The Christian Husband: Loving Your Wife Part 1January 23, 2008
What are the qualifications of a Christian husband? Today on the broadcast, hear "FamilyLife Today" co-host and author, Bob Lepine, help men with the tough task of being a servant, a leader, and a lover.
What are the qualifications of a Christian husband? Today on the broadcast, hear "FamilyLife Today" co-host and author, Bob Lepine, help men with the tough task of being a servant, a leader, and a lover.
The Christian Husband: Loving Your Wife Part 1
Bob: When was the last time you said, "I love you," to your wife without saying anything? Here is Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: The other night on the deck, Barbara was working on sanding some chairs, and I went out on the deck with her, and I helped her with those chairs and took a couple of screws out of a chair that needed some repairing, and she told me later, she said, "You know, just you spending that time with me made a statement to me that you love me, and you care for me, and you want to be a part of what I'm doing."
Those kinds of things motivate a woman to do what she was designed to do.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 23rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about a number of the ways that a husband can tell his wife he loves her and do it in ways that she'll understand.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We're going to spend some time talking about an assignment that God has given all of us who are husbands, and that's the assignment of loving our wives. We're going to talk about how we can do a good job doing that.
[Theme song from "Mission Impossible"]
Dennis: Do you hear it? Do you hear it? That's the theme song – you know it – from "Mission Impossible," do you hear it?
Bob: It feels that way sometimes, doesn't it?
Dennis: Well, but this is not Mission Impossible, it really isn't. In fact, I want to just read to our husbands for a moment, and at this point all the wives are moving to the edge of their seats, they're reaching forward to the radio, and they're turning the dial a little …
Bob: … making sure we get it right.
Dennis: A little louder, they're getting a pencil out, sharpening the lead, getting some fresh paper – well, this would be a good idea for every husband to listen up on. Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 25, and here is just a little more than a dozen words. I mean, it's not a lot of words, but it's a huge assignment. It is an assignment, however, that is achievable. It is Mission Possible. "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her."
Four words – "husbands, love your wives." You don't stop there, though, you have to look at the rest of the – really, the description there, "just as Christ also loved the church."
Today on the broadcast we want to do a little equipping. We're going to have a little seminar. I have a lot of listeners who come up to me – I know they do to you, Bob – they come up and say, "You two guys are helping me – well, you've helped us shape our family, and it's like you're a mentor, you're training me, you're teaching me how to do certain aspects of building a Christian family."
Well, today, this is no different. In fact, for the next couple of days we're going to be talking about Bob Lepine's new book, "The Christian Husband," and specifically this area that you talk about in chapter 9 of "How to Love Your Wives."
Now, Bob, do you remember the first time you told Mary Ann you loved her? Can you remember back that far?
Bob: I do remember it. It was actually a little creative, and there's a disclaimer I've got to give here at the beginning because, first of all, I was young; second, I was stupid; and, third, I didn't know Christ. So all of that was factored into this.
But what I didn't realize is that when a young man says to a young woman, "I love you," he's saying one thing, and she's hearing something else. I mean, I was saying, "You're a really nice person, and I like you a lot. In fact, I like you better than most of the girls around here. I'd like to get to know you better, and I'm kind of drawn to you."
Dennis: But Mary Ann was hearing …
Bob: She was hearing "The ring is next." You know, "I love you."
Dennis: She was hearing the Wedding March, is that it?
Bob: Well, it was entirely premature. We had known one another for two or three weeks, all right? And I was walking by her car one evening. It was parked out in front of her sorority house on the campus at the University of Tulsa, and I saw her car, and I was going around hanging up posters that were "Vote for Bob Lepine for School Senate." You know, I was running for some office there at the university.
And so I had my posters, and I had my masking tape, and I saw her car, and what I did was I took the masking tape, and I put masking tape all over the driver's side window, the front window of her car just on the driver's side – covered it from the top down to the bottom with masking tape. Then I took out my magic marker, and I wrote her a note on the masking tape.
Dennis: Good idea.
Bob: Okay? And it said …
Dennis: Very creative.
Bob: "Dear Mary Ann, I love you, say you love me or I'll die eventually." And then I signed it, "Your friend, Bob Lepine."
Dennis: This was after you'd only been dating for how long?
Bob: Oh, we hadn't been dating yet. We just had kind of known one another for two or three weeks.
Dennis: That was pretty forward.
Bob: That is pretty forward, pretty bold, pretty stupid, right? See, I didn't know any better than that and, again, my definition of what love looks like had nothing to do with commitment, it just had to do with how I was feeling at the time.
Dennis: You know, most single people today, though, I think have the wrong picture of what love is. Love is equated with a feeling. It's commitment, but it's commitment with a small "c", not big "C," and they don't understand that when you do tell someone you love them and you're committed to them, than at that point you're defining the relationship, and it's going in a certain direction. And it ultimately ends in marriage at the point when you really begin in earnest to truly love another person.
Bob: And I've told my sons, and they're still young, but I've started early with them. I've said, "Son, you never say 'I love you' to a girl until the next words are ready to be, 'Will you marry me?' If you can't follow up 'I love you' with 'Will you marry me?' you're not ready to say 'I love you,' because that's what it means to a young woman."
I think the Ephesians have the same problem here, Dennis. That's why I think Paul said, "Husbands, love your wives," now wait a sec, "as Christ loved the church." Did He have a lot of warm, gooey feelings about the church? You know, was it a sentimental, emotional thing for Him? No, Christ's love for the church was practical, it was sacrificial and, really, as you look at that whole expression, you see that he loved us in a full, complete sense, in a way that really redefines what love ought to be.
Dennis: You know, the Bible is all about relationships and whether we're single, whether we're divorced, married, I believe every person can benefit from what we're going to talk about on the broadcast as we attempt to get our arms around love and understand from Scripture what it means to love another person.
In fact, the Bible, all the way from the Old Testament to the New Testament is filled with illustrations, living illustrations of love and how we are to love other people.
Bob: Mm-hm, and one of those living illustrations is the Book of Hosea, which I think defines the first aspect of how Christ loves his church. Back to Ephesians 5:25, it says "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church." And then it goes on to say, "and gave Himself up for her."
Now, we can get to the issue of sacrifice, but before Christ ever loved us sacrificially, He first loved us unconditionally, and that unconditional love – we talk about it at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference, it's receiving your mate as God's perfect provision for you without any conditions attached, without any strings attached, not based on her performance, not based on how she responds to you, it is loving her no matter what in spite of those things that may annoy you at times.
And you look at the Book of Hosea, what a great illustration of that. I mean, God comes to Hosea and says, "Take a wife. And, by the way, Hosea, this isn't going to be just any wife. Your wife is going to be a harlot."
Now, we don't know from the Book of Hosea whether his wife was a harlot before he married her or if she became a harlot after he married her. It's kind of ambiguous there. But, either way, God's assignment was keep loving her even when she rejects you, keep loving her even when she sins against you and against the marriage – never give up on her.
And God was saying here, "I'm going to make you, Hosea, a living illustration of my love for my people. I'm going to show everybody how I love you by the way I'm calling you to love Gomer, your wife."
And so Hosea's wife goes off, and she commits adultery, and she is living the life of a prostitute, Hosea is home with the kids, she doesn't even come home at night, she's not at the house, she's just off doing her thing, and Hosea perseveres, and God comes to Hosea and says – "She has made such a mess of her life that she is now in the slave market. She has squandered any money that she had. Her debts have gotten higher than her ability to generate income. She is now a slave. I want you to go buy her back. You pay money to buy her back."
And there had – the Bible doesn't record it, but Hosea had to have some thought – if he didn't verbalize it to God, he had to be thinking, "Are you sure about this? After all we've been through, you want me to go love her? Couldn't I just start over with somebody else? Couldn't I find a good, godly, righteous woman who doesn't go out and do these things?"
But God said, "Go buy her back."
I had a guy call me, and he said, "Are you saying that this example of Hosea, that this is what I'm supposed to do if my wife does the same thing?" And I said, "The story of Hosea does not teach us that this is what a husband must do if his wife goes off and commits adultery. It does teach us that the quality of love is that it should be unconditional, and that's the first quality of Christ's love for the church, and I think it's the first thing that a husband needs to do to love his wife."
Dennis: And, you know, I don't have any research to back this up, but it sure seems to me, in a lot of single people's lives when they get married, near the top of God's agenda in the first year, maybe even the first weeks and months of their marriage, is to learn this lesson you're talking about – that love is unconditional, and yet most of us have loved as long as the other person does a certain thing. And yet I reflect back on my first weeks of marriage, and I remember, it's as though it were yesterday, I was facing this, it was frontal. I am called, as a man, to love Barbara even though.
Dennis: And I don't know where I heard this, I heard some couple who used to walk around in their home, and they would say, "Even though, even though, I love you even though, even though," and it made an impression on me because that kind of love, Bob, that's not an earthly kind of love.
Bob: No, that's right.
Dennis: That's a heavenly kind of love that God implants in the human heart.
Bob: In fact, I would say that until your wife is unlovely, until she offends you, you haven't really loved her. It's the moment that your wife is no longer lovely, that's when you really start loving her.
Dennis: Yeah, Bob, and, you know, every woman listening to this broadcast right now wants to know that they're loved even when they're unlovely. That is a powerful desire of not just women, by the way, but certainly of a wife. I mean, she needs to be loved when she is unlovable, "even though."
What's another aspect of love that we need to learn today?
Bob: Well, if we look again at how does Christ love the church and say that's our model for how a husband ought to love his wife, and then I think the next thing after unconditional love is covenantal love.
Dennis: Now, wait a second, that's an awful big word.
Bob: Well, it is a big word, but we've been talking a lot about the marriage covenant on our broadcast. When we talk about covenantal love, we're talking about declaring the unconditional love formally for everyone to hear all around us. It's a pledge that it's not just something that we'll do in the background, but we declare it to be the case.
Take, for example, Abraham. Abraham was called by God from Ur. God went to Abraham and said "I want you to leave Ur, leave your family, and follow me, and I'll show you the place I'm going to take you." And Abraham responded to that.
But then there came a point where God appeared to Abraham, and he said, "I'm going to make a covenant with you. I am going to bind myself to certain aspects of behavior. I'm going to bind myself to a promise that I will fulfill," and he spelled that out for Abraham in chapter 12 of Genesis, and then again in chapter 15 of Genesis. He had a covenantal ceremony, where he pledged himself to Abraham.
And so a husband who unconditionally loves his wife still has to formalize that in a covenant relationship. That's what we do at the altar. We stand before God and before our wife, and we make a verbal pledge that we will love our wives unconditionally.
Dennis: Well, I can hear a man asking right now, he's saying, "Well, hey, Bob, I did that 20 years ago at the wedding altar. Is there something I'm missing here? What is it you're trying to drive home when you challenge me with the idea of covenantal love? Isn't that in place if I established that then?"
Bob: Well, there are two things I'm trying to drive home. One is you probably didn't have a clue what you were saying back when you said it. So it's time to revisit that pledge …
Dennis: Okay, that's agreed.
Bob: Understand what you need to be all about. But the second thing is, I don't think this is something we declare once, and it's over.
Dennis: Ah, good.
Bob: I don't think the covenant is something that we just stand up and declare, and then it's done. How many times in your life would you estimate you have said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag?
Bob: You've probably said it thousands of times. Every day at the beginning of school, right, you stood up – and I can see an eighth grader who says, "Hey, I said this yesterday. I don't need to say it again." But before every baseball game we stand back up, and we pledge allegiance to the flag, or we hear the Star-Spangled Banner, and I think husbands need to be regularly reminding their wives of their covenant for them. Not just acting it out but verbalizing it, because our wives need to hear, they need to know, they need to be told over and over again, "I'm going to love you forever, I'll never stop loving you. I'm here, and you can count on that."
Dennis: This morning when I had my quiet time, I was just thinking and praying and meditating on Scripture, and I was thinking about Barbara for some reason, I don't know why, but the Lord brought her to mind, and I haven't seen her since my quiet time, and what I'm going to do tonight when I get home is I'm going to take her in my arms, I'm going to hold her face in my hands, and I'm not just saying this, by the way, just because of what you were talking about here. I really have been thinking about doing this, and I'm going to say, "You know what? You are a wonderful woman, and I'd marry you all over again, 10 times out of 10."
Bob: Now, has she ever heard you say that before?
Dennis: Yeah, sure, and in fact she's heard me say "I'd marry you all over again 10 times out of 10," I mean, I want to remove all doubt about the deal. I just was thinking about her, though, I was thinking, you know what? Our wives need to be cherished. They need to be cared for, and they need to be reminded of that. And I think that's your point that you're making here, is covenantal love is not silent.
Now, some guys think because they said it 20 years ago, that it's still in effect until they revoke it. That doesn't do a lot for a woman. A woman needs to be reminded through verbal words, through written words, tender words, tender touch, maybe even carrying the garbage out – some household duties that would communicate to her that you love her.
The other night on the deck, Bob, Barbara was working on sanding some chairs. Now, this is the way she relaxes. I'm sorry, sanding chairs, painting chairs, would not be one of the ways I would relax. I'd head to the woods or go fishing but not do that kind of thing.
And I went out on the deck with her, and I helped her with those chairs and took a couple of screws out of a chair that needed some repairing, and she told me later, she said, "You know, just you spending that time with me made a statement to me that you love me, and you care for me, and you want to be a part of what I'm doing."
Bob: Well, and that taps into what is the third area of how Christ loves the church, because if we look not only is it unconditional, it's covenantal, but the third thing is it's incarnational.
Dennis: Now, that's even a bigger word, Bob. "Covenantal" was big, but that's got a lot of syllables in it.
Bob: "Incarnational" – in the first chapter of John's Gospel, he says "Jesus became flesh, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us," and that's what it means to "incarnate." It means to "dwell among us." Literally, that passage means he pitched his tent right where we live.
And for a husband to love his wife, one of the aspects of that needs to be incarnational love. That means you step out of your world and into her world, and you love her in her world.
Dennis: Okay, let's talk about how that happens at the Lepine household.
Bob: You did it when you stepped out and helped sand those chairs on the deck. Mary Ann, one time, we were sitting in a Homebuilders Bible study, and the question we were going through in Homebuilders that night was "What's the most romantic thing your mate's done for you recently?" And I thought, "Gee, what's Mary Ann going to come up with?" You know, I started to flash through what have I done recently, I hope there's a good one here, I wanted to look good in front of crowd, right?
And it got to her turn, and she said, "Well, I'll tell you, the other night Bob was watching the news on TV, and I was doing the dishes and without me saying anything, he turned off the TV and came in and started drying the dishes, and that was really romantic." And I thought "Huh? That was romantic? Drying the dishes?"
Dennis: So you said at that point, "Give me a tea towel," right?
Bob: I asked her about that later – I said, "You know, what was romantic about that?" And she said, "You just – you were in tune with where I was living. You stepped into my world, and you met me there." And, you see, that's the picture of Christ. He's got all of the benefits of heaven, and He sets them aside, and He comes to dwell among us as men. And the Bible says that He became a sympathetic high priest who knew the kinds of things that we're afflicted with and became like us in that regard.
And a husband who really loves his wife, steps in and says, "I need to understand your world. I need to understand what you're living with. I need to understand what it's like for you to be around kids all day, or what it's like for you to have friends who say cutting things about you, or what it's like for you to go through your day so that when I get home at the end of the day, and I step into your world physically, I can also step in emotionally and be there with you and help you and support you."
Dennis: And I'm going to tell you, every woman who has a man who steps into her world like that, and not with a clumsy feeling but with a tender side to him that says "I want to understand. You know, I'm a man, I'm not a woman, but I really want to understand where your struggle is, I want to understand what your fears are. What are your dreams and your aspirations? What things are knocking your legs out from under you right now? What are you worrying about? What can I shoulder with you? What can I shoulder for you? What could I fix around the house?"
Those kinds of things motivate a woman to do what she was designed to do, which was be a helpmate and be a support in the family.
Bob: I'll tell you, the other day I left the house in the morning, and I could tell it had not started off as a good day for my wife. She was feeling pressure, she was frustrated, she was just not in a particularly good mood.
And we had a little dialog before I left, and I was trying to see is there anything I can do? Am I the source of any of this, you know, and it was pretty obvious that this was something that was just on her heart.
So in the middle of the day I picked up the phone, and I called her, and I said, "Honey, I'm just calling to tell you that I wish I could fix this. I can't. I know you're having a lousy day. I'm praying for – that's the only thing I know how to do, and I want you to know I spent some time praying for you this morning."
And she said, "This is because you wrote that book, isn't it? It's all coming back out of there," and the Lord had just prompted me that morning. There's not anything you can do, but you can pray, and then I verbalized that to Mary Ann, and I think I was just trying to say to her, Dennis, "I know what's going on in your world, and I'm here for you."
Dennis: You know, there's a fourth way a man can love his wife, but I'm feeling an urgent need right now to communicate to the men how they can get a copy of your book, because I think this would be a great book to give away to – well, your husband or your son, who may be married and maybe starting out a marriage and needs some good guidance. I want to promise you, this book, "The Christian Husband," by Bob Lepine is a great book that's going to challenge him spiritually. I've got to tell you, this is not a featherweight book, this is not a lightweight. This is a heavy, theological book from the co-host of the broadcast here, Bob Lepine, and I want to encourage you to pick up a phone and call our 800 number or go to our website and maybe even write a little not in the front of it and just say, "You know, I hope that God helps you to become all that He intended you to be as a husband." And then just sign it, "Love, Mom," or "Love, Dad."
But reach out and do something of permanence and significance that will enrich that loved one's marriage.
Bob: Well, and as you might imagine, we've got copies of the book, "The Christian Husband," in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and in the middle of the home page you'll see a red button that says "Go," and if you click that red button, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about how you can get a copy of the book, "The Christian Husband," sent to you.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. If it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, and let us know if you'd like a copy of the book, "The Christian Husband," and we're happy to send it out to you. 1-800-FLTODAY is the number or online at FamilyLife.com.
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Now, tomorrow we're going to talk about why it's biblical for husbands to suffer long. That's what the Bible says is characteristic of love, and we'll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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