The Husband's Sanctifying Role in Marriage, Part II
- Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Click here for Part I in this series.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His Body (Eph 28-30).
I was talking one evening to Charlie, a dentist friend of mine, who told me about a quest he was on. "I have decided," he announced to me, "to reclaim Sunday morning."
He continued. "Here's what I do. I get up at 7:00. I try to allow my hardworking and devoted wife one morning of extra sleep. She needs it. While everyone else sleeps, I dress and shave and have a good quiet time. I read a chapter from Proverbs and a few psalms. Sometimes I whisper a psalm back to the Lord.
"I resist the temptation to get the newspaper out of the driveway or to turn on the TV. The next thing I do is to wake up the children. I go sit on the side of their beds, and I rub their backs and cuddle with them and tell them I love them. I remind them that breakfast will be on the table at 9:00 sharp, and they need to be dressed and have their beds made if they want anything to eat.
"While they are busy, I go to work on breakfast. Scrambled eggs and toast, or pancakes, or whatever. Usually, the activity around the house wakes my sleeping wife, who begins to get herself ready for church. Along with the kids, she arrives at the table at 9:00 for breakfast. But I don't stop there. While everyone eats, I will find something to read-a passage from the Bible, and maybe a story from the Book of Virtues. After breakfast, we all pitch in to clean the kitchen, and by quarter to ten, we're ready for church.
"This has beaten the socks off our former pattern of running around scolding each other, saying 'We're going to be late if you don't hurry,' and 'You are always late. You need to think of others. Someday, I may just go off and leave you.' We used to fuss at each other until we were at the point of tears. No more.
"You know what?" my friend asked. "This one simple act has had a big impact on our family. While I'm getting breakfast, my wife gets a little extra sleep, and some time alone in the bathroom to do whatever magic she has to do on Sunday morning. She has not had to get a house full of kids dressed and fed while her husband reads the sports. She has been made to feel special. The very first act of the week, every week, honors her, and sets her on the high place that she deserves."
Charlie's quest to reclaim Sunday morning for his family is just one way in which he nourishes and cherishes his wife.
When Paul challenges men to "nourish" their wives, he uses a unique word. In fact, the word for nourish, ektrepho, is only found one other place in the Bible. A few verses later, Paul tells men not to exasperate their children but to "bring them up" (ektrepho) in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (see Eph 6:4).
So, is a husband to "bring up" his wife? Does that mean he should treat her as one of the children? The answer, in a special sense, is yes. But he is not to think of his wife as a child. Nor is he to relate to her as a child. She is his partner. She does not need to be brought to maturity the way a child does. But the Bible is teaching here that a husband is responsible for his wife's ongoing spiritual, mental, and emotional growth. She is in his care, and he is to shepherd her.
Now, we think of nourishment in physical terms. We provide nourishment for someone when we give him healthy food to eat. The word ektrepho carries that same meaning. But Paul expands on the idea. A man should not only nourish his wife by being a provider who makes sure there is healthy food for her to eat, but he should also nourish her soul. For his children, he nourishes them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. He knows that man does not live by bread alone.
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