Wife to Husband

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series Five Functions of a Faithful Family

By way of introduction to this next stage in the series “Five Functions of a Faithful Family” allow me to read to you this segment of a book relevant to our topic, which I eagerly commend to you for two very good reasons – maybe even three.
First: it is the first and most Biblically Comprehensive Treatment I was exposed to on what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman from God’s perspective as taught in the scriptures.  Suffice it to say that I am gratified to read this after developing this series to discover that God’s word has said the same to me as it has said to other Godly men.
Second: It can be purchased somewhat cheaply from the local Christian bookstore if you’re so inclined and…
Third: If you would like to read and own it for free you can read it entirely on your computer or print it out yourself after downloading it from the following web address: http://www.cbmw.org/resources/books.php.  While there are other freely downloadable books on that page this one in particular is Entitled: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  And for whatever it may be worth to say so: this tome bears my seal of approval.  Without further introduction of the introduction… listen to this introduction…

Biblical Womanhood is who you are.

When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed–my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.

She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings.

She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do.

I heard one time that women don’t sweat, they glow. Not true. My mother sweated. It would drip off the end of her long, sharp nose. Sometimes she would blow it off when her hands were pushing the wheelbarrow full of peat moss. Or she would wipe it with her sleeve between the strokes of a swingblade. Mother was strong. I can remember her arms even today thirty years later. They were big, and in the summertime they were bronze. But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.

When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother.  Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this “submission.”

But since my father was gone most of the time, Mother used to do most of those leadership things too. So it never occurred to me that leadership and submission had anything to do with superiority and inferiority. And it didn’t have to do with muscles and skills either.  It was not a matter of capabilities and competencies. It had to do with something I could never have explained as a child. And I have been a long time in coming to understand it as part of God’s great goodness in creating us male and female. It had to do with something very deep. I know that the specific rhythm of life that was in our home is not the only good one. But there were dimensions of reality and goodness in it that ought to be there in every home. Indeed they ought to be there in varying ways in all mature relationships between men and women. [1]

Faithful Functions Transcend Relationships

As we prepare to delve into the counter relationship to that of a Husband towards his wife – namely the relationship of a Wife towards her husband, I want to address briefly the issue of singleness.

The reasons for singleness could be anything from simply not marrying to Divorce or the death of a spouse.  Though the reasons for all of these are uniquely different the effect is the same.  Inclusive in that circumstance, even without a husband or a wife; a man or a woman is completely capable to being a fully Biblically mature man or woman by holding in the core of their being the responsibilities and privileges of the gender with which God has graced  you.  It is from this perspective that I wish for everyone here to understand this series.

A Single mother can still be a fulfilled Godly woman, and an aged widower can retain his biblical masculinity by holding in the core of their heart the belief that what God describes of their position and relationship to persons of the opposite sex is accurate and good.

Godliness is not dependent on others.

Further I intend to address a question for the women which applies in reverse to the men which is this: “What if my husband or wife refuses to live up to their end of Biblical masculinity or biblical femininity?”  The scriptural answer would be summarized thus: It then becomes the most difficult and onerous task of yours to undertake the added burden of your spouses neglected role which you were not designed to bear.

In those difficult times a woman must lead her family spiritually and provide for it physically.  A man must continue lovingly sacrificing himself for the glory of his wife in the hopes against all hopes that the grace of the Lord will break the hardness of their hearts and lead them to repentance.  Moreover it must be done with an attitude that communicates to your spouse “I do not defy you, I love you and I long with all my heart that you were with me in this spiritual and moral commitment…[2]

In all relationships, married, single or whatever the case may be the relationship of a woman to a man is not merely one of response – even though it is flavored in large part by response.

What I mean by that statement is a bit of a segue into the discussion at hand.  Ladies some of you have no doubt been listening with rapt and gleeful attention to the scriptures description of everything your husband ought to be – and yet you’ve perhaps felt some trepidation lest the preacher unleash an even greater storm upon you when you’re time comes.  I hope that’s not the case.

I happen to believe that the picture of Biblical masculinity is an attractive standard- albeit difficult at times to implement as I struggle against my own flesh.  In the same way I don’t intend ladies to “lay into you” as with a whip – anymore than I would my own wife (which is not at all lest anyone should doubt!)  What I would like to do is in some way demonstrate the desirability and inherent beauty of Biblical femininity lived in simple obedience to God’s decree’s and creative order. In other words I believe, ladies, that just as a mature man ought to find the biblical image of manhood rewarding – I believe that a mature woman will find the Biblical image of womanhood equally rewarding and imminently more desirable than any alternative once it’s understood.

That being said we all should know this: that a significant aspect of the wife’s relationship to her husband is formed in relation to a husband’s proper relationship with her because that which is her responsibility is more than a mere answer to his headship it is an encouragement that actually fosters not only her own godliness but greater godliness for her husband as well.

What is true of every scriptural principle and rule is true also of the relationship of a wife towards her husband; namely- freedom.  The task to which you are called ladies is one of freedom in which you get to do what your God-filled heart desires most to do.  The result is that when we live according to God’s design Men and women both arrive at a greater freedom and a great sense of personal fulfillment in your pursuit of a Christ centered holy life.[3]

Imagine if you will a marriage in which the husband’s focus is upon his wife for her glory, he Lovingly Leads, Sacrifices and Lives with her as though she were an honored daughter of God the Almighty King.  She in turn encourages through the various means at her disposal his godly behavior towards her.  The result – as he elevates her and she elevates him – is an ever increasing spiral of glory – wherein their marriage is a depiction to the world of Christ loving the church and the church loving Christ in return.

This is the biblical vision of a faithful marriage and it effectively sets the stage for our next couple of weeks together.

But for today we will close with this prayer: “That God who is able to do abundantly more than we could ask or imagine will visit our homes with His presence and will transform our families into faithful families.”

[1] Piper, John. And Wayne Grudem. “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response To Evangelical Feminism.” Crossway Books. WheatonIllinois. 1991. p. 31.

[2] Ibid RBMW p37

[3] Ibid. RBMW pp 45-51.

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