This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.
The husband is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the family’s needs are met. While financial needs are the most obvious component of this, they extend far beyond. Here are several ways in which God has called you, as a husband, to provide for your family.
Provide Financially. The husband is to lead in the area of finances. In most cases this means that you, the husband, will be the family’s breadwinner, freeing up your wife to pursue her vocation in the home as wife and mother. It will also mean that you will be ultimately responsible for financial decisions and management. It may be prudent to allow your wife to actually pay the bills and keep financial records, but you must still be involved in the family finances. Time and ability would undoubtedly fail me to provide from Scripture a cut-and-dry case for these rather contentious declarations, but I would point you toward Ephesians 5 (where a husband is told to nourish and cherish his bride—is not provision an important component of nourishment?) or to 1 Timothy 5:8 where we’re told that a man who does not provide for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. I would also point you toward common sense. Common sense should tell us that women are specially created and equipped to do the work involved in raising children and that men are specially equipped to do the work involved in provision. This does not mean that a husband does nothing around the house and a woman never earns a penny. It is simply a matter of priorities.
In an attempt to head off questions, let me say that in this series we are dealing with broad principles and there are times that the principles seem to fall short in specific circumstances. The world being what it is, there are always exceptions and sometimes tragic exceptions. When it comes to theology it is important that we begin broad and go narrow rather than begin narrow and go broad. The broad principle here is that the husband is called to be the provider. But, of course, there are times when this cannot happen. Perhaps a husband is injured or disabled or just plain unable to find work. In such cases the wife may be called upon to be the primary breadwinner. In some circumstances a man may need to defer this task to the church or the government. There may also be times when a wife has to take on provision while the husband is studying or preparing himself for another vocation. Even here, though, he does not need to hand over leadership to his wife or to anyone else. He can still lead in this area even if circumstances prevent him from actually providing through the labor of his hands.
I know people will also wonder whether I am saying that your wife absolutely cannot have a job. I would again point to the broad principle that God’s primary call for women is to be involved in managing the home and raising children. As long as her job does not keep her from fulfilling her other responsibilities (such as a woman who decides she cannot have children because she wishes to prioritize her career), then I don’t see anything in Scripture that forbids it. Ideally I think the husband would wish to be in a position where if his wife works it is because of choice and not some kind of financial necessity.
Provide Sexually. The godly husband desires to serve his wife and to honor God through sex (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). You need to know the importance of sex in your relationship with your wife and know the importance of sexual purity to your own heart. You need to see sex not as something that is merely physical, but as a means of grace within your marriage—an act of love that binds a husband to his wife and a wife to her husband in a unique way. Pursue your wife not only in the act but in all of life so that she is willing and eager to join with you in the consummation of the act. Eagerly and willingly provide for her needs in this way, thinking more of her than of yourself.
Provide Spiritually. It is the husband who must take initiative in leading his wife into deeper and deeper truths of the faith. You need to take the initiative in providing a church home where you can join together with other believers in fellowship and in worship. Take the lead in willingly and eagerly studying the Bible on your own and with your wife. Be willing to encourage her to come before God on her own. Whether your wife is a believer or not, you should live before her in such a way that you put no stumbling block in her path—nothing that would keep her from pursuing God.
Provide Yourself. The godly husband provides himself, which is to say that he provides focused, undistracted time and attention. I think this is an area of particular failing for men today. We are a distracted and busy people who have a difficult time prioritizing what ought to be prioritized. We believe that we are owed endless hours of entertainment—that it is our right to be entertained for hours every day—and we give ourselves to this pursuit. We also recklessly pursue stuff, power, position, prestige and any other number of idols. And often these will come at the expense of your wife or children. As husband you need to provide time for your wife. Some of this time may be spent watching television, but there must be times where you can just talk without distraction, without the need for entertainment. You must provide time for your children, to talk to them, to encourage them, to ask them questions and to answer their questions. Seek to take the lead in arranging regular date nights with your wife; go on “daddy-dates” with your kids as well, finding special things to do with each one of them (alone) on a regular basis (even if that event is no more special than an early-morning breakfast at Denny’s—something I’ve been doing with my kids recently. Kids are remarkably unpicky when it comes to time spent with dad). Help your wife arrange similar dates with the kids so she can spend that focused time with them as well.
I can’t deny as I type the final words of this series that it did not come together quite as I expected. There is probably too much “me” in it. Nevertheless, I do hope that it can prove beneficial to men, and especially young men. I hope they can see in it just a glimpse of the high calling they’ve been given as husbands and that they can find great joy and satisfaction in their task as leaders within their homes.
I found a few books helpful as I prepared these articles. Among them are: