Appreciating the First Lady (8)

When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken (Deut.24:5).

This text makes it clear that a husband’s presence, love, protection and security of his wife and family is more important than his protection and security of the nation of which he is a part, at least for his first year of marriage.

Why is this?

Individual families are more important than nations, because healthy nations are built upon and depend upon healthy families to survive. What use is it, if a nation perpetually has thousands of men under arms, but those men have effectively deserted and are neglecting their wives and families, exposing them to the harm that stems from their continual absence, or death?

This is a mistake that political leaders make repeatedly, even those who claim to be conservative, and say they believe in “family values.”  Because power is generally their end, they overlook the importance of the individual, the family and the church, the true foundation stones that healthy nations are built upon.

The Bible repeatedly makes it clear that healthy leadership of the church is contingent upon men who have shown they have succeeded, and are faithful in their family. Their example is very important in the church. Paul explains that

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will be take care of the church of God?)… (I Tim.3:2-5).

And there’s more. The Bible is not a misogynist document; though husbands do have authority over their wife, men are not innately superior to women, and the abuse, dismissal or contempt for women in any form (in sharp contrast to the Islamic religion), has no basis in scripture. On the contrary, the care and consideration towards women and wives particularly, which Moses teaches in Deuteronomy, is later reflected in Paul’s writings as well:

…One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided… (I Cor.7:32-34).

Only a fool is dismissive or contemptuous of his wife’s views. Being weaker does not imply inferiority on her part. And this theme of the deeply personal aspect of a husband’s responsibility towards his wife is illustrated in other places with Paul:

So husbands ought to also 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.5:28-29).

Derek Prince commented on this passage:

The two words nourish and cherish suggest an attitude of intimate concern that includes attention to what might appear to be small details. A husband should be concerned about his wife’s health, her appearance, the way she does her hair, the perfume she uses. Everything that concerns her should concern him. She should always have the confidence that to her husband she is the most important person in the world.[1]

I had the opportunity to be tested on this today. We were out, and we’d decided to buy some fish for tea, from the other side of a 4 lane road in Brisbane, speed limited to 70 kph. I’d decided to wait for a gap and run across 2 lanes, wait on the median strip for another gap, then go across the next two to the fish shop, repeating the process to get back to the car. But Sue thought it was too risky with people were rushing home from work, and that she’d really prefer me to drive down the road, do a U-turn and park, buy the fish, do another U-turn and go home.

My first thought was, “That’s unnecessary. I’ll be able to get across those lanes easily.” But she was concerned for me: she made it clear that she’d be much happier if I did it her way. And so I thought, “All right. I don’t need to be the Macho Man here, and do something silly, which has an element of danger. I’ll take the extra 3 minutes it will take to drive.”

Conclusion:

Independence and a male’s egotistical sense of superiority don’t make a marriage work. On the contrary, it causes tensions and drama. The Bible’s emphasis is entirely different, emphasising relationship, companionship and the interdependence of husband and wife, for life. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Prov.31:11).

My fellow husband, is that your approach, too?

 

 

[1] Derek Prince, “Husbands and Fathers,” 2000, p.31-32.

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