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lionand lambA good spiritual food fight has broken out over this Desiring God article,  “Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus.” 

Tim Fall has posted a rebuttal of sorts,  My Wife Has a Savior and I’m not Him

You know I can’t ever avoid a good food fight, but in this case I have to go right down the middle, declare neither of them are really wrong.

The first problem right off the bat, is the definition of “sanctify.” Sanctify means to, “set apart for sacred use.” To consecrate. To approve, sanction, condone, vindicate, support, authorize, unburden, and backup.

Absolutely true, from the Desiring God Article, “God calls husbands to be instruments of his sanctifying work in the lives of our wives.” The problem being we often have a bit of a perverse distortion of the very definition of the word “sanctify.” Suddenly it means rebuke, cleanse of all evil, manipulate, transform, mold, like the Great Potter with a filthy clump of clay.

People with an awareness or a history of abuse are going to just recoil in horror, because that false definition is a recipe for disaster. Sadly many people don’t see sanctification as Jesus Christ’s work to, “set us apart for sacred use.” They don’t perceive Christ as someone who will approve, sanction, condone, vindicate, support, authorize, unburden, and back us up. 

Sadly, the perception of Jesus Christ sometimes becomes more about judgment, criticism, discipline, punishment, condemnation, fear and control. Under that false conception, “husbands sanctify your wives” takes on much darker connotations.

Tim Fall writes, “But to take Ephesians 5:25-26 as the pastor who wrote that article sees it would mean husbands are more priestly than wives.” Well, in theory husbands should be more priestly, meaning more Christ-like than their wives. So should wives! If there is any gender competition going on there it should always be, so how can I be more Christ-like towards my spouse?

A husband is not going to lift up his wife by being less priestly so she doesn’t feel insecure or over-powered. If his priest-liness is about more, about moral superiority, about robbing her of her own, than it isn’t “priestly” at all.

In order to understand scripture properly, we have to take abuse totally out of the equation. We cannot read and understand scripture properly if in the back of our minds we are always thinking, so what can go wrong here? How could an abusive person pervert this passage? People can foul up anything, even the most beautiful ideas. Scripture is never wrong however, people are. We have issues with reading instructions properly, we fail to ask for directions.

So, discipline, the healthy kind, we shall call that “love” or “caring,” is a part of both marriage and sanctification. It is impossible to express love towards one another, without discipling them. “Disciple” is the same word we get discipline from and it simply means, “to teach.” Every word we say to one another, every interaction we have, is a teaching process.

Tell someone they look beautiful today, you are teaching them something about themselves. Tell someone you support them, you’ll back them up, you are teaching them something. Tell someone you notice they haven’t got out of bed for 3 days and you are now involved in their sanctification process. Wipe your feet. Wear your coat.  Stay in touch. Drink your orange juice. Pray about it. These are all forms of discipline, meaning to teach, to express  love and caring.

Men sometimes withdraw emotionally, sometimes they will just let their wives do it all, carry the whole emotional load. She can just take care of the kids, she can take care of me, and she can take care of her own self, too. I go to work, or I put some laundry away, so my job here is now  done. I am not required to make any emotional or spiritual investment. Au contraire! There’s no caring going on in that situation, no relationship, no sanctification. That is a failure to love. Husbands love your wives.

My child, bless her heart, really drove this point home to me the past few days. She annoyed her Dad, so she comes in the kitchen and asks, “so is Dad still caring about me?” Ha! So it seems!  It seems as if he still has a few caring words to express.

It made me laugh, just kind of a sweet interaction between them. The kid, though she may be grown, still needs people who care.

So Tim Fall, that is more like what Pastor Bryan Stoudt was saying in his article when he spoke of  “Well, you don’t challenge your wife enough.”  It is actually not kind for men to withdraw emotionally and spiritually, to provide no challenge for their wives, to fail to call us to our higher selves. Indeed, some husbands can get it all wrong, but the truth and beauty of Ephesians 5:25-26 still stands.