The most important thing for a husband to remember is the most important thing for everyone to remember, and that’s the gospel of Jesus. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the most important thing to remember.
This is for many reasons, but take just one. Men were made to be strong and to lead their wives. But men are sinners and foolish, and they marry sinful and foolish women and that’s just for starters. But the gospel is good news for sinful men and women, even the kind who get married to each other. And so you have to remember the gospel.
Paul says as much to the Ephesians: Husbands love your wives like Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. This means that husbands are called to die for their wives in order to be strong for them and lead them. The problem is that dying sounds like losing. Far too many men plunge into a conflict and after suffering for a bit, after they feel that they have felt the sensation of dying enough, jump off the cross and start barking orders and demand to know why no one is listening.
But when Jesus was mocked as weak, Jesus refused to jump off the cross. The problem many men have is that they jump off the cross thinking that the sensation of dying is the same thing as having died. And unfortunately this is the worst of both worlds. Now your wife’s miffed and you feel like you’ve been through death but haven’t actually fixed anything. And so many men, even Christian men, secretly conclude that it just doesn’t work for them. But that’s like shooting yourself in the foot, and concluding that guns just don’t scare bad guys away. Yeah, good luck with that.
Jesus didn’t jump off the cross. He stayed there and suffered and bled until it was finished, until He died. If you have conflict over how to train your children, where to go to church, what your sex life should be like, how to spend your money, how to spend your time, you need to remember the gospel. Not like some kind of mantra. Not like some kind of good luck charm. You need to remember how the gospel works. Jesus died for sin. He took the shame. He took the false accusations. He took the lies. He took your mess. And He died for it. Now that’s your job, husband. Not that you take away your wife’s sin, not that you’re some kind of perfect savior. No, but it’s your job to imitate Christ to and for your wife. So it’s your job to patiently, graciously listen to her, talk gently to her, pray with her, study the Scriptures with her, get counsel with her, and then make the best decision you can muster for her, remaining calm, cheerful, gentle, affectionate, good humored, full of tenderness and kindness. No matter what. And stay there. Stay there.
At first it might seem awful, horrible. Maybe she’ll accuse you of untrue things. Maybe her version of the story will seem wildly inaccurate to you. Maybe she’ll melt down emotionally. Maybe she’ll just disagree. Maybe she’ll refuse to listen. Maybe she’ll get mad. Maybe she’ll clam up. Maybe she’ll talk behind your back to her friends. Stay there. Confess any sins you’ve contributed, admit your own failures, but don’t back down. Don’t walk away. Don’t give up. Stay there.
Because that’s the gospel. Jesus stayed there for us. Jesus hung on that cursed tree for us. He stayed there.
What are you waiting for?
You’re waiting to get buried. You’re waiting for the tomb to get sealed. You’re waiting for the soldiers to line up outside in their cute little Roman togas. You’re waiting for it to get dark. You’re waiting for morning. And remember: you don’t bring the morning. You wait for the morning.
The gospel is that on the first day of the week, an angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone and scattered the soldiers. And the Holy Spirit of the Father raised Jesus from the dead by His infinite power.
The gospel is not that Jesus suffered for a while and then got His own way. The gospel is not that Jesus was misunderstood but then eventually everyone felt bad for Him and gave Him His fair share. The gospel is that He gave it all up, and then it was all given back with glory upon glory.
If you want to be a man, if you want to be a husband, remember the gospel. It’s good news for you and for everyone. And the good news is that if you stay there, if you stay in Christ on the cross no matter what, you’ll get buried. But you know what happens to people who get buried who are in Christ. They always get raised.
Don’t jump off the cross. Don’t throw your hands up in frustration. Don’t give up until you’ve actually given it all up. And then wait in the dark for the light to come. Wait for it to be given. Stay there, and then you’ll begin to be a real man, a real leader like Jesus.