Stereotypes and Armchair Marriage Counseling

I love going back home and visiting with friends and family. For the most part, my relationships with family and friends has remained the same as it was before I decided to become a pastor. I am still the friend, nephew, cousin, etc. that I’ve always been… but there is the reality that now I’m a pastor, and so sometimes I get asked “pastor questions”. That’s fine, I love it and am not at all annoyed by it. One of the topics that sometimes comes up is marriage and faith, as the vast majority of friends are married. It is kind of strange as I am typically the single guy in the conversation, but as I’ve said on several occasions, even a single pastor can speak to what God’s desire is for marriage because at the core of marriage is really the theology of Christ and his relationship with His bride the Church.

This last weekend in a casual conversation with a friend, the role of the husband came up. It is no secret to those who know me that I’m a fairly traditional guy, at least from a Biblical standpoint. But with this comes a stereotype of what these “traditional” roles are. Molly Ziegler Hemingway wrote an excellent article on this entitled “When Stereotypes Attack” that gets at the heart of the issue.  These “traditional” roles are not really about household tasks like changing diapers, cooking meals, or mowing the lawn, they are really about reflecting the unique relationship of Christ and the Church.

When it comes down to it, Scripture is clear, the husband is to be the head of the household.  As I shared with my friend, before you let your stereotype of what this means (abusive, power obsessed, authoritarian chauvinist, etc.) look closely how Scripture speaks about this role.  It is to love one’s wife as Christ loved the Church.  So to be the “head” is to be servant, to sacrifice any self-interest that one may have.  What does this mean in a marriage?  Most of the time it means that decisions are made in mutual consensus… or to go even a step further, that a husband puts the interest of his wife ahead of his own.  Within this framework there is a great deal of freedom that couples are given as to how to work this out, and of course as husbands and wives fall short of the Biblical ideal of marriage, repentance and forgiveness are key.

So why does this matter?  Why, as Mollie pointed out should a marriage be more about a Biblical model?  Because what one confesses about marriage also reflects what one believes and confesses about Jesus Christ.

Now, I also realize I am speaking here as a single man with only a brief amount of time spent as pastor counseling couples.  So, I invite your input, especially those of you with years of experience in marriage.  What have you learned as Christians in marriage?

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