Just HOW FAR does the husband's authority extend? How should a real MAN act toward his wife?
I'LL TEACH you to obey me, you lousy scum!" the man screamed in a drunken rage as he lunged toward his frail, terrified wife. With doubled fists he hit and kicked her, knocking her against the wall and finally to the floor. He was the master of the house, so he said! The couple's three children, terrified, cowered in the far corner sobbing quietly. Their eyes were glazed with both fear and hate. They had seen this tragedy many, many times. So many times, in fact, that they would never be able to forget. Is the above example really unique? Not by any means! For some of the most shocking, horrifying and sadistic instances of human enslavement imaginable exist within the state often described as "holy matrimony."
"I have four children to support because my husband drinks a lot and isn't able to keep a job. He is getting to a point that he stays drunk most of the time. He talks all night and doesn't let me sleep. I am getting worse on account of not getting enough sleep. "I want to leave him so that I can rest when I get home from work. His drinking is also getting me real nervous. He talks all night and he gets mean and crazy. I've been putting up with him for many years. But I've gotten to a point that I can't take it any longer. "What would you suggest for me to do?" Unusual? Not at all! For, as all marriage counselors and most ministers realize, cases like this exist by the hundreds of thousands throughout our Western world. Notice this next letter from a PLAIN TRUTH reader: "How can a wife live with her husband, when he treats her like a child? I can't do anything without begging him first. "If I ever get to go out I have to be in the house by a certain time. If I do something he doesn't like he punishes me in some way. Sometimes he will even hit me. "I don't know how much I can take. I feel like I am in a prison. "We have two children and I find myself getting very short tempered with them. I just don't know what to do. Please help me." We receive literally thousands of letters like this from new listeners to the broadcast and new readers of The PLAIN TRUTH who have not yet learned to apply God's laws to their married life. Often, we publish articles showing the responsibility of both husbands and wives in marriage. But in this particular article — because of the crying need of the situations outlined above — I propose to tell you husbands what your responsibility is in marriage! Perhaps an entire book should be written on this by one of God's true ministers in due time but the "keys" to being the right kind of husband and having a wonderful, lasting and exhilarating marriage are not too hard to find. However, you do need to be willing!
How Woman Was Made
At the very beginning of your Bible, God describes some of the purposes He had in mind — and responsibilities — in creating man and woman. If you are ever going to find the answer to happy marriages, you had better be willing to accept instruction from the Great God of creation — the author of marriage and the one who made us male and female! Notice what He had in mind: "And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26). God said: "Let them have dominion" He intended that both the husband and the wife learn to exercise authority and responsibility over all of the creation under mankind. Verse 27 continues: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Here is made plain the fact that both man and woman were created in the image of God. They should both share in the blessings, the opportunities, the joys — as well as the responsibilities — of acting for God on this earth and having dominion over the rest of the physical creation. In Genesis 2:18, God reveals in detail why He created woman after creating the man: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him." As I have pointed out many times, it is not that man was the great, all-conquering hero who stood alone against the sky. The fact was that man needed a help! He was not complete! And woman was created to fill that emotional, mental and physical void in his life. This is something that all men should deeply appreciate.
A Wife BALANCES a Man
For man without woman is often like a train without an engine, an airplane without wings, or a car without wheels. Most men simply cannot be complete, cannot be fully happy and balanced, cannot function as they ought in the fulfillment of God's purposes unless each has the help of a loving, dedicated wife. Most of us men — even the most highly educated — need to realize this more fully. For this is a bit of "knowledge" that the world seems to be losing in its rush toward material acquisition, false values and even perverted "love" between members of the same sex which God condemns as sodomy. Our God says: "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (I Peter 3:7). Frankly and truly, most women deeply realize that they are indeed "the weaker vessel." They have no quarrel with this and are glad to take their place in life at the side of a strong, balanced and loving husband and act as his help and support. But if a husband takes advantage of this, crushes her in his desire to exalt himself and "prove something" to himself or somebody it is no wonder that her love, respect and trust quickly fades. Only hate and misunderstanding result and, indeed, the "prayers" of that household are greatly hindered if there ever were such prayers. The wife was created as a "help." She was created as the "weaker vessel" — to assist and inspire her husband. But how do you help. and assist a wild beast? How do you help and assist a perverted egotist who is so intent on exalting himself, "proving" to himself that he is great and powerful and acting like a little dictator that he makes life miserable for all others around him? Or, how do you help and assist a lazy, spineless drunken bum who refuses to support his wife and family, refuses to earn a proper living, and comes in night after night in a stupor — evil tempered and slapping and beating his wife and children? How do you assist this type of husband?
An Inspired EXAMPLE of Marriage
Throughout the inspired Word of God, the relationship between husbands and wives is shown to be the very type of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. This is particularly emphasized in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Notice! "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it" (verse 25). "Love your wives"? But what is "love"? Real love is deep affection, admiration, respect, a feeling of closeness and an outgoing concern for the one loved. Jesus Christ had an outgoing concern for the Church and so He gave Himself for it. When a woman decides to marry a man she should — if she is mature enough to understand — have such a strong affection, admiration and outgoing concern for the man she is to marry that she is willing to forsake all others, give up the easygoing freedom of singleness, and give herself to this man to be his sweetheart, his help and inspiration, his nurse and comforter when he is downcast or sick, the mother of his children and who knows how many other things? But what are the man's responsibilities toward his wife in the sight of Almighty God? In amplifying the analogy of Christ and the Church, I'm going to set forth five areas of a decent man's responsibilities toward his wife. If a man is so weak and gutless that he cannot wholeheartedly embrace these basic responsibilities, then he is not man enough to marry! If he is already married, he had better — for his own sake, for his wife's sake, for his children and grandchildren's sake and for the sake of his eternal life — study and pray, that he will be able to inculcate the teachings of Jesus Christ and character of God sufficient to carry out — for the most part at least — these five basic responsibilities in marriage!
I. Love and Respect
Certainly a man ought not to marry a woman unless he really and truly loves her. Yet, sorrowfully, we must acknowledge that millions of men have never learned the meaning of the word "love." Because of cheap novels, cheap movies, and wrong examples, they have all too often learned to confuse "love" with lust. They seem to think that a base, animal sexual desire to "get" satisfaction from another person of the opposite sex constitutes love. Nothing could be further from the truth! For true love involves a giving, a sharing of plans, hopes and dreams between two people who want to build an entire life together until death does them part. If they are not able to talk things over, smile into each others eyes, share little joys and intimacies, and stick together when the big trials come — their love is lost indeed. The apostle Paul commanded: "Husbands love your wives, and be not bitter against them." (Col. 3:19). Some husbands do allow themselves quickly to become "bitter" because their wives do not measure up to an angelic idol of perfection envisioned in their own human imaginations! But a wife was never intended to be an idol! She was never designed to be perfect in this life any more than her husband was! She was designed to become perfect. She was not intended to be a perfect housekeeper, mother, companion and also a Hollywood sex goddess all wrapped up in one individual! She was designed and created, however, by the Maker of us all to be a sweetheart, help and inspiration to a man who would share himself with her, go over his plans, hopes and dreams with her, give her encouragement and guidance and lead — not drive — their home in an attitude of confidence and love! Quoting Genesis, Jesus Christ said: "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh" (Mat. 19:5). In marriage, a man needs to realize that this "cleaving" is more than a mere physical relationship. It is an active and progressive growing together, a family relationship. A husband needs to concentrate on appreciating and encouraging his wife's happiness, beauty and personality. He needs to think of her and cherish her — not ever letting his thoughts dwell upon other women in the same way, or allowing his thoughts to dwell upon the negative aspects of his own wife anywhere near so much as upon her positive virtues, love and beauty. So many scores of women have cried out to me in despair: "My husband just won't talk to me! That is why we are not close — he just doesn't share anything with me. He just sits glumly at the table at mealtime or reading a paper or watching TV at night!"
Loving is SHARING
Loving means sharing. Every husband worthy of the name ought to cultivate the habit of talking over his plans and hopes with his wife, sharing with her many of his innermost thoughts and desires — not just the negative ones! — and make her feel deeply "a part" of him. This very attitude and approach means more to a woman than most men can even realize! A man needs to treat his wife as a "sweetheart." He needs to cultivate and build an atmosphere of love, romance and intimacy in their home — kissing his wife when he returns from work, holding her hand as they are taking walks, and embracing her often throughout the day with free and lavish affection. True love certainly involves deep and abiding respect. A man ought to be grateful and thankful that the woman who is his wife has decided to leave her own estate and cleave to him above all others unto death. He ought to appreciate that fact — and the many, many good qualities of help, patience and service which practically every wife possesses. He ought to encourage and bring out the best in her — not constantly harp and carp away at her in belittling criticism which only causes her, in most cases, to degenerate and respond in kind. A man ought to respect the fact that his wife is an adult human being made in the image of God. He needs to realize that some day — according to the True God's plan — she will probably become a glorified spirit being ruling with Christ over this earth, even managing angels! (I Cor. 6:3)
II. Support and Encouragement
Certainly a man was intended by God not only to be the head of the house but to be the "provider" as well. God says: "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (I Tim. 5:8). Every thinking man ought to realize that he is his happiest when he is building, increasing and providing. He will never have real peace of mind or abiding happiness unless he learns to fulfill this part in life. His brain, body and desires all cry out for fulfillment in an occupation to support himself and his family. But a really dedicated Christian man will certainly want to go far beyond just basic "support" for his wife and children. He will want 'to provide a really fine home for them — within his means and abilities. This does not mean a mansion or all kinds of luxuries. But with wisdom and extra effort a comfortable, clean and delightful house and home may be provided by nearly every man in the Western world if he is willing to put his brain and his back to the task! God says: "In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tends only to penury" (Prov. 14:23). Obviously a man who sits around hoping, wishing and talking — but never working — is not going to provide a good life for his wife and children. Again: "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious" (Prov. 12:27). A person who is diligent — who thinks, works hard and drives himself to accomplish is going to have a fine home and be able to provide a fine life — materially at least — for his family. However, merely giving physical support to a wife is not enough to fulfill her needs or the needs of her husband. For every normal man — in order to develop his fullest capacities — needs to learn to be encouraging and uplifting to his wife, his children and those around him. A wife certainly needs this "moral support" many times at the end of a hard day of working over the stove, cleaning the house and tending to the needs of active youngsters. A real man should not expect his wife always to encourage and support him. Rather, he should be ready, able and desirous of encouraging and uplifting her when she has her "down" moments as well! This type of mutual help and support automatically increases the deep love and respect that a married couple will have for one another. If the partner is there with a kind word, a gentle pat on the shoulder, an encouraging embrace, a look of compassion — this can mean more than any number of physical luxuries.
III. Leadership and Guidance
A third area of responsibility — and opportunity — for a really masculine husband is that of leadership and guidance. For God made the woman to physically and emotionally "lean on" the man as her head and leader. Unless a woman has by example or training developed a perverted approach to life, she naturally enjoys being led and even dominated by a man who respects, appreciates and loves her. However, always remember the difference between dominate and domineer. A man must learn to lead his wife by exercising all his faculties of wisdom, strength and personality. He must, most of all, set an example for his wife and children to follow if he expects them to gladly follow him. This is an automatic "leadership opportunity" that every man who is a husband innately has. It is definitely a part of a program the Great God had in mind when He instituted the family relationship. Every man should appreciate this opportunity — and be thankful that his wife has been willing to leave her father and mother, cleave to him alone, and stay at his side as his help. He should, therefore, respect and cherish that help. Knowing that he is the stronger physically and capable of exercising greater wisdom in all major family decisions, he should do so with confidence and love. Having this true love or "outgoing concern" and exercising his leadership — he definitely should take his wife into his counsel whenever possible, ask for and respect her advice, and then make the decision based upon all the facts and attempting to find the solution to any problem which will best serve his entire family — not just his own selfish wishes or desires. In leading the family, a man should talk things over with his wife continually. He should give her definite "guidelines" — letting her know in love and in fairness what he expects of her and how far her responsibility for certain decisions affecting the home, the items of food and clothing, etc., extend. Then she will know where she stands — and will be able to cooperate and implement her husband's decisions and wishes. The couple should counsel together — often with arms around each other about their future — their plans, hopes and dreams. In taking the lead, the husband should give guidance in seeing the overall perspective of the right future for his family. He should ask God for wisdom and vision and should plan ahead as to the type of home and life which is their goal, the future education and well-being of the children, and the type of friends the family should cultivate, the type of movies they should see, the books they should read, TV programs they should watch and their ultimate goal — hopefully the Kingdom of God! A husband and father who will do this not only proves himself more of a man — he actually increases his manhood, his wisdom and his abilities to lead by this very process of being the right kind of husband!
IV. Help and Protection
Returning to Ephesians 5, remember that Christ gave Himself for the Church — "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself" (verses 26-28). Every right-minded man certainly desires to cherish and protect his wife. She is his sweetheart, his companion, the mother of his children. He ought to realize that she is part of him! "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (verse 29). Realizing that his wife is part of him, a man certainly ought to have a solicitous and protective feeling toward his wife and sweetheart. Even beyond this, though, he should constantly be thinking of helping her as "the weaker vessel" so that she does not strain or overdo and so that her grace and beauty may be preserved throughout all of their married life. A real man will notice when his wife is overworking and lighten her burdens whenever possible. He will leap to action to lift heavy things for her, help her when she is sick, and protectively and lovingly watch over her in many such ways! Of course, a man should not do this because he is "made" to do it or "henpecked" into doing it! And no right minded wife would knowingly do this. However, even if a wife sometimes demands too much of her husband, he can still dominate without domineering and make sure that he is taking the lead in things — still helping her out at his direction and in sincere love and concern for her and their life together. The woman has her responsibilities, her particular duties in the household and she should gladly do them. But, "help" from her husband comes in as an act of love — given freely and fully when she is sick, downcast or is suddenly faced with an object too heavy to lift, a job too difficult for her to accomplish without the stronger partner of the marriage giving of his help and strength in love to his wife and sweetheart. Learn this lesson, men! Your wives will repay you in a thousand ways over the years to come if you learn to give this help when it is needed — and give it freely and in kindness.
V. Inspiration to GROW
Probably this fifth area of a husband's responsibility is the least understood and least practiced by most husbands today. That is simply because we are living in a world that certainly is all too often — dominated by the wrong type of feminine leadership and assertiveness. Also, it is because of the fact that men have relinquished their responsibilities — have not even tried to be the heads and leaders of their homes but have been lazy, ne'er-do-well and degenerate individuals. Inspiration to grow? By this I mean that the husband should not only lead the family in general, but should be the inspirer for each and every member of the family to develop his or her full potential as a human being and heir of God. The husband should think of this, first of all with his wife, of course, and then with the children as they come along year by year. A wise and loving husband should inspire and encourage his wife to grow in bodily health. He should be solicitous about her getting enough sleep, enough exercise, the proper diet and the right kind of recreation. Actually, although this should not be his motive, in helping his wife he is helping himself! For a strong, graceful and healthy body is certainly the basis of a warm, vivacious and loving personality. And certainly every right minded man would want to keep his wife sweet and beautiful as his "sweetheart" throughout their life together. He should also encourage his wife in mental development. He should realize that many wives tend to stagnate, become bored with life, bog down in their use of English, their knowledge of world affairs and their intellectual development in general. Therefore, a dynamic husband and leader should inspire his wife to study different types of books and news magazines, share with her the interesting outside news and information he is receiving in his work and contacts, take her occasionally to the right type of lectures, concerts or educational movies. When possible, an interesting trip throughout the United States (for our American readers) or to the Continent or elsewhere abroad will add a great deal to a wife's outlook on the world in general and her own life in particular. Every husband should be most concerned with his wife's happiness and personality. He should inspire and encourage her constant development and growth in these areas. Certainly by loving and helping her — sharing deeply with her his hopes and aspirations — he will be a tremendous inspiration to her in this regard. Whenever possible, he should express affection to her in the right way — showing by a thousand big and little things that he loves her deeply, appreciates her and wants her happiness above all else. A real leader and husband will correct those under him even including his wife when necessary. But he will strive to do this with kindness and with patience in a way that encourages one to overcome the fault without feeling beaten down and squelched. By all of this outgoing concern, and by making sure his wife does get the right amount of recreation, travel and friendly association with others of like interest, a husband may be assured that his wife is having a full and balanced life as God intended, and is even in this laying up a rich store of treasures which will bring forth happiness in their marriage for years to come. The area of character development is one also in which a really strong and masculine husband should take the lead. All too often, especially in our modern world, men seem to think that it is up to the "little woman" to talk about spiritual things and get the children interested in things concerning God and the Church. This is not true and any man who fails his God-given responsibility in this is simply selling out his own birthright! For God intended the man — if he will act on his responsibilities and opportunities — to be the spiritual leader in the home. Notice this inspired scriptural statement: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (I Cor. 11:3). There are other scriptures, of course, telling the woman to "learn in silence" and other such things. However, my purpose now is not to discuss the woman's responsibilities but the man's! Therefore, let me tell you husbands that it is your responsibility to take and to maintain the spiritual leadership of your home!
Don't Fail Your Responsibility
Entirely too many of you have failed utterly in this responsibility! You have supposed that religion was for old men, women, children and "goody-goods." But you have supposed wrong! For the strongest men who have ever lived have been the servants and prophets of Almighty God! Some day, very soon, you are going to know that! Every man alive has the opportunity to be the direct representative of God over his own home — in teaching, instructing, leading and inspiring his wife and children to learn and obey the words of the Holy Bible and to worship and serve the God who made them. Most normal wives and children will instantly and gladly respond if given half a chance! Men need to realize this and, first of all, set a dynamic example of dedication to their Creator, study of His Word, prayer to God at mealtimes — and family prayer — and private prayer on one's knees in the bedroom, closet or other private place. The man should set an example of self-discipline in the fear of God. He should show that he is man enough, strong enough — to conquer his lusts and control his appetites. By conquering his smoking habit, by controlling his drinking and other appetites, by restraining his emotions and directing them in the right channels, by controlling and guiding his tongue according to the "law of kindness," he can set an example which will never be forgotten by his sons and daughters as they grow up. And this example will certainly command the respect, admiration and love of any right minded woman. Think on these things, then, you husbands! With God's help, every last one of us can increase in the love, kindness and effectiveness we have shown as a husband and father. Every last one of us can grow in the five basic areas of responsibility for husbands outlined above: (1) Love and Respect, (2) Support and Encouragement, (3) Leadership and Guidance, (4) Help and Protection, and (5) Inspiration to Grow. By becoming better husbands we will also become better human beings! We will all become happier and healthier, and have a far greater sense of accomplishment than we ever had before. In marriage above all other areas of life, we need to experience the reality of Jesus Christ's inspired statement: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).