What I’m NOT going to talk about: “I want a man who buys me flowers, just because. He knows what I want without me having to ask. He realizes my need to have nice things…because everyone has the right to a few nice things, right? I want him to put me first.”
I’m not talking about that because flowers are nice, but not the point, nobody reads minds, we don’t actually need nice things, and men ought to put their wives second.
But gentlemen, I do ask some heavy things of you:
Well, before I ask them, let me say that I don’t ask for me. I don’t ask for my friends. I don’t even ask for women. I ask for the sake of all that is good and right and holy, for the purpose of listening to a God who has the best plan in mind. I will take another few lines to admit that women aren’t perfect, and although I think it difficult to compare women across generations, I do feel that ours has some special problems. But apologizing for women’s faults doesn’t absolve men of theirs, so I think it’s kind of pointless to dwell on that for this post. Besides, I’ve already fussed at ladies in another one. Just know that I think we share the blame, but that you still have the power to do what’s right on your end. Isn’t that all we can ever do?
I’ll open with what you’ll probably least like to hear, but it’s important: “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: [[this is Paul talking about something the church at Corinth wrote him.]] ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians Ch. 7)
I LOVE this, because there’s so much good instruction here. First, the hardest part: you must wait. Guys, you have to wait! Sex is for marriage. That’s said many other times in the Bible, but I think here it’s explained so simply, truthfully, and beautifully. You are becoming one. This is complete intimacy: not to be shared with another, not to be taken lightly, not to be ended except by death. And how interesting that God would even remind us to be selfless in this matter: that we, by becoming one, belong to the other. He is mine and I am his. This pleasure is God’s gift, but it’s not for just anytime or with just anyone. And just to reiterate: it’s not just for a special someone either, or someone you love. It’s for your wife.
Not trying to beat a dead horse, here, but sex matters. Disobedience to God matters. Sex outside of marriage hurts somebody, every time. It is not a ‘good’ thing. It is a good thing spoiled. I’ve looked into this so much in my short years, talked to people, listened very very very carefully, even when people think I didn’t, and I have not found one instance in which something good came out of fornication. And no, I’m not talking about children, because their existence is a gift from God, their souls an immeasurable blessing to their parents. BUT don’t ever look at me and say that it’s a good thing when mom and dad don’t tuck Junior in at night because they don’t live together, or don’t love each other, or whatever, much less are they married. But back to the sex that doesn’t result in a baby: I can’t know what you go through, but I do see that you live in a world of ridiculous temptation. We as women often don’t make it easy on you. And we must own that. But you must also be a man who obeys God. You are called to do the right thing, regardless, just as we are. Please join the battle out there of other men and women who try not to live a life guided by lust. Imagine that! We take sex so lightly these days, and what has it brought us? More love? No. The lusts of the flesh are not the tree of life. I can promise you that.
So I’m not saying: “Don’t have sex because you should respect women!” Because I think that so much less the point than that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage because God said so, and He made you from the dust of the ground. He knows what’s good for men just as well as He knows what’s good for women. And He tells us explicitly to wait.
Should you respect women? Sure. I mean, we should all respect each other. But, funny thing, when the Bible talks about respect, it’s talking about how the wife should treat her husband. When it talks about how the husband treats his wife, He says that he ought to love her in this way: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5) “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians Ch. 3). “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (I Peter Ch. 3). “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5). Ladies really do need you to be nice, and to sacrifice. I promise you that God gives us tough commands concerning you (submission!), as well, but His order for you is a tall one. It’s still an order. If you want to know what “love” is, God defines that for you, too:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians Ch. 13).
A note on submission: If God commands us as wives to submit to our husbands, that means one incredibly important thing: husbands must take the lead. You can’t be a leader and a follower at the same time in the same relationship. God has labeled wives as the follower in the spousal relationship. That leaves the role of leader squarely on the shoulders of the man. And guess what, you can do it! You can. Because His grace is sufficient for you. But, yes, please make those tough calls, be the one who insists on the things that are good and right and holy. And though I’m sure it happens in many cases (ideally both ways, as iron sharpens iron), please please don’t look for a woman to fix or save you. And if you need fixing, God is the only one who can do that.
More on leading: “One that ruleth his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;” (I Timothy Ch. 3) Definitely keep the kids in line. But also, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs Ch. 22). And!: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians Ch. 6). “Fathers, do not provoke your children, let they become discouraged.” (Colossians Ch. 3). “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs Ch. 13). On teaching children the commandments of God: “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy Ch. 11).
And a word on something that is already embedded in your heart, being a provider: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Timothy Ch. 5). I know many of you already do this, and thanks. I just didn’t want to gloss over it. A sidenote, though: If you have difficulty with ‘providing’ because your wife demands of you things like shiny cars and diamond rings, maybe you should take that as an opportunity to lead her in the virtue of humility and lack of greed and say no. Kindly. Because killing yourself to provide your family with an overabundance of material things will not save their souls, and one day they will thank you for your love and your time rather than your miserable weariness.
**If you can’t provide even the essentials, there’s help for that. That’s what being part of a body of believers is for (a church). We help each other. It’s real.
Men, please: Jesus is first, miles before your wife. Once His spirit rules you, you’ll love her a million times better anyway.