Leadership has become one of the key words in Christianised teachings for husbands. The headship of a husband is clearly taught in Scripture (Ephesians 5:23 and 1 Corinthians 11:3 as well as an implication from Ephesians 5:22, 24). However, leadership of a husband over a wife is never commanded in the Bible. Rather, the headship of a husband over his wife is there to instil some fear of God into a husband. It reminds husbands of the great responsibility that they have in fulfilling God’s clear commandments to them. What then are the clear commandments to husbands that they need to obey with the fear of God as their accountability?

There are three clear commandments that are not only clearly stated as commandments in the Scriptures, but that also summarise the many responsibilities before God that a husband has.

Commandment #1: Love your wife

In Colossians the marital commandments are reduced to a singular command. For husbands this is Love your wife. This love has many Biblical expressions: give up your preferences for her (Ephesians 5:25), seek her benefit spiritually (Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Corinthians 14:35), care for her well (Ephesians 5:28), and do not make her life bitter (Colossians 3:19). Also, don’t divorce her (1 Corinthians 7:11) and make sure that words of true praise dominate all the things you say to her and about her (Proverbs 31:28).

Commandment #2: Know your wife

As one pastor would say at every wedding, marriage is enlisting in the class called [Name of your wife] 101, and you never graduate. 1 Peter 3:7 commands each husband to live with great understanding of your wife. This is mocked in pagan circles (“Understanding women is impossible!”), but it is the second commandment to husbands. It means to know that your wife is your gift to you from God (Proverbs 18:22) and a fellow heir spiritually (1 Peter 3:7). It means treating her with exceptional honour including praying for her (1 Peter 3:7).

Commandment #3: Enjoy life with your wife

Ecclesiastes 9:9 is a commandment that must be the easiest to keep. Your wife is to be the stress reliever of the rest of life, but sadly, the men of the world have turned many a wife into the stress of life and have claimed their own pursuits to be the stress reliever. This is not to be the way among Christians. Deuteronomy 24:5 commands a newly wed husband to immerse his marriage in happiness. Genesis 2:24 talks about incredible oneness in life between Adam and Eve and all subsequent marriages. Honour your intimacy with your wife (Hebrews 13:4), seeking her pleasure (1 Corinthians 7:3), and rejoicing in her alone (Proverbs 5:18-20).

PS. “What about the ‘Lead your wife’ commandment?” you might ask. Male leadership in marriage is not a Biblical imperative. Rather it is implied from the headship and submission verses. What does that mean for a husband? It means that you must take very seriously your accountability before God for how your wife experiences you.