Our sketch of a godly husband is not to be based upon a particular set of cultural assumptions, or on certain notions created by the false elevation of certain personality types. As with everything, we must turn to the Word of God for guidance.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4).
A Man’s Caliber
We should begin by noting that a husband should love Jesus Christ above all—“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In the parallel passage in Matthew 10, Jesus uses the expression “loves more than me.” But here in Luke, He includes wives in the list. A man who loves his wife more than Jesus Christ cannot be Christ’s disciple. And if he is not Christ’s disciple, he will not be the kind of husband he ought to be. In other words, a wife with good sense will deeply desire to be second on the list of her husband’s priorities. In this sense, a wife who is loved as “number two” will receive a lot more sacrificial love than if she were number one.
Second, a husband must be a man, not a boy—“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses’” (Neh. 4:14). But in order to qualify for the fight, God required maturity of males. “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel” (Num. 1:2-3). In a church where marriage is valued highly, boys should want to be married before they sire ready to be married.
In order for this to happen, a husband needs to have been prepared —marriage is a help to vocation (1 Cor. 11:8-9). A man not prepared for vocation is not prepared for marriage.
The Way a Man Stands
A godly husband assumes masculine responsibility —a man must come into marriage understanding what it is, and where he stands in the relation he is establishing. In short, the vows should be in line with the teaching of federal husbandry, and he should understand the nature of the vows he makes. He enters into marriage fully expecting to exercise leadership. He knows how to make a decision.
A godly husband is monogamous to the bone—it is not good that man be alone, and God created one woman to fix the problem (Gen. 2:18). The creation order shows God’s design for marriage. The relation of Christ and the church shows God’s design for marriage (Eph. 5:21-33). The Bible requires Christian leaders to be monogamous (1 Tim. 3:2), and they are set before the church as examples (Heb. 13:7, 17). This obviously excludes adultery and lust, but it also excludes snide comparative comments.
A godly husband is tribal—this means that he thinks in terms of his ancestors and descendants. The Ten Commandments promise blessings to a thousand generations (Ex. 20:5). Godly men pursue God’s blessings. “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chron. 4:9- 10). He does not think in terms of raw accumulation, of collecting trophies. And he does not boast in putting on his armor as though he is taking it off.
A godly husband is industrious—this standard of industry is not determined by the union. It affects more than whether he does an adequate job “at work.” He does not sit for endless hours, staring slack-jawed at the tube. He is not a slug at home.
A godly husband provides food and clothing—in the Old Testament law, God placed a certain restriction on polygamy. A man could not steal certain things from his first wife by taking a second. We see the essential things God requires a man to provide for his wife. “If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights” (Ex. 21:10).
A godly husband is sexually attentive—this is not the same as being sexually selfish. “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). He understands his wife and what she desires. He listens, and is thoughtful.
A godly husband is courageous—in Neh. 4:14, we saw the duty which men who are husbands and fathers have to fight to protect their homes. We have drifted into a mentality which seeks to find defense in unattached boys. We use eighteen-year-old boys as cannon fodder. But in the biblical mentality, a society goes to war, represented in it.