It’s Time to Man Up

I’m currently reading through The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men by Richard D. Phillips. One section jumped out at me in particular when he writes,

“What do men need to know about marriage? If my experience as a pastor is any guide—experience corroborated by nearly every pastor with whom I have discussed this topic—the best answer is something like this ‘Quite a bit more than they know now’” (55).

I chuckled when I read this because even though I don’t know the author personally, based on my pastoral experience I would wholeheartedly agree. Turning inward I had to admit that need to know quite a bit more than I know now about marriage. I have to admit that in eight years of marriage I have not always been the best spiritual leader in my home. I have to admit that it is easy to settle into patterns in our marriage, more often than not just letting our marriage coast on auto-pilot.

Guys, it’s time to man-up. It’s time to take responsibility for the state of our marriages. It’s time to turn to God’s Word to find out what it means to be a Godly husband, and then to take steps to put our faith into action. Take a minute and read Genesis 2:18-25 where we find the first word on the subject.

1.       Marriage Meets our Need for Relationship (v. 18)

God makes the statement, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God models living in relationship as He eternally exists as a Trinity, the “God-head, Three-in-One.” He created us to be in relationship with Him. He also created us to be in relationship with each other, the ultimate example of that relationship being the one between a husband and wife. The social sciences confirm that we were created for relationship-that something changes and damages as person when they live in isolation from other people. I know that my wife is God’s gift to me as we share life together. The challenge here is that we must constantly be working and growing our relationship with our wives. During the dating and courtship phases of a relationship, this may have come more easily-the times where you could talk on the phone for hours or couldn’t wait to spend time together. When the pressures of work and managing the schedule of a family come in to play, this does not come as naturally and we must be intentional. In some ways, men, we can’t ever stop dating our wives.

2.       Marriage Meets Our Need for Ministry (v. 18)

The next part of verse 18 shows that God said, “I will make a helper as his complement” (HCSB). This tells us that part of the purpose of marriage is for the husband and wife to work together. God did not create your wife to wait on you hand and foot. When God placed Adam in the garden he had an expectation that he was going to have to work. Eve was created to help her husband accomplish this ministry and be a complement to him. A Godly husband is the spiritual leader of the home and should lead, allowing his wife to assist him in this task. Unfortunately, in many families, we as men have abandoned our responsibility and left the spiritual matters to our wives. One question I’ve asked men before that gets to the heart of the issue, “If your wife didn’t get up and come to church on Sunday, would you?”

3.       Marriage Is Created By God (v. 22)

I know this may go without saying, but in our culture it cannot be assumed. Marriage is not created or defined by the government. It is not defined by our culture. It is not established by whatever we feel marriage should be. Marriage is created by God. In verse 21 God creates Eve and took her and “brought her to the man.” Marriage is actually the first institution created by God. Marriage actually comes before government. Since marriage is created and established by God, its purposes and benefits are derived from Him alone. Because of this we stand in contrast to our culture and government and say that marriage is between one man and one woman. Because God created marriage, when I have the privilege of officiating weddings I never say “by the power invested in my by the State of South Carolina.” It is not by the power of the state that you are getting married, it is by the power of God! So who should we look to when it comes to growing in our marriage? A pagan and godless government and culture or the King of the universe who created, set apart, and instituted marriage?

4.       Marriage involves Healthy Separation (v. 24)

The Bible says that “this is why a man leaves his father and mother.” When you marry your wife you have to leave your parents. That does not mean that you dishonor them, but you now become the head of your own family, with the responsibility that comes with it. I struggled with this early on in my own marriage as my father was a very strong leader in our house. I carried this into our marriage in that I had to learn a new way of relating to my Dad that still honored him as my father, but also honored my new role as head of my own family. Men, this means that your first loyalty is now to your wife. In the South we have a saying, “blood is thicker than water.” How insidious when we try to apply this to marriage. Men, you must choose your “above all else” including your family. This also means, as a word to wives, the first time he doesn’t do something right that you run back to your parents. When you get married you are making the commitment to create a healthy separation.

5.       Marriage Means Sticking Together (v. 24)

The “leaving” that happens in the first part of this verse is closely associated to the “cleaving” together in the second part. The Bible teaches that when a man and wife come together they become “one flesh.” This is pictured through the physical relationship between a husband of wife which is an outward sign of the inward reality that you are no longer two-but one. This does not mean that you must walk around joined at the hip or that you lose your personality in your spouse. Part of the spice of life in our marriage is that God created Amy and I with two different personalities. We don’t give that up just because we get married. What is does mean is that we are bonded together by our common faith and commitment to each other that we are no longer two single individuals, but a marriage unit. That means when she hurts, I hurt. When I rejoice, she rejoices. That means that we are both playing for the same team and I’m her biggest cheerleader and she’s mine. I’ve seen a picture floating around Facebook of an elderly couple holding hands. They are asked the question, “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?” to which they reply, “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away. . . “

Men, it’s time to man-up, to be the spiritual leaders in our homes and learn what it means to build a marriage God’s way.

Five Secrets Pastors Refuse to Tell

This is a blog post by Thom Rainer that originally appeared on his blog on June 2nd.

Aross the land, many have confided in me their hurts and secrets. I don’t think they would mind that I share these secrets with you, as long as I don’t identify them with any one pastor by name.

  1. “My marriage is struggling.” 
    Pastors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Oftentimes family meals are interrupted by a call. A planned date with a wife is put on hold because of an emergency related to a church member. Pastors’ wives sometimes wonder if their husbands are married to them or to the church. Resentment and marital fights are not uncommon.
  2. “I fear my kids will grow up hating the church.” 
    One pastor told me in tears the story of a church member criticizing the pastor’s wife to the pastor in front of his 12-year-old son. The young boy went home insisting he hated the church and never wanted to return. Children are often exposed to the dark side of church life. Pastors worry that they won’t recover.
  3. “I let a handful of critics control me.”
    These pastors wish the squeaky wheel didn’t always get oiled, but such is the reality in many churches. “If I ignore them (the critics), “ one pastor told me, “they will make life miserable for me and my family. Sometimes it’s just best to give them their way.”
  4. “I often have anger toward the supportive church members who don’t defend me to my critics.”
    “It’s not my critics who bother me personally,” the pastor shared with me. “It’s the so-called supportive members who refuse to come to my defense when I’m attacked by a critic. Going into a business meeting, one of these supporters told me how much he loved me, and how he would always have my back. Fifteen minutes later, I’m being castigated by three members who hardly ever attend church. What does my supporter do or say? Absolutely nothing. That’s what really hurts.”
  5. “I’ve thought about quitting several times.” 
    These pastors are truly called men of God. They really do love their congregations. Most of them will endure the criticisms aimed at them personally. But when supportive members really don’t support them, or when family members are hurt, many pastors think about quitting. “Only one thing has stopped me from quitting,” the pastor said. “It’s the call of God. That’s what keeps me hanging on.”