. Many souls will suffer in hell because they didn’t, for “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4), and whore—mongers are among those who shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
When the husband so sins against his wife, she has a scriptural right for divorce (see Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:9). Should she exercise that right immediately, even though the husband, in godly sorrow, truly repents and requests to be forgiven by God and his wife? Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3, 4).
The lesson here is repentance on the part of the sinner and longsuffering forgiveness on the part of the one wronged. It is obvious that patience is not to be endless in this matter — the wife cannot rightly be expected to endlessly put up with such action, subjecting herself to the danger of venereal diseases as well as endangering the physical well-being of her unborn children! If the husband will not truly repent, disregards the patience of his longsuffering wife, continues to subject her to the danger of disease and stubbornly continues on the road to hell, divorce is her only resort! Though God hates putting away, he also plainly forbids that which leads to it, saying, “take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously (“unfaithfully,” Margin, KJV) against the wife of his youth” (Mal. 2:15, 16). Also, God has plainly said that fornicators and adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9, 10), and whoremongers shall have their part in hell (Rev. 21:8).
The Husband Is To Provide For His Wife
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). How can such a man be a husband pleasing to God?
A good concordance will list numerous passages in which the “sluggard” and “slothful” are condemned. For example, Solomon said, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Prov. 6:6-11). Solomon’s description of the field of the slothful is a graphic picture of the effects of indolence and laziness (Prov. 24:30-34). He also said, “By much slothfulness the building decayeth, and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through” (Eccl. 10:18).
Paul’s teaching on this matter is clear and pointed: “For even when we were with you, this we, commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (1 Thess. 3:10). Working not at all, some had become busybodies; but Paul commanded and exhorted such to work and eat their own bread (vv. 11, 12), and told the Thessalonians to have no company with those who refused to do so (v. 14).
Therefore, it is clear that laziness is not tolerated by God. Every animal and fowl in the wild, known to me, has to work for its sustenance. Should we expect it to be any different with man since God gave the first one a job (Gen. 2:15)?
However, some who do not properly support their wives are not lazy — they work and receive a good paycheck! Their problem? They squander their money on things to satisfy their own selfish appetites — gambling, booze, dope, etc., while their wives and children do not have proper food and clothing. Some seem to operate on the abominable philosophy which says, “The best way to keep a woman home is to keep her pregnant and barefooted.” I can see why God said such a man is worse than an infidel! I think he is worse than a rat and low enough to walk under a snake’s belly wearing a stovepipe hat and never tilt it!
The Husband Must Practice 1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, ye husbands dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.
Several important duties for the husband are here given: (a) He is to dwell with his wife! This is contrary to the practice of dwelling with a woman not his wife, and/or, for no good reason, being “out-and-gone” most of the time! (b) He is to dwell with her according to knowledge. He is to know the obligations of marriage and live with his own wife according to this knowledge. (c) He is to give honour unto the wife. Unlike some in foreign countries, the wife is not to be made to walk behind the husband, nor to hoe the crop while he talks to another. N.B. Hardeman used to tell us, “Boys, while courting your girlfriend, will take her by the arm and help her over a small stick in the road, but, after you’re married for a while, you will let her climb over a twelve-strand barbwire fence with a ‘kid’ under each arm, yelling, ‘Hurry up, and come on!’” If anyone does that, he is contrary to 1 Peter 3:7. (d) He is to give honour unto the wife as the weaker vessel! Normally, the wife, with her feminine physical makeup, cannot do the hard manual labor the husband can do, and the husband should not demand it of her. (Of course, there are exceptions here. I knew one woman who could throw her husband down and sit on him any time she desired. I often wondered if he married her for love and protection!). The main point here is that the wife is a help not a horse nor a do-it-all! (e) The husband should regard the wife as an heir of the grace of life, just as he is. If eternal life is meant, she is a Christian and heir of that life, just as the husband is. In Christ there is neither male nor female concerning spiritual blessings received (Gal. 3:26-29). If physical life is meant, the wife has received that by the grace of God, the same as the husband. “For in (God) we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is the source of our life, energy and being, and there is no difference between male and female in these matters. (f) The bottom line of the above instructions is that your prayers be not hindered! Violation of these instructions will often interrupt praying and cause our prayers not to be granted. As one put it, “The message to heaven is short-circuited!”
The writer hopes the points here made will help all men who read these lines, married or contemplating marriage, to be husbands pleasing to God! God knows that many of us, as husbands, have plenty of room for improvement! Surely, our wives will appreciate any improvement on our part, and it will go a long way in relieving the despicable, deplorable, sorry conditions which exist in many family relationships in our troubled times.
1543 Highway 318, South Rd., Marvell, Arkansas 72366 tnicclure@arkansas. net