Guys have been blindsided in our culture. We don’t see the path to manhood, and we often don’t know how to view women, sex, relationships, marriage, and our role as husbands.
A key to the problems guys face is that we don’t understand the North Star of relationships. It’s the gold standard of selfless love, the blueprint for building a family and blessing our children. What’s that North Star? Knowing Jesus Christ and His purpose for marriage, and trusting in His strength to make a lasting relationship possible.
Marriage needs to be re-explained. It needs to be re-branded as an awesome, noble, and challenging adventure. Our manhood, our happiness, and our children’s future depend on marriage—yours, mine, and everybody else’s.
In a culture of counterfeits and mistruths, it’s important to understand what marriage is about. As you read through the following list, ask God to remake you and help you understand what it means to be a man and a husband. Let’s value marriage and relate well to our wives, whether we’re married yet, or preparing for that woman.
1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.
It’s the union and oneness of man and woman in lifelong covenant. That’s the team that anchors a family. It’s a bonded relationship that mirrors God’s sacrificial, unconditional, lasting love for his children (those who by faith have accepted His sacrifice and adoption into his eternal family).
2. A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and in marriage.
Don’t let an advertising-saturated, consumer society make you act like a consumer in relationships. Decide to add value to a wife, not take value.
Just like great quarterbacks serve receivers, and great receivers serve quarterbacks, we need to be investors, not childish consumers, takers, or complainers. We are to model ourselves after Jesus, the ultimate relationship investor. He is the definition of a man: responsible, initiating, courageous, self-sacrificing, healing, peacemaking, justice-doing, others-centered rather than self-centered, loving others in ways that add value and nobility to them.
Before he is married, a great husband will be a relationship investor who will build friendship that adds value into the life a young woman, her self-esteem, and her potential to serve God. He will channel his sexual desires and expression into devotion to God and commitment to one wife for life. He will marry and be sexually exclusive—only having eyes, imagination, and sexual intimacy with one woman.
We should be asking ourselves this question daily: “Would I want to marry me?”
3. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.
God is the authority. He provides the blueprints for marriage and the power source of love, wisdom, and health. God can heal any marriage if the husband and wife will submit themselves to God and let Him change them.
4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature him and develop Christ-like character in him.
It can help conform him to the image of Christ, reshaping his will and identity into union with, and deference toward, his wife. This is like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who honor, defer to, and glorify each other.
The friendship of marriage helps spouses become better versions of themselves, closer to what God designed and redeemed them to be. They must face the truth about themselves—their strengths and their imperfections. They will face conflict and difficulty and must grow empathy and teamwork. Selfishness must melt away if they are to become healthy, strong, and mature together.
5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.
God defines love not by how much you want to receive, but by how much you are willing to give of yourself—your will, your freedom, your time, your emotions, your forgiveness, your resources. The model is Jesus, who demonstrated love for us by dying for us while we were yet sinners.
A husband does this by choosing his wife as a priority in his life over all other pursuits, possessions and distractions—regardless of whether she is kind, lovable, or respectful. Love brings out the best in her. A man initiates love, rather than waiting for or demanding respect or kind treatment. Love is not dependent upon feelings. Decisions and choices to love can regenerate the feelings of love.
6. A man needs to know the Christ-like role of servant, husband, and lover.
He is to be an investor in his wife, and he sacrifices himself for her best. He defines his manhood as pursuing purity in Christ, chastity before marriage, and enthusiastic fidelity in marriage.
7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits.
He understands that sexuality makes sense in the context of union to God and the union of marriage. Outside that context it’s often reduced to moralism, rules, suppression, secrecy, illicit imagination, temptation, and shame. Or, commonly it’s reduced to a consumer experience—materialistic self-interest, physical gratification, entertainment, techniques. This causes shallow, stunted human bonding, untold stories of abuse, damage, abandonment, and fragmented families.