Overbearing Husbands

Show Me How and The God Who Obeys

by Douglas Wilson

Show Me How

I once heard of a husband and father who had a problem with anger. Over the years, in his treatment of his wife, and in his outbursts against his children, he taught his entire family a profound slander against God the Father. Our Father in heaven reveals his wrath against His enemies, but He bestows tender mercies beyond all reckoning to His children. But this man was considerate of all who were far away from him (which included his enemies), and was frequently furious with those who had the misfortune to live with him.

What angered him the most was lack of submission. He thought that the Bible was clear enough on the subject, and so it astounded him when his position or office were crossed in any way. He was equally astounded whether the affront was real or imagined. His wife was a long-suffering woman, and had honestly tried for years to anticipate his moods, but this was difficult. He was the kind of man who was either angry or who looked like he would get angry for two cents. What he needed most desperately in the world was a friend to tell him what he was doing, but his anger was good insurance against that happening very much.

But after fifteen years of this, and with his wife faced with the prospect of grown children who would regard visits home with the same enthusiasm they would have if faced with a root canal, she finally determined to say something. Her mouth was dry, and I have to say she was very frightened, but one day she approached her husband with a request. She asked him if he would seek out pastoral help for his problem with anger.

He did not get angry, which was good, but he glowered, and said that he was not going to go get help from some pencil-neck counselor. His wife licked her dry lips, and said that this meant that she would have to go.

"But I forbid it," he said.

"I am going anyway," she said.

"The Bible says that you have to submit to me," he said, playing his trump card.

"I have to confess that I am a very bad Christian," she said, "and I don’t know how to submit. I need a man who will show me how."

(used with permission from “Blog/Mablog,” http://www.dougwils.com/ Article posted on 8/22/04 http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=426)

The God Who Obeys

Once there was a man whose marriage was on the rocks. It had been on the rocks for some years, but he had just found out about it. This was quite a shock to his system, because for some time he had used bluster, bravado, and bullying to keep anyone from saying anything that might indicate that something was wrong.

He had been a faithful church-goer, and he hated every form of theological compromise. Wherever his family had lived, he always sought out a good "Bible-believing, traditional values" church. No evangelical feminism for him, or his household. No girly-man theology for him.

His wife had gone with the kids to visit her mother for a week, and so the email from her saying that she had no plans to return anytime soon left him thunderstruck. He could not really turn to the church he was a member of, because, although they talked a good line, they never really disciplined anyone for anything. On a subconscious level, that is why he had picked it. But churches that won’t discipline abusive husbands will not discipline deserting wives either. He had nowhere to turn, and all of a sudden the empty, cavernous house seemed full of mirrors.

But this man had a neighbor who attended another church, and his marriage was obviously full of contentment. Before this time, that had been a reason to despise him, but the deserted husband was now open in ways he had never been before. He approached his neighbor, honestly told him what had happened, and asked if he had any counsel or advice.

"Well, yes, I do," the man said. "but I have no desire to give offense. May I have your permission to speak freely?"

In reply, the humbled husband nodded.

"This may seem like I am speaking in riddles at first. But I would like to ask you to think and pray about it, and then we can talk again tomorrow."

"Go ahead."

"You serve and worship a god who commands. You worship Allah, whatever else you may call him. I am a Trinitarian. That means that I worship and serve a God who obeys. One step out, this means you imitate a god who commands. And by God’s grace, I imitate a God who obeys."

"But doesn’t the God of the Bible also command?"

"Yes—mystery for your meditation."

(used with permission from “Blog/Mablog,” http://www.dougwils.com/ Article posted on 9/26/04 http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=491)

Ubique, Semper et ab Omnibus                      Everywhere, Always and by All