06.13.2011 The Blog No Comments

It begins with Mommy.

Daddy Discipleship begins with six simples sayings that are intended to be spoken to your children on a daily basis and then reflected upon, or acted upon throughout the daily activities you find yourself immersed in with your children. But, before we can begin to give this much attention to our relationship with our children, we must begin with our relationship with our spouse. I realize that not every father who reads this post will be married to the mother of his children. As a child from a broken home, myself, I recognize that as much as we want to live in a perfect world, we do not. I focus on the ideal here, not in anyway to alienate any of you, but because Scripture presents us with the ideal model. If you are reading this post and feel you do not fit the ideal, don’t worry, this is still for you.

Traveling on the HOV lane of I-10 through morning rush hour traffic, Scott looked over at me and made a bold statement that has since been emblazoned on my brain. He said that the best thing I can do for my children is to demonstrate my love for my wife in front of them, regularly. Caitlyn, our oldest, had just turned one, and Scott (a father of 4) spoke words that ignited a fire within me. Scott is not the only person to have suggested that a husband love his wife as a ministry to his children, but he was the first person to say it with my undivided attention.

Love your wife as a ministry to your children. What a statement. Sure we are called to love our wives. This is what Paul and Peter call husbands to do in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 3. But these passages do not directly suggest that we are to love our wives for the sake of our children, or do they? I stumbled upon a beautiful Old Testament verse that helps clear up some of the confusion and solidifies the idea that when Paul and Peter call us to love our wives, it is for the sake of our children.

Open your Bible to Malachi 2. It’s the dusty one right before Matthew. In verse 15 of this chapter, the prophet asks the question, “And what was the one God seeking?” This question comes after the prophet has already pointed out that the Israelites have broken covenant with God by marrying the daughter of a foreign god (v.11), and is more directly tied to the action of the people weeping over an offering rejected by the Lord. The question comes as a response to the people for why it is that the Lord rejects the offering of His people. And the answer is even more daunting.

The answer to the question is so simple that it only takes two words to respond. “Godly offspring.” God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the One True God, who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Lamb that was slain wants godly offspring. Too simple, right? But notice in verse 14 that the manner in which God seeks godly offspring is through a faithful union between husband and wife. The reason that the Lord has begun to reject the offerings of the people is because they have been faithless to the covenant made between husband and wife. For, before children existed, the union between husband and wife was created. This was the promise to love, cherish, honor and keep each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, being faithful only to each other for as long as the both shall live. With rare exception, most couples are not thinking about having children on their wedding day. Most are probably thinking about making children, but the thoughts about having children and all that responsibility comes with are reserved for a different day. The union between man and woman, the covenant of husband and wife, is primary in the family sphere.

I will be honest with you, I do not remember much about my wedding day. Between being sick as a dog, nervous as a mouse, and anxious as a child, many of the specifics of my wedding day are preserved only on the VHS tape which records the event, and even that is incomplete due to a dead battery no one seemed to notice. This, however, I do know, when I stood in front of God on that day and swore to Kristen that I would love her in the way that Paul calls husbands to love their wives in Ephesians 5, I made a covenant with her to which God was a witness and a participant through the Spirit in our union.  

I love my wife. I pray over, for, and with my wife. I strive to give myself up for my wife. I praise her for who she is, what she accomplishes, and the manner in which she loves God more than me. I tell her I love her. I tell her I am proud of her. I demonstrate and explain that she is special to me. My wife is smart and beautiful. And everyday I look for opportunities for my wife to rest in the knowledge that she is all mine. Please understand, I do this for her. I do this because before Caitlyn, Wes, Anabelle, and Mikayla, before we started chasing the Duggars, I stood in the presence of God, the Ancient of Days, and made a covenant with her. This is the beginning of Daddy Discipleship: my children need to see that I love their mother as Christ loved the church. All of this allows me to love my children even better. I do this for Kristen, but my children reap the fringe benefits.

Consider the reasons why I love my wife. I love her because Scripture calls me to love her. I love her because I covenanted to love her. I love her because I choose to love her. I love her because God seeks godly offspring. I love her because I want godly offspring. I love her as a ministry to my children. I love her as a ministry to others who see us as a reflection of the Gospel. All of these reasons, as well as others, compel me to love my wife the way Christ loved the church.

I opened this post with a disclaimer about some fathers who may not be married to the mother of his children. If that is you, and you have read this far, I want to encourage you. You can still love the mother of your children although the covenant has been broken. You can still pray for her as the mother of your children. You can still tell her that you are proud of her for the job she does with your children. And maybe even go the distance to tell her that she is special because without her, you would not have the blessing of children. Tell your children that their mother is smart. Your children need to hear loving words, not damaging words. When you spend time with your children, pray with them and include prayer requests about their mother. Although you may not find yourself in an ideal situation, you still have opportunity, for the sake of godly offspring, to love her as one of God’s creatures.

“So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15

About the author

Ryan is the Founder & Director of Daddy Discipleship and the Associate Editor for The Journal of Discipleship & Family Ministry.

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