I have always known these principles: I memorized Ephesians for Homer Hailey's "Scheme of Redemption" class; I took Roland Lewis's "Home and Family" class; I preached sermons; I wrote the goals and objectives for the men when our church divided the men and women for family classes; with Dene's assistance, I taught marriage and parenting classes to both the High School and College age classes. So, WHY did I find myself riding my bicycle 13 miles home from work as slowly as possible because I did not know what to say or do about a situation between us? I did not even know for sure whose fault it was or how to proceed to find out without creating a bigger problem. Well, I did manage that, I was so late she worried and came looking for me. So, "Knowledge puffs up." And, the answers are not always easy and there is a learning curve on applying what you know.
It might help us to note that God never said to the husbands that they are the head. He said that to the wives. It seems like a small distinction but the difference it creates in perspective has caused chasms in relationships for hundreds of years. In fact, that small difference often leads to a domineering attitude in husbands that is foreign to the context of "subjecting [our]selves one to another," and especially to the first command to husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it."
To understand our role as husbands, we men must consider that Christ was head, though he only gave—gave himself up over and over again. And he did so without complaint or resentment. First, he gave up his place with and equal with God to become a man. A fact we treat as a theological argument rather than the tremendous yielding (emptying self) that it was (Phil 2:5-7). The creator became a creature. Next, he walked through a world of sin. Sometimes city people cannot stand the sights and smells of real farm life. Anyone who has gathered eggs knows they do not come as clean as they do in the grocery store carton. Imagine the disgust an absolutely holy being would have toward rebellious, self-destructive sin. And, he walked among and had compassion toward these sinners. Last, he died and in dying became sin on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21). At no point did or does this one who is "far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named" in his role as head of the church coerce anyone to do anything (Eph 1:21). He
wooed his people to him by giving himself up.
When men discuss this, they end the matter with, "I would be willing to die for my wife. Next verse, brother ________." Whoa! Back up just a bit—Is dying all that Jesus did for us?
The Word gave up who he was and became someone else, Jesus, for his bride. Unscripturally, many men not only do not change when they become husbands, they see no need to change. Jesus' example leaves no wiggle room at all for the husband about his willingness to change for his wife. And, remember, Jesus did it before his bride subjected herself and as a motive to lead her to do so. "That's just not who I am and she knew that when she married me," is not a valid excuse. A man determined to belong to God must consider the changes he needs to make to be the head of his wife. Not only may different women have different needs, but the same woman will have changing needs as life progresses. That means the husband imitating Christ cannot stay the same either. "But what about my rights as head?" Go consider: What about Jesus' rights? No man ever had more power than Jesus. Yet, he never used any of it to get his way about anything. Even so ought husbands to act toward their wives.
Since "head" is the way the wife is commanded to treat him and not a license for the husband to boss, he should give himself up by working to develop mutual decisions and plans. He must show consideration for her ideas and her desires by listening to her as equal partners in your life before God. In fact, imitating Christ may require him to give up his desires, his way for hers.
A man may cling to his rights and privileges. A husband may give up his hobbies, his plans, his buddies, his dreams to demonstrate his love for his bride. He must not wait until she asks or cries about his neglect; he must wisely consider and use his power to act on her behalf by yielding. When she sees that he loves her so, she will submit joyfully and change into the help suitable for him so that they two become one in heart.
Elkanah gave up his right to overturn Hannah's vow, gave up his son, gave up a bull for a sacrifice (1Sam 1; Num 30:12). God says that "the husband has not power over his own body, but the wife" (1Cor 7:4). If a husband cannot be boss over his own body, why would he be boss over his time? His preferences? His habits? His only goal as God's man is to give himself up with purpose to shape her into God's woman.
Approximately half the population is men; many are married, few are husbands. Are you even on the journey to becoming one?
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. (1Pet 2:18).
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, (1Pet 3:1).
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1Pet 3:7).