Last year alone, from our interaction with several young married couples, we noticed that there are some men in church who behave badly in their marriages because there is no one to rebuke them when they are out of line. Their heavy involvement in ministry and their religious Sunday faces gives the impression that they are good husbands. Meanwhile their wives silently suffer uncivil, crude and character-deficient behaviour in private from these husbands.
The women fear speaking to anyone because the husband’s Sunday PR will make the wives look like liars. The wives have perfected the art of smiling, laughing and looking spiritual throughout the Sunday service. They drop their masks when they get home and pick up the real faces. And even if the wives do get the courage to “expose” these men to older men who can help the marriage, the wrath they will face in the evening will make Hiroshima-Nagasaki look like a matchstick.
There are several reasons for this. Primarily, it is because the men are not truly walking with God and depending on his word and Spirit. It could be that these men are not truly born-again (see 2 Cor 13:5). Jesus warned us that at the end of time, church folk will get the scare of their lives to realise they are headed for the fires of hell and not the gates of God’s kingdom (See Matthew 7:21-23). However, there is another reason that I want us to focus on today- one that is often neglected. One other reason that this bad behaviour persists among some husbands in church is that these men have no intimate community of older and mature men who can rebuke and confront them when the need arises. Men ought to have a band of brothers to keep them growing and to keep them accountable. A man should have accountability on three levels.
Level one- younger men who look up to his marriage and his life
Level two- peers who travel the journey of marriage and life together
Level three- older men whose marriages and lives the husband looks up to
We have many peer accountability structures in the church. They are good, but they lack the authority to keep men from pretence. We need more level one and level three accountability structures- especially level three. Personally, I have a number of godly men models, starting with my own father, whom my wife can run to and report any nonsensical behaviour that I insist on. Someone may say that I am being hard on the men, but believe me, the scriptures are far more brutal. You see, God has a special place in his heart for married women. 1 Peter 3:7 says “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (NIV)
I think the potential for a man to be inconsiderate to the fairer sex in a marriage is high. Often when speaking to couples, the men seem to have all the facts right and in their favour but their emotions wrong and in their disfavour. The husband then wonders why the facts all agree but his wife doesn’t. I’m learning that a wife who feels understood makes the greatest friend and partner. The key word of instruction for men in 1 Peter 3:7 is to be considerate.
I am learning from these few years married to my Waturi (the most beautiful woman in the solar system) that part of being considerate involves empathising with her emotions. Feelings matter. When we husbands don’t put ourselves in our wives’ shoes, our language becomes caustic, our impatience with their emotional upheavals is on the up and up and what we say, think or do may be sincere but sincerely wrong. God says he stops answering our prayers, husbands. Perhaps the breakthroughs we expect are not because we are waiting on God, but rather because God is waiting on us. I’m learning that I’d rather lose an argument and win my wife than win an argument and lose my wife. Often, after those arguments, I frequently realise that I was listening to her words but not to her heart. I understood the event but not the emotions. It takes patience to hear the weight behind the words of a hurt woman.
And I’m not saying that women are without fault in relationships. No sir! But I’m saying this: When a man passionately romances his wife through being considerate, not only does God open up heavens to start hearing his prayers again but his wife also opens up her life to be charmed by the hero she said yes to as she walked down that aisle. And to be those kind of men, I believe that we husbands (especially us younger husbands need other men (not women) to keep us accountable. We need a band of brothers! Men who are sober. Men who know us well- meaning we need to open our mouths and speak. Men who will discern a false form of godliness to distract them from the facts when we are mistreating our wives.
These men should be mature in faith, character and leadership. They should also be men who are not impressed by our accomplishments, personalities and earthly successes. They should be well grounded in their identity and should not be intimidated by the money, influence or charisma you have. These men should be safe-zones for you, dear husband, to talk about your deepest hurts, fears and weaknesses. But at the same time, these level three men should also be red-alert-zones for us to be rebuked when we are plain being bossy, silly and arrogant.
These men should be fun enough to tease us but serious enough to point out that we have one life to live and cannot afford some juvenile mistakes. These men should have the capacity to encourage us when we are at our lows and bold enough to deflate us when we are puffed up with pride. We should be free enough to laugh at a good joke with these level-three men, but never free enough to raise our voice at them. These level-three men should be able to boldly and humbly confront weak pseudo-spiritual remarks like “don’t judge me” or “keep out of my business” with the lion truth of God’s word without worrying about the fragility of our delicate little egos. One way that husbands evade such cut-throat accountability in their marriages is to claim that such level-three men do not exist. Well, that is just another self-preserving tactic to maintain a status-quo of living without accountability. Great husbands are not lone rangers. If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go with people. The latter shall bypass the graves of the former on the path towards marital bliss. Where is your band of brothers?
ION: You can now purchase my latest book, Holy Joe, for only 200 KES at The Magunga Bookstore. Just click here!
ION 2: Heather and Cornelius Lindsey are coming for The Revival Tour on Feb 11th and 12th at CITAM Valley Road. Click here for more details.