When I was in high school, I began dating a girl. One day, I went over to her house to meet her mother and I immediately noticed a picture of man inuniform.
I asked them, “Is that your dad?”
My girlfriend nodded.
“Is he home right now?”
“No,” she replied. “He’s in Vietnam and he’s missing in action. It’s been that way for five years.”
Technically, my girlfriend had a father and her mother had a husband, but this man wasn’t involved in their lives. He was missing.
Sadly, this is a lot like the American family right now. Most dads and husbands today are “missing in action.” They might be physicallyalive or even living with their families at home, but they are completely missing in all of the ways that their kids and spouses need them.
Why?I believe it’s because most men didn’t grow up with a dad or someone who modeled for them what it looks like to be a man. For me, when I was growing up, Ihad a strong dad physically, but spiritually he wasn’t present. So when I got married, I had no idea what it meant to be a man according to God’s word.
The average father, or husband, is often left wondering… “What does it mean to be a man?” And “What’s my role as a man in marriage?”
Thankfully, the Bible has given us some guidance as to what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman in the home.
The Bible shows us that God has made men and women equal in design but different in order to complement one another.
In Ephesians 1-4, the Apostle Paul reminds us of whom we are in Christ and to “walk in a manner worthy of your calling.” He also encourages us toallow the Spirit of God to control our lives and to abide in Him. When we’re living this way, then the evidence of our behavior is this:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21, NIV)
Our roles as husbands and wives begin with submitting to Christ and mutually submitting to one another. Submitting or being “subject” to oneanother means that we desire to get less than what we deserve. It’s about putting the other person’s needs above our own.
Mutual submission is a picture of two people who say, “I want what’s best for you.”
Think of it in terms of a dance between a man and a woman where the choreographer determines who takes which steps and how they move inunison.
In this “dance of marriage,” the choreographer is the Holy Spirit, and the dance floor is mutual submission — the space in which both dance partners havefreedom to move.
Often, we get so fixated on our roles in marriage (who gets to lead and who gets to follow) that we miss the main point. Marriage should always functionwithin the context of mutual submission. This requires that both husbands and wives come to the marriage asking each other: “ How can I love you more? How can I help make you more successful? How can I serve you?”
It’s within this context that we learn about the specific roles of a husband.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh,but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church. (Eph. 5:25, 28-30 NASB)
So, what’s our roles as husbands?
It’s to love our wives by nourishing and cherishing her. Nourishing means to provide for her, be devoted to her, and to help her to become the person thatGod intended for her to become. Cherishing her means to protect her and help her to feel safe and secure.
As husbands, we’re responsible for loving our wives the way Christ loves the Church. And, guys! Let me assure you that this is an impossible job!That’s why we can’t do it alone. We need to be dependent not only on the word of God, but also on the Spirit of God to change us so that we can love ourwives the way He wants us to love them.
So, how about you? Are you a man who’s struggling in your marriage? Do you want to know more about what your role looks like as a husband? I’d like toencourage you to discover God’s design for how to have a healthy marriage.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip