The opposite of a gospel-centered husband, I think, is a comfortable husband.
The adjectives gospel-centered and comfortable don’t really fit together in a gospel-centered home. What is more, a comfortable husband might be simply okay with the current status of his home; he might be prone to a posture of passiveness; he might be glued to his lazy-boy instead of engaging his family; he might be void of courage, the continual daring pursuit of his wife, and lack a certain spiritual vitality—he might be many things.
It is no secret that we find a high view of wimpy husbandry alive and well today, in culture and all-too-often in the church, as well. C.S. Lewis might call them “men without chests.” I tend to agree. And, I hate it. There should always be the highest standard in place for how we pursue our calling as husbands. The next generation is watching. If it is true that we pass down manhood—the good and bad— to the next generation, then we need to model it for them.
The gospel changes everything and its implications provide a foundation—a tenacious posture—for the characteristics of what a biblical husband should in fact be.
In light of that, here’s what I think we, as a gospel-centered husband, should strive for.
The Gospel-Centered Husband PURSUES.
In the same way Christ has pursued us, we should continually pursue our bride.
It is common to see this habit put to death after the marriage vows have been spoken; however, the husband who truly understands Christ’s pursuit of him will always strive to pursue his wife. He will love this about their marriage. It will be adventurous to him. Dates will be sweet. Sex will be sweeter.
There is something to be said about a man who gets out of bed daily with a war-like mindset, ready to clothe himself in his husbandry armor, and go to war on pursuing his wife. This, men, is our most important calling—to love and pursue our wives well.
In the same way Christ has sacrificially served us, we should sacrificially serve our bride.
As men, we are called to serve our homes spiritually as leaders, providers, and protectors. Leadership can also be shown through the posture of sacrifice, as we take bold stances on working less to be at home more, having fewer hobbies, playing less Fantasy Football, and putting down the video game controller. Furthermore, stop playing video games.
In the same way Christ took dominion over everything, we are called to take dominion over our marriages and homes.
As men, we are called to get up early, work hard, establish a budget, steward our money, give well, cultivate our homes, and live disciplined lifestyles. A gospel-centered husband is a man who takes dominion over these areas of his marriage. He also takes showers, and maybe, just maybe, he has a beard.
In the same way Christ was the most courageous man ever to live, we are to practice a bold, daring, and courageous posture for the sake of our bride.
As men, we are called to be protectors. We are also called to be risk-taking warriors. By default, a gospel-centered husband is a courageous man. He is courageous in the pursuit of his wife; in his lifestyle at work (everyone knows he loves his wife the most); in his speech; and in his goals for his marriage and family.
As John Piper says, “Every wife knows that something is amiss in a man’s manhood if he suggest that she get out of bed 50% of the time to see what the strange noise is downstairs.”
In the same way Christ killed all sin, we should strive to kill all sin in our lives for the sake of our bride.
We are called to be a one-woman man (1 Tim 3:2). This means that the gospel-centered husband works at sanctification in his life. It means that he doesn’t look at pornography, and he doesn’t pursue sin that would kill his marriage. More to the point, he pursues Jesus, and seeks to clothe himself in his righteousness. Through his commitment to his local church, daily spiritual disciplines, and a practice of repentance, the gospel-centered husband sees sin in a bitter way.
As Dave Harvey says, “Until sin be bitter, marriage will not be sweet.”
In the same way Christ has extended us grace, we should always be mindful of God’s grace in our marriage and extend that grace both to our wives and to ourselves.
A grace-centered husband is a reflection of what it means to be a follower of King Jesus. God has shown us grace in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). This type of husband—characterized by grace—is not an authoritarian or dictator. He is a servant—a gentle warrior (Eph 4:2; 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 3:2)—who through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, suppresses his nature to continually judge, to correct, to order, to instruct.
He has grace for his wife, and displays the beauty of Jesus when he demonstrates this grace. What’s more, he practices grace for himself. Trying to be a good husband, without embracing grace, will be crushing. The gospel-centered husband understands that God accepts him because of what Jesus did, not because of what he has done. And then he models this to his wife.
Jesus was the greatest model of these characteristics to have ever walked this earth. He pursued his people and goal fiercely. Sacrificially served with his life. Took dominion over the universe (Col 1:15-20). Personified courage. Never sinned. Extended saving grace.
So, brother, I think it’s safe to say that when you pursue Jesus with a fourth-quarter-games-on-the-line-type-of-crazy, then your marriages will win.
Go forth and be a gospel-centered husband.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
For a good framework for a gospel-centered home, see Ed Mull and Tim Chester’s book, The Gospel-Centered Family (United Kingdom: The Good Book Company, 2011).
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, 20-21
John Piper & Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 43.
Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do,” (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2010).
In addition to his work at CBMW, Greg serves as an executive elder and the family ministries pastor at Foothills Church in Knoxville, TN, overseeing all life-stage teams. Greg is the founder of The Veritas Network, which produces Veritas Press and The Living Room. He is the author of Date Different: A Short (but honest) Discussion on Dating, Sex, & Marriage for Teenagers (and their parents).
Greg speaks all over the country at youth and college conferences, disciple-now weekends, men’s conferences, family conferences, and more.
Greg received a M.Div. in Biblical and Theological Studies from SBTS and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Boyce College. He is currently working on his doctorate in leadership from SBTS.
He resides in Maryville, TN with his wife, Grace, and their two children. Keep up with Greg at theveritasnetwork.org.