A Man’s Role in Marriage
To pass from the single to the married state is one of the most important and challenging transitions that can take place in a person’s life. Anyone preparing for a trade or profession like carpentry or medicine needs a clear picture of what he intends to become before he starts the preparation. The same is true for marriage. A person preparing for marriage needs a clear picture of the role he or she will be required to fill. The preparation a man needs to make for marriage differs from the preparation a woman needs to make.
Why do you think marriages (even Christian marriages) fail?
The Matter of Headship
What is the role of a man in marriage? In the ordinary course of events, the initial role of husband is a stepping-stone to a second, equally challenging role, that of a father. These two roles may be combined under the single description head of a family.
Paul presents this concept of headship by linking it to the nature of God Himself and to relationships within the Godhead: 1 Corinthians 11:3 “I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”
Paul pictures a descending chain of headship, which starts in heaven and ends in the family: God the Father is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of the man (husband); and the man (husband) is the head of the woman (wife).
In this chain, Christ and the husband each have a double relationship, to the one above and to the one below. Thus, Christ represents God the Father (above Him) to the man (below Him); and the man, in turn, represents Christ (above him) to his wife (below him). Here is a clear scriptural picture of the role of the husband who also becomes a father: He represents Christ to his wife and family. This is a huge responsibility and privilege.
The key to the life of Jesus was His relationship to the Father. He expressed this in various ways: John 5:19 “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. . . . John 14:9–10 The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work”.
In like manner, your success as head of your family will depend on your relationship to Jesus. Make Him the source of your words and actions. Rely on His strength and wisdom within you, not on your own. Let Him live out His life through you.
What are some of the facets of His life that will most appropriately be revealed in you as a husband and father?
How do you think modern man sees his requirements to become a head of a household (husband)?
The Importance of Tenderness and Romance
First of all, Jesus is the Lover and the Bridegroom of His Church. All His other ministries flow out of the deep, pure fountain of His love. Allow Him to open up this fountain within your heart. Don’t be afraid of being tender. It is a mark of strength, not weakness. “Love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6). “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8).
Consider the tenderness with which the Lord speaks to Israel in Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” It is by this tenderness that Jesus draws His people to Himself. Allow Him to impart a measure of it to you. Through it He will draw your bride to you just as He draws the Church to Himself.
Do you believe tenderness and romance is important in today’s world, or is it seen as a weakness?
In our modern, high-powered, cynical society, there is very little left of real tenderness. It has become almost a forgotten quality. Yet there is something in every woman that longs for it. She will respond to it just as a flower opens its petals to the sun.
Tenderness goes hand in hand with romance. Romance is not some special kind of activity on its own. It is a quality imparted to other activities that makes them more exciting and enjoyable. This may be illustrated from something so simple as eating a meal. Romance is not an extra course tacked onto the end of the meal. It is a seasoning added to every course. It can impart that extra flavor of excitement to even commonplace activities like a shopping expedition, a drive to church or an evening stroll.
I do not believe there is a woman anywhere in the world who does not appreciate tenderness and romance. Why should you settle for a dull marriage? Follow the pattern of Jesus, and aim for a marriage that will be like the one He is planning with His Church.
A Self-Giving Character
Another quality of the love of Jesus is that it is self-giving. Ephesians 5:25 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. A successful marriage must follow that pattern. It consists of two lives laid down for each other. First the husband, like Jesus, lays down his life for the wife. Then the wife in her turn, like the Church, lays down her life for the husband. Thereafter, each finds fulfillment in the life of the other. The key to this kind of relationship is the understanding that scriptural marriage is based on a covenant.
Self-giving is not natural, however, to fallen human nature. It needs to be cultivated. First it requires a decision. Then it must be worked out in daily living, until it becomes part of your character. Do not wait until marriage to begin to give of yourself. That can lead to much unnecessary suffering for you and your wife.
Today we have pre-nuptial agreements, separate bank accounts, and separate jobs. Do you think any of these cause hindrances to a marriage? How?
Your marriage will benefit greatly if you learn to give of yourself now in the relationships you have with those around you. If you still live at home, give of yourself there in small acts of service.
In the context of church life, too, there are many opportunities for service. Visit the shut-ins. Wash the pastor’s car. Volunteer to clean the sanctuary on Saturday morning. Help a widow or handicapped person with grocery shopping. All these seemingly small acts will help to build in you something of the self-giving nature of Jesus, which will one day enrich your marriage and make you a pattern to your own children.
Teaching: A Most Important Task
The picture of Jesus as Bridegroom in Ephesians 5:25–26 brings out another aspect of His ministry—that of Teacher. He gave Himself up for the Church “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” The teaching of God’s Word must make the Church pure and holy, fit to be Christ’s Bride. Here is another way you will be able to represent Jesus to your wife and family: Make provision for them to receive the kind of Bible teaching that will fit them to be part of His Bride. If God blesses your home with children, teaching them will be one of your most important tasks. Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
In many families today, what Bible teaching there is often falls to the mother. This is contrary to divine order. The mother certainly has her part to play, but the primary responsibility rests on the father. In a home where only the mother gives the spiritual instruction, the boys are likely to conclude that “the Bible is a woman’s book.” When they reach adolescence, they may well decide it has nothing further to offer them.
How can you prepare yourself to fill the role of teacher in your home?
First of all, acquire an overall knowledge of the Bible. If possible, attend a local church where sound Bible teaching is given. This may be supplemented in various ways: books, videos, correspondence courses, seminars, conferences, radio teaching programs, podcasts, YouTube videos and so on.
From this, go on to systematic, in-depth study of the great basic doctrines of the Christian faith. You will need this solid foundation to build on. Concentrate on such books as Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews (The Epistles). Various kinds of material are available from the same sources listed above. Be prepared for hard work! At the same time, ask God to open a door for you to some situation in which you can begin to share with others the knowledge you are gaining. There are various possibilities: a home group, a group of college students, a Sunday school class, FPG Men’s group!!! Teaching others is the best way to find out how much you have really learned yourself.
All this will prepare you to fill the role of teacher in your own home. By now you should be qualified to teach the basic truths yourself. Beyond this, through your own studies, you will have discovered other sources of teaching such as those mentioned above. Draw on these in order to build on the foundation of biblical knowledge that you have been able to lay in the lives of your family.
Intercession: Your Highest Ministry
Closely related to the ministry of Jesus as Teacher is His priestly ministry as Intercessor. The writer of Hebrews tells us that after His ascension, Jesus entered the inner sanctuary, behind the second curtain, to appear there as High Priest on our behalf: Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
In representing Jesus to your wife and family, you must learn to combine the roles of priestly intercessor and teacher. As teacher, you will represent God to your family. As intercessor, you will represent your family to God. There is no higher ministry open to you. Here are some ways to prepare yourself for it.
First, study carefully the biblical patterns of this kind of intercessory ministry. Trace the results it produced in each situation. The following are some outstanding examples: Abraham interceding on behalf of his nephew Lot and the city of Sodom (see Genesis 18:16–33); Moses interceding on behalf of Israel after they had made and worshiped a golden calf (see Exodus 32:1–14); Moses and Aaron interceding on behalf of the Israelites dying of a plague (see Numbers 16:41–50).
Meditate on the implications of what God said concerning Israel in Ezekiel 22:30: “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (NKJV). Wherever God places you, you can learn to be a man who stands in the gap on behalf of others.
You will find it inspiring, too, to memorize the priestly blessing that Aaron and his sons were instructed to pronounce on their fellow Israelites (see Numbers 6:24–27). When you become a priest over your family, you will have a pattern for blessing them, which will be one of your greatest privileges!
The second way to prepare yourself for the role of priestly intercessor is to cultivate a regular personal prayer life (if you have not already done so). Be systematic; devote your best time to it. Ask God to lay on your heart the individuals for whom He wants you to intercede. These may be members of your family or your church, workmates or other associates. You should also include God’s ministering servants who have helped you and are likewise helping others. It is often practical to make a list of the people for whom you pray regularly. Accept personal responsibility before God for them.
Third, participate regularly in some kind of prayer meeting and bible study. Learning to pray with others will help you to overcome self-consciousness and will better equip you to pray in due course with your wife and your family. Prayer should become as natural a part of your family life as meals or play.
There is one important extra benefit resulting from learning the ministry of priestly intercession: It will help you greatly in the other roles in which you seek to represent Jesus. In fact, your success in the ministry of prayer will probably determine the extent of your success in those other areas.
Mark 3:27 27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
Intercession helps us become strong men of God. What are the risks if we neglect the source of our spiritual strength?
Your Role in Practical Terms
The best summary of your responsibilities as Jesus’ representative in your home is contained in the concept introduced at the beginning of this chapter: headship. In practical terms, what does this tell you about your role?
What is the function of a physical head in relation to the rest of the body? It takes three forms: receiving input from every area of the body; making decisions; giving direction. Every part of the body has the right to communicate with the head, but the head is responsible to assimilate the information it receives and then to initiate the appropriate action.
Apply this simple illustration to the role you will fill as head of your house. First, you must be open to communication from every member of your family—every need, every hurt, every pressure, every creative or constructive idea. Second, you must be able to take in all this information and decide on the appropriate action for the entire family to take. Although you receive input from each individual member, your decision must be what is best for the family as a whole. Third, having made your decision, you must initiate the action by the members of the family required to carry it out.
Taken from the book: God is a Matchmaker by Derek Prince