“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
As husbands, we are called to use scripture to cleanse and purify our marriages in order to present them to our God as unstained, unwrinkled, radiant, holy, and blameless pictures of the church. We are responsible for making the Bible the cornerstones of our relationships with our wives.
If you’re anything like me, that responsibility makes you feel a little sick. If that verse were to say, “…cleansing her by the washing with water through hard work,” then I have no problem. If that verse were to say, “… cleansing her by the washing with water through commitment, kind words, and York peppermint patties when she’s had a long day,” then I think I can handle that. However, according to Paul (who carries a lot of clout) in Ephesians, the only way to cleanse and purify the relationship I have with my wife, Ali, is by introducing the Bible into my marriage.
Peppermint patties seem easier.
I wish more than anything (honestly) that I could use personal stories to exemplify the role of scripture in a healthy marriage, but I can’t; unfortunately, Ali actually reads these things – she would call my bluff. I consider the lack of scripture in my marriage to be one of my greatest sins as a husband. In Genesis 3, after Adam failed to protect his wife at the tree, God asked Adam a haunting question: “Where are you?” This same question echoes in my head… Where am I?
A year ago, as I was writing the PB&J book, I became really convicted about the lack of scripture in my marriage. I talked to both Scott and Jim about what that looks like in real life, and they both gave me some helpful tips. They said to start slow and start with Jesus… read through the Gospel… take it slow and easy… engage in reflective discussion after weekend services… don’t be afraid of not knowing everything…
I soon began to own up to my responsibility as a husband. Ali and I began reading through the Gospel of John together. We bought brand new Bibles to have a physical symbol that signified our desire for change. I became intentional about reflecting on the weekend services with Ali. It wasn’t easy, but the best things in life never are, and honestly, it was really good for Ali and I. Now, a year later, I’ve let that responsibility fall back through the cracks. I meet with a buddy on Tuesday mornings to discuss books about Christianity, I try to start most of my mornings in scripture, and I pay attention at service every weekend and mark up my Bible… but I can’t seem to consistently do any of these things with my wife – my best friend.
Yesterday morning, Scott came into my office, told me to listen to last weekend’s service, and asked me to address a question he keeps receiving in his emails: “How do I introduce the Bible into my marriage?” He probably assumed that, since asking the same question nearly a year ago, I had finally found some answers. The truth is that I have found answers… I just haven’t been consistent in living those answers out in my marriage.
I missed last weekend’s service because I was in Indiana for Ali’s grandpa’s funeral. Today, as I listen to Scott’s talk on marriage, I can’t help but replay stories about her grandpa’s last few months. Ali’s grandpa, Chuck, was a good man. He had cancer, and in his last few weeks, he began losing touch with reality. Yet, his disconnect with reality revealed his true colors. He would get out of bed in the middle of the night to stand guard over his house and protect his wife. He would utter long prayers that included thanking God for his confusion. He constantly asked about the health and safety of his kids, grandkids, and even his unborn great grandchild. Lastly, he had specific scriptures that he wanted read at his funeral.
When Chuck saw our God face-to-face for the first time last Monday, I’ll bet some unimaginably incredible words were exchanged. I have no idea what they talked about, but I can bet there was one question that God didn’t need to ask: “Where were you?” The way Chuck lived his life revealed where he was: he was standing right next to his wife and family… he loved his wife and gave himself up for her to make her holy… he cleansed her by the washing with water through the word. To use Scott’s analogy from the weekend, Chuck walked on the right side of the sidewalk.
How do I live my life like that? How do I hit that mark? The truth is that I know what I need to do; I already listed those steps above: read through the Gospel together, go slowly, initiate meaningful conversations, don’t get frustrated, use trusted authors to compliment your reading of scripture, etc. The question isn’t, “How do I do this?” Instead, the question is, “How do I do this consistently?” and here is our answer: with discipline, devotion, and a ton of prayer for God’s help.
Another aspect that can’t hurt is some accountability. Find a close friend who can lovingly check up on you and make sure you’re doing a good job of upholding your command to bring the Bible into your marriage (I’m preaching to myself now more than anyone else). I almost gave up on God and his people because of the vast number of Christians in my life who refused to ‘practice what they preached’. I promise I won’t become one of them. So this is my genuine (and quite public) promise to Ali and my community here at Flatirons: I will do this better. After posting this blog, it will literally be impossible to go home tonight and not talk about this with Ali, but it will be easier knowing there are a bunch of men here having the same conversations with their wives.
Thanks for being a community of great people who are genuinely trying to chase after God well. Thanks for letting me be a part of this community. And thanks for challenging me to be a better husband.
To all of the husbands at Flatirons: may we all hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” on the day we die rather than, “Where were you?”
Ben.Tags: Bible, husbands, manhood, reverse engineering, scripture