Note: This is a charge for Paul Hosmer on his night of blessing, an evening when men in our church gather to encourage and edify a man who is about to be married.
Paul, I come tonight as your friend, although I don’t know you very well and I don’t know Katie at all. At least not your Katie.
In fact, I know very little about your relationship. I know you are several years older than she is. I know you are willing to go to great lengths to see her and be with her, that you would drive from Liberty to Parma to pick her up and take her to church in Jonesville.
I also know you are a smart guy with eclectic interests, a learned and thoughtful man who can be interested in something just because it’s interesting. I like this in a guy, especially if he happens to also be a nuclear physicist.
But I don’t come to you tonight as just a friend. I come to you as an elder in the faith. And I come to you as a man who has been married almost 40 years, and who fully intends to get well past fifty.
So my charge is part theological and part practical. The theology requires me, of course, to remind you that you are to love Katie as Christ loved the church.
This is a mystery that unlocks our understanding of a man’s role in marriage—it is focused on others, sacrificial and purposeful in its desire to protect his wife and children from both physical harm and spiritual danger.
It’s easy for a woman to submit to this kind of leadership. It is difficult for her to submit to the kind that is self-centered and demanding. So the boundaries we create should not be about what annoys us, but about what blesses those we are called to serve.
Be careful about this. You are old enough, and older enough, to be set in your ways. The authority of your office as husband, however, is not to preserve the status quo or make you comfortable. Wear your authority lightly and take your responsibility seriously.
You want, as Christ wants, to present your bride sanctified, holy and without blemish. Cherish her as you have cherished your own dreams, ambitions and comforts. She should flourish under your care, becoming more and more radiant as you lead her toward that greater Light of which she can only be a mirror.
The Ephesians text puts this in the context of creation itself, reminding us that God brought a man and woman together as one flesh. This is not, as is often supposed, about sex. It is a deeper unity, a work of God that brings two people together for a new purpose—to reflect together God’s love for his people.
You do this by keeping covenant, of course. And you show it through the ways you cultivate this deeper unity, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you and drawing nearer to each other as you draw nearer to him. This is the work of a lifetime.
As an elder I also urge you also to be sober-minded, dignified, self controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. You may recognize this as what Paul said Titus should teach older men. And in this case you are older, but I have something different in mind. I’m encouraging you to aspire to greater leadership and service in the church.
Your gifts and experiences are many and your stewardship of them is necessary and right. Katie joins you in ways that make you more responsible and more capable. Do not neglect the calling of God, whatever it may be.
And now, more practically, as one who has done this with increasing joy, I have some advice.
First, make time for her. You are probably used to having time for yourself but now you must make time for her. I mean this in the sense of comfortable routines you share together like a morning cup of coffee.
I also mean it in the sense of sacrifice. Put down the book. Look at her. Listen to her. You will need to do this more often than you can imagine.
Second, find mentors. Choose from among us men who will challenge you, encourage you, and admonish you. Do not share your frustrations with your friends. Chose rather one or two men who will keep your confidence and carry your burdens, pointing you constantly to Christ and reminding you of your obligations. You will need this. We all do.
And finally, honor her. Your affection for her should be known in all the world. Delight in her, praise her and thank her. Never belittle her or make fun of her. The safest place she can be should be by your side. If you cherish her and sanctify her like this, she will not only love you more, she will trust you more.
In this way, the glory of God will shine through your life together, drawing her and us to a clearer vision of how Christ loved the church.
Other charges or essays in this series.
A few good men
A love story retold
Lessons in loving
A night of blessing
Marriage as a cross cultural experience
The mystery of marriage
for Jon Hoyt on marriage