Husbands—Recognize Christ’s Headship
“The head of every man is the Christ.”—1 CORINTHIANS 11:3.
1, 2. (a) How might the success of a husband be measured? (b) Why is it vital to recognize that marriage is of divine origin?
HOW would you measure the success of a husband? By his mental or physical abilities? By his ability to make money? Or is it especially by the loving and kind way he treats his wife and children? As to the latter measurement, many husbands rate poorly, for they are governed by the spirit of the world and by human standards. Why? Largely because of their failure to recognize and apply the guidance of the Originator of marriage—the One who “proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man.”—Genesis 2:21-24.
2 Jesus Christ confirmed this Bible account of the divine origin of marriage, saying to critics of his day: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together [in marriage] let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6) The fact is that the key to realizing a successful marriage is to recognize that marriage is of divine origin and that success is dependent on applying the instruction found in God’s Word, the Bible.
A Key to a Husband’s Success
3, 4. (a) What makes Jesus knowledgeable about marriage? (b) Who is Jesus’ figurative wife, and how should husbands treat their wives?
3 An aid to success as a husband is studying what Jesus said and applying what He did. His knowledge on the subject is profound, for he was present at the creation of the first human pair as well as at their marriage. Jehovah God said to him: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Yes, God was speaking to the One whom He created before anyone or anything else and who “came to be beside him as a master worker.” (Proverbs 8:22-30) This One is “the firstborn of all creation.” He is “the beginning of the creation by God,” existing even before the creation of the material universe.—Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14.
4 Jesus is called “the Lamb of God,” and he is figuratively depicted as a husband. An angel once said: “Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” (John 1:29; Revelation 21:9) Who, then, is that bride, or wife? “The Lamb’s wife” is made up of Christ’s faithful spirit-anointed followers, who will share with him in his heavenly rulership. (Revelation 14:1, 3) Therefore, the way that Jesus treated his disciples when he was with them on earth provides a model for husbands as to how to treat their wives.
5. For whom does Jesus serve as a model?
5 True, Jesus is presented in the Bible as an example for all his followers, as we read: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Yet, he is, in particular, a model for men. The Bible says: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) Since Christ is man’s head, husbands need to copy his example. Hence, the headship principle must be applied if the family is to find success and happiness. To this end, husbands need to deal with their wives in the loving way that Jesus deals with his figurative wife, his anointed disciples.
How to Face Marital Challenges
6. How should husbands dwell with their wives?
6 In today’s troubled world, husbands especially need to imitate Jesus’ example of patience, love, and firmness in upholding righteous principles. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) With regard to the model Jesus left, we read in the Bible: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge.” (1 Peter 3:7) Yes, husbands need to face marital challenges in a knowledgeable manner, just as Jesus faced difficulties. He suffered greater trials than has any other human, but he was aware that Satan, his demons, and this evil world were responsible for them. (John 14:30; Ephesians 6:12) Jesus was never surprised by trials, so neither should marriage mates be surprised when they experience “tribulation in their flesh.” The Bible warns that those who marry can expect to have such tribulation.—1 Corinthians 7:28.
7, 8. (a) What is involved in dwelling with wives according to knowledge? (b) Why do wives deserve to receive honor?
7 Husbands, the Bible says, should dwell with their wives “according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” (1 Peter 3:7) Rather than harshly dominating his wife, as the Bible foretold that men would commonly do, a husband who wins God’s approval will honor her. (Genesis 3:16) He will want to treat her as a prized possession, never using his greater physical strength to hurt her. Instead, he will consider her feelings, always treating her with respect and dignity.
8 Why should husbands properly assign honor to their wives? The Bible answers: “Since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) Husbands need to appreciate that Jehovah does not look at a man who worships Him as in any way superior to a woman who does so. Women who are counted worthy of God’s approval will share with men the same reward of everlasting life—many even enjoying life in heaven, where “there is neither male nor female.” (Galatians 3:28) So husbands need to remember that it is a person’s faithfulness that makes him precious to God. It is not whether a person is a male or a female, a husband or a wife, or even a child.—1 Corinthians 4:2.
9. (a) According to Peter, for what reason should husbands honor their wives? (b) How did Jesus show honor to women?
9 The necessity of a husband’s treating his wife with honor is emphasized by the apostle Peter’s concluding words, “in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” How dangerous such a hindrance could be! It could even lead to a husband’s prayers being blocked, as happened to some neglectful servants of God in the past. (Lamentations 3:43, 44) Wisely, Christian men—both married and those considering marriage—will study the dignified way in which Jesus treated women. He welcomed them into the group accompanying him in his ministry, and he treated them with kindness and respect. On one occasion, Jesus even revealed a most startling truth to women first, telling them to inform the men about it!—Matthew 28:1, 8-10; Luke 8:1-3.
Example Especially for Husbands
10, 11. (a) Why do husbands especially need to study Jesus’ example? (b) How should husbands show love for their wives?
10 The Bible, as noted earlier, compares a husband’s relationship with his wife to that of Christ with his “bride,” which is his congregation of anointed followers. The Bible says: “A husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation.” (Ephesians 5:23) These words should encourage husbands to examine the type of headship, or leadership, that Jesus provided for his followers. Only by making this examination will husbands be properly able to follow Jesus’ example and provide for their wives direction, love, and care, as Jesus did for his congregation.
11 “Husbands, continue loving your wives,” the Bible urges Christians, “just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25) In the preceding chapter of Ephesians, “the congregation” is called “the body of the Christ.” This symbolic body has many members of both genders, all of whom contribute to the body’s functioning effectively. Jesus, of course, is “the head of the body, the congregation.”—Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, 27.
12. How did Jesus demonstrate love for his figurative body?
12 Jesus demonstrated love for his figurative body, “the congregation,” particularly by the caring manner in which he served the interests of those who would become its members. When his disciples were tired, for example, he said: “Come . . . privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:31) Describing Jesus’ activity only hours before his execution, one of his apostles wrote: “Jesus, having loved his own [that is, members of his figurative body] . . . , loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) What a fine example Jesus provided of how husbands are to treat their wives!
13. How are husbands admonished to love their wives?
13 Continuing to draw upon the example that Jesus set for husbands, the apostle Paul admonished them: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation.” Paul added: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself.”—Ephesians 5:28, 29, 33.
14. How does a husband treat his imperfect physical body, and what does this indicate about how he should treat his wife?
14 Think about Paul’s words. Does a sane man ever intentionally injure his own body? When a man stubs his toe, does he beat it because it made him stumble? Of course not! Does a husband humiliate himself before his friends or gossip about his own shortcomings? No! Why, then, would he give his wife a tongue-lashing, or worse, if she made a mistake? Husbands should consider not just their own interests but those of their wives.—1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:5.
15. (a) What did Jesus do when his disciples demonstrated human weakness? (b) What lessons might be drawn from his example?
15 Consider how Jesus manifested concern for his disciples on the night before his death, when they showed human weakness. Despite his repeated request that they pray, they fell asleep three times in the garden of Gethsemane. Suddenly, armed men surrounded them. Jesus asked the men: “Whom are you looking for?” When they replied: “Jesus the Nazarene,” he answered: “I am he.” Knowing that ‘the hour had come’ for his death, he said: “If, therefore, it is I you are looking for, let these go.” Jesus never failed to consider the welfare of his disciples—part of his figurative bride—and he made a way out for them. By studying how Jesus treated his disciples, husbands will find many principles that they can apply as to how they should treat their wives.—John 18:1-9; Mark 14:34-37, 41.
Jesus’ Love Not Sentimental
16. How did Jesus feel about Martha, yet how did he correct her?
16 The Bible says: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” who often received him as a guest in their home. (John 11:5) Yet, Jesus did not hold back from counseling Martha when she gave undue attention to a meal that she was preparing, thus limiting her time to receive spiritual instruction from him. He said: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and disturbed about many things. A few things, though, are needed, or just one.” (Luke 10:41, 42) No doubt his evident affection for Martha made it easy for her to accept his counsel. Similarly, husbands should treat their wives in a kind, loving manner, using well-chosen words. Yet, when correction is needed, it is appropriate to speak up as did Jesus.
17, 18. (a) How did Peter rebuke Jesus, and why did Peter need to be corrected? (b) What responsibility does a husband have?
17 On another occasion, Jesus explained to his apostles that he must go to Jerusalem, where he would be persecuted by “the older men and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised up.” At this Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” Clearly, Peter’s view had been blurred by sentimentality. Correction was in order. So Jesus said to him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”—Matthew 16:21-23.
18 Jesus had just stated the divine will—namely, that he would suffer many things and be killed. (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:12) So Peter was wrong to begin rebuking Jesus. Yes, Peter needed firm correction, as we all do at times. As the family head, the husband has the authority and responsibility to correct family members, including his wife. While firmness may be needed, this correction should be given in a kind, loving manner. So just as Jesus helped Peter to put matters in proper perspective, husbands at times may need to do the same for their wives. For example, a husband may need to point out in a kind manner why some adjustment is needed if her dress or use of jewelry or cosmetics begins to stray from the modest pattern recommended in the Scriptures.—1 Peter 3:3-5.
Good for Husbands to Be Patient
19, 20. (a) What problem developed among Jesus’ apostles, and how did Jesus address it? (b) How successful were Jesus’ efforts?
19 If there is a fault that needs attention, husbands should not necessarily expect that their sincere efforts to correct it will meet with immediate success. It took ongoing efforts by Jesus to adjust the attitudes of his apostles. For example, a rivalry developed among them that manifested itself again toward the end of Jesus’ ministry. They argued about who among them seemed to be the greatest. (Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45) Not long after the second of such occasions, Jesus arranged to celebrate privately his last Passover with them. On that occasion, not one of them took the initiative to do the customary menial service of washing the dusty feet of the others. Jesus did it. Then he said: “I set the pattern for you.”—John 13:2-15.
20 Husbands who exercise a humble attitude like that of Jesus will likely have the cooperation and support of their wives. But patience is needed. Later that very Passover night, the apostles argued again regarding which one of them seemed to be the greatest. (Luke 22:24) Changes in attitudes and conduct often take time and are gradual. Yet, how rewarding when positive results are realized, as they were among the apostles!
21. In the face of challenges today, what are husbands urged to remember and to do?
21 Today, marriage is facing greater challenges than ever before. Many no longer take their marriage vows seriously. Hence, husbands, reflect on the origin of marriage. Remember that marriage is of divine origin, conceived and instituted by our loving God, Jehovah. He provided his Son, Jesus, not only as our Ransomer—our Savior—but also as a model for husbands to imitate.—Matthew 20:28; John 3:29; 1 Peter 2:21.
How Would You Answer?
• Why is it important that we recognize the origin of marriage?
• In what ways are husbands encouraged to love their wives?
• What examples of Jesus’ treatment of his disciples illustrate how a husband should exercise Christlike headship?
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Why should husbands study examples of how Jesus treated women?
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When his disciples were tired, Jesus showed consideration
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Husbands should counsel their wives with kind, well-chosen words