If you are a Christian man who is prayerfully seeking to be a more godly husband and father, you are very familiar with Ephesians 5:22-29. In this passage of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, addresses marital and family relationships.
Speaking specifically to husbands, the Lord says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (5:26)
And, how has Christ loved the church? He gave Himself sacrificially on the Cross, with no thought for Himself, for the purchase of our salvation.
So, following the example of Christ, we (husbands) are to love and serve our wives and children at all times, in every situation and circumstance of daily life, for their good and betterment, eternally and temporally, with no thought for ourselves.
As I desire and seek to be a more loving and godly husband and father, I have been encouraged, not only by the reading of God’s Word, but by the words of Richard Baxter (1615-1691, English Puritan and author of the classic, Reformed Pastor), that were written to Christian husbands 350 years ago .
In his book, A Christian Directory, first printed in 1673, Baxter includes a chapter entitled “The Special Duties of Husbands to their Wives.” This essay consists of nine points and a conclusion statement, all referred to as “Directs.” The points that Baxter makes in this brief section of his book have just as much application value to us today as they did when they were first penned.
Check out the points below and see if they, by themselves, won’t encourage you as you pursue being a more godly husband and father to your wife and children. Then, click the link at the end of this post and read Baxter’s essay in its entirety.
Baxter begins his essay with a pretty powerful, yet profound, statement:
“He that will expect duty or comfort from his wife, must be faithful in doing the duty of a husband.”
He continues from there with ten “Directs.”
“Direct I. The husband must undertake the principal part of the government of the whole family, even of the wife herself.”
“Direct II. The husband must so unite authority and love, that neither of them be omitted or concealed, but both be exercised and maintained. Love must not be exercised so imprudently as to destroy the exercise of authority; and authority must not be exercised over a wife so magisterially and imperiously, as to destroy the exercise of love.”
“Direct III. It is the duty of husbands to preserve the authority of their wives, over the children and servants of the family.”
“Direct IV. Also you must preserve the honor as well as the authority of your wives.”
“Direct V. The husband is to excel the wife in knowledge, and be her teacher in the matters that belong to salvation. He must instruct her in the word of God, …. Those husbands who despise the word of God, and live in wilful ignorance, do not only despise their own souls, but their families also; and making themselves unable for their duties, they are usually themselves despised by their inferiors ….”
“Direct VI. The husband must be the principal teacher of the family.”
“Direct VII. The husband is to be the mouth of the family, in their daily conjunct prayers unto God.”
“Direct VIII. The husband is to be the chief provider for the family (ordinarily).”
“Direct IX. The husband must be the strongest in family patience; bearing with the weakness and passions of the wife; not so as to make light of any sin against God, but so as not to make a matter of any frailty as against himself, and so as to preserve the love and peace which is to be as the natural temper of their relation.”
Direct X serves as a conclusion to the essay.
Read The Special Duties of Husbands to their Wives in its entirety.
Check out Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor at Monergism Books and WTS Books.