This is the fourth article in a series dealing with leadership in the home. You can read the first part here, the second part here and the third part here. We’ve seen a brief defense of male headship and we’ve seen that God calls men to be leaders in the home. Today we look at the husband’s role in protection.
A husband is uniquely equipped to protect his family. There is more to protecting his family than simply being strong and taking the proverbial bullet in place of his wife or children. In this article I want to outline a few of the ways in which a husband is responsible for protection.
Protect Your Family
Protect your family physically. The godly husband is responsible for the physical security of his family. God has given men greater physical strength than women and has also given men a need or desire to be protectors. You are to use this God-given strength to protect your wife and to ensure that she feels secure. She must know that you will protect her even at the cost of your own life. You must be the first into battle, you must be the one who knows that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
John Piper expresses this calling well: “If there is a sound downstairs during the night and it might be a burglar, you don’t say to her: ‘This is an egalitarian marriage, so it’s your turn to go check it out. I went last time.’ And I mean that even if your wife has a black belt in karate. After you’ve tried, she may finish off the burglar with one good kick to the solar plexus. But you better be unconscious on the floor, or you’re no man. That’s written on your soul, brother, by God Almighty. Big or little, strong or weak, night or day, you go up against the enemy first. Woe to the husband–and woe to the nation–that send their women to fight their battles.”
You are to love your wife as Christ loved the church. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Ephesians 5:23). Christ loved the church to the fullest possible extent–to the laying down of his life. He considered his life nothing in comparison with the task God had appointed to him. As a godly husband, you are to imitate Christ in this.
But there is more to it than simply being the first down the stairs when there is a noise in the night. You must also be proactive, protecting your family from predators. You must be constantly aware, constantly on guard against danger your family may encounter. So, for example, you will need to take the lead in ensuring that your children are using the internet wisely, that you have criteria for protecting your children from predators online or offline, that they are not encountering things on television that their minds and hearts are not yet equipped to understand. You will guard and protect your children from sexual temptation or sexual expression while they are dating.
Protect your family emotionally. You do this by refusing to give in to the temptation to dominate your wife and children as an overlord instead of a servant. You must learn how to properly discipline your children so you guard their bodies and their hearts. You will need to learn how your wife is different from you emotionally so you can be tender and understanding toward her (see 1 Peter 3:7 and Colossians 3:21). You need to provide loving leadership that guides and protects with dignity and love.
Protect your family theologically. You do this by developing wisdom and discernment–by pursuing godliness. You need to act like the nobel Bereans of old who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). You must be careful not to introduce to them any false teaching, knowing that as a teacher, the most important teacher your family will have, you will be judged with a harsher judgment for any false doctrine you may recommend to them.
Protect Your Family From Themselves
The godly husband protects his wife and children by helping them flee sin so they do not suffer its painful consequences. You need to know and understand that sin, when it runs rampant, damages more than just the sinner. Seek to guard your family from their own sin. Protect your wife from the sin of the children and the children from the sin of your wife; protect the children from one another.
As a godly husband you may have to intervene in the way your wife disciplines the children, not allowing her to be harsh or even abusive toward the children. You must not allow your love for her or your fear of her to allow you to avoid costly or unpopular leadership. Use your strength and authority even to protect your wife from the children, not allowing them to threaten or abuse her with words, attitudes or fists.
Protect Your Family From Your Own Sin
One of the unmistakable lessons we learn from reading the Old Testament is that a nation can suffer because of the sin of its leader and that a family can suffer because of the sin of its father. When Achan sinned (Joshua 7) by keeping for himself some of the items plundered from Jericho that God had devoted for his own use, it was not only Achan who suffered the consequences. All of Israel was punished for a time through the disastrous battle of Ai which saw thirty-six soldiers fall as the Israelite army was routed. God revealed that one man had sin and eventually Achan’s whole family was put to death for the sin of the father. “They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. ” Think as well of the rebellion of Korah as described in Numbers 16. Korah rebelled against Moses’ leadership, saying that he was exalting himself beyond the rest of the people. God’s judgment was swift: “And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.” In both cases, the husband and father sinned but the whole family suffered consequences.
A man cannot commit himself to sin without his whole family bearing consequences. In the response to a series I wrote on the effects of pornography I received email after tragic email, describing how a husband had sinned against his wife by turning to pornography. In every case the wife was defiled by her husband’s sin, hurt by it, devastated by it. Often even the children were affected as their parents became estranged from one another, pulled apart by the father’s commitment to his sin. Wife and children suffered because a husband was more committed to his sin than he was to his family.
A godly husband protects his family by turning from sin and pursuing holiness. Know that your sin goes far beyond your own life and impacts your children and your wife. Out of love for your wife and children, out of compassion for them, out of a desire to serve them, live a holy life. Flee sin, put it to death, and pursue holiness. In this way you will be protecting your family from your sin and from the effects of your sin. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give your family is a silent, hidden decision to refrain from pursuing sin. Your family would be better off if you’d skip the trip to Disney and commit yourself to holiness.
Protect Your Wife
The godly husband focuses special attention on protecting his wife. And what man doesn’t feel the need to protect his wife? There is something in the very make up of a man that compels him to protect her, to shelter her from the pain life can bring.
Protect your wife physically. As we have seen, a godly husband uses his strength to protect his wife from any physical harm. He puts himself in harm’s way rather than risking her harm. He does not allow himself to feel that he needs to turn his cheek to any kind of abuse of his wife, but reacts with strength even at the risk of his own harm. He will face his own harm, he will face his own death, to keep his wife from suffering at the hand of others.
Allow me a brief aside here. I think most husbands have come to terms with the idea that we need to be willing to die for our wives. There is something noble and chivalrous that compels us to admit this and to romanticize it. “Of course I’d die for my wife!” But I wonder, do you find it equally easy to live for your wife? If you do not live day-to-day honoring and blessing and serving your wife, what assurance would she have, what assurance would you have, that would also be willing to die for her? It seems to me that dying for her is the easy part. You can go down in a blaze of glory and have a great story written about you in the newspaper. But it is that long, daily commitment through fifty or sixty years of marriage that is the true proving ground. Don’t just die for your wife–live for her!
Protect your wife emotionally. The godly husband will protect his wife’s heart. One of the ways he does this is by becoming a student of her. He learns what she loves and learns what she hates; he learns what draws her heart to him and what turns her heart from him. He avoids anything that will damage or scar her heart. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).
Protect your wife sexually. This is a particular area of responsibility from a husband to a wife. The godly husband will not demand of his wife what she is unwilling or unable to give. He will not force her or badger her into sexual deeds that violate her body or violate her conscience. He seeks to protect her from any kind of sexual harm, including the false messages that can come from raunchy movies or from pornography. When writing about sexual purity I received emails from wives whose husbands introduced them to pornography, seeking to add it as a means of spicing up their love life. What a lack of love, to compound sin upon sin by drawing a wife’s heart after a husband’s own evil desires! As a godly husband you need to understand God’s purposes in sexuality and protect your wife from any violation of them. You need to understand from 1 Corinthians 7 that your desire in sex should be pursuing your wife’s desires rather than your own.
Protect your wife spiritually. Protect your wife spiritually, primarily by your commitment to pray for her, to hold her up before the throne of God. Commit yourself to praying for her every day and even many times a day. Pray for her constantly, repeatedly, unceasingly. Know that your prayers, as her leader, as her husband, must have special value before God. Tell her that you pray for her and ask her what you can pray for on her behalf. Commit yourself to this practice and look for the evidence of God’s response to your earnest supplications.
More in Leadership in the Home:
- Leadership in the Home – Introduction
- Leadership in the Home – A Defense
- Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Leads
- Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Provides