As the head, it is he who is responsible for his wife, for their marriage and for their home. On him falls the care and protection of the family; he represents it to the outside world; he is its mainstay and comfort; he is the master of the house who encourages, punishes, helps, and comforts, and stands for it before God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and papers from prison
These poignant words from one of our 20th century martyred brothers, remind us that we indeed carry a divine responsibility and burden to be the active “head” of our home. This headship in no way empowers us to become bullies, or dictators of our domain, but on the contrary, demands we follow Christ’s example by “giving ourselves up for” our wife. We are called of God to become Christ-like servant leaders of our wife and our home.
It is this writer’s contention that this call on our life demands we follow Christ in two important areas – protection and provision. As head of our household it is our privilege, and mandate to take the primary responsibility to be the protector and provider in our home. As always, He set the standard for us by initiating both of these for us, His bride.
Protector – The Bible is very clear that Christ voluntarily left His throne in heaven, His kingdom and reign, to be born a mere human infant. He humbled Himself even to the point of death at the hands of men whom He had created – all in order that we might be spared the wrath of Almighty God. He “bore our sin”. He “became a curse for us”. He stood in our place. He took our punishment and pain. He protected us. Because we deserved it? Because we did anything for Him first? Not at all. He did it because He loved us that much. As husband to the church, He took the responsibility and the initiative to lay down His life for us. We are commanded to do the same for our bride.
Provider – In Ephesians 5:28-29, we are told to “nourish and cherish” our bride in the same way Christ does His. It is interesting to me that these are action verbs, not passive nouns. We men have a tendency to throw out a few “I love you’s” and think that is enough for our wives to flourish or to meet God’s standard of care. Genesis 45 tells the story of Joseph taking the initiative to care for (“provide”) his brothers during the famine. In the same way, husbands are to take the initiative to make sure the needs of his wife and children are met. I would also add, that these needs do not only mean their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual as well.
The word “cherish” is used only one other time, by Paul, in I Thess. 2:7 where he describes his love for this people to a mother caring for her infant. This is the type of tender care that would do anything for her child. A passionate love that nurtures, feeds and meets needs in someone who cannot yet articulate them.
There is so much more that God requires of us as husbands. An impossible task indeed. Much like Christ’s impossible task. And, like Him, we cannot do any of it on our own. In the same way Jesus was desperate to meet with, and hear from, His Father on a daily basis – we are impotent if we try to lead, protect and provide without His divine leadership, wisdom, power and grace.
“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15).
We have a divine calling. A divine burden that can only be carried as we lock arms with Jesus each and every day.