What would it look like for Christians to honor husbands and fathers?

Several weeks ago, IB linked to this quote at Preston Yancey’s site:

I want to hear about the Jesus who demanded loyalty, who commanded authority from storms, sinners and satanic forces, who said vexing and frustrating and wild things. I want to hear preaching which is not just faithful to His words but to His TONE: of comfort but also of rebuke, of welcome but also of warning. I want to hear His dares, His call to come and die, His challenge to make hard choices. I want the Jesus of the gospels who does not just meet our needs, but who calls us to bold and courageous adventure, to self-sacrifice, to taking risks. I want the Jesus who promises huge rewards for huge sacrifices, who embraces fiesty Peter and wayward Mary and touchy-feely John.

I want the Jesus who welcomed the little children, but also the Jesus with eyes like a flame of fire, with feet of burnished bronze and a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth…I want the Jesus who inspires my awe and calls forth my worship: a gospel from The Gospels. That’s the Jesus I want. That’s the Jesus I need: the one who is worthy of the honor, adoration and allegiance of men and women alike.

The word honor in this quote stood out to me because for the past several weeks I’ve been mulling over this quote from a post at Dalrock’s (highlighting mine):

Father’s Day is a day set aside to honor fathers.  This doesn’t translate into modern Christian culture because honoring fathers is a truly alien idea.  What would that even look like?  Note that Thiry’s pastor doesn’t say that he will honor fathers, he says he will try to encourage them.

I’ve been pondering how to honor Christian men, and I decided I would try to answer Dalrock’s question about what it would look like for modern Christians to honor fathers and husbands.  I think there are some good scriptural references in the quote from Yancey’s blog that can guide us.

1. Jesus is worthy of honor because of Who He is, the husband and head of His bride, the Church.  We should honor husbands and fathers for who they are in addition to anything they may have done.

Christ lived a perfect life, and no man or woman can do that, so if we base our decision to honor husbands and fathers solely on what they do, we will always be able to find something they have done wrong, some place where they have fallen short.  Therefore, husbands and fathers must be honored for who they are, for the position they hold, as the head of the family.

So what does honoring our husbands and the fathers of our children look like practically?  Let us consider the very first definition at Merriam-Webster for the word honor:

respect that is given to someone who is admired

To honor our husbands, we women should treat them with great respect and admiration, not only for the things they do but for who they are.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33)

For the Church to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like pastors speaking respectfully rather than with condemnation about husbands and fathers.  Any rebuking of men that needs to happen (and there would be some, as men are not perfect the way Jesus is) would happen in a men-only setting, out of the presence of women and children, in a church that honors husbands and fathers.  And it would be helpful if pastors stopped doing that jokey thing where they make self-deprecating jokes about both their own and other men’s wives’ superiority; that’s cheap humor and disrespects men. Would Abraham or any of the other patriarchs have spoken about their wives in such a way even in jest, I wonder?

2. Jesus demanded loyalty (Matthew 26:31-35).  He Himself was loyal but he also expected it from the apostles.

Sarah’s Daughter has a new post that speaks to the importance of women demonstrating loyalty to their husbands.  Please read her entire post, but for the moment just consider her conclusion from Men and Loyalty (highlighting mine):

God made your husbands in a very special way, different than you. He knows how they perceive value (loyalty) and He knows how they respond when they know they are valued. Trust God that He gave you very specific instruction for your marriage for a reason. Do not fear it. Do not project on to your husband a distrust of his integrity. And stop talking publicly about the line in which your husband must walk to receive your loyalty.

So, for Christians to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like women being loyal to their husbands, children being loyal to their fathers, and pastors teaching from the Bible that husbands, fathers, and Christ are all to be given our loyalty.  It would also look like the modern Church ceasing to provide moral cover for unbiblical divorce, which is often (but not always!) initiated by wives.  For too long now, much (but not all) of the modern Church  has either turned a blind eye to disloyalty or even at times supported it; this dishonors husbands and fathers.

3. Jesus was a leader who expected to be obeyed (Mark 14:32-42).  When the apostles disobeyed Him, He did not abuse them or stop loving them, yet He he directly stated what their sin was and rebuked them.

One way that women can honor their husbands and children can honor their fathers is through obedience (the Bible calls this “submission” for women):

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by accurately teaching these verses from the pulpit and ceasing to teach the unbiblical concept of mutual submission.  The Church could also

  • affirm that men have both the right and the duty to insist upon obedience,
  • teach husbands and fathers how to identify and lovingly confront disobedience in their wives and children, just as Christ did with His Apostles,
  • and support men in their efforts to lead their families by supporting their right to gently, lovingly rebuke rebellious family members.

Respect, loyalty, and obedience are three key components of honoring Christian husbands and fathers.  The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by explicitly and accurately teaching from the many verses that demonstrate Jesus’ loving insistence for respect, loyalty, and obedience from the Apostles, the verses that teach wives to respect, be loyal to, and submit to their husbands, and the verses that instruct children to honor and obey their parents.