Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HUSBANDING” Part 2 (“ye husbands”)

First Peter 3.7



This is the second in my series of messages taken from First Peter 3.7 and titled “Husbanding.” Turn to First Peter 3.7, which is the text for this entire series of sermons: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Previously, we considered the first word of the verse, “Likewise.” I pointed out that in the case of both wives, verses 1-6, and husbands, here in verse 7, the Apostle Peter directed that as the Lord Jesus Christ set an example for us by suffering without guile, without reviling, and without threatening, so should husbands endure suffering following Christ’s example.

I want to continue our exploration of husbanding by continuing to scratch the surface of this subject that is at the same time both straightforward and complex, both easy to understand and profound in its complexities. Having shown you the implications associated with the word “Likewise,” tonight we will take the briefest of looks at that which comes to mind from a consideration of men Peter addresses his remarks to, “ye husbands.”

Though you ladies are certainly invited to listen in on our discussion, and you boys and still unmarried men are strongly encouraged to do the same, this sermon is direct to you husbands.

Over the course of my 30+ years in the ministry, I have come to realize that sometimes guys jump into situations before they have any serious reflection on what it is they are jumping into. Therefore, tonight I ask three questions to get us grounded in the basics:




You might find it funny that I ask that question. I think it is tragic that I feel the need to ask that question. However, events that are occurring in our society make this question a very, very necessary one to ask, with the Bible being the only authoritative source of information from which we find the answer.

What is a husband? A husband is a man. You might think it silly to insist that a husband is a man, but there are more and more people who think the entire institution of marriage is the construct of social convenience, and that the notion that a husband is a man, or that a husband has to be a man, is arbitrary. While I grant you that marriage is socially convenient, with very obvious benefits for those who are married, it was not the construction of any man. Marriage is the first of those human institutions brought into existence by God, and it was God who determined that husbands be men. The very first time the word “husband” appears in the Bible it is in connection with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sadly, we find the word in Genesis 3.6, where we are told that Eve “took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Thus, though it is tragic that we must discover it in that passage which records the fall of mankind into sin, it is undeniable that when God crafted the first marriage with the first man He had made with the first woman He had made, He made the first husband a man.

What is a husband? A husband is also a married man. A man is not a husband simply because he has had sex with a woman, since unmarried men who have had sex are termed fornicators in the Bible. A man is a husband who is married to someone who is a woman. Some fabricated homosexual arrangement between two men or between two women cannot be a marriage, no matter its legality in the eyes of the law, because God is the author of marriage, and He made marriage between a man and a woman. A man, and only a man, becomes a husband when he enters into marriage with a woman, and only with a woman. Men with men is perversion. Women with women is perversion. It is not perversion because I say so, but because God’s Word says so, with a man entering into a marriage with a woman making him a husband and her a wife. How dare I make such categorical pronouncements of rightness and wrongness? Who do I think I am to be so flagrantly judgmental? I assure you that I have no right to arrive at such convictions independently. Romans 1.18-27 is where I draw my convictions from with respect to this issue:


18     For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19     Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20     For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21     Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22     Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23     And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24     Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25     Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26     For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27     And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.


Thus, sexual relationships between men are abominable. Relationships of that nature between women are abominable. However, relationships between men and women outside the boundaries of marriage are also wicked, as Hebrews 13.4 makes very clear: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”




What I mean by that question is why does a man decide to marry a woman and thereby become a husband? The answer may be self-evident to you as we consider a man’s options with respect to marriage.

Option #1, of course, is fornication. The word “fornication” translates the Greek word porneia, from which we get the English word pornography. The Greek word refers to unlawful sexual intercourse, and even participation in prohibited degrees of marriage.[1] The word “fornication” can have two scopes of meaning. On one hand, whenever someone is engaged in sexual activity while not married that person is committing fornication. On the other hand, even when someone is married he can, in another sense, be guilty of fornication, since in its broadest sense, fornication refers to any kind of unauthorized or prohibited sexual activity. Thus, you can be a fornicator even if you are married and do not cheat on your wife, because you are in a prohibited marriage. I submit to you that some men, even though they are married and are in a technical sense married, do not function as husbands because they do not confine their sexual activity to the woman they are married to. A guy who does not marry is obviously not husbanding a wife. However, what about a guy who is married? He has a wife. Is it not clear that he is not husbanding his wife if, #1, his marriage to her is not scripturally authorized, and, #2, if he is not faithful to her but cheats on her with other women? Thus, more than you might first think have opted out of real husbanding of wives by not marrying, or by marrying inappropriately, or by cheating on their wives. This pattern is a return to the behavior typically exhibited by men in the days before God’s Word influenced cultures and individuals.

Option #2 is “equality” in marriage. Although every biologist admits that any organism with more than one head is a monstrosity, a surprising number of people are of the opinion that something referred to as “equality” in marriage is a workable approach. I am not sure why some people think marriages can work if they treat each other as supposed “equals,” but they do. I am not suggesting that that men and women are not equal, but I am suggesting that there is no model anywhere in existence that suggests marriages can work in the absence of a functional hierarchy. If you look at business partnerships, you certainly see that those partners do not conduct business as equals, even if they are partners with equal liability in the eyes of the law. One partner is always dominant. Nevertheless, it has become politically correct for couples to think of themselves as “equal partners” in marriage, though I am sure the fly on the wall observing the day to day activities and decision making in that family would quickly conclude that there is no such thing as “equality” in marriage so far as functional decision making equality is concerned. Does a man involved in such a marriage actually husband his wife? Is a man really a husband if his arrangement is so far from the Biblical pattern established by God that the basic relationship established by God is nonexistent? Couples living in post-Christian era societies attempt this type of marriage.

Option #3 is following the wife. A person is not long in this church before he is confronted with my decided convictions about such matters. I have even coined a phrase that fits nicely with the relationship God established for husbands and wives in marriage. I call it “functional hierarchy,” to describe the relationship of two who are equal in the sight of God but who are involved in a relationship in which one leads the other in function though he is not in any way superior. Simply put, the pattern whereby the husband follows the wife is not found to be acceptable in God’s Word. No matter the woman’s leadership skills or the man’s leadership skills, God’s plan does not involve the husband following his wife. More and more we see couples slipping into this mode of existence, while also seeing role reversals occurring whereby men increasingly pursue historically female occupations and women pursuing historically male occupations. Working moms and stay at home dads? I find it incredible that our culture has devolved to that point.

Option #4 is providing leadership. Some men enter in marriage with a determination to exert leadership and with the expectation that their wives will follow their lead. This is precisely the kind of marriage my wife and I entered into almost 32 years ago. I well remember the night I proposed to her. When I asked her to marry me and she said that she would, I then laid out the ground rules. I told her how it was going to be, because I wanted her to be happy, and I wanted to be honest with her. I wanted her to marry me, but I did not want her to get into something that she could not put up with. I laid out as clearly as I knew how that I would provide whatever leadership was needed in the marriage. I pointed out that, apart from what the Bible taught, my personality dictated that I could only function in that kind of marriage. I wanted to make sure that she understood what she was getting into. Although she said yes to me, and indicated that because her father had always been a very weak husband she wanted a husband who would provide leadership in the marriage, she had no idea what she was getting into. Ladies, if you did not grow up in the home of a father who was the leader, you have no idea what you are in for by marrying someone like me. You will have the most severe kind of jolt to your psyche if your only exposure to husbands is to a father who is a mild-mannered Clark Kent type of guy. Yet this is the kind of husband the overwhelming majority of men throughout the world used to be like, if they were husbands at all. If this is the kind of husband a man is in this culture, he will have severe problems in his marriage, because this is the marriage model that was completely undermined by the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, entering a marriage with the idea that you are going to be the leader is usually the result of consideration of those characteristics that are least important when leadership is considered. Should a guy be in charge just because he is bigger than his wife, stronger than his wife, louder than his wife, more aggressive than his wife, or because his wife is busy having babies? Yet these are the considerations that are most typically responsible for men providing leadership in their marriage. Option #4 was what reflected my own feelings, opinions, and disposition when I married my wife. However, I was wrong. Do not get me wrong. I think option four is superior to the other three options, though such an approach to marriage is the least of the first four options likely to survive in our culture.

Option #5 is providing spiritual leadership. A man should enter into marriage to lead his wife, not because he is bigger, or stronger, or louder, or because he is more aggressive. He makes a big mistake if he assumes he is smarter than his wife is. What happens if you are afflicted in such a way that you are no longer bigger, stronger, louder, or more aggressive? What do you do when you find out that your wife is smarter than you are? Does your marriage fall apart? Do you divorce? Many marriages fail precisely because they are built upon faulty premises, or because radical changes alter the marriage dynamic. Recognizing that no man should marry a woman he is not attracted to, keep in mind that it is not unusual for a man to find many different women attractive. Of those women he finds attractive, what is one of the overriding considerations when it comes to which of those attractive women he should marry? Obviously, the woman should be a committed Christian who faithfully serves God. That pretty much narrows down the field, does it not? Want to narrow the choices down even more? She must be a woman who would be willing to marry you. Therefore, the candidates should be attractive, spiritual, willing women. Here is another important consideration: Is this a woman you want to provide spiritual leadership for? Is this a woman you think will follow your spiritual leadership?

To restate then, why does a man want to be a husband to a wife? Obviously, many guys do not want to be husbands. They are men who are sexually promiscuous, and are not interested in being faithful to the woman they marry. Other men are not promiscuous; they just do not want to put up with the difficulties and obstacles to spirituality that are found in marriage. Understanding that it is better to marry than burn, legitimate and God-given needs are part and parcel of any man’s motives to marry. A woman who denies this aspect of her husband’s attraction to her is an idiot. However, an important component of marriage is the spiritual aspect. God created marriage, and to deny the spiritual dimension is to deny the most important part of marriage. Therefore, when a man marries, if he is not going to ignore the most important component of marriage, that which is most significant to the strength and durability of his marriage, then he must provide spiritual leadership for his wife. What is spiritual leadership in marriage? We don’t have a great deal of time left, so let me put it this way: It is leadership by a spiritual husband. Partner, you have to be spiritual. If you are not spiritual, you cannot address the most important part of your marriage. That should be why you husband your wife, to provide spiritual leadership to your mate for life.




I have already surveyed much of this, but there are four aspects of marriage that are important for a husband to give serious attention to:

First, the sexual component of being a husband. Notice First Corinthians 7.3, where Paul writes, “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence.” Husband, you need to take care of business. I hope that you are not married to an idiot who thinks this is a part of marriage that is optional, or a part of marriage that can be ignored for long periods. However, even if you are not married to a woman who seems terribly excited about romance in the marriage, and even if you feel discouraged by your wife’s lack of interest, you are forbidden to defraud her. Nothing against anyone’s will. No force or violation of anyone’s will is ever to occur. However, even if one spouse is oblivious to the importance of this aspect of marriage, the other spouse can and should contribute to the survivability of the marriage by not neglecting the marriage bed. What do people think their spouses will do if they do not take care of business? Are people so stupid that they think temptations will not occur? Help your spouse deal with temptations.

The emotional component of being a husband. What is wrong with being nice? What is wrong with creating in your spouse the desire to be with you, the desire to romance you, the desire to follow you? I think I have known one husband who was adept at dealing with the emotional component of being a husband. All the rest of us are pretty deficient and need a lot of work.

The provisional component of being a husband. This has to do with being the breadwinner. You owe your wife an apology if you have ever let her work while you did not work. In the mind of a woman, a huge portion of your qualifications as a husband has to do with you providing for the family, and you only create problems for yourself by not killing yourself to get and keep a job while your wife works. The Bible teaches that a man who does not work should not eat. The Bible also teaches that a man should sacrifice for the benefit of his wife. Therefore, you guys should work and work and work, even if you have to work for less money than you think you deserve. The Bible teaches, “In all labour there is profit,” Proverbs 14.23. My own opinion is that this notion of refusing to work for less than you think you deserve is a trick of the devil to entice men into a laziness and lethargy that traps them and is very hard to get out of. There are far more benefits to working than the amount of money you make. How much is the good will of your wife? How much is the admiration of your children, or the example you set for them that will benefit them as adults?

I find it amazing that more women don’t kick their husbands to the curb for not working. Guys, find a job and work it, even if it is a job making high priced coffee at Starbucks. Men should work unless they are physically incapable, especially men who are married. It is part of being a husband.

Finally, the spiritual component of being a husband. You can’t be spiritual if you are not saved. You can’t be spiritual if you refuse to be baptized. You can’t be spiritual if you do not read your Bible. You can’t be spiritual if you do not faithfully pray. You can’t be spiritual if you don’t work. Moreover, you can’t be spiritual if you are nice to your wife. Come on, be nice! However, you all know this to be true. No surprises here. However, let me point out one thing that we oftentimes overlook, that is extremely important for the spiritual life of the Christian: humility. Why should you husbands be humble?


Psalm 92.12, God “he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.”

Psalm 10.17, God “hast heard the desire of the humble.”

Matthew 18.4: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


Matthew 23.12: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”


James 4.6: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”


James 4.10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”


First Peter 5.5: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”


First Peter 5.6: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”


What incredible benefits are in store for those married men who simply behave according to reality, who act like what we know we are really worth. God hears the humble when they pray. Humility is the trademark of the exalted in God’s kingdom, and we are promised exaltation by God when we humble ourselves. Finally, God gives grace only to those who are humble.


There is an awful lot wrapped up in this thing called marriage, and being a husband. It is a whole lot more than just getting to sleep with your wife without God getting upset with you. Being a husband is an enormous responsibility, one that we cannot properly discharge without wisdom, without knowledge, without humility, and without an abundance of God’s grace.

[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 854.

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