Over the course of my ministry, one of the things I have sought to emphasize is the need to embrace “reforming marriage.” Another time in the history of the church when this same emphasis arose was in the great Puritan movement of the 16th and 17th centuries. If we are serious, we should look closely at what they did, because they had much more of an impact than we have had. As it turns out, their legacy is important to us.
We have unfortunately discarded much of that inheritance, but we will not get it back by looking primarily to them. Rather, we must look where they were looking. We should imitate them, not gawk at them. We should fish out of their ponds, which is not exactly the same thing as admiring their fishing trophies.
“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” (1 Peter 3:7 KJV).
Notice all the interconnections here. Husbands are to dwell, they are to do so according to knowledge, they are to honor their wives, understanding their frame, they are to do so with an eye on the goal of salvation, measured by the fruitfulness of their prayer lives. Being a faithful husband actually requires a full-orbed worldview.
To Be Taught Well
Puritan husbands were well-taught, and so must we be. In the beginning was the Word. We must learn through words, and therefore we must love words. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name” (Malachi 3:16).
In order to be well-taught, we must be taught to worship God, we must be taught to understand and we must be taught to apply.
First, God is to be in all our thoughts. He is to be the foundation of all of them, and he is to be the destination and direction of all of them. We are to be radically and profoundly God-centered. This of course means that we should care deeply about the purity of worship in the church. The foundation of all right worship is the gospel. When that is wrong, everything is wrong. When that is right, the world is put right.