FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Matter of Marital Roles, Part 2

with | July 31, 2012
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The Bible says a husband is to love and cherish his wife. We’ve all heard it, but pastor James McDonald asks, "Did you get it?” Staying married is not enough. For a husband, the goal is to cherish his wife, not to drag across the marital finish line with teeth clenched.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • The Bible says a husband is to love and cherish his wife. We’ve all heard it, but pastor James McDonald asks, "Did you get it?” Staying married is not enough. For a husband, the goal is to cherish his wife, not to drag across the marital finish line with teeth clenched.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

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The Matter of Marital Roles, Part 2

July 31, 2012
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Bob:  If you’re married and your wife is not your partner in running the family operation, Pastor James MacDonald says you’re not getting the full picture.

James:  Women bear the weight of what’s really happening because they’re more sensitive, emotionally.  They see how your actions are affecting your son.  They see how your actions are affecting your future.  They carry the weight of what your marriage could be versus what it is.  Thank God for that.  They’re the warning system in your marriage because they sense and feel things that men don’t always sense and feel.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 31st.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.   We’re going to get some coaching today from Pastor James MacDonald about how husbands can live with their wives in an understanding way.   Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  I’m sitting here thinking about what’s coming up Saturday—the National Men’s Simulcast that we’re going to be hosting.  It’s going to be happening in cities all across the country.  It’s originating from Chicago, but there are churches all around the country that are hosting this Saturday event.  I was thinking about the fact that it will be different.  A National Men’s Simulcast would be different than you would expect a national women’s simulcast to be; right? 

Dennis:  Uh-huh.

Bob:  If you’re putting those two events together—

Dennis:  No doubt.

Bob:  It better be different; right?

Dennis:  It better be really different because we are dramatically different.  God did make us male and female, and I think God wants men to be uniquely masculine and fulfill our masculinity in biblical ways.

Bob:  That’s a core theme in the book that you wrote called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood.  The simulcast is a call to step up.  Along with you, speaking at that event, Dr. Crawford Loritts is going to be there, Dr. Robert Lewis, Dr. James MacDonald is joining us on Saturday.  In fact, we’re hosting it at the video studios that Harvest Bible Chapel has in suburban Chicago.

Dennis:  You’ll be there.  We’re going to be challenging men, I think, to step up where it has to happen first—at home with your spouse.  If you don’t win there, if you’re not putting together a winning game plan with your spouse, then no matter what you accomplish in the world, you’re really missing where you can make the biggest difference in the most transformational unit on the planet—the family.

Bob:  Single guys ought to come, as well, because the whole theme of masculinity— certainly has implications for the family—but wherever you are—in the workplace, in your neighborhood, in your community—God’s call on you, as a man, is really a transcendent call.

Dennis:  We’re about to hear a message from James MacDonald, who is pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, where he’s really pointing out something that’s pretty obvious—that men and women are different.  Bob, I think single men, to your point, single men can learn a great deal about marriage by listening to men who have been there, and done that, and made some serious mistakes in their own marriages, and have plenty of truth to pass on.

Bob:  We have already heard Part One of James MacDonald’s message this week.  This is from Ephesians, Chapter 5.  In Part Two of the message, we’re going to hear him unpack what it looks like for a husband to live with his wife in an understanding way.  Here is Pastor James MacDonald.

[Recorded Message]

James:  Women are not the same as men.  [Laughter]  I know.  I know you’ve come to count on me for these breathtaking insights.  [Laughter]  Alright?  Women are not the same as men.  Women are different than men.  Did you hear about the guy who was reading a book and it was about men taking leadership of their home?  He came home and he was kind of “on this”, now. 

He said, “Honey, things are going to be changing around here.  I’m to be the leader of our home, and I’m going to be taking charge.  Let me just say, first of all, I need a great dinner tonight.  When that’s done, I need an amazing dessert.  Impress me!  When that’s done, I want you to draw my bath; and I’m going to have a long bath.  While I’m there, you can rub my shoulders and my back.  When I’m done, I want you to bring me my slippers and my robe.  When I get out, guess who’s going to be combing my hair?”  She says, “Uh, the funeral director?”  [Laughter]

Love that!  You should know this.  Nowhere in Scripture is a man told to take his position of authority in the home.  That is something that is yielded to you by your equal!  She yields that to you, out of reverence for Christ.  You don’t ask for it.  You don’t demand it.  You don’t explain it.  You win it through serving.  That’s what you do; alright?  Men who take the biblical teaching on male leadership and use it as a way of executing some position of superiority or demand in their home have completely failed in regard to what the Scripture says.  Alright; clear?

First Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, men, dwell with your wives in an understanding way.”  In an understanding way—the idea there is to study your wife.  Study your wife.  I see a lot of people here that I know.  I know the story of you and when—and I know the story of you, and how you fell in love—and when you got married.  How long have you been married now? —15 years.  You ought to have your Ph.D. in your wife, now.  You ought to be like the card-carrying president of the “Understanding Her Society”.  Nobody should get her better than you do; alright?  You should have studied her—“I understand her timing.  I understand her rhythms.  I understand her patterns of thinking.  I understand the things that frighten her.  I understand the things that burden her.  I’m shaping my whole leadership of this family around dwelling with her in an understanding way.”  That’s your biggest project in life; okay? 

That could be a complicated project.  Women are different than men.  Permit me some generalizations.  Women are more sensitive than men.  They’re more sensitive.  Women are wounded by things that men don’t even notice.  “You what?”  We’re driving in the car, home from a family gathering.  She’s over there, kind of with a Kleenex®.  You’re like, “What? What? What?”  Not only does she have to bear being more sensitive, she has to bear the injustice of explaining it to you!  [Laughter]  Listen—God made women with a capacity to feel for others more quickly and with more compassion than men.  They feel things through words and actions that guys hardly even notice.  Women are more sensitive than men.

Secondly, women are more security-oriented than men.  God made us to protect and provide.  Ladies need to know that that’s going to happen; alright?  It might seem like a great idea to you to take everything that you’ve spent the last few years building and then kind of risk it all for some great adventure.  She’s probably up for an adventure, but she needs to know that it’s going to be fine and you’re going to be safe.  Your job is to protect and provide for her.  She’s not just a caboose on your train, you know.  She’s a partner; okay?  You can’t put everything at risk and not put at-risk your marriage.  Women are more sensitive, more security-oriented.

Women are prone to emotional extremes and needs.  “That ain’t true.  My husband is crazy compared to me.”  Well check this.  Seventy-five percent of depression medication is prescribed for women.  Why?  Because women often carry the burden of all that is disintegrating around us, while men dig deep in the couch to try to find the remote; okay?  Women bear the weight of what’s really happening because they’re more sensitive, emotionally.  They see how your actions are affecting your son.  They see how your actions are affecting your future.  They carry the weight of what your marriage could be versus what it is.  Thank God for that. 

They’re the warning system in your marriage because they sense and feel things that men don’t always sense and feel.  That’s why women are more—and they know they have a problem, so they go and try to get some help for it—as men kind of blindly amble forward like a grizzly that just awoke from his hibernation, wondering why there’s a problem, as they scratch themselves.   [Laughter]

Men, be a student of your wife.  Accept her.  Enjoy her.  Delight in her difference.  Understand her.  Study her.  All of that [is] under that first important phrase.  I challenge you to memorize it and keep it at the forefront of your thinking.  You’ll account to Christ for it someday.  “Husbands, love your wives.”

And then, this great phrase, “ Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her...”  “ Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her...”  Wow!  The greatest act of selflessness that has ever been displayed in the history of humanity is God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, becoming a man, living a perfect life, and taking upon Himself the punishment for your sin and mine.  That’s the Gospel—your sin upon Christ—your sin upon Christ. 

He took upon Himself the penalty for your sin.  God’s wrath was poured out on Him for what you did, for what I did.  That’s the most awesome demonstration of selfless love that’s ever been given.  God gives the summa cum laude of sacrificial love as the model for how you’re supposed to love your wife.  “What’s it supposed to look like?”  “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.”

“Do it like that, bro!  Do it like that!”  Like, “Yeah, I don’t think I’m even getting a ‘C’ on my report card in that category.”  The most important human relationship, husband and wife, is held up to the greatest relational act that has ever been expressed.  “Do it like that—100 percent!”  No thought for Himself but only for us, as He gave His life and died as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. “How can I love my wife as Christ loved the church?” —By giving yourself for her.

Secondly:  By leading her toward spiritual maturity.  Notice in verse 26, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” —verse 26— “that He might sanctify her.”  Sanctification is what happens after conversion.  It’s the transforming power of the Gospel in my life.  The word means “to be set apart”, “to be changed”; alright?   Your wife desperately needs you to be changing, and your changing selfless capacity is what God is using to sanctify her.

It’s not just the man who is changed by the selfless love of the man.  The woman is changed by the sanctifying, selfless love of the man.  Some of you are listening to this message and saying, “I would be 100 percent, as a man, willing to do my part; but I have serious questions about whether a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year of that would produce any change in her cantankerous nature.” 

You’re just wrong about that.  How many days and weeks of success do you have to point to as proof that you’re right?  I have the Word of God, and the testimony of thousands of people in this church, and the testimony of church history itself that your selfless love will sanctify your wife.  You will get to a place where you don’t even recognize the woman that she’s become.  Your love is the tool that God will use to get her there, and it’s your responsibility.

“How can I love my wife as Christ loved the church?” —By giving yourself for her, by leading her toward spiritual maturity.  Here are some things that will help—three things.  One:  Model a walk with God.  Your wife knows whether you’re in the Word, men.  She knows.  She knows whether you’re praying.  You could be leading a small group but not walking with God yourself, and she knows it.  Your wife needs to see you modeling—up in the morning, late up at night, Bible open—sincerely.  She needs to occasionally see you bowing your head in prayer, calling out to God for your family.  Model a walk with God.  That’s the first thing. 

Second thing:  Leading her toward spiritual maturity.  Encourage your wife by praying for her.  I don’t know of a single thing that lights the fire of intimacy in a marriage like a man praying for his wife.  I challenge some of you men—in humility, get on your knees before your wife today.  Kneel down in front of her, put your hands on her knees, bow your head, and call out to God for her.  Pray for her heart, pray for her health, pray for her life, pray for her relationships.  Call out to God for the things that you know burden her heart.  Pour out your heart to God for her.  You’re responsible for her spiritually.  Take that role of leadership.  Seize it for yourself.  Model a walk with God; encourage your wife by praying for her. 

This was very convicting to me.  I hadn’t done this recently, and I will do it today:  Influence your wife by inquiring about her walk spiritually.  As I prepared this message, I wrote that down.  I thought to myself.  I talked to one of our pastors, walking offstage.  We agreed I haven’t done that recently.  Ask your wife how she’s doing with the Lord.  Ask her how her faith is.  Ask her what she’s struggling with.  Ask her how you can pray for her about that. 

“How can I love my life as Christ loved the church?” —By giving yourself for her, by leading her toward spiritual maturity.  Verse 27 continues that thought, “ that He might present the church to Himself...”  That’s why Christ did this, “ that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

You understand this is a picture; right?  Let me insert the application.  Why would a husband give himself for his wife? —“...that he might sanctify his wife,” verse 26, “having cleansed his wife by the washing of water with the Word so that he might present his wife to himself in splendor,”—so that he might present his wife, “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing that his wife might be holy and without blemish.”

Verse 28, “In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.”  Jot this down—by protecting her, —by protecting her.  You have to protect your wife in every way.  Protect her, and then nourish her.  Notice in the text, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”  Okay?  “Nourishes and cherishes.”  Those are great words.

The nourishing here obviously is not talking about watching her diet.  Women are usually pretty good at watching their own diets.  What it is saying is, “What food does for her body, you must seek to do for her emotions.  You must nourish her.”  When you put a drop of water on a dry sponge, you notice how quickly it disappears.  The same is with a word of kindness for an emotionally-parched woman.  They soak it up like a sponge.

Listen—I ache for the women in our church who live in emotional deserts.  Nourish her, and then notice, cherish her.  Verse 29—nourishing and cherishing her.  “What’s the model for that?”  Your own body is the model.  The point is that I would always defend, and protect, and take care of, and nourish, and cherish my own body.  My wife is my own body.  I need to think about it like that—anything that wounds her, anything that hurts her, anything that upsets her—and not just protection from the negative—but insertion of the good. Protect her, and nourish her, and cherish her.

Lastly, I can love my wife as Christ loves the church by putting God before her because we are members of His body.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound and I’m saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”


Bob:  Well, we have been listening, again today, to a message from Pastor James MacDonald from Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Chicago, Illinois—a message from Ephesians, Chapter 5.  I had the opportunity to sit down with James for a video session as we were putting together the material for the Stepping Up video resources that we’re creating—a video-based event that churches can use as a one-day event or a Friday night/Saturday event, or a weekend retreat you have going on with your guys.

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Instead of getting a speaker, you can get some of the best speakers in the country and have them available on video, speaking at that event.  And then, there is a 10-week study that we put together, as well, for guys.  You could get together with three or four friends and all of you guys go through that study together, or your men’s ministry at church can use the study.  All of these resources are going to be available, coming up in January.  James MacDonald is one of the guys who appears, as part of that series.

Dennis:  The reason we’re doing this is because we believe men, of all ages, need to step up.  I was recently with a young man.  I was talking to him about his marriage.  I just explained to him really what James talked about in the past session we’ve just listened to here—about taking your wife’s face in your hands, looking her in the eyes, and telling her she is a great gift to you, and that you cherish her, and you want to nourish her, and you want to care for her, and you appreciate the gift that she is in sharing life with you, as a man.

I watched that young man listen to me.  Bob, he was like a sponge.  He was like a sponge; and he admitted later, “I really never heard an older man talk to me about how to treat a woman with nobility, and respect, and dignity.”  He said, “Most of how men talk about women I’ve heard from the locker room.”  Bob, that’s what we really want to do here.  We want to equip men to be God’s men, to be a father in the way God would want them to be, and to live out their lives in the marketplace, as men with integrity.

Bob:  Of course, James is going to be joining us Saturday for the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast that we’re hosting in Chicago, from some of the studios that Harvest Bible Chapel has there in Chicago.  Crawford Loritts is going to be speaking, Robert Lewis, you’re going to be speaking, I’m there as the emcee.  There are churches, all around the country, that are going to be host sites for this Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast.

You can find out more about how you can attend this event on Saturday.  Go to our website,, for more information.  Again, the website is  Look for information on the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast.  There is information available there, too, about some of the resources that are coming out soon—the Stepping Up 10-week series and the Stepping Up video event.  Again, go to for more information; or if we can help you by phone, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.

And for those of you who have never heard Dennis address this issue of men stepping up—maybe, you haven’t read his book—we have a CD copy of a message that Dennis presented to a group of men a few years ago, where he challenged them to step up and to progress through the steps that lead to manhood, and then beyond, because manhood is not the place where we stop.  It’s just one of the steps on the path that God has us on, as men.

That audio CD is available, along with a companion CD from Barbara Rainey about what a wife can do to help her husband step up.  We’re making those CDs available, this week, as a thank-you gift when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation.  Go, online, at and click on the orange button that says, “I CARE”.  Make an online donation, and we’ll send those CDs out to you automatically as our way of saying, “Thanks for your financial support;” or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make your donation over the phone.  If you do that, just be sure to ask for the CDs on stepping up; and we’re happy to send those out to you. 

Let me just make sure you understand—when you make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today, what you’re doing is helping cover the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program—getting it produced, getting it distributed on air and on the internet, around the country and around the world.  We appreciate your partnership with us in that endeavor, and that’s what those donations go toward—helping make this material available to as many people as possible.  We appreciate your joining us with that.

Now, tomorrow, we want to encourage you to be back with us as we’re going to talk to Pastor Crawford Loritts.  We’re going to talk about the powerful impact that his father had on his life.  I hope you can be here with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today—his name is Keith Lynch—and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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