The role of the man in the Christian family
The Christian Familyis constantly besought with a variety of ideals that transgress the natural order of marriage. Modern secular society presents numerous views of what a family should be or look like all the while distorting the gender roles of husband and wife. These distortions come from a variety of gender stereotypes and immoral ideals that corrupt the natural dignity of masculinity and femininity. With these things in mind, it is important to note that the spiritual nature of humanity corresponds with its physical gender. The nature of man is not composed of merely one element, but two. This inseparable nature of soul and matter is only temporarily torn via death as a result of sin. Through this, the spiritual energy of man saturates the matter with all of its gender-like qualities. Hence a man is man and a woman is a woman at one’s most center core. A man and woman’s role within the family is then not based on social constructs or biological needs but at a deeper level that defines masculinity and feminity.
Within Christianity, these roles are clearly defined in marriage. In another article, we looked at the role of woman in marriage, in this article we will look at the role of man as husband. Christian counselors should take care to direct men to become good husbands that correspond with Christian morality. The first and foremost concept is the divine command of Christ for husbands to love their wives as Christ so loved his Church. This is not a small matter but one that correlates with a love that can lead one even to death. Such love does not seek to dominate or abuse, but to cherish and love. The husband loves his wife as his own flesh, hence two become one.
Another characteristic of man in marriage is his role of authority. It is true that women are to obey their husbands. This is clearly mentioned in Paul and explained in my other article. The authority of husband over wife, however, is not arbitrary. It coincides with the divine precedents of law and ultimately love. The love of a husband for his wife will never allow his authority to become abusive or illegitimate. It is also important to note that this authority is an authority of order not necessarily an authority over every single aspect. As one flesh, decisions are still joint but the voice of authority is proclaimed through the husband as a visible source. The wife, while never unequal, is the whisper behind her husband’s proclamation to the rest of the family.
Another characteristic is the element of strength and defense. While stereotypes do place emphasis on the husband as the breadwinner, one cannot deny that some of these ideals do correlate with the evolutionary need of man to defend. It is man who is blessed with strength to hunt and defend his woman. Obviously these ideals evolved naturally but as a father and husband, these views also correlate with the spiritual nature of the family. The father is the spiritual head and should be the source of discipline and strength, while the wife becomes the source of security.
The Christian husband should respect his wife, protect his family and guide them in prayer. He should emulate the meekness of St. Joseph and always seek to put his family before himself. This is the nature of a father and husband. Christian counseling sessions with couples should emphasize the need for men to show this strength but also to have the gentleness of St. Joseph. In essence, as the mother teaches her children how to be good women, a father becomes an example on how to be a Christian man.
Christian Counseling is an excellent source for married couples to discover their roles in marriage. Ultimately, it lies in the emulation of the greatest Christian family, which is the Holy Family.
If you would like to become trained in Christian Counseling, then please review the program.
By Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C