We find many husbands in the Bible, but not many stand out as ideal.
One of the men who does stand out is Boaz. Throughout the book of Ruth, he stands out as a model of what a husband as a husband should be. He is a godly and considerate employer (Ruth 2:4). His kindness toward Ruth is clear and well marked before he thinks of himself as a possible husband to her. His character as a godly husband comes out in his kindness in assuming the role of kinsman-redeemer for Ruth. So, the next time you read through the book of Ruth, think of the kindness of this husband.
What do unkind husbands do? Among other things, they preach heresy in the living room. Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). This is not given as simply a nice illustration. A husband is the head of his wife the same way Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). This means that husbands are speaking all day every day about what Christ thinks of the church. And because such speaking is inescapable, they are either telling the truth or they are lying. No husband has the option of silence.
The Lies of Mistreatment
And unfortunately, while all mistreatment is a lie, more than one lie is possible. For example, what lie is being told by bitter husbands? Paul tells husbands not to be bitter against their wives (Colossians 3:19). But some men think that they have been provoked enough that resentment is their only option. What is the lie? The lie is that Christ has a lousy attitude whenever he is provoked, which we would think must be all the time.
“Husbands are speaking all day every day about what Christ thinks of the church.”
Another lie is told by a lustful husband. Some men think that a straying eye is only natural. What is the lie? The lie is that Christ is an adulterer, that he is unfaithful to his bride.
Then there is the lie told by limp husbands. Some men provide no leadership for their wives. What is the lie? The lie is that Christ is a loser and a wimp. That this is fairly common in our day is not surprising, given the doctrine of Christ that is held by many.
Last, proud husbands tell another lie. Some men have contempt for the abilities of women, including their wives and daughters. What is the lie? They are saying that Christ despises his church, making fun of it whenever he gets the chance.
Five Characteristics of a Kind Husband
So, what is a kind husband? As we see the ideal of a husband’s kindness displayed by Boaz, we also should fill out our understanding of that kindness from the teaching of the Bible elsewhere. We are perhaps too accustomed to the phraseology of the Pauline command to love our wives, and so it might help us to think of this central duty in terms of kindness.
First, a kind husband is incomplete. God created man in his image, male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). A man and his wife become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), which indicates the intimacy of sexual union (1 Corinthians 6:16). Apart from the intervention of God with the gift of celibacy, it is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). True male confidence therefore operates within the context of mutual kindnesses. “Confidence” that in any way hints, indicates, or says to a wife that “I don’t need you” is not real confidence at all, but mere arrogant bluster. Men who build themselves up by tearing down their wives are following the “wisdom” of hell. A husband is kind to the one who completes him.
Second, a kind husband is a lover. The ideal here is the lover portrayed in the Song of Songs. He is ardent, devoted, strong, and sexually confident. But remember the first point; this confidence is not in himself, but rather in his ability to fulfill his appointed role, which is only half of what must be done. Too often we forget what the Bible commands (Proverbs 5:15–19). A husband is kind to his beloved.
“What husband is sufficient for Christlike love? Not one, but we live and love by grace.”
A kind husband is a provider. A man who does not provide for his household is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Since his wife is the most important member of his household, he has a profound obligation to provide for her. Specifically, he provides her with food, clothing, and conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10). A husband is kind to the one who is dependent upon him.
Fourth, a kind husband is a nurturer. A Christian husband is called to nourish and cherish (Ephesians 5:29). In this sense, a lack of tenderness, where appropriate, shows a lack of masculinity. A husband is kind to the object of his kindness.
And last, a husband is a kinsman-redeemer. A husband is close to his wife; she is his sister, his bride (Song 5:1). In a very real sense, he models for her the idea of savior and redeemer (Ephesians 5:25–26). What husband is sufficient for such things? Not one, but we live and love by grace. A husband is kind to his sister, the one he brings to himself.