"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week 8: Love Your Wife As Christ Loved, Part 1

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. ~ Ephesians 5:25

We're keeping my dad's dog, Buddy, while Dad is in the hospital. Buddy is a very overweight Beagle who is obsessed with food and accustomed to getting his way. He is a bit of a problem dog. I've been watching the television program, The Dog Whisperer, starring Cesar Millan. Cesar is amazing. He takes problem dogs, rehabilitates them and trains their owners. Cesar's philosophy is that you must be the "alpha dog." This means that to have a happy healthy relationship with your dog, you must establish your dominance as leader of the pack. There are several techniques that you use to send this message to your dog. At meal time, you should always eat first, while your dog watches. You go through doorways first, all the time. On a walk, you lead the way. You dominate in every situation, thus sending the message to your dog that he's low beast in the family hierarchy. Hopefully, the dog responds with submission and obedience. With dogs, any other system is fraught with danger. Dominate or be dominated; this is the law of the pack. Leadership by physical and mental domination is the natural order of things in the animal world. Perhaps it is the natural tendency among humans as well---at least the natural tendency in a fallen and sinful world.

Jesus, however, teaches a different kind of leadership--servant leadership. When the disciples argued among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus said, "He who is least among you all---he is the greatest." Luke 9:48b. In human relationships, Jesus rejects the alpha dog mentality, teaching that "the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16. Jesus washed his disciples feet, saying "I have set you an example that you should do as I do." John 13:15. Ultimately, Jesus demonstrated his love for the disciples by taking on the utter shame and humiliation of the cross for their sakes.

As Christian husbands, we are called to love our wives as Jesus loved the church. The relationship between husband and wife is a picture to the world of the relationship between Jesus and the church. This means that we are called to lead our wives by providing for their physical and spiritual needs. We are called to lay down our lives for them. We are called to serve them. For humans, as I heard Cesar say on a recent episode of The Dog Whisperer: "God is the pack leader. We are all His followers."

I don't think servant-leadership means that we ought to cater to our wives' every whim and desire. That's not leadership at all, and it's not giving our wives what they need. For us husbands, the practical problem is knowing what our wives need. Jesus perfectly knew what his disciples needed, and he always gave it to them---sometimes a rebuke, sometimes encouragement, sometimes an act of kindness and service. More than anything else he knew the church needed forgiveness, and he died so the church could have it.

As imperfect husbands, we cannot know perfectly what our wives need. Women are, after all, complicated and wonderful creatures. As we prayerfully commune with God, the Spirit will provide us some guidance. For those of us blessed with trustworthy and Godly wives, I think we ought to ask our wives what they need from us and respect what they tell us.

Christina and I will have our ten-year anniversary this May 13. She has enriched my life. I feel overwhelmingly in her debt, and I cannot express what her companionship has meant to me. There have been troubles and stresses, but it gives me great joy to see how great and growing are the blessings that God has given us as a couple. One thing that I've not done often enough over the last ten years is ask Christina what she needs from me that she's not getting.

In the spirit of becoming a better listener and a more responsive husband, I have not written my assignment this week. I've asked Christina to do so. I think she's letting me off pretty easy. Here is what she asks:

  1. Really pay attention when I'm talking to you, and try to hear my heart, not just my words. (Isn't it just like a girl to say something like that?)
  2. Daily tell me how you feel about me. (emphasis in original)
  3. Plan a surprise date night!
  4. Foot rubs galore.
At the end of the week, I'll write a post describing how things went, or maybe I'll ask Christina to write that one. Until then, grace and peace to you.


  1. Radical generosity in a marriage is so wonderful. I hope you learn the fruit of sharing in that with Christina even more!

  2. Sounds like Christina is in for a great week! :) Praying that your marriage will be blessed this week and abound with love for each other!