6. Values her sexual pleasure and needs
Our bodies aren’t just our own; on the day we get married, they also belong to our wives (1 Cor. 7:3ff.). Which means we need to preserve a brain that values her beauty, which enjoins us to resist comparing our wives to pornographic images or other women walking down the street. It means when we make love, we put her pleasure at the center of every experience, and that we preserve enough energy to be able to engage in sexual relations. It means we spend time and thought thinking up how to please her. It also means we try to take care of our own bodies since they’re the only ones our wives are biblically allowed to make love to. Offering a body and brain that’s broken down due to neglect or indulgence (I’m not talking about age or disease here) is like feasting at a restaurant and giving our wives the option of licking the plate. That’s not generous; it’s gross.
A biblical husband disciplines himself and works to please his wife sexually.
7. Loves her out of reverence for God
1 John 3:1 and Ephesians 5:1 are key Bible verses declaring that we are God’s children, which means my wife is God’s daughter. She will never not be God’s daughter, so I will have a lifelong motivation to love her and be faithful to her, simply because I owe her Heavenly Father more than I could ever even begin to repay.
This biblical truth has been a mainstay of my marital devotion from the time God first hit me over the head with it when he convicted me, probably 25 years ago now, about how lousy of a husband I was being: “Lisa isn’t just your wife, she’s my daughter, and I expect you to treat her accordingly.” Having my own children, and knowing how desperately I want them to be well-loved even though I know they aren’t perfect, gives me just a glimpse of God’s desire for me to love His daughter, my wife, and how much I can please Him by loving her well.
A biblical husband loves his wife because she is, first and foremost, God’s daughter.
8. Honors her more than she honors him
When I got married, I foolishly kept a scorecard, wondering if Lisa would treat me as well as I was trying to treat her. That is one hundred and eighty degrees different from the attitude the Bible calls me to have when Paul writes, “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). According to Paul, at the end of the day my goal should be that I honor my wife more than she honors me. This means I focus more on what I’m called to do than on what she is called to do.
A biblical husband focuses more on loving his wife well than on evaluating whether he is being treated well.
9. Is committed to his wife for life in a covenantal relationship
When Jesus does talk about a marriage, He makes it clear that I get one choice, and I am to be covenantally (not just contractually) committed to that choice for the rest of my life—until either one of us dies. “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) If I want to honor Jesus, I can’t end my marriage because I’m not satisfied or happy or think I made my choice too hastily. Only my wife can give me grounds for divorce. If she’s not unfaithful to me, my call is to work it out. If she abandons me or is unfaithful to me, that’s not something I’m doing, that’s something she’s doing. She’s breaking the covenant, not me. But for my part, I am to accept that this is my one and likely only marriage, so I should nurture it, grow it, build it, and enjoy it. There won’t be a second chance (not that I would want one).
Biblical love isn’t sentimental or emotional. It’s gritty and specific. Just look at 1 Corinthians 13:4ff. Love is patient; men, are we patient with our wives? Love is kind; men, when’s the last time you’ve done something for your wife out of sheer kindness and not to get something back? Love isn’t proud; men, do we exalt ourselves over our wives or act like servants? Love doesn’t dishonor others; men, how do we talk about our wives when we’re not with them? Love isn’t self-seeking; men, are we more focused on what we’re getting out of marriage than what we’re giving? Love isn’t easily angered; men, do our wives feel safe and cherished in our gentle love? Love keeps no record of wrongs; men, do we shove our wives’ past mistakes and sins back at them during an argument? Love does not delight in evil; men, do we entice our wives to join us in sin? Love always protects; men, do we endanger our wives’ health, energy, joy and peace for our own selfish pursuits and pleasures? Love always perseveres; men, are we committed to hanging in there, refusing to even utter the word “divorce”?
A biblical husband loves his wife the way the Bible defines love.
These verses sidestep the complementarian/egalitarian divide. Whatever those verses mean, all of the above apply to every husband in every marriage. If I ever master these ten passages, maybe I’ll have time to wax eloquently on the ones so many others seem so obsessed about arguing over. Until then, I’ve got my hands full with what God clearly asks of me as a husband. And I hope every spiritually alive husband reading this will feel the same.
P.S. For the men who say it’s not fair that I’m focusing on just the husbands here, let me remind you that I wrote an entire book for women: Loving Him Well: Practical Advice on Influencing Your Husband. Publishers aren’t too excited about publishing books with men as the primary audience, so I’m slipping a bit of what I’d say in a book to men into this blog. Plus, I like the biblical reminders about how I’m supposed to behave toward Lisa. I need them to stay the course.
This article originally appeared here.